Posted in art, ceramics, creativity

Ceramics for beginners: Creating a 3D clay form

My finished hedgehog ready to go in the kiln!

Last week in our ceramics for beginners class, we used a ‘forma’ as a basis for creating a 3D clay piece. I chose to make an ornamental hedgehog which I could have on display in my garden. In this blog post, I’m going to share the process and lots of photos I took illustrating this.

Hand built clay items, i.e. those where the clay is worked by hand and some simple tools, are usually made from slabs, coils, pinch pots or a combination of these three techniques. However, another technique is to use a ‘forma’ to support the making of a 3D object or sculpture.

Our forma was a sphere which we made using one or two loosely scrunched up pieces of newspaper. We then created small flat pieces of clay with our fingers and added them around the newspaper, overlapping slightly and smoothing the pieces together. The idea is that if you made the item from solid clay it would take a very long time to dry out to ‘leather hard’ which is where it is suitable for putting in the kiln. By building around newspaper, the clay work is much thinner and as long as you add a hole into your item somewhere, it has a chamber inside for the air to get in. The heat of the kiln burns the newspaper away and you can tip out the ash and be left with a wonderful 3D design which is lightweight.

To begin, you take a piece of clay and form a small, flat round. Then, holding the newspaper sphere in your hand. You mold the shape onto the ball. You then continue to add small flat pieces around the newspaper and start to create the shape required for you object. As mine was to be a hedgehog, I began to manipulate into a kind of oval shape with a flattened base and then squeezed one end to create a snout shape.

The next step was to add a round hole on the base of the form which I did using a pointed metal tool and then dug out the clay using a looped piece. This is to let the air circulate around when the item is in the kiln and is essential to prevent the work from exploding! The hole won’t be seen as it is on the base of the work but I did try to make it nice and neat.

An air hole to allow the very hot air to circulate around the piece in the kiln

After adding a hole at the base and scratching in my initials, tutor’s initials and the session number so that my work is identifiable after firing, I made the features of the hedgehog i.e. a dog’s nose shape, some small balls for the eyes and four little feet. I create two circular indentations to place the eyes and then used the score and slip technique to attach them. If you want to see how ‘score and slip’ works click here for my previous post which contains a great link.

I was a little bit scared to add some texture to my design in case I messed it up, so I did a little practise on a small ball of clay first. Then, I added long, gentle cuts randomly all over the back of the hedgehog using a plastic knife from my modelling tools box.

Texture to create the idea of spines on the hedgehog’s back

Finally, made small snips with a pair of scissors in different places to add further texture and a spiny appearance. Again, I was frightened to do this, but I was pleased with the result in the end!

Here’s a front view of the spikes which I think look quite effective. The tutor said that when I add the glaze after he has been fired, it will go into the places where I have snipped and make different intensities of colour which will add to the effect and should look quite striking. I can’t wait to get started with this but he might take a while to dry out before he can go in the kiln. I’m also looking forward to glazing my little plant pot holder from a few weeks ago too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my hedgehog taking shape and liked reading about the process. If you ever get the chance to do a beginners ceramics course, I can definitely recommend it as it’s great to try something new and both the course participants and the tutor are lovely and so helpful. I always look forward to my time at the arts centre each week and find it really therapeutic in so many different ways.

Posted in art, creativity, Planning and journaling, watercolour painting

Setting up my bullet journal for October

Hi everyone. Hope you’re all well and enjoying the beginnings of Autumn. We’ve finally got some okay weather this morning so I’ve been able to take some bright enough photographs of my BuJo set up for next month and thought I would share them with you.

I decided to keep my spreads relatively simple and to a minimum this time as I found that I was tracking far too much in September and couldn’t keep up with it all and got quite overwhelmed. I’ve just done a quote page, a cover page which features a little watercolouring piece that I did, a double page monthly calendar and a planning page for my blog.

For my quote, I chose a simple Autumnal reference and as I was writing it, I had a vague feeling I’d used it before. I checked back in one of last year’s Bujo and there it was. I figured it didn’t matter and that I must really love it!

3 bright and juicy Crayola supertips plus a drop shadow using the grey tip of my Tombow dual brush pen

This watercolour was created using my new Daley Rowney Aquafine Travel Set. I followed an online tutorial and although the results don’t look the same as those done by the professional artist that created the step by step, I’m pleased with the results as I’m a total beginner. If you want to have a quick look at the tutorial, you can find it here.

Autumn tree produced on an A4 sheet from a watercolour pad

I then spent about two hours working out how to scan the image into a format that I could shrink to stick into my BuJo. After much perseverance (and a glass of wine which was most helpful ha ha!) I got it sorted. I ended up sticking a piece of paper over a mistake I made with my brush lettering but I think it looks okay now I’ve made it into a border for my picture.

October cover page

And here’s the two pages together. I think the bright colours look lovely. What do you think?

For my monthly calendar, I chose to decorate with some Autumn leaves and berries. I’m not wonderful at drawing but I think it looks okay. I used coloured pencils to shade them in but the only problem I seem to have it that when I write on the next few pages of my notebook the colour transfers. I’m not sure if there’s a solution to this, maybe I press on too hard? If anyone has any ideas, I would be grateful to hear them.

And finally, my blog planning page. On here I’m going to record days when I’m planning, reading researching as well as the titles of my actual posts.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my spreads for October. I would love to hear about your chosen themes for the month and what you have planned for the Autumn. Let me know in the comments if you get the chance.

Posted in art, creativity, watercolour painting, wellbeing, wellness

Creative time – using my new watercolours!

In my last blog post, I talked about my new Daler Rowley watercolours. Yesterday, I put them to good use on a simple painting project which I found in a magazine. The magazine, pictured below, is a creative special from the makers of Project Calm which includes ‘a carefully curated collection of wonderful creative projects for you to try at home using easy to find art supplies. Following a quick flick through the pages, I decided it looked like the perfect mag to provide inspiration and some easy projects to get me started with my watercolours and also some cheap Gouache paints that I picked up in TKMaxx a few weeks ago.

The magazine, which retails at £12.99 and can be purchased from Sainsburys and probably a host of other retailers, includes artists stories, information about useful art tools and supplies, a range of projects, plus a 64 page sketchbook and paintable postcards.

I decided to start with one of the postcards. The idea is you choose seasonal paint colours to fill a floral, paint by numbers, image. I decided to choose the summer one and therefore selected bright and intense colours for my design. On the reverse of the postcard, you add samples of your chosen colours and this becomes your palette.

My chosen colour palette

To be honest, this seemed like a good idea in theory, but in reality, you were unable to see the samples whilst painting on the front and you needed to carefully select the colours you chose for the paint by numbers system if you wanted a good looking image where the stems of the flowers were a green colour! I remedied the samples situation by taking a quick shot on my phone to refer to as I painted.

Although the results aren’t perfect, mainly because I could have done with a much tinier brush to keep within the lines, I did enjoy the process and found it very therapeutic. We all need some ‘me time’ and for me personally, nothing beats a little relaxing creative project.

I hope you enjoyed this quick post and it has inspired you to indulge in some creative me time or spend a few minutes doing something you find relaxing. On that note, I would love to hear about your favourite way to spend your ‘me time’ and why? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…

Much love, Laura xx

Posted in art, creativity, watercolour painting

My new Daler Rowney Travel watercolour set

My lovely new watercolours 😀

In a previous post, I shared some pages I’d done in one of my TN inserts using Tiger watercolour paints. They were really cheap, and had quite a chalky finish on the paper I used but at the time, I just wanted to give watercolour painting a go as I used to enjoy doing it at school and found it really relaxing.

Now that I’m more experienced, although still very much a beginner, I decided to buy a small set of higher quality paints. This travel set looked ideal as it contains quarter sized pans and 24 gorgeous colours so only basic mixing is required. Plus it was discounted at The Range so I grabbed it (along with lots of other bits and pieces that I couldn’t resist!).

Before I start using them for projects, I decided to make a swatch of the colours to tape into the lid so I could see what each paint pan looked like on watercolour paper. I cut down an A4 sheet from a pad and then rounded the corners so it would fit nicely.

I’m really pleased with the colours and look forward to using them creatively. You can use lots of water to get a washy colour or build up the colour to create something more opaque.

The only issue I had with them was that the images on the plastic which had the colour names and numbers on came off onto some of the pans. This didn’t cause too much of a problem but it obviously a bit of a fault in the design.

Overall, it’s a cute little package and you get plenty of colours in a neat tin. There’s a handle on the back for easy holding if you didn’t want to place them down on a surface but obviously I haven’t tried this out yet as I was working at my dining table!

If you have any questions which you would like answering about the set that I haven’t covered here, drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to respond and provide a suitable answer. Also, if anyone has watercolour tips either as part of their blog or as a YouTube video, leave me the link and I’ll check them out.

I hope you find this post useful and I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Until next time…

Laura x

Posted in Planning and journaling, wellbeing, wellness

BuJo love!

Hi all, hope you’re having a lovely Summer and that those of you who have kids are making the most of having some extra family time. Over the last few months, I’ve been falling in love with getting creative in my bullet journal all over again. So much so that I’m already on p.79 of my Scribbles That Matter notebook and have 16 pages at the end of the notebook filled too!

I can’t share every page or this blog post will take you the whole of the holidays to read but here’s some of my favourite spreads. I’ll keep it photo heavy so you can just see rather than spend ages reading and digesting! Of course, if you have any questions about the layouts or my supplies, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments.

Also, I’ve just read an email about adding columns to your WordPress blog posts so hopefully I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learnt below!

Enjoy x

Just a little reminder for those days when my mental health isn’t as good and I’m on a bit of a downer.

My cover page for August using a combination of stickers, hand lettering free hand drawing and colouring

I like to make a packing list for each time we go away. This time it was a visit to family. The great thing about putting it in my bullet journal is that in years to come, I can refer back to it to make it quicker and easier next time.

I’ve now started adding any leaflets or information on local events or exhibits to my BuJo so I have a handy reminder or ideas for places to go and things to see. This information is a combination of cuttings from The Crack magazine, screenshots from my phone and extra info which I’ve found online.

I’ve uplevelled my reading log and just love this layout which includes space to give hearts out of 5 for how much I loved reading a particular book.

As much as I’m loving drinking Summer drinks such as pineapple, orange and lemon squash and Mixed berries cider, I still need at least 3 cups of coffee to function on busy days!

I have lots of frames ideas pinned to one of my bullet journal Pinterest boards but as someone who needs a little reminder at hand (I’ve just turned 42 and need things right there and in multiple places!!!!) creating a spread in the back of my bullet journal has been really helpful. As you can see, this is ideas bank 1 as I’ve had to go on to a separate double page for yet more ideas.

This spread is a work in progress but I love it so far. And if you’re wondering what’s with the stickers and the black and brown paper – they’re hiding mistakes better than Tippex! (lol)

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the spreads I’ve shared. If they’ve given you some inspiration or got your creative juices flowing, don’t forget to leave me a comment and maybe even attach some photos of your own bullet journal spreads.

Much love,

Laura xx