Here We Go … 16/52


This week, and how it took shape, began with these elephants who dropped through my letterbox on a leaflet for the zoo.

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Amongst all the hoarded nonsense and clutter that accumulates our lives  …. This week I found a box of old sheet music, and a bunch of books, all way too tatty and damaged to donate, but too much like art materials to discard.

But….Y’know, unless its actually contaminated with something that can’t be cleaned off  or can make me ill / kill me, it’s almost always got a future as art materials. And if it’s paper, it’s collagable.

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Still on the collage buzz (that’s here for a while. I reduced a knee high pile of magazines to 4 boxes of awe inspiring faces, backgrounds, patterns, colours and words recently. There’s a LOAD more of this to come!)

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The elephants’ environment mainly consists the scraps on my table leftover from another little doing I’m working on in parallel. I’ll show you how that’s coming on soon. I like how fate and synchronicity get to choose the ingredients sometimes. It lets me off the hook, and they usually do a fine job.

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I’ve found a Feeding Fascination: Feed My Soul ~ Feed My Heart ~ Feed My Being.

I’m so nourished by my art, and as of this week I’m also on a literal nourishment adventure too, I’m on a keto kick. I’m gonna give it a month and see how it pans out – day 5 is too soon to comment! – so watch this space.

A Sacred Space


I was pondering this thought: a sacred space doesn’t have to be a physical space.

It can be a space in my day, a number of minutes I hold back from everyday use.
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A little bit of room in the day to release some thoughts into the ether.

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And ask the rhetorical questions.

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A few moments to flick water at a book and not care if you get ink splashes on your face.

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Time to draw round the edges of that beige smeary paint. Because you like the sensation of pencil over grainy gesso. Also, just because.

These times the what and the why don’t matter. Only the doing matters. And the allowing the chance to do that matters most. This is a sacred space.

back and forth and backth again


Like a meandering meandery thing, so much to say, so little sense of order…!

Amongst the changes I’m progressing through in recent months, I’ve re-aquired a bunch of stuff that’s been in storage for a number of years. Some of which: a veritable shedload (well, technically, half a van load) of miscellaneous textiles which are gradually cycling into new creations. From linen to clothes and curtains, some are older than I am, some scrips and scraps, but they all have fantastic futures as somethings beautiful and/or useful (in most cases, I hope, both).

the seat from where I'm typing to you!
the seat from where I’m typing to you!

Then at the same time the gods of synchronicity have sent some gloriously inspirational folks to cross my path. I can’t leave them unmentioned in this post.

I encountered Raggedy Rags earlier this year at the London Knit & Stitch Show.

Raggedy Rags – Dress like nobody’s judging

Drawn in by the delight of uniquely upcycled clothing and the wonderful mantra I’ve since adopted as my own: Dress like nobody’s judging. I wish I’d gone back for that red coat, but I did leave with a head full of fresh ideas. And I’ll catch another coat another time.

Then the colorfulicious Katwise pinged up on my web-wanderings radar. Recently her splendidly multi-coloured home has been featured in articles all over the place, you may have seen it? As an artwork it’s amazing even if it surpasses your personal technicolour tolerances.

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living the rainbow dream

But beyond this, it led me to her sumptuous knitwear regenerations.

Katwise Elf Coat -  Recycled Sweater Tutorial - Plus size

If you have even an inkling of a desire to learn more I can really recommend her ebooks.

Between these guys and the web-rabbit-holes I’ve explored as a result, I’m all fired up for some cosy winter sewings coming up soon. Just need Santa to bring me a serger (or eBay, gotta be a little realistic) and I’m good to go!

Boxy Day


As a kid I assumed Boxing Day was a reference to the amount of boxes strewn about the place after ‘unwrapping day’.

Ok, hands up: When you surveyed the goodies Santa brought you, how many of you were also eyeing up the boxes and packaging debris… as a wonderous array of new paper, card and art mmaterials?

Xmas was low key in my world this year – I’m happy with this – but was heartened by IK‘s delight at the fabulous orange gift bag and box I received. Oh yeh, and of course the thing inside it too. It stirred up young memories of hearing my mum on the phone… ‘yes she loved the gift… though TBH she spent more time playing with the box it came in…’

every last ounce of goodness


I’ve been dying fabric for the quilt lately. I’ve been dying fabric for years. It got me thinking: The only stage I don’t like is towards the end when the residue dye – as it’s no longer active – has to be poured away. Why? it’s mostly water. But something inside me winces, it’s beautifully colored water and I don’t want to waste a drop of color.

In my perpetual quest for ways to wring every last ounce of goodness out of every stage in a process, last week I had one of those why did I never think of this before epiphanies.

rolled paper in a jam jar of dye dregs It’s no good to dye fabric with now, but it will dye paper!

Decanting the dye dregs into jam jars, rolling up scrap paper and standing them in the jar.

Then just let science take over: the water soaks in and climbs up the dry paper bringing the remaining pigment in its wake.

When they’re soaked through, or the water in the jar has dried up, or when I just need to clear some space I empty the lot into a bucket to finish intermingling and eventually dry.


dye dreg paper dying

It’s satisfying on so many levels: using up color, repurposing scrap paper, creating patterns for future collages and art works. It does it’s own thing when left to its own devices. It’s messy and unpredictable (just like me) And it’s effectively better than free!

More variations on the theme:

  • Dry paper, water-splashed paper, soaked paper (hot & cold water)
  • Letting the liquid soak part way up, then up-ending the paper so it runs down and creeps up at the same time
  • Pouring more color down the inside of the paper rolls
  • Using paper that’s been part printed on the inkjet so the colors merge and dribble into each other
  • Coffee dregs instead of / mixed with colored water
  • Just water + inkjet printed paper (but not laser printed – that ink won’t run)
  • Scrumpled paper for a veiny effect
  • Glossy photo paper (make good use of those expensive printer mistakes!)

Seeing through new eyes


Over the last couple of years, my perspective has shifted. Like after an epiphany, I began to see differently. Expectations and assumptions either altered or vanished.

I’ve always enjoyed the process, creating, painting, etc-ing…. but inevitably it would go wrong and be set aside (that paper/fabric/material etc was expensive/so nice before I ruined it… for these reasons I can’t through it away. Haunted by a residual value… It must remain as a warning not to repeat this mistake. It must fester. It can sit there stewing in guilt, shame, regret). Weeks, months, years would pass. These ghosts of ideas would move house with me. Boxed up past failures.

Art school taught me to question these feelings, the judgemnents I made. Finally I found out why I’d kept so many of these past attempts: they weren’t wrong, they just weren’t finished!. They took a detour from the path I’d imagined for them, but that didn’t mean their journey was over.

Through these ‘new eyes’, I see possibility in so many places. This week I’ve been playing with water – as bits of dyed paper lie about my work space, often splashed and used to dry wet brushes, I came to notice how the dried watermarks disrupted the pigments of the dye/ink. This had to be investigated further…..!

Water brushes are the perfect tool for this!


The moral to this story? Keep playing! Keep on swimming! 😀

Happy endings


Ingredients:

  • Paper. I can recommend a HP940C printer manual, but guess anything made out of paper would do just as well 😉
  • Procion dye. Super vivid colors. I used Magenta and Yellow.
  • Brusho. (Or any ink). I chose Brusho for it’s intense colors
  • Spray inks – like dylusions or Ranger color wash. Or any ink in a spray bottle
  • Water – spray bottle or brushed on to merge colors
  • About a week for inter-page drying and adding ink/dye to the uncolored bits. Building up the colors in stages prevents murky colors
  • Sunshine and a washing line for quicker drying (optional)
  • Suspended expectations. This project steers itself!

Here are some of the results…….

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(More on how this came into being here)

papery things


The dyed printer manual has really got me thinking about all the other redundant paper lurking in the house and office – future dying ideas………..

  • All instruction manuals – speshly those ones relating to things long broken, gone or forgotten
  • Phone directories; the Yellow Pages would be a fab base for warm-colored dyings
  • Newspaper, magazines (but not the very glossy type – unless there’s time to give them a very thorough scrumpling to break the surface up)
  • Old bills and receipts, tickets, shopping lists, that kinda stuff
  • Paper bags

Added to previously explored and sucessfully played with……..

  • Old envelopes
  • Out of date manuals/instructions, insurance docs (they send me all this art paper every year!)
  • Diary Pages – the calendar pages, the lists of international holiday dates and all the extra stuff that isn’t actual diary & the unused pages!
  • Maps
  • Sheet Music
  • Misprints from the computer – y’know when it fails to feed the paper and you get the top inch on one page and the rest on another. Both of these!

Any more for the list? Yeh……there must be! All suggestions welcomed 🙂