sticky things


The backdrop to my 2017 is the year long art project, TWELVTY, where each month has its own color. An unexpected side benefit to this is I’ve got this clear delineation in my time. Each month is visibly new. A month is a manageable sized lump of time, and I’m relishing month-sized projects this year.

It all began in February.

On the evening of January 31st, full of pending-new-month-enthusiasm, I happened to be listening to an episode of  The Slow Home Podcast talking about #minsgame – the minimalist’s month long decluttering challenge.

Now, I’m not seeking minimalism, but the place I want to be is in that direction from here…

Hmmmmm…. 

This is the way it works:

Day 1 – get rid/recycle/donate/throw away one item of clutter.
Day 2 – two items,
Day 3 – three items – you get the idea…. for a month.

February, having 28 days, equates to 406 things. Just 406 things. No problem…

Did I stick to it all month?

No. No, I didn’t.

The first few days were hard. Because singling out just one/two/three things means resisting gathering up more than today’s allotted number… but that’s why it’s called a challenge, right? Through week one, as I made my coffee in the morning, I’d find the thing/s to put in the donations box. Odd things that don’t get used… bits and bobs. Easy. Fun. Yay!

By the end of week one there was a box of assorted junk/treasure to donate: 28 things.  

 

In week two I was distracted by the fact that in week 3 I was going away for few days, which meant either before or after my trip I’d have to collect up an extra 63 things in order to keep up.

Suddenly this felt weightier than the actual living amid clutter.

I’m really averse to rules and structure. And precise counting.

My inner adolescent was stomping about in my head ‘I don’t need to be told how to get my shit together…’  (and my inner adult  was surveying the clutter and shaking her head.)

But y’know what? – that first voice was right. 

All I’d needed was the nudge into action. To convince myself it was a game. By mid-week two I’d built up so much momentum I couldn’t limit myself (or be bothered to keep count), so I went with the flow and box after box of stuff has found its way out of my house.

recyclemenowBags and bags of ‘just in case’ material for projects that haven’t manifested, boxes of ‘holy cow that’s a bargain I’d be crazy not to’ excess quantities of *way more than I could ever use* plus all those things that were someone else’s sentimental memories. Memories of people long gone.

I sailed past the 406-thing-mark and didn’t look back.

As are the ripples. I’ve also deleted swathes of old emails. Documented trivia from over a decade ago: gone. Conversations long dead: gone. I’ve unsubscribed  and I’ve unbookmarked, and with every unchecked box and each ‘Are you sure?’ — YES, there’s a bit more brightness.

The relief is tangible.  I actually felt lighter.

 

But what I came to discover next was the sorting and choosing, the bagging and boxing, the discriminating between hasty enthusiasm I might later regret and misplaced sentimentalism, all that choosing and deciding, that wasn’t the final act.

My car contained the bags of stuff to donate, but there wasn’t a parking spot close enough to the charity shop. For longer than I expected.

The bags of textiles sat next to the door awaiting their final journey to the recycling centre for longer than I planned.

It’s like there’s an energy around these things, having a sticky quality to them.  Their energy is so entangled with my own, the process became multi-layered, and it’s not over yet. I’ve cleared out round one and now as I survey my surroundings it’s with a different eye.

There’s a new hierarchy and the filters are finer.

I am a work in progress.

And I’m learning more about being me all the while.


If you’re tempted to haul yourself from the mire of accumulated years of clutter, I can really recommend Rachel, the Messy Minimalist, on Youtube. She’s fab. My mantra in moments of doubt was: If Rachel can do this, so can I.  I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book, but I’ve got the gist of it and used some of her principles too. There are countless Youtubes on folks Konmari-ing their homes and lives too.

Good luck! X

 

upsidedowneries (20/52)


Life’s little upsidedowneries; they entertain, baffle, bemuse.

I considered not posting this page, tbh I was just relieved I took these first pics before I got too far in, so at least I had something to show for the week if I couldn’t bring myself to unveil the way it went from here….

IMG_4570

Mmmmm yummy Golden fluid acrylics: I have like about 5-6 of these weeny little bottles. They are expensive, but they are so lush. Delicious. Mmmmmm…. And just a few little drops scrape out soooo much colour:

IMG_4569

I love! I love these colours, I love the blending, I love so much about these paints. I recommend them wholeheartedly.

So maybe that’s exactly why it all seemed to fall apart when I began gluing other stuff all over this start to the page.

Eurgh. Hasty move.

But y’know what, I’ve been doing this for years and I’ve got good at letting go and moving along, overcoming those WHYDIDIDOTHAT?s and getting straight into the next OOHBUTNOWICANDOTHIS!

This week though, try as I might, they weren’t coming together for me. And then suddenly it’s the end of the week and I’m all WHAT!? where did that go? Cue: Massive flurry of activity.

So when I tried with some more of the lovely-insided envelope and a bit of Inktensity I just wound up covering over a load of what I had liked with something I liked a lot less. A lot less 😦

IMG_4568
‘Meh’

In a frenzied state of compulsive collage and paint scraping I hit it with all I could muster before I ran out of day. And I got this:

IMG_4616

I didn’t like it much. And then I went to bed.

This morning I got to taking the photos and as I was looking at them, something odd happened: Do you get this sometimes?

IMG_4620

A thing can be a thing, then with no warning, it becomes its opposite: It flips, reverses, and it nearly never gives you any warning.

IMG_4621

All that was rushed, ugly and scratchy the night before was now curiously deliberate looking.

IMG_4619

Almost artful…

IMG_4629

The colours that were chosen by serendipity: what’s on the table in front of me…IMG_4631

they’ve flipped from hideous clashing mismatch to interesting contrasts.

IMG_4625

In combination with taking photos at odd angles, I do believe this is really warming up to be something I like.

IMG_4626 IMG_4628

Even the ubiquitous eyes have evolved. And now I’m looking at it here, I can’t help see how the purples go with the purpley background on screen, Well whaddayouknow.

Envelopes and Time (19/52)


I shared recently how sometimes I’ll drop into the future and leave myself a note. Turns out I’d done it again for last week’s page:

IMG_4453

“Each morning I am born again. What I do today is what matters most.” Last week hadn’t kicked off to the best start, so it was maybe just what I needed to read. (Well done me-in-the-recent past). That in mind, collage on:

IMG_4454

Hey, d’u remember the whole paper-dying obsession I had a while back? (it continues, I just don’t go on about it so much these days). Of all the scrap paper I LOVE to make use of, I really like to use envelopes.

What is it? Idk, maybe how they’re so readily discarded, they appeal to the rescuer part of my character.

Also, so often have such pretty patterns hidden inside. So junk mail arrived this week and it was inside one of may fav prettily-insided style envelopes.

I’m aware that’s quite a niche in geekiness to have a fav prettily-insided style envelopes.

IMG_4564

This week the page as a whole left me a little Meh, but if anything saved it from it’s feel of half-arsed mediocrity, it’s this tiny honeycomb patterns.

So here’s how the page evolved….

IMG_4456 IMG_4458 IMG_4559

I feel like it isn’t really ‘done‘ and that’s why I don’t feel happy with it. But whatever, it’s last week and in the past now. I like the colours and the honeycomb and sometimes that just has to be enough.

Onward and upward!

5 Stages of Creative Obsession


I’m working on a new project.

It’s SO Much Fun!

It really crept up on me, without realizing I’d run the full gamut of the

5 stages of taking on a new and seemingly unlikely creative obsession

  1. What the…? Why would someone do that? That makes no sense to me…
  2. I’m not one to judge, but I can’t see any good coming from that. It’s maybe a way of using up time and craft supplies…maybe creating another stage in the life-cycle of a thing in between  ‘no longer fit for original purpose‘ and ‘recycling/landfill fodder’, but…
  3. IDK, I can’t help wanting to know more. If I watch enough of the limitless number of YouTube tutorials, blogposts, etc etc I’ll figure out why folks do it. Yeh. That’s what I’ll do: solve that mystery and just move on.
  4. Y’know what tho, that does look like fun. Fun is the primary reason I do a lot of what I do….
  5. I have to do that now!! Let me play!!

(I’ll show you a bit later.)

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.

IMG_4221


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.

IMG_4219

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!)

IMG_4268

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.

IMG_4298

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.

DIY-TV


A big life shift contains and consists of many minor life shifts. A happy change I’ve made is I now live in a house without at TV.

Seriously? Yep!

‘But you’re gonna get one, right…?’ Nope!

But hey, I got music, radio, podcasts, I got the all-encompassing-web. I got you guys! Most of all, I got way to much to do and think and make and be … TV’s a thing of the past in my world! ……… well, except for ……….. I have got my own special variation that came about through serendipity.

As I unpacked the boxes of belongings, I kept the strong n sturdiest for future use.

IMG_3441

I’m not gone get rid of this, now am I? Double walled = super tough, it’s a big flattish box I used to move biggish paintings.

IMG_3440

When I noticed its original use, its next incarnation began to enfold in my head. My very own better-than-a-tv…

IMG_3450
messy glue-y icky… not a neat corner in sight!

The big flat sides glued together (the smaller side edges will come into play in a future project, doubtless) Covered in a layer of paper and another of sheeting for a clean flat white drawing-pin-in-able surface. (but could equally be something bright n cheery, or mixy-matchy with furnishings – and is infinitely changeable too)

IMG_3451
stapled into submission, the corners didn’t square up too bad

And at last, the postcards and flyers I gather up at shows and on gallery trips get to see the light of day.

IMG_3452

So over time the ‘picture’ will evolve; it only shows images I love and inspires instead of distracting 🙂

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.

https://i1.wp.com/katwise.com/house_slices/house_003.jpg
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!

words and colors


If you’ve visited here before you’ll have to noticed two of my favourite things are words and colors.

So dying a dictionary seemed the obvious thing for me to do.

Flamboyant through to Flat, multiple ink stains

30 years ago this month I began high school.
Plea to Plough

30 years ago? Lordy!

ink soaked paper napkin squashed between Shun and Side

Equipped with the essentials dictated by the school, I now owned a Pocket Oxford Dictionary.

from Irk to Irresponible. Coffee painted on with teabag.

(At over 1000 pages and a good 2 inches thick, the average pocket size of an eleven year old child negated its title.)

Lure to Machine. Dripped inks and dye water.

Nonetheless this book has travelled with me through the decades.

Abbreviations to A. Squished inky paper

Repay through to Reproach. More inky goodness.

Battered, dog-eared, with scribbled notes in the margins here n there…

from Pylon to Quandry. Squashed strip of inky paper

… the spine went first but now it’s cover has separated totally from its papery wordfilled heart.

dip dyed dictionary

In it’s new incarnation – a colorful version of the former – it will one day become collage ingredients.

Encode to Engine. Colorex inks

As an aside, I sometimes catch a glance of myself in my art room, as if from an outsiders perspective. I’m ironing torn, stained scraps of paper. Phrases like ‘not doing anyone any harm’ in bemused but sympathetic tones echo in my head. I smile. They just don’t understand. Anyway, I do it cos I have to and it makes me happy. Nuff said.

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!)

Quilty Time


See what I did there? *snigger*

September’s just round the corner and me and the Inner Kid are looking forward to some cosiness. We reeeeeally want a velvet quilt in which to snuggle.

Now, something like 15 years ago we made one. It was a patchwork of scavanged velvet from car boot sales and charity shops, excuses, impatience and scant attention to detail. I didn’t have such a balanced relationship with IK back then, so handed over almost all the decision making, which culminated in a lovely colorful quilt, full of hurried inaccuracies, apology and shonky stitching. It began to develop holes almost straight away.

Fast forward another 10 years or so: We decide to re-incarnate/up-cycle said quilt into covers for floor cushions. Some long while after this they ended up in that limbo of ‘waiting for next idea’ space. The ragbag. The months of scavanging fabric, sorting and choosing, cutting into squares, sneezing from the fluff were so long past, but still fresh enough that we couldn’t totally let go.

Fast forward again to yesterday: I left IK sleeping off the excitement of the previous day and snuck upstairs with scissors and freshly washed quilt/cushion cover remnants.

Sssssshhhhh…. don’t tell, but I actually began trimming down the pieces to the same size (yes, measured not guessed)…. layed them out on the (ironed) backing fabric and pinned them. Just like a proper grown up would do!!!

I’ll post up some picks as we go along – meanwhile IK is yelling in the background: I have to paint the dream I just woke from. QUICK before it escapes!