Source: Dean, A Painting With Thread.
I am very lucky to have such a talented partner. She often surprises me with things like this.
I will have to find ways to repay the compliment.
Thank you, my love!
Hello dear art lover!
I am a self employed, full time artist and have been for some years now. I struggle to make a living and most months I am one rent cheque away from eviction. I live very frugally and put as much as I can of what I earn back into new projects and materials.
I have never asked for money in any way online before, but I now see many people using this method successfully to enable them to continue working as a creative / content creator. As someone who works and lives alone I don’t really have much of a support network to speak of (don’t get out much, you see?) I’m really hoping that seeking patrons is the way to go.
As little as £1 or $1 a month for regular updates of work-in-progress pictures and sculptures could go towards keeping me with a roof over my head and food in my belly. Not to mention materials and supplies etc., which have become insanely expensive these days.
For larger monthly donations and one-off contributions I am offering original artworks, mostly illustrations, but also paintings and small sculptures. Simply send me a picture to work from and I will make an original piece of art. It can be a picture of anything at all.
I have also set up a ‘Goal’ on Patreon. The Goal is to make the garage in the garden into a studio so that I can work more easily all year round and create many more pieces of art and hopefully more sophisticated works of art too.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope it persuades you to become a patron, and if it does I will be eternally grateful.
I recently had a bit of a departure from illustration and design work. Many years ago my good friend, Jamie Sargeant, a sculptor of some renown, gave me a few pointers when it comes to carving letters in stone. I picked up only the most basic of techniques and never explored them fully, but gleeaned just enough to feel that some 20 years later it just might be worth giving it another go all-be-it in the simplest of styles.
It all started when I decided to have a closer look at a rock that was tucked away in a dark and overgrown corner of the garden at the base of a large hazel tree between two sheds. I lifted it out (without doing my back in!) to find that it is in fact what looks like a large random lump of concrete that had gone black on top with time and the dripping of sap etc.
The first thing I did, after it had sat in a new spot for a few days, was to begin carving out a bowl like shape in the top to collect water. I had no intentions to do much else at this stage.
My partner, Anna-Lena, was staying at the time and always inspires me to do more creatively-speaking.
Once I got into the rhythm of carving the bowl I knew I wanted to do more, so spent a couple of days trying to think of what could be added. Initially I was not thinking of adding anything that had too many letters as I knew they could be tricky and time consuming. I even thought I might only add a couple of letters, or a symbol of something. However, the line ‘God is in the rain’ entered my head early on and nothing came to replace it, and once I’d started to draw the letters out it didn’t seem as long as I first thought is was when it comes to the number of letters involved.
The quote fitted all too well, and needed very little adjustment in its placing and spacing, which was a very pleasant surprise. Not that it would withstand close scrutiny.
The placing of the quote and the use of capital letters for both God and Rain happened very organically and without thought. I’d created the bowl shape using a claw chisel but was feeling ready to give the lettering a go. The first couple of letters I carved didn’t go as well as they might have as I had forgotten to rest my left wrist on the rock with each strike of the chisel, so the carving was a bit shaky to say the least. Luckily Anna-Lena pointed out to me that I didn’t need to carve it in order of the letters going from left to right, but instead I could pick the easier letters to carve first. This was a very good move
I also got a new handle for the larger of the two mallets I have, and a new cleet to go in the end of the smaller of the two – a beautiful little lead lettering mallet. I’d be lost without these as far as this kind of work goes so it is very much worth keeping them in good condition and it made all the difference.
Keeping a sharp edge on my chisels was one of the trickiest parts and not a skill I ever learned properly. However, I managed, but some new sharpening stones wouldn’t go a miss.
Between carving the letters I did little bits on the bowl too and began to widen it out to the edge at this point.
Below is a picture of how I worked. The whole process took a couple of weeks. I only carved a letter or two a day and each one took 30 minutes to an hour to do. The bowl took quite some time – possibly about the same amount of time as all the letters combined.
But I did get some help during that time.
Once all the letters were carved I decided to remove the marks left by the claw chisel in the bowl part of the new birdath rock using a flat chisel. This went surprisingly well too. In the picture below you can see the area that is still left to be smoothed in the base of the bowl.
I really love how the cut letters stand out from the stained surface of the concrete.
And it looks great in a typical English Summer!
I repositioned the new birdbath to a spot a few feet away from a small apple tree in which I have hung several bird feeders that get plenty of use and need constant topping up. It took a few days but eventually I saw a wee birdy having a drink from it. Haven’t caught a picture yet but I’m sure I will soon.
View from the kitchen window, but it’s a good 20 paces away.
The birdbath has been in its new spot for a couple of weeks now and in one sense is finished, but I’m inclined to think that I may do more to it yet, just in tidying up some of the letters and continuing to smooth out the bowl section.
This project was a real joy and a good reminder that it is always worth having a go at something one may have never tried before, or not tried for many years. It’s all about enjoying the process more than worrying about the results.
I am also encouraged to have another go as this concrete lump was so uneven and un-consistant in its texture throughout that a smoother and more even material might be fun to try next. I may use some cement I have to make a surface to carve into. This might prove easier than trying to get a piece of stone from somewhere. It’s not cheap and not easy to transport when one doesn’t drive.
Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by.
Have you had a go at something new recently, or had another go at something you’ve not done for a long time? I’d love to hear about it! Please let me know with a comment below.
I kept hearing about sourdough bread, but only in quite vague ways, though always with a positive overtone, but mostly just that it should be tried. Though the actual descriptions I heard, which were very minimal, never really inspired me to go out of my (normal) way of making bread. The past half dozen years or so I’ve been making bread at home, mainly because I live in a rural part of the world and don’t drive, and I don’t want to fill my one small freezer with bread. Though it does have to be said that for decades the quality of bread I was buying in supermarkets or even in bakeries was so bad that it could be infuriatingly so. Most breads available to buy in cities are virtually worthless, and have to be dealt with so cautiously or they might tear apart, disintegrate under a grill, or go stale or mouldy after 2 days in the summer months. I noticed a vast improvement as soon as I started to make bread at home, and for a year or two I would make a few loaves at a time, by hand, and freeze a couple. Eventually I got a small bread maker too and started to use it more and more. The results are not as good and I can only make one at a time, but it is nice that they can be filled, switched on, and left to it, though mine did need some attention at mid-way points, so it’s not like I could leave the house and come back to a well made loaf of bread nicely cooling on a wire rack.
I heard the smallest part of some programme on the radio where the virtues of sourdough were being extolled yet again. I heard only enough to make me think that I must Google this later, which I did.
The first thing that has to be done is to make Sourdough Paste. This takes 7 to 10 days and is an interesting process: Basically flour and water are mixed together and left in a warm (but not too warm) place. Each day a little more flour and water are added. After a couple of days it will start to froth, and after a couple more it will start to smell very beery. Keep adding a little more flour and water each day. Eventually it will froth a little less but still be a bit bubbly. If too much paste accumulates during this process simply pour some away and top up again with more flour and water. Don’t be tempted to use it too soon – give it at least a week. Once it’s done it’s ready to use, and so long as each time it is used it is topped up, or ‘fed’ with more flour and water it will keep indefinitely. The smell dies down almost completely, and it can then be stored in the fridge if it is to be used within a couple of weeks, and if not it should be either frozen or poured out on to a surface to dry out to a powder to later be reconstituted with tepid water. Here is a link to a more detailed description of how to make Sourdough Starter Paste
When I first started to make bread it was a bit of a revelation insomuch that it was far easier than I had been lead to believe bread making was, and even using the cheapest ingredients the results were always vastly better than anything I could buy, or that was even available. I remember being put off the idea of making bread for years due to the need for yeast which, I had got the impression, was a tricky to handle and store ingredient, and perhaps it was. These days however, and for a very long time now, the most common form of yeast is the dried stuff which stores for ages and which is simply thrown into the mixture (no need for warm water, sugar, whisking and time). I was never really sure what sour dough was, but always assumed that it would be a dense and, not surprisingly, sour loaf, and for some reason I was led to believe that it didn’t use yeast. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Not only does sourdough have yeast, it has lots of it! This is due to Wild Yeast that exists in the air and is cultivated in the Sourdough Paste. It takes about a week to make the first batch, but after that it keeps indefinitely and is simply topped up each time some is used for baking. Where normal bread dough, that uses either fresh or dried yeast, will rise to a little over double it’s height once baked, sourdough will easily rise treble its size from the kneaded stage to the baked stage. It is a much moister bread than is usual and has a wonderful elasticity to it. Less is needed, it is more nutritious , and it keeps longer and in better condition than most other breads.
The benefits mentioned above are mainly due to the longer rising times (which are the only drawbacks to baking bread in this way that I can see) needed to make a loaf of sourdough bread. The first rising is done overnight and the second is for at least half of the next day.
Almost any kind of flour can be used to make your bread and anything that would normally be added can be added such as seeds or fruit or savoury things.
In the picture below you can see a bowl with a mixture of wholemeal and white flour, a beaker of sourdough paste and measuring jug.
These are the amounts I use:
500 Grams of flour 300 Millilitres of paste
200 Millilitres of water
A teaspoon of salt
Here they are mixed together.
Sourdough makes a very wet and sticky dough but doesn’t take much kneading at all. It is a good idea to cover hands with a little oil to stop it sticking to the surface one is working on.
As soon as some paste has been measured out to cook with it should be topped up with another couple of hundred grams of flour and a couple of hundred millilitres of water, mixed in to make more paste and popped back into the fridge. But never with an airtight lid! Either use a damp cloth or, ideally, with a lid with a vent in it or left open very slightly. Otherwise gas will build up and it will come off with quite a loud pop!
After the first kneading.
Covered with a damp tea-towel and left to rise.
Ready for second kneading.
Ready to bake
A baked loaf.
Because it rises so much I find I get more bread than when using standard methods of bread making for the amounts of ingredients used.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and consider giving sourdough bread a go. Please let me know if you do, and contact me if any more info would be useful.
Thanks to a friend who posted a link to a great little post by Angry Dog Art about the KUM Automatic Long Lead / Pencil Sharpener I was reminded of clutch pencils, which by coincidence I had recently searched for online but not by that name as I didn’t know that that is what they are called.
I ordered one of the KUM sharpeners to begin with, and then searched online for ‘clutch pencils’, and not propelling pencils, claw pencils, or grabby thing pencils. Not surprisingly there are lots to choose from. I searched for one that I thought looked reasonably well made but also reasonably priced. One can spend a fortune, of course, but to my pleasant surprise I found a make of clutch pencil called KOH. On seeing an image of one I had a vague sense of having seen one before. It comes with a specially designed sharpener in one end that I would not have remembered seeing before without seeing it again. I don’t think I actually had one of these pencils as a child (and it would have been wasted on my if I had) but other kids had them, and maybe even one of my brothers did too. The design has not changed in over 30 years, at least!
This is the pencil:
and here is a picture of the built in sharpener
Clever stuff, huh? And all for the modest price of about £2.95
I’ve had a fine time over the past week or two using the new pencil to work on a bunch of illustrations for a children’s book I am currently doing for a friend (the person who shared the post about the sharpener, no less!) You can see Abi’s author site here: http://abiburlingham.com/
I also treated myself to a very chunky clutch pencil that I found in a local shop. It was less than a fiver and feels nice in the hand. I’ve sanded it and oiled it (it has a wooden body) but I haven’t actually drawn with it yet. This is what it looks like:
And here is a picture of the KUM sharpener:
It gives an extra long lead to pencils when sharpened, and has two small bladed for sharpening leads in clutch pencils too.
I shall invest in some more leads for the pencils soon. There’s a nice variety for the chunky one, including charcoal sticks and sepia sticks etc. Hopefully I can get some softer leads for the standard sized clutch pencil too.
If you made it this far then thanks for reading!
It is so weird how memory works (or doesn’t). What was the last thing you remembered that you had forgotten you had forgotten? 😉
I thought I would have finished this by now, but there is still a ways to go. But I am very happy with how things have developed. Rather than simply increasing the size and amount of detail in this new version of the figure I was hoping to actually push the design further and discover something new in the shapes and forms. And I did! Hallelujah!
I covered the stages of the sculpting process up to now in my last post. This is where it had got to by then.
While I was happy with the increased detail of the whole piece, and especially the feet, I did feel that I had mostly just made it bigger. Something was missing, which in artistic terms usually means the complete opposite and that something needs taking away. I continued to work on areas that I knew needed refining: The arms, hands, head, face, and hair. The neck… Oh, the neck! Had such problems with that for some reason; No wonder her head kept detaching itself (see previous post). Shoulders, back, waist, bum, thighs, knees, calves, feet and toes. I know it just sounds like a list of body parts, but truly, these become things in their own right when sculpting them. The hair was proving tricky too, especially around the neck area. —
As is often the way the next step I needed to take to push things further came to me while I was half asleep one night: The shins had to go! It was the shape the knees and feet made that interested me, and I realised that I could more or less connect the two and remove the shins almost entirely.
One of the main reasons for wanting to make this piece again, besides the fact that the original was only ever meant as a maquette, was that I was keen to make the feet far more realistic while at the same time also being quite distorted. It took a lot of cutting away but eventually, and with a wonderful sense of satisfaction, I cut away enough clay that one side of a foot finally connected with the other side, and they became an actual pair of feet rather than only looking okay from one side or the other, but not really from all round. They were now completely separate except for where the balls of the big toes touch… just.
I got some help at this stage with removing the stick that had been inside the body and head to work as a support. Luckily it came out without any problems. Phew!
This is what sculpting in my make-shift studio can sometimes look like.
Isn’t clay gorgeous!
Finally started to define the hair.
Hands still need defining.
Faces are always tricky at this scale, and at this angle. Ideally I need to raise the sculpture to above eye level in order to be able to work on it comfortably, but it can get a bit unstable so more often than not I just kneel on the floor so that the table is at shoulder-ish height.
There’s still quite a bit to do, but it’s all just finishing off detail now, and there are no more major changes to be made.
One rather huge thing that does have to be done, and I may already have left it too late, is that in any place where the clay is more than one inch thick I need to cut out a ‘window’, scoop out some clay, and re-attach the ‘window’ that was removed. Scary, but it has to be done if I am to have any hope of getting the finished piece fired in a kiln. Clay can explode if any thicker than an inch, so not only would it be a loss of work, but it could also potentially damage anything else in the kiln. I’m still trying to find a kiln in the local area, and making contact with people to see if they may be able to include a piece or two of mine some time in the not too distant future. Fingers crossed!
And thanks to you, whoever you are, for stopping by and reading.
Do please leave a comment, and or subscribe. I really enjoy hearing back from anyone who’s taken the time to read a post of mine.
Have an awesome September everybody!
The idea for this sculpture came to me several years ago, and I made a small version of the figure, or maquette, at the time, but have always wanted to make a slightly larger and more detailed version since. There is still a certain amount to do but hopefully what I’ve done so far is worthy of a new post from my somewhat quiet account.
Each photograph shows about an hour or two’s work at each stage.
At this point I added a couple of inches of clay to the bottom of the sculpture and remodelled the feet to give the whole piece more height. I had to lengthen the legs too.
The head had fallen off about a dozen times by now, and the upper and lower arms kept breaking too, partly as I was struggling to resolve the issue of size and ratio of body to feet.
There is still much to do, but at least I have resolved the problem of her head falling off all the time. Well, at least for now, that is. Next I will shorten the legs quite dramatically by removing the knees, and I will also continue to sculpt away at the shins.
I love working with clay; It has such a sensual feel to it. But I do feel I should investigate other materials that are more stable to work with and that do not need firing in a kiln, which is something I don’t have access to. Either that, or I must get into the habit of using some kind of underlying support for whatever I am modelling or sculpting.
There has been an explosion in sculpting techniques over the past few decades with artists creating new forms and discovering new media. It seems that we truly are limited only by our imaginations. From shadow sculptures to statues of horses made entirely from kitchen utensils. I love it all!
Do you have a favourite sculptor or sculpture? Or do you have a favourite genre, style or medium? Or have you been surprised by the discovery of a new form of sculpture you had not known before?
Thanks for stopping by, reading, and viewing my pictures. If you liked this post please leave a comment and subscribe.
This is a little funny, really, as it was after reading, but not because of reading this very amusing post this morning (that I discovered via India Drummond, another brilliant blogger and author) about all these crafty ideas we see posted all over the internet, and that we will almost never actually try, that I decided to give one of them a go today.
They call it moss graffiti, and I have seen a few examples of it, and it can be… mossed effective! However that’s not what I’ve decided to start with. – I’m going to do something a bit simpler first.
I began by collecting some moss from the garden and bringing it into the kitchen.
I added all the other ingredients
Had to keep adding cornflour but I can’t say it seemed to have much effect, or maybe I just used way too much water, or didn’t give it time to thicken, or something. Anyway, it sort of looked okay, so I took it out to the garden, along with an old paintbrush. I have been using a couple of baking trays as birdbaths for the past few months, and recently decided to make little plinths for them as there are a bunch of old bricks knocking around the garden. I’ve made two of these and it is great to see them getting used by the various winged creatures that frequent my little slice of heaven.
I need to keep them moist for the next couple of weeks and hopefully in time the moss will take hold. If it doesn’t work then all I’ve lost is a 50 pence pot of yoghurt. But fingers are crossed!
Have you ever tried any of the many crafty ideas seen online? Know of any that really work? Half a tennis ball with a slit in it for holding tea-towels, perhaps? No? Oh, go on… give something a go! And then tell me about it 🙂