Friday, 22 January 2010

Tubes of Paint

Ceramics seem to have taken over my life. Prone as I am to small obsessions I realize that most of last year was taken up with making-and-baking pots. And this blog too has mostly featured ‘pots’ so far and very little ‘paint’. So today I thought it high time I blog a bit about painting.

Let’s start with the basics - materials. I currently use acrylic paints on canvas. I usually buy through local art shops, partly because I like to support them but also because I love browsing and need items immediately (being too impatient to wait for the post). I buy the same brand of paint throughout so all of my stock comes from the same manufacturer which at the moment is Daler-Rowney. There’s a logic to this: you become familiar with the brand and their ranges, you get to know how the paint feels to work with - and the paints themselves should be compatible with each other. (I’ve heard for instance that if you mix two different brands together they don’t always like it; but this could be just a marketing ploy!)

Of the Daler-Rowney ranges I usually opt for a 75ml tube (which are the chunky tubes about 14cm long) from the ‘system 3’ range, partly because it’s cheaper but also because it’s fairly free flowing and quick to dry. (I also tend to be impatient when painting and don’t like to wait around for things to dry!) And then sometimes I buy a tube of ‘Cryla’ heavy body acrylic colour in a 75ml tube - or the smaller 38ml tube - also from Daler-Rowney. This is a thick, dense paint which gives more texture. These are more expensive and have a tendency to clog in the tube if you’re not careful about putting the caps back on properly, but they give more depth to the surface where the ‘system 3’ alone might sometimes seem a little flat. I also usually buy a white in both systems – this means when I mix I have the choice to use a free flowing white or a thicker, more textured white to beef up the colours.

Most of the time I use only water as a mixing medium and rarely use any ‘fixing’ varnishes. I’ve tried acrylic mediums in the past but found them too fussy and the varnishes too creamy over the surface which seemed to take the edge off the colours somehow. Maybe I wasn’t using them right? Anyway, at the moment I avoid them and prefer the matt finish the acrylics give just on their own.

And those are my paints! Just an intro I suppose and I haven’t even started talking about the colours I use…but I’ll leave that for another day and another blog entry. In the meantime though I just wanted to mention one thing about ceramics before I go! Today I found out that my turquoise buttons were featured on I Love Handmade Blog. So thank you Kev for choosing them! Here’s a screenshot but you can also click here for the blog entry and here for my buttons.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Osmosis Launch

(buy this mug and mug warmer set here)

Snow has stopped play. The temperature in my studio can only be described as perishing. I’ve given up trying to do any work in there. Instead I’ve spent the past couple of days curled up on the sofa with several blankets doing ‘admin’ and drinking lots of hot tea (occasionally alcohol) in an effort to keep warm.

Just before the snow descended however, my sister and I managed to launch our new project. We’ve been doing local craft fairs and markets together for well over a year now and during those pauses in between talking to customers we’ve been hatching plans to set up a small collaborative craft shop on Folksy to showcase some of our design ideas.

My sister Sue (who also lives on the Isle of Wight) is a textile designer, handknitter and handweaver who mostly works with wool. The inspiration for our project came from the materials we use: we noticed during our craft shows how gorgeous Sue’s handmade woollen textiles looked against my ceramics. It was a logical step therefore to start coming up with some designs that would incorporate both of our craft skills. Our first design project – my rustic mugs and Sue’s handknitted mug warmers - can be seen pictured above, posing in my snow-bound garden. You can also see these listed in our new Folksy shop Osmosis where they can be bought as a unique gift set. We hope to add more designs soon.

Other news. Just wanted to mention that a few days ago my white buttons were featured on the lovely gooseberrymoon blog as a part of a snow-inspired post. So thank you again gooseberrymoon!

Well that’s it for today from the Isle of Wight – all puns intended. Officially ‘snowed in’ and steadily running out of milk...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

New Year Buttons

It’s a New Year and I’m looking forward to working on some new projects. I’ve spent the last couple of days making plans and writing out lists for developing my range of ceramics which hopefully I’ll be blogging about in the future. In the meantime though I’ve started to re-stock some of my basics. Today I’ve been making some buttons here pictured above freshly made and drying. (These buttons are currently available in my folksy shop in white and turquoise.)

At the moment while the weather is so cold and damp, things are taking much longer to dry in my studio. In fact it’s taking several days even for buttons to dry out when normally they would be ready by the evening or at least next morning. Some small flat items are also curling and warping which I don’t normally have a problem with. Initially I tried to avoid this by flipping the pieces over at various intervals to even out the drying on each side. This eliminated some of the curling but not all of it. So I’ve had to sandwich the pieces between sheets of newspaper and small planks of wood in an effort to keep them flat. Of course this means they take even longer to dry, so perhaps the logical answer would be to bring them into the house to speed everything up. At the moment though with clear nights and frost lasting all day in the shadows, it doesn’t feel much warmer indoors!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll soon be moaning about things drying out too quickly. In the meantime however I just wanted to say Happy New Year to anyone reading this; hope you’re keeping warm!