January 29, 2016

I'm So Ready 2016!

Yay! My last little baby started school today, and while I'm a little sad, the excitement of a fresh new year of creating ahead of me has me very excited!

I have product ideas in the pipeline, SO many painting ideas and a whole lot of motivation to see lots of projects through to fruition.

Lately I have been dreaming about 3D sculpture in plaster and clay.

And when the inspiration strikes, you need to take advantage of that and make the time to do these things.

I started off playing around with plaster. It's cheap, accessible and you don't need any fancy equipment to get started. I made three shapes by scrunching up newspaper and wrapping around them with masking tape. I then used plaster bandages that you soak in water and layer on your form. Kind of like paper mache. I then finished with a direct plaster method to smooth out all the bumps from my wonky work underneath. I don't know why but I just loooove the texture of plaster. The smooth bits, the rough bits, the subtle faceted parts and it's matte finish. Love love love. You can see in the second photo I have started to paint one. I'm just making it up as I go, and the paint sinks into the plaster a bit so it has this aged appearance to it.

Just look at that texture! *Swoon*. I'd love to get plaster and just trowel it on to all of my house walls and go nuts with paint effects!

(Speaking of which, I have nearly finished a wall mural- will show that soon.)

And here's a clay sculpture I have started. I am so drawn to clay as well, although I'm not sure if I'm disciplined enough to finish a whole project before it's half dry. I have left it to dry a bit so I can work on it when it's in it's leathery stage, I just need to make sure I do it before it gets too dry! I haven't used clay for years so this all feels pretty new to me. I would love to do a short ceramics course one day. (I can picture husband rolling his eyes right now!)

Just thought I'd check in and let you know that I have big plans for this year, so expect to see more of me! I hope you are feeling as excited and motivated for the fresh new year ahead as I am.

Jules :)

January 20, 2016

Bohemian Pendant Light Shade Tutorial

I have a thing for creative lighting. Handmade, eclectic, colourful... 

I have a Pinterest board dedicated to lighting here. (I would love one of those octopus lights, maybe one day..)

To satisfy my need for creative lighting I am happy with a quick project like this simple fabric covered light shade. (Fabric by my all time fave fabric designer Anna Maria Horner.)

Or the project could be more in depth like in the next photo. This one I made from an old op-shopped wire light covering, using extra wire to make the curly parts and all sorts of bits and pieces to decorate it. I had a personal challenge going on when I made this one: to only use what I had & to buy nothing new. A pretty lightbulb would probably look much nicer in there!

But if you think you're ready for something out there and you love the boho look like I do, then have a go at this pendant light. It's crazy and wonky, but I think that adds to the handmade charm, don't you think?

First up, gather your supplies. Buy yourself one of those cheap DIY pendant light kit from your local hardware. This one didn't set me back more than $15. (I think it was around $12.. bargain!)

If you're a craft supplies hoarder like me, this personality trait will serve you well. Gather some or all of these:
  • beads, beads, and more beads of all shapes, materials, colours & sizes
  • thrifted/ op- shopped jewellery
  • wool/ string/ threads/ cord/ ribbon
  • ric rac/ lacey bits/ pom pom strands etc
  • artistic wire (usually available in beading sections of craft stores). I used 22 gauge but use what you have- the colour doesn't matter
  • fabric scraps
  • Galvanised wire (I used coat hanger thickness, then a thinner one for wrapping around the thicker wire)
  • spray paint (optional) 
Also have some sewing supplies like a needle, thread & scissors on hand. You will also need some pliers for bending & cutting wire.

I had been collecting old jewellery from op shops for a while before I started this project.


Make your first loop out of the thicker wire, double thickness, and wrap around with the thinner wire to secure. I then made the middle section by twisting the wire a few times around a paint brush end (use a similar tool). This little loop that's made will have the light cord running through it so make sure it's not too small. You only want it slightly wider than the cord. I made my loop 14cm (5 1/2") in circumference. Make the ends long and bend them around the circle and wind around everything with the thinner wire to secure.

(Note: The thicker the wire and stronger you can make this part of the light the better; I found after adding so many beads that it added a lot of weight, so if you use stronger wire yours may not be so wonky!)

Then make your larger circle. I doubled the wire over then wrapped the thinner wire around, as in the previous step. Try and make these circles as uniform & flat as you can. My second loop measured 30cm (11 3/4") in circumference.

Spray paint your loops if you wish. I happened to have some lime green spray paint left over from a different project. Another option would be to wrap thin strips of fabric around the wire to pretty it up, using a bit of craft glue to secure as you go.

Suspend your small circle from the ceiling to make it easy to work on.

Now, start wiring or tying on your beads and old necklaces. Some old necklaces I had to rethread, others I just snipped the old catches off and wired them up straight away. Some are tied with bead thread, some with the artistic wire. Try to get the total length around 67- 77cm (26- 30") for each beaded strand. Staggered lengths look better rather than them being all the same length. If you have short necklaces you can always tie some together to make longer strands. The more eclectic, the better. I made a total of 35 strands.

It's surprising how cheap party favour/ granny necklaces can be transformed into something beautiful :) You could plait wool or fabric strips, sew beads along them, thread beads onto ribbon, tie bows onto bead strands... let your imagination run wild. (Don't actually secure the bottom ring in yet; but it's fun to peg it in there to get an idea of what your creation is going to look like as you go.)

Once you are happy you can pop your pendant light kit in. I stretched apart the little centre coil and twisted the cord inside there and then squeezed the wire coil closed again. This takes a little bit of maneuvering to get the cord in there but it's possible to do without cutting any wire or taking the cord out of one of the ends of your lighting kit. Then, use some artistic wire to wrap, wrap, wrap around that cord underneath the coil to provide something for the light shade to be supported on. I wrapped 33cm (13") from the light end. (That measurement is to the tip of the lightbulb.) The cord is just squishy enough that the artistic wire holds on tight without slipping. You don't want it super tight, just enough so it doesn't slip. I added extra bits of wire going to the edges of the circle as you can see in the photo.

Now install your pendant lighting kit to the ceiling using the instructions that came with your pendant cord kit. 

Now when it's all hanging in place, wriggle that bigger loop up inside all your pretty beaded strands and peg it in about 3 or 4 places. This takes a bit of moving things around to make sure all the bead strands are hanging nicely and your second circle is sitting as evenly as possible. Wire those strands you pegged in with artistic wire.

Now grab yourself a piece of wool and carefully gather in all your strands & tie together. I redid this about half a dozen times so try not to get frustrated! You could also wrap another bead strand or some pom pom strands around where you tied too, that would look pretty cute :)

Now take photos of your creation and make sure you show me!

(That poor white light shade you see in the background has it's days numbered. It will be attacked with craft supplies very soon!)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please use this at your own discretion. This project adds extra unintended weight to the pendant light kit so use at your own risk. 

I'd love to hear your feedback. I'm planning on making some more tutorials in the future so please let me know if there's a project you would love me to make into a tutorial!

Jules :)

January 08, 2016

Big Magic & Other Happenings

I'm reading "Big Magic" at the moment by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm devouring it, actually. I am really loving it. 
Big Magic (affiliate link)

My Art Jam buddy a while ago pointed me in the direction of this Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. I love her theory that inspiration is it's own entity; you don't merely think of ideas, but they come to you in some sort of wispy magical way. I love this theory. It certainly takes the responsibility off you if you have no current inspiration or ideas... it's the universe's fault!! ;)

Now at the start of the book it talks about loosing your fear and getting started with your creative life (whatever that may be), so I began to think that this book wasn't for me as I am already living the creative life. I've already overcome some of that fear and stepped out into the land of "Oh my gosh, you're going to make a living from art!?" (Insert patronising laughter here!) But I kept reading through the beginning, and I really enjoyed where the book took me. Of course, not everything in a book is going to resonate with you; but a lot of it did. Most of it actually. Creative people seem to all share the same mental obstacles in varying degrees so the anecdotes are totally relatable and enjoyable to read. It makes you feel part of a secret creative community, where you're not alone, you share these trials and tribulations with other people that are burdened with this desire to be creative and put it out there into the world and live on a constant emotional roller coaster. 

I find it is an emotional roller coaster. I can feel elated as a current project is looking great, I have a really positive feeling about it, and I'm on a roll. But the next paint stroke can leave me feeling like I should probably quit doing art forever. Curse this damn desire to create things! But I keep coming back to it, and Gilbert embraces this whole process and overall, even with the trials and tribulations,  enjoys it. 

So, I've nearly finished the book. I'm interested to see what the end holds. I hope she talks about too many ideas, which is a serious problem I have! I can emerge from a shower with 6+ ideas and wondering which one I'll choose, and why the 'Big Magic' is sending me so much information, and why it can't just give me a break for a bit so I can actually finish a project before getting all excited and giddy about the next one. (Maybe I can personally write to her and ask her to write about that conundrum!)

I just want to end by saying the most memorable and helpful part about the book so far has been the "Done is better than good" section. I LOVE this quote. I often feel paralysed by thoughts like, "What if I ruin this painting?", "It's never going to turn out how I envisage", or: "Other artists such as [blah blah blah] are better than me and I should just quit. (Or retreat from the public eye, at least.)" So I procrastinate. I put paintings aside for months to gather dust while I try to start something that will work. (Then that new one will end up in a dusty pile, too.)

But done IS better than good! What use is a 'good' painting if it's never 'done'? As soon as I read this chapter I literally tossed the book aside and pulled down a painting I'd been working on and got right into it. 

I'd love to hear from you if you're a creative, or aspiring creative and have read the book.

Talking about working on too many projects, I am working on two paintings, plus I have a few sculpture ideas. I also need to start working on a couple of commissions I have.

Here's a late night progress shot form my studio.
And because it is pretty, and because I recently blogged about awesome 2016 calendars, I will show you the Taproot Calendar I recently purchased. Artwork is by Phoebe Wahl, who I'd love to meet one day and give her a big cuddle for bring so much beautiful awesomeness into the world. She's amazing.
And meanwhile, we're still living our lives. I like the "Natural Earth Mama" thing and it's not something that happens naturally all the time. I have to work at switching the TV off and living the way that makes you happy and feeds your soul. (The kids are watching a movie as I type.) But we did go berry picking yesterday at a local organic berry farm. We had 'picker's passes' which meant we could eat whilst we also picked a bucket of berries to take home. The kids really loved it and Miss 5 pretended we were trapped, as the vines are all netted in. Miss 7 had wide, open eyes when eating each berry, as you never know how sweet each and every one is going to be. She requested we go back there "one thousand more times". Of course, sweetheart. ;)
Ps. I am getting a photographer this year so am looking forward to stocking my Etsy shop with lots of goodies!

Jules :)

*Affiliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. You can be confident that I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.


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