I’m not a fan of the consumption-and-expectation culture, nor of the idea that love is best expressed by garish red heart-shaped dustcatchers from a High Street shop. But there are a lot of other ways to express love, and even when I don’t mark a celebration myself it’s a very rewarding thing to help others do it.
So: here’s one of the designs I’m selling this year. It’s lasercut from Gmund bierpaper (recycled using beer labels and brewery waste) and layered onto an absolutely gorgeous Japanese unryu-textured metallic brass paper. There will be a couple of others too, but I wanted to show off the luxury cards first.
I’ll also be offering package deals – card & envelope, up to three matching gift tags, and a sheet of complementary wrapping paper, all at a very competitive price.
Here are three of the pieces I was experimenting with at the beginning of February – I’ve been working on them on and off, coat after coat of paint and then varnish, and now they’re sitting on my desk waiting to go to their new owners. They’re all prototypes – I’m happy with the look of each of them, but there are lessons to be learned from them all too.
Pendant, 45x65mm, weighs 21g. Ultramarine swirled panel in an epoxy setting, with an antiqued bronze finish. One of the advantages of using two-part epoxy over polymer clay is that it cures at room temperature, rather than having to be heated in the oven, so I can use acrylic paints and (as here) inset rectangles of artist’s mountboard, without worrying about what that sort of heat will do to it. Next time I do one of these, I’ll drill a larger hole (or two holes) to loop cord through directly, rather than trying to bend a jump ring threaded through that thickness of solid material.
Brown & gold choker slide, 35mm square, weighs 8g. Sits a bit lower on the ribbon than it does in the picture – next time, I’ll centre the slide on the back a bit more. I actually made three others using the same paper, but didn’t clean the work area quite thoroughly enough and got flecks of epoxy on the front surface. So that’s another area to be careful with.
Aventurine & bronze choker slide, 20x30mm, weighs around 12g. Aventurine cabochon stone in an epoxy setting, with an antiqued bronze finish. I need to be a bit more careful about moulding the epoxy around the slide – this one ended up weighing a bit more than it had to, and I had to clear the slide holes with a scalpel after it had finished curing.
Linocut, roughly 200mm square, posted in my Etsy shop.
This was inspired by a conversation with a friend about druidry, and remembering the mountains of Snowdonia where I grew up. It wasn’t originally intended to be a night scene, and it’s turned out a lot smoother and more Art Nouveau than I’d intended – I want to revisit the sketch with another block, probably in relief next time rather than incised, and see if I can get something closer to my original vision.
I don’t normally make separate design sketches – I usually do my designing straight onto the block – but since I did this time, here it is. I copied it freehand onto the lino, since the original sketch had slightly the wrong proportions for the block I had handy.
Whilst I’m only about 20% pagan at the best of times (most of the rest is Quaker) I still like to keep the High Days, and today was Imbolc. Or, for the Christian side of me, St Brigid’s Day – patron of poets, blacksmiths, and healers, and always one of my favourites.
My normal artistic practice on High Days is to try and make something new – the rule is that anything I make has to be kept or given away, rather than sold. That’s partly just to make sure that I remember why I’m doing this, and as a reminder to try new things or go back to techniques I haven’t used in ages.
Today, I started out by playing around with some two-part epoxy putty, and there’s some jewellery hardening across the room – a stick pin, three brooches, and two choker slides. The brooches I’ve done before, but that was years ago, before I acquired a Proxxon drill for sanding and buffing. (Vorsprung-grade German engineering, slightly better than Dremel in its class.) There is almost no craftsman’s task I hate more than sanding things by hand, and consequently I’m not very good at it. Late tomorrow, or in a few days, they’ll be ready to paint & varnish, and we’ll see how they turn out.
After that, I started playing around with some colour/paper/glaze combinations I hadn’t tried before, and this was the result. It’s Ara dark bronze acrylic on Gmund bierpapier (Boc), with three coats of lightly gold-tinted Rheotech gloss gel glaze. I was rather impatient, and put the second & third glaze coats on when the first was touch-dry instead of properly clarified, but I rather like the clouded effect in this case – it looks like a faux-nori finish, which entertains me.
Linocut, done directly with the sankakuto without any preliminary drawing. The brown one is Gmund Bierpapier (Boc) – recycled art paper made from beer. How awesome is that? I’ll tell you how awesome it is. It is AWESOME. The white one is, I’m fairly sure, Fabriano Academica.
This piece was inspired by one of my favourite things in the V&A – a ceramic plate made around 1955 by a Japanese artist, Kitaoji Rosanjin (1883-1959). Their official record has no image, so have this less-than-optimal one I took there yesterday.