Art for the Joy of Making and Getting Out of the Blues

I haven’t been working for a few weeks now since my last contract ended.  Apparently there aren’t any admin jobs at the moment.  It is not too surprising since it is the end of the tax year and everyone is waiting to find out if their budget will accommodate temps.  So while I wait patiently for something to turn up, and it usually does, I need to be creative.  This winter was dire for me as the light was really bad for painting and I probably had one of the worst temp placements ever.  Usually the jobs are not that interesting, but the people tend to be great to work with and that can keep me going.  I had a six week placement that had no up side to it what-so-ever.  That is all I am saying.

So, what did I do?  I knitted myself a hat, scarf and gloves and started a set for my daughter.  I moved furniture around and had a bit of a clear out.  I went for walks with the dogs and the hubs.  I have been thinking about my life and hobbies and how to move forward.  This is what happens when I have a lot of free time on my hands.  I think about stuff.  Now that spring is here, my mood is more upbeat.  There is more light to the day.  The weather has generally improved.  I am still thinking about stuff, but I feel less stressed.  I like to try new things.  I will give things a go.

When I first moved from London, I went to an art class because I had the time and I wanted to try something new.  I discovered that I can draw and paint.  I may not be great at it, but I can do it and most of the time I enjoy the process.  I was really enjoying myself with it until someone suggested that I sell my stuff.  That’s the problem.  Just because someone makes the suggestion doesn’t mean that  you have to do it.  I think we just get flattered that the suggestion would even be made.  What we tend to forget is to ask the person who makes the suggestion if they would like to buy something and how much would they pay?  It’s great to have the suggestion, but are you willing to part with your cash?  And since everything is about money these days we forget why we are doing what we do in the first place.  I have read so many comments from people asking how much should they be selling their work for.   Art is subjective.  Ok, you do have to work out the cost of your materials to recoup that back, but what about your time and effort and creative process?  How do you put a price on that?  This then becomes a minefield.  Don’t charge too little as people won’t take you seriously.  Charge too much and people won’t buy it.  Either way, people are not buying.  And yet I still take online classes and I keep making things.  This happened with the furniture that I was painting.  People can paint their own furniture, so unless you live in the USA or London where people pay stupid money for upcycled furniture, it ain’t happening where I live.  People are tight here!  I don’t have time to go to craft or boot fairs as I generally work full time!

While going through my prints, I decided that most of them would make better cards.  I may or may not try to sell them as cards.  The main thing is that I had fun making them.  I tried to sell them as prints, but nada, nichts, nothing.  I looked at all of my 10×12 inch paintings and think I might try and sell them super cheap in one last ditch effort to make space on my walls.  I will give Etsy one more chance.  Some I will keep or give away.  Paintings for family is always free.  They just have to come to where I live to collect it or tell me what they want the next time I visit them.

I just started needle felting and I do love it.  I didn’t think I would like it so much.  People are already asking me if I will be selling my creations!  I didn’t start needle felting to make money from it.  I started needle felting as it intrigued me and it is a way of making a sculpture (or a painting) from wool.  I find it relaxing.  The upside is that it is not too messy!  I can make little critters as realistic as I want to and they will still be cute.  I used to have felted animals when I was a child and I thought I could get a head start on making some for potential grandchildren.  If someone wants to purchase anything I have made so far, contact me as I am open to offers.  Right now I am happy learning how to make cute things.  I am working my way up to making things with armatures.  I want to make my dogs.  I think that would be fun!  What is the price for having fun?!

So, what about painting?  I’ve done a few things so far this year and currently have a WIP, my biggest one yet.  Here is stage 1.

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And here is stage 2.

FullSizeRenderI am painting lupins loosely based on photos I took of the many lupins we saw in Bariloche in Argentina when we had our grown up gap year 5 years ago.  I stopped progressing it when I started the needle felting.  The painting is about 3×2 feet.  This has a long way to go yet.  I am sure there will be a lot of changes.

So, my plan is to continue how I originally started and to make stuff just for the heck of it or out of necessity, like the cushion covers I need to make for some pillows for the campervan.  Now that I made that decision, I feel so much better now.  Thanks for stopping by and if you have managed to read all of this, pat yourself on the back for getting through it and thanks for listening. 🙂

Making Candles From Leftover Wax


IMG_4564I love candles on the mantlepiece and is why I will most likely resist putting a TV here as long as I possibly can.  When they are all lit up, it makes the room very cozy, especially when the hubs has lit a fire.  And it smells good too!

I haven’t been making any art for quite a long time, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creative, so I will tell you what I have been up to.  I have been cooking and trying out new recipes.  I have been moving furniture around.  I have been de-cluttering. I have been knitting.  I haven’t knitted for years and one of the ladies at work inspired me to take it up again.  I have knitted myself a hat (never done that before), scarf, and fingerless gloves.  I shall do a blog post on that soon.  I also made candles from leftover wax.

I had a few weeks off before Christmas and was really not in the mood to do any painting.  I was hooked on watching Kirsty’s Christmas and other craft inspired TV programmes.  So, I knitted myself some items all before Christmas.  It is amazing how quickly you can make something when you have the time!

So, lets talk only a little bit about candle making (because you can find out how to do it on the internet, like I did).  We were already saving leftover wax to melt down and dip pinecones into to make fire starters (hub’s idea), but I wanted to take that a step further.  Unless you can easily get to Ikea, purchasing pillar candles elsewhere is not cheap. I managed to buy a shedload the last time I was there.  But what do you do with the wax when the candle is finished (and there is a lot of wax!)? There is so much information on the internet and on you tube about how to make candles.  I watched loads.  I don’t want to sell them.  I just want to re-use the wax and re-use some of the nice glass containers that candles come in.  I am big into recycling.  I also scoured my kitchen and discovered a whole bunch of glass containers that I could re-use to make candles.  It is amazing what you can find in your house that  you could use to make a candle.  Jam jars make particularly pretty containers, especially the French ones.  All I had to purchase were wicks (there is a whole thing about the type of wicks that made my head spin) and I also bought some inexpensive aromatherapy oils to try (but not used yet).  A note on containers:  Make sure they are heatproof.  Most glass food jars are heatproof as the temperature to process food in them is quite high.  Teacups.  Make sure they have a saucer to go under them.  I have seen people use pretty cups and saucers to use as candles, but I wouldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t crack or get too hot at the bottom without a saucer underneath to protect your surface.

IMG_4562This is a collection of candlewax.  The pot is aluminum with lips for pouring.  I also have an aluminum jug (I thought I bought the large one, but no. Cheap Pyrex is just as good.) that I strain the wax into (old tea strainer) so the sand from my candle holders and other debris stays out of the new candle.  I have to say that the first time I did this I made a right old mess.  Thankfully I have a lovely retired husband who cleaned up all of the wax that I managed to get all over the backsplash.  I will never live that down.

I got all of my containers and glued in the wicks.  You really do need to do this first.  I had some bamboo skewers that I broke in half to wrap the wicks around to hold them in place.  I had traditional cotton string wicks and some fancy wooden ones that supposedly crackle when lit, all purchased off of E-bay.IMG_4566Here we have a small glazed bowl I never used (which I gave to a friend from work), some old candle jars, and some glass and ceramic containers that desserts came in.  (You can see some of the mess I made on the stove.)  I had saved the glass dessert containers to put votives in when outside (but never did), and I think that this is a better idea as I will really use them now.

Some of these came out really well and some came out very strange.  You see, wax can have a life of its own when it cools down and gets hard.  There was a fair amount of ‘tunneling’ (a wax term), so I just had to buy a heat gun (it will come in useful for other things) to melt the wax on the candle so it would look nice and burn evenly.  My friend liked her candle so much that she wants to buy others from me to give to friends as presents.  Now I have to think about what to charge her for recycled products! 🙂

I think it is worth recycling the wax if you use a lot of it, or give it to someone who you know is crafty if you don’t want to try it yourself.  My daughter made some scented candles with her boyfriend as part of a ‘date’ night and we were lucky to get one as a Christmas present.  According to Google, it takes 2-6 weeks for wax to biodegrade on a landfill site – but if it is buried, it could take years, so why not re-use it?  Here is another top tip (and a very cool one too):  you know those lovely jars that some candles come in (like Yankee Candles and other scented ones) – the jars are so nice, but how do you get the wax out?  Pour boiling water in the jar on top of the wax as high as you can and then just watch the wax melt and rise to the top.  It is what is used in lava lamps!  Once the water has cooled, you should have a hard disc of wax that you can pop out, and if you still have some wax left in the jar, just repeat the process.  So, what do you think?