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Four water-themed artworks for my hall

30 Aug

I’m in the process of making an Aquatic Tetraptych – try saying that after a few shandies!

When I moved into my flat nearly 18 months ago, I decided that each room should have a specific theme. I grew up by the sea (well, to be specific, I grew up near the beach – Sandgrounders will understand), so right from the start, I wanted to have a coastal feel to my new, landlocked, Yorkshire home.

The hall has become my homage to the sea, and has been adorned in a variety of different perspectives on the theme. I have photos of numerous favourite seaside locations, from Brighton, to Formby Point, to Havana. I have also chosen a gorgeous painting of surfers and bathers diving into the foam, as well as a vintage tea tray which was originally decorated with crushed abalone shells.

There is a long, bare wall still to decorate, which stretches from the front door to my bedroom. There is ample room for 4 A4 frames, so I thought it might be an idea to create 4 different works of art, each in a different creative discipline, having natural water phenomena as the theme. I started on the first two last year, and have been calling the proposed work ‘a triptych, but with 4’ for the last few months. Thank you Wikipedia for teaching me a new word! Actually, I’m glad I only just learned the correct term now, as I think it would have put me off the project if I’d known it sooner. “How about creating an aquatic tetraptych for your hall?”  Heck, I can barely spell it!

Anyway, my first project was inspired by numerous examples of wonderfully creative paint-chip art, all of which were introduced to me by Pinterest. As soon as I saw the versatility of the free paint tester cards, available at my local diy store, I knew I’d be having a go at creating something for myself! Cue regular visits to B&Q, collecting as many paint cards as possible each time without drawing suspicion, until I had every imaginable colour. The staff on the paints counter thought they had a stalker. 

I chopped up the cards, removing all the text from the chips, leaving as much of the colour as possible. Then came the fun bit: trying out different patterns until I found one I was happy with. I liked the idea of having a graduated change from light, sky colours to deeper, sea colours. I finally hit on the image of a wave just breaking, showing the darker underside as it crashes back into the ocean. Then all I had to do was pritt stick the lot onto a sheet of A4 and get it framed up! It couldn’t have been easier.


The second panel of my tetraptych came about after my Mum mentioned a fantastic ribbon weaving artist by the name of Sally Shore. I have tinkered with ribbons (here and here) in the past, but only in the most basic of ways – Sally Shore’s work totally boggled my mind with its intricacies and geometric designs. In particular, her tri-axial work is simply staggering – this being my absolute favourite. Sally is really one of those artists that makes total mastery of a discipline look simple. 

In my half-baked, amateurish way, I thought I’d take a shot as some tri-axial ribbon weaving to depict a sea storm. I had an off-cut of carpet underlay which became invaluable for pinning the ribbons to as I experimented with patterns and tension. I would highly recommend finding a strong, pinnable surface if you are going to try out some ribbon patterns for yourself!

I used wide strips of satin ribbon in a variety of shades of grey and blue, which were pinned onto interfacing vertically, to give the impression of sheet rain. I then had a go at weaving through some whites and turquoises at a SW-NE angle to suggest strong winds, whilst overlapping them with sea greens and metallic ribbons on a SE-NW angle to depict the waves chopping about. I ironed my finished pattern onto some strong interfacing and framed it for my hall. I am not oblivious to the fact that there are mistakes-a-plenty on this artwork – some of the ribbons refused to lie flat, and depending on how many layers they were woven between, some do not have much of a fix to the interfacing, which has meant they have puckered or slipped slightly. 



Despite all of this, I love to see this framed on my wall as I walk into the flat after a long day. The metallics sparkle under the spotlights, and it reminds me of the sea, which was the intention when I started out.

So, I have two more panels to make, which are not yet planned. I have rough ideas to make one out of crochet and one out of embroidery, but that’s about as far as my plans go right now! However, now that I have posted about the first half of the project, hopefully I will be spurred on to get it finished. After all, now that the upholstery project is almost complete, I don’t have much of an excuse!


Bedroom Update #2, Part 2

26 Aug

So, I promised this by the end of May, and now it’s August. What can I say, I’ve been a busy girl!

Anyway, you may remember me posting about a sideboard which I picked up from the local YMCA for twenty quid, with a view to updating it for my bedroom. The room is predominantly red, so I decided that the outside of the unit should match. However, I wanted the interior to be a a little more exciting…

I have been dutifully collecting the pages of my week-to-view Gil Elvgren Pin-Ups calendar all year, so finally I have enough to complete the interior decoupaging of the drawers and shelves. Decoupage is really, really easy – all you have to do is sand and clean your surface down, and once you have planned your pattern with your chosen papers, you simply paste them to the item with PVA glue. Once the glue has dried, you can strengthen the surface with 3-4 coats of clear varnish…and voila! Your item is updated and FABULOUS!


One thing to watch out for is puckering on the images. As the paper absorbs the glue, it expands, which leaves creases across the surface. The only way I have found to prevent the creases, is to roll the paper on carefully, making sure that it has time to expand before being fixed down entirely. I normally start on one corner and use a paintbrush to ease the rest of the image into place.


One of my hopes for this project, is that I will keep my drawers and cupboards tidy if they are so beautiful. So far, it’s working! I have just a few images left, so I might cover the various jewellery and toiletry boxes inside too. I’m so happy with how it turned out – a perfect piece of furniture for a boudoir – Smart and sensible from the outside, and a little bit naughty on the inside. A bit like me!


Souvenir Time

20 Dec

I went to Venice recently. It was boss.

Anyway, I’m trying not to spend money on souvenirs that end up cluttering up my lil appartment. If I want a souvenir, it has to be materials so I can make something. Let’s see if I can keep this resolution up!!


So whilst I was in Venice, I picked up a cheap Venetian mask of Scaramuccia (I think) – I spent all holiday calling the mask il Dottore but I think that’s a different one. I’m sure someone will be able to enlighten me! I also bought an Italian newspaper – the only one I’d heard of at the newsagents was Corriere della Sera so I bought that one rather than try out my ropey Italian on the vendor.

When I got home, I did a little bit of decoupage to get over the disappointment of the holiday being over and having to go back to work. I stuck a few strips of red and green tissue paper in too, as they are the colours of il tricolore. Old scarface is now up on my craft room wall! Happy days.

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