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Night forest and landscape painting

I have several uncompleted works now. I’ve joined some friends to try to learn oil painting – something I’ve never done before. I’ve hardly handled paints at all. But since the oil painting takes so long to work on and I only try once or twice per week, I’ve been sketching, and now putting some inkscape art together. Here’s what I’ve got.

Night forest – in progress
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Fall pysanky

I tried some very old and very new techniques.

These first two are variants of a ‘berehynia’ – a traditional design representing a protective Slavic deity. The next two are what happened when I tried to free-form a pattern and used alcohol inks to color with instead of the traditional dyes.

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Glass fusing

A friend had an extra ticket to go to a glass workshop to make art out of fused glass. This was really fun! I’ve never done it before but I really like working with glass. I think it’s only a matter of time before I want to go all-in and work with glassblowing. I’ve held back because while I like the idea of WORKING with glass, I don’t really enjoy owning it all that much. But the molten glass itself is fascinating to me. In any case, here’s what we did.

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Sunflower

Latest pysanky. This is another duck egg and I had a hard time getting the purple to take evenly over the red. It was coming out very dark in the purple area, but also not really covering the red in big blotches.

I used a paintbrush dipped in water and vinegar to brush off the dye around the wax and when the shell was nearly white, dipped it into the purple for just a few seconds. This was the result!

There are some flaws in my design and in my wax lines, but overall I like how it turned out. I plan to get a cap and hang this one as an ornament.

Flower on purple pysanka
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Eggs

Last month I volunteered to teach a class for a youth creative arts club and we made Ukrainian eggs. I haven’t made these for a while so it was a good excuse to try again.

I need to get a few more practice eggs under my belt, but it was fun. I bought 2 dozen duck eggs locally thinking that they’d be fun to work with. I tried some local chicken eggs – but it turns out everyone raises chickens that lay colored eggs and I wanted nice white shells. But when I did a search to see how to clean the duck eggs all I could find were articles telling me you can only wash them with water and if you wash them with soap or scrub with baking soda, the shells won’t take the dye well and they will wind up pastel.

I scrubbed that duck egg with baking soda, wiped it down with vinegar and then rinsed it. It seems to have taken the dye just fine. There are a few irregularities, but nothing I don’t also see in chicken eggs.

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Blackberries

Blackberries & thorns – ready for a soap label
Blackberry thorns alone
3 Blackberries

I spent a surprisingly long time arranging the berries. I may still go back and add the little hairs to them and possibly a shadow. It may not be noticeable, but each berry is a slightly different color because I wanted to make it clear that they were distinct even when they were on top of each other like this.

The hardest part of the thorns was getting the lighter color to run down the middle. I’m still not 100% happy with it, but after spending hours trying to fiddle with ‘mesh gradient’ until I gave up, I’m going to call this good enough for now.

Edit: here’s my soap label made from the above images.

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Final word in 2018

Obviously just making horse HEADS wasn’t going to be enough so I made a wire frame and made a whole entire horse.

I don’t yet know how to do the fine details or smooth out the tool marks, but here it is. It’s about 6 inches tall. Once I had it made in modeling clay I realized that I don’t know how to cast this, even if I made a two part mold for two reasons. 1) the shape and 2) the only time I’ve done a two part mold I embedded the original in modeling clay to make the first half. This is made of modeling clay so what do I embed it in?

horse sculpture

And finally, for a year-end wrap up, I made a gallery page of the ‘best of’ 2018.

I never finished cleaning up or posting my photos from France – I still intend to do so.

I also did a few more test paints of the chess set. This is blue, with a metallic blue finish and the Warder has his shield, helmet and sword painted with an ‘interference’ paint – it will shimmer green or red depending on the angle of view.

It has been suggested that I’ve gone a bit off the rails since I went to New Mexico to learn how to make SOAP MOLDS and this is clearly not a soap mold. But I learned something very valuable: making custom molds is expensive and I should definitely do everything I can to avoid having to make custom ones from silicone!

I’ve been puzzling over the size and shape of conditioner bars. I now have a formula I really like but I still need to settle on the packaging and the shape. I think I’m going to try a round column mold – I might make out out of PVC with a teflon liner – and since PVC comes in all sizes I can probably find one to exactly fit the 2 or 4oz tins I’ve been thinking of using as packaging.

More soap to come in 2019