Friday, 30 August 2013

Materials and Techniques - 'The China Hutch'

Every Friday fortnight I am chatting with other creative types to learn about the techniques and materials that they use in their craft. Today, say "hello" to Michelle, a Melbourne-based artist who paints porcelain and bone china for her online store The China Hutch. Michelle is a fellow member of the Handmade Cooperative. She is going to tell us about the materials and techniques that she uses in the creation of her pieces.

Please tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Michelle Yates. I paint on porcelain and bone china. I learnt the technique over 25 years ago at classes here in Essendon half a day a week on one of my days off from my job as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse.

23 years ago I moved to the UK to be with my current husband and purchased a kiln there to allow me to continue to practice my painting – again in my off duty time. After 2 years in the UK, my husband was transferred to The Netherlands and my Dutch language was not good enough to enable me to work in a hospital. So painting porcelain became my escape from loneliness and being homesick! Eventually people learnt about what I was doing and started to ask me to paint pieces for them for themselves or as presents. I was invited to exhibit at fairs in the Hague and my business grew until I needed to work full time painting to keep up with demand. I returned to Australia 14 years ago and retired from nursing 2 years ago so have returned to focussing on my painting business again.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?  

I use on-glaze paints which come in powder form and need to be mixed with oils to a paste to apply them to the glazed porcelain or bone china. When kiln-fired to 820 degrees the glaze melts and the paint sinks into the glaze. When the porcelain cools, the paint is fused into the glaze.

I mainly use a pen and nib to sketch an outline onto the porcelain and fire that before beginning to apply colours. To achieve depth of colour, a piece can go into the kiln a number of times. Bone china is my favourite material as it is softer than porcelain and the paint sinks further into the glaze, whereas with porcelain it tends to sit closer to the surface.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

It is very time consuming to paint a piece of porcelain. Dust is a pest as it settles onto the paint and can leave marks in the paint when fired. Occasionally a piece will crack in the heat of the kiln or throw up black marks which means the object must be thrown away.

What drives you to create? 

I get inspiration from books, magazines, the net, (good old Google), vintage post cards, suggestions from other people, my head!! These hand painted porcelain and fine china items make great presents for babies birth, birthdays, Mother and Fathers Day.

All images have been provided by Michelle of The China Hutch.

Catch up on previous materials and techniques interviews. If you are interested in sharing your materials and techniques on this Blog, please contact me.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Renovating House: Kicking Renovation Goals

A couple of months ago, I Blogged happily about the fact that I have a functioning bathroom, which just needed painting. About a week after this, we realised that the shower was leaking out of the corners and had five or so return visits from the builder to attempt to find the problem (as well as some tradie visits to replace a feature tile that had been put in upside-down and the carpet that had been pulled up). Since work was still on-going in the bathroom, we focussed on other rooms in the house.

We painted the hallway (still need to paint the cupboard doors) and moved in a three-foot tetra tank that we "inherited" from my mother. Unfortunately, no before shot, but here's a photo of me in my jammies up a ladder taping the walls for painting, aided by a small child:

And after:

Next we painted the study and moved in our other three-foot tropical tank, which currently houses a large black ghost knife fish, three Australian rainbowfish and a large bristle-nosed catfish. Big, big thanks to my brother who had been babysitting all of the fish until we were ready for them to move in. Still to be attacked in the study is the renovation of the wardrobe/media cupboard, and the addition of a bookcase, as well as painting the door.


And after:

(Like the tree? I'll tell you more about it in another post...).

Outside, we've been pottering in the garden over winter, but the big change is that with some friends, we chopped down five trees that were either rotten or growing too close together. There's a bit of loss of privacy at the front of the house at the moment, but that will be resolved with replacement trees and an actual garden out the front. Hurrah!

Hello, Spring...

Follow the history of our move in November last year and the renovations to our house.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Materials and Techniques - 'Bekahdu Handmade'

Last fortnight, I learned a lot about being a milliner from Helen.

Next in my series of guest creators discussing their work, materials and techniques is the very artistic Rebekah, who is a textile artist from Peregian Springs, Queensland. Her online store is Bekahdu Handmade.

Please tell us a little about yourself. 

I have always created, back as far as I can remember. It was really only when my first child was born that I began to try to create for a living. I wanted to be able to stay at home with my children for the important first years of their lives so I began sewing bibs and toys to sell online. Three children later this has evolved into what I do today. I used to be a painter then fell in love with sewing so I guess I merged the two over time into my art quilting.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I create thread painted textile art quilts and journal covers. I mainly use raw edge layered fabrics as a base then stitch over the top. It is essentially painting with the thread, with the fabric base just to block out colour areas. I also love randomly pieced patchwork for my journal covers. I sometimes embellish these with cord, ribbons, buttons and a bit of hand embroidery. My favourite material is of course fabric. In my art quilts I generally choose my fabrics based on texture and colour, to create the feel of the surface I am replicating. I also use a range of textures in my journals to add a bit of interest to the surface. I want them to feel beautiful as well as look interesting.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

I guess my greatest challenge is in my art quilts, [where I try] to create the mood of the moment. I want each one to have an “atmosphere”, which can sometimes be hard to capture. They are mostly based on photos that I have taken in my local area, sometimes merging two or three photos to create on image. I try to remember the feeling of being there, in that very moment, the breezes, smells and sounds. There is a lot of making it up as I go along as well. There have also been some challenging moments with my fabric piecing to try to join fabrics to achieve the pattern I wanted... curves in particular can be tricky.

What drives you to create?

have a need to sew every day, I get a bit edgy if I don’t. I can’t always do it, (life gets in the way!) but I try... even just for ten minutes. I do have to spend a bit of time making my “bread and butter” items... playmats and other basic patchwork... but this still gives me my sewing fix for the day. Whenever I am out, particularly down at the beach with family, or in the park, I am looking for those ideal moments. I take loads of photos, usually just on my phone as I always have it. I then go through the photos to find the ones I love and go from there. Sometimes the end result doesn’t actually look like the photo it started from, they can gain their own life along the way. My main inspiration would be the sea.  I do love the beach and the way it can look quite different from one day to the next. I also love clouds and have literally hundreds of cloud and sunset photos. I think that’s my next obsession.

What is coming up next?

I am using this year to put my work out there a bit more. I have never been terribly good at showing people what I do, but have decided that this is the year to do it. I have several competitions coming up, a magazine feature, have been accepted into a couple of shops and will hopefully actually have an exhibition by the end of the year.

All images are provided by Rebekah of Bekahdu Handmade.

If you would like to share your materials and techniques with this Blog, please contact me.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Materials and Techniques - 'All That Jazz'

I have invited a series of guests to talk about their work, techniques and materials. A great way to learn about other crafts and skills and perhaps find some great troubleshooting ideas.

Here today to share her art with us is the talented Helen, a milliner based in Melbourne, whose online store is All That Jazz.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello! My name is Helen and I started All That Jazz in 2010, after studying Millinery at Melbourne School of Fashion. I love sewing clothes for myself - it gives me the ability to have my own style, especially when so many retail stores look like copies of each other.

In terms of my store, I love sewing clutches/bags as they are my favourite accessory, and it allows me to share with others the type of bags that I like. I love creating hats/fascinators as millinery is one of the most creative fields - there are no limits! 

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I use a range of materials - leather is used for my larger art deco inspired handbag, upholstery is used for my long vintage clutch, and upcycled kimono silk for my kimono clutches. I use leather, silk and sinamay for my hats. My favourite material would most likely be lace (for both bags and hats).

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

When I first started making bags, I was having problems working out the best way to create a firm foundation, they were just too flimsy for a curved bag. I tried a number of different foundation materials - pellon was lovely and firm until it was ironed and then it thinned out, plastic bag foundations could leave sharp corners, and it kept springing back. I had left a bag out when my boyfriend came for dinner one night, and he asked me how I was going. I explained my problem, and he suggested heat - heat melts plastic, allowing the plastic to curve. Sometimes, you can find solutions to problems in the most unusual places - talk to those around you.

What drives you to create?

I love wearing unique pieces that are not mass produced, which is why I create for myself, but I create accessories for women because its a rewarding process - making it, seeing the finished product, and seeing customer's reactions to my creations. I'm inspired by the past - mainly art deco, as I see that time as being about strength: strong lines, women becoming independent and strong. It's how I like to see the women who are my customers.

What is coming up next? 

I'm constantly looking at ways to expand my range of bags. At the moment I collaborate with a badge maker, who makes plaques for some of my clutches. I'm currently looking for an artist to paint images on my bags - I've approached a few in the search for the right one.

All images have been provided by Helen of All That Jazz.

If you are interested in sharing your materials and techniques on this Blog, please do get in contact.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Two Years On Madeit

In August 2011, 'kaetoo' Canvas Photo Boards joined Madeit, so it must be 'kaetoo's Madeit birthday.


In celebration of 'kaetoo's 2nd birthday, I'm running a 10% off sale. Click this link to pop over to the Madeit store and at checkout simply enter the coupon code BIRTHDAY2013 for 10% off non-clearance stock (that stuff is already on sale). This applies to any custom orders taken through the Madeit store before 1 September as well.