Friday, September 28

Battle 05: Start!

New Battle Theme: Fall!

(Temporary photo)

If you aren't sure what that means, don't worry, I'm not sure either, this theme is all Jessie! Off my cuff I imagine that anything autumn themed would win the battle this time around. It could have pretty orange leaves, a pumpkin, a turkey (for thanksgiving), or anything else that you relate to fall!

Personally I find such an open ended theme to be a little bit difficult, so assuming Jess already has an idea (it is her theme after all), she's probably a good step or two ahead of me. If I can't think of a representational sculpture to do, I could always take this as a good moment in time to go into the abstract (as long as I throw some leaves into whatever I make it will be fine, right?).

This battle starts today; Friday, September 28, 2012
And it ends; Wednesday, October, 10, 2012

Wednesday, September 26

End of Battle 04: World Issues!

← Vote in the poll to choose a winner!

This has been another long and trying week for both Jessie and I. It's really hard to believe that two weeks has already gone by since I last freaked out because I am terrible at keeping track of time. School is clearly overwhelming for the both of us so we will have to brainstorm an adjusted schedule for our competitions, we've barely found time to talk this whole month though, so finding the time to reschedule things may be impossible! Haha, I'm sure we'll manage somehow though, right Jess? Right Nikki :D

1) Nikki

My goal for this battle was to kilncast a penguin and enamel black onto him. I very recently discovered that enamels aren't something you can just get perfect the first time around though, and so I settled on staining my penguin with india ink, which is just fine with me because I've used it before and I love it! He'll need a couple more coats before his black is through and through, you can tell on the images that he is still a little splotchy. He's also quite intriguing to photograph (in a fun way), so I'm thinking clear X opaque color is a good direction to head towards in the future. I'm happy I figured that out, because it makes these battles so worth while, and as I said in school today during a presentation, no matter how bogged down and overwhelmed I am feeling (which is a ton, every damn day), it's nice to know that I will always create one thing, even if it is just every two weeks. And even if it is not a serious piece, like one I would enter into my final critiques or the art show, I still love what I make.

2) Jessie

My piece was focusing on an issue I read awhile back and haven't forgotten. Last year sometime, I read about how polar bears were drowning from a lack of sea ice because of global warming. This image of a polar bear drowning is a strong one for me. Because of that I was a bit torn and I was headed in two different directions with this piece. I could go the serious route and create a dramatic piece of a literal interpretation or I could go for the lighter route that is cute but it has a measure. I decided (since I haven't got using resin down yet) to go with the latter. I was trying to think of how they might solve this issue... A few things I thought up were (warning some are a bit silly); make giant ice cubes and drop them into the water, make bear platforms where they could rest on after a long swim and finally equip every bear with a PFD (Personal Flotation Device)! And that is basically how my bear in his life jacket was created. He is make with sculpey original over my usual armature. I spend a whooping 5-6 hours on him. He isn't done, I will need to add a few glaze coats on him and I might drill him into a stand because he has some trouble standing.

Monday, September 24

Jessie's Recipe for Inspiration

I decided to do a bit more of a personal post for today and I am going to give you guys the recipe for my inspiration! Everyone has trouble finding their muse sometimes, so I am going to share what I generally do when feeling slightly lost for inspiration. (Or if I just want to do a creative exercise!)

- Bang head against the desk!
- Sharpened pencils + pens (or whatever you like to write/draw with)
- Blank paper
- Imagination

Step 1: Look around your current environment for things that look interesting or that can be altered in some way. Do some doodles and see if any motivation evolves from this. For example, right now I see a sleeping kitty, a large container of pretzels and a Buddha statue.

        - I could sculpt a sleeping kitty
        - I could create some sort of Buddha shaking hands with a Lucky Cat
        - That container of pretzels could become an interesting jar full of fairies or insects

Step 2: Go for a walk! Sometimes nature provides us with the most interesting subjects. I generally try to look for things (whether human made or organic) and find a way to change them. A tree with interesting knots could be an old father tree with a kind face. Or an awesome older Victorian house might be transformed into a haunted house with gargoyles! A tire swing could be the moon caught on a string from a tree.

Step 3: If you still have no inspiration then it is time to hit the resources. Whenever I am somewhere that sells books, I search through random resource books. I love horses, fairytales, fantasy and the medieval era so I have fairytale books, horse reference guides, books with pictures and descriptions on mystical creatures, Greek mythology stories, guides on swords and armor, etc. Again sometimes you have to force the creative processes, so if nothing interests me I will choose a story or a book and either try to recreate a scene from the story with my own flare or find an image I like and again try to modify it in some way. For example, what would Little Red Riding Hoods armor look like, if she were to have it?

Step 4: Look at other peoples work or techniques and try to mimic it. I find trying new techniques often makes my mind fill up with oodles of ideas on my own ideas that I could try. For example when I learnt about resin I initially wanted to try what I had seen, but then I thought of all the possibilities I could do.

Step 5: Internet Timez. Sometimes I exhaust all the previous steps so I need to find something completely new. For that I use random sites like StumbleUpon, Etsy or Pinterest to show me things I hadn't particularly thought of. Or I will just Google random words and see what comes up.

Step 6: Inspiration or motivation are sometimes found in friendly competition; which is actually how this blog came to live! There are a multitude of blogs, forums or even community groups that hold contests of all sorts in the arts. Our blog holds a random themed contest every few weeks which allows us to get really creative and step out of our comfort-zones! There's a contest on that we will most likely be participating in where you go to a thrift store and buy an ugly item. Then somehow using your craft, you need to turn it into something amazing and beautiful! The catch is, you can only spend 20$ US on your ugly thrift item. :) I don't know about you but that really gets my creative juices flowing!

So that concludes my creative process. Generally by the end I have a lot of concept drawings and ideas that I want to try. I like to keep these drawings and use them later as references or inspiration. Hope you enjoyed this post! And sorry about the lack of pictures :P

Friday, September 21

M3 Girls

This may be a bit of a silly and short post, but as usual I have something I would really like to share! At the age of 10 this girl started a line of jewelery, and by the age of 15 she is in over 1000 stores and - wait for it - a millionaire. Are you jealous yet? You will be once you see what her product is!

So first off there is that ever famous line, "Why didn't I think of that?" or alternatively, "I could do that!" When these phrases pop up you know that the person or product in question is damn good!

Before you get too jealous or frustrated though, remember that this girl must have had all her cards lined up nicely to be able to start a business at the age of ten. Her upbringing was clearly entrepreneurial (clearly a growing trend), and I have to assume her mom has some business savvy, otherwise creating a production line that you could successfully distribute to stores would probably not have happened. Still, you can feel free to be jealous about the fact that her situation seems to have been absolutely perfect.

If we take a glance back to her first product, it was just a bottle cap with a design painted inside, and I assume hidden underneath some resin. I'm not sure why, but I see these resin/image/bottle cap things everywhere now - or at least in conventions, which is the only time I've looked at jewelery in the past year. Screw wrapping your head around the fact that she's a millionaire from these things, I can't understand how they can be popular enough that anyone can produce them in bulk! Maybe I'm just past that type of trend though, or maybe no one gave me the memo as to why they are so neat.

Then again, I can't wear too much jewelery due to the environment of the studio, so maybe I would love them more if I had a use for them?

At any rate, I guess M3's moral would be as follows: Start small > make something you like > make something other people like too > keep at it and be prepared to grow when necessary (don't jump the gun!).

Wednesday, September 19

Introducing; Chris Laskey!

Chris Laskey, 44 (sheesh really... sigh), Oakville.


Just about everything, but I have an affinity for storing old things in 
my brain.  Arcane processes, and mystical things, new technologies, and 
stuff other people tend to ignore.   It's probably why I love Greek 
myth, obsolete nautical rope work,  and computers so much.  Anyway, The 
odd time I manage to weld some of these things together the result is... 
well... pretty cool...  and it makes me look smart too.
Diploma of Technology in electrical/electronic engineering, Honours B.A 
and M.A. in Communication Studies... and if those seem disparate to you 
try adding craft and design in glass when I finish it this year.  The 
search for truth often takes a long and winding staircase.
I currently work Part-time as a broadcast technologist for CHCH 
Hamilton.  Maybe I'm getting old, but it's taking me longer, and longer 
to shift gears between engineering and art as needed.   The two are 
starting to intermix;  I find myself arranging the boring black boxes I 
work with in the TV station so the indicator lights form pleasing 
patterns, and I want to update the sketches of my art after it's 
produced to accurately reflect its in-operation status (an "as-built" 
drawing it's called in the engineering field) .


I'd like to have a little shop of tools and engage in the cold-working 
(maybe even hot too) of glass all day.  If I could live off it at some 
point I don't think I could be much happier...  Well, maybe if my shop 
was on a hill over-looking a beach.  That would make break-times quite 
pleasant, but probably be damn distracting while I'm trying to work.
Why art?
I spent much of my adult life building/maintaining/repairing very 
functional, technical, required things.  "Processes to complicated to 
explain" if you would.  It's all very demanding.  This must be correct, 
that must be with 5% of standard, if I don't do a thing right someone 
foolish might very well get killed.  As and engineer you have to design 
in safety for the dumbest of people doing the dumbest of things, after a 
while you start thinking all people are dumb.  "How did you manage to 
break that?  Were you not familiar with the operating manual's 
contents?"  The day I said those words I knew something had to change. I 
was ready to pop.  And so I did...Pop...  I started to draw and paint, 
and oh man did I suck, but it had to be done.  I did landscapes in 
watercolour, and people seemed reasonably intelligent again.  I drew a 
sketch of my cat sitting on the window sill, and I thought technology 
isn't as important as we seem to think it is.  I finally realized that I 
actually needed art to make me a whole and reasonable person.  For me 
art is a new territory, a new challenge, a new vista that helps me 
understand the world in a new way.  My search for truth, just got... 

Why this media?
I've always said that if I had been born 200 years ago I'd have been a 
blacksmith.  Glass making kinda satisfies that old and arcane knowledge 
requirement... 5000 years old, Standing next to the furnace, working 
with stuff that's too hot to handle... but it's much prettier.  In fact 
it's down right magical.  It pulls you into with it's impossibility... 
How can this thing be?   Hot glass is like honey, and like honey it 
traps you like you're a fly with it's possibility... it can be... anything.
Life/art philosophies
My philosophy... Oh God, it's like a quote book of old axioms. "Life 
long learning".  "To each his own, but all for the common good".  "I may 
be lying in the gutter but I'm looking at the stars"...  It's funny I've 
spent a good part of my life worried about whether or not I could live 
it, but now I'm at the point where I can take on all comers (as it 
were).  I may not win, maybe next time I'll win, or two times from now, 
or twenty...  it doesn't matter, it's not about winning for me any more 
it's the struggle... It makes us stronger.  So "come at me bro", but 
give it your best shot, or you're going home sad... and I'll feel for 
you, because I was you not so very long ago.

Unconscious Art Winner!

It appears the winner of this week's contest is fellow student Chris! I don't think anyone had a chance at beating Chris' idea to use bright and colorful playdoh.

  6 (75%)
  2 (25%)
  0 (0%)

With playdoh in mind, I really want to comment on the fact that Chris took the asked of sculpture - which Jess and I were both attempting to work with, and he simplified it down to a one step process (as in, no molding, wire structure, etc.), by just saying 'screw it' and using a different material that will pretty much offer the same out come.

I don't know about Jess, but I might do trial sculptures out of playdoh in the future. This might come in handy, especially since I'm planning on starting a labor intensive series of human figures in the near future, and of course, because I hate myself, the pose of the body is the most  important aspect of the sculptures.

Monday, September 17

Heather Jansch and her Driftwood Horses

As you probably know by now I love sculptures and I love horses; what you might not know is my love for 'nature art'. By nature art, I mean art that is made by organic materials (ie. rocks, sand, snow, wood, etc). This particular artist I have seen around a lot and I absolutely adore her work so naturally I would love to share her work. Heather Jansch is an artist from the UK who creates beautiful life-sized driftwood horses. Everytime I see them they just take my breath away. The contours are so precise to that of a horse and she captures their movement and spirit so perfectly. Admittedly I have wanted one of her sculptures since I found out about them. She does make other animals (I have seen a bear, stag, pigs etc) but her horses are what captured my interest. 

About the Artist

Heather Jansch had two major loves in life, drawing and horses; which sounds an awful lot like me when I was a kid! She studied visual arts at Walthamstow College where she did very well. She later went to Goldsmiths College in London, but she didn't do as well this time because she was more of a figurative artist and the standard was more abstract at the time. She left the course with her ego a bit bruised, she was told she did not have what it takes to be a painter and that she should try graphics instead. She got by for awhile as a painter taking high-priced commissions to make realistic equestrian pieces, but she felt something was missing and that she lacked her own style. She decided to consult with an internationally regarded artist, Arthur Giadelli. He helped her find her way and gave her a starting point in finding her own style; basically she was told to keep working with horses but find what makes them special. Soon after she came up with driftwood and so the story continues. 

The Process

When I first learned about these horses I wondered how she got all that driftwood; I am lucky if I even find one decent piece while at the beach! According to her website, the driftwood is collected for her from the Devon coast and estuaries by her assistants (or it is donated). She tries to maintain the original appearance of the driftwood by only carving when she has to. The driftwood is placed over a fibre-glass covered steel frame, which stops the wood from shifting position. The steel frame could be considered comparable to an armature in my own sculptures. The wood pieces are then held by wire and screwed into place. The hooves are not made from wood, but are actually recycled cooper or sometimes lead. 

Friday, September 14

Battle 04: Start!

New Battle Theme: Global Issues!

You may be thinking, "What the heck kind of theme is that?" but I really think it's one every one can relate to! Whether it's oil, plastic surgery, rich people, abused kittens, forestry, or global warming, I think just about everyone has an opinion about at least one global issue!

I personally wouldn't think of this piece as a heavy, serious, "How do I convey all my disappointment in this situation," sort of thing, that might be a little bit too heavy. Instead, I have approached this challenge from the point of view of, "If I were going to donate a piece of art to one of my favorite causes, what would I make?"

I actually have a whole slew of things I'd want to make, from something as simple as a black and clear penguin for global warming, to a realistic, skillfully crafted foot, with the last one or two toes butchered off by the saw (people actually do that you know!).

In our discussions of plastic surgery issues, Jessie and I have created a whole page of amusing pieces that comment on how silly plastic surgery is. From a bear with absurdly long teeth to a peacock with a neon spray painted tail, we've covered every animal we can think of (which actually wasn't that many).

This week, if you haven't noticed, there is no image, as my computer is on the verge of death, so I am very afraid to try and run photoshop (yes that is what I make my silly doodles in). Once everything is copacetic I'll edit a photo into this post :)!

I'm not sure what Jessie is making for this competition, so I can't wait to see!

As a side note: Returning visitors may or may not have noticed that we've been attempting to post at 10:00 AM (-5GMT) - in my brain that equates to people being able to check a new post during a lunch break. It may or may not have also been noticed that we have run late on a few posts, due to the start of school. With this in mind, I'm going to change the official posting time to 1:00 PM (-5GMT), because I am responsible for the battle-related posts and my morning classes finish at Noon, so even if I forget to hit 'Schedule' the night before, it's okay!

Wednesday, September 12

End of Battle 03: Unconcsious Art!

<- Please vote for the Unconscious Battle piece that you think is the best using this poll!

Voting will run until Sunday September 9th at Midnight (-5 GMT)

The Unconscious Battle is OVER so let's check out our entries! I hope they're all very inspiring!

1) Chris

I've been wanting to try this in 3D.  So Here is Unconscious 3D #1.
Here are the rules I set for my self.
Get 3 colour of play-d... er um... modelling clay. :P
1) Tear off colour #1 (red)
     -knead and squash it using only the tips of my fingers (without 
looking at it).
     -Stick down on the base (without looking at it).
2) Repeat with colour #2 (yellow)
3) Repeat with colour #3 (orange)
4) repeat (after a few minutes look and see if it's big enough)
Like everything thing in life, it's best to not have too many rules. :D

2) Jessie

The 'Owl Face'
For my unconscious piece I decided to just smoosh the tinfoil together into an interesting shape (which turned out to be a ball with random flattened sides and random curves protruding from it). I covered it in masking tape trying to show off the curves and make them more prominent. I then covered it in a thin layer of clay and I liked the curves so I tried to work with them. I didn't have any of my tools or really anything except my hands to work with the clay (First week back at school with only the essentials). In the end I think it looks somewhat like a barn owl head with fins! Through the whole process I didn't think about what I was making, I just did what felt right.

3) Nikki

I had technical difficulties this time around, so clearly I'm not going to be the winner ): I made a couple of waxes and a clay piece using the unconscious process, and while I'm sure they'll look wonderful in glass, they of course look hideous in their unfinished material. What's my excuse? Our de-steamer was broken so I couldn't de-mold any of my pieces (the ones I've started casting from '31 Days of Wax'). The shortest program I've ever created for kilncasting is over 48 hours, and actually takes a lot longer than that to cool down, so by the time the de-steamer was fixed, it was too late for me! Alas, woe is me. I will, however, be very happy to know someone else will definitely win, because I like writing about other people, and I love their pieces far more than I do my own!

Monday, September 10

Nikki's 31 Days of Waxes

I promised myself that I would do so much art over the summer, but uhm, I didn't. I mean, I tried really hard on some things, but when I stacked everything on my new shelf, it didn't look like a lot. Luckily, determined to start my new semester looking fabulously dedicated, I forced myself to be fabulously dedicated! And thus, the '31 Days of Waxes' for the month of August begun!

Lined texture bowl


It's true that in doing one wax a day I am not always creating the most high-grade art, but that is okay, trust me. Some things were left slightly unfinished and touched up when school started, while other things were simply 'bad ideas'. Why might I make bad ideas? If you've ever had a teacher force you to do 10, 15, 30 sketch tabs for a project, even though you knew what you wanted right away, then you might understand what I'm talking about.

Elf tree with painstaking detail
Body sans the balloon head

By giving yourself a high goal, you know you have so many sketches/pieces to make that it's okay to screw around and throw out bad ideas. When you lower the bar and allow the ideas to flow freely, you give yourself the chance to discover that, "Holy crap, this idea is actually gold!" Or, at the very least, a poor idea will probably inspire a better one. At least, whenever I let myself dick around, the latter is what happens for me!

Handable object
Kiwi Bird

Admittedly some of my days were zero waxes, while others were two, or at max three, but in the end I gathered quite a nice assortment of odd, small sized waxes; which is just great, because bright yellow wax is totally not photogenic. Actually, I should admit that I'm no longer sure which waxes were done in August and which were done earlier in the summer - I mixed myself up and lost track when loading the waxes onto a new shelf. So if you ever do a daily or weekly challenge for yourself and you really care which pieces were which, keep track in a notebook or with photos.

Unconscious / Handable object
Tea light holder / Paper weight

You may be saying, "But Nikki, there aren't 31 waxes pictured here, what gives?" Like I said, totally not photogenic, so I just posted a few of the photos I happened to have on hand. You'll have to wait to see my most delicious inventions.

Apple core
Machette of a hair accessory bowl

Starting one piece every day: I think everyone should try it. Even if your process is a very time consuming one, so you don't get too far into each piece, at the end of the month you will still have about 30 pieces to work on for the next however long it takes. This definitely works for me as I've decided that in the future I should do the base form of a group of work (including the reservoir!), then the detailed texture of the work (since I find I have to redo it anyway). Doing it that way, once I finish a batch it will be ready for the kiln (I assume)!

Friday, September 7

Introducing: Samm (Aka Panda)

We at Craft Battles have a textile friend named Samm (Aka Panda) that's participated in the first two battles now. Since it appears she's going to be here for the long term, we decided we should introduce her! In the future some posts by her will probably pop up too.

Who is the Artist:

Hey all! My name is Samm, aka Panda. I’m a 19 years-old art student at OCAD in Toronto, where I also currently reside! I’m in my second year of Illustration, but I also like to sew plush toys and create sculpey creatures.

I’m a House Manager/Head Bitch at Campus Co-op, and I love my job! But I also love to draw, paint, sew, clean, eat (lots!), pandas, owls, animal crossing and ramen noodles. My favourite restaurant here in ye olde TO is currently Future Bakery and CafĂ© – they have some meaaaaannn apple pancakes.

Oh, and the family dog Maia is the love of my life (besides Mike) and her face is the inspiration behind much of my work:


My goals kind of change every 30 minutes. Some days I want to start a plushie company, some days I want to make awesome illustrations for people, and other days I want to work for a kick-ass design firm. Maybe become a tattoo artist! Or design furniture or vinyl toys. ANYWAYS you can see my list of potential goals is great and varied. Hopefully my time at OCAD will help me narrow down the list!

Wednesday, September 5

02 Fantasy Battle Winner!

The results for the second craft battle are as follows:

Jessie (Nixie)
  1 (25%)
Nikki (Dragon)
  2 (50%)
Panda (Unicorn)
  1 (25%)

Total Votes: 4

It looks as if Nikki has won by one whole vote! Unfortunately it doesn't feel much like a real win when there were only four votes total.

Nameless the Dragon


Today's mini-post is on the sculpture Expansion by Paige Bradley. [Website]

Doesn't this make you go, "What the hell is going on, this is awesome!"

The moment Jessie shared this photo with me a mad dash started to find more information on the sculpture. How were those cracks lit up? Were they lined with mirrors that were catching the light off the camera? That's what I thought anyway, because I assumed it was a solid stone sculpture, turns out it's actually hollow bronze!

Admittedly I think the cone of light takes away from the sculpture a bit.

The story, as it seems to go, is that Paige was having issues upon her arrival to Manhattan due to the curator's and critic's anti-figure stance. In a moment of what I would refer to as insanity, she took a beautiful wax that she had spent months working on and dropped it! I'm glad she did though, because what the sculpture would have been is nothing compared to what it is now. She cast the broken pieces separately and had someone help her patch them back together and rig lighting to run throughout the body. I can't imagine this concept making as perfect an impact with any pose other than one conveying a state of meditation of prayer. Maybe I'm just short sighted though? I wish she would do more of these sculptures, but if it were me I'd be afraid of playing the same tune twice.

I'm sure there is a very great moral behind this piece that I should be elaborating on, something to the extent of;
- Don't be afraid to REALLY push yourself
- Don't get attached to your art, if it breaks, it breaks
- When you've hit a dead end, do something crazy to pull yourself out of the funk

Do you have anything else to add to that list? I'm sure there's lots of advice to take from Expansion's story.

Monday, September 3

10, 000 Hours!

Most everyone that I talk to knows about the '10,000 hours' rule, right? However I always find someone new who hasn't heard of this rule and this infographic lays out the information rather beautifully, so I thought I'd share it!

I have decided, as of reading this infographic actually, that I want to try to tailor this blog so it aids with the 7 cheat rules and can help people with the 5 pointers of deliberate practice! My rough draft goes as follows;

7 Cheats:
1) Get a coach
So far we have three regular artists battling/appearing on this blog, all of which use different medias and styles. That should help to offer a range of coach-able areas.

2) Surround yourself with like minded individuals.
We on this blog are definitely like minded but open when it comes to arts and crafts, so you can probably bond with us on some level.

3) Build expert habits.
Does the habit of creating a new and different sculpture every 13 days count as good? I think so.

4) Don't waste time on the small stuff.
We can't help you with this. We don't know what the 'small things' we shouldn't post about are, but we'll do our best!

5) Deliberately practice.
If you're honestly interested in the work you're doing, we're hoping Craft Battles will help people get some good practice in.

6) Teach others.
We're trying to teach you guys, so that helps us. If you'd like to try and teach others, feel free to submit some posts or tutorials to get your teacher-ball rolling. (Teacher-ball?)

7) Find someone to kick your butt if you fall off track.
We can't give you any penalties if you don't compete or keep on top of your art. However if you become a regular here we'll do our best to chew your ear off about it!

We'll do our best to help you with the seven cheats, but putting this blog aside, can you map out a way to accomplish each cheat on your own? I think it will be really helpful to have a game plan for those cheats, to keep you from counting down the hours from 10,000 and accidentally practicing yourself into a rut!

Also, yes if you didn't notice this post is a little more for us than it is for you guys, but if we can't tell you how we plan on offering artistic assistance, than we might not be doing things right.