Tuesday, 25 October 2011

My Trees have been replanted!

Moody tree silhouette in time for Halloween!

I'm just putting a quick post in here to let readers know that I have moved my trees from the 365 project to a separate blog.  It makes more sense this way as the previous format didn't quite work and I was having a lot of annoying little issues.  I am still learning as I go so hopefully any changes that I make will only be improvements.  You can still catch up with the trees on this blog as I've put a link on the old page that will bring you straight to it.  There is also a linked page on that blog that will return you to Dragonclover so you don't need to worry about getting lost in the forest!  Thank you to all who have followed me so far and I hope you enjoy all my future posts.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Relax and recharge....

Beautiful lake and mountain views at loch leven

Stones that looked like a Lion at our hotel

I tired to capture the sunlight before it disappered

Hi again.  So, obviously I still haven't quite got this blogging habit right yet.  Still at least this month I have some good pictures.  It has been a long time since my better half and I had a proper holiday, so we took the last weekend in September off and went to stay in Loch Leven a beautiful part of the Scottish countryside.

It was an amazing weekend and I heartily recommend the Scottish countryside as a good place to go when you really want to switch off and relax.  It was quite, the scenery fabulous, the people warm and the food and wine delicious!

The hotel we stayed in was small but everything you would want.  Cheery, friendly and efficient staff, clean rooms with pretty decor - the hotel actually had a great collection of paintings by different artists, and awesome views of the loch.  The second picture is actually an interesting pile of stones that viewed from one side looked like a pile of stones but viewed in the other direction looked exactly like a regal lion chilling catching some rays.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Beautiful Things....Beautiful Dreams...

My Red Dragon - My Guardian

Some beautful things

My Studio (some day)

I have been trying to get better at taking pictures for my blog and for life in general.  I figure the best way to get better is to practise but what should I photograph?  Then I realised that it doesn’t really matter what I photograph as long as I learn something.

So here are some of my more recent images.  They sort of have a past, present and future theme that I’ve just noticed.  The first is my red dragon that hangs in our living room.  It is approx. 2m wide by 1.5m high.  I have had it about ten years now and I still love it.  I have always looked at it as my guardian and in a way it has been.  Its presence in my life always reminded me of magic and possibility which kept me sane through some pretty tough and crazy times in my life.  The shop I bought it in had huge glass windows and inside there was an upper area that was visible from the street.   My dragon was suspended from the balcony of this upper floor and every time I walked by the shop it always caught my eye, as if calling to me.  At this time in my life I had forsaken all creative endeavours to go travelling, I had not done a drawing, written or built a single thing in years, and now I was feeling that 'gnawing sadness that comes from having a neglected creative spirit.  The dragon called and I could not resist and when I finally had him in my grasp I knew that I had to be a creator, a maker and builder, a crafter or I would never be happy.  With my dragon on my wall to guide me I began a long journey that I am still on today and I have not looked back.  I am afraid this photo does not do him justice.

The second image is of some more beautiful things.  I recently celebrated my birthday and this gorgeous vintage style watch was one of my gifts. (Yay! Hooray for birthday presents!)  The watch came in the lovely tin box and I arranged them as nicely as I could on my favourite green patchwork scarf.  I think the image has turned out not too badly.  When I look at it I think “alright I might be getting somewhere after all”.

The final image is of a little lodge that we came across a few weekends ago.  My better half and I went for a wee drive and a garden centre/ cafe place where we stopped for tea had a variety of different size and style lodges for sale.  When I saw this I immediately thought “That is it! That is my studio!”  At the moment I have a tiny desk in a small corner of our living room as my work space.  I have a dream of one day having my own little studio space arranged with all my bits and pieces.  This lodge is the perfect image of my idea of my little studio – maybe at the far end of our garden so I would have a walk to work but not too far a walk?

Well I hope you like the pictures.  To me they are beautiful things that help me have beautiful dreams.  What beautiful things help you with your dreams?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Demented Doodles - My in built safety mechanism

Soft and Wavy

Random animal companions

All kinds of everything

Calming Swirls

Swirls and Lines - To calm and concentrate

More Lines for focus

Birds and Bunnies - my mind wanted free

Curly Swirlys - these were the best at keeping my head calm and composed

Tenticles - Trying to concentrate getting stressed
I was talking to a co-worker about mental health the other day.  It is a strange thing that in this age we spend hundreds sometimes thousands, on how we look.  We spend so much time and money on beauty products, clothes, gyms, strange diets and for some surgery.  Yet when it comes to good mental health few people spend even a minute considering it.  The word ‘mental’ even when paired with something as important as health seems to make it a subject people are eager to avoid.

 While we discussed this subject I thought of my own mental health and of times when it was not 100% and I was reminded of these doodles of mine.  These are drawings I made some years ago when I worked in a job-from-hell in a call centre.  At the time, I had put myself in a position where I was stuck in this horrible job that I hated but could not afford to leave for reasons I'll not bore you with here.  I would sit at the computer in a severe depression and literally be on the verge of bursting into tears and only be prevented from doing so by having to answer the random individual on the other end of the phone.  The one thing that kept me occupied and calm during this time was my constant doodling as I worked.  I filled notepads with these doodles and shapes day after day.

Later when I moved home to recover myself I found a book in my local library on graphology that had some very interesting information.  In the book it mentions a series of drawings used to help train adults and children to improve their handwriting.  These drawings are also thought to help modify an individual’s mental attitude.  The idea being that, if you improve your handwriting you also improve your life overall.

Now reading a claim like that I would normally be very sceptical about its value.  However when I saw the two examples given I was amazed.  The first was a set of jagged, pointy shapes that are used to sharpen concentration and the second was a series of curly, swirls that are meant to help to calm the mind.  When I saw these I rooted through all my boxes to see if any of my 'demented doodles' - as I used to refer to them, survived.  Sure enough there was one unfinished notebook that had these images in them.

Finding this notebook and discovering this information was a great comfort to me.  It said to me that, when I felt most despairing and unhinged that somewhere in the depths of my brain there was this hidden knowledge that helped me survive.  This might sound very dramatic but it is very difficult to describe just how bad the place I was in and yet somewhere underneath all that hurt there was hope in a lowly doodle notebook.  I think that is amazing.

I would guess that there are many people that have this built-in safety switch and not even know it.  Do you doodle?  There are many purposes a simple doodle can have and if you do find yourself absentmindedly scrawling on random bits of paper I would encourage you to keep them.  What you might dismiss as a useless doodle could actually be a thing of rare beauty.

I could not find the original book where I first found this information but I did a bit of quick googling and found this link for those interested:

I understand that this area of graphology is referred to as graphotherapy.  I cannot say for certain that this type of therapy works.  (One blog I read made, what seemed to me, outrageous claims.)  Please don't take this post as a recommendation for it.  I just wanted to relate my tale.  The point of my story, for me, is that without even realising it I found hope in a simple drawing and with that hope I found the courage to look for help.  I believe there is great strength, hope and opportunity to be found in Art and creativity no matter how small or simple the act.

Friday, 12 August 2011

I have a cunning plan....

3/4 View of Desk - Resin Cast with Bronze Powder

Front View of Desk

So, back again!  My posting has been a bit random as I've just started a new job.  Unfortunately it is not in Model Making but fortunately it is helping to pay the bills, so I'm not complaining too much.  Now that I've been trained up, I expect my timetable to be more predictable so that should help in letting me get to the computer to post.

My photos this week are of a piece that was part of my final project.  For this project, I made a segment of an animation set that was set in an old world library.  This was a desk that was placed in the centre.

A lot of being creative and making things is about going with the flow and letting things happen naturally.  However, one thing this project has definitely taught me is that there are times for letting things happen and then there are times when you MUST have a plan.  I should have planned my time and actions much better when I made this table.  I thought I had it all worked out in my head, then I tried to make it and it all went horribly wrong.

The legs were not too bad.  Only minor disasters when I was making those.  Such as, forgetting to weigh my sculpt before I boxed it up to make a silicone mould, and thus having to (guess)estimate the weight of silicone needed and getting it very wrong.  I was short a 100g and had to frantically mix a second batch before the first set.  This too went wrong, because when I poured that in I was still short.  Aaargh.  It was Friday and College was closing in 5mins and I still had an almighty mess to tidy up.  Aaaaaaaarggh.  Luckily for me my tutor walked in at this point and helped me rescue the situation with a genius solution.  By placing some sticks into the corners away from where the main mould was the level of silicone was pushed up to fully cover the sculpt.  Yeaay!

Until I came in on Monday morning and found one of the sticks had fallen over aaaaaarrrgh!!!!  Luckily it had just missed the sculpt and so the mould was still useable.  Phew.  You would think that this would have taught me a lesson but I really like learning things the hard way and so onto more fantastic blunders with the table top.

I started with a square slate tile that I picked up in a home ware store.  It had a really good texture and I thought it would work really nicely as a table top.  Then when it came time to use it I realised that it was squint.  Damn.  Thinking about it though the Griffin legs were bronze (a resin cast with bronze powder) and the bronze and slate may not have worked together and so it was probably just as well.  So, add the slate tile to the pile labelled 'This might be useful for something else later'.

I got some wood, added some plasteline detailing and made a plaster cast of this.  Lovely, now one resin cast of the plaster mould and presto - one fine looking table top.  Yeah, good plan as long as you don't forget to put mould release on the plaster mould.  Doh!  In the end I coated the wood original in a gel coat resin mixed with bronze powder.  This worked reasonably well and rescued the situation.

I could have saved myself a lot of time and headache if I had only planned my project and time better.  This makes perfect sense to me and I understand the principle very well but despite this knowledge I still find it difficult to break every detail down before I start a project.  Still I guess that all comes together with practise.  Here's hoping.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

I'm Back!!

Well its been some time since I have last posted but I am back in action again finally.  College is all done and dusted, which feels a little strange, as it has been a big part of my life for 3 years.  I was not happy with my final project for the end of year show.  However, despite this I did receive an award for Top Model Making Student 2011. Now it's back to reality and the dreaded job hunt (Duh,duh, dunnnn!!).  It's been quite daunting and tiring but I just have to keep chipping away like everyone else.  In the meantime I am going to try to improve my blogging skills here.  Hooray!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Time to bite the bullet....

Things are speeding up in College at an alarming rate.  We are now hurtling down the final stretch towards our End of year and end of course show.  The race is on to design and produce our final models that we are going to make on this HND course.  They must be shiny, oh so shiny, as they are the demonstration of all that we have learned and why a shrewd employer might want to employ us.  So no pressure then. (heh laughs nervously)

Aside from College work my personal life is really hectic at the moment too.  My baby sister is getting married and I am a bridesmaid.  This means a weekend in Ireland this weekend and a week in Ireland in May.  It also means that being realistic I am not going to be able to keep up weekly posts but I will keep posting when I can. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Back on track

Original button we have to duplicate

The scaled up button

Bottom component and vac-formed top component

Pieces of bottom component before assembly

So it's good news/bad news for my blog.  Bad news first (I always want the bad news first), I didn't manage to make my post last week.  Now the good news - (insert smug grin here), I finally completed my graded unit presentation.  This was my reason for missing the blog last week but it was worth it.  I had my presentation on Thursday and it went very well.  The tutors were very impressed by all the work I had done and told me I'm looking at an A grade! Hooray!  All the stress and hard work paid off in the end.

Staying on the subject of hard work brings me to my photos for this week.  One of the units we covered in college involved us producing a prototype of a product.  While this would normally be done for a brand new product we were working with an existing one.  The purpose of the exercise was to break the object down into its component pieces and work out how to reproduce it at twice its original size.  The object that we reproduced was an emergency stop button, the kind you would see on band saws and circular saws etc.

These photos are of the work in progress.  I always like to see photos of a work in progress and then see the finished product at the end.  It is a great way to learn how things are put together and to be inspired with ideas for other projects.  You can see the former that I used to vac-form the top section is one of the images above.

Another digital unit we are studying will involve us creating a 3D computer model of the same object.  I will post images of this once it has been completed together with the final finished prototype.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Work Experience .....




Posting a little late this week but better late than never eh?  Working in a creative field is no easy task.  One difficultly many of us experience is finding our niche and discovering our own unique style.  When we finally discover the perfect job/field we want to work in, the next problem is that old classic - Catch 22.

When we start applying for jobs we quickly discover that everywhere seems to want someone with experience, but if we can't get a job how can we get any experience?  This is a very frustrating situation, particularly if you want to work in a creative field.  I have discovered after reams of research there are few opportunities that allow you to gain work experience and creative apprenticeships seem to be very, very thin on the ground.

So what do you do?  The old phrase ' Nothing will come of nothing' comes to mind.  If you want work experience you have to get out there, pound the pavement - so to speak contact companies, email, and call and generally harass people until someone gives you a break.  Much easier said than done but it seems to be the only way.  The other option is to work freelance but this is not an easier option. You still have to seek out clients to employ you which can be just as difficult, if not more so.

The following photos are my first steps down the long work experience road.  They are 3 separate jobs I assisted a freelance model maker with.  The first was simply planting trees on an architectural model.  The second was making fencing and doing a little thatching on a model of a crannog for a museum.  The final one was some simple sanding and filling on a chair.  This chair was for a primary school.  The design looked like a pile of school books, it was quite pretty.  This work was very useful in showing me just how wide and varied freelance work can be.

Monday, 7 February 2011

All aboard the rollercoaster

My week has been one big rollercoaster.  I have been barrelling along at top speed and there have been times when I have felt on top, like I'm really making progress, and then there have been times when I've felt low and thought that I'm not getting anywhere at all.  The best treatment for this type of ailment?  I haven't really discovered that yet.  The best I can do is to try to step back, stay calm and deal with things one at a time.

My head is full of tasks I need to complete, it is dizzying.  So this is task No.141 - Update my blog.  I came close to putting this off until tomorrow but I think that would be the start of a slow decline if I did.  There are 1,000 other things that would likely get in the way so let’s get to it.

These photos are from when I did the NQ course.  Our final project was to design and build a themed entrance for the HND 2 student’s end of year show.  Based on ideas that were presented to them the HND students chose an Iceberg theme for their entrance.  We spent several weeks building up an ice cave in the entrance way.  The sign was made up of cracks and fissures in the ice.  The whole entrance looked really (pun alert! - I do beg your pardon) cool and was finally finished two days before the show.

The day before the show it was all pulled down.  No that is not a typo it does say the day before.  The fire inspector came in and told our tutors it was too big a fire risk.  We had treated the materials with a flame retardant when we started but he just wasn't having it.  One of tutors that had led the project argued with him and told him we had treated our materials but to no avail.  It was a huge gut wrenching disappointment to do all that work and have it wrecked but I consoled myself with the fact that at least we had some good photos.  So I hope you enjoy.