Friday, 6 January 2017

Goodbye 2016, HELLO 2017!



Hello Hello Hello!

Here we are again at the start of the New Year and I am feeling positive and determined to make this year count!

I'd like to think that my attitude to life is changing, for the better of course, all the time and I do feel like a different person coming into 2017... although saying that I have just had 10 days off work so that has probably helped with the positivity. :D

Anyways, I had a spurt of creativity at the end of 2016 so I'm going to focus on that for this New Year post, instead of reflecting on 2016 as a whole. It's been and gone and there's is nothing you can do about it... well apart from learn from the things that went wrong, that would be a good step.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first term at The Ceramics Studio and I have already signed up for my next term this year. I am going to focus on improving on my throwing skills before I get carried away with making specific items. I did manage to make a few Christmas presents at the end of 2016 which you will see below. I also had some fun with adding a kiss of metallic to some of the items using imitation copper leaf, something I saw on Pinterest! :D I have a feeling gilding objects is going to be a big design feature in my future work, it was so much fun and the effect is fab!

Before casting your eyes on the items I made, please accept my apologies for the abysmal photos! ha! I took them in a bit of a rush on my phone in the last week running up to Christmas so they are quite poor. I guess that is something else I need to work on this year, photographing products! I'm sure I have a book somewhere on photographing for blogs...

Look I am getting sidetracked, here are my pottery presents!


This is a hand built tea light holder/lantern
for my mum's friend/colleague.
When I drew the design for this piece it was meant to capture a feeling of a snowy scene with rolling hills and tumbling clouds. However, it was nearing the end of term so I was rushing once again and I attempted a couple of techniques that were new to me that I hadn't tried before using slip (which is used before bisque firing/glazing) and they didn't exactly work out quite how I had imagined. The final result wasn't a disaster though! Once I had glazed it in gloss white, the 'snowy scene' softened into more of an abstract symbol of winter which I quite like. This is definitely something I want to re-visit creating in the future!

A more natural hand built tea light holder/lantern that
I gave to my Grandparents
This was another attempt at a hand built tea light holder/lantern. It turned out I had picked up the wrong clay when I was making this, it has more grit or something in it which makes it stronger so that's why I went for a more natural look. Again I was rushing this at the end of the term so the finishing is a bit poor and it's quite rough around the edges, literally in places! But it was fun to make and I really enjoyed improvising the design of the holes. 

Like all things there is always room for improvement so I have decided to create a making journal so that I can document what worked and what didn't so I can learn and move forward. I really really enjoyed the hand building side to pottery, the technique can be as simple and rolling out a slab of clay and forming it into the shape you want. I found more freedom working like that so I think it will feature quite a bit more in my own development.


More hand built tea light holders.
These were made for my two brother's and their partners.
I felt they were a bit plain so I jazzed them up with
the imitation copper leaf!
Those are battery LED candles in case you are wondering
Safety first! ;-)


More hand built tea light holders, this time a more contemporary design. I really liked the shape I had created but I felt they looked a bit dull glazed all in one colour which is why I looked into adding a metallic touch. I was really pleased with the outcome and I know for a fact that I'm going to be adding more metallic touches in the future! :D

I also made some Christmas tree decorations...


 

I had attempted to add some texture to these by rolling decorative lace into the clay but the glaze removed a lot of the detail which is why I went a bit crazy with the copper leaf! I gave these away as gifts with my brother's tea light holders.

These three decorations looked better in just the glaze so they had pride of place on our Christmas tree...

  

 And here are some other makes I completed for the Christmas season...


Our cheap secret Santa sack at work tore last
year so I upcycled the motifs from it and stitched
them onto a new sack I made using some
of my fabric stash
I struggled to find something to wear for my work's
Christmas do, mainly due to weight gain :(
So my lovely mum made me this gorgeous dress!
It started as a team effort, I cut most of it out
and started to sew it but my mum's sewing skills are
much more advanced than mine so she made
the whole thing really! Lucky eh! :D




A couple of fabric storage bags I made
for my dance teachers :)
An adorable brooch I made using a tutorial and kit found in
one of the latest Mollie Makes magazines.
This went to my sister-in-law :)
So there we have it, told you I was busy getting creative! :D

And I don't plan to stop there, I have the bug now, I have already spotted a tutorial on making concrete pots on Pinterest that I am itching to have a go at! :D I think I need the weather to warm up a bit first though. You can find my Pinterest boards here, if you are interested :) 

I've found that if I concentrate mainly on one task at a time, instead of getting distracted by loads of things I want to try, then I tend to finish what I am working on. I am contemplating setting myself monthly goals to work on a different skill a month so that I am more focused. Perhaps I could do a 'show and tell' blog post at the end of the month to show you guys how I get on.... let's give that a go, keep an eye out at the end of January to see whether I achieved anything! lol

It's been good sharing, look how positive it's been!


New Year, New Chances, Same Dreams

Ta Ta for now!

Amanda x
*waves*

Monday, 14 November 2016

a new creative adventure!!!

On Saturday 8th October I stepped back through the doors of The Ceramic Studio and started as a student on a pottery course!

Now looking back at my last post it was clear that I had hit a low point and I had vowed to change my life around (which I try to do every year *rolls eyes*).... well I am still working on that :D I think I had the case of the 'Let's Do This!' attitude in July, I went hyper positive and full steamed ahead and then by the end of September it had all gone out the window! ha! Same old same old...

Anyways I wanted to make sure I had something I could really get stuck into and that I could look forward to every week so I signed up for a pottery course! as you do! :D
I had thoroughly enjoyed the taster day I had attended earlier in the year so I knew I wanted to go back to The Ceramic Studio and luckily there was a space for me to start in October. Huzzah!

So, moving forward, I am going to try my hardest to keep this blog more updated. I am going to focus on my journey into pottery and hopefully I'll post other creative projects too as I am definitely starting to get the creative bug again!
And less negative moaning....promise! :D

so here we go!

Throwing is proving, as I had previously discovered, to be a very tricky thing to conquer indeed!
Here is the first piece I kept from my first week. It was meant to be a cylinder... instead it turned out to be a wonky bowl! Its pretty heavy too! :D



 There were actually two bowls from the first week but I ruined the second one when I got over zealous with my turning and I went straight through the bottom! :D

After the turning incident I had a go at some hand building but I hadn't quite got my amounts right so I ended up with yet some rather skinny, and again wonky, vases. I did have fun starting to play with adding texture to the clay though.



On my next attempt at throwing it was bowls that were the target and to my great surprise I wasn't that bad!
I threw, I turned and I added texture and then I got to play with a glaze design.... I am pleased to announce that these were the results!









Two, fairly straight, a bit small bowls...but bowls none the less! :D and I am proper chuffed with them!

So there we go! The start of a new adventure! The start of the rebirth of my creative life... and you know what? I think I might get good at this... watch this space!

Amanda x
*skips away*

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

when that little imaginary switch goes on...

Hello there,

I think it is safe to say the part of my New Year's resolution for 2016 about blogging hasn't gone well! It is nearly August already and I am looking back going, 'where on earth did the last 7 months go?'

I'd love to say it was because I have been incredibly busy but we all know where this is going... nothingness!

I am starting to sound like a broken record aren't I?... I am even bored of hearing myself moan! :D

  
SO... lets brush over what I haven't done because I can feel a change coming! I may have hit a low point in my life but these things happen and getting through it makes you a stronger person.  
I admit, there were times where I couldn't see a way out of the negativity and reoccurring thoughts in my head, even though colleagues and friends were telling me how to change my life for the better....
Don't get me wrong, I wanted to change, I didn't want to waste my life! I already feel like the first 30 years of my life have flown by! but that voice of doubt, that lack of confidence in myself kept bringing me back into the gloom... until... one sunny Sunday afternoon my mum goes to me, 
'so how are you going to sort your life out?'

ha! talk about straight to the point! :D


I won't go into the conversation but I think having someone so close to me, someone who's opinion I hold highly, tell me that I need to change, before it's too late, made me realise how serious this was. I'd been brushing it under the carpet in a way, just getting on with life, having an 'I'll do it tomorrow' attitude almost and it wasn't solving anything, I was just torturing myself with my own misery.


Well after our little chat, that's when the little switch inside me went on and I can say that I actually feel different! A weight has definitely lifted and I'm trying to look at things more positively! This is my life and I have control of it, no one else! So it is down to me to change it! Plus I hate the idea of my mum worrying about me, I'd do anything for my mum so I think that's what has helped in changing my attitude to how I see things. :)


From now on I am going to say 'YES' more, I am going to take chances and I am going to be more positive. I've said it before and I will probably say it a hundred times over but life really is too short!!!!


So on a positive note I am starting to look after my body (after gaining a fair bit of weight over the past 2yrs) by eating healthier and starting to exercise more. 

I am also on the look out for a new career pathway! My dream job is still to be a textiles designer but I have a lot of work ahead of me to get things rolling in that department. My creativity has been on the back burner for a long time now... but I am planning to get things moving soon!
And finally, I am just going to get out and do more! :D

A highlight of this year so far was a ceramics taster day at The Ceramic Studio in Kent that was gifted to me for my birthday. I had an amazing time and was surprised at how difficult but fun/rewarding it was!



 I had a go at throwing for the first time...
first ever attempt at throwing!
third attempt
(second attempt ended up in the waste pile!)

Then I made a couple of hand built items...




 I then picked the glaze colours I wanted and left them in the capable hands of the experts to be glazed and finished off. Here are the results!








ta da!!!!
I cannot explain how happy I was with how these turned out! For a first time and only an afternoon of crafting! I'm so proud! I'm hoping to sign up to a full course in the near future :D

Don't forget to check out my Instagram as I often post my creative adventures on there :)


Time to say farewell for now, until next time!!


Amanda x

*swans off*

Saturday, 6 February 2016

in which I contemplate that I have to turn 30 this year...

At the beginning of March this year I will be saying goodbye to my twenties and turning 30yrs old. *very sad and pained looking face*


Am I excited about this prospect?

ERR... NO!

30?       30?       Really? 

this is not where I was expecting to be at 30! 
When I was little I thought 30 was miles away, I would think that by 30 I'd have my own place, be settled down, hopefully in my dream job... how naive we are when we are young! Little did I know back then that I would be blessed with indecision, never knowing what I really want to do with my life and no drive to make the most of it...(and I'm sure many other characteristics that have lead me to just float through life)

so here I am, frozen on the spot, staring at 30 running towards me with a sneer on her face, with no escape. Getting old, or just ageing in general, has always been a big fear for me and I am definitely struggling to get my head around the fact that I am about to have been on this planet for 30 years! 
I am forced to look at my past and question everything! 30 years is a long time! What do I have to show for it? What have I done? What didn't I do? Why did I do that, give up, not try that...?
And then once I've come to terms with the fact that I can't change the past I am stuck with the future. I don't feel like I've grown up enough to be 30. Surely I am meant to be an adult with a load of responsibilities but I still feel like the 20yr old me looking ahead to the next 10 years of her life without a clue in the world! 

So many emotions and thoughts going on it's no wonder people go through 'life crises'! Anyone else hit an age and wonder what on earth happened?

At present I am not sure how I am going to move forward with my life but I know one thing for sure, I can't keep regretting that I haven't lived my life, after all this is not a dress rehearsal, there is no going back...

Amanda x
*stuck still in a place of contemplation*




Friday, 29 January 2016

2016... where did you come from?

Hello... yes it's been a while hasn't it! 

I think we can safely say that blogging was non existent last year and here's the reason why:

I did nothing! I am not going to lie or beat around the bush, last year, 2015, came and went in a blink of an eye and I just floated along.

My 'New Year's Resolution', which I described with much enthusiasm in the first (and last!) post of 2015, soon disappeared into the back of my mind and I fell into a slump. I was stuck in a cloud of plain existence, just going through the motions, doing what needed to be done but never going that extra mile or even remotely living life. 

In amongst the fuzziness of 'being' there was however a huge highlight to 2015 and that was that my brother got married! Huzzah! And I was a bridesmaid for the first time! something I never thought would happen! :D 
It definitely brought some sunshine to the year with 'crafternoons' to make wedding decorations, a boozy hen do with cocktail making and then the most magical and perfect wedding day a couple could ever wish for! 2015 will always be remembered for that special day...
my lovely brother and I

being photo-bombed by my sister-in-law!

'just laugh and your smile will come naturally!'

but other than that, nothing. No creative explorations, no out-of-this-world discoveries, no milestones to look back on and reminisce... well none that I can remember (I hope this isn't a sign I am just losing my memory!? ha!)

Anyway, enough of 2015, it is time for the next year to make its mark, 2016 is here! (I'm going to ignore that January is almost over already, I am a bit slow off the mark!)  
And what's the 'New Year's Resolution' for this year!?

To make 2016 different to 2015! simples! :D 

And here is the first change/difference, I am actually going to try to blog this year and with that in mind it means I am actually going to have to do something in order to write about it!

So... lets see how we go!

Let the year of change begin!  

Amanda x
*waves*

Friday, 9 January 2015

Hello again! Welcome to The Year of Change!

Aha! Yes, I still exist! *waves*

Hello there :D


I can't believe it is now 2015, I also can't believe it was March 2014 when I last wrote a blog post! :(

It is safe to say 2014 was a wash out, well, it was pretty pants to be honest apart from a couple of lovely highlights such as the birth of my gorgeous niece and a family engagement! 
I was glad when it was over but I'm not really a fan of the whole 'New Year' thing. It makes me look back on the year gone past, which in this instance wasn't much cop, and it reminds me that I'm now heading into another year of getting older, feeling a bit left behind on the shelf, lost and hoping 2015 will be different!  

So... after much reflection (and a cheesy romcom) I decided to make a new years resolution that covered a large area of my life, couldn't be broken and might push me to be a better person....

Ready?


Can you guess what it may be?


My New Years Resolution is...


to fall in love! 

Yes! Whether it be with a person, a hobby or just life itself, I am determined, no, I NEED to make this year different and live my life! I have wasted too many years of my life where I have just floated along and gone through the motions without really making the most of, well, anything! 
Last year I started an office job in civil engineering and I struggled to find the energy or the mentality to really get out of the slump I was falling deeper and deeper into, I became lazy and distant, more bitter and miserable as the year went by, I didn't want to do anything. 
I felt disappointed with my life and sad, I needed to earn money and being unemployed for so long after my degree I was relieved when I finally got 'a job' but it had no relevance to what I'd love to do or what I dream about and I think I found it a bitter pill to swallow, I felt like my degree was a waste and the dept was a deep scar.

The break over the holiday season was much needed and it made me reassess my mentality. I need to take these negatives and turn them into positives! Setbacks should be seen as temporary road blockages or stepping stones, just like mistakes can make a piece of art or at least it is something you can learn from. I need to not take things so seriously and take life as it comes. I need to change and I think finding love is a great goal to aim for! :D

I already have a few ideas for getting my creative bones shaken up! I haven't drawn in ages so that will be my first step and I really want to improve my sewing so I will make an effort to find time to practice this.
I am also going to get out more, or at least try to, I was a complete hermit last year!ha! :D

Here are a few things that I did get up to in 2014! I suppose I wasn't that lazy then :)

I had my hair cut a lot
shorter than usual


I had a 'rebel' moment and got two tattoos done in one sitting. The copyright symbol represents my strong feelings about how copyright should be respected, it breaks my heart when I read about individual designers having their designs ripped off by other people or worse well known companies! 
And obviously the saying 'One day' is close to my heart, one day it will happen but it is me that has to make it happen, it is constant reminder that I am in charge.

I had my hair cut even shorter!

I taught myself via the internet how to upholster our dining room chairs as a gift to my parents! :D tricky but enjoyable!






Another haircut and I
went for a change of colour

I took part in a Tapathon for Children In Need! Such fun!



I made some soft padded clutch bags to give as presents...



And I got crafty at Christmas! :D






Unfortunately the patchwork place mats turned out a bit too adventurous than originally planned so they took longer than thought and I missed the Christmas deadline... um... and are yet to be finished but they will be soon! promise! :D


So it is time to say Goodbye to 2014 and a big fat HELLO to 2015! The year of change!

Thank you for reading!

Amanda x
*bows and walks off stage*

Sunday, 9 March 2014

trying to find a balance...

wow time really does fly!

I have been in my new job for 5 weeks now and I have to admit I am really struggling to find the get up and go to be creative in my free time. I can't seem to find a balance between going to work, relaxing, chores etc and being creative!? There never seems to be enough hours in a day...
I am yet to do any doodling this month, I haven't designed anything for ages and I can't remember the last time I made something! Not good!
I need to push myself to start actually creating work instead of just thinking about it and putting it off for another day. I have a few ideas floating around in my head at the moment so hopefully that will lead to a turning point in my life juggling act. *shrugs*


One thing I have decided is that I won't be posting anymore TOP TWEETS OF THE WEEK! 
I'm afraid I don't go on Twitter enough these days to keep up with all the great tweets that share amazing art or inspirational articles etc. I do however try to retweet any fab tweets I come across so feel free to follow me!

In other news I entered a competition back in February to win £5000 to spend at Heals. You had to use products from the Heals website to create a moodboard of your dream room, I chose to create a theme for a design studio/reading snug...


© Amanda Grayland 2014

It's not one of my best moodboards but nevertheless I did enjoy picturing the room and what I thought would work well together! 
If I did win I don't think the £5000 would cover all of this though! :D


Finally, I'd like to share some good news! Some of you may remember this post I wrote sharing that I had entered into a competition to win the Make It In Design Scholarship (in association with Print & Pattern) well...


I MADE THE SHORTLIST!!!!!


© Amanda Grayland 2014

Out of 300+ entries I have made it into the top 50! whoop whoop! :D 
You can see my design (above) among the first 25 shortlisted entries that were released on the Make It In Design blog today, click here.
How great is that!? I never thought I'd be in with a chance! 
They announce the winner on Tuesday so fingers crossed!!! :D

So there we have it! I hope you have had the pleasure of experience the first signs of Spring with a sunny fun packed weekend!

Amanda x
*skips off*