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Welcome Back

Well here we are, September already and the helterskelter slip slide into that thing in December. Before the madness ensues, there are some wonderful things to look forward to; Self Care September, Artober, PAD Challenge (Poem A Day) in November. So grab a cup of something you enjoy and lets have a chat about the first on the list, Self Care September. A great pencil case/handbag size companion for Self Care September is Lottie doll, ‘Be Kind’, here she is with a card from Goddess Love oracle deck by Wendy Andrew, the card I pulled for the overall energy for Self Care September was; Self Discovery; Dive Deep. Sounds good doesn’t it.

‘Be Kind’ Lottie doll seemed the perfect companion for Self Care September

In previous years I have taken this time to hunker down n circle the preverbial wagons, blanket fort and try to find a still point of rest, as I struggle with anxiety, depression and choronic pain. Self care is important but one I often forget during survival 101 (just trying to basic things, like eat, hydrate and try to sleep!). In the past I’ve bought books, courses or other ‘stuff’ to help parent myself though life’s challenges I’ve shared some in the video below. Susannah Conway had an amazing course The Sacred Alone, all about different ways of taking care of yourself and I’m going to be coming back to that practice with crystals, card decks, meditation. Coming back to Reiki, singing bowls n koshi chimes. Reminding myself of the good things I have in my environment, right here right now. I’ll be sharing great sites where I’ve found wonderful Meditations and ASMR stuff that helps me sleep. Hands up who hasn’t been able to sleep?

Here is a video of the sort of books I’ll be taking time with and always help me feel companioned. If you are looking for some ideas for kind books for unkind days to companion you through Self Care September and the darker evenings, I offer you this video of my favorite books.

I have more faves now, but don’t wanna give you all the content for September in one day eh. I’ll post when I can, pain levels permitting. (Previously I’d have prepped this months ago and just have it all set to go live on certain days but well, life got in the way).

This isn’t gonna be a time of bringing new stuff in for me

I have fed that over the years, I’m doing some Marie Kondo, or should that be Kon Maire on my stuff, as and when I can, so its a bit of a different feel this time round. This year, Self Care September, is more about connecting with my environment and what I have already. Pacing is something I really need to work on, I keep rushing at things when pain levels allow me too and then sprain something and end up back not able to do anything for so long. Boom n bust. So thats something I defo need to get better at. Being kinder to myself when that happens, with the Sacred Alone Practice. File me under #processing. Physical, mental and emotional, so trying to find kind ways to process a lot.

PLAY is gonna be a part of it

You have probably noticed that due to lack of dexterity, making art, cards n books has had to take a back seat on the blog and in my life. I’m sad about that, but saving ‘spoons’ for essentails. As a kid, I used to enjoy dolls and the bjds n Schildkrot dolls are wonderful company and pose great for drawing (when I have dexterity to do that) but the simple pleasure of swapping outfits on some dolls has been just too expensive on those dolls, so I’ve invested in some… what are known in the doll hobby, as play line dolls. Thats dolls like barbie, etc. I’d share more on You Tube but don’t want to get the channel designated for kids coz then no comments! The robots that decide that are not very chatty n rules are forever changing.

My fave playline dolls at the present are Lottie dolls, more about them in the coming posts. I have a couple of Matel Creatable World dolls. I like how they are gender neutral and very posable, those also come with a selection of outfits which scratches my itch to change clothes on the dolls. There are three made to move Barbies in my toy box too, thankfully they have more ethnic diverstity in that range now, but I prefer Lottie dolls. Not a fan of the less than human proportions on Barbies, poor girls would need a corset for that waistline.

Poetry and writing

Staying on the creative side, if you scroll back a bit, you will see the crochet collection of animals I have collected. These are characters in a book of stories I’m writing. So far the stories about them have come out in verse. I don’t specifically sit to write poems, my poems just come to me. I’ll be making sarnie and a line comes into my head and another and I have to get a notebook n pen to write it down before I forget it. Thats fun. Then I write them up into a nice book and illustrate it another day and colour the illustrations antothe day again. Then on the weeks when I can’t create, I hang out with the dolls n characters n read the journal.

What about Art

I’ve definately fallen back in love with art, and thanks to Jane Davenport classes it can be just me and a sketch book. Pic candle is brilliant and exploring Kawaii. Art that doesn’t need a lot of supplies and can be picked up n put down without a lot of getting stuff out or putting stuff away. A sketch pad n pencil case level of art is the way to go atm. I’ll share more in coming posts.

This all comes back to pacing, what pain levels and the weather allow. Its not a choice I choose to make. Its life triage, what do I most need to do to stay alive, then what is most urgent, then how long do I need to recover from that. If I can hold a pen, I like to draw on really good days I like to write. But any of these things take their toll so its down to pacing as to what I can get away with and still have dexterity to eat a bit, even if thats just cereal.

It is what it is, we all have our challenges don’t we.

But I’ll write when I can, and even if its not all in September I’ll share some lovely sites with you, as soon as I can.

Links

  • Susannah Conway Susanah Conway, do sign up for her wonderful newsletters, she calls them love letters n they are so amazing. Doing so also gets u access to secret parts of the site which have all kinds of wonderful things to join in with, watch or listen to. (no spoilers)
  • Lottie Dolls https://uk.lottie.com/ They have lots of ethnic diversity in the range, love these dolls. One word, NICE, not to disrepsect other brands but these are just really nice dolls. But I’ll do a post specifically on them soon, so watch this space.

How about you, will you be doing Self Care September and what will that look like for you? Do let me know in the comments.

This blog is going in a few new directions isn’t it, but keeps the spirit and heart I created it with. A joy of creating and a wish to share that journey. I hope you will stick with me, and thanks to everyone who has read this blog over the years. Do keep an eye on the You Tube channel, Sometimes when I can’t write, I make a video instead.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie

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Welcome Back

Today I’m going to share my research on alcohol markers. I have seen others get wonderful results with this kind of pen but when I tried to use them some years ago, the fumes from the alcohol gave me such bad headaches, that I gave up on them. The brand I had been using was Letraset Promarkers. That brand is now owned by Winsor and Newton. I have been drawing some chibi style charcters and its going so well that I wanted to give alcohol markers another try, so lets have a look at the options I was looking at.

Typo Markers

Given my poor results in the past I didn’t want to go for a large set straight off. I had an email from WHSmith with 3 for 2 type stuff and had a look at some markers there. Typo was one listed a set of 36 pens for £30. https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/typo-artists-dual-nib-marker-pen-36-pack/9357067236486.html (correct at time of writing 2021) but no mention of what type of nibs they have so off I went to You Tube to find out more. The video I found was

Jasmin O’Grady’s Typo markers vs Copic markers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqkH8PBJWSY

Ohuhu Alcohol Markers

Makers site: Ohuhu https://www.ohuhu.com/ USA site but for the most up to date info check here first. Looks like on their own site there are now individual markers available and a colourless blender.

Buying hints, at the time of writing I found sets of Ohuhu on Amazon UK, not individual pens. (keep an eye on the description on your set of choice, there are different nib options so check carefully to get the nib combination you really want. Some sets are BRUSH and CHISEL others are Fine and chisel.

Review, this video is by DrawingWiffWaffles, called A big bucket of 120 Ohuhu Brush markers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCAG3ctMxKg its a good one as it also has a review of a sketch book by the same brand. Keep an eye on the dates listed on the videos, information correct at time of creation but over time, the range available has changed and what nib types and the makers site in 2021 lists individual pens as now available.

Review, The Fruigal Crafter Lindsay Weirich has a video form 2019 called New Ohuhu Brush tip alcohol Marker and she also describes how to refil them with ink from other brands https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMgfJ2KZIvk

Tutorial for how to blend alcohol markers by Lucid Neema https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbZQFRE8wCk

Alcohol marker comparison, Kasey Golden shows 10 brands of alcohol markers compaired here. title Which alcohol marker is the best, testing 10 brands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OG8RNbUt8c Useful comparison for price, colour (number of colours available) brush nib, refillable, single, availability, swatch, smudge, layer, blend. Products compaired Ohuhu Markers Arrtx Markers Illo Hue Markers Spectrum Noir Markers Artist’s Loft Markers Spectra AD Markers Prismacolor Markers Master’s Touch Markers Winsor & Newton Promarkers Copic Markers Strathmore® Marker Paper.

Copic markers

I didn’t research this in depth, due to the cost, but Im aware that these are loved by many alcohol marker users, so I have included some information here.

Copic official site in Japan https://copic.jp/en/

Where to buy Though they are available in many high street retailers and online art stores too. I link to MAIN makers site as information on blogs n forums and review videos can date and no longer be the current information, so going direct to a makers site, will allow you to find out what is currently true whenever you read this.

ALL about Copic, Here is a 2014 video from Pop Sketcher visiting the Copic marker stand at Comicon. Lots of useful info about choosing paper type based on what you are creating and your style and so much more. MUST SEE Copic markers mega product tour by Pop Sketcher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgMhTvuSLNo This really was a well titled and well made video. Id definately recommend you start here, and then research out from there for what is available in your price budget once you understand all this a little better.

Wow really learnt a lot from that video by Pop Sketcher, I like that Copic’s are from Japan, coz Japan KNOWS ink and paper. I’m gonna have to try these at some point. Ciao are same ink, same nibs as the sketch but just smaller barrels so they are a little cheaper to try out, but the smaller size means you will need to refill them more often. but so much to learn on here. If ur brand new to markers even if you don’t go with this brand, this video is amazing for all the technical info to help you choose and understand the products n numbering system.

Which did I go for?

I have tried Spectrum Noir products before and personally I didn’t love the material used on the nibs, I don’t have the funds for Copics, though Im not ruling out trying a few if I get on ok with others. The cautious within me was very tempted by the Typo but not sure on the nibs on those and felt I would be repeating the not enough colours to blend so well. The ohuhu is very tempting and my inner magpie wants ALL the colours, but sensible me also not wanting a million pens; cost plus storage issues, plus not having tried them before to know how intense the smell will be with these.

So after watching a lot of videos I went back to Amazon for another look round. Then I found a brand I hadn’t remebered as somewhere that did markers, Sationary Island. https://stationeryisland.com/ Now if you read this blog a lot you will know I LOVE their journals, I have lots of their dot grid ones and a plain paper one too. The quality has been amazing.

I had a look on You Tube and the only video review I found on the Stationary Island Alcohol Markers, was from Coby Coxen Marker from April 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AkCumNz9sY

Why did I choose them, firstly as I just said the fantastic quality of their journals, leads me to believe they aren’t gonna put their name on a rubbish product. Also the price, as someone wanting to try this kind of marker out they have just 11 greys for £7.99 and you can really customise which colours you are interested in, with the smaller sets, just skin tones, just the brighter colours, or go all in for the 96. Wish I’d waited till morning. I bought on amazon for £42.99 but on their own site is £34.99 and free delivery over £5. Well there u go, that’s what happens when u research late at night instead of waiting till morning!

Another reason for choosing them is that on Amazon reviews they said they were less smelly than other alcohol marker than the review had from other brands, and for me thats a real big selling point too as I get headaches from the ones I had from Letraset. DOn’t think there is a blender pen in the set so I ordered a Tombow blender pen for alcohol markers and a Ohuhu sketch pad for the paper, because if I have learnt anything with crafting over the years, sometimes its YOU and you need to practice and learn a new skill but it CAN also be about using the right product with the right surface for it.

One last thing, if you are going to use alcohol markers protect the surface UNDER the paper you are working on, Im going to use the teflon sheet that I use for ink blending, its thin and will catch any bleed through to stop it going on the table or the next page on the book. Just know its gonna bleed through to the back of the page you are working on pretty much whatever you do, so if that is gonna bother you, either choose different markers to be ready to paste the next journal page to it to hide that, or glue in some other ‘thing’ to hide it. If you have a look at my video ‘how to make alcoholic baubles, the Ranger Alcohol blending solution will clean up marker residue from glass surface and off the craft sheet. I got my non stick sheet from Lakeland as its same stuff and cheaper on a roll than the art branded ones.

Lakeland magic liner sheet, its non stick so stuff wipes off it and perfect when using alcohol ink place a piece of this under your project to stop the ink bleed through going on your table or the next page in your book. I also use this for papercraft for ink blending with foam with ink applicators works a treatwith this. The one available now is 33cm x 100 cm for 10.99. https://www.lakeland.co.uk/5571/Magic-Reusable-Non-Stick-Baking-Tray-Liner-Sheet-33-x-100cm so you can cut it to any size you need. Its heat resistant so great to use under projects like heat embossing and triple embossing but because HEAT will go THROUGH it, you will want to protect from the heat from your heat gun. When you want to store it either leave it FLAT or ROLL it, don’t fold it or you will break the fibers within it.

Alcoholic Baubles https://billiescraftroom.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/video-tutorial-alcoholic-baubles/

Links

You Tube channel shout outs for videos I’ve linked to in this post.

If you want to know my fave places to buy art supplies check out my

Art tab https://billiescraftroom.wordpress.com/art/

Look for art supplies and retailers https://billiescraftroom.wordpress.com/art/art-supplies-manufacturers/

best wishes and thanks for reading, sorry for lack of pictures but my new markers haven’t arrived yet. So I’ll pop a picture in after they arrive.

Stay safe and make art, or what ever makes you feel softer and safer in times of challenge

Billie.

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Welcome Back

Wanted to share some pictures of my new crochet pals, that I bought from Rues Bears on Etsy. There is Oscar the bear, Mr Bamboo the panda, Rae and Cooper the puppies and well I call them; Lilli and Lavender, the grey mice but Rue calles them Sebastian mouse in case you are tempted to buy any of these for yourselves after reading this and seeing them here.

Mr Bamboo the panda and Oscar the bear. Rues Bears
Mr Bamboo the panda and Oscar the bear.
Crochet puppy dogs, made by Rues Bears
Rae is the chocolate brown puppy dog and Cooper is the one in the copper coloured jumper. Hand made by Rues Bears on Etsy
Two grey crochet mice
I call these two Lilli and Lavendar. Lili wears the pink jumper and Lavender the lavender col jumper. Hand made by Rues Bears.

I have a very busy brain, its hypervigilant and over thinks everything which is hard work but I also notice that sometimes words start to rhyme and thats when the poems happen. I think I posted previously about the crochet mice I collected from another Etsy seller and had been writing stories in verse about them. Later I found someone else and bought a tiny crochet girl and an tiny crochet elephant. THEN I found Rues Bears and now I have a box full.

Crochet animals
Some of my crochet companions for creative writing.

I call it my story box, its been really good for my mental health, as on days when the words flow I write story in verse about an adventure one or the other of them has had. Other days I draw little illustrations along the side, which is making me very very hapy as I’ve always wanted to be able to draw and my drawing is getting a lot better, with the practice. Other days I ink in the drawings and another time I colour them in. On days when my body isn’t playing or I feel awful I can go to the journal and read the stories.

Box of crochet animals
This is the story box, filled with crochet animals from Etsy. I use this to inspire my writing and drawing.

I was the person at school, who loved when you were given a picture and asked to write a story about it. I admired people like Beatrix Potter who would draw from nature around her and write her stories. I also grew up watching the programes from Small Films studios; Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine and of course not forgetting the Clangers. I have no desire to get into stop motion filming but thanks to online drawing classes with Jane Davenport, I’m please with how my confidence in drawing is getting better and being able to draw and colour them in on days when I can’t write and on the good days when the words flow write the stories. Its pure joy. Its also good as it takes so few supplies which is good when my energy is so low.

I’m glad I grew up in an era before the internet, where you made up your own games your own entertainment from imagination. Now tech is great, but it can be a mixed blessing and some time away from it can also be a good thing. I’m thankful my parents gave me pens and pencils and paint as well as books handed down from around the family. We didn’t have holidays or spare funds but they made up with that with TIME, and you can’t buy that in any shop, and it means the world.

At times though the world gets so swirly, too fast, too loud to spikey and I fall off in overwhelm, then can’t process anything. I need to take time away from all that sometimes and be still, meditate, cry, it all out. Then after enough rest maybe on good days create. Life sure is a roller coaster of challenges and emotions and sometimes NOT trying to keep up, when it gets too much is a kind thing to do for yourself and your sanity. On those days I turn to the dolls and the crochet animals n just play.

I’ve also found some new channels on You Tube and a few more self help books have come home. But I’m guessing people are on this blog for creative stuff, so I hope you enjoy this post and the photos.

If you are in love with these characters too, here is RuesBears on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RuesBears and you can choose your character and its choice of jumper colour. Rue is a wonderful person and I highly recommend her, and no I’m not paid to write this, in case any one wonders.

Best wishes and thanks for reading. I’ll write again when I can. stay safe

Billie 🌈🙏🦓

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Welcome Back

I’d like to share a video I made a while ago, where I share the books that I have found good companions for self care when I am struggling with anxiety and depression.

What helps each of us is as unique as we are. What helps me moment to moment varies too. Sometimes a gentle story on a Kindle reading it outloud to me helps, other times I’m looking for an activity, like the art, journalling and so on. I adore the Kate Allan books they have been wonderful for when I can’t process thoughts feelings and emotions and just want to hear words of ecouragement that one day it will be ok, even if it isn’t right now.

Links

Books mentioned in this film are;

I have included links to these books on Amazon UK, but I am not sponsored in any way for this.

And the one I forgot to add in the film is by Johanna Basford

I also enjoy Johanna Basford books, her drawing inky wonderlands is brilliant here is her video walk though of that book. I forgot to add that one in the video I made, this video is JOHANNA’S.

Check out her You Tube channel as she often does video tutorials for drawing and its also soothing to watch her colour in. Johanna Basford on You Tube

I hope you find something here that is helpful, for yourself of someone you know. Please share it so others can find it. If you too, are struggling with your mental health, please look at the post I put up yesterday which has links out to sites of support. Some days we can, some days we can for a little while, and somedays we just can’t. Its not great, its not fun, its not a fad or fashion and for a lot of us its not all over in a month or so. Be kind to yourself when you are struggling. The media says a lot and not all of it helpful. Take in what helps and walk away from the rest. Its such a personal thing as to what each of us find helpful in the moment. This post isn’t trying to tell anyone what to do, say or think, its just sharing what was holding me safely in the moment I wrote it or filmed it.

I own the fact its an opion NOT a fact, and not dummping this opinion on anyone. I hope you find what helps you feel softer, safer and makes this moment feel a bit more possible for you. Stay safe and I hope the day is as kind to you as possible x

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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Welcome Back

Grab a cuppa and settle in, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so as someone who struggles with a number of mental health issues, I’m gonna share some things that have helped me. Most important of all, is to remember, what helps or doesn’t help us, is a very unique thing.

If you are someone who struggles but keeps quiet coz you don’t have the capacity to fend off all the ‘ideas and suggestions’ when you have either tried them all or can’t access them, then I am totally with you. Often if you find the courage to speak your truth, it goes one of two ways; they look at you as if you have a lurgy and they are afraid they will catch it OR you are bombarded with a list of sentances that start with ‘You should… You must.. Why don’t you…’

My post it not trying to fix anyone, coz not all of us can be fixed or are on a page where advice feels right and I totally resepct that. My post is simply sharing something that is helping me at the moment. What feels possible and impossible is variable moment by moment, no such thing as a straight line for chronic pain n health here.

I live with anxiety depression and chronic pain, and ‘Keep calm carry on’ isn’t helping!

I feel a lot of my anxiety and depression come from chronic pain, which impacts my life greatly and not in good ways. I’m not gonna bore you with the details but its about trying to live WITH stuff, as the condition I have isn’t fixable. Which is a tough one to live with. Its one of those that won’t kill ya just makes your life hell.

Gee this is a cheery post isn’t it! Anyone still reading? Please do, I’ll share happier stuff too but I’m not gonna fake like everything is fine, dandy and sorted coz its not. #justsaying

Stationary Island A5 journal and Ethan Elephant from Rues Bears
Here is Ethan the Elephant from Rue’s Bears on Etsy next to my A5 Stationary Island journal, where my stories and poems live.

Creativity is the nemisis of Depression

Now a long time ago, when I was in primary school, I used to love to write stories and poems, and in recent times I have got back to that. I used to love, when you could go choose a picture and then just write a story based on it. I could write pages and pages from that.

As my physical health has suffered, I find it too much to get a load of supplies out to paint or rubber stamp, though high five to Tim Holtz for the stamping platform or I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. But these days its all about minimal, coz if it takes all my energy to get all that out, then I don’t have energy to create.

Art

I got back into drawing thanks to Suzi blu (she’s back on You Tube and is putting up her old videos and ones that used to be her classes so I’ll put a link in if you haven’t seen them yet. Totally awesome) I bought some Jane Davenport online classes some years ago and they really have made the world of difference to my art.

My dream of it being just me and a sketchbook has happend. I got a bit stuck tho and wanted simpler figures too, and found Kawaii (Japanese for cute) like clouds with smiliy faces on, omg so cute! Kawaii is simple to draw and then I found Chibi, its part of the manga style of drawing. I love books that show me the building blocks of how to draw. and these got me doodling away happily in my various journals.

Creative Writing; the poems and stories just flow

Have you found Etsy? Its kinda like Ebay but full of wonderful handmade things by artists of all kinds of genre. I wanted a figure, I could have next to me to draw. To help me with perspective, and found Amigurami.

Amigurumi is cute crochet so I found both Chibi styles and Kawaii within it and was delighted when I found some cute cute mice. The crochet mice came home and from there I got a journal and started writing stories and poems about their adventures.

Here is a picture of the current crew

Crochet animals
Some of my crochet companions for creative writing.

The cute crochet creatures, that inspire my writing and drawing

This is what happens when u can’t sleep and are up late scrolling on Etsy, you find wonderful things. I’ve named each of them and for some reason when inspirations strikes it comes in verse. I have an idea, maybe a line or two then I have to get a pencil quick and start writing before I loose the words.

This was so much fun, I could do this with just a journal and a pen/pencil. Then I started drawing the figures in the book too and another time colouring them in and on days when I can’t hold a pen to write or pencil to colour I can read through the journal and enjoy the stories.

Then I found Rue’s Bears who I was talking about yesterday and that’s where Ethan the elephant came from, he was so wonderful when he arrived that I’ve ordered some more characters from her. (see links at the end of this post).

Next came something I didn’t expect. Sylvanian Families! Now as someone with a collectors kind of nature, I can see this could get addictive so I’m gonna have to sit on my hands. The characters are more affordable than some of the artisan hand made charcters and my reason for getting The Elephant Family, was because they are posable and I’ve been enjoying drawing and want to get the hang of a range of angles for the characters so the Sylvanian fam’s will help me do that.

Confession ‘the milk rabbits also came home, sorry not sorry’ shh I am repeating the mantra ‘Not gonna get lots, not gonna get lots, not gonna get lots!’ But they are SOOO cute!

How is this helping my mental health?

How is all this helping my mental health and not just the fix of ‘buy stuff to feel better’ which only helps short term as today’s happy post is tomorrows, there is nowhere to put this, I should get rid of it but I don’t want to’.

Well, when I look at these characters, all these stories and poems fill my head and it helps me forget the pain in my body. It helps take my mind away from the fears and worries that keep me up all night. It takes me to a softer, kinder gentler place where I can imagine what they are all doing. Its very calming, one day I might write, another draw in the margins, another colour the pictures I drew in. It really is a dream come true.

For me the bottom line is, its not what you choose but how it makes you feel. If its not hurting anyone (including yourself!) and your bills are paid first so you don’t get into debt, then go for it.

FUN matters, play matters, no matter your age. Not all of us can get out and about, and for us life is really small and so the little things become the big things.

Start where you are, use what you have.

If you want to try this, you don’t need a fancy journal, or fancy pens, use what you have to hand. Images are everywhere, just pick one that calls to you and then pick up your pen and write. You don’t have to tell anyone, you don’t have to show anyone. Just see where it takes your mind.

Maybe its a seasonal image, perhaps you enjoy a certain time of the year, see if you have a photo at home or in a book or online, perhaps from a magazine. Stuff rules, just start to write and see where the words take you. I fyou like it keep it, if you don’t, you can shred it, rip it up whatever feels right for you.

This was a way of meeting myself on the page that I’m on, and just trying to make it feel a bit softer, safer and more possible.

Links

Where the characters you see above came from, I didn’t make them, I don’t have the fine motor skills for that.

Etsy shops

  • The mice and bear in this photo were from Eliza Like (check back for when more stock is available)
  • The elephant is from Rues Bears

If you want to know more about Ethan the Elephant, see my previous post Meet Ethan the Elephant

Come back soon and I’ll share the books that have been companioning me on the dark days too.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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Welcome Back

I was awake this morning at 4.30am, its not unusual. My brain whirring away, all the things I wanted to post about the current situation. Eventually I got back to sleep, then Classic FM woke me at 8am, and it has played soothing sounds all day, THANK YOU!!! So instead of a long list of to dos, instead I share links to safe spaces, to kind folkes on the internet who have online classes as reduced prices and other things that have helped me in the past and I want to share with you, we may have to stay apart from each other but online we are together. Here we go with a list of SAFE PLACES online

we are all in this together by Kelly Rae Roberts

Kelly Rae Roberts Created this and asked ppl to share it, so thats me doing that. Credit to the creator https://www.kellyraeroberts.com/

As this is an art blog, lets start there.

Jane Davenport who is awesome and encouraging as an art teacher, has some great videos on You tube and courses on her website. The classes have demos, so if you want to get a feel for her teaching style do pop over for a look.

Journal baby, journal.

When the going gets tough, I love me a journal! I can tell it how it is, learn stuff, vent, whatever is needed. There is no judgement, correction, blame or shame in my journal.

Susannah Conway Ohh let me count the ways I love Susannah Conway. When my hubby passed, her Sacred Alone course helped me find little pieces of quiet among the noise of grief. Not that this course is aimed at grief, and she has lots of courses on different topics. Currently though she is offering her Sacred Alone course half price, so rush over now to sign up for 14 days of emails, bring a journal, a pen and an open heart and let her hold your hand, while you navigate in the Sacred Alone time, and how to sink into it, appreciate it and explore it.

Class starts today 23 March 2020. The half price is £47 but its SOOOOO worth it, journal along and you find out what makes you feel safe in alone times. Creating your own road map/ self help book, for what works for you. That is priceless.

If pennies are tight and that is too much, do sign up for her newsletters, she calls them Love Letters they will get you access to a lot of free content on the site like meditaions.

 

Connect to nature from your window

Are you taking time to connect to nature from your window? Are you wondering what type of tree that is, what the bird is that’s sitting there? https://www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/spotting-sheets will help you identify all kinds of different birds, trees and other wildlife that you may be taking more time to notice.

Mental health support sites

If you are already struggling with mental health issues, the current situation may well be making it feel worse. Here are some places that may help.

If you are new to staying indoors and finding it tough, I will be posting more ideas in the coming weeks. Do try the websites above which may help, and Blurt shown here is also brilliant for coping stratgies.

Please use phonelines responsibly. If you have the option of family and friends at the end of a phone line, or email, please consider reaching out to them first, if that feels safe to you. There are lots of us who don’t have that support and rely on these other options.

Blurt

Do you wish you had something to look forward too? Want to send a friend a self care parcel of love n kindness? Blurt is the place to go.

BLURT are fantastic, please, pretty please if you are finding right now hard going, do consider signing up to their newsletters, they are soo encouraging and supportive https://www.blurtitout.org/

Blurt have a blog, which will give you a feel for the topics and tone of the newsletters. A shop which; heads up, right now has special offers on their self help card packs https://www.blurtitout.org/product-category/self-helpful/card-packs/ so if you like the idea of having a thought for the day kind of thing, they are brilliant.

Blurt also has something called Buddy Boxes, these are to help you connect to your sences, so there are things like chocolate or tea in there, something for the bath or a lip balm perhaps. They are non gender specific and you can buy them as a one off box, a monthly subscription, and after the month the box was live, there are often the items from the box that you can buy individually. Perfect as a self care parcel for a friend, you can buy from them and have them sent to a different address. Perfect for yourself too.

See you another day, with ways I am stepping gently with myself through these uncertain times.

Be gentle and kind to yourself and others.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie

 

*******************Trigger warning ******* That thing in the news

ONE mention of that thing in the news, Blurt also have ahub page for tips for managing what infomation you read about and from where, and helping with the emotions that may be bringing up for you. Blurt CV hub page

How I’m doing this, checking in ONCE a day on the official announcement, then turn it off. Going round n round, over and over it, istn’t helpful and creates more fear. I then take time to process, brain dump on paper if needed to quieten my brain, and then do something that feels KIND and soothing to my soul, to help my system recover from the triggers. That marathon not a sprint quote is spot on, listening to news 24/7 would freak anyone out. Its hard to process that level of information and if you fry you head in week one, how are you going to get through the long haul. DISCERNMENT is what is needed.

You do you, always. x

 

 

 

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Welcome Back

HAD to come on and share my experience with Craft Artist Mica Magic because its been THE best mica experience I’ve ever had. They are the Galaxy chocolate of the mica/pastel world. (Please DO NOT eat them!) What sold me on them as a concept was the fact they were cream based so would not need sealing. They had good storage boxes that looked like they would stack, they blended and with various applicators could be good for so many different techniques. I only saw a few minutes of them demo’d on craft tv and I was IN.

I had been considering Jane Davenports powdered pigments but they too would need fixing. Just a heads up, the colours in both of the Craft Artist Mica Magic contain some colours which are pearly and some which are matt. So I was able to use the matt ones in the Autumn set to create skin tones. There is a good range of colours in there, so you could create various and diverse skin tones from this set. Add a set of the Summer ones and you can create so much more for so many projects.

Craft Artist Mica Magic Summer and Autumn

Craft Artist Mica Magic Summer and Autumn

Craft Artist Mica Magic, feel as smooth as melted chocolate and are a joy to use.

Now I’ve been crafting for around 10 years and have tried a few things. I find chalk pastels and pencils gritty and tough to work with. Messy to use, with clouds of dust, not easy to blend and stinky toxic sealants are required to keep them on a finished piece. I have tried various kinds of chalk in pallets before and again been put off by the need to use fixative. As I have a bird in the house, I didn’t even try pan pastels because like the others, they need fixing after use and the chemicals in the fixatives are not good to be around if you are human and for birds are even more toxic. I don’t enjoy using oil pastels because I’ve never got the hang of them. So pastels I have, sit in the cupboard.

NOT so these new Craft Artist Mica Magics. The mica and pigments are ground so fine, it feels nothing like chalk, there is a little powder to them, but used gently, there isn’t any floofing of it as you pick it up from the pallete (so no dust clouds) and very little left after its applied as it blends into the applicator and then the paper surface perfectly.

The Craft Artist Mica magic, feel as smooth as melted chocolate, as you apply them to the paper, its a heavenly experience. They are an absolute joy to use and for the first time, with this kind of product, my mind is just exploding with all the projects I could use them with. I WANT to create more with them, they were not being ‘over sold’ as is sometimes they case, when you see things on tv. This product does do what it says on the tin, and sooo much more. I LOVE them.

I used them on WHSmith Sketch pad with has 135gsm paper weight, is acid free and almost no key ie its very smooth and they adhered and blended beautifully. (Key is the term for a rough surface that dry pigments usually need to grab on to, to adhere the colour to your paper, but would usually need a fixative to be permanent there). I applied Mica Magic to my drawing with Jane Davenport Baton blenders, which are long handled double ended versions of the kind of applicators you might use for eye make up. These have been perfect for fine detail work and as I have minimal dexterity fiddly little matchstick sized sticks would have caused my hands too much pain.

I found that you can remove the powder that gets in the wrong place with a kneedable eraser. Although I’ll dedicate one to only this process, because of the cream content. I was a bit worried about using pen over the top of the mica as it has the creame base and I was worried it might mess up my pen so I inked first and let it dry. I had applied a good few layers of the mica, and in places when it had toned down the blackness of the pen, from a more opaque pigment, I risked just scratching firmly over the inked lines with my nail, and the colour did lift off, so the ink became clear again.

I sketched in pencil, then used a kneedable eraser to remove most of the pencil, went over areas with pen, left that to totally dry for a few days (mainly because the parcel with these in had not yet arrived and I was SO keen to play with them, that I used a sketch I had already started,for Inktober, to use them on).

Here is a close up of the sketch I used them on, this is the first time I’ve used any kind of pastel for this kind of project and I’m delighted with the result. I wasn’t able to get the larger finger bob kind of blenders at the time I got them, but will save up for some that John sells in boxes, as they will be better suited for larger background areas. I have intentionally left white areas in the hair, the pigment goes on perfectly smooth, the light levels are not good today and this computer doesn’t have photoshop to punch up the brightness of this photo.

Craft Artist Mica Magic pigments on Inktober Davy 14 Sketch 2019

Inktober Day 14 2019. Over grown. Coloured with Mica Magic pigments

Are Mica Magic for me?

If you can say yes to any of the following, go for them.

You like the look of pastel, but hate the mess,

You don’t want to use fixatives on your finished piece and want something that is perfect

You don’t have the dexterity for pencils or paints, this is a superb choice especially when partnered with FInger dabubers that sit on the ends of your fingers or with Jane Davenport Batton blenders as they have longer handles.

I highly recommend Craft Artist Mica Magic to everyone. Best art product I’ve tried in a long time.

Links

These mica magic pigments, don’t just look good, they FEEL good too, no that’s an understatement they feel amazing as you apply them to paper. Get some, you really, really need to try these.

I look forward to using these in a variety of creative projects. They seem just so versatile.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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