Jul 5, 2017

Project Kitchen Part 1


It has been 12 years since we moved into our apartment/condo, and when we moved in we fitted our kitchen with the standard particle board kitchen units because they were inexpensive and quick to install. I remember my contractor telling me that the kitchen would last us about 10 years and it will be time to change. Well, it lasted for 12 :) And I must add that the top cabinets are still in pristine condition, not so much the floor cabinets especially around the sink area. So last month I decided to change our floor cabinets, but I wanted something different and I also didn't have a lot of money to spend. Luckily I only have 3 cabinets to change.

I decided to go with the industrial look. I've always wanted concrete countertops and I love anything to do with metal and mesh. So I seeked out a welder and designed 3 cabinets for him to make. But first I had to gut the old units and dang ... it was gross.

Altho the cabinets still looked pretty ok on the front, but I can feel the sink collapsing more each time I used it, and I was right. When we removed the sink, the countertop was moldy all round. And with a light tug, the whole cabinet shell fell apart! And I had to clean up all this gunk behind the sink! EWWWWW!!



DMD Maju Specialists
The welders came with my new industrial cabinets and installed them in a day. These guys make a lot of the standard gates and grills for houses, but seldom have the opportunity to make the more creative stuff. I took the chance and gave them my drawings and the result was fabulous! I was utterly delighted with the units! I love the mesh and black metal. Some people may be worried about dust, but being high up, we are relatively dust free in the apartment.




















I had 1 inch plywood placed on the top of the cabinets because I have further plans for them. I was going to embark on a quest of pouring my own concrete countertops! But before that, I bought myself a jigsaw and constructed 3 crate-inspired drawers.

 
I got hold of some pinewood and began constructing my crate-inspired drawers. The jigsaw really helped a lot. I don't think I could have survived sawing all these wood by hand!


I made 3 of these, 2 large 1 small and added a piece of plywood for the base. I also image transferred some numbers onto the front to give them the industrial vintage twist. All in all I was delighted with the results!
















Next up will be my biggest DIY endeavor. I researched for months on Youtube on how to make your own concrete countertops. I've learned a lot. I think with the amount of videos I've watched, I can pour concrete sleeping. But I've also learned that in Malaysia, there is no such thing as concrete premixes like Quikrete and the likes, no tools like X-forms to make your concrete work easier, no additives and no placticizers for better flow, no pigments for creative colors, no glass fibre for strength ... zlitch, none, nada.

What we do have are cement, sand and gravel in their original form and as such we still make concrete like our grandfathers did. WOW!

Well ... that didn't deter me. I shall make concrete like the men before me!!
And so I began with buying all the basic materials needed for concrete. I found an online shop called ATKC eHardware. I was in cloud nine! I never imagined that we have something like this here. This place is brilliant. I bought these online midnight and in less than 48 hours all of these stuff were delivered to my apartment on the 8th floor for free!


There are 2 main ways to pour a concrete countertop. You can set up everything and pour it on site, or you can make forms (like molds) and make concrete slabs to be then transferred onto the cabinetry. I opted for the latter. I also decided on the 1:1:2 alternating with the 1:1:1.5 ratio for the concrete mix. 1 Cement : 1 Sand : 2 Gravel. Although I have been reading everywhere that the basic concrete mix is 1:2:3, it was impossible for me to mix at this ratio, perhaps because my slab was not thick enough or the gravel we have here is bigger than what it's suppose to be.

Step 1 is to make the forms.


As the photo shows, first I had to make the templates according to the area I wanted the slab to be, in my case they are the cabinet tops. I made the templates with some art boards. And then I placed the templates onto a block board (or you can use melamine, but they aren't easily available here). Notice that I placed the templates on their flip side. This is because the under surface will become the top of the slab later. The block board is used so that the final surface of the concrete will come out smooth.

And then I constructed the forms with wood. Ideally it would have been better to use the same material as the base (block board) but I didn't have a saw that can cut long lengths of straight lines. So I opted for the simpler method of purchasing some planks and using them for the sides. These planks are 1 and 3/4 inch thick, as such the thickness of my slabs will be 1 and 3/4 inch.

After I'm satisfied with the wooden forms, I tried on the precut 10mm rebars. And then it's time to stabilize the form. The wood is screwed together but the whole form is secured onto the block board, on the outside, with the use of a glue gun. And on the inside a line of silicone seals the joining edges. The silicone will also create a round edge for the concrete slab.

Step 2 is mixing the concrete ... old school


I think the photo says it all. Might I add that my arms were aching like hell that night. It's like I've been lifting weights!

To get rid of the trapped air bubbles, I tried to tap on the side of the forms with a rubber mallet, but I had a bit of trouble there because at one point the forms were in danger of lifting off the block board. So I stopped and you will see that I had quite a few bugholes as a result of trapped air bubbles.

And then it is the waiting phase. I misted the concrete constantly for 2 days. The plastic cover is to keep the concrete wet as much as possible. Concrete needs water to cure. Water becomes the catalyst for the cement to form crystals and bond with the other aggregates in the mix. I learned so much in the research process! 



I allowed the concrete to stay in its form for the first 2 days and I removed the wood. And then I continue to let it sit for another 3 days before flipping it over and lifting it to its place.

The wooden sidings left some stains on the sides of the slab but after some sanding the stains were not noticeable any more. You can see that there are quite a bit of bugholes on the sides as a result of not being able to release the trapped air when the concrete was wet.

After 5 days of just staring at the slab, I am finally able to convince a couple of muscular men (my husband and my brother) to help me flip the slab and set it in it on the cabinet.



The slab turned out really smooth and shiny due to the block board's smooth surface. I also put some expired coconut oil as mold release. Perhaps that helped too!Needed no polishing.

Can you see the bugholes? In fact I really liked the look of them and was contemplating to keep them. But my practical self said that food would be caught in the holes and that would be BAD! So I sighed and made up some cement slurry (watery cement) and proceeded to fill the holes up. ALtho ... I did leave some holes on the sides on the slab ;)

And the final result!!
My first concrete slab! 
1 down 2 to go ...


This is my 2nd slab, just poured last night.
But this will be a story for Part 2 :)








Apr 11, 2017

Summer Online Workshop

Hi hi!!
It's the time of the year again for my Summer online workshop at Artful Gathering Online Art Retreats. This year I will again be teaching a mixed media project, only this time, it is inspired by the Elves of Eryneth ...

A long long time ago ... in a land beyond our imagination ...

The Lady of Eryneth cast one final spell. Slowly but surely, the enchanted Elven Kingdom of Eryneth shimmers into oblivion. The forest returns to its original form as if nothing has changed in nearly a thousand years. The soaring glittering Elven trees have all but gone, the towering archways carved out of the ancient forests' canopies are no more, and the Great Hall of Eryneth is now just a bare meadow in the shadows of the forest.

The Lady of Eryneth cast her eyes down to her hands, which bore a box, not too large. This box was created from the strongest white stone she could find on this land. The Lady lovingly touched the ElvenTree carved on the cover of the box. It reminded her lovingly of the ancient trees in her Kingdom, the Kingdom that is now no more. She slowly opened the ElvenTree window and peered inside. The Lady sighed. She then walked towards a large stone boulder which used to mark the gateway to the Kingdom of Eryneth. The Lady closed her eyes and chanted something under her breath. With one simple spell she hides the box within the large boulder, unseen by common eyes, but will reveal itself when the time comes. One day, perhaps a thousand years from now, someone shall find the box and its secrets within. For now, the box sleeps, and waits … for the Chosen One.” 



Registration is now open at www.artfulgathering.com
Join me this year between June 6 - July 17,  for 6 weeks of creative fun in the realm of mixed media, and maybe at the end of my class, you'd be the lucky winner of this pair of old-world bohemian earrings too!


A bloghop is now happening at the Artful Gathering with $500 worth of prizes to be given away! Sign up now and enjoy all the wonderful doorgifts waiting for you :)
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!


Mar 31, 2017

Stepping out of the box

For those of you who have been following my work will notice that I am pretty neutral when it comes to colors. I confess I'm not great with strong vivid colors. However, when a kind art sister Heather Tracy of Thicketworks helped buy some molds for me, I decided that since I'm trying out a new tool (yup, never used molds on my work before, but these Iron Orchid ones were just irresistible), I might as well step outside my neutral box a little to spice things up. And I didn't regret one bit of it!

Introducing my IMAGINARIUM series. 'Series' being the lack of a better word to use, mine is hardly a real series since I only have 2 pieces at the moment :)

My first try is on a box.


Imaginarium of the Weird & Wonderful : A Mixed Media Box


Just LOVED the 3D effect and the colors! OMG ... I never imagined I could pull something like this off.


And of course, what kind of a steampunk-time-traveling-rock&roll-alternate-universe box would it be without a tattered old journal ready to house all your deepest darkest secrets!

And then I got very excited and immediately started on another piece.


 Imaginarium of the Weird & Wonderful : A Journal


I love how much these IOD molds added to my work! They are such great tools to include in your arsenal of must-have arty stuff!


Somewhat reminds me of a carousel, only this one has no horses.

I am certainly looking forward to more colors in my future work. Now they don't feel so scary anymore. This stepping out of the box was certainly a good move. Being on a roll, I decided to return to my past in my next piece. Some shabby chic called out to me and yes, it has been years since I pulled off a shabby chic. So I guess this is also stepping out of the box in a different sense.


I called this journal 'French Romance'. The chalky destress feel, the old letter print, the mail stamp and pink romantic roses, a far cry from my Imaginarium series. And to think I made all of these within the same span of time. My brains must have been departmentalize big time!


Honestly it's been a long time since I painted roses. I use to do folk art and painting roses using the one stroke technique was my favourite thing to do. Thinking back at how many things I had painted roses on ... I'm feeling just a little queasy LOL!

Finally, I completed a commission too. Woah ... haven't I been productive! Doesn't always happen tho, maybe once a year I'm this productive!

The commission is another journal, and the brief was Old Norse Mythology.
And so,  Mjolnir, Book of Thor  was born.


That is the symbol of Thor's hammer with a touch of Celtic Knots design in it and flanking the Mjolnir are Odin's Battle Ravens.

And that, concludes my productive stint for the year HAHAHAHAHA!!!

I will leave you with this group selfie of the Imaginariums - A box, a book and a necklace.

Mar 3, 2017

A brand new year

Can you believe it?? It's already March of 2017, first quarter of the new year is nearly over. Time really flies. I read a quote on facebook the other day ... Is it scarier that it's been 7 years since 2010 or is it scarier that in 3 years it would be 2020?? UGH ((O_O)) 2020 ... I remember this was the year I thought of when I was a kid in primary school. I remember thinking ... wow 2020 is so far into the future I cannot even imagine it, and I counted, in 2020 I will be 51 ... oh my ... that's older than mommy, more like gran. It seems like only yesterday I had this thought in my little head.

But today, as I was walking back from lunch, a stranger called me from inside a shop, "hey girl!" and then proceeded to ask me a question. After that, I had a grin taped on my face until I reached home LOL! Dang ... how long has it been since someone called me "girl" (besides my mom of course! she always calls me "girl") Now that ... made my day :)

Ok enough of silly musings ... I know haven't been the best of blogger, so Here I am once more to share some photos of my work with you. I missed out posting quite a bit in the years past, so let me see if I can retrieve some of my favourites.

First of all, I am so pleased with my new set of postcards-cum-business cards. The printer did a great job this time :)


It came from this shot I took when I had quite a few of my pieces in hand, usually I don't have so many pieces. So I took the opportunity to set them up nicely and take a good product image. Nice huh?


I still really love my steampunk travel theme books. Here is the trio.


Sometime last year I decided one day that I would try my hands on altered bottles :) These 2 were the result! These were ex-gripe water bottles from my second born's time as a baby. I must have kept the bottles for 5 or 6 years.


Somewhere along the line, I managed to slip in a wrap bracelet too, which I named "Very Frustrating Bracelet" hahaha! which is the fact, cos it took me ages to wrap it round my wrist while I was trying it on :)


And then, I also made an Elven inspired Box of Curiosities :)


The box (only the box) has now been made into a workshop called "the ElvenTree" which will be coming up in Summer over at Artful Gathering 2017!


Registration is open as we speak! So if anyone is interested in this online workshop do pop over to the link. There is also a blog hop going on with $500 worth of prizes sponsored by Jerry's Artarama. To enter the hop you can go to this link : http://artfulgatheringshops.com/artful-gathering-blog-hop-2017/

By the way ... yours truly is holding the key to the secret word this week ;) Go search for it!! (it's not far away ;)

Also ... my DVD from last year's workshop is finally out!! Whoopeeee!!! For those of you who have been writing to me asking me when "The Looking Glass" workshop from 2016 will be out, here it is :)



Moving on, I use to love to play dress up when I was a kid. Always makes me feel like someone else. But as we grow older, grown up things take over our lives or perhaps grown up 'thoughts' take over our lives, and we either don't have the time or feel too embarrassed to play. So we don't play anymore, which is a pity. One day I decided heck ... I'm not getting any younger and I'd like to create some harmless memories for myself, plus I can use them to sell my stuff! HAH!! why not? So when the kids were at school, I quickly dashed on some makeup and stood in front of my bedroom window where the backlight would make any flaw melt away :) and snapped some photos.
And it made my day :)







I tried my hands on some different things last year, bottles, bracelets, boxes, rings ... which I don't normally make. It's like breaking away or just stepping out of my comfort zone a little. Anyhow, I hope everyone is having a great year so far. Don't forget to check out Artful Gathering ... lots of new instructors, lots of new artforms for you to step out of your box :)

Aha!! You found it!

Dec 12, 2016

A Year of Learning


This year has been a year of learning. I taught myself how to draw as you already know in my last post, and I also taught myself how to play the guitar! I went back for ballet classes and took up yoga. Goodness! I'm nearly 48 and I still feel like a kid when I get to try out new creative endeavours, all excited and wide eyed. This year has also been a year of mischevious rule breaking. I've always wanted copper hair and I got it done! Muahahahaha!! All in all it has been an eventful year and I've been stepping out of my box a wee bit more.

I shall not bore you with lots of rambling, but instead show you some of my work in the past months. But before anything else ... here is me and my copper hair :)

This is a picture of me modeling one of my more recent pieces called Oculus : Naga, because we haven't got the resources to hire real models all the time LOL!

And talking about Oculus, lately I've been a little intrigued by the symbol of the Eye. As such I have made 3 pieces of mixed media art jewelry inspired by the Eye.

The first one I made was for myself, and I simply named it "Oculus"

Oculus

And then I went on to create 2 more,
Oculus : Ajna , where "Ajna" is the Sanskrit word for the Third Eye Chakra.

Oculus : Ajna

and Oculus : Naga , where "Naga" means Dragon.

Oculus : Naga

Besides the symbol of the Eye, these pieces are also inspired by the fantasy realms that I love so much ie. steampunk, alternate reality and time travel. In this last piece, Naga, the aura of energy and majesty which resembles the gaze of a dragon was the very thing that gave it its name. The sun window in the center of the eye allows light to shine through, not only adding otherworldliness to this piece, but also transforms the focal from being an eye to something that resembles the inner workings of an old clock tower. Here is a close up look of the inner realms of this piece in its Work-In-Progress stage.


One of my favourite images, and some of my favourite pieces :)



This is another group of art jewelry I made prior to the Oculuses (if there is a plural to the word!). Some of them are still in my shop Altered Alchemy @ Etsy  amongst other pieces :)

Just before I pen off, here are 4 of the latest drawings I made. I am quite a movie buff and definitely a fangirl at heart. I'll probably still be fangirling when I'm 80!

Tom Hardy as Mad Max

Ian McKellen as Gandalf
And then there is this odd one out. Not from the movies, but from the English Premier League ;) Can you guess which football club I support now?

Jurgen Klopp

THIS!! This is my latest piece, hot from the oven not 48 hours. This man has just become my  favourite actor-thespian. He must be one the most talented actors of his generation! From playing a real life physicist with ALS to a Danish transgender woman who is also an artist to a magizoologist wizard ... what can't he play? And what can I say, I LOVE FANTASTIC BEASTS!! It's been a long wait to go back into the Harry Potter Universe but it was worth it all. Sigh ...

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander

Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!