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Monday, July 18, 2016

Practising with watercolours

My very wet, very unpolished swatches of watercolour. This was a practice on blending the colours but I also added the title and scribbled some notes to, er, make it look more artistic lah... Otherwise it'd be rather boring, no?

I was thinking some thoughts as I was doing this about how little I hear of people actually doing this. I mean this as in 
1) give artistic creativity free rein without thought of future reward or consequence and 
2) actually bothering to do this rather than watch TV or Youtube. (Yes, my mind does wander even while I'm concentrating on getting the blending right) 

To the first, I suppose living in pragmatic Singapore could be part of the cause. A lot of people will not understand the point of spending/wasting time painting ugly stuff when it is pretty clear that there are no benefits to be gained. (ie, you will not be a successful painter/musician/dancer/actor) Even fewer will understand why you do it when it is painfully obvious that you have no clear talent at it. (ie, you suck lah)

A very, very, rare few will understand that it is something that is done simply because you want to do it and get better at it.

I mean, take this exercise in painting. Why am I doing this at all? It has no immediate benefit to my short term future, ie, I'm not going to sell the sketchbook page above for millions one day, nor will I be quitting my job in even the next 10 years to sell watercolour swatches for a million a piece. I'm well aware that to many Singaporeans, what I'm doing is a childish exercise. Yes, yes, very nice rectangles, just like what we did in Primary school. Now grow up and get on with life already. 

To others, it is a waste of a limited reserve of effort. Some people will say at this point, "Life is so hard, we work all day, take care of children/parents/pets at night, why would you do something as tiring and fruitless as this? Iphone/iPad/TV/Internet/Facebook is easier lah." or "I have no energy to do this after work. I'm so tired I would rather just lie on the couch with the cats."

Yes, I do have a lot of inner critics and I hear this all the time. (The only one I'd grant the excuse of tiredness is the parent. Yes, I think I would be tired too.)

Which means I also learned ways to counter them.

1) Not everything is about immediate gain and visible show of talent. True success comes also from grit and perseverance. Which is why I believe it's important that I not only show the successes on my blog, but I also show the duds, like the practice page above.

2) Equally important is also what you learn from the duds. You either learn that you suck as a loser, or that you have some stuff you need to improve. One of these lead to better mental health and I think it is clear which.

3) Spending time like this on a hobby takes sweat, grit and effort, I admit. You actually have to pay money for the paint, brushes, paper and book to learn and there have been many times when I come home exhausted, able to do nothing other than lie on my sofa with the cats and the nut. TV at that point is very tempting.

Then after a while, I realised that I wasn't achieving anything (other than a waistline). Spending my time like this, what did I have to show for in my life? What excuse did I have for all my unfulfilled hopes, dreams and aspirations?

More importantly, if I went on like this, what example would I show any future kids of mine? What do I have of me that my kids can look up to? What will people say at my funeral? "Oh, she watched a lot of Doctor Who, and maybe some CSI." That's when I cracked out the paints and the books. At the end of my life, I'd like people to talk and laugh over the millions of bad paintings I did, the horrible photos I took and the fugly craft projects I did and from there, create a picture of me as a whole person, with likes, dislikes, talents, screw-ups and all the stuff I did in my life to show for it. 

Maybe, if I'm lucky, by the end of my life, I'd even have a good number of good stuff to show for my efforts too.

Till then, I want to keep trying in every little way I can. Even baby steps will help a baby to stand up on its own one day. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Refillable Junk Mail Journal

I have a love of paper and journals and I can't deny it. Yet, I'm growing more hesitant to buy journals, no matter how beautiful they are. Firstly, I can't fill them all fast enough. Secondly, there seems to be so much paper floating about that to contribute to that seems wrong somehow. Every week I get sent letters from insurance companies, bank statements that I only need to read once and other mail congratulating me on receiving this wonderful opportunity to...... you get the idea. 

So why not make something that satisfies the need to craft, makes use of all that junk mail and also land you with a nice new journal at the same time? Have I got your attention yet? Hahaha...

This journal is more like a small holder. You can fold A4 letters in half and slide them into the flaps to form the notebook. I have made a version of this journal with sturdy envelope packaging, but this time I started with brochures and pamphlets. I used patterned endpaper for the inside covers that I bought from Daiso, part of my 'stock'. It is easy to make if you can understand my crummy instructions... -_-!!!

Refillable Journal

You will need:
- One large brochure (for the front and back cover)
- At least 2 pieces of card (I used theatre flyers)
- A piece of paper for the inside cover
- Scissors
- Glue
- Stickers to decorate (optional)

Place a piece of A4 junk mail on top of the brochure. Fold the long edges of the brochure inwards to fit the junk mail. Leave around 2-3mm allowance so that you can put more junk mail inside. Take note of which side you will use for the front cover, especially if there's a particular picture you want. 

Fold the junk mail and brochure in half. You will now have a centre fold for the brochure and the junk mail. Now fold the short edges inwards. Again, leave 2-3mm allowance for more paper in the future. 

Remove the junk mail and paste the pieces of card inside. This is to strengthen the covers. Leave a space in between the cards for the spine. Your cover will then look like the picture on the right. 

Paste your patterned paper on top of the cards. I used my existing stock of paper but if you want to more eco-friendly, use another brochure. 

4. This part is where you will be making the pocket for the paper. Bear with me, because this could be a bit tricky for me to explain, but basically, you are making a pocket to slide in papers. Use the side where your back cover will be. 

First, fold the short edges over the card. Then make another fold around 5mm away. Unfold the brochure and make 2 cuts where you folded it to the edge of the journal. It should look like the picture above, with one skinny bit and one fat bit to the left. 

Take the fat bit and unfold it. Then make another fold 5mm away. You should see 2 fold lines like what I have.
Fold it down so it looks like a little pocket. Apply glue to the flap, where my finger is pointing. Do the same to the other side.

Once you have applied glue to both flaps, fold them down. You should now have something like a little folder, and when you close it, it should look like the pictures below. 

6. You are nearly done! Slide in some paper like what I have done and make a victory sign! When you receive more junk mail, just slide it in. 
 Decorate with stickers if you fill the need.

And now, you can learn from my mistakes/observations...

What I learned:
- Leave more paper on the side to make a big pocket, especially if you intend to put more papers in or if you receive a lot of mail.
- You can also keep the papers in place by looping a rubber band or piece of string along the spine. I didn't because I was afraid it would crush it. 
- You can also use letters with text. Apply gesso or white acrylic or paste blank sides on top to reuse them.
- Don't, for the love of administration, use important documents like current bank statements or policy statements or your birth certificate. 

Have fun, people! If you did try this, post the photos of your journals in the comments!