Making Mixed Media Decorative Plates – Art Process

This project was experimental and took many months to complete. This is a journal explaining my creative process experimenting to find the best solution.

THE IDEA:

One day I saw some plates in my grandparent’s antique shop by the 20th century Danish artist Bjorn Wiinblad, who specialised in whimsical fairy tale styled ceramics and was captivated by them. The plates had such a unique style and had their own stories within them. I felt inspired and wanted to make something like that in my own way.

At first, I considered getting unfired pre-glazed plates and etching my designs into them, but I didn’t know where to source them. I took ceramic classes in university when I did my undergrad where I had access to the kiln, specialty equipment, supplies and experts. But outside of that world, it’s very dificult to do ceramics especially since it’s not my speciality.

This was at the start of 2020 and the world had just gone into lockdown because of COVID-19. Therefore, going to an external ceramics studio was not an option anymore. I changed my approach. Instead of creating something that was pure ceramics, I thought, ‘why don’t I try something experimental using other techniques?’

DESIGNING:

WATCH to see how the drawing was made…
WATCH to see how the drawing was made…

Since I specialise in digital art and drawing, I first experimented with creating narative illustrations in the shape of plates. Because I was using Photoshop to draw, I had the flexibility to sample different colours and effects to achieve my desired outcome.

I made five plate designs in total. For the theme, I took inspiration from my novel “The Wish Bringer” and characters from my upcoming books.

WATCH to see how the drawing was made…

The first three plates, Lapis and the Dream Girl; The Gem Forger; The Dream Girl, were heavly stylised from the references. The colour choices were very minimal and the skin was left white to match the colour of unpainted porcelain. I drew the facial features with black armond shaped eyes, bigger noses and tiny mouths.

Once I got used to this new stylistic approach, I tried new techniques for the other two designs. The Time Jumper‘s design was based on a character who could travel in time. I wanted the image to have more energy and movement than the previous designs. For this work I was ‘thinking like an animator’ and designed the background to look like it was distorted from motion.

The final plate design, Boy and the Beast, has a different style again. Before lockdowns, I went to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and saw a painting that was in Pointillism style. (Applying small strokes of colour that blend together and look cohesive from a distance.) It looked like such an interesting technique that I wanted to try it myself. The story in this plate is about a boy who is able to tame beasts and monsters, so I used the pointillism technique to give the Beast’s fur a mystical texture that would set it appart from other types of animals.

The illustrations looked fine on their own, but I still wanted to make them into real 3D plates, but first, I had to plan and experiment a lot to accommodate my access to materials and working spaces.

PROCESS:

CLICK on the video to see the full documented process of how I made the mixed media plates
  • I bought some ready-made dinner plates and measured the diameter.
  • Then, I printed the coloured illustrations acording to the dimentions on a sticker adhesive paper.
  • After cleaning the plates properly, I removed some of the backing paper in the center and aligned the design.
  • Starting from the centre, I stuck the design down.
  • Because of the curved shapre of the plates, I had to make cuts around the paper so the design would sit flat.
  • Once the design was in place, I sprayed it with a setting spray to preserve the design.

  • Using tweezers and glue, I carefully placed down sequins to add dimention and dusted glitter to enhance areas of the design.
  • After that, I went around the plate rims with gold paint.
  • Once the details were finished, I mixed up liquid resin with different shades of glitter and sealed off the plates.
  • Because of the curved shape of the plates, the resign would always pool at the bottom, therefore I kept having to work in multiple thin layers and turn the plates often so the sides would be coated well.
  • Each resin coat had different types of glitter and they built up shimmering layers that added holographic effects to each work.

Problems I faced included: I was working in winter, so the resin wouldn’t cure properly. (I had to calculate using extra hardner to compensate.) I also live in a small appartment, meaning that it was toxic working with the chemicals without proper ventilation. I made sure to use gloves, an apron and facemask when working and would often put the plates in my shower with the ceiling fan on or would put them on the balcony when I slept so I wouldn’t breath the fumes, (despite the weather being too cold.) The process took a lot longer because of these challenges and would have been better in a more controled work environment.

Once the fronts were finished, I painted the back of the plates black and sealed them in resin as well, this was to provide a strong contrast so the fronts could stand out without distraction. In order to present them, I got some deep, square sized picture frames in white and glued the plates to them. The white colour unifies the series and provides a clean backdrop so the bright colours and textures of the plates can really stand out well.

The frames allow the plates to be displayed in a elegant way like 3D paintings that can be displayed on shelves or hung on walls. The plates are so shiny and holographic from the different layers of resin and glitter that when you see them in real life, you have to move your head around and see them from different angles to appreciate the textures. You many wonder, why I painted the backs if you cant see them, but because the plates are 3D, when you look at them from the side, you can see the back. Even it’s a tiny bit, the detail helps.

In the end, I’m happy with the outcome. There are areas where I could improve. However, in relation to the challenges and obsticles I faced, I think the results were good. I believe that the nature of experimentation is trying new things without knowing the exact results, so having a few errors is part of the charm. I think what’s more important, is being inspired to create and turning that inspiration into fuel to make something new. One day, I could try making cermaic plates, though it doesn’t really matter. I just go where ever the inspiration flows~

Converting an Old TV into a Crystal Display Case

This article is acompanied by a video:

A few years ago, I found an old TV at my Granny’s house. I tried to turn it on, but the technology was so out dated that there wasn’t even a power socket to connect. It seemed a shame to throw out. I really liked the look of it and wanted to give it a new life. The desplay screen on the inside was like a giant lightbulb, and there were no imput holes to plug in a computer. I’m not a trained electronics person to mess with that stuff, so my next thought was to install a small tablet on the inside and keep the TV box shell for cosmetic purposes.

However, there were complications with the screen I bought, and I wasn’t able to use it in the end. After thinking for a while, I realised that I had a lot of crystals in storage from when I used them as decorations at the book launch for my novel “The Wish Bringer”. I realised that I could use the TV shell as a display case to store the crystals. First I removed the electrical components, cleaned all the parts and spray painted the case red (to match my other red decore). Using recycled cardboard, I made a small ramp to place inside and covered it with fabric, that way the crystals at the back can be seen, and placed some battery powered fairy lights inside to complete the look. The batteries run out very quickly, so maybe in the future it would be wise to change them out for outlet ones, but other than that, I’m very please with this project. It’s been a few years already since I made this cusomisation. However, everytime I look at it, it gives me joy and pride for making such a one of a kind piece. It’s also a good example of repurposing something that would’ve been thrown away and making something inspiring out of it.

My Process – Black Light Photo Shoot



For the last few months I was planning a photo shoot based on my ‘Wink’ drawing, (featuring Lapis from The Wish Bringer) which I finally carried out last Friday.

First, I ordered some clothes online that looked similar to drawing, making sure to take into account shipping time.

Then I started thinking about the background.  At first I was going to project some images on to the wall, however that idea fell through, and I came up with another one.

Last month I drew up a design of a black light inside of a bell jar, and got my uncle to safely wire it up for me, (picture below).  I found the glow effect to be really cool, and figured that it would create a nice atmosphere for the photo shoot, (which it did).

For some finishing touches I hung up some butcher’s paper on the wall and painted a flared out design with the acrylic paints that I had available at the time (most of them had dried up actually).  Looking back on it though, I should have bought some fluorescent paint before hand so that it would’ve glowed with the black light, oh well.  Next time.  That being said, the design did look nice in the final photos.

After that, I need a way to prop up my black light, (and LED light up speakers), so I found an easy solution.  All I did with put a cardboard box on top of my draws and cover it with a blanket.  The mirror doors on my cupboard probably aided in reflecting more light, though that more coincidental than planned, because the wall next to it was the spaciest place available.

Then I set up my DSLR camera on my tripod and tested out the setting.  Because the black light was so dark I needed to slow down the shutter speed, which means, if the photo was taken by hand, it would’ve come out blurry.  However, since I had a tripod that didn’t really matter.  After make up, clothes and all the electrical equipment being set up, I was ready to take the photos.

Actually, my camera ran out of batteries during the shoot, (should’ve remembered to charge it before hand), so I switched half way to my video camera, which also takes still photos.  The video camera doesn’t have manual controls like the DSLR, however it still did a good job.

I didn’t edit these two photos, besides cropping, to show how amazing the lights look.

 

I edited the next few photos though, because my face was hidden in the dark.

 

 

 

 

 

I also did this composite image for fun to show the merge between photography and drawing. Doesn’t look as good as the others, because I needed to edit the colours so that they looked as close as possible, but it’s cute none the less.

TWB Book Opening

 Once upon a time, in a land of crystal towers blue, is a garden known only to those in desperate need. There, lonely souls beseech the help of the King of Wishes only to fall prey to his curse and dance for eternity within his ballroom of dreams. A fairy tale—that’s all it was . . . until now.

Back in June my family and I held a book opening for the release of my novel The Wish Bringer.  It was a great night celebrating not only the success of the book being published, but also celebrating the people who helped and supported me throughout my writing journey.

The launch was held in the Marian Hall of Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, which we decorated with framed drawings of the story’s conceptual art, an installation, a selected music playlist, as well as other decorative elements including a banner of the book and decorated cake.

The main idea that I wanted to convey with these props was to invoke the senses.  Many of the people who attended that night had yet to read the book, therefor we wanted to transport everyone into the fantastical nature and environment of the book by appealing to their senses, which I think was quite successful.

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Video of the speeches
 

Photos taken by my friend Miguel Zaragoza

 

For anyone interested in getting a copy of the book, you can click here to buy it from the online book store here