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STUDIO OPEN DAY | LEICESTER

After working tirelessly to complete my studio renovations I decided to celebrate by holding my first studio open day. Ever the procrastinator, I challenged myself to organise the open day in just 2 weeks!

rainbow candy home decorating

My daily to-do list often exceeded 30 items (!) but I was determined and focused like never before. I had furniture to paint, a party playlist to create, cupcakes to order, a photographer to organise, paper monstera leaves to cut out, mandalas to draw, drinks to make and glasses to buy… the list was endless. 

Miraculously, my to-do list became my ta-da list and I accomplished everything on it. With furniture all painted, cupcakes (to match my walls) baked, and homemade ginger and raspberry cordials brewed ( I needed pink drinks!) I was ready to go.

The guestlist was small (my studio is in my house!) and included my nearest & dearest friends and family, as well as some amazing supporters of me and my work. I’d jokingly invited people to think COLOUR when they picked their party outfit and emphasised that this was indeed a party (despite starting at 11am!) Most people ignored me 🤣 Apart from my sister 💖

From beginning to end I was overwhelmed by the amount of love in the room. I was deeply, deeply touched by the fact that so many people came, and that everyone who promised to come, actually did.

Many of my friends brought their children so in preparation, I had drawn several mandalas on 12″ vinyl records, ready for them to colour in. What I hadn’t appreciated however, was that Sharpies don’t work very well on my prepped vinyl! Thankfully everyone was extremely forgiving and partook in the colouring anyway – little kids and big kids alike. (I have since learned that it’s all about the Posca pens 💖)

One thing I didn’t want was for this day to be all about me. Celebrating our achievements (both external accomplishments and our internal growth) is something I believe we don’t do enough of. How many times have you slowed down to appreciate reaching the end of a project, before launching immediately into the next one? How many times have you ignored the wonders of your personal development journey, only to focus on where you haven’t reached instead?   

So I made an interactive Celebration Tree!

My guests were invited to pick a leaf and write down something they’d achieved that was worth celebrating, then hang it on the tree! I didn’t read the leaves until after the party so it was a beautiful, heart swelling, tear-jerking end to the morning.

As a thank you to my guests I was offering 50% off most of my stock. Not only did they all bring a huge generosity of spirit, but they were also hugely generous with their spending. They bought an enormous amount of prints and cards that day and for that I am so, so grateful.

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keep going greeting card
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rainbow alcohol inks
dream big rainbow print
vinyl record art

The final interactive piece to bring even more colour & connection to the party I entitled ‘Pocket Nuggets’. On multi-coloured post-its I wrote down some of my favourite quotes from my favourite spiritual teachers – Marianne Williamson, M J Ryan, Brene Browne, Susan Jeffers & more. Guests were invited to take a quote home with them and keep it in their pocket, then replace it on the wall with their favourite quote (if they felt called to share it).

spiritual post it note

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The whole room was filled with so much sunshine, so much joy, so much love – it filled with me deep wells of gratitude to share my studio with the people I love. When creating my studio the goal was always to share it. It was never meant just for me. 

Glorious captures of the day courtesy of Matt Glover Photography 💖

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Rainbow Coasters | Alcohol ink art

A few months ago I started using alcohol inks on ceramic tiles with the intention of creating coasters. Each tile is individually painted using alcohol inks and is completely unique – a tiny square of original art on which to sit your favourite drink.?☕ Inking the tiles was the easy (‘ish!) part; the sealing process on the other hand, has been a seemingly never-ending learning curve!

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All the colours!! Created with Raspberry, Sunshine Yellow and Mermaid.

I have researched and researched and researched and experimented with several types of protective spray. The alcohol inks sit on the surface of the non-porous ceramic tiles so sealing them is essential. Without sealing them, they are at risk of scratching off and discolouring. In the US all alcohol ink artists seem to use Kamar Varnish, Kamar Clear Glaze and Kamar UV-Resistant Clear Varnish. These three sprays however, are painfully expensive when sourced online (as currently nowhere in the UK seems to stock them!) so finding a cheaper alternative was a necessity.

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Dandelion and Slate
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Coasters all sprayed and waiting to be resined
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Purple, Wild Plum and Sunshine Yellow
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Wild Plum & Black

After considerable trial and error and asking for suggestions in Facebook community groups for alcohol ink artists I found the answer!! Each of my coasters is now sprayed three times with Plastikote Clear Sealer, followed by three coats of Kamar UV-Resistant varnish. With this combination, the inks are sealed in and the colours remain gloriously vibrant! (Previous attempts with Rustoleum and Ghiant sprays DID NOT work for me. There was serious discolouration, especially with the pinks, and the deep magenta turned into an ugly shade of grey salmon.) After several distraught months and feeling hopeless, I found a solution and I was ecstatic!

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Lettuce & Slate.
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Coasters waiting to be sprayed.

Preventing the inks from fading however, isn’t sufficient for them to be used as coasters. They need to be sealed with epoxy resin too!! This in itself has been, and continues to be, a massive challenge for me. Every day’s a school day, so they say!

Resin is a viscous liquid which can be poured onto artwork to preserve it, as it hardens permanently to create a protective coating. It’s an extremely fiddly, messy and complicated process as so many factors can affect it. It needs to be mixed in the correct proportions (50% hardener 50% resin), stirred slowly so as not to incorporate air into it (thus creating bubbles – bubbles are the ENEMY!) and all done in a room of 23-25°C. It’s sticky, toxic and gloves are essential, but I still manage to get it everywhere! Resin is also really expensive, so mistakes are super costly. Like I said, I’m still learning!

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Elevated coasters waiting to be resined!
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Me and my enormous supply of resin!! It’s most economical to buy in bulk.
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Pouring the resin.

What I’ve learned:

  • Elevate the tiles, so the resin can drip off and not congeal underneath
  • Tape the under side of the coasters with frog tape, as resin hardens and once it’s hardened it’s a nightmare to get off!
  • Room temperature is EVERYTHING! The inks and alcohol isopropyl don’t work properly when they are too cold and the tiles are too cold – the coverage is dull, lumpy and lack lustre instead of beautifully vibrant and opaque. The alcohol also evaporates the ink in ugly patches, instead of blending the colours together.
  • Use a blow torch to burst the little bubbles in the resin, but again, temperature is everything. If it’s too cold, microbubbles form in the resin and there’s no getting those out!
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Frog taping each individual coaster – so time consuming!

On one hand, this has been one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done. At each stage there has been what felt like an insurmountable hurdle and I have often felt like giving up. Despondency used to be my default and I frequently have to fight those old thought patterns. Somehow though I’ve kept on keeping on and never lost sight of the end goal. I’m so utterly delighted with how these coasters look and can’t wait to start retailing them!

long tiles 999
Which style do you prefer? Left or right?

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A Liquid Rainbow | Alcohol ink art

A couple of weeks ago whilst on holiday I received a message from a lady on Etsy asking if my rainbow print could be enlarged. Hell YES it can!!

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She said she was looking for rainbow coloured art and wanted something that could elicit a happy cheerful feeling and after four days of searching and viewing 4000+ art works from different websites she found me! My artwork was ‘the first one that spoke to her’ and when she found out I could produce an enlargement, she was sold. She was excited, and I was way more excited! Especially because she lives in CALIFORNIA!!

I always scan my artwork at 600dpi with my beloved Canon 9000F Mark II so enlargements are possible without compromising the resolution. The file is then adjusted in Photoshop (exposure, brightness, contrast etc) and it’s good to go! I use a professional printers for all my print work, as the quality of their prints is superb and their colour reproduction is just perfect. Alcohol inks come in the brightest, most beautiful, vibrant colours and it’s fundamental for me that these are reproduced identically.

This enormous print measured 21 x 42″! And as it was being guillotined I couldn’t resist taking a few photos!

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giant print 1

And when I got home, of course be photographed with the print, to illustrate how big it actually is!

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Rolling this beauty was a whole new challenge for me. I’d never rolled anything so big, and have had trouble in the past creasing prints trying to ram them into tubes that were too narrow! This required a lot of patience, a lot of self-belief and a lot of positive self-talk (“I CAN do this” etc!) and with some brown Kraft paper – courtesy of Hobbycraft – and several sheets of acid-free tissue paper, I breathed deeply and rolled.

giant print 3

giant print 4

It was then placed into a 27″ long tube with a 3″ diameter (essential to have a wide aperture) and some bubble wrap to prevent the edges being bashed around, addressed and sent off via Royal Mail to California! Hopefully once it arrives my client will photograph it on her wall and I can share the photo here 🙂

Until then, here’s a mocked up version of what it could look like!

insta framed rainbow horizontal - white room

As always, I welcome any commissions or enlargements of my work. Please get in touch if you too would love a custom piece for your home, office, cafe or hotel. Contact livilollipopart@gmail.com

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