Friday, 7 April 2017

FRIDAY INSPIRATION: RACHEL SAUNDERS




Hello lovely readers, today I would like to introduce you to one of my favourite ceramicists and all-round lovely lady, Rachel Saunders from the West Coast of Canada, (shout out to my dad's homeland!) 
I was lucky enough to catch up with Rachel over email a while back to ask her about everything from her own practice to her personal inspirations...






Who are you, where are you from and what do you do for a living? 

My name is Rachel, and I’m from a little island off the West Coast of Canada. For a living I basically just make a really big mess everyday, and then sometimes cool things come from that mess. I’m a ceramicist, mostly!

Why did you choose to pursue ceramics? Was it something you received formal training in or did you happen to come across it elsewhere? 

My pursuit of ceramics came in direct response to finding out what I didn’t want to do with my life. When I was 21, I manifested myself into what I thought was my dream situation, which turned out to be more dreary than dreamy. I was working at the headquarters of a large clothing company in Los Angeles, and had to succumb to the everyday rat race that was working for a big corporation in America. It put my psyche through the ringer, and I was fortunate enough to have enough clarity and confidence to walk away and find something more fulfilling. I retreated to my little island home, and started redesigning my life with newfound and invaluable perspective. I found myself picking up where I left off at a little pottery studio I had spent some time in before I left, and I just never really put it down. I’ve had 2 real lessons, and have stubbornly taught myself the rest through doing, observing, asking, listening, and getting things wrong over and over again.


Your work seems to have quite an organic, bodily quality to it. Was this something you purposely set out to do, or did it develop in other ways?

To be completely honest, not much of what I do it overtly intentional or deliberately calculated. Clay for me is a great vessel (pun intended) in which I can get across what I am thinking and feeling on a more subconscious level. Sometimes I’ll just step back and look at what I’ve made at the end of the day and my work will be a total mood map of what kind of state I’m in or what I’m going through. It does the translating for me in a direct line of communication from my subconscious. That sounds pretty hippy-dippy but
it’s true, man.






I absolutely adore the forms you create! In particular, the Curve Vase and the Mondo Mug. What inspires these forms? 

Aw, thank you! Those pieces were designed to be purely functional, but also have a slightly obtrusive element to them. My work always seems to find a way to be cheeky in form or function, not sure where that comes from...


Do you meticulously plan a piece before starting work on it, or do you prefer to get straight into making, and develop the idea as you go? 


I usually just dive into something without planning a thing out of hasty excitement. Troubleshooting functionality as I go is necessary, but I love when I just get a pure idea in my mind and without thinking it through or going about it critically, I just make it. I guess I do a lot of things in my life the way, for better or for worse. But those are always the funnest forms that bring me the most joy.



Do you look up to any other artists? If so, who and why? Do you think the work by these artists have inspired the sort of pieces you make? 

Having role models and mentors is absolutely crucial to developing whatever you do, and I have so many people who I look up to. Lots of them come and go for me depending on what I need in leading figures in my life. A multimedia artist who has given me a lot for some time now is Patti Smith, which I was recently reminded of after finishing her latest book, M Train. To me she completely embodies what it means to be a true artist, which is not something I consider myself by any means, but is so incredibly to see in a human, someone with so much passion and dedication to creating and receiving all the universe has to offer. I just look up to people who’s essence is present in everything they make. I also like people who are resourceful. Recently I’ve been very inspired by Alice Coltrane, and New York baker/artist Lexie Smith.
Alice Coltrane had mystical superpowers and sets the soundtrack to a lot of my studio days, and Lexie Smith’s ingenuity with food and mastery of multimedia has made me become deeply inspired by her world.

What does art mean to you? Why do you personally make art? 

Art to me...is how physical beings transcend themselves into another form. It’s another language that is spoken. Sometimes the language is undecipherable or broken and ugly, and sometimes it is really beautiful. I think all forms of art are valuable. For a while I didn’t consider myself to be making artout of ceramics, just functional sometimes weird everyday objects. But as I continue down this path I must accept that it probably is also art. I make it because it engages me on a deeper level. And it connects me with people all over the world, and it’s exciting and unpredictable and teaches me endless lessons on the daily.



What things do you like/dislike about the art world? 

I like that it’s endless. And that there are a billion beautiful things waiting to be discovered. I dislike how often the ego plays a part in it.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? (can apply to general life, or specifically art). 

Hmm, I might still be waiting for that advice, so if you have some send it over! My advice to myself on the daily is to be more in my heart and less in my head, it’s the answer to everything.


Have you planned any artists goals for 2017? 

Oh yes, so many, I’m all about goals. It mostly comes down to being more mindful and taking things a bit slower. I have a real tendency to get caught up in my own whirlwind sometimes. I just want to enjoy every step of this crazy journey. And also be less messy.

Where can people find you/your work online? 

www.rachelsaundersceramics.com and @rachelsaundersceramics


I would like to say a huge thank you to Rachel for taking the time to chat with me! You should all definitely check out her work, it's so wonderful!





Friday, 10 March 2017

5 TIPS THAT HELP TO CALM AN OVERWHELMED MIND


I am definitely someone who prefers to be constantly busy, so for that reason, I take on a lot of extra activities or projects. While being busy makes me happy, I sometimes find myself at a point where I am simply overwhelmed with all that I have going on, and find it very hard to refocus and get all the tasks that need doing, done.

Nowadays, I think I've managed to get to the point where I am able to recognise the feeling of becoming overwhelmed and can employ the following tips to help get through it, without too much unnecessary stress. While I can't guarantee these tips will help everyone, I'm sure there is at least a couple who might find this useful.

1. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN
I've always found that writing down the things that are stressing/overwhelming me incredibly helpful, as it's an easy way to visualise what's going on inside your head. It also acts as a kind of 'brain dump' if you will, where all those overwhelmed thoughts can be put aside on a piece of paper.

2. TIDY YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Ever since I was little, I've found that tidying my room or even just a certain area of my room can be very therapeutic. For me personally, I find my brain feels clearer when my surroundings are nice and orderly. I don't tend to do a massive clean up, but even just making your bed or clearing the pile of paper off your desk can make a huge difference.

3. EXERCISE 
Exercise is always a great way to calm down and relieve stress. Even going for a short walk around the block can drastically improve your mood and clear your head. 

4. SET ASIDE TIME TO RELAX
When we are busy, it's really hard to find time to just sit and relax. However, if we want to be the most productive we can be, and not become overwhelmed, it is absolutely essential to set aside even a small amount of time to just sit and catch your breath. Relaxing isn't being lazy, instead think of it more as time to re-energise. If we keep working without any breaks, that's when we run into issues and start to feel like it's all just too much.

5. ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT. 
When we are feeling overwhelmed, it's very easy to get lost in our thoughts and feel like we have to do everything ourselves. Asking for help when you need it is something that a lot of us tend to feel embarrassed or ashamed about, but it really makes such a difference! Even if no one can actually help you with the tasks that need doing, it can always be nice to at least have someone there who you can check in with and unload some of your thoughts. Whether it be a friend or family member, find someone who is willing to listen from time to time.

I hope you found at least some of these tips helpful! I'd love to know any tips you have that you would like to contribute! Leave them in the comments below, I always love hearing from you!


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

BRAND FOCUS • F. MILLER

I am a huge skincare nerd, so when I came across the F. Miller product line on instagram, I was really keen to find out more about the company and the creator of these beautifully packaged products. 

F. Miller is a Toronto based company founded by Fran Miller, which create active botanical skin and hair care products that look and feel super luxurious without the need for any harmful chemicals. 
I was really lucky to catch up with Fran herself and ask her a few questions about her brand.

What do you think encouraged you to formulate your own line of body care?

I started creating my own skincare formulations after years of personal skin issues and sensitivities. I had a hard time finding natural products that were actually effective, felt and smelled luxurious and looked beautiful on your bathroom shelf, yet were completely free of harmful ingredients. I often found myself overwhelmed and unsatisfied by many skincare brands and products on the market, regardless of how much money I spent. After a few years I finally decided to make my own line a reality. 

I love the paired back design of your products as well as the holistic ethos of your brand. What made you decide on this approach for your line? I imagine it’s much more difficult creating a range of products with no colourings, preservatives, sulphates etc. Why was it important to you to approach a product line in this way?

I wholeheartedly believe in the healing power of botanical ingredients and equally believe in the longterm harm that can come from so many common chemicals that our everyday products are filled with. I’m a lifelong beauty junkie but I also connect with effortlessness and minimalism in all parts of my life. We are overwhelmed by so much these days, and I think that what we eat and what we put on our bodies should be simple and pure rather than complicated. It was important for me to prove that botanical can be luxurious, natural can be beautiful, and to smell and feel incredible too.

What would you say is your favourite product from your line and what do you like best about it? 

It would have to be our best-selling product - the Face Oil. It was the first product I created to combat redness, dryness and oily skin all at once. It’s highly concentrated and specifically formulated with 15 powerful oils to be balanced, easily absorbed and sensitive to all skin types. You can use it morning and night, winter and summer, before and after makeup. I would literally be lost without it! 



Fran also kindly sent over some samples of her face, hair and body Oil for me to try out for myself and I can confirm, they all smell and feel amazing! I will be sure to post a full review of all of the products in the next few weeks.

Be sure to check out the F. Miller Range at www.fmillerskincare.com and check out their instagram and tumblr too!


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

THINGS I'M DIGGIN' AT THE MO #1

Hey y'all! Sorry for the sudden absence last week! I had a lot of stuff to catch up on, with work and shop orders etc. but I'm back on track (sorta lol) and ready to give you guys a new post! 

Today I was thinking about 'favourites' blog posts and how I was never good at the whole, 'Beauty Faves of July' or whatever. The reason being that I tend to stick with a couple of my favourite products for a while, and don't go switching up what I use a lot. 

One kind of favourites post I think I could get down with however, is one that consists of a mixture of things I've been loving, ranging from music to movies to cafes etc. In addition to the usual skincare and make up faves of course. I'm thinking of trialling this kind of post for a little while, to see whether it works or not, so please do leave me a comment telling me if you love/hate these posts! I wanna make sure that I'm not completely boring you!

Anyway, in todays "Things I'm Diggin' at the Mo" (TIDATM??..) I have 4 things I wanna share.

1. A Seat at the Table by Solange has been an album that i've been absolutely obsessed with at the moment. Every time I paint or work on some jewellery pieces, I always turn on Solange's tunes and away I go. If you haven't heard any of her new album, I'd definitely recommend you have a listen. It's got a kinda chill-funk sorta vibe to it, which I love! Also, Solange herself is an actual angel, so for that reason alone, I reckon you should have a look at her work.

2. This next one's a bit weird, but I'd have to say one of the things i've been diggin' at the mo. has definitely been the spinach and feta brioche from Countdown. $2 for a delicious, buttery, savoury brioche with chunks of salty feta?! Yes puh-lease!! Honestly, you can't go wrong with a good ol' brioche for lunch.

3. Being someone who is more than a little obsessed with water, it is no surprise that I am rather picky when it comes to water bottles. One that I have been loving lately though, is my Aluminium drink bottle that I got from The Storage Box in Dunedin. It's a knock off version of the S'well brand, but I imagine it works just the same. It keeps cold water cold and hot water hot, so it's great to take a hot chocolate to work in! Although, in this weather, i think I'd be more inclined to go for a colder beverage!

4. The last favourite I want to mention is ASOS.com! I've recently ordered a couple of things off their website, and they arrived in only a couple of days which is amazing! Plus, they have free shipping, which is my absolute kind of shipping! Their free returns policy is also great! I ordered a pair of pants, and a watch, but neither suited me, so I just packaged them back up, printed off a prepaid postage label from their website and took it up to the post office. Super simple!

I'd love to know what things you've been diggin' at the mo!



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

BEDSIDE PRODUCTS



If you've ever seen my bedside table, you would know that I have a little woven container filled with an array of lipbalms, empty panadol packets, an inhaler (I don't have asthma...) among a sea of bobby pins and usb sticks. Don't ask me why all those things are in there, I haven't the faintest idea either, they've just kind of popped up and have found themselves a little woven home.

For todays post I thought I would pick a couple of my favourite products from my bedside array and talk a little bit about each one. I hope it's not too boring of a blog post, but I personally love seeing what people keep on their bedside tables! (that sounded far creepier than intended..)

Aēsop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm | Being someone who creates stuff and uses their hands and fingers as tools, the skin on my hands and around my nails can get verrrryyy dry and cracked. My dad bought this Aēsop hand cream for me as a gift last year and I have been using it everyday since. It has quite a citrus-y/ earthy scent to it, which I really enjoy and it's balm-like texture means it's super hydrating, all the while not leaving a greasy residue.

This Works Deep Sleep Stress Less | I had heard that the pillow spray from the same brand really worked for getting a better nights sleep, but I had only heard about this roll on version recently. After reading a couple of reviews raving about how amazing this product was, I decided to buy it and try it out for myself. Besides, I figured if it doesn't help me sleep, then I can always just wear it as a light perfume during the day.

While I can't say it completely changed my sleeping habits (I've been a horribly light sleeper for 20yrs) I did notice a change in my state of mind after applying this before bed. The lavender scent is incredibly calming and really helps to slow down a racing mind and wind down before hitting the hay. It smells amazing too, so that's always a bonus.

Poly-Tears Dry Eye Drops | Okay, eyedrops seems like a weird thing to have on this list, but I honestly don't know what I'd do without them! Especially ones formulated for dry eyes. I love putting in eyedrops before I go to bed because after wearing eye make up all day, sometimes my eyes can feel a little gritty. Popping in some drops before bed really refreshens my eyes and stops me from rubbing at them too much.

Smith's Rosebud Salve | I go back and forth between a couple of lip balms, but recently I've really been enjoying using the Smith's Rosebud Salve, which comes in a little blue tin. It's a really smooth and hydrating formula that seems to last quite well on my lips, so I don't need to apply it too frequently. You might remember when I last mentioned this product, I wasn't a fan of the scent at all, and that hasn't really changed (ha!) but I've definitely gotten used to it and the actual product works so well, therefore it doesn't bother me much anymore. 



I would love to know what products you have on your bedside table! Have you tried any of the products I mentioned here?




Friday, 3 February 2017

FRIDAY INSPIRATION : ISABEL YELLIN



Born in 1987 in NYC, Isabel Yellin is an artist who works between London and New York, making sculptural artworks out of various types of fabrics and textiles.
In 2014, Yellin was named as one of Art Newspaper's 30 Artists to watch.

During my second year at art school, I was starting to work with fabric and textiles, so Yellin was someone I came across through my research, and I immediately fell in love with her work. I really enjoy the tension she creates in her works, particularly the ones where the material has been stretched before being attached to the wall.










What are your thoughts on these works?

images: 1, 2, 3, 4.





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