Posted in Art

Studio Notes 19/07/19

This has to be a bit hurried, as I’m so, so tired…

After a week of experiments, I’ve produced my best cast yet, and it was partly down to a surprising find along the way. No, it’s not what I consider to be perfect, but I fixed the problem of the mould not filling all the way. Anyway, here’s the story of that find:

Into the spidery shed

The springform cake tin was a great idea for keeping hold of a round mould, but RTV silicone doesn’t like to be cast on its side – it won’t vent steam like oil bonded sand will, so it just forms mega bubbles, even with an incline. It has to be vertical.

That meant that I had to clamp it in place vertically and apply pressure on the sides to keep the mould tightly in place, or else all my pewter would just dump out into the bottom of the cake tin.

I was trying to come up with some system for jerryrigging a clamp – maybe a car jack wedged into a box? – and got Ste on board to excavate a box from our spider-riddled shed. As the spider-spotting backup, I was peering into the dim wooden cavern when I spotted a box we hadn’t seen before.

It was an unopened clamping table!

An unopened Wolfcraft 150 clamping table found in my shed.

The exact model isn’t made any more, but this is the closest version.

The previous owners had obviously abandoned it to the eight-legged shed denizens, and somehow I’d never seen it before.

Although the nuts, bolts and plastic pieces were still sealed in their plastic bags, there was a fair bit of corrosion and that dank shed smell. Still, I put it all together the same day. It needs a bit of oiling and messing around with to help it fold up, but set up, it’s just right for the job.

I can’t believe that I just happened to find the exact thing I needed! I couldn’t have done the casting without it.

Tips for pewter casting

I’ll have to write this up as a separate post, of course, but here are this week’s discoveries:

  • Fill from below. When you pour hot metal into a mould, you create turbulence in the flow of the metal – steam, bubbles, slag, all rolling around. You need to cut this out, and to do this, you need to fill your mould from the bottom up. This means having a separate pouring spout that feeds your mould from below.
  • Use a tapered sprue. This helps to reduce turbulence as well, controlling the flow of the metal.
  • Make your sprue big enough. The metal may freeze before filling the mould if you don’t.
  • Plan your sprue and gating system into the mould making process. I didn’t do this… I did rely on the fact that I could cut the silicone afterwards, which is less than ideal, and means that I’ve had to patch some bits with oil-bonded sand.
  • Wax acts as a flux, but don’t add too much. Pretty self-explanatory.

Now that I’ve achieved this week’s goal, I’m going to carry on with another job: helping my husband create some of his own moulds. I’m refining my DIY silicone mould-making technique and scoring major brownie points at the same time!

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Studio Notes 19/07/19

Studio Notes 05/07/19

I got that push to finish and publish my second journal, and do you know why? Because I made a massive mistake with casting my coin and had to do something with myself while I was waiting for more silicone to arrive.

It seems as though I’m mostly reporting on huge failures, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what it feels like to me sometimes!

Still, at least I have enough to get on with to fill in the gaps when things don’t go perfectly.

Mould making, the right way

Confession time – I know how to make two-part moulds, and I know how to make even more complex, multiple-part moulds. I’ve been doing mouldmaking for 20 years now, so I have a handle on the basics… so what the heck is up with my recent run of catastophes?

The simple answer is that the silicone I’ve been using has given me the option of being lazy, and faced with that option, I’ve grabbed at it with both hands like a desperate woman.

Why lazy? Well, you can cast a solid block and then cut it apart, unlike with plaster. Working that way around, what happened was that my pouring spout was too narrow to accommodate an adequate flow of silicone, so with an 8 minute pouring time, I ended up with a lot of silicone that had gone off before I could use it.

Fast forward a few days and another batch of silicone, and I made the mould the right way. Don’t be lazy, kids.

Prepping for a new casting project

I’m not just working on the coin, though. I’ve got a plan for my soap base in mind, and my poor plastic artist’s assistant is getting roped in as a model.

Right now I have to pull up the handbrake on work though, as the studio contents have spilled over (in some cases, literally) to the rest of the house and I have to scoop up all of the leftover silicone that’s been chipped up for recycling and clean off all of the wax I tipped over the cooker and the kitchen floor yesterday…

Will I get to cast the pewter next week? Maybe, but maybe I’ll work on prepping the rest of the things I want to cast at the same time. We’re looking at getting or making a casting flask for sand casting, so I may work on that instead.

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Studio Notes 05/07/19

Fonts For Drawing

Following on from my previous post about fonts for painting, I wanted to put together a list of my favourite typefaces that are reminiscent of drawing styles.

Typefaces for artists: fonts for drawing

Typefaces for drawing often draw on (sorry) a particular style of broken or wavering line quality that immediately suggests the involvement of an imperfect human hand.

Although that’s not the one and only thing that denotes a hand-drawn mark, it’s one of the features that catches our interest and tells us straight away what this typeface is about.

We think of hand-drawn lettering as honest, simple and pure: the most down-to-earth, natural form of art we can produce. So even if your project has nothing to do with art but needs to pinch some of that creative mythos, these fonts are an ideal place to start.

Macarons Font Family

Macarons is a hand-drawn font package that comes in five weights:

  • Macarons Light
  • Macarons
  • Macarons Bold
  • Macarons Sketch
  • Macarons Bold Sketch

There’s also a set of “catchwords” and ornaments included. I really like this typeface – it has a serious tone to its form that’s undercut by its wibbly-wobblyness. It’s as though Times New Roman stopped taking its medication.

Even better, it looks as though it could lend itself well to linocut or woodcut styles.

Buy on DesignCuts

The Hand Font Collection

The Hand - hand drawn font

The Hand Font Collection contains 7 fonts in different weights – light, regular, bold, black, xblack and two dotted versions. That’s a great package that covers a range of styles.

The Hand Font Collection - 7 hand-drawn typefaces

The Hand Light is reminiscent of the faint trace of a mechanical pencil (reminds me of Technical Drawing at school) or fineliner, whereas The Hand Xblack gives you an impression of wielding a felt-tip marker.

The dotted versions are great for complementing stippled effects.

Buy on Creative Market


Thornback hand drawn scribbly font

Thornback is an extremely charming scribbly font that somehow reminds me of the Sunday comics, but at the same time could just as easily be tipped over the spiky edge of anarchy.

It’s a great typeface for anyone who wants to keep it loose, but still maintain and element of control – this has both.

Buy on Creative Market

Chalky Letters font collection

Chalky Letters font for drawing

The Chalky Letters font collection has a beautiful, delicate illustrative quality to it, and it’s amazing how many combinations you can make.

This collection contains 17 fonts in all, including a set of decorative extras. It’s hard to imagine getting through all of the possible combinations!

Chalky Letters fonts for drawing

I’m really impressed by this font package. Also, with just a bit of imagination this could be effectively used to illustrate other dry media such as pastel and charcoal – it doesn’t have to be all white-on-black.

Buy on Creative Market

Earth Elements Typeface

Earth Elements Typeface for drawing

I almost bypassed Earth Elements, as the jagged lines of the chalky capitals didn’t quite grab me at first. However, once I saw the quirky, flimsy lines of Earth Element soft, the script type included in this package, I was hooked.

The soft script reminds me of doodling with a 6B pencil on not-pressed paper, and the regular script looks like a charcoal attack. It’s a fantastic duo, and the bonus vector pack has some great, smudgy elements to complement the text.

Buy on Creative Market

Faun Font Duo

Faun Font Duo - font for drawing

Faun is a fun, over-the-top, impressive decorative display font. It would be absolutely perfect for accompanying adult colouring books or for working alongside a strong graphic style, but beware – something this big and bold can easily overshadow artwork and steal the show, so use wisely!

Buy on DesignCuts

Quendel Happy Family Fingertip

Quendel Happy Family Fingertip - fonts for drawing

I’m glad that I found Quendel Happy Family Fingertip – it’s not easy to figure out what’s going on with this font thanks to the confusing imagery which shows all four of the fonts available in this “family”, but this one is the Fingertip version only.

It’s a negative space typeface – imagine drawing with your finger on the beach, or pushing around some graphite dust on a smooth board. I think it’s really interesting and gets to the heart of mark-making.

Buy on Creative Market

My fonts for drawing have incorporated styles reminiscent of finger painting, pencil, charcoal, fineliner and chalk – I’m pretty pleased with that! I hope it’s helped you as well.

More like this: fonts for painting.

Typefaces for artists: fonts for drawing

Studio Notes 10/05/19

What a busy week – redesigning the pewter coin has been the most important thing, but I’ve squeezed in a few jobs on the side as well, like re-stretching an aluminium screen and prepping materials for a new miniature sculpture.

Last week I had planned to restretch a couple of screens using two-part evil glue, but when I finally got an afternoon of dry weather and opened up the bottles, I realised that the hardener had – well – hardened, and it was unusable.

My ghetto screen stretching method

All of this after I’d started the process: I tacked the mesh across a wooden frame that was just bigger than the aluminium frame, laid it on top of the aluminium frame and clamped it tightly down onto it. That would stretch the mesh even tighter over the new frame and allow me to glue the mesh and screen surfaces.

Stretching an aluminium screen with a wooden screen

That way I’d get a very taut, professional-quality stretch in my back garden. Well, that was the plan until the glue problem, so having set everything up – clamps and all – I just went ahead with contact cement.

So far so good – I sliced the screen out of the wooden frame and it’s kept its tension, but I’m going to have to test its resistance to all the screen printing processes. And… I’m out of mesh for this size of screen, so I’ll have to buy some more before I can carry on.

Back to sculpting the coin

When I started the process of sculpting coins last year I came up against the problem of creating precise marks in materials that don’t lend themselves to the level of precision that I wanted.

Everything I did was made the old-fashioned way: all hand carved, with the most advanced process being photocopying. This is kinda how I roll; my natural inclination is to do everything without computers, not because I have to prove something, but because that’s just how I learned to do things and that’s what comes naturally. If I’m going to push this to where it needs to go, that has to change.

The point isn’t to create industrially manufactured pieces, but to marry the idea of a hand-made object of value with that of a mass-produced symbol of value. Basically I need to upgrade my processes.

Silhouette Cameo plotter cutter

With modern coin design and manufacture, you can’t get away from computers and machines. I’ve been thinking about ways to incorporate more computer-assisted working into my practice, whether it’s getting a 3d printer or – as an alternative – a plotter cutter.

I’ve spent the last week researching these and it’s made my head spin. The thing is, they’re pitched firmly at the crafts market, and it can be hard to figure out if the machine you’ve spotted will be suitable for more robust work, or, more importantly, original work (not being restricted by locked-in software).

My plan is to use one of these to precision-cut paper layers to laminate sculptural forms. It’s not that out of the question – it’s basically how I’ve been forming my new coin this week, but by hand. Maybe before too long I’ll have a bit of help with that.

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Studio Notes 10/05/19

Fonts For Painting

I love finding typefaces that pair up with a particular artistic medium or style – it feels like the perfect marriage between visual language and the written word.

The right typeface can bolster your brand as an artist, so it’s worth thinking about the fonts you use – here are some fonts for painting and painters.

Typefaces for artists: fonts for painting

Typefaces for painters can reflect the quality of the brushwork, the style of paint spatter, or just provide a vehicle for layering colour.

Brush-style fonts are pretty common, but not all are created equal. I’ve chosen some fonts for painting that evoke different painterly styles – hopefully you’ll find one for you.

Opulent + SVG Font

Opulent - typeface like watercolour painting

Opulent is a script font package that comes in three styles:

  • Opulent SVG font that allows you to render your lettering in lush watercolour brush strokes
  • Opulent Brush font, which gives you a ragged edge and classic dry-brushy look
  • Opulent Solid font, which gives a smooth edge to the text, reminiscent of a more liquid paint effect

So three fonts in the package for $20 is pretty stellar.

Buy on DesignCuts

Express Yourself Font + Bonus

Express Yourself font | enamel paint font

Express Yourself is definitely a fun typeface – made by dripping enamel paint, it really stands out amongst all the brush fonts.

This font would be great for branding anyone working with drip art or pour painting styles – or anything that needs a wild, expressive flavour. It actually reminds me of ceramic slips!

At only $5, it’s a steal.

Buy on Creative Market

Casual Brush Typeface

Casual brush font | paint marker font

Casual Brush is a handwriting typeface that combines some internal breaking with lots of smooth lines. It does have an elegance about it, but is very informal and easy-going. A bit more illustration mixed into your painting practice, you could say.

What makes this so interesting is the sheer amount of variety you get in the combinations of over 600 ligature pairs and two stylistic alternates – there’s a lot in this package.

Buy on DesignCuts

Drip – Liquid Font

Drip Liquid font | paint font

I love the look of this typeface – fat, luscious and happy! It does just what the name suggests – calls up paint’s liquid nature with a heap of added style.

It’s begging to be used as a logo, but this font could easily lend itself to lots of other applications.

Buy on Creative Market

Blackhawk Brush Font

Blackhawk Brush font | fonts for painting

Blackhawk seems to me to be the epitome of an edgy dry-brush typeface: all slanted, stabby points and ragged edges, and all caps. It’s fast, urgent and instantly gives you that street vibe.

Buy on DesignCuts

Mr. Poster – SVG Brush Font

Mr. Poster SVG brush font | fonts for painting

Mr. Poster is one of those incredibly memorable typefaces – show-stealing and full of character. I absolutely love it!

It’s a bit more limited than others on the list as there aren’t as many alternates available, but it still does its job. Made using acrylic paint on transparency, this font is at its best in its SVG version, but the solid vector version will still impress.

Buy on Creative Market

Tooth & Nail Dry Brush Font

Tooth & Nail dry brush font | fonts like paint

Tooth & Nail is a gorgeous handwritten dry brush typeface with an upright habit that plays into its down-to-earth appeal.

If you’re looking for a way to convey down-home trustworthiness and creativity, this is the package for you – and there are extra paint splatters and more included as vectors, which is always cool.

Buy on DesignCuts

Total Rage – Brush SVG Font

Total Rage Brush SVG font | paint fonts

Total Rage is a font with absolutely unbelievable texture and tons of energy built into it. Gestural painting and expressionism have found their mouthpiece here!

While the SVG’s transparency is undeniably the star of the show, the vector version’s solidity makes this look totally brutal… in a good way.

Buy on Creative Market

A selection of paints!

So I’ve managed to find a selection that matched watercolour, enamel, acrylic, paint marker and gouache… and some that just evoke paint’s liquidity. Which was your favourite?

Fonts for painting