Having recently rediscovered artist dates (I’m actually reading the Artist’s Way now, along with two friends, and it is so far both wonderful and a bit uncomfortable), and with the studio now finished enough to work in, I’ve been collecting ideas of what I can do with precious alone time.
There’s lots on there from the general list of things I want to do in 2017, but the one that caught my eye this afternoon when I returned home from spending Sunday with my parents was UNICORN BARK.
Chocolate bark is quite an American thing, I think, but chocolate is chocolate whichever side of the ocean you’re on, and when you can make it swirly, sparkly and pastel coloured, I’m definitely in.
It’s also easy and quick, which given everything I should be doing other than making chocolate, is a good thing!
Good quality white chocolate (I used Menier, and made a mini 100g bar of bark for this first run)
Food colouring in the colours of your choice (I went for purple, pink and blue. Online opinion says you should have oil based candy colouring. I couldn’t find this in a hurry, so went for Dr Oetker gel colours which worked fine!)
Greaseproof/waxed paper (I used foil/parchment which I believe was from Aldi)
Hundreds and thousands, glitter, sparkly sugar bits (all optional – mine were bronze sugar pieces from Waitrose which I had lurking in my cupboard)
Line a shallow container with your waxed paper.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of water on the hob. If you’re using the microwave, do it in 15 or 20 second bursts, or you’ll do what I did with the first bar, burn the bottom and end up with inedible crispy chunks in your chocolate. And wasted chocolate is practically a crime!
When smooth and stirrable, split between three or more bowls – one for each colour.
Working fairly quickly, mix your food colouring into each bowl. I used about five drops of the gel colour to get this strength, which I’d say is strong pastel – you can adjust as you fancy.
Dollop the coloured chocolate randomly into the waxed paper tray, swirl around a bit with a fork.
Sprinkle with your choice of toppings, then leave to cool (not in the fridge as this can do weird things to the chocolate’s finish).
When it’s properly cool, break into pieces.
And voila… unicorn bark!
Pssst! Looking for gorgeous brand images of your own creative work? Come and visit me over at my business & branding photography site and let’s make gorgeous images from your creative goodness!
I have a photoshoot with the lovely Grace tomorrow afternoon.
We booked it months ago, which means the date has snuck up on me, and while I’m very excited, I’m also incredibly disorganised. This week I have been frantically making these beauties:
while simultaneously freaking out about how little preparation I’ve actually managed to do.
Discovering at ten to five on Wednesday that a) a key part of one of my costumes was locked in my parents’ garage, b) the location I had scouted would be overrun with students investigating their futures at university (how inconsiderate, lol!), and c) I hadn’t actually got round to ordering two other key costume components yet, I haven’t been the most serene in the run up to the shoot.
Fortunately Grace has found us a new location, the internet is magical and I have both costume pieces in my hands, and I did a detour on the way to see my accountant last night and got the other one from the garage. Phew. Now all that’s left is dyeing my hair, deciding on make up and actually getting there in one piece tomorrow…
Worst case scenario, I guess we’ll fly…
I have been scouring the internet and my Craftsy classes for posing ideas and practice, because despite all my dance history and being a photographer, generally when you stick a lens in my face I get the giggles, and not in a delicate and attractive way, usually in an all out snorting, crying-with-laughter-while-rolling-on-the-floor kind of a way. Which is going to be difficult in a corset.
Fortunately the two main looks we’ll be shooting are my two newest alter egos – Nell, real name Petronella Blythe Merriman, who’s a steampunk gypsy with a story all her own, and an as-yet-unnamed woodland fairy with rainbow wings and western boots. (I love how this alter ego work feeds off who you actually are.)
So though I’m excited-nervous to be the other side of the camera, I’m looking forward to drawing out more of Nell’s character, and perhaps finding out my fairy’s name and personality.
I’ll let you know how it goes! (and secretly? I’m pleased I’ve not had time to stress about it much. Like my self portraits, I suspect it’ll go better for being a bit spontaneous…)
With love and unicorns,
Three ways I’ve given old shoes a new lease of life…
1) The Rainbow Shoes
I don’t know if I’m ashamed or proud to admit that I have three pairs of identical Mary-Jane shoes from Schuh, in different colours. Red ones, a present for my 19th birthday, to go with my Dorothy outfit. Black ones followed to go with an interview outfit, because they were SO DAMN COMFORTABLE but also looked good. And finally purple ones, a 21st present from my then-boyfriend.
I have now worn all three pairs so much that the straps have broken, the buttons have come off, they’ve all been reheeled at least three times and the leather is, well, completely buggered. No amount of polish is ever going to make them look good again.
So I took a leaf out of my own book (I’ve gone through phases of decorating shoes before) and decided to turn the black ones into rainbow shoes… using Decopatch papers.
I finished them off with a couple of coats of glitter Mod Podge (because sparkly rainbows on your feet!) and when they were dry, a coat of satin spray varnish to get rid of the stickiness.
2) The Lace Effect Heel Shoes
I used a similar ploy very effectively years ago, in the hideous London job, when I was informed my favourite shoes weren’t smart enough any more because the heels were worn and scratched. Never one to be deterred by rude people, I spent an evening up to my elbows in sandpaper, Mod Podge and tissue and this was the result:
These are now five years old (I did the heels three years ago), still worn regularly and have held up to all the abuse I regularly chuck at my high heeled shoes.
3) The Sparkly Shit Underneath Shoes
Yeah, that never took off as a brand name. But, back in 2012 when I still lived in the flat, I had a cheap pair of black-and-turquoise satin shoes that needed a bit of pep for a night out with friends. As you can’t really glitter glue or spray paint satin, I looked around my studio, spotted my bead stash… and the rest is history.
These have sadly long since bitten the dust, but I plan to use the same technique on another pair of heels that need some love soon.
So now I never have boring feet!
With love and unicorns,
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Couldn’t choose just one for this week – too much good stuff! Rainbow shoes, My Little Pony hair, glittery Doc Martens and a sign I’m on the right track…
First up, rainbow decopatched heels – these were a much loved pair of black leather Mary Janes from Schuh, which I own in black, red and magenta. But all three pairs have been so worn over the last 7 or 8 years that no amount of polish was going to make them acceptable. So I turned the black pair into rainbow shoes.
Then I went to get my hair re-bleached for some more and brighter blue on Saturday. But liked the brown-to-blonde-to-mint-green look so much I haven’t actually put any extra dye in yet!
If I don’t find any cowboy boots I adore on this trip to the States, I shall be buying these glittery babies the moment I return…
And a sign that I’m on the right path with Unfurling Your Wings – I’ve never bought Illamasqua, though my friend Wendy has designed bags for their launches, but I have just discovered that their tagline is “make up for your alter ego”. Perfect.
As ever, the other contenders are on my Flickr stream.
With stock in the ever-fabulous Tea & Sympathy in Colchester, soon to be in the gorgeous Make, Do and Mend in Chelmsford, supplying goodies for a friend’s daughter’s pop up college shop and four fairs starting Wednesday evening, it has been a little manic here at Ducking Fabulous HQ for the last couple of weeks.
Some of my printed domino necklaces in progress – I’m very excited about this batch!
I’ve also been working hard on Ink Drops Boxes with Annastasia from Midorigreen, which has been lovely, and punctuated by hilarious Skype chats involving unintentional Lucozade highs. If you love all things handwritten, pop over and see the site and our blog, and if you’re struggling for presents, why not have a look at the shop – a surprise box of beautiful stationery might be the answer!
Christmas preparations are also starting – this weekend I will be at the Betty Blue Eyes vintage and handmade fair in Leigh-on-Sea (and visiting two lovely friends who live in the area at the same time) on Saturday, and at Mum & Dad’s sorting out Christmas trees and decorations on Sunday… they have bought a new tree for their new, higher-ceilinged abode, and I get the old one, which will fit beautifully into my flat… somewhere. I’m excited for sorting through decorations, most of ours have stories – will try and post about some of them nearer the time.
Right now I am mostly revelling in the incredible feeling of being surrounded by likeminded people and full of inspiration… it’s a feeling like no other!
Other things that have made me happy this week…
A rainbow on my way to work | Househunting | Tentative plans to borrow a greyhound | Dinner and Christmas decoration making at Mimi’s | A fabulous night with family for my aunt’s 40th birthday | puppy cuddles | the Free Range Festival | a festive Saturday in London with some of my uni girls | chocolate muffins | stories of my parents’ lives and travels before I arrived | starting on the overhaul of this site | getting my boudoir shoot photographs back | tassel making workshop and learning to twirl – the best Thursday evening I’ve had for ages! | Contrariety Rose’s mini-boutique in Creative Crafts in Reading | roof-down driving on a Tuesday evening | impromptu dinner and giggles with my parents | fairy lights | stocking up on Lush’s amazing seasonal soap | treating myself to a couple of books I’ve wanted for a while | MAC’s lip primer
So an all round fabulous couple of weeks! I am trying very hard to resume regular, twice a week posting – watch this space 🙂