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Thea’s Artistic Odyssey: A 100 Day Project Reflection

One lazy afternoon, lost in the social media abyss, a hashtag snagged my attention: #the100dayproject. Curiosity piqued, I dove in, discovering a vibrant community of artists on quests unlike any other.

The project concept is refreshingly simple: choose something creative, do it every day for 100 days, and share your journey on social media using the #The100DayProject hashtag. Who knew this virtual rabbit hole would lead me on a meandering adventure of self-expression?

A screenshot from #the100dayproject hashtag on Instagram

Chapter 1: Batik Beginnings (2020)

The world was a swirling pre-pandemic mess in 2020. It was then I embarked on my first 100-day adventure. I found myself drawn to the rhythmic patterns and vibrant colours of batik fabrics.

Day after day, I poured my heart into creating designs inspired by the rich heritage of Dutch wax and Indonesian batiks. Each stroke of my pen and roll of polymer clay felt like a tiny act of defiance against the chaos, a way to bring beauty into a world that desperately needed it.

Thea’s 2020, 100DayProject summary

What is Dutch Wax?

Dutch wax, also known as African wax print fabric or simply wax print, is a type of colourful and intricately patterned cotton cloth with a distinctive waxy texture. Originating in the Netherlands, Dutch wax fabric gained popularity in West and Central Africa during the colonial era and has since become an integral part of African fashion and culture. Despite its name, Dutch wax fabric is not exclusively Dutch; it is produced by various companies worldwide, including those in the Netherlands, England, and Africa.

The unique appeal of Dutch wax fabric lies in its vibrant colours, bold patterns, and cultural significance. Each design often carries symbolic meaning, reflecting aspects of African culture, traditions, and beliefs. These fabrics are commonly used in clothing, such as dresses, skirts, and head wraps, as well as in home décor and accessories.

Dutch wax fabric is celebrated for its versatility, making it suitable for both formal occasions and everyday wear. Its enduring popularity highlights its status as not just a fabric, but a symbol of identity, heritage, and creativity within African communities worldwide.

A polymer clay veneer (sheet), inspired by the Nkrumah Pencil batik fabric motif.

Chapter 2: Cutting a New Path (2021)

As the calendar flipped to a new year, the world remained stubbornly stuck in “weird” mode. Lockdowns stretched on, each day a test of resilience. But even amidst the exhaustion, a creative spark again, flickered to life.

Despite the weariness and exhaustion that permeated the air, I yearned to carve a new path, so I grabbed some linoleum blocks and carving tools, ready to explore the world of lino cutting. Each day, I coaxed a fresh design from the block’s surface. These creations, from bold prints to textured jewellery pieces, became my little haven of creative solace in a world filled with uncertainty.

Thea’s 2021 100DayProject summary

What is Lino Print Carving?

Lino print carving, also known as linoleum block printing, is a versatile printmaking technique that involves carving designs into a sheet of linoleum to create a relief surface. Linoleum, a natural material made from linseed oil, wood flour, and other binders, provides a soft and smooth surface that is easy to carve. This medium gained popularity in the early 20th century as a more accessible alternative to woodblock printing.

The process of lino print carving begins with transferring a design onto the linoleum surface, either by drawing directly onto the material or by transferring a traced design. Carving tools, such as gouges and knives, are then used to carefully remove areas of the linoleum around the design, leaving the raised areas that will receive ink. Once the carving is complete, ink is applied to the surface of the linoleum block using a roller, and then paper is pressed onto the block to transfer the inked design.

Lino print carving allows for a wide range of artistic expression, from bold and graphic designs to more intricate and detailed imagery. Artists can experiment with different carving techniques to achieve varying textures and effects in their prints. This accessible and rewarding process has found applications in various artistic fields, including fine art, illustration, and graphic design, offering artists the opportunity to create unique and handmade prints with rich textures and expressive qualities.

A selection of linocuts and a postcard print made from a ‘Fleur’ cut with acrylic paint.

Chapter 3: The Pause and the Polymer Clay Cane (2022-2023)

After a brutal year and a half of juggling creative and corporate responsibilities, I reached a turning point. It was time to hit the creative pause button, recharge, and find my centre again.

As the days in 2022 stretched into weeks and months, a familiar itch returned. The artist in me craved an outlet. Enter polymer clay canes in 2023 – a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes begging to be explored. With each cane I crafted, I rediscovered the simple joy of experimentation and the beauty of embracing imperfection.

What is a Polymer Clay Cane?

Polymer clay is a type of synthetic modelling material that remains pliable until baked in an oven, making it ideal for sculpting and crafting. Polymer clay cane making is a process used to produce patterns and designs. Canes made from polymer clay are typically used in various crafting applications, including jewellery making, pottery, and decorative arts.

The process of creating polymer clay canes begins with selecting and conditioning the clay, which involves kneading and warming it to make it soft and malleable. Once conditioned, the clay is shaped into long, thin rods or logs, often in different colours. These rods are then arranged and stacked together to form a pattern or design, similar to the technique used in millefiori glassmaking.

After the desired design is assembled, the stacked clay is compressed and rolled to reduce air pockets and ensure a smooth surface. The resulting cylinder is then stretched and elongated to create a long, thin cane with a pattern running throughout its length. Depending on the complexity of the design, multiple canes may be created and combined to achieve more intricate patterns.

Polymer clay canes offer endless possibilities for creativity and experimentation, allowing artists to explore various techniques such as skinner blends, cane reduction, and cane slicing to achieve different effects. Once the canes are complete, they can be sliced into thin cross-sections to reveal the intricate patterns within, which can then be incorporated into a wide range of projects, from jewellery components to embellishments for polymer clay vessels and sculptures. The versatility and vibrant colours of polymer clay make it a popular choice among artists and crafters seeking to add unique and personalised touches to their creations.

A cane veneer (sheet), ready to cut into shapes for earrings.

Chapter 4: A Return to Simplicity (2024)

As a new year dawned, I felt a shift within myself. This time, I desired a return to creative simplicity. Armed with a motley crew of pencils, markers, watercolours, and acrylics, I embraced the freedom of doodling, letting go of rules and expectations.

It was like going back to the very essence of creation, a celebration of the pure joy found in the act itself.

Snippets from Thea’s 2024 100DayProject

What is Doodling?

Doodling is a spontaneous and often unconscious form of drawing characterised by its free-flowing nature and lack of predetermined structure. It involves creating random, abstract, or sometimes representational sketches, usually while the mind is engaged in other activities such as listening to a lecture, talking on the phone, or attending a meeting. Despite its seemingly haphazard appearance, doodling serves various purposes, including relaxation, concentration enhancement, and creative expression.

The act of doodling provides a means of channeling creativity and relieving stress by allowing the mind to wander and explore without constraints. Doodles can range from simple shapes, patterns, and squiggles to more elaborate and detailed designs, depending on the individual’s mood, interests, and level of artistic skill. Some people use doodling as a form of meditation, finding solace in the rhythmic and repetitive motion of drawing.

Beyond its therapeutic benefits, doodling can also stimulate cognitive processes and aid in information retention. Studies have shown that doodling can improve concentration and focus by keeping the brain engaged during monotonous or repetitive tasks. It serves as a form of active listening and helps individuals stay alert and attentive, particularly in situations where sustained attention is required.

Additionally, doodling serves as a form of creative exploration and self-expression. It allows individuals to experiment with different shapes, lines, and textures, often leading to unexpected and innovative results. Doodling can be a source of inspiration for artists and designers, providing a platform for generating ideas and exploring new artistic styles and techniques.

Overall, doodling is a versatile and accessible form of artistic expression that transcends age, skill level, and cultural barriers. Whether scribbled absentmindedly on the margins of a notebook or meticulously crafted during moments of introspection, doodles offer a glimpse into the inner workings of the mind and serve as a testament to the boundless creativity inherent in every individual.

Monochrome doodles from the 2024 project

The Ever-Evolving Journey

Looking back on this artistic odyssey, I realise the 100-Day Project is more than just a challenge. It’s a powerful reminder of the transformative power of daily practice.

With each stroke, carve, and doodle, I peeled back layers, discovering new facets of myself and my artistic voice. As I stand at the threshold of the next chapter, excitement and anticipation bubble within me. This adventure has only just begun, and I can’t wait to see where the messy magic takes me next.

Screenshots of Thea’s work from the #Thee100Days hashtag on Instagram

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