Posted on 2 Comments

Feeling the Fear & Doing it Anyway | A decade into Sobriety

I’m not usually one to sit and ponder a whole year or a whole decade – possibly because it feels too overwhelming, possibly because I often have a sense that I haven’t achieved ‘enough’, possibly because I practise self-reflection Every. Single. Day as part of my daily routine so I don’t feel the necessity.

It’s also very easy for me to focus on where I think I ‘should’ be, instead of looking at how far I’ve come, so with the intention of redirecting my focus, here’s a little reflection on what I’ve learned, and relearned, this year.

insta twirl

🌈I can handle it 

Despite my experience of achieving what I thought was impossible (a decade of sobriety and abstinence from self-harm, one day at a time) my old thought patterns can still persist. My default whispers of ‘I can’t handle this/ It’s too hard/ I want to give up’ have limited me immeasurably over the years and I am again relearning that I can handle it/ I can do it/ and that perseverance yields results.

The messages we tell ourselves have an unfathomably enormous effect on our lives and so by transforming our inner dialogue, we transform our outer lives. Telling myself ‘I can handle it’ (when I’ve often convinced myself I can’t) has truly been life-changing.

🌈 My feelings, my choices, my actions are MY responsibility

I was introduced to this truth when I first entered recovery and it was probably the most difficult lesson for me to accept. I’d spent my life blaming others for the way I was and the way I reacted; it was always somebody else’s fault, never my own. If I was miserable and suffering, it was your fault. To therefore be asked to digest the unpalatable truth that I was in fact responsible for all these things… I was horrified.

It has taken me years of oscillating between acceptance and resistance of this notion, consistently feeling the pull back into blaming, but this year, having read some incredible books (eg. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway) and working with an incredible breathwork practitioner (Olga Circles) I have felt a truly pivotal shift in my understanding of self-responsibility.

🌈 To reconnect to the spiritual path after heart ache and disappointment

Throughout the last decade my morning practise has proved to be an integral piece in my healing. (By morning practise I mean my *almost* daily routine of reading spiritual literature, journaling, affirmations, gratitude lists, yoga and meditation – *almost* every day I utilise a combination of these tools.) Despite knowing the profound impact this has had on my life, I have frequently experienced resistance to it and over time had become complacent and even negligent – possibly because it can feel counter-intuitive (my ego doesn’t want to be silenced), possibly because it’s hard, possibly because growth can be slow and I allowed my impatience to win.

This year however, after quite an extended period of ‘slackness’, my life circumstances shifted and I was left feeling bereft and desperate. Instead of reacting emotionally and destructively, I miraculously felt the pull to reconnect to my spiritual path and began a gentle but regimented daily practise (incorporating all of the above tools). Within weeks I felt transformed and was reminded that ‘doing the work’ really really does work!

🌈 Resistance (for me) is inevitable, and that’s ok!

Some people seem to heal effortlessly – they seem to grasp new concepts and new ideas with fervour and embrace growth & change whole-heartedly. I on the other hand seem to need my claws prizing away from old ideas and old beliefs. I judge myself for being this way, often wishing I could just let go of my resistance, but have recently been reminded (through exploring Buddhism) that this is NORMAL.

Growing can be uncomfortable. Facing yourself can be uncomfortable. Sitting through pain and discomfort is definitely uncomfortable. It’s not surprising I experience resistance. Knowing this and introducing self-compassion to my daily practise has been hugely helpful.

🌈 Humour is everything

When faced with what we label as ‘awful’, laughter can be transformative. It lessens the pain, it takes away the shame, it connects us. In the midst of my old life I don’t remember having a sense of humour. Now, the ability to laugh at myself and inject humour into a situation full of pathos is one of the greatest gifts I have.

🌈 I can walk through fear

Despite consistent evidence in my life that walking through fear is possible, my thinking can still default to old patterns. I have been reminded again this year that pushing through fear is far less frightening and far less painful than sitting in inaction (thank you Susan Jeffers!) Walking through the discomfort and asking for support has led me to achieving things I never imagined I could.

🌈 To live with uncertainty

To lean into it with an open heart and ride the wave in the direction it’s going, wide eyed to possibility. It is only through practise and willingness that I have been able to do this, as for me, uncertainty gives me itchy blood. To sit in ambiguity, to let go of expectations and mental scripting, to dissolve all the ‘shoulds’ – this is where the work lies. It’s hard. It can be disorienting. But it’s oh so freeing and I have deep wells of gratitude for the gift of this practice.

🌈 My ‘tribe’ is everything

Without connection I would simply wither away. I am fortunate enough to be deeply nourished by two tribes: my recovery group and my ‘home alone’ group. The women in recovery who walk this path with me are my life line. To share our lives together, our experiences, our struggles and our successes keeps me afloat. No one gets me like they do. We have a wordless connection, our hearts are interwoven and our stories save each other. My heart surges with gratitude when I think about them. I owe them my life. And the women who comprise our ‘home alone’ group – our incredible network of sole business owners/ warriors – support and inspire me everyday. They are awe-inspiring, resilient and brilliant women and I am privileged to call them my closest friends. I learn and re-learn all the time how important these GODDESSES are to me.💖🙏🏻

Posted on 4 Comments

Celebrating 10 Years Sober | Sobriety Birthday Cards

On 26th July 2019, aged 39 yrs young, I turned 10 years sober (and abstinent from self-harm for the same amount of time). 10 fucking years! A whole decade. This felt like an enormous milestone for me and one I often thought I’d never reach. When I was ‘new’ and struggling I would frequently say that if I ever reached 10 years sober and still felt like shit I would drink again. And I meant it. Lucky for me, I no longer feel like shit and here I am, a whole decade later, still sober and self-harm clean. Which really is a fucking miracle. Getting sober was 100% the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Ever.

Until now I haven’t really spoken publicly about my past. It felt very private and sometimes precarious and I didn’t want to disclose my vulnerabilities. I’d worked hard at creating a very colourful, super cheery persona (my other job is a children’s face painter FFS!) and so to reveal my debauched history of drinking and self-harm felt in direct conflict to the character I’d created. I silenced my history and I hid my scars. I successfully compartmentalised the old me from the new me.

Now at 10 years it feels like the right time to open up. Art has been an immensely powerful tool in my healing journey and I’m discovering more and more ways to marry my art and my recovery. Designing a range of sobriety celebration cards is just one of them.

Happy Sobriety Birthday card – Click to buy

These sobriety birthday cards have absolutely been made with love. I wanted to create gloriously vibrant keepsake cards, not only to commemorate AA birthdays and encourage those still struggling, but also as little pieces of art in themselves – cards that people want to keep, not only because of the messages inside, but because they look beautiful on the wall too!

Celebrating sober milestones is SO important and showing your sober friends/ loved ones that you understand where they’ve come from, to get where they are today, is never to be underestimated.

Each card has a little message with a lot of significance. Some of my sobriety cards simply say ‘Happy Sobriety Birthday’ – three small words with so much power. Getting sober is a big fucking deal. People who do it, against all the odds, deserve all the congratulations.

Happy Sobriety Birthday card – Click to buy
Happy Sobriety Birthday card – Click to buy

Probably my favourite card, directed at every sober warrior out there, declares that ‘You’re a fucking Miracle’ ❤ Very few people who aren’t addicts understand addiction. Putting down the drink/ drugs/ self-harming is the ‘easy’ part. Staying stopped is what’s hard. Addiction is an illness, not a choice. Rebuilding your life without your ‘coping mechanism’ is fucking hard work, one day at a time. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Everyone I know on this journey is a MIRACLE.

You’re a fucking Miracle card – Click to buy

‘Don’t quit before the miracle happens’ still echoes in my mind today. These words were repeated to me endlessly when I was new and struggling and I clung onto them for dear life. I longed for the ‘miracle’ to happen and found some degree of comfort in ‘sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly’ because for me it was slooooow. The suffering felt relentless and unending and I wanted to give up so many times. These simple words kept me clinging on, one day at a time, and those days accumulated into weeks, months and eventually years.

Don’t quit before the miracle happens – Click to buy

‘One day at a time’ was also a fundamental tool in my early recovery and one I still utilise today when I’m navigating a painful situation. In the beginning it quite literally kept me sober. All those time I wanted to drink (and for 18 months it was every day!) I repeated this like a mantra. I only had to stay sober for that one day. Just one day. And even though that felt impossible and excruciating, it made it manageable. Now, it keeps me focused on the present day, reminding me to keep my head where my feet are and grateful for all the beauty in today, instead of projecting and worrying about the worst case scenario in the future. What I’ve learned is that most of the time, my fear is actually greater than the reality of a situation.

One Day at a Time card – Click to buy
Keep Going card – Click to buy

The last 10 years have hardly been a smooth ride. I harboured the illusion for a long time that the longer I stayed sober and abstinent from self-harm, the happier I would get. I held the utterly erroneous belief that working the 12 steps would result in a permanent state of euphoria, a plateau of fluffy feelings and a permanent jettison of all negative feelings. Oh how wrong I was! I would propose though that it was my expectations that were faulty, not any program of recovery. Like the Calvin & Hobbs cartoon so simply and eloquently puts it, I may as well have been holding a big fucking neon sign exclaiming “Happiness is not enough. I demand euphoria!” I wanted nirvana. I wanted enlightenment. I wanted complete and utter freedom from my demons. Realistic I think not.

Happy Joyous and Free card – Click to buy

What I’m still learning is that this isn’t possible and THAT’S OK! Happiness is just ONE of many many human emotions and somehow I (and countless others) have made it the sole (or soul!) destination. In sobriety I have experienced real happiness, joy and intense gratitude, full belly laughter and utter hilarity, and I have experienced deep sadness, pain, longing, depression, fear, loneliness and more. I have experienced profound peace and serenity, and I have experienced mood swings, irritability, anger and despair. With this in mind, my ‘Clean and Serene’ card should definitely say ‘Clean and Sometimes Serene’ instead! Next batch I promise!

Clean & Serene card – Click to buy

All my sobriety celebration cards/ AA birthday cards are available to buy in my Etsy shop. Click each photo to be taken to the listing, or click here for multi-card discounts ❤

Posted on Leave a comment

Rainbow Greeting Cards | Alcohol inks

As many of you know, everything I do is a labour of love and my greeting cards are no different! Each one is designed with so much love and attention to detail, ensuring that the colours on the card are as true to the original piece as possible (not always an easy feat). Colour is everything after all!

I recently wrote a Behind the Scenes blog post on my process of creating a card which you can find here.

My most recent collection of greeting cards is my most colourful to date. The colours simply pop off the page and everyone comments on how vibrant they are! Photos do not do them justice.

There’s 14 designs to choose from and they can either be bought individually, or 4 for £12 from my Etsy shop.

There’s ones with butterflies…. 
Dream Big Greeting Card – click to view
Pink & Red Butterfly Card – click to view
Orange Butterfly Card – click to view
Teal & Green Butterfly Card – click to view

And there’s ones with rainbows…

Textured Rainbow Card– click to view
Melted Rainbow Card – click to view
Dripped Rainbow Card – click to view
Black Rainbow Card – click to view

And there’s ones for birthdays…

Rainbow Birthday Butterfly Card – click to view
Rainbow Birthday Card – click to view

And many more!

All my greeting cards are blank inside for your own personal message. 

Can’t see what you’re looking for? I am open to suggestions! I’m always looking to expand my range and am currently in the process of designing a brand new range of cards. If there’s a message you’d like on the front of your greeting card, let me know and I’ll add it to my list of my possibilities!

Click here to see my full range of cards or click here for the 4 for £12 offer.

Big love as always,

Posted on Leave a comment

Alcohol Ink Coasters | Green & Gold

A few months ago I made a huge batch of alcohol ink coasters but unfortunately the resin used to seal them didn’t cure perfectly (due to inconsistent temperatures during the first week). That’s chemistry, folks! As a result, the mug or glass may leave teeny tiny marks on the coaster, but when I say teeny tiny, they really are! The micro marks are barely perceptible and to be honest, most people wouldn’t even notice them. I however am cursed with chronic perfectionism and my eye is drawn to every single tiny imperfection. The good news is that the marks are only temporary, and usually vanish within a few minutes or hours. Oh the relief when I discovered this!

Green and gold coaster set – available here

Due to the coasters not being 100% perfect I didn’t feel comfortable charging full price for them. They are therefore priced at a bargain 40% off the intended price! Rest assured though, all the alcohol ink coasters are perfectly functional and perfectly beautiful and suitable for hot and cold drinks. They are a stunning addition to any coffee table and guaranteed to be a conversation piece, each one having been individually painted and completely unique!

The colours and shine are near impossible to capture on camera!

As is so common with internet shopping, a static image just doesn’t do the coasters justice. These glorious glossy beauties are, without doubt, doubly gorgeous in real life – the vibrancy of the colours and the mirror-like shine of the resin are just breathtaking and cannot be captured on camera.

Each coaster is backed with cork to prevent scratches on surfaces

These green and gold alcohol ink coasters were created with all the greens from the Ranger collection – Citrus, Lettuce, Bottle and Oregano – and the glittering gold (which really shimmers!) is from the Piñata range.  

Grab yourself a bargain as these alcohol ink coasters are still available at the discounted price of £29.99. International shipping available.

Watch this space for more alcohol ink coaster sets and as I endeavour to attempt the resin process again very soon!

Posted on Leave a comment

Sobriety Birthday Card | Send some love & rainbows to someone celebrating their AA birthday

At the end of July I will be 10 years sober and free from self-harm 🤚🏻

To coincide with this I made my first sobriety birthday card and within the first couple of weeks I’ve sold over half my stock, which I’m beyond excited about! When the first run sells out, my plan is to create a whole range of sobriety cards. It goes without saying that this is very dear to my heart.

Sobriety birthday card – available here

I’ve never spoken publicly about my recovery journey before, but at 10 years the time feels right to start talking about it. A decade feels like a real accomplishment, a real milestone, but never in a million years could I have done this on my own. I have had an immeasurable amount of love and support from others who have walked the walk ahead of me and to them I owe my life. In the words of a wise old friend, I am not proud, I am GRATEFUL. Sobriety was a gift bestowed upon me and I grabbed it with both hands and didn’t look back.

It’s been beyond difficult – undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and the battle with my mental health has continued periodically through the years, but today, as I write this, I feel peaceful, calm and overwhelmed with gratitude.

Creating a sobriety birthday card out of my art just felt like the most natural thing in the world to do. It had to have rainbows, it had to have the right words and it had to be beautiful. I’m not sure anyone not in recovery understands exactly how significant a sobriety birthday is, but to me it is everything. My ‘belly button’ birthday is really not that important, but my sobriety birthday means the world. Every year, every anniversary, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come and what I’ve overcome. I feel an equal vicarious joy whenever I hear about or read about someone else who has achieved multiple years of sobriety. It makes me cry. It’s a miracle, every time.

In addition to this sober anniversary card I have also created a rainbow print with the words that saved my life when I first walked into those anonymous rooms. I was broken, raw and scared – nothing hot about this mess – and people kept saying to me “Don’t quit before the miracle happens!” Their words echoed in my mind every time things got hard, and back then every day was hard, and I clung onto those words with all my might. I hope these words continue to help people in the way they helped me.

Art Print (12 x 12″) – Don’t quit before the miracle happens – available here

Once I’ve sold out of all my sobriety birthday cards (available HERE) I will be introducing a whole new range of recovery celebratory cards. They will be full of joy and rainbows and I can’t wait to share them with you. Ideas and suggestions for what to write on them are welcome!

My ideas so far are:

• Clean and Serene

• Transformed by Grace

• You’re a Fucking Miracle!

• The Best is Yet to Come

• You’re an Inspiration

Until then, please spread the word and share the joy! Watch this space 😍

Posted on Leave a comment

Alcohol Ink Workshop | Leicester

My journey with alcohol inks started just over a year ago and in that time I have been approached several times to do workshops. Always hesitant and afraid to try something new I politely declined and said I wasn’t ready. Fast forward to June 2019 and with a double helping of courage I said yes!

This lovely lady booked in for a 3 hour 1-2-1 session, with the aim of creating some original artwork as a centre piece for her new home. Our session focus was therefore on learning how to use the inks and create multiple pieces, out of which she would select her favourite and have an enlarged print made.

pinterest alcohol ink workshop blue

Prior to the workshop we had discussed her desired colour palette (blues and greys), so I’d stocked up on all the blues (being a purely teal girl myself)! Our colours for the day were Sapphire Blue and Baja Blue (both by Pinata), Stream and Eggplant (both by Ranger), the combination of which was just dreamy!

blog alcohol ink workshop 6
All the blues

With Yupo as our substrate, I demoed the blue inks and how alcohol isopropyl (99.9%) is used to move them around and blend them together, using a straw, an airbrush and a heat gun. My client then had the opportunity to experiment with each of these techniques and decide which one she preferred.

blog alcohol ink workshop 7
Demo – all the blues and an airbrush

My intention was to convey the importance of letting go of control. Alcohol inks can be coerced and maneuvered to a certain extent but ultimately it’s about working with them, not against them. Allowing them to do their thing – without forcefully imposing your will and expectation – is where the magic lies. This is a constant challenge for me and undeniably an accurate metaphor for life!

During the session Anupa made several beautiful pieces in her chosen colour palette, varying the composition slightly each time but embracing the white negative space. Here she is with two of her favourites – I think her smile says it all!

blog alcohol ink workshop 8

We both had a magical morning, not only producing gorgeous artwork with alcohol inks, but connecting through conversation too. For me, it’s so important to create an encouraging environment free from judgement, where my client feels safe and comfortable and able to create freely. Art is about expressing oneself, not what the teacher wants them to express.

Anupa so generously wrote this of our 1-2-1 alcohol ink class:

Today I experienced my first ever art workshop and I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect person to do it with. Livi was great in every way, from our first contact to the workshop itself. The 3 hour session flew by because it felt as though I was creating art with a friend 🙂 Livi supported me to produce some great pieces but she allowed my creativity to shine through with just enough guidance. The alcohol inks were super fun to work with and created some great effects. I would thoroughly recommend a workshop with Livi, you won’t regret it! 

blog alcohol ink workshop 3
My client photographing her own work

This beautiful workshop has undoubtedly lit a fire inside me and I can’t wait to teach more alcohol ink workshops! If you’re interested in learning about alcohol inks and wanting to try a new creative outlet with endless possibilities, please get in touch. My workshops can be taught 1-2-1 or in groups of up to 4 people.

For questions and enquiries, please email livilollipopart@gmail.com ❤

Posted on 1 Comment

Behind the Scenes | The Evolution of a Greeting Card

Behind the creation of my greeting cards is a whole of hard work, perseverance and love. My intention to create gorgeous, vibrant, colourful and memorable cards is not something I do lightly. The process is long and laborious (always taking way longer than I think it will!) but in the end, after producing a whole new range of glorious, rainbow greeting cards, I believe it’s totally worth it!

blog butterfly 500
Rainbow butterflies – CLICK TO BUY

It begins with creating the artwork with alcohol inks, either on Yupo paper or ceramic tile. For this particular range of cards, I wanted to create a rippling rainbow border with a plain white centre, onto which I could write a variety of phrases. This in itself was a labour of love, as creating ripples with alcohol inks is not as easy as it looks. Like anything, it has been a massive learning curve and has required much persistence and trial and error, and then some more trial error!

blog rainbow tile 500

This particular piece was created with my favourite rainbow palette of alcohol inks: Pinata Magenta, Ranger Sunshine Yellow, Citrus and Mermaid, with the help of my trusty hairdryer!

blog rainbow inks 2 500

Once the artwork is complete, I scan it into my computer at high resolution (600dpi) with my beloved Canon scanner. It’s then ready to play with in Photoshop!

Any smudges are cleaned up and all micro-hairs and specs of dust are removed. This is again another lengthy process and involves zooming into the image and utilising the ‘clone stamp’ tool in Photoshop. I actually love this process, despite it taking ages, as for me it’s like magic! One minute the inks are full of microscopic fluff and blemishes, the next minute they’re gone, with a simple click of the mouse!

RAINBOW happy birthday NO butterflies blog 500
Rainbow Birthday – CLICK TO BUY

Once that’s all done it’s time to add the text. For this, I use free downloadable fonts from a variety of websites. I make sure any fonts I use are allowed for commercial use.

For half this range, I also included some multi-coloured butterflies from a really old vintage butterfly book I bought for 30p. Again with the magic of Photoshop, I colour-matched each butterfly with the inks and created a mixed-media collage.

blog square dream big
Dream Big – CLICK TO BUY

Once the designs are all complete, I align each one with my back cover design, convert the colours from RGB to CMYK (which always breaks my heart a little, as the colours dull ever so slightly!) and then they’re ready for printing.

blog rainbow butterfly card

All my cards are professionally printed on high quality, glossy, laminated card and can be purchased individually or 3 for 2. ❤

Posted on Leave a comment

Gifting the power of the inks – A colourful collaboration

I was recently invited to partake in a wonderful initiative of the Leicester Early Onset Parkinson’s charity, whereby a person with Parkinson’s disease is paired with a local artist. The artist’s role is to teach their chosen medium to the person with Parkinson’s, who will then produce a piece of artwork showcasing their newly acquired skills. A second piece of work is then created by the artist, inspired by the person with Parkinson’s. The two art pieces will then be part of a touring art exhibition around Europe.

When Claire (my friend and founder of the charity) asked me to participate in this amazing collaboration I was deeply touched, excited and nervous. Having never taught ‘the inks’ before I was hesitant about my abilities to do so, but I believed in the project and truly believe in the magic and healing capacity of alcohol inks.

I was paired with a beautiful lady named Hema. We met for coffee last week to get to know each other and discovered many similarities in our journeys – about pain and growth, healing in acceptance, and a mutual love of spiritual literature. She shared so freely with me about her experience and I left our meeting feeling utterly inspired.

Today we met for our first session in which we explored the inks, different colour combinations, different methods of blending and different surfaces. We each created three pieces.

hema 10

hema 6

Hema 5

Hema 7

Just as I was hoping, Hema loved the inks! Like me, she found them absolutely mesmerising, meditative and awe-inspiring. She loved the endless colour possibilities and also like me was drawn initially to the delicious shades of teal, her favourite being ‘Stream’ by Ranger.

All three of her creations were enchantingly beautiful and I was delighted that she felt such an affinity with the inks. Her final piece was a glorious rainbow, magically in the shape of a foot print (incredible how she achieved this!) to signify the array of emotions from dark to light. It was simply gorgeous.

hema 9

Hema 3

hema2

Hema 1

Before today, Hema had never created a piece of visual art and now in one morning she has created three! She spoke of the opportunity being a real gift to her, allowing her to express through art what she has been feeling for years.

“Thanks so very much for your support and artistic talent. You taught me so much in a short time – I felt exhilarated, excited and able to tap into an artistic side I never knew I had. I felt amazing being able to make something that can reflect so much emotion.”

It was an honour and privilege to help Hema achieve this, and I can’t wait til next week when we each create an A2 size piece for the exhibition.

Hema 4
Our morning’s work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

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!

insta 3 rainbows
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.

insta yellow tiles2
Dandelion and Slate

blog tiles
Coasters all sprayed and waiting to be resined

insta tiles 2
Purple, Wild Plum and Sunshine Yellow

puple coasters insta3
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!

insta green and slate
Lettuce & Slate.

insta coasters
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!

insta tiles
Elevated coasters waiting to be resined!

insta resin pink
Me and my enormous supply of resin!! It’s most economical to buy in bulk.

insta pour
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!

frog tape
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?

livi signature

Posted on Leave a comment

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!!

fb rainbow cropped

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!

giant print 2

giant print 1

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

insta livi rainbow2

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

livi signature