It's been a busy few months in the Lost Forest studio, but I managed to squeeze in a little bit of time to finally write my first (long overdue) blog post of 2016. I thought it would be fun to share a peek into my world, and to follow me on my journey in 'a day in my life'.
My day usually begins at 8am with a good morning text from my boyfriend. I head down to my studio and fire up the heater for a few minutes as it feels like stepping back into the Ice Age at this time of year. Then it's time to feed the forever ravenous Billie the cat and our outdoors kitty, Socks. Next, it's time for a refreshing mug of warm water with a zingy slice of fresh lemon. I then begin my work day by answering emails, checking social media, updating custom orders in my organiser, and ordering supplies if necessary.
I love to fill my studio with jars of fresh flowers from the garden. This week showcases the daffodils colourful debut; their heady fragrance and luminous colour certainly adds some creative energy to my morning.
Billie always pops in for a morning visit. I like to think it's because she wants to spend some time with her human Mom, but it's probably more likely that she just wants to sprawl out on the warm comfy sofa in my studio, and stalk the birds and bees that gather outside. Oh well, it's still nice to have some kitty company, even if she is playing her own version of cat and mouse!
This morning I'm working on a custom wedding set for a client of mine. I begin with a design arrangement on some giant white boards, which will allow me to see how the design will flow and take shape before entering the resin making stage. I often get distracted by sensing a 'presence', so when I turn away from my desk I'm usually met with this little face staring at me with a rather demonic wide-eyed look. I'm pretty sure it's a show of feline endearment. However, while I'm working, Billie will always be evicted from my studio and the doors are locked to prevent any mischievous kitty break-ins.
Time for breakfast. I always make myself a nutritious smoothie in the mornings. On today's menu is a Banana, milk, cinnamon and honey smoothie to give me a burst of energy for my morning exercise routine. But first, I have to plant these stunning royal blue Iris flowers in the garden. Most women would go shopping at the weekend for the latest fashions, however I go shopping for the latest flowers that are in season; a much more wallet-friendly and fulfilling task.
Exercise forms a big part of my day; it clears my thoughts and allows new inspirations and ideas to develop. I either go to my local park for some hill sprints, but today I decided to venture up to the Dublin mountains for some hill walking, and of course plenty of forest foraging afterwards.
My stock cabinets are low on ferns and moss; what better way to replenish my supplies by borrowing them from generous Mother Nature. I always make sure to take only those leaves or moss which have fallen or come loose onto the forest floor. It's often much more lucrative to forage in a forest a day or two after a storm, as the high winds and rain will have scattered these precious finds for me to eventually collect.
I was blessed with the weather today. A cold crisp morning with radiant sun beams pierced through the tall tress; a majestic sight to behold. I came equipped for my woodland wanderings with some zip-lock bags in my handbag to fill with specimens. A gentlemanly tree politely held my bag for me while I gathered moss from the forest floor. It's mornings like this that really ignite my creative process, and I usually leave this magical world with a head brimming full of new ideas.
Back from the forest and it's time to replenish my energy levels with some sliced Pink Lady apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of peanut butter whip (peanut butter mixed with vanilla greek yoghurt). After being so inspired by the mountains, I begin to scribble down all my ideas before they dissipate.
I was also lucky to stumble upon a beautiful crop of deep purple Crocus in the woods. I first identified them with my flower guides, then patted off any excess moisture with some tissue. The next stage was to press them in my travel flower press and wait patiently for a few weeks. I have pressed crocus before and they usually retain their stunning jewel-like purple tones, albeit in a more deeper shade. Flower pressing is a problematic task and it essentially boils down to trial and error. Although, I've had some beautiful flowers dry terribly (it can still be heart breaking), it is a valuable learning curve when embarking on successful flower preservation.
Pressing some teeny tiny shamrocks.
The next task always sends a shiver down my spine. Yes, it is sanding time. Sanding resin is a highly laborious and tedious duty as it's done by hand (plasters are always stored close by) and when sanding tiny gems like the above, it can be very tricky to maintain grip without damaging the piece. However, it has to be done so I spend the next hour sanding and sanding some more. I must state that it is very important to wear proper protection when sanding resin, as the tiny fibres in resin dust are very harmful to your health. I always wear protective goggles, a dust mask and nitrile gloves. Safety when working with resin is the most integral part of the process.
I realise that I have another box of pieces that need sanding (I think I hid it deliberately). To mentally prepare myself for that chore, I decide to take a few minutes break with some green tea and catch up on some reading on Irish wildflowers. I also like to take some time out and either scan through Pinterest; this can turn from a 2 min break to a 2 hour break without me even realising, catch the news headlines or watch YouTube, usually Emmymadeinjapan or discovering the latest looks from the Pixiwoo sisters.
Now the sanding has to commence once again on all these wonderful little eco resin jewels.
After two hours of sanding, it definitely works up an appetite. It's time to begin to prepare dinner. I always cook my meals from scratch, and avoid most processed or pre-prepared items. Healthy, clean eating is very important and I like to stick with a balanced and nutritious diet. Today I made a steak stir-fry, with lean strips of Irish beef sautéed with bell peppers and spinach in a honey, tamari and sesame seed glaze. I served it with steamed basmati rice, organic cucumber with a drizzle of chilli olive oil, and spiralised raw carrot in a light dressing of greek yogurt, poppy seeds, mustard, turmeric and pepper.
After dinner, I like to unwind with some TV. At the moment it's a mix of 'Better Call Saul', 'The Walking Dead' or 'Star Talk' with Neil Degrasse Tyson (I have an insatiable fascination with anything to do with space). Afterwards I pop back into the studio to do some packing of items for posting the next morning. It's one of my favourite aspects of my business, and I love to meticulously wrap every piece as a special gift for each customer. It's an important part of the process for me, as it's the final goodbye of a little creation I spent so many hours making, and the beginning of its new life and adventure with its new owner somewhere on the other side of the world. It's really a very uplifting and joyful feeling that is a true testament to the nature of handmade.
The rest of my evening is devoted to some more exercise; weights and yoga to uncoil any tension and strengthen my body and mind, most notably for another day of sanding! Then it's a big bowl of porridge with a generous dollop of greek yogurt, blueberry jam and peanut butter, and a another episode of a TV show before 'hitting the hay'.
– Gillian x