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Stories from the daily live of an active metalsmith who tracks down
her muse with camera and sketchbook.


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The 5th day of the art retreat

Today I am having a real dip. The work at daytime went well, but now the writing is a lot more difficult. I am feeling "what use does it have" and am utterly uninspired. Also had a few disturbances from people needing my assistant during daytime. It got me out of my rhythm.

I tried to mend it by doing a meditation in the afternoon. It did help to some extent. I hope I will get back in the flow tomorrow otherwise it could be two long days.

So what did I do today?

I played & sculpted with salt-dough. Tried out if it can be a substitute material for metal clay.

The task was to sculpt every fairytale, which I drew yesterday, in dough. I picked out the distinctive elements, the ones that attracted me most. Sculpting like this is not what I do normally. I prefer to work with more abstract concepts. There are visuals in my work but it’s behind what you see. You kind of have to look twice, like with my ploughed fields.

It was a fun experience, very child like. It is easy to work with but does get crumbly when you make it thin. Probably I will not use it again. It’s too much unlike metal clay to be a substitute.

Porcelain clay works better.

art-retreat claydough-5162Detail of today's porcelain clay sample. Growlines - bark - flow.


Several people said that they would love to walk the labyrinth. You are very welcome here on the farm but I am aware of the travel distance it is for many of you. That’s why I made this little (shaky) video of me going into the centre. It’s just an impression. I’ve walked it now 10 times and it becomes a ritual to start the workday.



Update on the anvil

Been filing now 1 hour for 3 days and finally the rust from the top is gone. At the end of the day it is the perfect job to do just before I start cooking. No thinking, just filing. Next on the list is sanding the top. I want to have a high polish and that takes time.

Thank You!

thumb Inner-star 4619I value it high that you take the time to read and re-act on my stories. It helps me to stay on track. You are all my accountability partner!
When I work it feels like you are here too.

Thank you very much :-)

Therefore I want to do a give-away for everybody who has subscribed to my blog, or left comments on the art residence blogs. I am going to draw one lucky person on Sunday 21st July during my google hang-out in which you can ask questions. (subcribe here)

I will sent this person an Inner Star. I use my inner star as a personal motivator during this retreat. To stay true to myself and keep going on, however slow I go.

I hope that he or she will see it as a motivation to incorporate a retreat into his or her life.

Please share my posts as I hope to inspire more people to realize some silent & focused time in their creative life.


See more pictures in my google album: Art Residence - Thursday 18th July

Next read: Day 6


This is the fifth day of Helga's Art Residence At Home.
Previous posts are:

- Making plans for a creative workweek
- Preparations for Art Residence At Home
- In the Labyrinth of Art - Day 1
- Second day of the Summer Art Residence At Home
- Digging up memories with soapstone on day three
- Fence & Fairytales

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Day 4 - Fence & Fairytales

art-retreat fairytale-7-5112The blank sheet and 7 fairytales.Wednesday 17 July

It was a busy day today. I had given myself the assignment of drawing storyboards for 7 fairytales. Every tale got 15 minutes and then off to the next one. A high pace but it worked well to shake me off the “blank page”.

Fairytales & Myths have been in my life as long as I can remember.  As a child I read tons of fairytales.

If I close my eyes I still remember where my favourite ones were located in the local library. If I found them in the wrong spot I even set them right. They were like friends to me.

When I grew older my interest shifted, very understandable. 

So dust settled...

art-retreat fairytale-goldilock-5115Goldilock the fairytale.
I used A2 paper and pencils.
Until my son was born. He re-kindled my love for the tales. Every evening I would read for him the stories of princes and princesses, of witches and fairy mothers. What a delight!

Some time ago I found the books from Joseph Campbell. I stumbled on them because of my explorations for the Epic River necklace (click the link to see the dedicated website).

In this retreat I read the Power of Myth, in which Joseph Campbell is interviewed by Bill Moyers. I love his visions and comparative view he has on myths.

It inspired me to work with the 7 tales. I translate the stories into my own pictures. While I work I associate the specific elements, like the different animals, with knowledge I have from reading Jung’s archetype books. Jung explored dreams and tales quite extensively.

In fairy tales is a lot of old wisdom hidden, I love to get more in touch with it. That’s why I incorporated it in my week. Tomorrow I have another assignment with fairy-tales waiting for me...

art-retreat fairytale-clay-5137

Porcelain clay

There are now 60 clay samples. I have been hitting and pushing clay a lot. My hands start craving for metal clay. Tomorrow I will choose 10 sample that I will translate into BronzeClay.  The piece on the right is one of them.



Diffuse boundaries

I am now unable to assimilate with others because I am on my own.
Without my daily distraction: the internet, I can’t do it there either.
I am thrown back on my own.

During my meditation this image came to me. It feels true. When I am with other people I interact.  It’s logic, that’s what we do as humans. Don’t you love it too when you are in a workshop or retreat  to interact with other artists?

But which borders, fences do you cross?

Doing the retreat alone makes me aware of this situation.
I am finding my power and call it my own.
Three more days to go, what will it bring?


See more pictures in my google album: Art Residence - Wednesday 17th July

Next read: Day 5


This is the fourth day of Helga's Art Residence At Home.
Previous posts are:

- Making plans for a creative workweek
- Preparations for Art Residence At Home
- In the Labyrinth of Art - Day 1
- Second day of the Summer Art Residence At Home
- Digging up memories with soapstone on day three

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Day 3 - Digging up memories with soapstone

art-retreat soapstone Soapstone before & after Tuesday 16th July

Today’s morning task was “work with soapstone”. First I was wondering what I should do with this big rock. I never work in stone. I do work with stone but not in them, a whole new experience.

To test its strength I let it fall on a piece of wood. Only a small piece broke off. To get a bigger chunk I used a saw. With a chisel and hammer I hit this smaller piece once and it broke into 3 perfect pieces to experiment with.

I started filing on the smaller ones to get a feeling for the material. Then something strange happened: my hands were recognizing this stone! I thought I never worked with soap-stone before. I was wrong.

A forgotten memory came back to me. In the first year of the second school we had to make a rounded touch-stone. A soft rounded white one, if I recall right. Even the classroom came back to mind with the slightly overworked teacher. She had to handle reluctant teenagers and couldn’t get them inspired to work quietly, causing a lot of stress for her.

With this memory it was clear to me that I wanted to make such a soft and curving object again.

Here a short video of me filing outside. JP, my son, made it. He is such a good help this week!


Porcelain clay

art-retreat sample-clay Clay samples, lots of them! The porcelain samples are making progress. In my mind there is already a voice saying: “Go, and make them in silverclay”.  But it’s too early. If I walk away now from this exercise, I haven’t done anything new.

Pete & Repeat as Ruudt would say.

Tomorrow back to the clay and Plough Deeper!

Daily Meditation

A strict day plan helps me to conquer distractions and keeps me on track. For example I rise at 7 and start meditating at 7.30 for 15 minutes. I don’t meditate normally but from two people I took the advise to do so.

In Ruudt’s workshop we did it every morning and he advised to keep doing this.

They other source is from Mark Mc Guinness. He also is a strong advocate for meditation and explains why in his latest book Resilience.

I can feel it helps but lack the words to explain why. For one thing it gives me peace of mind and concentration. That’s why I put it in my retreat.

Walking the Labyrinth, which is also a form of meditation, I do at nine. Then the morning session starts till 12.

Ofcourse I did more tasks today, like the anvil filing, photo managing for publication and writing a blogpost. I am tired now. there will be more in tomorrows blogpost.



See more pictures in my google album: Art Residence - Tuesday 16th July

Next read: Day 4


This is the third day of Helga's Art Residence At Home.
Previous posts are:

- Making plans for a creative workweek
- Preparations for Art Residence At Home
- In the Labyrinth of Art - Day 1
- Second day of the Summer Art Residence At Home

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Second day of the Summer Art Residence At Home

art-retreat helga 5044Ready to go drawing. . .Monday 15th July


Till now I am doing fine, although it takes a lot of energy to maintain the high pace you have in a summer retreat.

Let me share some things I did today.

Recognize grow lines through drawing

To get out of the house, I planned a drawing session. I wanted to observe the usual places through “charcoal”.

Drawing is not my favorite activity, but being a sunny day it was very reasonable. I did bring my camera to help me frame the drawing through taking a picture. Sketching was for no longer than 7 minutes on A3 paper.  And I mean strict, with a timer!
Every half hour I changed places to see new landscapes.

Although it was morning it became soon quiet hot, so after two hours I went home for a refreshment.  Back in the shed I chose 1 of the drawings: the tree bark. I gave myself the task to draw it again but now on A2 paper. Several sheets were filled with this tree bark.

At a certain point I “got” it.

One of the tree bark drawingsOne of the tree bark drawings When I make several pieces of a sketch I get a connection. Hidden structures become visible or thoughts about the function get combined.

The bark is part of the big system that makes the tree grow up in the sky while standing solid on the ground. It’s such a great visual and a magnificent structure/texture.

All this week I have planned activities that are out of my comfort zone. Every morning a different one. I hope they will bring me new insights when I go back to work with metal clay.

Today’s session did help me get new ideas that I am eager to try in clay.

Porcelain clay & body talk

Actually in the afternoon I used some of this inspiration in the porcelain session.  I made another series of 9 clay samples. This time I tried to work more free and not limit myself in working too small. I'll have to try again tomorrow because I wasn't satisfied how it went.

My body was giving me some signs too. I was very tired and had a slight headache. Most likely to blame on my coffee stop. I have to adjust for it and I help by drink lots of water. Coffee is the only food I stop using for the rest I am just following my normal routine.

Relaxing through filing

In my schedule I planned the time before dinner with actions I want to do but don’t need a lot of thinking. My hands will work on the routine task while my brain can relax.

Today I re-worked an anvil that was from my late father. I have it in my studio now for eleven years but never took the time to file away the rust and get in top-notch shape. So for one hour I just filled away the beautiful looking but not useful rust.


Till tomorrow!


art-retreat aambeeld 5084The anvil from my father, covered with rust


See more pictures in my google album: Art Residence - Monday 15th July

Next read: Day 3


This is the second day of Helga's Summer Art Residence At Home.
Previous posts are:

- Making plans for a creative workweek
- Preparations for Art Residence At Home
- In the Labyrinth of Art - Day 1

Subscribe here to the newsletter to follow me in my endeavour.



Day 1 - In the Labyrinth of Art

Sunday 14th July

"Close your nose & jump in with both feet."

That’s what I did for my first Art Residence At Home today.
I made a schedule and it proved to work. Here are some of the activities I did today:

1 Making a labyrinth. (9 till 12)

When I made the silver Ammonite and posted it on my facebook page, Lidwine sent me a private message about the deeper meaning of spirals. Included was a beautiful video about the primordial spiral. In giving this inspiration a place I thought of drawing a labyrinth. Like a spiral it goes inward and helps with focusing your energy. 

I decided to draw the labyrinth on the floor of our recently rebuild shed. With several colours I drew in chalk a small version of the Chartres labyrinth. In essence the same, only smaller. Mine measures 7 meters in diameter. Pretty cool.

You can find more pictures on my google page.

I started with placing the nail, then measuring the rope for the outer circle. It was an excellent start of my retreat. Working on the labyrinth put me in the right state of mind. I got focused and quiet. I intend on walking the maze everyday just for getting my mind to quiet down.

art-residence IMG 5020Small Chartres chalk maze.

2 Lunch-break

During my lunch break, from 12 till 13u, I read. When you are in an art residence you encounter other artist. In talking with them you get inspired by their visions and motivations. There is actually no replacement for this but I found a solution: Reading The Power of Myth, a conversation between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. For a project later this week I want to research myth related stories.  Having it in conversation form feels like “listening”.

3 Porcelain clay

In the afternoon I started with the first session of clay “digging”.

For now only a small sample...

art-residence IMG 5025A few samples of porcelain clay tests, quick & dirty.


The first day was all about setting the tone.
It was a relief that my layout worked more or less. You can plan, but when you actually start working, you know if it’s good.  For tomorrow I will have to start typing earlier. It feels like I have not enough time.

Next read: Day 2


This is the first day of Helga's Summer Art Residence At Home.
Previous posts are:

- Making plans for a creative workweek
- Preparations for Art Residence At Home

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About La Leipsig

The jewellery which is sold under the brand name La Leipsig Jewels is based on Helga van Leipsig's observations of the nature in Limburg, a province in the south of The Netherlands.



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