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Helga's Blog

dutch jewellery designer la leipsig


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

Four times a year I make a seasonal round-up of my activities here from my blog. By subscribing  you get this letter automatically delivered to your mailbox.

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Day 5 - Sanddrawing & Linocut

On this last day I am a bit tired. Doing creative work and battling my own enemies does cost energy. Fortunately it led to some breakthroughs in my work strategy. I've developed a new way to transform the Canyon images that inspire me, into tangible work processes.

Jumping from drawing straight and concentric shapes in the silver sand, I am now re-creating Antelope Canyon abstractions. It feels totally right. Antelope Canyon is made out of Navajo sandstone and the silver sand is just the right material to freely explore new shapes. With the tools I made for the zengarden motifs I am able to create satisfying patterns.

canyon sanddrawing

I'll next week revisit the sanddrawing and make more of this type drawings and sandpaintings. I am trying to find new authentic ways to come to new shapes in my jewelry work. The faster I sketch the Antelope images, the more abstract they become. I like that, I want to pursuit this idea. 

In my facebook sketching group Elizabeth Agte was inspired by my Art Retreat to work with blockprinting. She posted some lovely bee prints. The cross-pollination did its work again, and I used linocut to create a print inspired by the Canyon's in the South-West of the USA.   

canyon process lino

 * Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for a relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller, and then impressed onto paper. (quote from wikipedia)


Next friday, 4th of August, I'll post the final blogpost about my reflections on SARAH 2017.


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

- Summer Art Residence At Home 2017
- Day 1 - Meditation & Mindscape
- Day 2 - Papermaking
- Day 3 - Re-connecting with the original Erosion inspiration
- Day 4 - Drawing & Sharing the Studio with Friends

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Day 4 - Drawing & Sharing the Studio with Friends

antelope color sketchAlready day four of my Summer Art Retreat At Home.
I woke up to a feeling of uneasiness.
A doubt towards myself and my creative process.

Why am I doing this retreat?
There is nothing coming out of it!
What is the use of this?


I know this voice, it bothered me before.
Actually, the exact reason why I do this retreat.
To confront the voices, and accept that they are part of my creative process.

I will listen to them, acknowledge the feeling but then go on with my plan.
And my plan for today was drawing in the morning.

So I did.

Again I took my pictures from our visit to Antelope Canyon and zoomed in on some details and started drawing. Four minutes for each drawing. In no time I had a bunch of sketches that help me observing the beauty of Erosion in the Canyon.

During my mid-day meditation session I got an idea. Why not draw one of my quick sketched in in the silver sand on the floor?

This I will do tomorrow as it was time for lunch and my plans for the afternoon where already set.


Papermaking - part 2

Because I anticipated my morning dip I invited two friends in the afternoon to join me in papermaking. Angelique and Nicole were excited to see the process and eager to make paper. 

On the picture you see Nicole putting the sieve with paper pulp onto the felt. Angelique is waiting to press the water out of the paper so the sieve can be taken of to make a new sheet.

papermaking nicole angelique

I had two boxes of pulp prepared. One white and one green from the horsetail plant material.  It was fun to explain the several steps involved. (see also Monday's post)

The press we are using is a second-hand bookpress, quite useful for getting rid of the water. You see me here putting the stack of felt and paper in between so we can start pressing.

papermaking helga press

We didn't do a whole lot in the 2 hours, but there was a basic understanding of the process and we had a lot of fun.
The pictures were taken by Angelique. Thank You sweetie :-)

I've uploaded a whole bunch of pictures on my La Leipsig facebook page.

papermaking friends


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

- Summer Art Residence At Home 2017
- Day 1 - Meditation & Mindscape
- Day 2 - Papermaking
- Day 3 - Re-connecting with the original Erosion inspiration

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Day 3 - Re-connecting with the original Erosion inspiration

antelope paperframeIn my workshop I use folded loose sheets of paper to write my inspiration on. After a while I bind them together to create a book with the coptic stitch methode.

My Earth and Erosion papers have been binded like this, with lots of extra space to write new notes in.

This morning I took out my travellog of our journey to the South-West of the United States of Amerika in 2014. I wanted to consciously re-connect with this journey by writing in my Earth and Erosion notebook.

You can read how I re-connect with journeys in this blogpost: Capture Your Precious Travel Moments for Future Creative Projects

It was a feast to read back about the walk in the Grand Canyon and our visit to Antelope Canyon. I marveled at the pictures with red hued layers. After an hour of reading I started drawing elements that spoke to me from my pictures.

I cut two L-shaped white elements that I place over a picture to find the detail I want to draw. Like this I isolate without distraction as you can see on picture below. Today I only drew with a black pencil. Tomorrow I will draw with earth colors.

My understanding why I love this landscape was growing with each drawing. It's in the stacking of colors, the grain of the sandstone, the curves and lines …

I even found use for my thick paper I made yesterday. I will use them to frame my pictures on. 

antelope drawings


In the afternoon I played with porcelain clay.

First I had to recycle dried clay by adding water to it. After laying it on a gypsum plate I soon got the right consistency to draw and form patterns in the soft clay.

I used only a paletknife as shown. After each texture I took some pictures and then I smoothend the surface and started all over.

Like sketching.

porcelainclay tests

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

- Summer Art Residence At Home 2017
- Day 1 - Meditation & Mindscape
- Day 2 - Papermaking

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Day 2 – Papermaking

How can you decided what to do in an art retreat? My advice is to follow you curiosity and intuition. You are attracted to a technique or material for a reason. By working with your material of interest you can find out why it speaks to you. 

papermaking toolsMy intention for making paper started already 3 years ago when I visited in Basel the paper museum. I have always been curious how paper is made. In the museum I had the opportunity to use a sieve-like screen in a suspension of fibers to create a small piece of paper. I was fascinated by the process and bought in the shop a copper sieve screen to be able to create my own papermaking screen.

But the step from seeing it in the museum to be able to do it at home was a big one. I had to figure out a lot of things before I could start. In the library I found a thorough book with all the steps to make paper. Over time I collected a secondhand blender, big trays and an antique book press.

Last week I started with the preparation. First collecting plant material to be used as fibers. My plant of choice was horsetail. A living fossil, very common in my neighbourhood. I think the farmer didn't mind I picked it on his maisfield. In our sunny weather it dried fast. Yesterday afternoon I cut it down into little bits and cooked the whole for three hours to break down. It still needs to be processed in the blender to separate the useful fiber from the rest of raw materials.

papermaking horsetail

In the meantime I cut down recycled paper from my studio because I needed more material. This good quality drawing paper will get in this way a new life. The little bits where first suspended in warm water for a few hours before I made it into pulp with the blender. This process is necessary to create the suspension of fibers. 

It was much more labor intensive then I anticipated. From the recycled paper pulp I was able to make my first test sheet. Well… it was a bit too thick.

I needed to make the suspension a lot thinner and with the blender I broke down the fibers to even smaller pieces. The second test was an improvement but it needed still more water. The 8th sheet finally was to my satisfaction and I called it a day. I have now a whole bucket of mixed recycled paperpulp.

On Wednesday I will have 3 visitors to work with me.
Then we will use the horsetailpulp, I am looking forward to it already.

papermaking sheet

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

- Summer Art Residence At Home 2017
- Day 1 - Meditation & Mindscape

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Day 1 – Meditation & Mindscape

zengarden quarts stoneThis year my Art Retreat starts on a Sunday with a loosely schedule. I have a few ideas what I want to do and will see how it proceeds through the day.

The recurring start of the day is meditation at 7:00am. Today it was 20 minutes sitting still on a 15 cm high cushion in total silence. The word "gowth" was my reminder back when my mind started wandering. Although the cat paid me a visit, it went well. A habit I have is keeping a notebook ready to write down idea's or inspiration when I am finished.  

I was introduced to meditation by Ruudt Peters on his Art retreat in 2010. This year I have been following lessons with Marjon Bovens who is a meditation teacher here in my village. One of the best personal investments I have done this year. For me the purpose of meditation is to create inner peace and mindfulness, to stay focused.

After breakfast and walking the dog, the second action of the day was creating a sand drawing on the floor of my gallery. Three weeks ago I had used silver sand to connect several pedestals with ceramic work from Petra Lommen. While I tried to even out the sand, I noticed you could draw well in it. Enchanted I must have been playing for an hour before I erased all the patterns and turned it into an even island shape. It was during this play I decided to incorporate sand drawing into my retreat.

Last week, while I was researching the internet on the term sand drawing, I encountered the Japanese dry gardens. Also known as zen-garden (karesansui). Attracted to the philosophy and shapes I read on and learned that there are many patterns used to represent water. They come with beautiful names like "Aranamimon" which means "Stormy Waves" or "Seigaihamon" the name for "Blue Sea Waves". 

zengarden toolsMy drawing of Sunday started by modeling the silver sand into a rectangle beside the window and placing it before the grey panel in the back of the gallery. Like this I can use the rest of the room for the other actions I have this week. Now I had to make tools for creating the ripples. I decided on Styrofoam, easy to cut and use in the light sand.

As a start I wanted to make a very simple drawing with one big quarts stone. Around the stone I made the "Mizumon" water pattern that represents the ripples of a falling stone in the water. I was quite happy with the creation and the discipline it took to create even patterns. Every day I will create a new tool and make a different pattern to better understand what this type of garden means. These dry landscape gardens are sometimes referred to as mental gardens or mindscapes.

I like that name!

zengarden laleipsig

To give an impression of scale: the notebook is an A4 size.

More information about Zengardens: and

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

- Summer Art Residence At Home 2017

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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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