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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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Summer Art Residence At Home 2018 - day 1

Helga sunflower fibonacciAgain I am struck by inspiration for another Summer Art Residence at Home. After quite an eventful half year with lots of commision work that feels really, really good!

The main culprit was my fascination for the Fibonacci patterns in sunflowers. This year I have grown these gorgeous flowers in my garden and they turned out pretty big. As you can see.

I blogged about it on my garden site over at "Edelsmid met Groene Vingers". Mainly with pictures, so go ahead, and click on the link.

With two weeks of hardly any obligations I can play/work as much as I like. I guess for people with a daytime job that is called a vacation. Being an artist, doing nothing, is not our cup of tea.

I like to be active with my hands & head. That is probably the reason S.A.R.A.H. has emerged in my life. (Read about 2013, 2014 and 2017)

The first week of August is in the middle of the holiday period. Lots of people are abroad and our little town is perfectly quite.

sunflower close-up


There are a few sources I can quote for creative sparks:

  • A bracelet commission and realization I hardly carry any bracelets in my webshop
  • A new tool to make bracelets
  • Challenge envy and earring catch up with non-precious materials. playtime
  • A new obsession for nature's patterns: The Sunflower

When I combine these seemingly unrelated points I have the perfect Art residence for me alone.

It's like a melting pot of creative energy. I follow my trail. Don't know where I will end.

We'll see…..

Here are a few pictures with explanation of the first days.
It started with my fascination for patterns in a sunflowers. In mathematics they are called Fibonacci sequence.

Without any prior knowledge I started drawing the first pattern on the floor with chalk.
I had a little helper: my godchild Anna who was visiting that day.

sunflower pattern anna

It was fun but not very accurate.

Studing on some mathematics and using the circle divider from Tim McCreight I got more precise divisions of the circle.

calculating fibonacci

helga drawing fibonacci patterns

But drawing the 3rd set of spirals, I noticed it was off. It didn't look like the flower before my eyes. So back to the drawing board. 

Inspired by Viharts "Doodling in Math" video, I took some acrylic paint and counted out, in sets of 5, the spirals I could find on my actual sunflower.

The green markings counted 55 spirals and the red ones are 89 spirals. The exact amout of fibonacci spirals!

Sequence of Fibonacci is 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89, ... etc. (Have a look at the Fibonacci-page of this cool site hosted by the University of Surrey about math

sunflower fibonacci paint

A red set of 34 lines, blue 21 lines. Then by carefully observing the crosspoints of blue and red I found the 3rd set of lines here drawn in yellow.

spirals 34 21 13


It was fun to figure out how to draw the lines on the floor with chalk. Work on big scale is so different as I am usually doing. Now I was forced to rething what I thought I knew. You can always learn something new.


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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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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