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Helga's Blog

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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.

Have fun on my site, and if you have any questions or remarks on a blogpost ...
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Day 7 - 22 solid actions realized in a productive retreat week

Day 7 has ended and I am ready with my retreat. I feel a bit egoistic to have taken this whole week for myself, but it has been a precious experience.

I’ve connected with myself in ways I didn’t expect. I became silent in my head around day three and that gave me a lot of rest to keep working. Only on day five on the end, while writing, I had a dip.

I didn’t realize I normally spend so much time on the computer instead of making. That was a real eye opener. In the future I will take care I have more time to create.

I feel more in harmony in what I want and what I do. My visions for the future have become more clear.  The list of accomplishments is vast, plus some great ideas to start a new series of jewellery.

It has been of great help to read all you comments. A quote from George Berkely comes to mind: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

A heartfelt thank you for reading my stories.

So what’s with the Fairy Tales, you ask?

Once upon a time...I want to develop a new necklace in the Cultural Message series. One about fairy tales. The tales I read are the ones I am going to incorporate into the piece.

Today I did the calculations & initial drawings of the elements. Templates are made in illustrator, ready to be cut-out. I work very planned and almost all my jewellery starts as a paper mock-up. I try out, shift things around and fiddle with it, till it feels right.

Having had this week with the free associations in unfamiliar material, made me free of mind. I could listen how the piece wanted to be manifested. You can see here one of the paper tests which will be translated in silver very soon.

I have made a fabulous start, thanks to the retreat.


art-retreat last-day-650px


To get in the flow of working I started today with making 2 slabs in Silver Clay with the bark pattern. One will be made into a ring and the other piece I turned into 3 pairs of earrings. I will show them when they are ready.

Live talk

Tomorrow I will prepare the Google+ hangout. When you add me to one of your circles I will invite you automatically. Helga’s Google+ profile
I will show a few things that I did make, draw a winner for the Inner Star and most important, I will answer questions. I start at 23.00u Amsterdam time. A recording will be available on YouTube.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below and I will answer them tomorrow.

Information about Hangouts you can find here: Hangouts.


I end with my list of activities and projects realized this week:

  1. Draw a Labyrinth with chalk and walk it 14 times
  2. 9 charcoal drawings and a bike tour.
  3. Cut a gate out of two trees
  4. Read 2 chapters op Campbell’s “Power of Myth”
  5. Sawed a silver billet and hammered it down
  6. Cleaned up an iron Anvil
  7. Meditated ever morning for 15 minutes
  8. Juggled a lot
  9. Soapstone sculpting: made 1 finished piece
  10. Read 7 tales in English: Little Muck, Firebird, Goldilock, Little Ida’s flowers, Diamonds & Toads, Parsley/Rapunzel, Snow-white & Rose-red
  11. Draw 7 picture storyboards of the fairytales
  12. With salt-dough sculpted 7 remarkable elements of the tales (of which the dog ate one!)
  13. Took pictures + processed them for publishing
  14. Wrote every day a blogpost and promoted it.
  15. Cooked every day a meal (except for one day, thank you JP for cooking)
  16. Made a notebook incorporating my own pictures
  17. Kept a diary containing 47 pages written
  18. 61 square, 7 small 3D, 4 big slabs and a tree bark sculpture from porcelainclay
  19. 1 bronzeclay sample
  20. 2 silverclay samples
  21. A necklace design that is ready to be made in silver
  22. + walk the dog every morning


This is the seventh 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
- The 5th day of the art retreat
- Tapping into the power of trees on day 6

Click this link to subscribe for the newsletter to follow me in my endeavour.


Day 6 - The power of trees

Friday 19 July

Reading the wise and encouraging comments on yesterdays post, helped me to realize that it’s not easy to keep yourself occupied all the time. It takes your energy, so you have to replenish it by taking care of yourself.  I took a warm bath and some extra sleep and now I am energized again.

Realizing and accepting that you are low on energy is the first step to mend it.

Tree: sculpture

Clay sculpture of tree barkClay sculpture of tree bark


Today was the first day without a real planning. I did have painting on my list but I traded it for working in clay.  I had a feeling that I should explore the bark pattern some more. Using the process of drawing the lines and then refining the top layer I made a sculpture of a tree stem. I was glad to see I could even make it in a big 3D size.

During meditation I had a visual that the Labyrinth I walk is in fact a big drawing of grow-lines in a tree. So deliberately I drew some grow circles on top of the stem.

This piece speaks to me. It is a great start for a new series in jewellery. I will work on exploring this theme in august to translate it into jewellery. I can see the ring already!

Tree: Notebook

art-retreat clay-tree-book-klein5178In the afternoon I made a small A6 notebook with 32 blank pages. I used a picture of the tree bark from Monday on the back. On the front you seen my own hand made bark pattern in clay.

A lot of things are falling into place. I call this retreat SARAH, the initial letters of Summer Art Residence At Home. That is why I put it on the front of my notebook.

But before I was even thinking of this retreat I was already working with the name Sarah. My pinterest board called Sarah is already 40 weeks old. I set it up to collect inspiring sites and images about self-development and creativity. I have a feeling you might like some of the links there.

Last thoughts about Fences

A tree has fences/borders but they are open, osmosis can happen. CO in, O2 out. There is a healthy communication between the two sides.

It’s important to be aware of my borders but in the meantime be open to new inspiration. Only in this time frame with so many distractions like tv/social media /mobiles,  those borders are very diffuse and easily crossed.

It's sometimes difficult to know when to close a border because of a system-overload...
Doing this retreat gives me fine-tune time to find out what I want, where I stand for.

With that knowledge I can confidently come back to the flow of life.


More pictures in my google+ album: Art Residence - Friday 19 July

Next read: Day 7


This is the sixth 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
- Day 4 - Fence & Fairytales
- The 5th day of the art retreat

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


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

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


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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