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May 2018 - Week 1: Soap Making, Painting, and the Wollondilly Shire Festival

I made a batch of soap for the first time in quite a while. I've been meaning to allocate an hour or two to do this but have been distracted by other things.

Using empty coconut milk cartons as molds.

I've been using old, problematic soap, and even that is starting to run low. This new batch will take 6 weeks to cure, so I'll still be waiting a while before I can use it.

During that time I'll be sure to make another batch or two.

30/4/2018 - Monday

I made a batch of soap using colours I hadn't used, namely purple and white. I added a bit of salt for hardening and worked at a reasonably high temperature (70 degrees Celsius), which made the mixture reach trace faster than expected. Fortunately, I only used a spoon for stirring rather than the electric mixer. Because I was working with three colours (including no colour), the mixtures started to set before I was ready for pouring. I ended up having to spoon the lumpy mixtures into the molds. It will be interesting to see how this batch turns out. It is mostly natural colour (yellowish orange), with a muddy colour (purple mixed with the orange), and a pale yellow (white mixed with the orange).

Weighing the lye (caustic soda).

Mixing the oils and lye solution.

Purple and white colouring.

Empty containers with setting remnants.

1/5/2018 - Tuesday

Removing the label from a salvaged bottle.

I like to clean the advertising material off salvaged bottles so that I don't have to look at so much promotional material every time I open a cupboard.

Soaking in water for a while helps to loosen the paper and glue so it can be scratched off.

I started another of the rancid soaps. I've been using an old 60/40 olive and coconut oil, which has gone white with use, and I'm using a slither of the multicoloured almond and cocoa butter soap as a facial soap.

All of these soaps work well, even the rancid one.

I had lunch with Jason and discussed his latest alternative consumption strategy based around designing and 3D printing. He's using PLA plastic, which is biodegradable and is not therefore petrochemical.

I met with Bill for a while and discussed upcoming creative work.

2/5/2018 - Wednesday

Abstract expressionist painted shorts

I finally painted the shorts that I was trying to dye with blackberry pulp. The dyeing results were unsatisfactory as they didn't hold and basically washed out. Also, I was originally trying to conceal paint stains, so it was inevitable that I paint them eventually.

Lumpy looking soap blocks

I unmoulded the batch of soap. The results are interesting, even though I ended up spooning the mixture into the moulds rather than pouring. The mixture had thickened up too much in the time it took me to pour off and colour two portions. The three colour final outcome reminds me of amethyst crystals.

I went to Project gallery to talk with Ruchi about set up for the digital media festival and have a look at the new retrospective exhibition that started today. The opening will be on Friday night the 11th of May.

Detournement of an excerpt of the American Declaration of Independence posted to Twitter.

I worked some more on my Situationist writing. This is inspiring me again to work with


I decided to try to do something that incorporates some of the American Declaration of Independence. I modified an extract and posted it to twitter.

I tried to co-ordinate a joint meeting with Jo and Andrew for our next get-together. This is more difficult than i expected.

I need to put future meetings in our diaries, as their availability for the year is filling up.

3/5/2018 - Thursday

One block of soap has been cut into bars.

I cut the soap blocks into bars.

I went to the Innovation Campus to double check it will be OK to collect equipment on Monday the 7th morning for set up... ready for the exhibition to commence on the Wednesday the 9th (with the opening set for Friday the 11th).

I went to the social night at Project and there was a typically low number of people. It can be difficult encouraging people to come together socially, even when there is plenty of common interest to connect them.

I worked on Situationist writing related to the transformation of art into life, focusing on chapter 8 of Society of the Spectacle. This concept builds on the theoretical work of the Dada movement early in the twentieth century, followed by the Surrealists. Their attempts to abolish art, and subsequently to realise art, led to these approaches being combined by the Situationists, who aimed to transcend art.

4/5/2018 - Friday

I worked on Situationist writing related to the transcendence of art before writing about Detournement. I did a bit more at night.

5/5/2018 - Saturday

I went to Dad's for lunch.

Projection onto a building at Picton.

I went to the Wollondilly Shire Festival in Picton in the late afternoon and into the evening. I mainly went to see the art exhibition, which was excellent, but I also had a great time looking around all the stalls, and the town, which had projections at night, and enjoyed dinner and socialising with Misty.

She had a piece in the exhibition I am regretting not buying on the spot. It is a beautiful piece of naturally dyed silk, and I'm hoping to be able to hang it on my wall.

Naturally dyed silk.

6/5/2018 - Sunday

I had a largely social day with friends and family coming to share things.

Jason came with a homemade sultana cake.

Paul came with some home-grown


And Rod came over with some vegetarian spaghetti-bolognaise

(tomato, onion and garlic)

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© 2018 by Mark Richardson. 

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