I have just added a few more items to the Ameo shop ready for Christmas. Check out in particular the Christmas card designs - beautifully nostalgic with a punchy Christmas twist, all £2.20 each. And have a look at the tea towels sporting punchy colours and my popular English Salty Air design. It adds a seaside freshness to any kitchen for just £10! And then, lastly look at the packs of notebooks, presented bound together with a belly band - a great quality present for a snip, just £5.90 - ideal as a stocking filler or a teacher's gift or for yourself in preparation for all of the lists you are going to have to make.
It has been so good to be away with the family for the past 3 weeks. Don't be misled by the pictures. For all the super-hot days in Cornwall, there were damp, welly clad days to match. Someone laughed at me in the shops saying that only in the UK could you see a mum doing her summer food-shop in her wellies - I thought I had pulled it off!
After 6 months of art-course deadlines, family crises and a new role at work, I was so ready to put down my paint brushes and pick up a book and glass of wine alternately. Never had a holiday been looked forward to with such anticipation! Even if it was going to be under canvas. But although the book did feature and the wine even more so, my camera was always in my hand and the pencils were out again in the evenings because once the giddy fog of our life had cleared a bit, I started to become 'inspired' again. And not the forced kind that you search for when you have a deadline or a brief to fulfil but the natural, fun, joy-filled, immensely satisfying kind - and art and creativity became a choice again.
I had fun this week making party invitations for my eldest daughter and her friends. And I find that there is nothing so satisfying as seeing the work printed out. It really gives me my creative kick for the day to be holding the art work in the flesh. Which is just how I felt earlier this week - that was until my proof-reading friend pointed out that I had misspelt the names of two of the birthday girls!!
I reprinted the lot - it grieved me for the remainder of the day.
Lesson number 1 - always have your work proof read before printing....I knew it, I knew it!
I had a couple of lovely corporate jobs on over the summer - I loved having the children around for the 6 weeks but it was great to have the excuse to duck out for a couple of days and design for 2 businesses that I think are fab!
Deb's already runs amazingly successful sewing classes at the Plainstitch Workroom in Wendover but Miss Stitch is a series of courses aimed at children in key stage 2 who want to learn the basics of sewing through completing a number of really cool projects. After making a pillow case at the beginning of the holidays and successfully using a sewing machine for the first time, my daughter is desperate to sign up.
And then a friend who owns a nursery asked me to design a greetings card that she can use to welcome new children and their families.
Monkey Puzzle Nursery is set in beautiful large white Georgian house, refurbished so it is now about the most fun environment a child could imagine. I took the house and the fun loving element and came up with this:
My Frame Deer fabric came through from Spoonflower last week and I was over the moon with the results. I have taken it in to Plain Stitch this morning and have just had an email to say that they have just sold my first fat quarter! Whoop whoop!! That's a nice Tuesday high.
I am finding I have an increasing need for coffee to see me through to the end of the school year! Coffee became an event over and above a quick drink a good few years ago, precious daily down time! The coffee is obviously important, the cake possibly more so! Whether or not I share that time with someone else changes day to day but the surroundings have always been key to how special the moment is and continue to inspire me in my designing.
I was flicking through some photos over the weekend and was surprised just how many I have taken during my daily break.
My Ameo shop is now open selling a variety of giclée cards, prints and melamine coasters. More products and designs are in the pipe line and I will update you as soon as they are in but for now - drop by, have a look and if you can, please would you share the link with your friends and family?
The cards have a beautiful print quality to them - I have invested in a wonderful printer so that I can produce giclée prints from home. Essentially, giclée is a term for an inkjet digital printing process that uses pigment inks and archival paper. The result is a museum quality fine art print with a life of over 200 years. This is perhaps more than is necessary for a greetings card(!!) but any of these designs can be printed on a larger scale as a framed print - just email me with your request.
The printer may be the size of a piece of furniture but the advantage of it is that I now have total control of the production of my images including the final colour matching. Unlike any other form of digital printing, giclée gives me the genuine satisfaction of having created a piece of art work.....ok, let the "geek mist" pass by....
As you can see, I have had heaps of fun styling my products for photo-shoots. It is at this point that I am reminded just how beneficial the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course has been for me. It was equally tethered with regards to teaching practical skills for pattern design as well as the business side.
The course taught me brand new artistic skills, 2 software packages, the importance of brand identity, it got me thinking about the value and purpose of a website, blog, on-line shop (.....and etsy shop, but that is very much in the making). Off the back of it I have attended EU funded business course in Belgium, submitted work to companies, had my work shown at Trade Shows and started to manufacture a few of my own products....I am just so impressed with the structure of the course and the motivating power of the tutors. It was great!
Above are a couple of my cake stand designs. The original pen and ink drawings have been done using my "wrong" hand. This gives a more illustrative and quirky result. Likewise with the cameras below.
This week, whilst most people were at the pub, I returned to the Plain Stitch Sewing Rooms in Wendover for a course in lampshade making and loved it! This is the place where chocolate, coffee and cake are just as important as scissors and fabric. It was so good just to get creative and achieve something.
You start off by choosing your fabric - this has to be compared to choosing sweets in a shop, it could easily be the toughest part of the night. These are by Wendy Kendall, a girl who also did the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design and went on to win the Ideal Home Wallpaper competition in 2013.
These were the finished articles. Mine is the orange one on the top right but I had serious fabric envy for the white one beneath mine. Her fabric was by Annela Hoey and you can check out her blog here.
The lampshade looks great at home. Its staggering how professional a finish you get and I now feel fully equipped to make more - watch out family. That is all your birthdays and christmas' sorted for the coming year!
I have been so absorbed by the lovely summer (so far!) I've been busy taking loads of pics but never managing to write them up so here is a selection of all that has caught my eye over the past few weeks.
Pulse is a trade show held in London that prides itself on being the first to exhibit the latest trends, products and insights for the giftware, home, fashion & jewellery markets. I went along on Sunday, its opening day to get a feel for the direction the trends are going in.
The products on show were beautiful! The designs and colours were really inspiring - but over all, rather than feeling utterly daunted I felt encouraged that I am heading in the right direction.
Beneath are some of my favourites with links to the designers sites if you click on the picture:
I was blog hopping the other day and came across a beautiful Italian children's book of Thumbelina. I have no skills in Italian whatsoever but the illustrations were stunning and I had to see more! It came through the post earlier this week and I wasn't disappointed....
The vibrancy of colour hasn't come through in my shots but the pink that is used is neon - just that one colour but it is a thread that connects each page really cleverly. A lovely device.
These smaller black, white and neon pink cameos appeared on every other page - just like a footnote or a nod to the text. This combination of colour drawings and smaller 3 tone nods looks like another formula but adds variety, breaking up the book.
The composition of these smaller ones were rather cute too - like placement prints or card designs they cleverly used the content of the picture to frame the subject.
Each page is undoubtably pattern but with a very clear, endearing narrative. It really reminds me of a brighter version of the temple wall art in Bangkok.
I love it! I think that this is going to be a massive source of inspiration for me.
I had an unexpected day to myself the other week. I did something that I should be doing a lot more often and hopped onto the underground and spent the day sauntering around shops and visiting art galleries! Here are some of the lovely things that caught my attention in Heal's, Tottenham Court Road....
You are probably feeling exactly the same as me....just a bit glum now that the Easter break has come to an end. Today I thought that I would post some of our best bits. Don't be deceived by the snaps - the weather wasn't all good but the best pics tend to be taken outside in the sunshine!
When I discovered the Plainstitch Workrooms it was the closest I have ever come to an Alice in Wonderland moment in my life. The entrance is modestly hidden in a Wendover back street behind a gated fence. When you step into the tiny but beautiful court-yard, immediately you are forced to climb the steep, stone steps to a newly painted door. Even at this point the experience had me entranced. But I genuinely had one of those drop jaw moments when I climbed their staircase and entered their workrooms! It was an intensely aesthetic moment for me! Bolts of the latest fabric organised by colour and designer, fat quarter bundles in uniform Ikea tubs marked up with chalked labels, retro colour and decor and fabulously handmade, hanging barrel lampshades.
But at the centre of all of this is what the workrooms are really all about. A large table with 4 workstations, each with a (modern!) sewing machine, cutting mats and friends working away on individual projects around pretty cup cakes, mugs of tea and jars of sweets.
Deb who is the genius behind the place has made 100 quilts which I find incredible and although many of the quilts that I saw were technically so much more complicated than the one above I particularly wanted to show this one because the fabric is by designer Heather Ross, (who I love!!) and because it is so well worn, it has an age to it just as a quilt should.
Another delight is that you are under no obligation to buy - you are encouraged to be perfectly at ease just going in to have a look. That said, it is way too tempting and I didn't leave before booking myself in for the lampshade making course in June - I hope that what I produce will be good enough to blog about afterwards!! Deb runs a number of courses, some are one offs and others run the course of a term.
In-dispersed with the pattern design and product development, I have been working on a number of logo's and corporate identities for differing businesses. I love doing these! It is great to be working alongside clients, receiving a brief, discussing the nuts and bolts of what they are trying to do through their business and then coming up with a creative solution to encapsulate this and represent them.
Generally speaking, I create the art work and leave the printing to the client but the real magic happens when you receive your bundle of printed goodies - something that I am quite addicted to now. I was oober excited when my first business cards arrived through the post and since then I have produced postcards to make promotional press packs, (Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen loved this), mini portfolios and stickers to add a quirky finishing touch to packaging! Oh the possibilities!!
If you are looking for someone to help you with your corporate identity or logo design, email me via the contact page and I will get back to you for a chat and a look at my prices.
Last Thursday we went to the Ideal Home Exhibition for the Ideal Wallpaper of the Year awards. I had been selected by the industry and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen as one of 5 finalists from a pool of 95 entries so to have got to this stage was exciting enough. To be honest, it felt too exciting - I didn't know how to cope with so much adrenaline running up to the event.
The ceremony was larger than I had anticipated but as the day drew on it was clear that Laurence could definitely attract a crowd! The filmed interview with him in front of 400+ onlookers was a bit of a surprise but it was so encouraging to hear what he thought of my work. What I hadn't expected either was how good it would be to see my work printed as wallpaper. I loved it - the colours were right, the design worked as I had hoped and the scale gave it the impact I was looking for.
It was fantastic to meet the finalists Jen Moules, Katy Hackney, Martha Copinger Binns of Martha and Hepsie and Natalie Owen - it is such a highlight to make new friends in the industry. Well done to all of you but particularly Katy whose design was voted winner by the public!
I was positioned centre stage so when Laurence opened the envelope, Katy's name was staring straight back at me so I had plenty of time to check my expression - in fact Laurence then went into a preamble giving me nearly a whole minute of knowing that the winner was two down from me in the row before anyone else did - does that ever happen at the Oscars?
I was obviously gutted not to have won but it has been such an encouragement to be a finalist, hopefully this will become another spring board.
It has been an incredibly exciting week for me. I have been selected as one of the five finalists in the Ideal Wallpaper Competition 2014! This is an annual competition run in conjunction with Wallpapered.com and The Ideal Home Show.
I am really flattered (and shocked) to have got this far. Last years winner, Wendy Kendall, has since really taken off, partly as a result of this competition so it would be incredible for me to go the whole way and win. It is now down to the public vote. If you like my design PLEASE CLICK HERE and vote for me by rating my design. And if you you think that your friends would like it wouldn't mind forwarding this on to your friends I would be extremely grateful - I really think that it would make a huge difference. Thanks x
You could be forgiven for thinking that this blog is going to be about some of the louder moments in our home. With the term in full swing, activities to continually drive the children to and each one with their own determined minds over what they should be expected to eat at tea, I admit, this has been a problem in recent weeks. I can't put all the blame on the children as it is often fuelled by me forgetting my age and entering into the fray on the children's level. But that is why, for lent like many other mothers, I have given up shouting. I am trusting that having admitted this here, I will be held accountable to a certain extent and we may have a little more peace in the home.
But as I said, this post isn't about my family life today. Locking Horns is the name of one of my designs and I was really excited today to see it for the first time on a beautiful mug!
Although I am an extremely visual person, I can never fully appreciate how a design will look once it is actually on a product. And I just love this one!
For all the mug snobs out there - and I am discovering that most of us are - this cup is tops! It is bone china which you notice the moment you pick it up. The shape of the handle fits my mits perfectly and all round, it speaks quality.
A decision will be made soon but hopefully this is one of the mugs that I will be able to produce.
I don’t think that I could have imagined a more cliché afternoon. With a husband, beer-in-hand watching the rugby and a son skulking off to his bedroom to play Mindcraft, to the back drop of my girls, giggling raucously in the bath playing "hair salons and husbands", I had the dining room table to myself and with head bent over the sewing machine I finished off my latest quilting project. For one, weird hour we had all settled down to do exactly what we wanted to do yet inadvertently found ourselves living out a quasi Brady Bunch come Walton’s moment that any other day of the week I would have found impossible to attribute to our family!
My quilting projects are always very small. It’s definitely my love for colour, pattern and all the lovely fabrics that are available now that spurs me on rather than the thought of me sitting by the fire (haven’t got one) needle poised. But cushions and lap blankets have proven to hold my attention just long enough and then make a fabulous instant uplift to the home. That said, this squares for this latest project were a birthday present to me from my sister (pre-cut!) and yet here I am finishing it 16 months later.
The arms of our chairs are covered with lap blankets – just big enough to snuggle up with in front of the tele or to read a book under. And they are manageable enough in size to work on in the evenings and feel like you are actually making progress!
So having had a chuckle to myself and wondering how it is that we have come to live out such a gender stereotypical afternoon, I have again had to pull myself up short remembering that I have an afternoon of tissue pompom making planned with the girls next weekend!
I hope that someone makes you smile tomorrow - Happy Valentines Day!