Ditching the Dizzy Fog!

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.


Miss Stitch

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:

Tiny celebration!

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.

Coffee

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.

Amelie and I have had to do a lot of this this year.  We have spent a lot of time waiting around for the other two while they are activities.  The result is lots of special Amelie time, card games over drinks and Amelie learning how to make a cappuccino behind the bar.

Amelie and I have had to do a lot of this this year.  We have spent a lot of time waiting around for the other two while they are activities.  The result is lots of special Amelie time, card games over drinks and Amelie learning how to make a cappuccino behind the bar.

This is at the Eden Project - I love just how natural it looks.  Economical and environmental.  But they have the best cakes and lovely mugs of coffee!

This is at the Eden Project - I love just how natural it looks.  Economical and environmental.  But they have the best cakes and lovely mugs of coffee!

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This is our favourite place for breakfast where you get given beautiful books and sheets to colour as you wait.

This is our favourite place for breakfast where you get given beautiful books and sheets to colour as you wait.

Last summer holidays the kids and I got in the habit of playing banana-grams over breakfast. Inevitably I ended up playing 4 tables.  My drink here looks like swamp juice - not far wrong!  I prefer Macha green tea first thing in the morning.

Last summer holidays the kids and I got in the habit of playing banana-grams over breakfast. Inevitably I ended up playing 4 tables.  My drink here looks like swamp juice - not far wrong!  I prefer Macha green tea first thing in the morning.

This was a special 'grown up' mummy and daughter moment with way way too much chocolate!

This was a special 'grown up' mummy and daughter moment with way way too much chocolate!


Ameo shop now open.....

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?

Melamine coasters in Ameo's Scandi Butterfly designs.  This shows the 'winter' colour way but they are also available in 'summer'. 

Melamine coasters in Ameo's Scandi Butterfly designs.  This shows the 'winter' colour way but they are also available in 'summer'. 

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.

Top left: A4 print of cakes and stands, coming soon to the shop Top right: Greetings cards, £2.20 each Bottom left: Cork and melamine set of 4 coasters in summer colours, £15 Bottom right: Cork and melamine set of 4 coasters in winter colours, £15  

Top left: A4 print of cakes and stands, coming soon to the shop

Top right: Greetings cards, £2.20 each

Bottom left: Cork and melamine set of 4 coasters in summer colours, £15

Bottom right: Cork and melamine set of 4 coasters in winter colours, £15

 


Lampshade making course

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.

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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!

Summertime

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.

I have become rather succulent obsessive - I haven't been able to help it.  The shapes are so sharp and bold and the colours really mellow.  The kids can't keep their hands off them - pressing their nails into the leaves.  I'm swatting them like flies but so remember doing it myself as a child.

I have become rather succulent obsessive - I haven't been able to help it.  The shapes are so sharp and bold and the colours really mellow.  The kids can't keep their hands off them - pressing their nails into the leaves.  I'm swatting them like flies but so remember doing it myself as a child.

And now I just keep spotting the most brilliant containers to put them in.  One habit is fuelling the other.  I have a mini plant so have to find a pot - I then find another pot and have to buy another succulent.

And now I just keep spotting the most brilliant containers to put them in.  One habit is fuelling the other.  I have a mini plant so have to find a pot - I then find another pot and have to buy another succulent.

We have had the annual clean up of the court yard.  In a day it was transformed from a bike park and chinese laundry into its summer show garden state.  The girls and I got busy making paper pompoms and have been decorating everything with them since.

We have had the annual clean up of the court yard.  In a day it was transformed from a bike park and chinese laundry into its summer show garden state.  The girls and I got busy making paper pompoms and have been decorating everything with them since.

The sun makes us dream and by the end of this particular breakfast Noah and I had worked out a plan to collect Jon from work, sell up, buy a mobile home and take off to the US with the girls and the cats.  This made us a little late for school!

The sun makes us dream and by the end of this particular breakfast Noah and I had worked out a plan to collect Jon from work, sell up, buy a mobile home and take off to the US with the girls and the cats.  This made us a little late for school!

This brings us up to date - a little sad girl needed a mummy treat so we had a picnic of cherries and coke on her cubby hole bed - the best bed in the house.....precious times!

This brings us up to date - a little sad girl needed a mummy treat so we had a picnic of cherries and coke on her cubby hole bed - the best bed in the house.....precious times!

Pulse May 2014

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:

Oh there were heaps of coasters at Pulse!!  I couldn't believe it.....coasters and lampshades everywhere.  Joanna's work fitted in brilliantly at Pulse - the geometric designs and pen and ink style illustrations continue to be a strong trend for the coming season.

Oh there were heaps of coasters at Pulse!!  I couldn't believe it.....coasters and lampshades everywhere.  Joanna's work fitted in brilliantly at Pulse - the geometric designs and pen and ink style illustrations continue to be a strong trend for the coming season.

Ola is a new brand, launching at Pulse - her work was clean, crisp and meticulous also flying the flag for geometric designs.

Ola is a new brand, launching at Pulse - her work was clean, crisp and meticulous also flying the flag for geometric designs.

Magpie is a company creating several key lines  - clean, crisp designs, extremely commercial and on trend. 

Magpie is a company creating several key lines  - clean, crisp designs, extremely commercial and on trend. 

Dicky Bird have an extensive range of greetings cards in their distinctive style.  What jumped out at me though was the very personal, well developed colour pallet - sugary colours with a brush of browns, ochre and orange.

Dicky Bird have an extensive range of greetings cards in their distinctive style.  What jumped out at me though was the very personal, well developed colour pallet - sugary colours with a brush of browns, ochre and orange.

I have been a fan of Ekaterina's illustration for ages now - it was great to be able to meet her!

I have been a fan of Ekaterina's illustration for ages now - it was great to be able to meet her!

This company, Pleased to meet, have the distinctive flavour of an independent designer but with an extensive range of products of great quality.  Originality hasn't been compromised here. 

This company, Pleased to meet, have the distinctive flavour of an independent designer but with an extensive range of products of great quality.  Originality hasn't been compromised here. 

Thumbelina

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....

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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.

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The neon pink of the 3 flowers in her belt zing out of this much murkier pallet.

The neon pink of the 3 flowers in her belt zing out of this much murkier pallet.

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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.

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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.

Best Easter moments

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!

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Logo design

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.

Lindsey Toms sews toys and clothes for babies and young children using beautiful fabrics.  The logo had to convey the handmade quality of the work.  Lindsey wanted a square logo that she later had made into a stamp and cotton label, as well as an etsy banner.

Lindsey Toms sews toys and clothes for babies and young children using beautiful fabrics.  The logo had to convey the handmade quality of the work.  Lindsey wanted a square logo that she later had made into a stamp and cotton label, as well as an etsy banner.

Reflect are a Cardiff based Therapy and Counselling service specialising in family therapy as well as individual work. We wanted the cards and logo to remove barriers and instead convey the same warmth that the clients would receive when they first meet the team.

Reflect are a Cardiff based Therapy and Counselling service specialising in family therapy as well as individual work. We wanted the cards and logo to remove barriers and instead convey the same warmth that the clients would receive when they first meet the team.

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!!

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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.

Locking horns

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! 

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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.

Rare Walton's moment

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!

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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.

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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! 

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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!