Saturday, April 27, 2013

Beautiful African Fabrics

These are block printed on cotton. I bought them from a tailor's shop but I plan to do a proper hunt for a good fabric shop. I need more of these. There was such a beautiful selection (forgot my camera - sorry). Choosing just two was really hard!

I chose the red and green one because it made me think of tentacles. No idea what to do with these fabrics yet but the collection has begun!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A brief example of Australian quilting

I hastily snapped this pic whilst in bed under featured quilt. Hence the slightly crumpled look to the quilt. I thought it was a lovely example of quilting though. We went to Australia for two weeks around Easter and this quilt was made by a quilting group in Ballarat. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Babble string with: Joanne Hawker

Welcome to my newest feature. Can you have a feature on a blog? If you can then this is one. I so often stumble upon amazing people on the interwebs who make such beautiful things it makes me gasp. I thought it would be fun if I shared them with you all. Even better, unlike my 'I spy' series, for Babble String I've actually contacted the people and interviewed them. WOAH.

First up on this roller-coaster of overusing the word 'string' is the wonderful Joanne Hawker. It is no lie to say that I lust after everything she makes. Joanne creates cute illustrations from Somerset. They are bright, cheerful and sweet.

Sailing under the moon print
Two lovely giraffes print
I sent Joanne some questions and she kindly answered them:

Were you arty as a child?
Yes! Very much so! My primary school wasn’t exactly the best when it came to academic subjects but I won’t go into that. I spent much of my days at that school hand binding my own books, lino cutting, drawing, making curtains and making candles. Yep you read that correctly. I was doing that from the age of 4 to 9! I wouldn’t dream of giving lino cutting tools to a child but hey it didn’t harm me! My earliest memory is of me in the bath with my teenage mutant ninja turtle bath pens. They were the best thing EVER! Thanks mum!

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a little village on the outskirts of Ilminster in Somerset and I still live there now with my mum. I’m saving and saving until I can afford a house of my own with its own little studio space.

Did you study illustration? Where? Was it useful?
I didn’t! I studies Graphic Communication. When I first filled out my UCAS application form I did it all for Illustration courses but then changed my mind at the last minute and went for Graphics instead. I felt it was easier to cross from Graphics to Illustration than vice versa. I’m glad I did it this way. I studied at the Cardiff School of Art and Design (UWIC). It was a great course and I learnt heaps. So yeah I’d say it was useful.

How did you get into running your own business?
It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I got fed up with not hearing back from job opportunities and thought you know what? Sod that, I’m going to be my own boss and that is what I’ve been aiming for ever since. I have some new products on their way and I’ve been scribbling down new ideas for something else that been bubbling around in my mind for a little while which I’m really excited about!

Do you sell at craft fairs? Which are your favourite?
I don’t, I can’t make up my mind as to whether they would be a good thing to do or not. I’ve heard a few stories about them. Maybe once I make a few more things I might consider it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I know its cliché but everywhere! Mainly from the natural environment though. You’ve probably noticed from my work that I’ve got bit of a thing for woodland creatures. We do actually have a little hedgehog living in my garden at the moment that we rescued so expect to see him popping up on a few things! Another source of inspiration comes from dreams. I have a VERY vivid imagination and can probably draw most scenes from my dreams in perfect detail.

Do you carry a sketchbook with you? (if so could we see some pages from it)
I don’t carry it with me because I don’t want it to get scuffed and dirty. The only time it goes on an adventure is if I’m staying somewhere then I pack it in my overnight bag. I can’t show you any of my new stuff because they are still in process but I can show you my initial scribbles for my repeats! Sometimes I find the original line work to be more beautiful than the finished piece. I think it has something to do with the simplicity of it and the neat black lines.

What do you think is most important for the creative process?
To draw with a pen or pencil (although I prefer pens) and not to go straight for the computer. I find going straight for the computer blocks out creativity. With pen and paper you can just go for it and it keeps a permanent record of all your ideas. Some of which may inspire you for future projects.

What's your favourite medium to work with?
A variety of black drawing pens and my sketchbook before reworking digitally with my Wacom Bamboo Tablet.

Which piece of work are you most proud of?
At the moment my favourite piece of work actually comes in the form of a set of designs. I rekindled my love for repeat patterns and made a nature inspired set. They include LOTS of flowers, a few ladybirds, a few bees and some birds in their little houses.

What's your favourite mythical animal? Why?
Umm, I don’t really have a favourite so I would probably go for something like the crazy creatures from Where The Wild Things Are. Except I would be Max and instead of wearing a wolf costume I would be wearing my fox onesie and I would be Queen!


Joanne also shared her workspace with us but I'll show that in a separate post. Thanks Joanne! I really enjoyed your answers. I particularly love Joanne's sketchbooks. Repeating patterns! Yes!

I highly recommend checking out Joanne's work and getting to know her at the following places:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why I'm not sure I trust Blogger

What with the announcement by Google that they're closing Google Reader down in July I find myself becoming increasingly distrustful of them. So much so that I've been heavily researching moving this blog from Blogger. I think Google has become too huge. And a little bit evil. They're massive enough that it doesn't matter to them if they annoy their customer base. After all we're all just advertising targets. So I don't trust that they won't scrap blogger as just another way to try and force us to use Google +. Google + can't be everything Google - it's getting really annoying now.

I decided the best option was to self-host using wordpress' software. If it wasn't for the fact I was struggling creating a theme/layout that I liked and didn't make me want to cry I probably would have done so already. I decided to postpone it until a time I'm actually earning money as all the hosting and the like was adding up. I don't mind spending money for freedom but it seems wasteful to commit to it when I don't actually have any coming in.

If you're thinking of switching then I highly recommend reading through this website that I found. It's called 'Blogging with Amy' and has loads of useful tips about switching and self-hosting.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Patchwork curtains in an Indian school

The school I used to work at in India used the prettiest patchwork curtains to separate classes. Three classes shared this room, separated by the curtains. The curtains were made by the mothers of the students who were taught to sew by the school.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Patterns: Hand art

This is my hand decorated with henna. I thought it was a beautiful enough pattern to share.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Baking paper: Makes excellent pattern paper

Although I filled my suitcase with craft supplies for our move to India (and then Uganda) every now and then I curse some essential item I forgot. Recently I discovered that I really didn't have any paper thin enough to allow me to trace a shape to make into a pattern.

So I did what I always do in this situation - I popped to the local supermarket and scoured their shelves.

Baking paper (available even in Uganda) makes excellent pattern paper. It's thin enough to trace through AND thin enough to pin to fabric to allow shape cutting. The fact that it's super cheap is an extra boon. To be honest I even used it in London. It's too useful!

The following photos show me using baking paper to make my felt map of Uganda.

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