Uncategorized

My Favourite Sketchbooks for “On The Go”

Field Notes. Daler Rowney Sketchbook. Midori Traveler's Sketchbook.

This week I thought I’d tell you about the variety of sketchbooks and notebooks I like to use when I’m “On the Go” or travelling, or at work actually.

I’m really fussy about my sketchbooks, some might say snobby in fact. It’s not that I don’t like cheap sketchbooks, that’s not really the case, I just don’t like cheap paper. Teaching art in a college means I get to look through loads of different makes or brands of sketchbooks and I can tell you right now the worst ones seem to be made from recycled paper pulp and it is horrible!

Here are the ones I like to use, what I use them for and why I particularly like them.

Midori Traveler’s Sketchbook (No. 12)

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This one comes top because it’s the one I use most when I’m out and about. It’s part of my traveler’s journal with my diary and Webster’s Pages Notepad inserts that I use to record trips and events.

The paper is lovely and thick, it’s cream in colour and a little textured. I don’t like very textured paper as I find the soft pencil I like to use tends to smudge easily and I draw “on the go” more than anything else. The edges are perforated so you can remove the pages if you like. I have also used this to do brush lettering in with watercolour and the pages did not warp and the paint didn’t bleed through.

Field Notes 

Field Notes New York Edition

Field Notes New York Edition

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I keep these little squared paper notebooks in my backpack for a variety of reasons. I have one to fill with patterns and doodles, the paper isn’t thick enough to avoid bleed through so you can’t use both sides of the page if you use markers. I like filling these up and having a stack of patterns archived in notebook form.

I use another one for keeping notes about ideas and products I’m interested in trying out or want to buy.

The last one I use for practising brush lettering on a small scale as the squared paper is really useful when trying to practise drawing the same size letters.

Daler Rowney A5 Stapled Sketchbook

Dale Rowney A5 Graduate Sketchbook

Dale Rowney A5 Graduate Sketchbook

These guys are so great if you know you’re going to be drawing a lot but don’t want to take a big sketchbook. When I’m home I like to work in ring bound A5 or A4 sketchbooks from Paperchase but they can be quite heavy so I like these thin chaps if I know I’m going to meet a friend for a drawing date or I’m going somewhere and I want to draw there. They’re super cheap too! I picked this one up for £1 in Sainsburys!! Buying art supplies while grocery shopping is win win surely?

Let me know your favourite sketchbooks for when you’re out and about, I love to try new things!

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Product Review, Uncategorized

Papergang August Subscription Box

Papergang Subscription BoxI love a subscription box, I mean who doesn’t love post? Well parcels, not bills.

A good subscription box brings you a collection of goodies you have selected but based on a theme you’re interested in. The fact that you don’t get to choose the contents means you try items you perhaps wouldn’t choose to spend your money on and you discover exciting new things. In this case, paper goods! And man do I love me some paper goods.

Papergang is the creation of Ohh Deer. These awesome guys work with illustrators and collate their work onto a fabulous website where you can buy products by interesting and talented people. Every month the Papergang send out a selection of paper based goods and stationery that you can’t get anywhere at all until they go live on the Ohh Deer website.

This month’s box, and my first, came in a sturdy box with a beautiful marble slip cover. On the back is a template to turn your slip cover into a cardboard stegosaurus!

Inside the goods are wrapped in tissue, to make it feel extra nice and you get a great big notebook, some tape, a greetings card and a calendar card.

Papergang Copper Tape

The tape is a shiny copper coloured paper tape. I actually already have some copper tape that was gifted to me by @intwosandthrees  and is actual metal tape (safety warning: I cut my finger on a squished up piece of it! but maybe that’s just my clumsiness) but this is very much paper tape that is easy to tear and is very shiny! I have been disappointed by non-shiny metallic tapes in the past but this is good quality. 

Kris Tate Card and Envelope

You also get a greetings card with artwork by Kris Tate. It’s got quite a Native American feel to it with the patterns and colours used though those are deer not moose as I mistook them for originally! I love the mixture of photographic elements and bright illustrated patterns in this card and the good thing is it isn’t necessarily for any occasion. I like cards that I can just send to friends for no particular reason. The card is sturdy too so feels good quality, it isn’t cheap and glossy at all!

Kris Tate Card

Here’s a close up of the deer. I love the coloured lines coming out of his mouth and on his fur, they’re fun, bright coloured and add a feel of the handmade, you can tell they have been made by the artist, not computer generated so they look all the same.

Papergang Marble Notebook

The biggy in this box is this hardbound marble notebook. It has a fabric spine which is nice and wide, strong thick covers and a lovely gold inlaid frame on the front so you can personalise it.

Papergang marble notebook

It also has copper edged pages! Copper is a bit of a theme of this month’s box if you hadn’t noticed! This edging definitely adds another touch of luxury to this notebook. It’s so nice I want to save it for something worthwhile.

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The pages are lined, but only on one side which is quite unusual and also continues with the feel of it being for something special. I guess you could use it to sketch on the plain side but you may be able to see the ink on the other side depending on which kind of pen you used. I’m not testing it, this book is staying pristine until I find a good use for it!

All of the items in this month’s box are things I will easily be able to use, especially the copper tape. I’m going to keep my subscription for another month at least to see what I get next time. I have seen images of more paper goods in previous which I’m keen to see. This big notebook was a pretty special item so I’m looking forward to seeing other products like small notebooks and stationery.

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Brush Lettering

Foiled Brush Lettering

I’ve been working on a commission for a good friend recently which has been lots of fun as it’s been an opportunity to work on my brush lettering for clients rather than just for fun or using my own ideas. This is a process that crosses both analog creating and digital (which is not my forte) so I thought I’d give you an idea of how I go from idea to finished product.

brush lettering

The first thing I do is practise the letters and words I’m going to be drawing. I find some letters more difficult than others, especially “S” and “d” and I also like to try different styles.

I like to use the Kuretake Zig BrusH20 for brush lettering. This yellow one is the detailer brush. The watercolours are a cheap set I bought in the States by Artists Loft. It’s about $5 and is good to travel with or take on a drawing/painting trip because they’re super light and it doesn’t matter if they get bashed up a bit. I paint in black because that’s easiest to trace in Adobe Illustrator.

Brush Lettering in Adobe Illustrator

Once I’ve got the words right I scan them into Adobe Illustrator at the highest resolution I can and use the Image Trace function to, well, trace them. There is a great tutorial here that explains the process and the easiest way to do it. I often have to use the Pen Tool to adjust some of the errors that come form the Image Trace process and fiddle around to smooth out lines and delete anchors that are not needed. This is the most boring and laborious part for me as I’m not a fan of digital stuff really. 

I then have to take each word that I’ve refined and line them up on the appropriate page size. That sounds pretty easy but I’m still getting the hang of Adobe programs so it was definitely worth mentioning that I need to line everything up so it looks right on the page.

brush lettering

Luckily when that’s done it’s pretty straightforward as long as no changes need to be made.

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It’s important to make the black as black as possible so adjust your letters in Illustrator and turn your printer settings up to high quality to get the best print. To foil onto this it MUST be printed using a laser printer, it doesn’t work on inkjet. The foil sticks to the carbon and that’s why it needs to be as black as possible.

Foiled Brush Lettering

Next all there is to do is apply the foil to the print. I use a fancy laminator which is basically a normal office laminator but it has different heat settings. You place the print in a carrier sheet (which is like a laminating pouch that doesn’t stick together) cut the foil to size, place on top and run it through the laminator.

Foiled Brush Lettering

And there you have it! One quote hand lettered and foiled to create a unique and original art print.

I’m hoping to do more like this in the future so if you’re interested pop me an email or comment below!

 

 

 

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Document, Planner, Product Review, Uncategorized

Studio Calico Planner Kit Review

Studio Calico Pool Party Review

I finally gave in to my nagging inner voice and signed up to the Studio Calico Planner Kit a few months ago. I had been receiving the A Beautiful Mess  Messy Box for a year at that point and looked at Studio Calico because they distribute the Messy Box so I knew the products would be good quality.  I really like the idea of subscription boxes, they introduce you to new items and brands or fresh ways to use the products and are good value when you add up what you get.

I went for the Planner Kit because I am a bit of a control freak and find being organised stops me worrying about things as I feel more in control when it’s all laid out in front of me. I get a lot of patterned papers and cards in the Messy Box and the planner kit seemed to focus on stickers, inserts and embellishments that you can use to help organise yourself and your life!

This is what is in my latest planner kit for July, titled Pool Party. It takes about 11 days for it to get from the USA to the UK with economy shipping so it’s a little while before I get mine, but it’s worth the wait.

In this kit was:

  • Patterned Transparency
  • Color Theory Monthly Tab Stickers
  • 2 Rolls of Masking Tape
  • 2 Patterned Fold Over Clips
  • 2 x Attacher Stickers
  • 2 x Tab Stickers
  • 2 x Label Stickers
  • 2 x Phrase Stickers
  • 2 x Puffy Summer Icon Stickers

These fold over clips are great for marking pages, or holding them open when you’re trying to photograph them!

Studio Calico Pool Party Planner Kit

The Color Theory monthly tabs are bright and draw attention to the pages for each month in my Midori free diary making it easy to track back through the weeks.

The masking tape is great to “underline” an event or highlight a day that’s important.

Studio Calico Pool Party Planner Kit

I’ve used the Puffy icon stickers to embellish days and add an extra touch and when I’m recording occasions or days to remember in my notebook insert.

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I’ve used the Tab stickers to mark things I want to remember like jobs to do, ideas or things I found that I want, like a wish list! This is sometimes a dangerous activity as it means you remember the things you like rather than just forgetting about them and saving your money!

Sadly sometimes I get things in my kit that are designed for a planner with ring binders and the Patterned transparency is one of these items, but I’m sure I can use it for something else and using items for new purposes is always interesting.

I haven’t made a big dent on this kit yet but I know a lot of the stickers are going to be really useful when my diary gets really busy in the academic year.

I hope this gives you an idea of what you get in a Studio Calico planner kit. Their next one is now live so go check that out on their website and i’ll review that one when it turns up! Next time I’ll show you the different Midori inserts I use in my Traveler’s Notebook.

 

 

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Latitude 2016, Travel, Uncategorized

Latitude 2016: Good and Proper Tea Company

Good and Proper Tea Van

Ok so I really need to work on my photography skills, I know, I know. BUT I just had to capture this amazing van serving tea and crumpets at Latitude. The Good and Proper Tea Company. This was before we’d even tried the tea and crumpets, I knew as soon as I saw this van that I had to test their wares!

Good and Proper Tea Van

I have since found out that the van is called Watson and what a gorgeous van he is.

Good and Proper Tea and Crumpets

And it’s good to report that the van is not all style and no substance, oh no it is even better than you would imagine. It’s not just a cuppa and a warmed up crumpet, no siree! You will notice that these crumpets are not round, they are square, and one of them has some brown spread on it. That, my friends, is Nutella, oh yes, warm sourdough (!!) crumpet and nutella with a special brew of tea unique to the Good and Proper Tea Company and you have the perfect brunch right there.

Next up I’m off to their website to buy some of their loose leaf tea and I’ll definitely be visiting one of their shops when I’m next in London!

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Latitude 2016, Travel, Uncategorized

Our Latitude 2016

Latitude Welcome

This post marks a week of posts about our weekend at Latitude 2016. Sorry I don’t have any decent photos of the acts so here are just some photos of Latitude itself. 

Chris and I hadn’t been to Latitude for 8 years when we went this year and I’ll admit I agreed to it mainly because of how badly he wanted to go. I had forgotten how much more there is to this festival than just music. Not that I don’t like music but I do like variety! So now I have to bow down to Chris because he was right, it was definitely worth going and now I can see us making it an annual event. So what were our highlights?

Latitude Entrance Trees

Friday Evening – Christine and the Queens

Ever since first seeing Christine and the Queens on the Graham Norton show she was on our list of people we MUST see at Latitude. I also watched her Glastonbury set and loved how positive she was about acceptance, tolerance and welcoming everyone as well as the cool music and awesome dancing!

We weren’t disappointed. Her voice is amazing and she didn’t drop a note the whole set, the dancing was very cool and really fun, the crowd couldn’t help but dance themselves! But most of all, the best part was the interaction with the audience, but I don’t mean from Christine to the crowd (though that was fun and entertaining) but how much the crowd loved Christine. How overwhelmed she was by the reaction she received from a positive and appreciative crowd, how humble and thankful she was for the support and sincere in her thanks. A really uplifting experience.

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Saturday Evening – Chvrches and The National

Could never be bad really could it? Saturday was our most anticipated day, the only down side was that it was so so hot, it was difficult to find shade but we spent quite a bit of time in the forest by the Sunrise Arena and by the time it got to 8:00 for Chvrches it was cool enough to really enjoy the show.

The Obelisk Arena is absolutely massive, an appropriate name! and Lauren Mayberry looked even tinier than she actually is, but with that small stature comes a fabulous voice and you couldn’t fault the performance at all. Even the songs she doesn’t sing on were awesome and didn’t stop anyone dancing!

If you think The National aren’t a festival band think again. They absolutely stormed it. Matt Berninger’s vocals were equally haunting and urgent and when they were joined by Lauren Mayberry for I Need My Girl (as Chris had been hoping for ever since we decided to go to Latitude!) we were captivated even more. Entranced even. With a crowd sing along of Vandelyle Crybaby Geeks to end and Matt Berninger joining the crowd for Terrible Love and losing his glasses, it looked like, Saturday ended on one well of a high.

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Sunday Evening – Mark Steel and Standard Issue Panel

Sunday was a lot more chilled than the previous two days which is exactly what we wanted really. Luckily we slept pretty well and the campsite isn’t too noisy at Latitude.

We’ve always been big fans of Mark Steel being avid Radio 4 comedy listeners. His comedy is a mix of politics, current affairs and complete randomness which I absolutely love. The comedy tent got really really busy for Mark Steel and then Bill Bailey after. It seems it’s never ever big enough because despite having screens outside the tent and amplification that meant you could hear the comedians when you’re outside it was still rammed with people, not even standing room only! You couldn’t see a comedian at Latitude without them mentioning Brexit and Mark Steel was no different but he didn’t stick on it too long and went off on some of his customary rants about the current government.

The Standard Issue talk is one of the things that makes me really like Latitude. Chris and I regularly found ourselves in the Literature Tent watching things we hadn’t necessarily planned on seeing but came up on the handy app as starting soon as we thought we’d give it a try.

Standard Issue is an online magazine founded my Sarah Millican that covers women’s interests and issues. At Latitude their show consisted of a panel of women, Mickey Noonan (Standard Issue editor), Helen Monks (Raised by Wolves, Upstart Crow), Angela Barnes (comedian), Felicity Ward (comedian) and Hannah Dunleavy (Deputy editor) answering questions posed by Mickey Noonan, starting with “When did you realise you were a feminist?” It was absolutely brilliant. It was really funny, interesting, thought-provoking and inspiring and Helen Monks was the best. At just 23 she was more eloquent and passionate and made more sense than I could ever dream to be.

Go check out Standard Issue, they have a podcast too!

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This was only a small amount of the shows we saw over the weekend and it was interspersed with really good food and drinks as well. Now I’m really missing the change from everyday life and I’m back to the daily routine of washing up, cleaning, tidying and dealing with being a grown up.

Take me back to Latitude! I need more glitter in my life.

 

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Cards, Stationery

They see me foiling, they hating

Last week’s post was about how I was missing in action. Well it wasn’t just me, my ability to create products seemed to be missing in action for a long time as well. My day job as a lecturer can be very full on, mentally more than physically I should add! So I often come home, eat tea, watch something on the TV and fall asleep on the sofa, with no time or energy to come up with new ideas or new products.

Luckily, because I was practising my brush lettering a lot I did actually have some ideas that I could make into products ahead of our craft market on 26th June. I was anxious that I hadn’t made anything new for ages and customers would be bored of me having the same old things for sale.

When I looked in the files of lettering that I had scanned into my computer I had a few pieces that I could get copied onto cards. It’s not a fancy process at all. I have a little stash of textile foil which you heat transfer onto a screen printable glue. Well this foil also sticks to the toner from photocopiers or printers if you heat it onto it! So I toddled off to Staples and got three new phrases printed onto cards, foiled them when I got home and here are the results…

you got this card

hello card

thank you card

 

What do you think? Should I do more like this?

Buy them on my Etsy page

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Uncategorized

Missing in Action

Rose Lane Butchery Menu

I’ve been missing in action lately due to my day job being absolutely manic and organising our most recent I Make Fun Stuff market on the 26th June. Finally everything has calmed down, the intense process at work has ended and the market was last weekend so I’m back and should be back in the blog writing saddle as of next weekend! Thanks for your patience and please don’t forget about me!

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Experiments, Makers

If in Doubt, Make Anything

I’m trying to follow my own advice at the moment because I am definitely going through a stage of not being able to create. At least to the extent of not finding the creative flow very natural at the minute. I find it really difficult because it’s not that I don’t want to create, I’m desperate to use my free time to be creative but when I get down to it I just can’t seem to put pen to paper. This makes me feel really quite rubbish.

So I am taking my own advice and just trying to do something, anything, to see what happens. Putting brush to paper, practising brush lettering, going through old sketchbooks and playing with different materials. The results are below….. Do they remind you of anything? That might help me develop them further!

Watercolour Pattern

Playing around with some watercolours and colour palettes.

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I picked up a couple of postcards of slices of Quartz crystal under the microscope when I went to the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge a few months ago.

I just started copying the shapes to create a random pattern. I rather liked it too!

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I printed out a bunch of images from the net of different crystal slices under the microscope.

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They look like really random shapes that you could just draw but copying form something that actually exists always seems to work far better than trying to make it up yourself. That just never looks right.

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I tried messing around with the Heidi Swapp Minc Toner Pen (it’s been discontinued now which I wonder is because they are bringing out an improved version as I really don’t rate this one). If you photocopy an image you can then adhere foil to it using a laminator. I have the Heidi Swapp Minc which has different heat settings. I use textile foil which I use for foiling onto fabric with a textile glue but you can buy foil specially to use with the Minc.

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This was created with the toner pen too but as block shapes instead of outlines like before. I do like the effect so I hope they do bring out a better version of the Heidi Swapp Minc Toner Pen.

I’ve been messing around with all these ideas and in the grand scheme of things that is just the process you have to go through before you hit on something that works. I think maybe I’m being too hard on myself.

Let me know what you think of my experiments in the comments below, I appreciate your input.

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Craft Market

Craft Fair Tips

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Craft Fair season is coming up so I thought I’d dedicate a post to my own little craft fair tips having spent years running fairs (since 2009) partaking in fairs and visiting them too! I definitely do not have all the secrets and I can’t tell you how to sell out of your stock every time but my few pennies -worth may be useful.

Do Your Research – One of the first fairs I ever did was a craft market as part of a Father’s Day event at my local food hall. They sell local produce, have a garden centre and at the time a small cafe. It’s expanded a lot since then but you get the idea. There were a few things that worked against me selling my wares at this event. Firstly I was surrounded by crafts people who made terracotta plant labels, handmade quilts and wood turners, the visitors didn’t seem to “get” my work because it didn’t fit with the usual idea of “crafts”. Also, because the market was part of another event where all the attractions were free, people were less keen to take their wallets out. They didn’t come to the event with the intention of spending money.

Make sure you find out about the event before you commit to it.

Plan Your Stall – Mock up how your stall will look before you get to the event. you want to make sure you take enough display equipment, stands and signs. Display your products on different levels so it doesn’t look too flat, draw your customer’s eye to the items you want to promote by making them prominent within your stall.

Price Everything – There is nothing more off putting for a customer than to have to ask how much something is. Most people don’t want to offend you by putting something back if it was more than they intended to pay. That doesn’t mean your prices are wrong necessarily, it might just reflect how much is in their purse that day.

Understand Your Customers – This is a difficult trick but you need to learn which people you can talk to and interact with and which ones just want to be left along to browse in peace. This comes from practice. Always look friendly and happy to talk if they want to speak to you. Don’t sit behind your stall looking miserable, even if you’re not having a good day!

Stay Positive – There is often no rhyme or reason to why you might be having a bad day with sales. I’ve even had really successful Christmas markets (you think you’d be able to see anything at that time of year) and very slow ones too. Sometimes it’s your day and sometimes it isn’t. Don’t beat yourself up too much about it.

And one for the market organisers, they can’t plan the weather, no matter how good they are. I’ve attended markets in September when the weather has been scorching and everyone has gone to the beach instead of shopping. What can you do eh? Stay positive!

Promote Yourself – Make sure you have a big sign so people know who you are. Customers may not purchase from you on the day of the fair but will think of you when looking for a gift in the future. Keep your business cards well stocked too, if they’re eye catching they’ll end up on fridges and noticeboards.

Promote The Market – Get on your social media, tell your friends, put posters up and spread around the flyers. Support the market by telling all the people you know about it and encouraging them to pass the word around too. If everyone does that, everyone’s potential sales will go up!

I organise craft and vintage markets in Ipswich as I Make Fun Stuff. For more information, visit our website.

 

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