Finding Inspiration In Greenhouses

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I’ve been painting greenhouses! As a plant lover, I naturally enjoy visiting greenhouses and last year I decided that I want to create more greenhouse paintings for my shop. So I’ve made efforts to visit more, and most recently made a day trip to the University of Leicester Botanic Garden to visit theirs!

I collected all the best greenhouse photos I have taken and picked one to paint. It was daunting to get started and I procrastinated because I wasn’t confident I would be able to pull it off, but a few weeks ago I sat down at my painting table, ignored the Fear, and got finally started. Looking back I wish I had just got stuck in instead of putting it off for so long!

The end result two days later was a confusion. It was a mixture of:

Did I paint it?
I like it but I don’t like it either.
I beat my Fear?
This is not my style?
Wow, I really painted a scene!

After getting some feedback from my partner and Instagram followers, I came around and now I feel that it is a lovely piece. Because of popular demand I decided to get it printed, so it is now available as A4 and A3 prints!

Last week I painted a Cacti Scene from another of my greenhouse snaps. I had a dilemma whether to add a background or not… and I haven’t decided yet! Here’s hoping that I continue to push Fear aside and paint more greenhouses. I am excited to see how this collection will grow.

Plants Are Magic Illustration

Today I am excited to share an art process video of my Plants Are Magic illustration.

I painted Plants Are Magic a couple of weeks ago. The idea of painting an illustration based on this phrase has been floating around in my head since last year, and I decided to finally sit down and translate the idea to paper. What I have created is not quite what I envisaged, which does happen often with all the ideas I don’t act on quickly enough – my expectations have changed and the ‘fresh eyes’ are gone. At the end of the day though, I still love it!

To my surprise, when I did my usual routine of sharing the illustration on my socal media and collecting feedback, this illustration received a whopping 800 likes, several comments, and shares from plant loving friends on Instagram.

I seldom record videos of my art process but I want to make more in the future. I thought it’d make a great way to connect with my audience and show how I paint my work, and interestingly it is also quite educational for me because watching myself paint makes me aware of how I navigate across the illustration and think about what I would do differently next time!

My 2018 & New Year Goals

I can’t get over how quickly 2018 seemed to pass. It seems to me that time goes faster as I get older, and last year is definitely the fastest year I’ve ever had!

I think it has to do with how hectic my year was. It’s not a bad thing at all – I just can’t recall when was the last time before Christmas that I had a moment to catch my breath, especially in the festive period when I had markets almost every weekend AND prepared to move house at the same time.

Buying a house is one of my biggest bits of news from last year! Aneurin and I also got engaged! I wanted a short engagement but we agreed to focus on the house first. Now that’s sorted out, whether we are going to have a wedding is on my mind and frankly, the thought of walking down an aisle does not do my anxiety any good, so I like the idea of eloping! Either way I really cannot wait to marry my love!

My 2018 word was “GROW”. My sales improved significantly in 2017 and I wanted to work harder on my shop, grow my product range, and partner with more stockists. That is exactly what I’ve done over the last year and I saw results from the hard work. I hoped for more stockists, and need to work on outreach and promotion, but I launched a lot of products in 2018 – a Valentine collection celebrating sign language and the Deaf community; wire bound notebooks; new collections of prints and cards; Plant Ladies and Potted Plants postcards; aptly named GROW tote bag; a weekly planner, and ceramics.

I am most excited about my ceramics – my first ever glaze fire in late 2017 flopped and it left me disheartened, but in the summer of 2018 I gave it another shot and tried another kiln firing place. This time my ceramics came out really nicely and they were fit for sale! I have had an overwhelmingly positive response to my ceramics, and while I still love designing stationery I’ve found I really enjoy the hand building aspect that comes with pottery, applying my illustration in different ways and bringing more one-of-a-kind pieces to my shop.

I am stumped what is my word of the year for 2019 and I haven’t come up with any new year’s resolutions either – but I do know that I want to be better at self care while I continue to grow my shop by carrying on what I am doing. I want to improve certain areas in my business, such as my online marketing and connecting with my audience through this blog and my mailing list. I am also looking forward to settling into my new home and studio. I am feeling optimistic about what this year will bring and excited to see what else I can pull out of my hat in my work!

Ways To Make Your Small Business Less Impactful To The Environment

I’ve become more and more environment conscious over the last few years. I was brought up to think about the environment and recycling everything, but since I started my product based business I have learnt a few new things. Since I started running my shop and selling products, wastage has become a pressing issue to me as a small business owner as well as good citizen. I am conscious of the material I use and am always trying to reduce my impact on the environment.


Use paper sticky tape instead of plastic

I started to use paper sticky tapes last year and am close to using up all my remaining plastic tape. I am pleasantly surprised at its strength, and resolve to use paper sticky tape for the rest of my life! I hear that some plastic tape lookalikes are actually biodegradable but it is best to buy them from plastic-free specialised shops, just to be sure.

Reuse your packaging

I keep all envelopes and boxes from my online orders, unless they are badly damaged, so I can use them again for shipping my shop orders and commissions. The bigger boxes are particularly useful when I receive wholesale orders!

I also collect newspapers, flyers, and takeaway menus coming through my letter box and use them as a void filler, instead of bubble wraps or polystyrene foam peanuts.

Use recycled packaging and materials

Sometimes there is specific packaging I need for my products so that I have to buy in bulk instead of reusing used boxes. I proactively seek out packaging that is made of recycled materials. 

It is the same case for the rest of my materials – envelopes, backing boards, tissue papers, paper stock, etc. 

Recycling bin in close proximity

Having a recycling bin right where you work makes it easier to remember to recycle!

Buy supplies locally

Reduce air pollution by ordering from manufacturing suppliers locally, so no aircraft and fewer motor vehicles are needed. I make efforts looking for suppliers starting with Nottingham or the Midlands, and then UK wide.

Go for recycled or FSC certified stock

This is not the most difficult thing to do because almost every paper supplier and manufacturer uses FSC certified stock, and some of them offer recycled options as well. I will choose recycled stock in a heartbeat but if there is no recycled options then FSC certified paper is okay.

Also, we small businesses tend to add a personal touch when packaging our orders so it is important to use the most eco-friendly stock available for business cards, thank you cards, complimentary slips, etc.

Where to shop?

Anything But Plastic
Eco-Craft
Lil Packaging
The Green Stationery Company
Tiny Box Company
Enviropack
Ethical Superstore
The Green Office


My business is certainly not perfectly sustainable. I am still learning and looking for better ways to reduce my impact to the environment.

I still wrap my cards with cello bags and am looking to transition to biodegradable ones. I still have bubble wrap but I reuse it to wrap my ceramics rather than disposing of them in landfill. I have some plastic based materials in my studio and I plan to use them until they run out. I then will find a better alternative rather than buying more of the same thing.

What steps have you taken or plan to take to make your small business eco-friendly?

Ceramic Update

It’s been a while since I last wrote about my ceramic journey. Feeling deflated about my last unsuccessful glaze fire, I hesitated to start decorating my new bisque wares and left them sitting in a box gathering dust. Then recently when I had a bit of free time, I thought it was a good time to face it and get it done. How else would I know what was wrong? I had to investigate. The glazes were not cheap to buy, I may as well use them up!

I used a different local kiln firing service to see if the outcome would be the same. Happily I found out that this was not the case. Yay!

The ceramic shine I’ve always aspired to worked on every single piece. The decorating glazes look better than the last batch, although not as vibrant as I hoped for but I think it is just the brand of the glazes. I was literally bobbing with delight when I saw them laid out on the table, looking back at me all shiny. In the words of the ceramicist who did the firing, they turned out “really charming”!

I will be using this kiln firing service from now on. It helps a lot that they have electronic controls on their kilns so they can fire quite accurately to what temperature my choice of overglaze needs. It’s also more convenient because that place is closer to get to.

In hindsight, I think I also applied a little thicker overglaze this time so it may contribute to the success of this fire.

All the research and experiments I’ve done for the last two years have at last paid off. I feel really inspired to carry on developing my ceramic collection and hope for a string of successful fires. I have some lovely ideas floating in my head I want to execute in the near future and I will keep sharing my stories here on the blog.

I am not quite where I want to be in terms of style and technique (still a newbie here!) but I felt ready to sell them and want to work hard on finding my style while I continue making things out of clay. So for the first time I sold them on my stall with Paperdolls Summer Market two Saturdays ago and I was elated to receive lots of positive comments and four of them were sold to very happy customers.

I’ve listed the remaining ceramics on the shop for very good prices, do check them out if you fancy getting your hands on a quirky ceramic – and thank you for enduring my ups and downs on this ceramic project of mine!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave