From The Studio

Making New Patterns

I have a ‘to paint’ list pinned to my notice board in my studio. But I’ve found that while having a list can be useful, it can be overwhelming deciding where to start because that list is SO long!

My list is organised into categories, one of which is ‘patterns’. I think my pattern ideas have been sitting there for over a year untouched, so this year I thought it was high time to tackle this part of the list.

I spent the last few weeks working on two new patterns, both using my existing artwork and painting new elements. I am so thrilled about how they turned out. I wasn’t confident with making patterns but my confidence is growing after collecting inspiration, reading helpful articles about pattern making, like this post by lovely Natalie, and ultimately throwing myself in at the deep end.

I am excited to carry on with this project creating more patterns. So far, I’ve made Woodland, Butterfly, and Leafy. You’ll see them popping up on new products on my shop in the near future, including the new notebooks I will launch this week!

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Love My Dress Feature

I am very excited to see that one of my clients had their stunning bohemian outdoor wedding featured on Love My Dress. Their wedding photos were taken by Ashton Jean-Pierre and their wedding was held in the land of beautiful Maunsel House that has doves and peacocks in the gardens. The Wilde Bunch made all the gorgeous floral decorations and also the flower crown for the bride.

Last year, Lisanne and Andre asked me to design wedding stationery for them. I had designed some wedding invitations before that and enjoyed the challenge that comes with it – making sure that the design elements are consistent throughout the stationery, developing new styles of lettering and ensuring that clients are completely happy with the stationery for their special day.

For this commission, I had the opportunity to design not only invitations but also the table plan, food menus, name place cards, thank you postcards and signs. Lisanne and Andre were looking for a dreamy watercolour effect across the stationery, and pretty handlettering accented with curls. They also wanted the invitation to be an illustrative ‘map’ showing how they met at school, and then their individual paths through life while still being together, rejoining at the ivy covered manor with peacocks and pond where they were having their wedding.

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Reflecting on 2017 & My Word For 2018

In the first week of 2018, I found myself still clinging onto my Christmas break. I spent my Christmas in London with family (and a new arrival, my nephew Victor!) and then chilled to the max for a few days, which was really nice after consecutive weekend markets through December that left me feeling frazzled. I wasn’t ready to face the world, social media, etc. I am sure many of you will sympathise!

Last week I came out of my shell and I am beginning to get back into the swing of things. It helped that I received a wholesale order and an online sale, which gave me a push to emerge into reality! I started to think about what I want to accomplish this year, while reflecting on my 2017.

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My Ceramic Journey

You may recall that I started making things with air dry clay about two years ago. I enjoy it so much that I find time in the evenings and at weekends to do my clay projects. Some time this year I found myself dissatisfied with my tried-and-tested materials – I longed for that shine we see in ceramics, and greater strength. I also wanted my work to be guaranteed food-safe and waterproof. I have been playing with the idea to build a ceramic collection for my shop, or when I hold a stall, but I don’t feel comfortable selling crockery made of air dry clay so I decided to look into firing my creations instead.

I found a local kiln firing service about 30 minutes drive away, and got a batch of small bowls, dishes, pots, and a mug – a very wonky mug! – bisque fired for the first time. I was very pleased that they came out well, and couldn’t wait to start decorating them.

Painting with underglazes turned out to be quite time consuming. They don’t have quite the same effect as acrylic paint, the application needs several coats to be apparent and I got the impression from ceramic websites that it is normal.

That was around the beginning of September. While painting my first batch, I had the idea that I could try selling ceramic Christmas decorations on my stalls. It is usually easier to judge how well my products are selling in person than on my shop so I wanted to grab the opportunity. I made some circle and star shapes with the help of cookie cutters. The bisque fire went well except for one breakage and then I spent two evenings painting the pieces. Then it was my first time getting my glazed work fired. I was very nervous!

It turned out I was right to be worried. They didn’t come out as I imagined them to look like. There were no serious cracks or explosions in the kiln, but they simply didn’t have that ceramic shine I wanted and the underglazes didn’t look right. I had thrown myself in the deep end not knowing much about ceramics, and I had to find out why they looked dull. After googling I suspect that they were under-fired or I didn’t apply enough overglaze for them to mature in the kiln.

I was extremely deflated. I realised that I picked a hobby that is expensive and challenging. But I am prepared to persist!

I recently found out that there is another local kiln firing service 5-10 minutes drive away – it is either new or I missed it in my original research! So I will be firing my next batch (hopefully with better glaze application) at that place to see if the outcome is the same or not.

I have asked for a good ceramic advice book for Christmas and hope I have better luck next time! Off I go to continue painting my first batch…

Previous posts: Part 1Part 2 | Part 3