Monday, 23 April 2012

New Items in My Shop

Hi there!

I have just revamped, tweaked and breathed new life into my online shop. Please stop on by and check out some of the new things I have just put in there...and let me know what you think.

Everything I make comes from recycled, upcycled, reclaimed and previously loved materials. Most of the things I make are unique, one of a kind pieces...and everything is made right here in my London studio, with love and with you lovely folks in mind.

Love and Light

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Making Silk Cherry Blossoms for Springtime Goddesses


While Mother Nature has been busy whipping up thunder storms, pushing tulips out of the ground and peppering the trees outside with gorgeous blossoms, I have been inside all warm and cosy making some blossoms of my own.

These delicate little cherry blossoms have been individually cut, stiffened and pressed from the silk fabric from the sleeves of an old discarded wedding dress. All made up, they are like dainty little ballerinas eagerly waiting in the wing for their grand entry to dance around the heads of beautiful Springtime goddesses.

Love and Light


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Summer Dress Making

The summer dress making adventure has begun.

I have pretty much given up shopping because the clothes I want to wear are not in the shops. There are some brands I THIS, and THIS...and THIS. But there is often something that prevents me from having them such as size, or price...or location. I like obscure stuff and it's not always easy to just pop out and buy it. And to be honest, I just want something simple, flattering, different...and I don't want to spend any time worrying about what I'm going to wear.

So, some time ago I figured out what style and cut suits my shape and I designed a few dresses, cut and perfected the patterns, and I recreate these dresses each year. It may seem boring but there is a reason why I do this. I'm too busy thinking about art and creating things and smelling flowers, and watching birds, reading, dreaming up ideas, and planning my next project to worry about what to wear. I choose to spend my energy in other ways. Simplicity is key to a closet full of similar dresses and a few colorful cardigans, black leggings and my FitFlops is all I need.

Oh, and how could I forget? The flowers...always flowers somewhere on my body :-)

Love and Light


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Crepe Paper Bridal Bouquet

I don't know about you but when I think of crepe paper flowers I think of fiestas, back yard parties and grade school art projects. My mind's eye simply could not envision anything elegant coming from anything made from crepe paper. Then I get a private commission from a lovely bride who thinks outside the box. She is a vegan and a conservationist and a really swell chick and isn't afraid to go non-trad with her wedding. She wanted a paper roses to be exact.

So with my usual flower making techniques that I use when making fabric flowers, I set about making some out of paper. I tried different papers...experimenting with different thicknesses and colors as well as different types of roses. None came out like I wanted...they looked too 'crafty'...not elegant enough. Then I tried crepe paper.  What a gorgeous paper to work with. We all know someone who is chilled, happy, fun to be with and easy to get along with, who never gives you agro right? Well, that is crepe paper. It's yielding, fluid yet tough, pulls, stretches and does exactly as it's told. I love it. And it makes perfectly gorgeous and elegant flowers. (Note: Make sure you use the top quality Italian crepe paper. The cheap 'party streamer' kind is thin, looks cheap and rips easily).  The traditional rose I made looked too uptight so I decided to make a rose/peony hybrid...which is basically a peony petal template without the jagged top.

Each petal was hand cut, stretched and shaped and glued around a stamen, layer by layer, then reinforced with floral tape. I used a thick florist wire to start the making of the stamen then after I added a few layers of petals I added a 10" long pipe cleaner to the wire and then wrapped the two together with floral tape. This gives the stem some girth.

Oh, and I also made a matching button hole/boutonniere for the groom which will look good against his black suit. I am pretty pleased with the results and astonished at how real it looks. I'm now in love with crepe paper and can't wait to explore more ways of using it in flower making. I'd love to try it on flowers that are difficult to make with fabric...such as sweet peas or giant sunflowers. The only problem is sourcing decent colors here in the UK. Most of the quality crepe papers I have seen on offer are in bright or garish colors. Another challenge is...color runnage. If you use a bright color crepe paper to make flowers, please note that the color will run when it gets wet. If you are making a bridal bouquet, the bride must be told this so color doesn't get on her dress. Fortunately, the bride I am working with is aware of this and it didn't put her off the idea of big red roses! I'm also going to experiment with hand painting on white or ivory crepe paper and will keep you posted on the results.

Love and Light


Saturday, 14 April 2012

How I Work an Illustration

Hi there.

Lately I have had several different people ask me how I execute my artwork. How do I do my illustrations? What is the process like? Do I work digitally and what materials do I use? These are really good questions because I always wonder the same thing about other artists but I'm always too shy to ask them. I work alone, on my own in my studio which means I don't have the luxury of having other artists around to observe and learn from. There is no one for me to compare working styles with and I often wonder how 'normal' my way of working is. So I'm doing this post to show a little bit on how I work and maybe it will resonate with you too. All you computer whizzes out there may want to look away because I'm sure there is a much easier and quicker way to do all this and I can see you now screaming at me from your computer telling me to get a life and start living in this century.

I am a dinosaur when it comes to making my art. I went to art school in the 1980s. I was taught in a very traditional way. This was way before computers appeared on the scene and everything was done by hand. I work totally old school, in the same way I did back then. Is that sad?...or is it cool?...I haven't quite figured that one out yet. But, it's me and it's all I know. I do use a computer for basic things like research (thank goodness for Google Images), scanning, resizing I guess I'm not entirely clueless.

I always start an illustration or painting with an idea which then inspires my research. The research part is funnest part for me. It means I get to collect things and then organize them and then study them in their neat tidy little categories. I usually get out my books and magazines. I have been keeping a very organized image collection for years and years (I highly recommend this). I have thousands of pictures of things ranging from hands to fabrics to cars to patterns, color schemes and textures...all neatly filed away in folders. These are the most helpful tools I have in my studio. When I get stuck and can't draw something tricky (like folded hands or feet at a funky angle) and I don't have an image for it...I do a Google Image search and almost always find what I need.

Then I do some sketches...lots of things that may or may not go into the piece. I keep drawing until it starts to come together. Then I cut out the drawings and move them around the page until the composition looks right. I tape them down and then with tracing paper, do a tracing of the rough drawing. Then I work the drawing some more until it's ready. Now it's time to transfer the image to the paper I'm working on.

To transfer the traced image onto the surface I will be working on, I first rub the back of the traced image with the side of a very soft leaded a 6B or something. This leaves like a 'carbon' coating for the transfer. Then I turn the tracing paper over, tape it down and re-trace the image with a very hard and sharp pencil 6H. Once that is done, I rework (with pencil, usually 2H or HB) the transferred drawing by adding value and shading as well as focusing on making my line quality rich. I then paint some background layers, sand, scrape, rework...whatever it needs. In areas that are highly detailed, I will cut out that section of the traced image and put it where I need it and transfer the lines again by redrawing. I keep doing this until the piece is nearly done. I make sure I always use a very clean tissue under my hand because I am a Messy Marvin...I always seem to smudge graphite, paint, coffee or lipstick the tissue keeps my grubby hands from smearing stuff.

Once the piece is nearly done, I take a break from it. Go away from the studio for a snack or a walk...whatever. When I come back I look at it from a distance. This helps me to see if it's balanced and if the values are working. I often have to go back into it and either bump things up by adding some dark areas or soften things up if it looks too hard. My final steps usually are to add a little bit of black ink or gouache in areas that need detail or definition. Then I scan it. Then I reeeeeally push the boat out and tweak the colors and sizing on Photoshop.

So, that's it. I hope I didn't lose you because I can hear the crickets chirping. Heehee.
I'd like to do YouTube tutorials some day...but it's the dreaded technology learning curve...I need a technology makeover! Some day I would love to learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator too...properly.

Love and Light
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