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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Monthly tutorial: Mini album

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  • Cutting mat
  • ruler
  • craft knife
  • pencil
  • paint brush/glue spreader
  • PVA glue
  • mounting board
  • decorative/patterned paper

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Start by cutting out your pieces. You will need two large pieces measuring 8 x 11 cm, two smaller pieces at 1 x 11cm and 1.4 x 11cm, and a slightly larger piece at 3 x 11cm.

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Now you need to arrange your pieces in the following order, with the side you want to be covered facing up.

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Now to attach your pretty paper! Put a dollop of PVA glue in a jar and mix with a little water until smooth, and ‘paint’ a thin layer on each board.

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Use something with a smooth edge to press out any air bubbles.

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Flip your book the right-side up and fold over/neaten your edges, sticking down with more PVA.

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You’ll need to score your paper where it will bend to avoid it tearing. You can use something such as a knitting needle, or use a proper scorer.

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To close your book you can use magnets or Velcro. I opted for stick-on Velcro.

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Your book is almost complete! Now you need to insert your pages. There are many ways you can do this depending on what you’ll be using your book for. If you want a sketchbook, simply attach a blank pad (similar to this one – check sizing) or if you’re creating an album like I have you can opt for a concertina-style pull-out.

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Measure 28 x 14 cm of moderate-heavy density paper (as opposed to card) and score at even intervals. Optional: I added a decorative edge using a paper punch. You can find all sorts of these online and in craft stores.

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Apply glue dots or double-sided sticky tape to the part you will be sticking to your album board, and firmly press into place. Now add your photos!

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First review of the year: Creative Paper Cutting

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Full title: Creative Paper Cutting; fifteen paper sculptures to inspire and delight

Author: Cheong-ah Hwang

ISBN: 978 1 86108 9205

Publisher: GMC Publications Ltd

Price: RRP £14.99 (from £10.31 via Amazon)

About: 15 paper cutting projects aimed mainly at beginners and young people, with information on tools/materials.

Here’s what I loved:

♦ The book encourages ‘out of the box’ thinking, promoting the creation of: ‘intricate artworks that can adorn walls, be sent as greetings cards or encased in quirky containers, such as empty pocket watches, glass pendants or clocks’ (inner cover description)

♦ Cheong-ah promotes the use of recycled materials, mentioning it on several occasions, including in the interesting introduction, in which you can also detect her passion for her art.

♦ Unlike some art/craft books she doesn’t assume you that have prior knowledge of materials, with a good section of the book dedicated to explaining essentials such as paper weight and techniques, which brings me to my next point…

♦ Whilst some craft books jump straight in to the projects, Hwang takes you step-by-step through the processes before you even pick up your tools (another reason why I feel this book is more suited to young people and absolute beginners)

♦ The book is aesthetically pleasing. It’s something I mention often when reviewing, but it’s so important to draw the reader in and keep that interest. There’s an abundance of images, a huge colour element, and even a quirky font.

♦ The projects offer variety – from your everyday greetings card, to a plaque, and even an upcycled pocket watch project!

♦ There are also useful (and interesting) extras at the end of the book, such as websites to visit, book recommendations, and suppliers.

What I didn’t love so much…

◊ Some of the designs look very simplistic and child-like (such as ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and ‘Kraken and Submarine’) so if you’re already a paper cutting enthusiast this book probably isn’t for you. That being said, this would be a great book for absolute beginners to learn the ropes, and could be the gateway to some advanced designs. I imagine some of these projects working well in schools or with youngsters, particularly the ‘Coat of Arms’ project.

Conclusion:

Useful for some – beginners and those wanting to gain confidence in paper cutting, as well as offering some project ideas for young people. A light-hearted way to spend a rainy afternoon, rather than a serious reference for practising artists.

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Good news! I’ve just added some unique, ready-framed paper art of my own to my online shop. Click the picture to find out more…

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Micro Review: An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory

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Full title: An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

Author: Danny Gregory

ISBN: 978-1600610868

Publisher: HOW books (US)

Price: From £8.29 – £18.78

About: A look inside the sketchbooks and lives of 50 creatives, chosen by author Danny Gregory, acting more as a curator of inspirational material than traditional ‘author’.

Why buy?:

♥ Ideal for visual-minded people (the very people often interested in the subject matter in the first place) It appeals wonderfully to its target audience. A visual table of contents is one example of the thought put into the layout/aesthetic of the book.

♥ The contents is international, giving the impression of dedication on the author’s part to unearth the creme de la creme of the art & design world. From Scotland to Sweden, Gregory reaches across the globe to compile his top 50.

♥ I can liken the contents to pinterest – You pick this book up looking for ‘creative inspiration’ and are met with a mass of results all in one place. From sketchbook pages, to photographs of work spaces, it’s all inside the pages of this book!

♥ It’s not style-biased. Often our own preferences see us gravitating towards a certain style; in Gregory’s book you’ll find no such thing! The book includes everything from traditional children’s book illustration, to digital drawings such as those by Barry Gritt, and even more detailed work with a more ‘fine arty’ feel.

 

Where can I get it?

Aside from searching your local library, the book can be purchased at a reasonable price on Amazon. The book was published in the USA, but after having a search around I found it quite easy to source as it was distributed in the UK. Click below to find out more:

‘An Illustrated Life’ on Amazon

‘An Illustrated Life’ on ebay

Creativity inspires creativity

‘House by the Railroad’, ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’,’The Goldfinch’…what do all these paintings have in common? The fact that they inspired someone enough to fuel their own inspiration, and create a whole narrative.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been considering the way in which we view art and allow our thoughts and impressions to create meaning beyond that intended by the artist. It cast my mind back to my dissertation, titled: ‘Forms of perception: To what extent does our physiology influence our interpretation of symbolic images in comparison to learnt cultural influences?’It’s interesting to see how one persons interpretation of a scenario can differ so vastly from another, which is exactly what happened last week when my writing group was presented with Georges Seurat’s ‘A Sunday on La Grande Jatte’ (1884).

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With the majority of us having limited background knowledge on the piece (therefore being influenced  by contextual aspects only to a very small degree) the way in which each individual ‘read’ what was happening in the scene differed from person to person.

Last week I took you on a tour of my work space, including my ‘inspiration wall’, which contains many art postcards. The images that make it to my wall all have one thing in common: they take me somewhere else. They’re not just images, they’re visual stories which set my mind on a path to either imagined places, or evoke a feeling or memory. Below are some wonderful works from very talented artists whose work sets you wondering about the story behind the image. (Please click title links for full size and additional info)

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‘Dark Forest’

Nick Tripiciano

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‘Under the Table’

Dario Mekler

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‘Tribute to Debi Bismarck’

Dustin Panzino (Inkwell Illustration)

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And my own work open for interpretation: ‘One for Sorrow‘ Oil & pencil.

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Did you guess the books/movie linked with the artwork mentioned in the beginning?

‘House by the Railroad’ 1925 by Edward Hopper is said to have inspired the Bates house in Psycho.

‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ 1665 by Johannes Vermeer inspired the novel of the same name by Tracy Chevalier and was later turned into a film.

‘The Goldfinch’ 1654 by Carel Fabritius inspired the book of the same name by Donna Tartt.

Monthly review – handstitching guide books

I spent months reading reviews and borrowing from libraries in the search for the ultimate hand-stitching guide! I wanted something that I could use as a reference that covered all the essentials, but without bogging you down with dense descriptions. Finally my search was over when I discovered Margaret Rowan’s ‘The Complete Guide to Handstitching & Embellishing Techniques’. If you too are looking for a sewing guide to last you a lifetime, your search may be over…

 

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Details

Full title: Stitch! The Complete Guide to Handstitching & Embellishing Technique –  The creative guide for dressmakers and needlecrafters that takes your work to a new level

Author: MargaretRowan

ISBN978-1-86351-453-8

PublisherSally Milner Publishing Pty Ltd (2013)

So, what sets this book apart from the thousands of other sewing books? Plenty! Unlike the majority of modern publications, Rowan’s book is dedicated solely to hand-stitching, with not a sewing machine in sight! and what’s more is that the author somehow manages to make the book suitable for all abilities. Many of the books I read used terms that would only be familiar to experienced sewers, whilst Rowan maintains an un-daunting, reader-friendly stance throughout. That’s not to say this book is geared solely towards beginners; whilst it’s an excellent place to start (covering all of what I deem ‘essentials’ from which needles to select, to how to prepare fabric – details often left out in books of the same genre) the book is clearly divided into logical, clear stages, from ‘tools and equipment’ in Chapter 1 ‘stitching essentials’ , progressing to ‘functional stitches’ in chapter 2, and advancing to ‘decorative stitches’ in chapter 3. What I particularly like is the ‘stitch selector’ at the beginning of the book, which visual examples of each stitch covered in the book, along with a ‘skill level’. Depending on where you feel you are in ability, you can skip to where you feel you are, or if you’re a seasoned pro just double-checking which technique is best to use for your current project, you can dip in and out and use the book as a reference.

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The layout of the book is one of the best I’ve come across, with no ‘information overload’ that you sometimes come across. There are several clear, colour images to demonstrate the technique/stitch, with clearly numbered steps, and a side-bar style panel which reminds you of the skill level, tools and materials you’ll need, and usefully some extra notes.

The books aesthetic is on a par with its functionality, with close-ups of the stitch/technique in the corner being decorative and also useful.

Another thing I found impressive about the book is that there are lots of useful extras in the ‘Resources’ section near the back. Again, Rowan pays attention to the ‘nitty gritty’ without bogging the reader down. This book itself is a manual on how to complete an entire sewing project, whereas usually you would have to consult various sources. From a ‘pressing guide’ to an ‘estimating fabric requirements’ chart,  this book covers it all, somehow squeezing it all into 256 pages (including contents, index etc). You will even find a ‘Directory of Motifs’ (designed by Kelly Fletcher) in chapter 4, covering everything from nature to celebrations and lettering.

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However, whilst I highly recommend adding this book to your collection (it’ll be the only one you need!) availability in the UK is sorely limited, and very difficult to track down at a reasonable price. But I can honestly say that the search will be worth it!

 

You can read more about this book by visiting the publishers page here: Sally Milner Publishing

Taking Great Photos – Quick book review

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Title: The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos: Foolproof techniques to make your handmade creations shine online

Author: Heidi Adnum

Publisher: Search Press Ltd (21st Dec 2011)

Price: £12.99

Are you a crafter looking to show off your work online? Or perhaps an artist wanting to show your work in it’s best light? Whether you’re a complete novice in the world of photography, or are an old hand just looking for tips and ideas on brushing up your skills, then this is the book for you!

Organised into logical chunks and divided by craft (for example ‘fashion & fabrics’ and ‘knitting & needle craft’) the book is easy to navigate your way around, whilst also having the benefit of visual examples to accompany written instructions, for those of us who learn better by demonstration rather than text alone.

However, to fully understand the layout I strongly recommend scanning the contents pages before you begin (something often overlooked in eagerness to ‘get stuck in’) as subjects such as ‘light’ are found not only in the ‘camera basics’ section, but also further on in the ‘DIY accessories tutorials’ section, which without understanding the layout could cause confusion.

What’s wonderful about the book is that, unlike some photography books, it’s not automatically assumed that the reader has extensive, or even further than a basic understanding of photography, and guides you step-by-step, from the very beginning (getting to grips with a camera) to the very end (editing, uploading, and generally making use of your photos).

The book also includes interviews with practitioners who work within each subject area, for example knitting, and presents relevant questions. This allows beginners to learn from other’s experiences, saving time spent ‘hitting and missing’ – this has already been done for you! and the resulting conclusions/tips there for the taking.

The book also takes into consideration cost, meaning it’s in-tune with the reality of the often limited budget of artists and crafters. What you spend on purchasing this book, you could potentially save on photography equipment. The section ‘DIY accessories tutorials’ offers relatively simple and low-effort (not to mention inexpensive) ways of creating everything from a tripod, to a light tent and light box.

My second recommendation is to arm yourself with a pen and notepad and take notes as you read, as there are so many useful hints and tips throughout. After reading the book I came away with several pages of useful advice. Below are my top 5 favourite:

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  1. Read your camera manual! (yes, it may sound obvious, but we’re often so eager to get started with our gadgets that we fail to consult the manual. Learn the modes/settings on your camera)
  2. Plan your shoot beforehand
  3. To show the scale of your fabric, use items involved in the making, for example, dressmaker’s scissors
  4. You can add ‘value’ to your photo by using your own packaging and props
  5. Make use of what’s around you – try shooting in a forest or somewhere industrial

 

This book is available on Amazon .

 

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