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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Quick update

Lately I’ve been allowing myself some more creative freedom, which is really refreshing. I’ve mentioned before trying to get away from the focus on a piece of work being ‘good’ and allow myself to just create. This week I’ve been working on part of my Children’s Illustration course that emphasises the use of texture, rather than solid outlines. I’ve been allowing myself to just go with my instinct and find I’m enjoying the act of creating much more than if I were worrying about how ‘good’ it should be.

I’ve also been experimenting with decoupage during my one-to-one volunteering through the Alzheimer’s Society. I really feel that creativity can have a beneficial effect on people and can be very therapeutic. For me, combining music with creativity helps me experience what’s called ‘flow’ – when you’re utterly immersed in what you’re doing – especially with classical music. As someone who has experienced difficulties with my mood I can really appreciate the benefits of making creativity a regular part of life for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety.

As well as art and crafts I used to write a lot of poetry, although the urge had left me for quite a while until the other day. I find writing poetry a good way of immediately letting out emotion and I’m happy to be inviting more forms of creativity back into my life.

With Easter just around the corner this is the perfect excuse to let your creative self out!

Happy creating!

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Monthly tutorial: Spring decorations

This month I’m showing you how to make your own spring decorations. These clay butterflies are super easy to make and would make a lovely handmade gift for someone.

You will need:

  • Polymer clay in two or more colours (such as Fimo or Premo)*
  • Thin ribbon or embroidery thread
  • A small rolling pin (or even a pencil will do!)
  •  Something to make holes (such as a large safety pin)
  • A cookie cutter

* A more eco-friendly alternative to polymer clay is air-dry clay. I’ve noticed it now even comes in different colours, take a look at hobbycraft’s selection here: link

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Step 1

Take a chunk of each of your coloured clays and warm them between your hands until pliable. Roll your clay into a sausage shape and twist, working the clay until you get a marbled effect.

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Step 2

Roll your clay out evenly using your rolling pin and place your cookie cutter over the clay, before pressing down firmly.

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Step 3

Carefully pull away the excess clay (save this, you can use it to make unique beads!)

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Step 4

Poke a hole in the top of your shape (depending on your shape you may need two) and thread some colourful embroidery thread or ribbon through and knot the ends.

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Handmade Easter gift guide

It’s official, spring is here, which means Easter is just on the horizon. Instead of chocolate or something mass produced, why not get something unique with the added benefit of supporting small business and creative individuals? I’ve been scouring Folksy and Etsy to find you some great Easter alternatives!

Cards

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I love print so this card really appealed to me. I like the use of bright, cheerful colours and the detail on the eggs. You can find this and other beautiful cards here: Louise Slater Cards & Prints

 

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If you have a few people you want to send a special card to this ‘Trio of Lambs’ set is perfect. I’d actually frame one of these and have it in my kitchen. You can find this set along with many more goodies here: Bear Print Design

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This design is simple yet effective. This is another one I’d like to frame and put on my wall. I love that this card is also eco friendly, even down to the biodegradable protective sleeve it comes in. Find this card and eco friendly offerings here: Hayley Potter Studio

Decorations

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How sweet is this ceramic bunny decoration? Hand cut by the talented Sarah Duke, this decoration is just one of many gorgeous items in her online shop (inluding the egg decoration below!). Visit: Dottery Pottery

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These make a good change from the usual eggs/chicks/bunnies you find at Easter and would also make a lovely gift! You’ll find all sorts of stained glass creations in Handmade by Joolz (I’m loving her stained glass flowers!)

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Gifts

Every little girl (or boy of course!) will love this super cute bunny bag. Made from quality 100% cotton in the UK. You could fill it or give it as a gift on its own. You can find it, along with other sewn goodies here: Sarahjane Sewing

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I love this quirky brooch, which can be worn all year not just as Easter. This would be great for a loved one and arrives boxed. This was made in the UK by Ellen McCabe who runs Willowgifts on folksy. Her shop is well stocked with all sorts of ceramic gifts, from beautiful plant pots to unique buttons.

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This would be the ideal gift for that person in your life who celebrates the seasons or follows Celtic traditions. This intricate brooch comes ready to gift, wrapped in tissue and a pouch (though I’d be very tempted to keep it for myself!) You can find this item along with Shron’s other metalwork in her online shop: Archives Crafts

 

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More wonderful metalwork! This cute bunny is made using sterling silver and copper and is cut by hand. It comes in a gift box and a silver chain is included. You can find more unique jewellery in Silver Birch Studio online shop.

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Next week I’ll be bringing you some inspiration with my Spring craft tutorials, perfect if you want to give something specially made!

Last minute Mother’s Day make

If you had your heart set on something handmade this Mother’s Day but left it a little too late to order anything, why not try making your own? This month’s tutorial shows you how to make a simple decoration and is suitable for anyone who can use back-stitch. This can also be done on a sewing machine but I find it relaxing to work by hand.

You will need:

 

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  • Pink felt (you can choose whatever colour your mum will like)
  • sew-on decorative elements
  • embroidery thread (or ribbon) in keeping with your colour scheme
  • Cotton (I used a stand-out colour for a decorative effect, you can use same colour as your felt if you like)
  • scissors
  • pins
  • Cookie cutter or template
  • Stuffing (you can use pillow stuffing but all items should be available in HobbyCraft)
  • Optional: essential oils

Step 1

Fold your felt in half and draw around your shape with tailors chalk (available super cheap from craft stores)

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Step 2

Pin inside your outline and cut out your shape.

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Step 3

Separate your two pieces and position your embellishments where you’d like them before pinning into place and sewing.

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Step 4

Place your two pieces together and pin into place, leaving a gap at the top to stuff/insert your embroidery thread or ribbon.

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Step 5

Back-stitch (or machine sew) around the edge of your shape (remember to leave a gap for stuffing)

Step 6

Get bits of your stuffing and start filling your heart. If you want to you can add some essential oil. I used lavender. Carefully use a pencil to push the stuffing in and make sure it’s evenly distributed before sewing up the gap.

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This idea is highly adaptable. You can attach all sorts of things, even add beads for a bit of sparkle. Craft shops usually have ready-made shapes for you to buy so you can skip the delicate cutting out and get straight to the sewing.

 

 

Resurrecting the old

Recently my focus has been a bit all over the place when it comes to where to direct my creative energy. I’ve been dipping into my children’s illustration course then reviving old projects and feeling the need to work on those. Over a year ago I started an autobiographical piece that after a bereavement I felt unable to complete. I thought that that would be that, I’d never have the inclination to finish the piece as it reminded me of a difficult time in my life. However, the other day the urge to get back in to some….forgive me for this term….’serious’ art overwhelmed me.

It’s been a little while since I did what people in my life know me for, which is more fine art (not including the still life we had to do for one of the units in my course). As some of you may know over the past year I’ve been turning my focus more to less precise work and embracing the freedom of illustration but I do miss that feeling I get when I get really engrossed in detail. I’m having mixed feelings about beginning work on this piece again but I have this feeling that right now I’m supposed to be out-letting some emotion with it.

The other project I’ve brought out again is one I worked on years ago after the loss of my beautiful Springer Spaniel. Wanting to create something good from something bad I used the box her ashes came in to create a piece of work that had meaning behind it. I called it ‘The Fairy House’, but in a way it’s like a memorial piece. A lot of the materials I used represent something meaningful.

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‘The Fairy House’ by Hanna-Mae Williams

 

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‘The Fairy House’ by Hanna-Mae Williams

In addition to the box that made the main structure of the house I used twigs collected from places I visited regularly with my dog. The field I used to walk in with my Nan (who has also now passed), moss which I dried from places we’d also walked, and even the shells on the roof have their own story. Many years ago on freecycle someone was advertising a box of craft materials that had belonged to their late wife. They wanted them to go to good use as his wife had spent many hours enjoying crafting with them. I promised they would and so they became part of the Fairy House.

Some of the elements are handmade too; I used polymer clay to make tiny mushrooms that are ‘growing’ out of the roof, the blanket in the shell bed was knitted and the little pillow was a section of an old teatowel that I embroidered. A lot of work went into this project, yet for the past year the Fairy House has been sat in a shed. Now feels like the time to tidy it up a bit and decide where it belongs.

I’m enjoying my volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society and am incorporating my love of craft and all things creative into the session I’m doing. I feel like getting creative can have a positive effect on our wellbeing, even if only for the time we’re doing it.

I’m yet to visit the Da Vinci exhibition in Cardiff (I mentioned in my last blog about the nation-wide exhibitions that were being held to mark the 500th anniversary of his death) but as it’s running until the beginning of May there’s still plenty of time to get there. Since I started researching the Italian Renaissance during my A levels (13 years ago) I’ve had an interest in the subject and artists from that time. I love the use of symbolism and considered using this era in my dissertation but opted for the Symbolist Movement (late 19th century)…you can see why.

This week I’m allowing myself to just be creative in whatever way I feel. How much I create and how much I engage with my work is often dependent on how I’m feeling. This week I’m feeling in need of some freedom, to outlet emotions with whatever project feels right at the time.

 

 

 

Monthly tutorial: St David’s Day

For those of you not from Wales you still may have heard of St David’s Day but not know much about it. Saint David’s Day is the feast of Saint David, patron Saint of Wales, and is celebrated on the 1st March as this is the day he’s said to have died in 589 AD. Today we mark the occasion in different ways, including wearing our national emblems the leek and the daffodil. Schools often hold concerts and special assemblies and I remember being so excited to wear my traditional Welsh lady outfit to school. As this special day is coming up soon, I’m dedicating this month’s creative tutorial to it and will be showing you how to make a decorative pinwheel daffodil. I got the idea from when I helped out at a children’s summer art school where we made paper summer flowers and have adapted it to fit this specific occasion.

Decorative Pinwheel Daffodils

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You will need:

  • Light yellow thick paper
  • Darker yellow (or orange) thick paper
  • A yellow or orange button
  • A split pin
  • Glue
  • Glue dots (or strong double-sided tape)
  • Thick craft wire
  • Any tape (I used masking tape)
  • Green beads (optional)
  • Green floral tape (optional)

Start by cutting out two squares from your papers. I cut mine to 10x10cm but you can make them larger or smaller depending on how big you want your pinwheel.

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Draw a line from corner to corner on each piece of paper and mark 2cm from the centre on each line.

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Cut from the edge up to the 2cm mark and stick the lighter paper on to the darker paper using glue dots.

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Now you need to start folding your edges over. Start at the top and alternate. You need to bend to the right and stick the end with a glue dot until you have the shape below.

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Make a hole through your pin wheel and secure with a split pin.

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Take your wire and cut to the desired length. You can get coloured wire or you can jazz up plain wire by wrapping floral tape around it and adding some beads. Leave a little of the end unwrapped so you can push it into the ground. Attach to the back of your pinwheel using tape.

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Use all purpose glue to attach your button to cover the split pin. This step is optional but I like the look it gives.

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These pinwheels are decorative so don’t spin, but they look beautiful placed in plant pots. You can get creative with your pinwheels and add glitter glue or use any colour paper you want. All the materials used for this tutorial are available in Hobbycraft.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

Monthly tutorial: Fun paper projects

Before Christmas I promised I’d show you some crafty ways of making use of that mountain of wrapping paper that inevitably amasses after Christmas day. If you’ve recycled your paper already (some papers can’t be recycled, see last months post here: link) this is a good way to use up those annoying bits that are too good to recycle but that clutter up your wrapping stash.

Please forgive my less than perfect photos, my 8 year old digicam has served me well but I have a suspicion it’s on its way out!

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You can easily find origami tutorials online and your library may even stock some books. If your new years resolution was to try a new craft, what better excuse to give it a go? This works best with thicker wrapping papers.

Another craft you may enjoy (and which I find very relaxing) is decoupage. You can buy special materials such as decoupage papers and glue/sealer but really all you need is some thin wrapping paper and PVA glue. It’s so simple you can get stuck in without much preparation. The Range stock extremely reasonable wooden shapes. I’ve used a little wooden birdhouse.

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You will need:

  • Your base shape (such as my birdhouse)
  • Scrap wrapping paper
  • PVA glue
  • A paintbrush
  • A container with a little water in

Instructions

  1. Tear your wrapping paper into small pieces
  2. Mix a little bit of water in a pot with a blob of PVA glue (make sure to stir well until fully mixed)
  3. Paint a thin layer of your PVA mix onto one area of your shape and put bits of wrapping paper over it
  4. Paint over with your PVA mix
  5. Keep layering and painting on glue until you’ve finished the entire shape
  6. Put somewhere to dry

Useful Tips

  • Don’t mix your glue with too much water or your paper won’t lay flat
  • Smooth the paper as you go along to get rid of any lumps and bumps (yes, you will get a little messy!)

 

This is great to do with children as it’s simple and your get results quite quickly. The next how-to is also fun to do with slightly older children but again be prepared for gluey fingers!

Paper beads

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You will need

  • Left over/scrap wrapping paper
  • cocktail sticks or kebab skewers
  • PVA glue

Instructions

  1. Mix a small amount of water with PVA glue
  2. Cut strips of wrapping paper approx 1/2 cm in width (the length you use will depend on how layered/thick your beads will be)
  3. Get one of your skewers/cocktail sticks and loosely wrap your paper once, fixing it with a dab of glue (try to avoid getting too much glue on the wood or you won’t be able to get your bead off later!)
  4. Continue to build up, adding a coating of glue as you go and smoothing out gently with your fingers
  5. Once you reach the end of your paper strip, make sure the outside has a coating of glue and either put your bead stick somewhere to dry or continue using it
  6. Leave until completely dry (the glue will have given your beads a slight gloss and hardened them up) then gently twist to get your bead off the stick.

Tips & Notes:

There are two ways you can make your beads, either tapered at the ends or just even. To get a tapered effect (like the red beads above) your beads will be a bit longer as you need to work from one side to the other. The easiest way is to just keep rolling your paper up, but once you’ve practised a little you can start trying other ways of wrapping.

This works best with brighter, patterned paper and you can use this method with fabric too. Get creative and try wrapping bright threads around your beads!

The most useful tip is to NOT WRAP TOO TIGHTLY around your cocktail stick/skewer as you won’t be able to get your bead off. I made this mistake myself when I started learning to make paper beads but you’ll soon get the hang of learning just the right ‘hold’ on the stick.

Whilst I waited for my wrapping paper beads to dry, I made a bracelet using some paper and fabric beads I’d already wrapped before. For these I used scraps of handmade paper, felt scraps, recycled sari material and even some left over paper I’d been stamping on (rubber stamping that is! Not foot stamping!)

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Tis the season…to get creative

Here in sunny Wales it’s been raining for over a week! Although soggy strolls with my dog and taking refuge in coffee shops have been welcome excursions out of the house I’ve been enjoying finishing off my Christmas card design. I’m happy with the finished product and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my order from the printers.

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Final card design, water mixable oils.
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Edited design 1 (pre-made digital background)
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Edited design 2 (pre-made digital overlay/text)

I feel it was worth taking time over the colour palette as it all ties together nicely. If you missed last months tutorial: ‘Developing your ideas’ you can read about how to tie all your ideas together: link

As my old neighbour (‘old’ as in from my previous home) has been so kind to me this year I decided I would also get a mug printed using my design and give it to her as a Christmas gift.

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Now that I’ve got my Christmas cards sorted I’m focusing on a sewing project for my best friend’s nephew. I finally have an excuse to use up the stash of felt sheets I’ve been hanging on to for a while and am working on hand-sewing a personalised pouch (with lion pocket on the front) filled with wild animal finger puppets.  So far I’ve finished an elephant, a panda, and a tiger. As a long-term vegan I feel it’s important to know all about what I’m using; where the material/food/cosmetics etc I’m using are sourced and the process behind creating them. As some of you may know vegans generally avoid using any animal-related products, one being wool. It’s up to each individual what they choose to avoid/use but I believe in the importance of making informed decisions. You can read all about wool and the ethical issues behind it in my up-front guide here (click to view) : ‘Loom knitting for beginners and your guide to ethical knitting’

Although I’ll be using my own cards this year I have purchased a special one from a talented individual for the owners of a gorgeous little cockapoo who my own dog is in love with! The likeness is uncanny and if you’re looking for some unique dog-inspired art or cards for that dog lover in your life then MindfulDogCo is the shop for you! Run by the talented Imogen who’s based in Southampton, you can find her online shop here: link

 

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Christmas card from MindfulDogCo

Christmas is such a wonderful excuse to get creative, from card making to baking and making your own gifts. Next week I’ll be showing you how to use your leftover wrapping paper and turn it into something beautiful!

 

Happy creating!

Monthly tutorial: Halloween treat bag

Halloween is coming up so this month I’ll be showing you how to sew your own mini drawstring treat bag. As my blog followers will know I’m a huge fan of recycling/upcycling material (take a look at my eco wear: link) so when I was given a stash of random bits of material I was keen to get stuck in and get sewing again. I hand-sew all my items as I like the control and the feeling that i’m really engaging with what I’m doing. I also feel that hand sewing can be therapeutic due to the repetitive motion and concentration it requires but this bag can be done using a sewing machine if you don’t have much time. Some materials are easier to work with than others. Generally speaking thinner cotton fabric is quite easy to work with. The spiderweb material I used had a lycra-esque quality to it which made it difficult to work with, for this tutorial I recommend sticking to non stretchy fabrics.

You will need:

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♦ A cutting mat (optional but useful!)

♦ Fabric scissors

♦ Fabric marker/pencil

♦ Pins

♦ Sewing needle

♦ Cotton thread (in colours matching your material)

♦ A piece of material measuring at least 32 x 18 cm

♦ A piece of contrasting material measuring at least 32 x 8cm

♦ 2 pieces of ribbon approx. 32cm

Step 1

You’re going to need to cut out two pieces of material for the main part of your treat bag. Using a fabric marker/pencil, mark out two rectangles measuring 16 x 18 cm and cut out.

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Step 2

For your casing you’ll need to cut out two rectangles measuring 16 x 8cm.

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Step 3

To give a neat edge, fold shorter ends of your casing over 1cm and pin in place before sewing. I used basic backstitch.

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Step 4

Pin your larger pieces of fabric together around three edges (2 long edges,1 short) with the wrong sides facing. Sew with 1cm seam allowance and turn the right way.

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Step 5

Take your casing pieces and fold in half so you can see the neat side of your stitching. At this point if you have time it’s good to press your pieces with an iron but as I had limited time I skipped this step. It just makes your material more well behaved and neat. Pin your folded pieces to the top of your bag (raw edges at the top)

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Step 6

It’s up to you how far down you wanht to sew, the further down you sew the less of the contrasting material you’ll be able to see and bear in mind you’ll need to be able to get your ribbon through. As I had a gap at the top of my material where the spiderweb pattern stopped I chose to sew quite low down, just above half way but anything 1cm or over is fine (providing you can fit your ribbon through).

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Step 7

Turn your casing in. This is also a good time to press your material to keep your joins/edges crisp. Please remember that some fabrics can only be pressed at a very low heat though! Stretchy fabrics can actually melt. If you’re using cotton as recommended this isn’t a problem.

Step 8

Attach a safety pin to the end of your ribbon and feed it through the gap you’ve made with the casing.

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And there you have it, your own unique Halloween treat bag! This pattern is so versatile, it can be used for any occasion, including Christmas and birthdays. You can alter the sizes to make a smaller or larger bag and is a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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