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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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eco

Conscious gift giving

I have a couple of birthday’s coming up in June and I like to get gifts that go further. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and last year discovered the Woodland Trust will plant a tree for almost any occasion. You can then visit your tree and enjoy the tranquil woodland surroundings (take a look here: link) Your recipient will receive a certificate with your own personal message on and a map to their tree.

This year I still have good causes in mind but with the added benefit of supporting small businesses. Below are some of my discoveries to suit all budgets.

I know many people who would love to receive a hand-picked beauty bundle and when I came across LanglochBotanics I was pleased to see that many of their products are vegan-friendly. Not only that, the business is a social enterprise and products are made by volunteers who have experienced hardship in their lives and are gaining work experience and training. Lanloch Farm is pesticide-free and ingredients are all natural, with herbs grown and processed on the farm.

I’ve got my eye on the bitter orange & lemon lip balm and the rosemary & mint soap. There are 5 soaps so choose from and 6 lip balms. I can imagine getting a soap and a lip balm and putting it in a little kraft paper bag as an eco-friendly gift for someone special.

Price range: £3-£3.50

Visit LanglochBotanics here: link

 

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Lemon balm & calendula soap

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My next pick supports the charity ‘Made With Hope’ which supports children living in poverty in Tanzania. I’m a hippy at heart so this bracelet from AkelaRose Jewellery with the combo of vibrant turquoise and peace charm really appealed to me. As someone with a slim frame I often find bracelets too big for me and end up having to reassemble them smaller. The great thing about this item is that it can be made to a size of your choice for no extra cost. Choose from XS all the way through to XXL.

Price range: £15

Visit AkelaRose Jewellery here: link

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I thought the idea behind this next jewellery collection was really clever. The ‘Share a Hug’ creations by Posh Totty Designs are unique and would make a really thoughtful gift for a special woman in your life. £5 from the sale of the adjustable ring gets donated to ‘Women for Women International’ and 100% of profits from the personalised gold necklace. Various quality materials are available.

Price range: £27-£450

You can visit Posh Totty Designs here: link

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I’m a self confessed stationery addict and compulsive list-writer, so I had to include this next item from Paper High. These albums are made using recycled paper and sari material and can be used as a photo album, sketchbook, or notebook. I can imagine filling this with photos of good memories and giving it to a close family member of friend. The paper is made from cotton left over from the huge garment industry in India by a charity that supports women’s education ad social standing in rural Rajasthan villages.

Price range: £26.95

You can visit Paper High here: link

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If like me you have some birthdays coming up why not consider getting a gift with extra impact? My three go-to places online for handmade, unique gifts are etsy, folksy, and Not on the high street. It’s also worth checking whether your favourite charities have online shops. WWF, BornFree and The National Trust all have a variety of new items that help fund their work.

 

 

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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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Creative gifts: My favourite five

Christmas is just around the corner so today I’m going to bring you a little bit of inspiration, thanks to some very talented artists and craft enthusiasts. I always like to support small businesses and individuals and as these items aren’t mass produced the recipient of your gift will be getting something truly special and more personal. Click the name to be taken directly to the shop.

My Favourite Five

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Lyndsey Green Illustration

Rabbit Illustration eco tote bag, £8

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Aside from the fact that this is a fantastic illustration (and perfect for any animal lover) I also love the fact that this bag is eco friendly. Delivery is just 95p.

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Artwork by Angie

Dog illustration print, £14

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As a dog lover this really appeals to me. I love the cheerful colours and humorous caption too. This would be great for someone who has a dog. Postage is free.

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Casey Illustration

Watercolour robin illustration print, £6

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I just had to include this! I think this has so much character and is really unusual. You’ll also find a selection of printed gift tags in Casey’s shop. Postage to the U is free.

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Lyndsey Green Illustration

Red fox cushion, £20

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This is one of Lyndsey’s illustrations printed on a faux suede cushion (so perfect for art-loving vegans!). It’s also available on an eco cotton bag. Postage is a reasonable £1.50.

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Inkishop

Dog mug, £10

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I love everything in this shop! From the quirky tote bags, to the adorable cards and mugs, they’re all quirky and guaranteed to bring a smile to any animal lovers face! Postage £4

 

 

‘Allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’

Welcome to the third week of the New Year! I’m glad to say that so far I’m keeping up with my resolutions, and finding them quite rewarding. The wonderful thing about pledging to do a ‘deed a day’ is that there’s mutual benefit. Studies have shown that people who help other people report feelings of satisfaction and gratitude. There’s also proof that doing good benefits your mental health. Win-win! To read more about the science behind this, and get even more inspiration to help others, take a look at this interesting article from goodnet.org (link) which brings me to my second resolution – to be aware of what I Put in my body, physically and mentally. In a previous post I mentioned the book Touching Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh, in which he explains the importance of maintaining ‘a proper diet for our consciousness, refraining from ingesting toxic intellectual and spiritual food’. I realised that by starting my day by reading of all the sadness in the world in the newspaper, and then flicking on the news channel to also view it, I was starting my day with thoughts of what I was seeing and hearing – violence, death, crime. In common with other people who suffer from anxiety, I find mornings to be one of the most difficult times of the day. Research has shown that cortisol levels (the fight or flight hormone) is at its highest during this time. By ingesting negativity I was feeding this anxiety, which is why I made the decision to instead fill my morning with craft and creative journaling. This has definitely given my sewing projects a boost! And I’ve started work on a St Dwynwen’s day (Think Welsh Valentine’s Day) inspired skirt.

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As with all my clothing this is entirely hand sewn, and made using upcycled material and vintage broderie anglaise found in my local market. The material is fantastic quality, and of course this piece will be one of a kind due to limited material. Next month I’ll be bringing you a tutorial on how to make your own basic children’s skirt, which is so easy it’s even suitable for beginners. If you feel the need to get crafty in the meantime, there are plenty of tutorials from the past couple of years to choose from:

Last week I was excited to drop off my piece at Y Galeri Caerffili (website) ready for the Winter Exhibition. It’s uplifting to see how the small town of Caerphilly has evolved over the years to now have a real presence of creativity. Next month I’ll be bringing you a review of the visitor centre/art gallery, and hopefully inspiring you to visit for yourselves. If you’re interested in seeing this year’s Winter Exhibition, which showcases the work of 72 shortlisted artists, the gallery is open from 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday. The exhibition will run until 2nd February. You can even participate by nominating your favourite work for the Visitor’s Choice Award.
Although I’ve found my focus more craft-based than art-based lately I’m occasionally dipping in to an autobiographical piece that I started late last year. I’m taking my time and enjoying the process of creating. I found a wonderful quote by producer Carlton Cuse that I feel really expresses the creative process: ‘The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations […] along the way you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’. As I paint I feel different things, ideas come to me, and the piece almost always evolves from what I originally envisioned. I like to think that’s what puts ‘soul’ in to a piece.

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Monthly Tutorial: Loom knitting for beginners (and your guide to ethical knitting)

Wool is a subject that occasionally comes up in the vegan community, and for years I was unsure of where I stood with using it. I’ve been doing some research to bring you the facts about wool, the impact it has on animals, and how you can make your knit more ethical.

So, what’s wrong with wool?

Question 1. Don’t sheep need to be sheared?

I’ve found that many people assume shearing a sheep is essential and the ‘kind thing to do’ to ensure the sheep is comfortable. This is partly true. Sheep develop thick coats that do need shearing to ensure they’re comfortable, but here’s the thing: wild sheep have the ability to naturally shed their coats, it’s breeders who have bred sheep specifically for wool to develop thick coats, which they cannot naturally shed, meaning they need to be sheared. Like with dogs, we’ve almost ‘edited’ sheep for a purpose.

Question 2. Isn’t shearing painless?

Yes and no. The cutting of the wool itself is painless, but it’s when skin gets nicked or accidentally cut that it’s painful. This is more likely when wool is being mass produced. Shearers often get paid per sheep, rather than per hour, which means workers are more inclined to work faster, which can result in mistakes.

Where your wool comes from and why it matters

80% of wool comes from Australia, where a practice known as ‘museling’ is legal. Museling is when the skin from around the sheep’s rear is literally cut away, usually without anaesthetic. Why would they do this you might ask? Well, it’s claimed that this practice prevents something known as ‘fly strike’ which is when blow flies lay eggs which eventually hatch in to maggots which eat away the skin of the sheep. This can be fatal. However, there are alternatives, as the RSPCA Australia outline on this page (link).

Question 3. Where can I get ethical wool or alternatives?

The good news is that museling is illegal in the UK, so any wool that’s produced in the UK won’t come from sheep that have been subjected to this painful practice. This may be enough for you to decide you’re happy to purchase UK wool, but of course there’s always the matter of welfare whilst sheering. In my opinion if you still feel you want to use wool it’s best to go for small businesses that don’t focus on mass production. I contacted the owner of Laura’s Loom who collects fleece from ‘small manufacturers across the North of England into the Scottish Borders’ to ask about welfare. She was most helpful, actually speaking to one of her farmers, who assured her that their small flocks were well cared for. As well as selling accessories her online shop also stocks yarn for knitting and weaving (link).

If you decide that you’d prefer to take animals out of the equation all together, there are also plenty of synthetic wool’s available. You can pick these up at most craft shops, such as Hobby Craft, at a reasonable price. Materials include cotton, acrylic mixes (acrylic, acrylic with cotton, acrylic with viscose) and there are even more options online, including materials such as bamboo. I’ve found that etsy has quite a few options available, and also means you’re supporting small businesses (link) However, if you’re looking for a truly ethical/eco option it’s important to remember that acrylic is man-made and doesn’t biodegrade as natural fibres do.

So now you’ve decided the material for you, it’s time to get crafting. This month I’ll be giving you an introduction to loom knitting. This project is so simple, and is a good starting project for beginners. I found my wool in a charity shop. It’s always worth taking a look as occasionally you’ll stumble upon a stash.

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You will need:

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  • Small round loom (mine was intended as a flower loom)
  • Scissors
  • Wool/other
  • Loom hook
  • Button (optional)

Where to buy:

Loom Hook (link)

Round loom (link)

Step 1

Put a small length of wool through the middle of your loom, so you have a little tail, then wrap your wool once, in a clock-wise way, around each peg.

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Step 2

Once you’ve done this on each peg and you’re back to your first peg, wrap the wool around it again, as you’ve been doing, to create a second loop. Take your loom hook and pull the first loop (the one underneath the second you’ve just made, and pull it over the first, off the peg.

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Step 3

Repeat above over and over until you reach your desired length.

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Step 4

Once you’ve reached your desired length, snip the wool so you’re left with another tail. This time, instead of creating a second loop and pulling the first over it you’re going to pull the length of wool through the loop.

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You’ll be left with what resembles a loose knot. (I have removable pegs so remove them as I go along)

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Step 5

Repeat above until you’ve done all of the pegs, then gently pull to tighten a bit, and tie a knot to stop unravelling. Tie a knot in the other end as well.

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Step 6

Turn your wrist warmer the right way (it’ll be inside out).

 

Step 7

Sew on either a button, or you can use a little wool to make a bow to sew on.

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Happy crafting!

Spring/summer eco clothing collection

April is finally here, which means it’s time to reveal the textile project I’ve been working on since last year. Below are my 100% hand-sewn children’s clothes, made predominantly from recycled/upcycled materials/garments.

 

Green skirt: A skater skirt featuring vintage decorative ribbon from a local market, with each bead stitched individually. This is age 10, and has a stretchy waist band.

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Floaty shoulder-tie top: Made from wonderfully cool cotton, this floaty top has an adjustable neck/shoulder, and features a hand-embroidered element, as well as unique, patterned wooden beads and leaf design buttons. Age 8.

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This summery skirt is made of lightweight, cool cotton, and is decorated with upcycled red glass beads. Age 4-5, with a stretchy waist band.

 

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Layered skirt: this layered skirt includes beautiful rescued shell-like beads, as well as vintage ribbon from a local market, and is decorated with individually sewn bronze-colour sequins. Age 12, with a stretchy waist band.

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Peacock dress: In a former life this colourful creation was a faux pashmina, and has a lovely smooth feel, whilst still being lightweight enough to keep cool in spring and summer. Decorative lace added to the bottom was sourced from a local market, and each bead attached individually. This is a tie-sleeve design, so can be adjusted. Age 6.

 

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The following items will be donated to charity shops.

Colourful pattern top: A loose and light-weight cotton top with adjustable shoulder ties. For this piece I included vintage buttons. Age 9.

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Feather-pattern top: A cool, light-weight cotton top with adjustable neckline and shoulder ties. Each sequin was attached individually.

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Colourful skirt: Similar in design to another skirt, but with individually-attached wooden beads.

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Tag design

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nextOver the coming weeks I’ll be adding these to my online Folksy shop as soon as I include care labels, so keep an eye out! If you’d like a custom order please contact me (I’m happy to create skirts in ‘grown up’ sizes as well!)

 

 

Spring has sprung!

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The days are getting longer, the daffodils are in bloom, and each morning I’m greeted with the sound of a blackbird singing his heart out. It can only mean one thing…spring has sprung! I’ve been celebrating the changing of seasons by capturing the beauty of nature by collecting and pressing interesting leaves and flowers (non-protected species of course) to use in a craft I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time: paper making.

I have a family member who adores card making, and her birthday is coming up in April. I’m always looking for something meaningful that reaches further than just being a mass-produced item, so, in support of recycling and hand made crafts, I’ve decided to make a mini paper stack for her to use in her own craft, with petals and leaves from my mini adventures set in. I’ve been taking photographs of the beauty I’ve witnessed along the way, to share my experience with her, which I’ll put in a miniature handmade album (tutorial to make your own coming later this year!)

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Whilst on the subject of unique and handmade gifts, I’d also like to introduce you to a talented crafter who works with stained glass. Wanting something beautiful to brighten someone’s day I came across Joy’s Folksy shop and found a gorgeous one-of-a-kind sun catcher. I recommend taking a look at the stunning items in her shop. It was so difficult to choose just one!

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Joy’s Folksy shop: link

Joy’s website: link

As my readers will know I’m often working on multiple creative projects, and one I’ve been working on for a good half a year is soon to be revealed! At the beginning of the year I promised to produce a collection of spring/summer eco wear by April, and now April is just around the corner. On the 1st I’ll be posting the first images of my hand-sewn children’s clothing, made almost entirely from recycled/upcycled material. I promise lots of colour, pattern, and of course uniqueness. And just for my blog readers, here’s a little sneak peak of what to expect…

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How do you turn frustration into something productive? How do you share an experience with someone when the moments gone?

Until the end of 2017 I’ll be working on a mini-project (project ‘Speedy Sketch’) where I’ll be documenting the health-related side of my life through quick illustrations. Moments spent in hospital, doctor, and clinic waiting rooms will be put to use to capture my surroundings, and at the end of the year I’ll curate an online exhibition, to share with my readers little glimpses of what I’ve seen along the way.

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nextmonth

1st April – the big eco clothing reveal!

7th April – Easter Inspiration, including alternative (and further-reaching) gift ideas

15th April – Monthly tutorial: The second of 2017’s new content addition: vegan recipes. This one will be how to make a healthier, delicious alternative to Easter eggs for those wanting something a little more nutritious or different; Vegan bunny-shaped savoury oat cakes (and how to present them)

23rd April – The previously promised Graphitint pencils review

A confession…

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I have a confession…one that may surprise those who have never met me…I struggle to eat. What most people would find appealing, and indeed class as ‘every day’ foods; noodles, toasties, curry, spaghetti, you name it, I probably don’t eat it. But in the interest of my health, which determines how much energy I have to work on what I love – art & design – I’m embarking on a quest (yes, this challenge feels so monumental that I feel justified in labelling it in such a way!) to challenge the compulsion that finds me reaching for the exact same foods every day.

I’m inviting you, my readers, to follow me on my journey to discover and create nourishing vegan recipes to support both body and mind. Veganism and vegetarianism has always been an influencing factor in my life, fuelling my interest in creating eco-friendly clothing, and using our natural world as inspiration for a great deal of my artwork. In next month’s ‘tutorial’ spot, I’ll be bringing you the first recipe instalment – vegan sushi. In the mean-time, here’s a list of some inspiring and useful vegan-related sites:

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Vegan Huggs – A blog packed with recipes, reviews, and more!

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Wear Your Voice – A website I’ve mentioned before where a passion for art meets a passion for animals, with truly unique illustrations printed on to t-shirts.

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Vegan Supermarket Finds UK – A super useful facebook group run by vegans, for vegans, where you can share your surprising vegan finds, as well as get some great tips on where to find all manner of vegan goodies!

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In the interest of keeping myself distracted whilst re-building my strength, I’ve been revisiting a seascape I began last year, yet lost the motivation for. Well the itch is back! and I’ve been compelled to dip in here and there. The tones of blue in the sea are proving to be a source of intrigue, as they’re not as straight-forward as they may seem; in order to achieve one elusive tone, I found myself cautiously mixing phtalo blue, cobalt, a tiny dot of ivory black, and an atom of yellow ochre, before deciding to substitute the black for burnt umber.

The relationship between colours and how they combine fascinates me! Explaining to those who don’t practise art that a blue can contain  brown, black, and even ochre, feels as though I’m revealing some clandestine key.

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Whilst my home studio is a base for all my inspiration and tools – my pattern folder, old art/craft magazines, art postcards etc, over the years I’ve grown fond of inhabiting a quiet corner of a library – a haven from home. This week I’ve been squirrelling away in the reference section (often good for exquisitely illustrated nature books) trying out Derwent Inktense pencils and making notes for next month’s review.

Costing £29.99 in the Range (£40.75 on Derwent’s website) for a tin of 24, it;s understandable you’d want to ‘try before you buy’, which is where I’ve done the work for you! Look out for the full review next month, which as always will be straight to the point and up-front.

 

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Finally, I want to tell you about the Winter Exhibition at Y Galeri Caerffili, which is displaying a whole range of styles and mediums, and at which my piece ‘One For Sorrow’ is currently on show. The exhibition will run all this month and directions can be found on their facebook page: Y Galeri Caerffili facebook. If you can’t make it in person, you’ll find some images of the artwork on display on their page and on the website.

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‘One For Sorrow’, graphite & oils, Hanna-Mae Williams

 

Sew colourful – upcycled clothing collection update

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Introducing the latest addition to my 2017 eco clothing collection. Made using upcycled material, and sewn entirely by hand! The breathable, light-weight cotton and vibrant colours make it perfect for summer. The bottom is decorated with delicate and wooden beads, and the waist is elasticated. I’ll be using this pattern again with all kinds of interesting and unique materials, so keep an eye out for photos on my twitter and facebook!

 

In celebration of all things upcycled and eco-friendly, I’ve done some digging to unearth some of Folksy’s best upcycled and eco makes. Support small businesses whilst also supporting our Earth by checking out these talented makers:

Andiecrafts – Who would want to use plastic shopping bags when you could show off this colourful creation?

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QuiltingDemon I love all of shop owner Lesley Bywater’s colourful, unique creations, and the majority are made using upcycled materials! I adore her crazy patchwork slippers and coats.

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JD Crafts – Talented crafter Jan’s shop has a wonderful collection of makeup bags and tote bags made using recycled fabric. 

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