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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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fashion

‘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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Identity crisis

So far this year I’ve been on a journey to live my life in a way that’s within my means. Whilst it’s so easy to compare yourself to others, sometimes you have to remind yourself that you’re you, with your own individual needs. The past few months in particular have felt really significant in terms of identity and adapting the way I live to enable me to go about my daily life in a reasonable, albeit limited way, thanks to fibromyalgia and the host of trials that it brings.

The past few weeks have been focused on the way I create. My creative identity. This is something I relish in – a huge part of who I am, despite the health conditions that can sometimes seem like such a dominant part of life. But whilst I’ve adapted my daily life, I’ve battled with the creative process. So what do you do when the way you’ve always worked is not always doable? I started to actually feel quite excited about the possibilities and the chance to experiment, but that openness recently brought with it a sense of aimlessness and a questioning of where ‘I’ was in all of this. I did a lot of soul searching (as I often feel art comes from the very ‘being’ of who I am) and looked to other artists for inspiration. Finally, after much thought and experimentation, I feel I’m making some headway to getting the balance I need between detailed work and more laidback work. For a few days I explored the illustrator in me, and just went with the flow to try some children’s book illustration.

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Whilst I found this relaxing I couldn’t let go of my love of detail, so combined this sort of illustration with more intricate pattern.

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I realised I felt I had to fit in to a specific category: am I a ‘children’s book illustrator’? Am I a ‘fine artist’? I now realise I can combine elements to work around my difficult days when I’m in a bit of a ‘fibro fog’, to keep doing what I love.

In other areas of my creative life, I’ve been busy trying out a new bag pattern, using upcycled material to create useful (and unique!) pouch-style shoulder bags (picture below). I’m also thrilled to share the news that my piece ‘Flower Power 2’ was chosen to be shown in the current Penarth Pavilion exhibition. You can visit the website here. The exhibition runs until 28th August.

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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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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

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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Spring/summer 2017 collection sneak peek

For the past few months, in between my illustration work, I’ve been working on my  spring/summer 2017 collection of bespoke, hand-sewn children’s clothing, made using upcycled and recycled materials.

A great place to start with any creative work is to get ideas out by creating a mood board. I envisioned bright colours, loose floaty fabrics, and took inspiration from nature, including feathers, leaves and flowers.

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I wanted a pattern that was versatile – pretty, yet practical – which is why I opted for shoulder ties. Each top/dress is breathable, light, and can be adjusted by changing the length of the ties.

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Girl’s shoulder-tie dress. Age 6-7

 

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Girl’s shoulder-tie top, age 7
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Girl’s shoulder-tie top, age 8

The full collection will appear in my shop next spring, but are available now on request. Commissions/suggestions are also always welcome.

First glimpse of my Eco wear and some photographic inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I posted a review of Heidi Adnum’s book ‘Taking great photos’ and have been experimenting with putting the techniques to the test. After owning my digital camera for a few years now, I’ve finally (on Heidi’s instruction) actually read the manual! Such an obvious tip, yet one that’s so often over-looked.

I was amazed at just what my camera could do, so decided to play around with the settings to take photos of my handmade clothing for the ‘Eco wear‘ section of my website. Oddly enough, I found myself drawn to the accidental ‘romantic’ effect that occurred when I set my camera to shoot in cloudy conditions. I liked the soft, sepia feel.

 

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Before doing my own shoot I decided to browse the web to get some inspiration from other designers and see how they go about displaying their items. I came across some really creative examples that also showed their work clearly. Here are some of my favourites:

augblog1 Leiladelle – I love the simple but endearing use of paintbrushes here. It adds a sort of playfulness to the image without taking too much attention from the skirt. In her shop she uses models, intriguing backgrounds, and cute props.

 

 

 

 

augblog2 Indigenous Revival – I was drawn to this image because of the use of lighting. The flare adds a sensual softness to the image. In her shop you’ll find natural and neutral backgrounds.

 

 

 

 

 

augblog3 Piel De Lobo – Aside from the fact that this Folksy shop contains real works of art (such as unique prints) I love the way the photographer has made use of a more ‘industrial’ style background to add a certain ‘feel’ that compliments the style of clothing.

 

 

 

 

augblog4 Rooby Lane – The use of a neutral background in the majority of the images in this shop gives it a professional edge, and importantly allows the clothing to speak for itself (something which is so important with the amazing and often detailed patterns you’ll find in this shop)

 

 

 

augblog5 Ellie Ellie ltd – This is just one example of the clever use of props to add just enough interest to a photo. All of the photographs in this shop look professional, with clever use of minimalistic elements.

 

 

 

 

augblog6 Ninety5Prints – I included this shop as it perfectly demonstrated something mentioned in Heidi Adnum’s book – making use of natural, neutral backgrounds and opting for wooden coat hangers. Small details that make a huge difference. The fact that the majority of tops in this shop are displayed in this similar way also demonstrates another thing mentioned by Adnum : consistency. This can help people to identify your brand.

 

augblog7 From Rags To Bags – The odd one out! Yes, not clothing, but I couldn’t not include this one. I love the feel this rustic-looking chair adds to the image. A wonderful example of how carefully chosen props can communicate and give a certain undertone.

Wearable art – 10 to try

If (like me) art is your passion, you’ll know that the ‘creative feeling’ doesn’t just stop when you put down that paintbrush or pencil. I’ve been searching the net for unique ways to take a little work of art with you wherever you go, and better still these lovelies aren’t mass-produced by machines, but preserve that personal touch by being made by individual artists/crafters.

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I absolutely love the art work of etsy shop owner Sarah Cox. This brooch shows her quirky style (definitely check out her pet portraits with a difference!) You can find this beautiful brooch in her shop, SarahCoxArtwork.

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Another brooch, again with a unique style. This is hand-painted by Natasha, owner of etsy shop NatashaArtdolls. Better still, there’s 15 designs to choose from! Good luck in deciding…

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It was difficult to decide what to feature from LRsWorkshop – the converse shoes they’ve transformed into works of art, or one of their eco bags. Eventually I opted for this bag as I was drawn to the striking design.

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HELUNArt on etsy is full of colourful treasures, including this hand-painted top. I love how intricate and boho the design is.

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Roseberry Art & Craft, opened this year, is one of my happy little discoveries. On my wish list is Viola’s super sweet robin bookmark and hand-painted original daffodil card. What’s great about Roseberry Art & Craft is that each piece is an original, meaning you’re truly getting something one of a kind.

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If you’re looking for something a little bit different, then Ruth, of ShePaintsSeaglass is the answer! I love her miniature art works, which are painted on found items from the beach, including (you guessed it) sea glass, but also pebbles.

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As soon as I saw the adorable makeup bags in MosMea I fell in love. Any cat lover will break a smile at the sight of this little gem! And there’s good news for dog lovers too…

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I’ve always loved looking through nature books for their illustrations, especially those depicting birds. The talented Meryl, owner of etsy shop FelicitiesCrafts offers beautiful, predominantly nature-based makeup bags, including this hand-painted gem.

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Another item that appeals to my nature-loving side and available in various colours. I love these hand-painted bee brooches from Jessie Growden’s Folksy shop.

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Another Folksy find…QueenofPersia offers some unique and interesting jute bags; creative and useful – perfect to store your art materials in and take on your travels with you.

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