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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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graphite

Monthly review: Derwent Graphitint pencils

After postponing this review it’s finally here! The promised Graphitint review. Here’s what you need to know…

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Product name: Derwent Graphitint 12 Tinted graphite pencils

Price: £5 (without postage) – £20.96

Rating: 4/5

About: A set of 12 tinted graphite pencils which can be used dry as you would a pencil/watercolour pencil, as well as brushed over with water to ‘soften’. They give a subtle colour finish.

observations

I was so excited to try these out, not knowing quite what to expect;  would these handle like graphite pencils? How would I get tone like I would from B-6B? I was keen to get stuck in, and they didn’t disappoint, though did take some getting used to. I initially made the mistake of setting out using them as I would normal graphite pencils, but these are something different entirely. I soon realised that these pencils are a medium all of their own; not quite a watercolour pencil, not quite a graphite pencil, and like when you’re just starting out with a new medium these need a little getting used to and a little practise.

Due to cost I opted for the set of 12 (having just given in to the temptation of Derwent’s Inktense watercolour pencils)  and rather than feeling as though I was limited by not having the available range of 24 colours, I came to realise it was the very fact that I had a limited palette that put me in the right direction in terms of use. When using graphite pencil I focus on tone, when using colour mediums to depict reality I try to get the colour as close to reality as possible, but this is a mistake when using this medium. Because these pencils offer only a tint, and therefore limit your ability to depict the colour of the animal/object in reality, you will not achieve exact likeness, and therefore must treat these as what they are: a combination between graphite and watercolour pencil – bear colour in mind, but also bear tone in mind. It really is about not boxing yourself in to think of these as one medium with one set of rules. This is a medium with which two set of rules apply. To be successful you have to get in to this mind-set.

Whilst some of the characteristics are the same as graphite pencils, blending is not one. This is where the medium crosses over into watercolour pencil territory. Forget attempting to use a blending stump or your fingers, as these can only be blended using water. They have a harder point than I had expected, which actually makes them more economical than Derwent’s watercolour pencils, which, due to softness wore down very quickly.good bits

  • Portable
  • Economical
  • Unique
  • Good for detailed work

notso

  • Take some getting used to
  • I very much missed white in the 12 pack (though this is available individually)
  • Generally pricey (though in my opinion it’s not worth scrimping on materials and these are good quality)
  • Availability of individual colours (so far only found on derwentart.com)

 

concludePersonally I’d buy these again as I found them quite unique. However, it’s worth looking around a bit first as price can vary drastically. Availability of sets is an issue, though The Range seem to be the best high street store for this, offering sets of 6,12 and 24. I feel these are more suited to those with a real interest in art and mediums, as opposed to simply for use in colouring in for example.

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Monthly tutorial: Alternative Easter oatcakes

This recipe is so easy and versatile and suitable for vegans/vegetarians.

cakeboxCollage.jpgyouwillneed

 

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  • 100g oats (to make these more nutritional I like to use a mixture of oats, oatbran and multigrain)
  • 20ml oil (I’ve used olive this time, but avocado has worked well, as well as rapeseed)
  • Any ‘extras’ such as seeds, chopped nuts, herbs, spices etc (I’m making ‘cheese & chive with sesame seeds – violife offer a range of vegan cheese flavours. Nutritional yeast gives a cheesy flavour and extra vitamins)
  • A generous glug of warm water
  • Cookie cutters in any shape you want

method

 

 

step1

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Set your oven to 160 Celsius (fan oven) and measure out 100g of your oats/grains.

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Add 20ml of oil, and stir well until all the oats are coated.

step3oatcake13.jpgAdd your extras (see ‘flavour ideas’ below for inspiration) and mix in well.

step4oatCollage2.jpgAdd a glug of warm water, stir through, and ‘work’ your oats until they begin to combine. Keep adding water slowly until your oats bind together easily.

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Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

step6oatCollage3.jpgGet a cookie cutter and teaspoon ready, and take a small amount of your mixture. Depending on how thick you want your oatcakes, add more/less, and press it firmly into your cookie cutter on your baking tray.

step7oatCollage4.jpgUse the back of your teaspoon to press the mixture firmly in, and the handle end to get into all the smaller spaces. Tip: the simpler the cookie cutter, the easier it is to get out after.

step8oatcake3.jpgUse the handle end of the spoon to gently push your shape out, and gently press with your finger tips to flatten slightly on the baking tray.

step9When you’ve made all of your shapes (depending on thickness you can usually expect to get around 6 out of this recipe) it’s time to bake! Put your baking tray in the oven and bake for approx. 30 minutes until lightly golden. The time will vary depending on thickness, but for an extra crunch leave them in longer. If you like a really soft oatcake, go for 20 minutes.

step10Once your oatcakes have fully cooled it’s time to think about presentation. There are so many places on the high street and online where you can get beautiful boxes. (Cup)cake boxes are perfect for your oatcakes, and if you’re on a strict budget these can be picked up in discount stores, such as HomeBargains, B&M bargains, or if you’re looking for something extra special and want to support small businesses, it’s well worth taking a look at what the sellers at esty have to offer (you can view them here – link). I made my own label and stuck it to a cute pre-made box.

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flavour

 

artyAfter much agonising over the pastel piece I’ve been working on in my art group, I’ve finally finished working on the still life piece. I’d been wanting to re-acquaint myself with pastels for a while, as I don’t feel it’s a medium I’ve really mastered. As someone who mainly works in small formats and has a strong inclination to include a lot of detail, I found the ‘bulk’ of pastels to be quite challenging. Enter the pastel pencil! This year so far has been an experimental one in terms of mediums. I’m shying away from my usual instinct to get out my oil paints, and exploring what’s out there, particularly as I now feel I have a ‘grip’ on oils.

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Keep your eyes peeled for a review of Derwent’s Pastel Collection next month!

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After investing so much mental energy into developing experience with this medium, I decided my next project would be one for pure enjoyment, so I’ve resumed my love affair with fine liner (something which had been somewhat squashed during three years studying illustration at university). I’m afraid I’ll forever be a fan of the clean line and definition it can produce.

colouringpagecright.jpgIt felt exhilarating to feel a sort of ‘freedom’ with this piece – to let my instinct and understanding of pattern/line (and natural inclination towards detail) to lead the way without too much thought. However, I took the decision to use watercolour pencils on this and feel it took away from the stylised feel of the piece. So what began life as a relaxed piece has now morphed into another art challenge! Bring it on! I’ll be updating you on my progress through twitter and facebook (facebook.com/hanna-mae-illustration) and twitter (@HMWIllustration).

As for my eco clothing, I’m in the process of working with an etsy seller to get some sew-in labels made as a finishing touch. The process is a lengthy one, but I want my labels to reflect what my clothing is all about. I’ll be showing you the finished product in the weeks to come, along with pictures of the postcards I’m having made.

nextweekMonthly Review: Derwent graphitint pencils review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea love

This Valentine’s day I’m showing some love for sea life and bringing you the very first instalment of the promised new vegan recipe feature. This recipe for vegan sushi uses basmati/quinoa instead of the traditional white sushi rice, as it’s higher in fibre and nutrients. This recipe is also lower in sugar than ‘traditional’ sushi, and packs in some extra veggies to contribute to your 5 a day.

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ingredients

 

 

 

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♥ Tilda wholegrain basmati & quinoa (dried) or similar

♥ Rice vinegar (own brand is perfectly fine – try Sainsbury’s)

♥ Sushi nori (dried seaweed sheets – brands can be pricey, but Tesco sometimes stock a cheaper version, with more sheets)

♥ A fresh lemon

♥ Seasoning (I used lemon pepper)

♥ Vegetables of your choice (I used aubergine, broccoli and mushrooms)

♥ Fresh root ginger

♥ Optional extras: sesame seeds, spirulina powder

method

 

 

ricecollage

Cook your rice/grains as instructed on the packet and drain off any excess water using a sieve. Put in a large bowl.

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Now to add the flavour! Sprinkle in any seasoning you like – I opted for lemon, lemon pepper, and ginger (grate in as much or as little as you like). Add a generous tsp of rice vinegar (this will help add moisture to stick the rice together/to the seaweed later)

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This step is optional, but I’d recommend including it! Lightly toast sesame seeds under the grill (no need to use extra oil) and add this to your bowl of seasoned rice. Sesame seeds are usually used on the outside of sushi, but I find they add a nice texture and flavour when mixed in. I also added spirulina for an extra protein hit (but be warned, you only need tiby amounts as it has a very distinct earthy taste!) Spirulina can be expensive in health food shops, so keep an eye out at food markets where you can sometimes be lucky to pick up unusual ingredients for a fraction of the price.

vegcollage

Now to prep the veg – grill sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced aubergine, and cook your broccoli (using frozen is fine, or steam fresh florets, but make sure it is thoroughly drained by dabbing with kitchen towel) You’ll need to turn your mushrooms/aubergine half way through to get both sides cooked evenly. NB: with such thinly sliced aubergine the ends can slightly burn – don’t panic! pull/cut these bits off. You can use any veg you like, including strips of courgette or even butternut squash.

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Chop the heads of your broccoli so they almost resemble small grains. To save time you can use a mini food processor, I used a mezzaluna, but a sharp small knife will do just fine. Add to the rice mix and stir well.

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You now need to apply a thin, even layer of your rice mixture on to a sheet of your dried seaweed. Press lightly with a spoon.

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Arrange your vegetables – in this case the slices of aubergine and the mushrooms.

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Take another sheet of dried seaweed and press it gently over the rice/vegetables. You’ll need to make sure it’s in contact with the rice mix otherwise it won’t soften. Once you’ve made sure it’s pressed down well, leave for 5 mins. This should be enough time to allow it to soften.

rollcollage

Time to roll! Start at the edge closest to you and aim for quite ‘tight’, pressing as you go along.

cuttingcollageYou’ll need a sharp knife to cut your sushi roll otherwise it’ll fall apart! I used a sharp breadknife (you’ll also notice I’ve ‘tucked in’ the ends – this is to stop any escaping rice!) Start by cutting your roll in half, then divide up into smaller sections.

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All that’s left to do is make your sushi look extra appetising by arranging it nicely on your plate. You can add any extras, such as soy sauce and wasabi.

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