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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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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: 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!

A handmade Mother’s Day

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted as I’ve been fighting off illness but I’m alive! And this week I’m bringing you some unique card and gift ideas for Mother’s day. As any regular readers of my blog will know, I love to promote other creatives and support small businesses, so all of my choices are handmade, making them extra special!

Primrose Place Art

This Folksy shop is run by Helen Wainwright who uses her artistic talent to make cards and prints. Her work is super cheerful, which is what I love most about her designs. Here are some of my favourite Mother’s day cards (click the picture for a direct link).

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DaisyWings

Tina Martin designs and prints all her cards and has recently started stocking an eco-friendly range, offering 100% recycled cards/envelopes in biodegradable bags. Below are some of my favourite picks for Mother’s day but it’s well worth looking at the rest of Tina’s shop as you’ll find everything from prints and gift tags to painted stones and bookmarks.

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Art Glass By Jessica

I’ve always loved glass work and Jessica’s shop is a treasure trove of beautiful gifts. There were two decorations that really caught my eye and I think the daffodil one would also make a wonderful Easter gift.

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Warm Glass Fusion

This Etsy shop, run by Christine Layton is another must-see for glass lovers. I love Christine’s cards with little glass art keepsake!

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Next week I’ll be bringing you a quick last-minute handmade gift tutorial and as this is the time of year when my favourite flower is in bloom: the daffodil. I’ll leave you with the famous (and also my favourite!) Wordsworth poem.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
               – Williams Wordsworth, 1804

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!

Final leg of the learning curve

This month I’ve been talking a lot about perspective with this month’s review being the book ‘Perspective & Composition’ by Barrington Barber (you can read it here). I’ve been continuing my learning curve with practising using the 1-point and 2-point perspective method and looking up examples of good perspective artwork.

I found this youtube video to be particularly good in clearly explaining the method (click to open new window): ‘How to Draw in Perspective for Beginners‘. Youtube can be a great resource for art enthusiasts, particularly those who are teaching themselves.

I’ve been a member of the website DeviantArt for a while now (my first account was set up in 2006!) and I’ve always found it an inspiring place as you get to see other’s art work and browse whatever topic takes your fancy. This past week I’ve been taking a look at ‘perspective’ and here are some pieces that really caught my eye, some because they clearly show the use of perspective lines. Click the names to be taken to the profile.

TitaniumDream

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‘Perspective Practise’ by TitaniumDream

I like how this piece is a mix of imagination and theory. You can clearly see this is an exercise in perspective and can see the 2-point perspective lines.

EpHyGeNiA

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‘Anatomic Perspective’ by EpHyGeNiA

In the book I reviewed last week there were various examples of where perspective can be used. The human body was briefly covered and this is an example by EpHyGeNiA.

 

LisaCrowBurke

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‘2-pt Vertical Perspective’ by LisaCrowBurke

I love this piece as it’s so interesting. I think it’s a great example of an interesting perspective but I think it’s made so much more than that by the inclusion of the pigeons.

 

 

Next week I’ll be bringing you a special St David’s day tutorial and I’m excited to say that soon I’ll be visiting the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition: ‘Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing‘ to mark the 500th anniversary of the famous artist’s death.

Monthly Review: Perspective & Composition

Last week I talked a bit about the online art course I’ve started and how one unit had been focusing on perspective (link). The unit prompted me to dig a bit deeper into the subject and today I’ll be reviewing the book ‘Perspective & Composition’.

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Full title: Essential Guide to Drawing; Perspective & Composition

Author: Barrington Barber

Price: £4.99 – £23

Where to buy: WaterstonesBook Depository, Amazon, ebay

About: An instructional guide to the ‘rules’ of perspective and composition, with step-by-step exercises.

I first came across Barrington Barber’s instructional drawing books when I was a teenager and used to lap up the art books in The Works. Although this particular book claims to be ‘practical and inspirational’ I’d argue that the former is at least true! As someone who loves step-by-step instructions both written and with visuals, I do like Barber’s books. However, this more methodical, instructional tone doesn’t exactly get you fired up with creative ideas. The covers of Barber’s books tend to be quite tame with a ‘school’ vibe about them and the interior looks almost text-booky. However, the contents is quality.

The layout is logical, with a clear font, sub-titles and diagrams so is good for all kinds of learners, be they visual or more text-based. There are also mini projects throughout to ensure you understand the concepts being explained so there’s a good balance of theory and practical.

I think this book would be best suited to art students, particularly around GCSE and would be useful in a classroom or tuition setting. Although, it would also be useful for those teaching themselves. One section mentions ‘Compositions by Master Artists’, which could potentially encourage further research and study.

Another thing I like about this book is that although it’s short it tries to keep the users interest by covering different ways of using perspective, for example when drawing people or objects in addition to just landscapes and scenes.

Although this book wouldn’t encourage me to purposely seek out any more of Barber’s books I did take something away from it and it’s worth a read if you’re really struggling with the concept of perspective. For me, the best way to learn about perspective is to practice, practice, practice and learn to trust your eyes; draw what you see, not what you think you should see.

This month’s ‘three to see’: handmade books

Last week I reviewed the book ‘Making Handmade Books’ (link) by Alisa Golden. Keeping with the theme this week I’ve decided to bring you some wonderful examples of books made by talented craft enthusiasts, which would make wonderful gifts, or maybe even inspire you to learn the craft yourself!

Immaginacija Bindery – Lucie Forejtova

I love Lucie’s work and think her handmade sketchbooks would make a wonderful unique gift for an art lover. Lucie creates everything from mini notebooks to planners, albums and more! Her online shop is full of treasures! I especially like her ‘sensory journal’ and recycled paper ‘rainbow notebook’.

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‘Sensory Notebook’ by Lucie Forejtova
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‘Weekly Planner’ by Lucie Forejtova

 

Jenny Robson Design – Jenny Robson

As a vegan I feel it’s important for me to promote businesses that are concerned with animal welfare and use ethical materials. I was so happy to come across someone who sold unique, vegan-friendly handmade books. Jennie’s lino print notebooks are quirky and affordable, with my favourite being her recycled A5 heart design journal.

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Jenny Robson, A5 Notebook

 

The Book Case -Pippa Mac

In Pippa’s own words she has a ‘passion for paper’ and you can see she’s very skilled at what she does! I’m in love with her beautiful books, especially her ‘Garden’ note/sketchbook (below). So beautiful!

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‘Garden’ note/setchbook – Pippa Mac

 

And finally here’s one of my own handmade books. Bookmaking is an enjoyable craft and it’s a lovely feeling looking at your finished product after all your work. This one was made using materials I already had in my stash, including upcycled/recycled elements.

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Happy crafting!

 

Monthly Review: Making Handmade Books

Last week I showed you some ways to use up your leftover wrapping paper from Christmas, including how to make a boring notebook look a little more interesting by covering it with paper. It got me thinking about how over the years I’ve liked to create my own books and folders to suit my needs (in fact I’ve only just recycled the planner I constructed two years ago; I made it to suit everything I needed, including a to-do section,a shopping list section,a notes section,an emergency contacts section,a day-by-day plan section, and even an inspiration section for when I was low and in need of focus). As someone who loves to work things out and create my own patterns (it’s the asperger’s in me! I love to construct/deconstruct things!) I’ve spent many hours working out measurements for folders,books and boxes. However, sometimes a little inspiration is useful in creating new designs, and for those who aren’t sure where to begin it’s good to have some step-by-step instructions along with lots of visuals. In my second year of university we had an exceptionally brief workshop on bookmaking, which actually set me off on the joy of creating my own books and folders. In the workshop a book was recommended and that’s the book I’ll be reviewing today: Making Handmade Books, by Alisa Golden.

Full title: Making Handmade Books 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms

Author: Alisa Golden

Price: £9 – £20

Where to buy: Waterstones, BookDepository, Amazon, Ebay

Brief description: Step-by-step instructions along with a generous helping of visuals showing you how to create many different books, wallets, folders and more.

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The Good

For me the best feature of this book is the use of images. I benefit greatly from being shown visually what to do in addition to just being told/given written instructions so this book is great for both text-based learners as well as more visual learners. However, not every single step is shown, just ones that the author deems most in need of extra explanation.

The second thing I like about this book is the layout. Each project is divided clearly, with a bold title for each. Each step is also clearly numbered and diagrams are labelled. I feel this approach is very useful for those who struggle to follow instructions, as it allows you to break your project up into smaller bits, allowing you to focus on one step at a time.

Another thing I like about this book is that you get more than you may have initially expected. You learn not only how to construct some interesting books/folders etc but you also find yourself discovering some unique artists. As someone who enjoys learning, I read the ‘Artist’s Bio’s’ section with curiosity. I feel this would also be useful for art and design students who may wish to research the artists further.

Continuing with the topic of ‘extras’ this book is full of them! In addition to the bio’s the book also includes several pages dedicated to ‘Ideas & Concepts’, complete with inspiring images and stories of interesting collaborations.

The not-so-good

Whilst the book provides lots of information and numbered steps to guide you through each stage of your project, some designs are particularly difficult. The majority would be too complex for children, which is why I feel this book is aimed at adults and older teenagers. This is a foray into the world of serious bookmaking as an art form, rather than a weekend project to occupy children. I admit that some of the designs put me off as it was evident that a lot of time and concentration would be needed and the diagrams themselves were very complex (for example the ‘Tetra-Tetra Flexagon’).

The only other potentially negative point is the need for specific tools for some of the projects. For example, linen tape, awl, certain boards.

Conclusion

Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who has a serious interest in bookmaking. I think it’s best suited to adults and older teenagers, particularly those on design courses or who have a love for making and creativity. I find myself revisiting this book on regular occasions and for myself it has been worth every penny. The price is reasonable and it can be found easily.

 

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