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Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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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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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a lovely festive season, I know for some it’s still not over yet but with a little disappointment I took down my decorations earlier today. On the other hand, I’m ready to start a brand new year and have been creating an ‘inspiration board’ to refer back to when I’m feeling a little lost.

An inspiration board can be a great way to almost ‘meditate’ over your goals. Get yourself some mountboard (available in hobby/art shops like Hobbycraft), a stack of old magazines and any crafty extras you want to make your board beautiful (glitter glue etc) and pull out any images or text that relates to your goals.

Collaging can be very relaxing and I find it very therapeutic allowing myself to just be creative with no worries of how the final product will look. You can make words by cutting out different letters, make areas stand out using 3D tape/craft dots and really experiment creatively. Put it up somewhere where you can look at it throughout the year, to refresh your enthusiasm.

If you’d prefer a less ‘busy’ board or have some material hanging around that you’re not sure what to do with, you can take a look at one of my tutorials from a couple of years ago that takes you step-by-step through creating a fabric-covered inspiration board (click here)

Before Christmas I visited a local Christmas market as I like to support local small businesses, especially art and craft-based ones. Unfortunately I was on crutches meaning hobbling at a snails-pace from stall to stall, but I discovered some real treasures! The handmade item that made me most excited was the gorgeous fairy tree topper I came across from the ‘Magical Fairy Emporium’. You can find them on facebook here: link 

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In my last post of the year ‘How to have a greener Christmas‘ I told you to hang on to any wrapping paper you couldn’t recycle and gave some ideas on how to put it to good use. Next week I’ll be demonstrating some of these ideas in a step-by-step tutorial.

Happy New Year to all my blog followers!

Monthly tutorial: How to have a greener Christmas

Although for many this time of year is one of the most exciting, it’s also one of the most wasteful. It’s lovely to see the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree, and the sparkling decorations hung everywhere, but so much of it eventually ends up in the bin. Unfortunately not all wrapping paper can be recycled (you can read more about this on recyclenow.com, which also has a handy search tool to find your nearest local recycling centre!) and plastic can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Recycle what you can, but if you fancy getting a bit creative, today I’m going to give you some ideas on how to give your wrapping paper and broken decorations a second life.

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Beaded Christmas jumpers, beaded tree decorations…we’ve all had that moment where somehow they catch on something and suddenly beads are scattering in all directions! Instead of chucking them in the bin, save them and make yourself a brand new decoration! These make wonderful gifts, especially as each is guaranteed to be unique! It’s worth saving little metal charms etc that sometimes come on posh packaging as these can be used too!

Upcycled hanging decorations

You will need:

♥ Jewellery-making pliers/wire cutters (an investment if you’re thinking of making jewellery/decorations in the future. You can get these from most craft shops and online)

♥ Collection of beads/charms

♥ Moderate thickness wire (you can double up beading wire but I like to use florists wire)

♥ Thin ribbon

 

Start by cutting a length of wire. Mine is around 19cm (you’ll be cutting the excess off later, it’s better to have too much than too little as this can be amended)

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It’s good to work out a ‘pattern’ for your beads, for example ‘big  bead, small bead, medium bead, big bead, small bead, medium bead… etc. Bend your wire a little so the beads don’t fall off the end.

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Keep going until you reach the desired size and can make a small circle.

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Slide the right-hand bit of wire through a few of the beads on the left and pull lightly so you have a complete circle.

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Now you need to secure things. Tightly twist the bit of wire on the left around the straight wire that the beads are threaded on a few times, then snip off the excess wire. Slide the beads over to disguise it.

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Do the same with the other side until you have a complete circle.

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Now’s the time to add your charm. If you can see a bit of wire, this is your chance to disguise it. Fold your ribbon in half and slip it through the loop on your charm.

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Put your ribbon through the circle, with the folded half facing you and slip the untied side through the loop of ribbon, like below.

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You need to secure your charm into place, so gently pull the ends of ribbon through the loop until it’s quite tight and the charm is hanging down.

Now you can tie the ends of your ribbon so you can hang your decoration.

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This ‘pattern’ is really versatile and can be adapted to use up what you have. You can use broken earrings, broken necklaces, and you don’t even have to limit it to just Christmas! You can use any colour beads you have to create summery, girly, gothic, any style of decoration to suit your taste and hang them in your car and around your home.

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Wrapping Paper Inspiration

There are so many ways you can reuse wrapping paper too! Here are just a handful of ideas:

♦ Wrap boring notebooks with it to transform into interesting stationery

♦ Shred it and reuse as colourful gift shred

♦ If your new year’s resolution is to learn a new craft why now try origami? The colourful papers make beautiful decorations!

And finally, as someone who loves making unique clothes out of upcycled/recycled materials, next month I’ll be showing you how to make your very own paper beads! They’re fun to make and you can get really creative incorporating other materials.

Merry Christmas everyone and as we say in Wales: Nadolig Llawen!

 

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

 

 

Three to see!

As my blog followers will know, I love to find enthusiastic artists out there and give them a bit of exposure here. There are so many talented individuals out there whose work just needs to be seen and shared! As I’ve been working on my large Mabinogion piece (if you missed the post about this you can find it here: link) I decided to have a dig on Deviantart (you can follow my account here: hmwillustration) for some Celt-inspired work and came across some superb pieces. It was difficult to narrow down my favourites but after much deliberation I’m sharing my top 3. Be sure to check out each artist’s profile, or better still let them know what you think of their wonderful work! Please remember that the copyright belongs to the artist.

 

1

Roberto Pavic  (DeviantArt name: roblfc1892)

Roberto has been a member of DeviantArt for many years and his gallery is full of interesting photography and tattoo designs. He has a whole gallery folder dedicated specifically to Celtic tattoo design, with my favourites being his Celtic dragons. Also look out for the exquisite ‘Swallow’ and ‘Ravens’.

(click image for direct link)


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2

Rachel Arbuckle (DeviantArt name: CelticArt)

Rachel is from Italy and has a love of Gouache paint. Her gallery is entirely dedicated to Celtic designs and is a treasure trove of intricate work. Below is one of my favourite pieces, titled ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’.

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3

Lucie Ondruskova (Deviantart name: LucieOn)

Lucie is from the Czech Republic and works a lot with watercolours. Her gallery has a collection dedicated to her ‘Knotworks and Patterns’ which are made truly unique with her interesting application of watercolour and small additional details. Below is ‘Celtic Butterfly’, just one of many beautiful pieces of subtle knotwork.

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Next week i’ll be posting my usual ‘Monthly Tutorial’. This time I’ll be showing you how to develop your ideas.

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!

Autistic and artistic!

It’s hard to believe that it’s October already, this has been a difficult year of significant loss for me but I finally feel like I’ve got my passion for art back. Lately I’ve been working on two projects, though one has taken a bit of a backseat as I’m focusing more on developing my more relaxed illustration style (which I’m doing through designing Christmas cards) whilst the other I have a feeling is going to go down a more detailed fine art route.

I’ve been enjoying just sketching out some ideas and building on them and it feels good to be creative but not worry so much about detail and the piece being ‘good’. I’m focusing more on the feeling rather than the technique. Whilst it feels so satisfying to finish a detailed piece I feel more inclined to think ‘i’ll spend this spare time working on that piece’ when it’s more relaxed. It’s not the most serious of subject matter but I’ve been working on creating a cute card design that’ll give a ‘cosy’ festive vibe.

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These are obviously just the very first steps, just my first rough sketches. Now that I have some ideas though I’ve started transferring these ideas onto mixed media paper (i wanted a bit of texture so I chose fine grain heavyweight paper (you can read all about selecting the right papers here: Choosing the right sketchbook )

As well as cracking on with my art projects last Friday I went to the Welsh Autism Show in Cardiff which was packed with information and resources. What I was especially pleased to come across was some fellow ASD artists and their brilliant work. Find out more about their work by clicking the names below. (Please bear in mind images are copyright).

Michelle Chick

Michelle is based in South Wales and has qualifications from the University of Wales in Cardiff. Her art is so detailed and she uses a variety of mediums, from watercolour to gouache and acrylics.

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‘Goldhill’ Michelle Chick
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‘Castle Combe’ Michelle Chick

 

Patrick Samuel

I loved how colourful and expressive Patrick’s work was and how he’s embracing neurodiversity rather than seeing it as a barrier.

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‘New World’ Patrick Samuel. Acrylic
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‘Time for Reflection’ Patrick Samuel. Oil pastel

 

Chris Baker

When I saw the work Chris had on display I was amazed by how realistic his drawings were. In fact, my companion thought they were photographs! It’s evident how much care and attention goes in to each piece. Chris is a self-taught artist and is available for commission.

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Chris Baker. Pencil

Have a creative week!

 

Quick book review: Illustration Workshop

This month I’ll be reviewing a book I got in the summer; ‘Illustration Workshop’ by Mary Kate McDeritt.

 

Full title: Illustration Workshop: Find your style, practice drawing skills, and build a stellar portfolio.

Price: £9.85-£16.99

Where to buy (UK): Amazon, Book Depository

About: Written/compiled by American illustrator Mary Kate McDevitt, this appealing book guides you into the world of illustration. From the very first page you’re encouraged to get creative (literally – your first activity is to write your name and draw yourself) offering practical information on the industry, materials illustrators use, small warm-up activities and whole guided projects.

The Good

  • The layout – it’s fair to say this book is very aesthetically pleasing; with bright colours, illustrations throughout and interesting typography. The book itself is a piece of illustration work! It also breaks things down into sections making it easy to follow.
  • The writing style – The language and tone of the book appeals to ‘everyday’ people which makes it accessible to even beginners in the field of illustration. Everything is explained well without any hint of pretentiousness.
  • The activities range from small to large projects meaning if you have just 5 minutes to fill there’s something for you, if you have 5 hours to fill, there’s also something for you.
  • Projects are guided and go through a process. You follow each section of the project so you’re never left wondering where to go next. If your imagination seems to be having a day off, there are activities within each project to get your creative juices flowing, such as questions (‘who is your target audience?’) and a section for a spider diagram.
  • In addition to the mini activities within each project there’s also some visual inspiration, which is great for those of us who think more visually.
  • The book can be picked up very reasonably online
  • It’s a fun way of developing your illustration skills

The maybe not so good

  • If you’re from UK you’ll be aware that the book is American. There’ll be minor spelling/terminology differences
  • The information provided about working as an illustrator is limited. It’s a good introduction but this book isn’t for in-depth explanation

So is it worth it?

In my opinion I love this book! It was affordable, pleasing to look at (I’m a very visual person) and gave my need to practice my illustration skills/develop my style a direction. It can be hard to pull a project idea out of the air, which is why this book is so useful. I like the honesty with which McDermitt writes and the personal edge she gives it. The projects are engaging and the small warm-ups very unique! I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to develop their illustration skills, especially if they feel they need more direction.

Rating: 4.5/5

A fresh start

Moving day has finally arrived and whilst I thought I’d still have the evening to do some artwork after spending the past week moving boxes it turns out I’ve been too knackered to do anything! I’m excited to have a freshly painted home studio to go to though and the lighting is a million times better than my old one, in which I had to have the light on constantly even on sunny days! I’m keen to get my desk and materials set up asap to begin work again as I’ve been missing being engrossed in my work. Unfortunately I won’t have internet for a few weeks so my blog will be a little quiet until September but I’ll still be updating on my facebook and twitter when I get a chance when I’m in the library. If you aren’t already following me, click the icons below to be directed to my accounts (opens in new tab).

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In the chaos of sorting through all my belongings I also realised that last month I posted two reviews. Whilst I’m away, here’s a list of past reviews to take a look at. Click the link to open a new page:

Affordable Gouache

Body-Kun Models For Artists

Grayson Perry Book

Derwent Pastel Pencil Set

Derwent Graphitint Pencils

Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

Creative Paper Cutting Book

An Illustrated Life Book

Handstitching Guide Book

Paintbrush Cleaners

Taking Great Photos Book

You can also read about exhibitions I’ve been to which have now ended:

Quentin Blake Exhibition- Cardiff

‘Your Gallery’ Exhibition- Newport

‘Nature’s Song’ Exhibition- Cardiff

If you feel like getting creative yourself, in September I’ll be resuming my monthly tutorial but in the mean time you can find all my tutorials at the link below, from sewing to painting:

Tutorial archive

Enjoy the last bits of summer and check back in September for updates, tutorials and more reviews!

 

 

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