Valentine’s Craftiness


I’ve been busy learning new things / relearning old skills so far this year, so I haven’t had much chance to do embroidery (yet) but there’s nothing like a holiday to celebrate to get me stitching, particularly when there’s such good patterns out there. The above ‘Made For Each Other’ was stitched for Mr. Lacer and is a pattern by Bridgeen from Cherry & Cinnamon and it was such fun to stitch and I love how graphic it’s turned out.


I also made a new seasonal cushion for the sofa (to *ahem* replace the Halloween one I stitched two years ago), using this donation-ware pattern from Carina. I set the pattern in a reverse appliqué cushion.


And because I don’t like to forget the kids, I also made them Lino printed Valentines cards, based on an idea from Crafty Magazine a few issues back (so gutted that magazine is closing). This was my first ever Lino printing, I’ve wanted to try it for a long time (vaguely remember my mum doing it) and I finally got round to buying myself a starter set in the January sales and have only just opened the box (typical). The results are very far from perfect but ooh it was fun! Will definitely be doing that again!

I also made the kids heart shaped pizza (using boxed pizza dough) and (not seen) little heart shaped apple pies using ready made puff pastry and tinned apples.



I’m doing a lot of lettering and Illustrator practice at the moment, taking some more Skillshare classes. I have some pieces I’m really pleased with and some pieces that just make me shudder. I’m not sure where the one above (my most recent) falls. I watched a class this morning about layouts. The content of the class was great but the project task(s), unlike all the other Skillshare classes I’ve seen, a bit vague / non-existant. I’m hoping that’s just because it’s a new class and maybe not all the material is up or maybe it’s because we’re all meant to be big grown ups and just take what we’ve learnt and apply it to our own work. Anyway I wanted to practice with something, so I looked through some of my recent Richmond Park photos and chose the one above (because it was the first one I had the strongest idea for). Every time I look at that photo I think “spooky”, what with all the trees, it’s like there’s too many to check behind for something lurking. So I thought I’d make the word ‘spooky’ lurk in the background, something you might not see straight away.

But now I’m thinking it’s too not obvious and that I’ve just wasted an afternoon but looking at the positive, I haven’t. I’ve learnt how to cut shapes out of other shapes using the pathfinder tool (so that you can see through the holes of the P and Os – if you squint hard enough), I’ve practiced another S (Ss are sooo hard in Illustrator), I really like my Os and I’m on the slow and winding path to developing my own style. The teacher in the Skillshare videos I saw today, his photo work was great but in the examples he showed they were very much about filling all the negative space with text, on another project I’ve been working on (for another Skillshare class), that I’ve been working on for ages, the piece is mostly going to be negative space and I guess I need to develop the confidence to be able to go (to myself), “Yes, this is how I do things”.

PS I exported the above as a .jpg, I’ve just noticed on the original .ai version, the ‘Spooky’ does not have the annoying faint white border around it, anyway around this anyone?

How to Draw Anything


I am continuing to practice my drawing skills with a book I’ve had on my iPad for a while, How to Draw Anything by Mark Linley. The above is my first attempt and below is my second, I can already see a bit of an improvement, although I had problems with scale in my second picture. They’re both exercises from the book.


I like the pen and ink style of drawing. As suggested by the title, the book covers a lot of stuff (pen and ink only), from landscapes, buildings, animals and people. There’s also a few chapters at the back about drawing in a more cartoon style, which Iooks, in my opinion, quite dated, hardly surprising though considering the book was written in 1995. But the books seems worth it for the rest of the more natural looking stuff.

Unsuccessful yoghurt cake and some more successful doodles


My first bake of 2014, not a great start. I had some yoghurt I wanted to use up and despite knowing full well I had several tried and tested cake recipes using yoghurt on my bookshelf, I couldn’t remember which books they were in, so I googled instead, used the first recipe I found and well, this happened. As you can see from the photo, it’s not cooked properly at the bottom, despite leaving it in an extra 10 minutes, after my initial cake test showed it hadn’t cooked through yet. The second cake test suggested it had, turns out not. At least the top of the cake is edible but even then, hmmm, it’s too sweet and reminds me uncomfortably of the sort of cake you’d make if you used one of those packet cake mixes. I now feel like I’ve not (as I thought I had) thriftily used up some yoghurt that would have otherwise been thrown out, instead I feel like I’ve wasted some good flour, sugar and eggs instead….

At least my doodling was a bit more successful today, I have a copy of Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists, put together by Jenny Doh. I’m going to attempt to work my way through the book, well at least work my way through the exercises I like.


Part of my ‘new me’ 2014 is to be more organised with my creative supplies, so I was cursing myself a bit when gathering up my tools to sit down and do a spot of doodling, that I couldn’t find any of my black drawing pens, so I ended up using a sharpie, not ideal, but it was either that or tidy my desk in an attempt to find them, again. The above four doodles are based on exercises from Cori Dantini. The doodles below are based on exercises from Flora Chang.IMG_2257

The doodles were a great creative warm up, with the first few doodles I was following pretty much the exact instructions in the book (although as well as having to use a sharpie, I was also using watercolour pencils but that’s because I wanted to). But by the time I got to Flora Chang’s exercises, I was much more doing my own thing. I particularly enjoyed the negative space exercise (the last doodle).

The book itself is great. I love how most of the exercises are in a black and red colour scheme, it gives the book a unified feel and the text does encourage you to use different colours if you want to. There’s lots of artists in the book where I’m already familiar with their work, whether by name, such as Gemma Correll and Aimee Ray (yes, there’s embroidery in there, in fact, a lot of the designs in the book, not just Aimee’s could be used for embroidery inspiration) or because I recognise their style but didn’t know their name (Flora Chang).

There are lots of different styles in the book, although some of the subjects of the exercises are repeated over; there’s more than one owl exercise for example but there’s nothing wrong with owls, so that’s ok.

Material wise I sort of improvised with what I had / what I wanted to use and I think you could probably follow that principle for most of the exercises, however there are some more unusual (to me anyway) materials also featured and I think they make a good encouragement to go try something new.

Now where are my drawing pens …………?


st pauls crop

I wrote at the end of last year that 2014 was about learning new skills and one of them (not that I said) was very definitely learning Illustrator. I took a course on Skillshare and it was a great introduction to the program and I definitely feel comfortable learning more stuff by myself now. The aim of the course was, for practice, to copy a vintage ad, I used an old London Underground ad for St Paul’s from the 1960s. You can see a bit of my copy above, if you’re interested in the whole of my piece you can see it here. I am really, really pleased with how it went!

Creative Wednesday – zentangling


A busy day today and it hasn’t stopped yet, I’m working late tonight and to keep myself alert between shifts I tried some zentangling. I’ve done a little before and I even bought a book awhile ago (One Zentangle A Day by Beckah Krahula – zentangles done from it – precisely zero). I dunno, I can appreciate the meditative effect of zentangling as much as making any art can be meditative but I do think some of the zentangling instruction out there can be a bit much for something that is supposed to be a bit of fun. I grew up with my mum doodling like this, I can’t remember her calling it zentangles, although she may have but I doubt she followed any precise instruction.