Sunday, 21 September 2014

Lino Printing at The Handmade Fair with Zeena Shah

I had a very fun day out on Friday at The Handmade Fair - a new, crafty fair with a focus on learning and making. One of the lovely bloggers I bumped into described it as being "like a crafty festival" and it really was, with lots of tents for workshops and talks plus shopping and eating... lots of famous faces from the world of craft and sewing... and lots of bunting! :)

I'll be blogging about the day later this week, but in the meantime here are some snaps from the workshop I attended: lino printing with Zeena Shah.

I'd never tried lino printing before so I was quite excited to give it a go at the Fair - although I was a teeny bit nervous about using the sharp lino cutting tool! Me + sharp objects = usually a bad combination.

We started by drawing a design we wanted to print. I had a bit of creative block but I eventually settled on a simple star design and drew it onto my lino. 

Then we carved out our designs, leaving raised areas where we wanted to print and cutting away the sections that would be white space. The lino was easier to carve than I expected but still quite hard work after a while (I suspect lino cutters elbow might be a thing!) and you had to be very careful with the cutting tool as it was indeed very sharp - as proven by one of the ladies on my table who cut herself (ouch!)

It was really fun to see the design gradually appearing in the lino and really nice sitting and chatting with the other ladies as we worked. We laughed about the mistakes we were making, admired each others designs and talked about the things we'd done at the Fair earlier that day.

My design was finally finished...

... just in time for me to do a couple of prints before the workshop ended.

I used too little paint (oops) then a too much (double oops) then my third print was just right. Hurrah!

Trying new crafty things = so much fun!

If you'd like to try lino printing, Zeena runs lots of lino printing workshops.

Disclosure: I attended The Handmade Fair as a guest of the organisers who sent me a free ticket.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Flora Jamieson

This week's Crafty Lady is Flora from The Round Window.

Flora works in a very different medium to the previous Crafty Ladies I've featured - she makes wonderful things from glass! 

Flora's work has a charming retro feel to it, like the illustrations in an awesome vintage childrens book. She sells her hand painted glass in her Etsy and Folksy shops, along with colourful cards and postcards featuring her designs. 


My name is Flora Jamieson, and I’m a stained glass artist living in Dorset. 

Working from a (small, usually untidy) converted outbuilding at home, I design and make contemporary stained glass. I also work as a freelance glass painter for other stained glass studios in the UK and abroad. My partner Mike makes waxwork figures for museums, artists and exhibitions, and when we’re not working, we’re off exploring the South West in the campervan with our two girls.

Recently I’ve been making…

My workload varies so much from month to month. Earlier this year I took part in a group exhibition of contemporary stained glass with two other artists, called One Square Foot where we each submitted 3 panels of a 12” x 12” format. It was really liberating designing pieces with no brief in mind, the only restriction being the size.


Currently I’m doing some church restoration work for a couple of other stained glass studios – this involves painting exact copies of fragments from damaged windows. There’s often a bit of detective work involved if some of the fragments are missing to find out what should be there, which I really enjoy. I also paint the traditional roundels often seen in Victorian domestic stained glass, which usually feature birds or flowers (or both!) This is one of my favourite parts of my job.

And in the next couple of months I’ll be making some new stock for my Etsy shop in time for the Christmas period. I will be taking part in the Dorset Etsy Team craft fair in December, which is one of the few in Europe that has been approved and supported by Etsy, so it will be great to be a part of that.

I’ve been working on…

Recently I’ve been getting some requests for graphic design and illustration work, from people who have seen my stained glass work on the internet and liked the bold, graphic style of it. I’ve illustrated a set of 12 icons for a new app that will be launching in London this autumn called TreatNow and I also created the logo for my new local cafĂ©, Soulshine, as well as doing some general graphic design work on postcards and flyers for them. Illustration is something that I’d love to do more of, or at least find time to do more of!


I’m also excited to be licensing a couple of my stained glass designs as greeting cards to a major publishing company. This is happening in January next year, so I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself but I’m really thrilled about this.

I’ve been blogging about…

Erm, very little lately!  I’m afraid Instagram has taken over in my affections, so I tend to post there on a daily basis. It’s a mix of my stained glass work and family adventures in the beautiful Dorset coast and countryside around us. It’s lovely to have a record of all the things we’ve done over the year, it’s become more like a visual diary.


I’ve been reading…

I’m not much of a reader I have to confess. I’m about half of the way through Wildwood, which I bought for my daughter and then started it myself. It’s a beautifully illustrated book and the story (so far anyway) is a bit like a modern day Narnia. Other than that I subscribe to Wrap magazine, which I absolutely love – it’s such a beautiful publication, and Elle Deco. I’m also rather fond of buying design/illustration/interiors books, (I like looking at the pictures… shhh, don’t tell my kids, I’m always moaning at them to read proper books)

Online, there are many blogs I always try to read – Fine Little DayKirsten Rickert, Nina in Vorm, Plucky, Gems, It’s Nice That – oh too many to mention really, a random assortment of pretty things to look at and interesting words to read.

While I work, I’ve been listening to…

Podcasts. Nothing I like more than a nice bit of complex leading and a riveting interview to listen to – brain and hands all perfectly occupied. Some of my favourites are Design Matters, After The Jump, Why Oh Why, Ted Talks and the Creative Mornings Talks. For music I like to dig around to find good playlists on 8 Tracks.

Flora’s 3 Top Tips for Juggling Motherhood with a Creative Career

1. Get your kids involved in the things that you do – that way you can all work alongside each other. Last year I opened an Etsy shop for my (then 9 year old) daughter because she wanted to adopt a Snow Leopard through the WWF. The sales of the cards featuring her illustrations pay for her monthly adoption fee, and she’s learning that people admire her work enough to pay for it.

2. During school holidays, get out the house with the kids as much as you can. That way you’re not stressing about work, the kids are having fun and the house is remaining (reasonably) tidy. I wake early and get a few hours done before my partner goes off to work, so that I can enjoy the rest of the day knowing I’ve pushed things on a bit. I also try to let clients know that progress might be a bit slower.

I remember reading a wonderful quote from one of my favourite creative entrepreneurs, Mandy Sutcliffe from Belle & Boo on the subject of juggling it all: "I used to go to meetings with Robyn when she was about three months old. I’d stroll in and apologise, but then carry on quite comfortably. After all, life is life and life has children." (from here).

3. Use your children as your inspiration. A lot of my designs for my smaller pieces that I sell in my Etsy shop were inspired by retro children’s books that we’d find while poking around in charity shops. When I print off designs from the computer that are mistakes or tests, I often give them to the girls to colour in or alter - sometimes their fresh take on things can lead me in a new direction.

Their creative process is inspiring to me too – the way they can just sit and draw or make without any fear of it looking “right” or “wrong”  is something I would love to be able to do more of.


Click here to visit Flora's website, and here to visit her Etsy shop. You can also read her blog and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

For more in the Crafty Ladies series, click here

Thursday, 18 September 2014

One Bite at a Time

"How do you eat a whale?" "One bite at a time!"

I am not eating a whale but I am knitting a patchwork blanket and the process feels similar... working on one square at a time, stitch by stitch, slowly making more and more until (eventually! a long time down the road!) there will be a finished blanket. 

Here are the mini squares I've knitted in the past couple of months:

Regular readers may remember that I'm knitting these small squares (which are just 10 stitches across) for a picnic blanket with a design that apparently reminds everyone of the video game Tetris :)

That little pile of squares doesn't look like much for "a couple of months" work, but I've only been knitting one or two squares here and there on evenings when I'm watching TV and don't feel like focusing on one of my sewing projects. I'm also only using "leftover" yarn for these small squares - yarn left over from knitting the bigger squares I'm making for this blanket (and other projects).

So, this particular whale is gonna take a long time to eat!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

This Time Last Year: Super-Cute Felt Animals

This time last year, my second book - Super-Cute Felt Animals - had just been published! Yay!

Many, many thanks to everyone who has bought a copy, recommended it to a friend, reviewed it, or shared pics of what you've made from it... all of these things are very much appreciated.

It is a joy to be able to write a book but that is nothing compared to seeing it out in the world, being enjoyed by other people :)

You can "look inside" Super-Cute Felt Animals over on Amazon and read more about both my books here. Or click here for some behind the scenes snaps from when I was working on all those felt animals :)

P.S. Don't miss the FREE tutorials I shared last year to celebrate the launch of the book!


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