Monday, December 19, 2011

crochet baby blanket

This is a blanket I have made for my sister who is due to have her baby in May 2012. I chose neutral colours as she doesn't want to know the sex of her baby until the little thing comes out. It's a really snuggly blanket and it was perfect to make in December. As it got bigger and bigger it was covering more of my lap so it was keeping me very warm as I was crocheting it. I hope she likes her Christmas present.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The December issue of The Bedford Clanger

The Bedford Clanger is now available online to read this month. Just click here! This month was a great one to do the layouts for as Erica had written an article about a new photography gallery that has just opened it's doors in Bedford. Rock City Art showcases the best rock photography from the 70s onwards so it was great going through their work, choosing my favourite snaps and placing these amazing images in the page layouts.
We Are Bedford's pop up emporium also gets a fair bit of coverage and rightly so! It's opened until the 17th December. It's a temporary shop stocked exclusively by Bedford made or designed goods.
Lastly, look out for my corny christmas cracker-esque jokes I penned for this issue. They are truly awful, but they link in with the articles featured on each page.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Craft Fair at St. Cuthbert's

On Saturday I was at St. Cuthbert's Hall in Bedford sharing a stall with my two chums Tracey and Gemma. We were selling some of our handmade Christmas decorations.
I was selling some crochet discs that I had stiffened and threaded with ribbons, some little birds, embroidered trees and illustrated soldier characters as hanging decorations. Gemma was selling some origami stars (one made from over 30 pieces of individually cut pieces of paper). Tracey stole the show with her amazing felt decorations. Her gingerbread men flew off the stall and even appeared in the local newspaper. They were beautifully stitched and all had gorgeous little beaded details and ribbon. The day was a success, there were lots of stalls all selling lovely gifts for Chrimbo and all made by Bedfordians.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

fisherman embroidery

Here is the finished fisherman embroidery from the sketch I posted before. I love the way his eyes and beard have been stitched out. The thread is so shiny but my camera isn't great! I took the pictures in natural light, but the colour and depth of the textures have been lost in these images. If my aim is to avoid using computers to illustrate during my 'out-of hours' work time, it's no surprise that something created without the screen needs to be seen in 'real-life' without a screen. Next problem is to work out how to frame these pieces in the right way.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sketch of new Embroidery Design

This is my fisherman character that I have created and have started to embroider. I traced the image onto plainweave fabric using my window as a light box (luckily it was sunny). I bought a bunch of shiny embroidery threads from ebay, but they aren't the best quality, you really do get what you pay for in life. I'm having a lot of trouble with their ends fraying, but once this guy is finished I''ll post him so you can see how he shapes up.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hand-Stitched Embroidery

I had this week off work, so I decided to avoid technology and get hands-on with some sewing. I had a whole list of things to do, but I got some amazing art books for my birthday and they were so inspiring, I could not resist the lure of the hoop.
For my birthday I received Push Stitchery by Mr. X Stitch. A collection of contemporary fiber artists. I was so impatient to pick up my needle and thread after reading through the book.
After two days of stitching I finished this embroidery of a girl's face. A self portrait really, but she's miles prettier than the real me. This piece has been influenced by Jenny Hart, who is an amazing embroiderer and illustrator. I love the way she mixes up the way she stitches. Chains for hair strands, knots for textures in the background.
Also, Catalina Estrada for her use of symmetry and cuteness that echoes throughout all her painted and graphic work.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pixies at Christmas

Ashlea at Bunnycup Embroidery has been super busy stitching out various doodles I've sent her for her Christmas rush. I drew a set of 12 'Christmas Pixies' and here are just 4 all stitched out. If you have an embroidery machine these would might look cute on stockings or as a fun festive way to spruce up an item of clothing for your own little pixie in the family.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Movember issue of The Bedford Clanger

The Bedford Clanger is a local arts and events newspaper for Bedford. I'm the designer, which means every month I slot in a few articles, tart up a few photos and rustle up a few ads. Actually it can be hard work sometimes, especially as time is always against me! I find I have the layout just the way I want it then suddenly a last minute article gets emailed through and I have to shrink photos and jiggle everything around again. It's a good project to be involved with though and it's worth the effort.

We print our papers via the newspaper club and they are available to pick up at independent shops, cafes and businesses in Bedford town centre. Folks not of the Bedford parish can read it online at scribd .

This month is a Movember issue so we are focusing on men's health charity events from art auctions to gala nights. The front cover (pictured) is by Bedford based artist, Anne-Marie Stijelja. She created this Movemeber inspired artwork for the charity auction.

Monday, October 31, 2011


It's Halloween and the Illustration Friday theme is 'scary'.
This was drawn in ink, watercolour and gouache paint. I went a bit over the top with colour. No digital media was used and it was really hard. I longed for an undo button.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We Are Bedford: Monsters of Bedford

Last weekend was the WE ARE BEDFORD Monster Draw, part of the The Big Draw a U.K National campaign to get people drawing.

Erica Roffe & Kayte Judge who run We Are Bedford organised this event at an empty shop unit in Bedford. Myself along with other professional illustrators from the town helped out. Katy Dynes, Alasdair Bright, Rachel Lovatt, Scarlett Tierney, Andrew Foster and David Litchfield were the drawing team. We had stitching, collage, drawing stations and some demos too.

There was a huge gallery wall drawn by David, Alasdair and Andrew depicting Bedford's river and the prehistoric monsters who once roamed there! Locals were invited to pop in, draw a picture of their own monster and stick it up on the wall for all to see. We had an amazing collection at the end. The best monster won a signed print by Pete Fowler so a lot of Super Furry Animals fans were taking it very seriously. The entries were so good we had plenty of runners up prizes too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Monsters Are Coming to Bedford

Anyone from Bedford should come and visit me and other Bedfordian illustrators this Saturday. We Are Bedford are hosting a Big Draw event at 22 Castle Lane from 11am - 3pm. You are invited to pop in and create your own monster drawing. There will be stitching, collage, chalk, demonstrations, a big game of 'Monster Dice' and 'Beautiful Monster' (aka consequences or 'Exquisite corpse').

Stick your drawing on a monster map or enter it in a competition to win a signed print by the king of monsters himself... The one and only Pete Fowler! Whoop!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Illustration Friday for this week is scatter. This weekend I was walking a lot in the Gloustershire countryside. It was beautiful and here in the UK the Autumn has hit us hard and it's been very windy and very cold. The leaves are scattered everywhere.

I'm enjoying working with thread, but scanning in the finished pieces is not doing the work justice, and my camera isn't doing the job properly either. If anyone happens to be reading this with some good ideas on how I can get the stitched image represented well as a digital image for the web, that will be appreciated.

I've also posted the original sketch and a close up of the character in the stitched illustration.

Monday, October 17, 2011

More illustration with sewing

I'm still playing around with the sewing machine. It's rewarding to create illustrations that are tangible. I work digitally during the day, creating files through mouse, tablet and monitor screen... But ultimately creating an image that you can't hold. My designs go abroad to get printed into cards, so I seldom see let alone hold the finished product. Therefore it's quite therapeutic for me and arguably a natural reaction to my daily routine to make something perceptible by touch as well as by sight. Made directly with my own hands.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Experimenting for Christmas

This Christmas I'll be doing a craft fair with some old school friends, just for fun. I have a lot of scrap linen in my house, so I've made some quick Christmas trees which look quite cute as festive decorations. The material is thin, so I'll have to be careful with the embroidery. The hanging hearts I made a few years ago, but I think I'll make some more for the fair. Now I can use my sewing machine, I can churn a lot of these out quite quickly and neatly.

Monday, October 10, 2011


For Illustration Friday the subject is 'contraption'.
I opened my 1959 copy of 'Good Housekeeping' for inspiration and the whole magazine is full of adverts for the modern housewife's kitchen. This one caught my eye:

I thought a quick 50s-esque illustration of a girl with her new washing contraption would be suitable for this week's theme (you can click on the image to make it bigger).

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Coffee and shopping

This is my second go at doodling with stitches. I draw the character in my sketch book and trace the main shapes with tracing paper. Then I cut out my chosen fabrics using these paper templates.

The background fabric is quite thin, so I can see my sketch if I lay it on top of my sketchbook. It would be great if I had a light box, but I used my window instead. I lightly trace the main shapes in pencil onto the linen so I can see where to place my shapes.

I layer up the fabric and lightly stick them down with fabric glue. I use pins too. Then I stitch them down with a zigzag or running stitch using my sewing machine. I'm very clumsy, but I like the hap-hazard look!

I add other collage details like paper and floral fabric and hand stitch the smaller shapes and fiddly parts of the illustration like the face and spirals.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Lion Wallet Experiment

This is a coin purse I made. The image was created in photoshop and printed on heat iron transfer paper then ironed on to the linen. Overall it looks quite dull, but an image with more contrast with stronger colours would stand out against the beige background. I like the way you can see the texture of the material through the lion.

Making little coin purses was easy and fun. Having a new found confidence with a sewing machine means I will potentially be able to use illustrations in a new way. Sewing the zipper on with the zip foot was the most difficult part.

Friday, October 07, 2011

crochet scarf

Here is a picture of my new homemade scarf. It's nice and long (just over 7 ft) and it's made from 11 crocheted squares. I went to a crochet class in Bedford last year and I love sitting in front of the telly crocheting away. My sister is expecting a baby so a blanket will be made for her at some point. I've also been crocheting circles for Christmas decorations, but I need to experiment with ways to stiffen them effectively.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Drawing with stitches

As a full time digital illustrator, drawing at a computer for around 9 hours a day makes you sick of staring at a screen. In the evening and weekends, I try not to switch on the mac.
My day job as a cute greeting cards artist is fun, but I want to start creating artworks in my free time without the burden of using a computer. I decided to use a sewing machine to doodle. I've tried painting in the past, but time and space is sparse and I can't be doing with all that clearing and cleaning nonsense with messy brushes.