Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Jardin Des Savons

A wonderful surprise arrived today courtesy of Kate who runs Jardin Des Savons. She sent me the most amazing selection of natural artisan soaps. 

Her soaps are made using organic olive and coconut oils and unrefined cocoa and shea butters from a Ghanian women's co operative. They smell wonderful and I think Father Christmas might be putting the beautiful shaving pack into my lovely man's stocking as he is just deciding what to do with his beard after 'Movember' and I might share some others, but to be honest I want them all to myself! 

Kate is using my Partridge in a Pear Tree tree designs on her Christmas packs at craft fairs in Truro, Cornwall, U.K. this Christmas. Don't you love the internet, it reaches out all over the world and yet Kate, almost just down the road from me,  found me via this blog.

Thank you very much Kate and have a wonderful Christmas.

December at Home

 On those lovely cold crisp winter mornings this is one of my views as I walk with my smallest to school. Christmas is getting nearer, I been treated to a nativity play, letters to Father Christmas and started making mince pies.

At the weekend I asked my lovely man to find a beautiful spray of branches thinking festive entertainment for my two boys both stuck at home with heavy colds....I got a big tree shaped stick......the boys went bonkers with the decorations and we have this!

Well it makes everyone smile which can only be good!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Snowflakes and Reindeer

You know how it is, suddenly it's the end of November and Christmas is almost here and there is still so much to do! I love this time of year. I have just collected the tickets for my son's nativity play, the letters to Father Christmas are being written and I am making lists!
Spoonflower is having a 'Snowflake' contest so I thought I would enter this design. Spoonflower are even offering it as a wrapping paper for a short time as well.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A limited palette of Seagulls

Seagulls are not my favourite birds, living where I do there are too many, they raid bins and can be quite aggressive during the nesting season, but this lot were so comical, stood in a line on a roof, they needed drawing. Then for a bit of fun, I decided they were just the thing for this weeks Spoonflower contest entitled 'flights of fancy'. The brief included a limited palette (Hex codes grey - 707c7c, light teal - 83c5ba, apple green - 93d300, pale yellow - F9ea62.) which I found interesting as they are not colours I would necessarily have chosen myself; the green in particular was a challenge for me to include as you probably can tell.
I have no chance, as there are some quite stunning designs entered, but, the winner will be featured on the cover of Mollie Makes, a craft magazine published here in the UK.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Super Hero Obsessed

 Pinned Image
Ok, to say my smallest son is obsessed with 'Super Herios' as he puts it, is probably a little strong. Never the less, this weeks contest on Spoonflower was one not to be missed as it meant designing a fabric he would love. The contest is titled 'Be My Hero', and can, I am sure be interpreted in many ways, but for smallest son it had to be 'Super Hero'. He created the poses and I just drew him! I think I now have to make some pyjamas!
You can vote for my design here if you like

Monday, 29 October 2012

Uta's African Wax Prints Collecting

My sister in law Uta, is a very talented tailor and specialises in up-cycling clothes and fabrics (I will tell you all about her work at a later date as she is about to start her own blog.)
She has started collecting African wax print fabrics. Beautiful complex designs originating from both the Netherlands and Africa.
Melted wax is printed onto the fabric and then the fabric is dipped in dye, often indigo. The wax resists the dye to varying degrees and the pattern is built up.
The patterns are hugely varied and have many meanings. I find these fabrics quite awe inspiring and mesmerising. The complexity of the designs and intensity of the colours defy the basic simplicity of the process used to make them. To find to more go here.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Kids Creations

I wanted to show you some work by my 5 year old son and his friend. The fabric designs were a project from a rainy day in the summer holidays and the dancing chicken was made by my son, inspired by Aardman's 'Chicken Run', finding out how stop frame animation is created.

I am constantly wowed by the creativity of the kids!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Totnes Lantern Procession

All sorts of creations

Spotty dog lantern

Dragon fly
An  animated monkey

Walking up town with a weird bug hovering next to us

Monkey and Fly processing
My favourite community event in my town is the Lantern Procession that this year celebrated the autumn moon.

 Everyone who wants to can make a lantern and join in. As myself and family and friends were in the thick of it my photos are somewhat limited, but it was amazing to see the creativity from so many people, bigs and smalls.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Green Tomato Chutney

This year our tomato crop succumbed to tomato blight, so the only thing to do was to harvest all the tomatoes, red and green. My favourite thing to do with all these green tomatoes is to make chutney.
You need some apples. I scrumped ( a Devon word for picking fruit ) these apples from our community orchard.
 Then you need a bit of time to chop everything up......
 ..........and a few hours later you have a batch of chutney. Now I just have wait a few weeks for it to mature before I can have my favourite cheese and chutney sandwich. So while waiting I drew this old family recipe for They Draw and Cook.
The basic quantities below, but you can easily scale this up if you have more green tomatoes.

3lb Green Tomatoes
1 lb Onions
1 1/2 lb Apples
1/4 oz Ground Ginger (I used grated fresh ginger)
1/4 oz Pepper
1/4 oz Salt
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Mustard
1/2 lb Sultanas (you don't need to add these if you don't want to)
3/4 pint Vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar but malt vinegar is fine)
(I also added 2 chillies as I had them and wanted to heat this up a bit)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Street Story

This  little pattern is created for the current Tiger Print competition entitled 'Tell a Tale'. I'm not sure I have fulfilled the brief exactly but I need to get back into the swing of things and this was just up my street!!!!

Monday, 10 September 2012


Sometimes I just can't draw and now the kids are back at school I have no excuse. Today with nothing flowing from my pencil I got the watercolours out and even they are failing me. This is meant to be the view through the window from my desk and through the frustration of not being able to work with any fluidity I over work it into a clumsy muddle! Ho hum tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Social Fabric in town

A new shop and workshop has opened in Totnes, my home town, in Devon U.K. called Social Fabric.

Caroline the owner says 'Come and master the age-old arts of knitting, sewing and crochet, but in a very 21st century way. This isn't school, it's going to be fun and fabulous!'

I reckon it's going to be a vibrant fun place for those who like to create stuff! I want to go to the lampshade workshop and learn to make lampshades using my own fabric designs (something I have always wanted to do) for my hallway in my home.

Plus, Caroline is selling some gorgeous yarns and some fun sewing and embroidery kits and inspiring craft books.
And I am so pleased that Social Fabric will be stocking my Campervan cut and sew soft toy fabric.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Colour - Orange

 A certain hue abounds in my garden at the moment. The gorgeous oranges hum against the greens. I love it, but I have to admit its by luck rather than judgement.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Alex Hartley searched for and discovered Nyskjaeret in 2004. The island had been revealed by the melting ice of a retreating glacier. Alex was the first person to set foot on the island. It's about the size of a football pitch. Alex built a cairn at the centre of the island with the date of his discovery inside a tin can. In 2006 the Norwegian  Polar Institute agreed to recognise the island and to name it and include it on all subsequent maps. On the 2011 expedition, Alex replaced this can with a signed note by the expedition team marking their visit, along with a letter written by an eight-year old from Bristol.
Nyskjaeret                                                       Photo:Max Mclure

This became Nowhereisland, an island from the Arctic on a journey around the coast of South West England. As it started this epic journey, it travelled through international waters, whereupon it became the world's newest nation - Nowhereisland - with citizenship open to all.
The Embassy                                              Photo:Max Mclure

On it's visit to Torquay I went to see Nowhereisland and visited it's embassy (which was in the harbour) and became one of the citizens with a certificate to prove it!
What fascinates me  are the multiple layers which comprise this artwork. Nowhereisland is durational (it unfolds over time); it is nomadic (it moves across locations, accruing different meanings in different contexts); it is physical matter (it is a sculpture comprising material from the Arctic and a collection of objects, documents, photographs and films in the Embassy); it is an intervention (a geological displacement of material, a landscape moving around another landscape); it is the words and images of others (speaking back to the project through the Resident Thinkers programme and Constitution) and it is a utopian idea (a conceptual nation involving thousands of people across the world shaping that nation's values and principles online).

 It's got something for everyone, after our visit to the embassy even my five year old was questioning the meaning of freedom!

I recommend you visit the online embassy to explore more about it all.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Illustration Friday - Freeze

Baby Penguins
This weeks word over on Illustration Friday is freeze so I thought this little linocut print I made last year would be appropriate, plus it's a good reminder to myself how much I love and miss printing.

With a lack of a studio in recent months I have had little room to work. Give me ink, paint and lino and everything gets covered, so working on the kitchen table is not an option. However, all is about to change as finally I am sorting out my soon to be studio in the garden. It wont be the pretty cosy space I initially envisaged but it will be my space and my studio, a precious thing when the house is full of my lovely boys, their friends and the mayhem that ensues.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Rainy Day and Pirates Draw Narnia!

Aslan by Alfred 5 years old
Narnia by Seren 6 years old
Its pouring with rain and my smallest son and his friend are kicking around the house, dressed as pirates drawing pictures of Narnia! Well that is what you do when you are 5 and 6 years old. The idea emerged of turning the drawings into fabric and these are the resulting repeat patterns. I think these two small people have created two lovely fabric designs.

These are now on Spoonflower but not yet for sale, that is where extreme patience will be necessary as we wait for the samples to arrive.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Flying Again

Sometimes life becomes very hectic and fraught with challenges that take over. I am just emerging from just such a 'sometimes'.  As I say, this little blog is about my return to illustration now I have my family of boys, and recently they have needed my undivided attention. But things are calming down and I am back and facing the challenge of drawing again. (I have found myself unable to pick up a pencil for weeks, let alone make a mark.)

So as part of this challenge I have tweeked an old fabric design and entered it in this weeks Spoonflower contest. If you like it you could vote for it.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Sorry it's been a while. It's been so busy around here and my camera has decided to give up working, however, our little show 'totnes illustrator inc' was really successful and great fun. It was lovely to meet everyone and brilliant to get such positive and useful feedback. Watch this space for some new projects that have come from the show!

 Then we were straight off camping in North Cornwall with the hope of a relaxing break with sun sea and surf! Ha Ha Ha!

What we got was, my bad back before we even left the house, then an ill child and driving rain and gale force winds.  (Very unseasonal weather that has caused chaos all over the UK in the past few days)

But what we also got was one gorgeous day on the beach. A fantastic little eco campsite that has converted me to composting loos and solar showers. There were lots of animals including lambs to bottle feed, a rescued race horse, chickens and goats. A veggie patch to help yourself to and real campfires every night where we made toast and new friends over a glass or two. Lovely. We will be returning if the sun ever shows its face again.
Lots of animals including these ladies
The lovely veggie patch
Campfires every evening
Ed got to use his Kelly Kettle

Summerleaze Beach
Campsite viewed from the canal
Photos copyright Cerenety Eco Campsite

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Little Moped

OK, so this is a bit of a distraction from what I should be doing, (getting everything together for our little show) but, after the other weeks (rightly) disasterous contest entry for Spoonflower and this weeks theme being 'Motorcycles', I couldn't resist tweaking the repeat and colours of this little drawing and entering this design.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


 Friends Bethan Matthews and Paula Cloonan have asked me to join them in their show here in Totnes in a couple of weeks. (more information to come) So I have, at last,  ordered some postcards of a few of my designs to go with my fabrics I'll be showing.

You can also buy these designs as cards from my shop at redbubble.com

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Yay! Samples Arrive

I love it when my samples arrive. It can be the first time I see a non digital version of the design and it always amazes me.  Spoonflower send 8 inch squares of each design on a quilting weight cotton so that I can see the colours and the repeat. Once I have checked them they are for sale by the yard and on a selection of fabrics here. It's hard for me to chose a favourite but I am particularly pleased with my bicycle collection.

It's a dull day so I haven't captured the vibrancy of the colours. I have a lot more new fabrics to show you but I need to take some better pictures so watch this space!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Ingredients for a Pirate Party

When  a four year old about to be five years old requests a pirate themed birthday party you will need......
a pirate cake.....
a sunny day......

a garden pirate ship including a lot of little pirates......add some games including a pirate treasure hunt, draw the patch on the pirate and make big brother walk the gang plank.

Round off with whole load of small pirate treasure chests filled with chocolate treasure for your small pirates to take home as a Thank You for coming. And a good time will be had by all.

If you need to make treasure chests down load this jpg. Print it off, glue it to thin card, cut it out and stick together then, for added authenticity, fill with chocolate coins!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Maurice Sendak

As a child I loved Maurice Sendak's books and have passed this love of his work onto my children. There is many a bedtime when the house resounds with 'I'm not the milk and the milks not me I'm Mickey.' So it is with great sadness that I today I learnt of Maurice Sendak's death. He was 83 and died from complications from a stroke.

Maurice Sendak is the reason I wanted to become an illustrator. He has been a major influence and inspiration of mine for as long as I can remember.  He illustrated many other authors work but is probably most well known for the stories he wrote and illustrated, in particular Where The Wild Things Are and my favourite, In The Night Kitchen.

 In the Night Kitchen published in 1970 is a dark children's story that explored relationships with his relatives whilst playing with childhood fears and aggressions. Bizaarly it was banned for innocent nude images of Mickey.

His work is quite beautiful. I love the compositions of his images, the restrained use of colour and the wonderful personality he brought to his lines. It is his linear quality that particularly inspired my linocut work.

Today has become a sad day with his death, but it is tempered with the knowledge that Maurice Sendak's unique, wonderful, beautiful work will be loved by children and adults alike forever.