Motto for today...


'I'm going to get very, very, very happy...

...and then do everything else I need to do after that!



New Logo for Simply Rouge...

 So it's time to re-vamp my logo for Simply Rouge.  The old one was just text in an elipse and I have disliked it since about the second day after I designed it!  But starting a small business was such a whirlwind of busy-ness and it's only now (two years later) I'm finally getting the time to play and design.

This banner above is for my 'love-grove' page on Trees For Life The information on it was old and I've been planning to do a logo re-vamp for a while and thought this was the perfect opportunity.

This is the new appreciation/dedication image I made for it too (this is from the 'tiffany' invitation suite)


It's a dogs life...

Here's some good advice...
Wag more...bark less, simple yes?
And if you really don't feel like wagging then be very, very quiet.  
And if you can't be quiet...go to sleep. 

I love how dogs use any and every tiny little thing as an excuse to get excited and be happy. I've been sitting on youtube today purposefully using it to get in my happy bubble.  Cute dogs are doing it for me today (and die-cutting machines funny enough).  I found this little hunny on this website


Stichy-scored note cards with bitty tags...

These note cards were scored, folded, stitched, tabbed and punched...










Experimenting with thermography...

I've been experimenting with thermography for years and these are some of my old experiments.  This old experiment is very poor thermo and is the reason I hadn't yet added it as a technique in my stationery company Simply Rouge.


With support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, through the Innovation Fund I have now perfected it.  I have figured out a way to use my Gocco (lots of articles on my beautiful Gocco to come very soon) and create perfect thermography which I have nick-named 'Thermogocc'!

So here is the old one I did with my inkjet printer...



I've also been experimenting for years trying to do gold bevelled edges.  There are some innate properties of my materials and crafting techniques which have made it hard to master.


I'm on the brink of cracking it and when I do I'll be sooooooooo excited to show you my real gold leaf edges!  But here is the old style ones to look at for now...




Note to self:


Thrifty letter writing set...

I created this stationery set using left over papers from my old Japanese letter pads, magazine covers, Japanese crane folding squares and scraps of decorative mullberry paper.

(By the way, if you havent experienced Japanese stationery in all it's pink-candy/zen-fantasy glory... you haven't yet lived.)

They each have a coordinating envelope, a clear plastic closure tab (made from old plastic packaging)and a double layered interior writing sheet.  It was fun to fold them and pack them in their little cellophane bags...
now I just need a shop to sell them in!

Each one is a little origami piece, I LUUUURVE the art of letter folding and have heaps more projects like this to show you (all in good time!).





I love creating things which require a little exploration,
a little journey...
a little story.

Especially when there is a happy ending!


This one features crane folding squares...



This one I call 'Rainbow Eggs' (went crazy on some magazine covers with my new egg punch).





The blossoms are secured with gold eyelets...





Each cello pack is closed on the back with a delicate gold seal...















IKEA flip top box prototype...

 I have a marvelous collection of box patterns and prototypes because I have a compulsive urge to explore how things go together.  I often buy boxes and other packaging just to pull it apart to satiate my curiosity.

This little Lakerol box from the IKEA food section was completely irresistible to me...



It was this little bit that tickled my fancy, it's an ingeneous little tab which functions as a locking mechanism.  You have to depress the front of the box to release the tab which opens with a delicious click.  I'm going to make a few changes to it's shape and proportions and then I'm going to make some of my own to house my ever growing collection of home made business cards. 






The best thing about this box is that it won't open itself without permission in my bag as I carry it around because of the little tab.

AND... the little Lakerol sweets are very lovely, creamy, strong and interestingly flavoured...
But then EVERYTHING about IKEA rocks, like, really.


Creating documenting spaces...

 I was inspired lately by an article from Ali Edwards (one of my regular rss subscriptions).

She talked about magazine style documenting/journalling and ever since I've been seeing shots with perfect text areas and small points of interest that could be positioned in a corner or run down the side of a page. 

I've been taking photo's of everything from grungy walls with funky weeds and grotty drainpipes, through to sweet bees, bugs and wildflowers... the world is one big journalling canvas!

So I've been stalking some rose hedges on the Ormeau tow-path lately.  Yes, I'm the weird girl loitering in the hedges talking to them.

I stalked one flower in particular because the fluffy bumble bees move so fast and so continuously that it was nearly impossible to get a shot. Also, it was a very bright, sunny day so I had to put my camera settings ready for either very bright shots or very shady shots but I couldn't move between the two settings quickly enough to catch a fluffy Mumma.

So I set up my camera on a tiny tripod aimes at one flower and waited patiently for a bee to come along but they were taking their sweet time so I started walking up and down the hedge advertising my flower to the bees but they still didn't come.  I even tried herding them with manic gesturing.

In the end this is the only clear shot I got before the bee went into what I can only describe as a super-sonic seizure... 


The smooth wasp style bees, now, they're much more willing to pose.  I've palyed around here with different crops to try to create text areas.. 





Lady bugs are pretty docile too...



Here is an example of an out shot...

 And here is how it transforms with a bit of colour co-ordinated text...



Cakes, cakes and more cakes!!!

My current favourite cake company is Maisie Fantaisie.  Her designs are sweet, classy and executed with impeccable technique.  I want to live in Maisie's shop!  I would be very, very good and very quiet, she'd not even know I was there!  I'd just be the weirdo in the corner staring at her latest creations in a state of spaced out bliss.  

This one (another of Maisie Fantaisie) may look very simple but it's way harder than it looks to get soft sugar ribbons onto a cake like this and have them still looking crisp and perfect.  like most crafts, the more simple and plain a cake is, the more perfectly you have to craft each element.

Cake designer Shinmin Li from I Dream of Cake is up there as one of the ultimate designers and cake crafters for me.  It's definitely worth popping onto her website for some inspiration.  She takes cakes from 'sweet craft' to 'fine art'...


I also love her sense of humour...


Martha Stewart Weddings is always fantastic source for cake design inspiration...

This cake features eyelet lace effects (also known as broderie anglaise), it's a superb example of how this technique can be used.  You actually poke little holes in the fondant covering and pipe around them to give the effect of an overlocked edged hole.

But you don't have to be Queen Martha (with a huge team of crafting experts) to be able to use this technique to good effect, check out this one below (from dawnie's cakes on flickr)...

Another imaginative cake decorator I love is zalita-back in a bitty, see her photo stream on flickr... Her cupcakes are completely detailed and captivating and inspiring.

Another Flickr find is Cupcakes by Design,  I like the simple, smooth figure modelling...

And I love these cupcakes in a jar things she does although if someone gave me something like this I could never eat it...

      It's worth checking out O'holysweet on flickr too... 


Sugar paste flowers can be used to great effect on things other than cakes too...

 This next cake was designed and crafted by, Their cakes are wrapped and decorated entirely in chocolate!  That makes my mouth water far more than roll out fondant covering does...




 Zentangling is a form of meditation for me.  Sometimes I have a vague idea of what I'm going to tangle, but mostly I am just the observer.  I'm often fascinated by where my hand chooses to move and how the pattern chooses to emerge...



One tip for anyone new to zentangling... Don't judge it, just watch it, enjoy the crisp sound of the marker moving over the page and revel in the small bits.  It always looks limp and lifeless when it first starts but as lines and shapes build up in any area they seem to generate an energy of their own.

Zentangling has loosened up my skills and helped me understand that even the most complex things are just made up of lots of simple little bits.  My life is like a continous zentangle, I never know where it's going to evolve to but I don't care, I'm just enjoying this little bit now!


Class sugar paste modelling 

 The week before last we did a class on sugar past figure modelling.  My ladies did very well, there were lots of pieces and for many of them this was their first proper go at a full modelled figure.  I hope I've put the right names with the right elephant, if not be sure to let me know and I'll change them around.


                      Margaret                                                                      Claire 



                        Suzanne                                                                           Sally 



                            Marion                                                                      Rosemary



                              Liz                                                                              Me!


Bickie-stack cakes: Bourbon Creams and Ginger Snaps

 These little cakes were another preparation for my cake class.  I wanted to show my ladies how to create a cake without having to bake a thing.  I knew they wouldn't believe how soft and yummi these cakes are unless they tried them so I made a long log version for them and these ones below I made as my experiment/preparation for the class.  The square one uses bourbon cream biscuits (chocolate biscuit with chocolate cream in the middle) but the cream didn't go as soggy as I would have liked. 

But it was all fun to make and tasted great!


Bourbon cream biscuits are simply stacked between layers of whipped cream (at least 1cm thick)...


 The roses are buttercream piped through a medium petal tip... 


 The leaves are buttercream too, they're piped through a leaf tip... 



  I wanted to try a standing cylinder shaped cake using ginger snap biscuits.  It was hard to get a smooth straight edge and still keep the cream very thick, but with enough fussing I got it kinda smooth-ish.  You wouldn't want to be having to do too many of these though because they take lots of fussing to get them just right.




It took yonks to get it looking not so 'leaning tower of Piza-ish'!












Lady-bug triptych

I joined the Shorts-Bombardier camera club a few weeks ago, a very friendly bunch who know all the in's and out's of all the photographic stuff I want to know.  The last time I went we did a daffodil triptych.  We learned a bit about the lighting (they have fancy flash lights etc...) and had a go at taking some shots.  Since then I've been incubating the idea of triptychs and the general idea of pictures being grouped and related.  I have been carrying my camera everywhere trying to capture Spring and pull together some related shots. 

This little fella was posing on my window sill and definitely summed up the beginning of Spring as this was the first one I've seen this year...



Sugar Paste Modelling,,,

Today I crafted a sample of sugar paste modelling for my cake class tomorrow. The class is running at The Conway Mill Education Centre and so far it has been such a pleasure teaching these lovely ladies! 
I might be running the class again in September so be sure to contact the Education Centre if you're interested.  
So far I have demonstrated some cake covering techniques, piping techniques, dust colourings, bicki-stack cakes, brush embroiderie, broderie anglaise lacework and sugarpaste cherryblossoms. 
Tomorrows lesson is a hands on sugar paste modelling class, next week will be sugar paste flowers and then there's only one more class left for the year.  
So 'Ellie' is a little elephant I saw on the front of 'Patchwork Cutters, book 11 by Marion Frost'.

I made my elephants ears bigger and changed his adorable tuft of hair.  Here's a few step by step photo's of him being created...



Body blob                                                head goes on                            Legs go on


Make one arm log                             Chop in half with diagonal cut                        Little Ellie no-ears!


Add pink bits                                           add tuft                                          eyes and fingers and toes


Green blob to hold flowers                 green flower stems                           daisies added 


Topped off with a teeny bee with little paper wings!  


The big book of packaging prototypes...

After spending half an hour yesterday sprawled out on the floor of Waterstones bookshop drooling over 'The big book of packaging prototypes'   I finally conceded that I couldn't memorise it all in one sitting and I gave in and bought it.  It's packed with blank packaging templates and ships with a disc all ready to roll out on your graphic program.  The files are perfectly created for Adobe Illustrator and I was so busting to get home and make them that I started hyperventillating on the bus!

This is one I made yesterday, It's like a cigarette carton with a flip top.  It has a perforated triangle bit at the sides which is designed to be ripped off when opening.  It's number 117 in the book.



And this one on the left is called a 'book cover carton' and is number 206 in the book.  The top flap bit opens like a book and the fat boxy bit opens at two ends (although I glued one end down) so you can put things in the box.  I CAN'T WAIT TO MAKE MORE AND ADD GRAPHICS TO THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG MY LIFE ROCKS (no, seriously, I'm not being sarcastic, I genuinely hyperventilate on a regular basis over design possibilities.)

I'll be sure to keep you posted on all further boxy adventures. 


Julie's cala lily order...

Yay, Julie and Liam's order is nearly finished.  I'm totally in love with this deep, vibrant purple and the satin card with crisp white bevelled edges.  This order has been incredibly time consuming with 9 individual time elements just for the place cards alone.  I had to print, back, split, stick, bevel, sand, glue ribbon, curl flower stems, glue flowers, trim-score and glue struts!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I had to take this one home for a few weekends in a row!  But luckily the Grand Prix races have been on lately so I had some good entertainment playing in the background with a constant comentary so I could work away and just listen. 


Julie also ordered menu cards, table signs and a seating plan.  I'm planning to do a big photo shoot tomorrow so I can show how they all came together with a ridiculous amount of matching (there's just something in us girls when it comes to things matching!)




hello cupcake!

 These cutie-pie cupcakes were made as samples for a Marshmallow Grove cake decorating demo evening in April.  I have to show you more photo's and our gorgeous flyer and tell you all about our fab evenings.  But for now here's a sneak peak...

These were piped with a medium piping tip with extra dry buttercream frosting.  There's a jelly tot centre on the top of each one and they were finished with edible pearl powders to give them that soft, girly ahhh factor! 





 These ones are piped with a cream chese frosting swirl (large plain tip) and decorated with a finely piped dark chocolate frosting branch.  The leaves are pale green buttercream piped with a small leaf tip.  The flowers are made from sugarpaste (just the normal roll out fondant you cover cakes with) and kissed with a little edible rose coloured powder.

You can also frost them flat with a spatula and pipe a twiggy wreath to pop your flowers and leaves on... 




'Wheatfields & Linen' 





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Mink Blush


Silky, milky, soft and sweet with blousey peonies and creamy treats.  A smokey palette evoking the luxury of silk, pearls, feathers and delicate lace.


(Credits to come...)

As I thought of the style and ambience that the Mink Blush colour palette evoked for me I started seeing silk and pearls and creamy things like those totally amazing shots they put on the television of chocolate being poured and stirred (the lindt add of the truffle being filled drives me crazy, I plea insanity and run out to get some ASAP). I wanted to create a board which captured the pinker side of mink/taupe. Mink/taupe can be classy, warm and subtle. It is a fantastic background carrier for light pink, light blue (either fresh blue or aqua/greeny blue), white andivory. It cangraduate from the deepest chocolate brown oralternatively from a deep grey and can continue through ecru.

My mink/taupe addiction began last year when I bought a mouth watering selection of dutchess satin. I was taken by the rustic texture and glossy sheen. I wanted to buy a meter of every single bolt in the shop but I was already on a ban from going into that particular boutique (self imposed because I always spend too much there!). So I created a beautiful wedding invitation to make the most of this stunning satin as a sample for my bespoke designclients at Simply Rouge.Choosing thegorgeous pale mink dutchess satin I wrapped it around a bevel edged board, topped it with ivory pearl cardlayered onbrushed silver card to create a peeping trimand finished it with amid-grey grossgrain ribbon and a pearl embellishment...