Monday
Nov302009

Touch of Sakura - Inspired by Spring

 

 

Walking home from the studio yesterday I saw this gorgeous spring blossom. It was a seriously cold day with snow on the mountains but this little tree was bursting forth with white blossoms galore. It inspired me to create a new pallette which Ihave named...
'Touch of Sakura'.

There's something crisp and oh so fresh when the right shades of green are paired with pure white. The grey keeps everything cool and fresh, mimicking the silver sheen of cherry blossom bark. Greys can graduate into silvers and/or slink into mink and light truffle browns. There are lots of possible subtle variations, even pale blush pinks can sidle their way in without rocking the boat!

Touch of Sakura Inspiration Board...

  

Top row from left: Candy favours from Jenny Yoo (her own wedding), Green manolo's via shoeblogs.com, Amazingly soft grey fleece by Etsy's Jazzturtle (check out her gorgeous yarns, I want them all!)

Second row from left: Invitation by EdenInvitations at Etsy, Bridesmaids in green from Jenny Yoo (her own bridesmaids at her wedding), Green tea cups by etsy's studiotto

Third row from left: Dotty bag from Etsy's Retrofied, dip down to funky green cake by The Cake Girls as featured on My Sweet Connection, Floral table cone decorations by Martha Stewart Weddings

Bottom row from left: Green dress by lafayette 148, Bed with SuperFresco Bloom wallpaper by Graham and Brown, White boquets on shelf by Martha Stewart Weddings, Wildflower hobo bag by the ever inspiring Retrofied on Etsy

Monday
Nov302009

Making the cherry blossom banner

I wanted a banner which was 3D,  hand crafted and something different from the usual web banner.  I came up with the idea of a step/stage which could feature 3D paper sculptures that I could change at whim whenever I'm inspired.

So the first step was to create the set/step... As you can see it's a very sophisticated affair using cardboard and sticky tape!

 

 

I scored and carefully ripped the edges of some lush subtly textured cardstock to create a decalised edge to make it extra paperish.  Just like chocolate can never be too chocolatey, paper can never be to papery! 

 

 

I scoured the internet for blosom branch images until I settled on my branch shape.  I wanted it to be flowy, organic and also leave room for the text.  I cut out a branch shape from thin paper and held it up to the set to see if it was basically right.  I then traced it onto the same thick kind of cardstock I used for the background, added little jaggy bud bits and cut it out. 

I crafted the blossoms from thin paper so I could mould them and curl them and love them into shape!  I wanted the set to look like paper, I wasn't trying to make the scene pass for a real branch.  I wanted its papery goodness to be immediately recognisable.  I used a simple woodware blossom punch (I have a small warehouse full of craft punches, I think they are one of the most exciting tools around!) and placed the die-cut on a single sheet of funky foam.  With a balling tool I started in the middle of each blossom with gentle circular movements.  As the fibres start moving and softening you can apply more and more pressure and the bloom will magically curl in front of your eyes.  You can use a smaller tool to curl each individual petal if you want greater detail and curling. 

Blossoms were glued together to form double petals and placed strategically on the branch.  After half an hour of umming and ahhing I glued the blossoms in place.  To make the stamens I fringed thin paper with scissor tips and rolled the fringe tightly using the end of a tooth-pick.  You could also use a quilling tool or parchment piercing tool to do this.  The tight stamen roll was then glued to the blossom and once dry the stamens were carefully splayed.

   

    

 

 

The branch was then attached in place on the set for the photo shoot.  I took heaps and heaps of photographs trying every conceivable lighting setup until I got the shot I wanted and hey presto I had my banner!

 

 The light bulb is a daylight simulater (not one of the blue coloured normal bulbs but a speacial flourescent tube/bulb) to eliminate yellow or unatural colouring.

 

The photo below is an example of a shot with dramatic unfiltered light coming from the right which caused the background to be highlighted while the sculpture fell into shadow.  I do really like this and was in two minds about it for a while.

 

This next shot shows lighting from the top left and while I loved the shadow placement it was far too harsh and I also wanted a distinction between the verticle and horizontal parts of the step...

 

 

The final solution was to keep the lamp roughly in the same position as in the shot above but to turn the lamp away from the set and curl a large white paper sheet around it to reflect the light back in a more subtle filtered way.  I was very happy with the softness of the shadows and the way the background was contrasted with the branch more.  This became the final photo for the banner.

I have lots more lovely paper sculptures in the wings for my banner, I figured that if I keep them white on white then it will feel consistent in colour and style but allows me to play as much as I want.

Monday
Nov302009

ABC cakes

These are some of the cakes I made a few years back when I did my Level 3 Awarding Body Consortium Certificate in cake decorating at the Belfast College of Further and Higher Education (now BMC). 
The course really put me through my paces and I learned so much about how far I could push sugar as a sculptural material.  The cake designs were limited by the criteria of the course and I'm looking forward to doing some new ones for Loulou Dreaming.  My cake teacher Billy was a gem, he helped so much and was the cheeriest loveliest teacher I've ever known.   

My photography wasn't real hot back then (pre-digital seems so long ago!) and I didn't get photo's of some cakes including real wedding cakes because I was so busy getting things done for the deadline (brides are less than understanding if it's not ready by the wedding day!) that often I didn't get to take any shots. But here's what I did photograph...

This is one of those course pieces where I had to cram every technique and element onto the one cake.  The designer in me is cringing now, but the poppies were actually very lovely.  Were weren't alowed to use wire or anything inedible so I used spaghetti sticks for the stamens, dipping them into edible glue and then into coloured polenta.

 
 

 

This next one was all about run-out frames and letters.  I wish I had some good closeups to show the layered piping decoration in the corners and the gold gilt edges of the run out.  The flowers were actually very gold and shiny but this shot looks a bit browny.  Making run out frames is nerve wrecking because they are incredibly fragile so I really understand why people don't do them much.

 
As the course went on I got quite a bit better at piping, in fact I was very inspired to experiment with all the different icing sugars and would regularly mix up a huge batch of royal icing (the soft smeary stuff) and practise piping and making different textures with different household items.  When decorating, no matter how conciencious you are, sugar gets everywhere!  I left a sugar trail around the house even though I would consider myself to be extrememly neat and methodical.
My friends and family bought me all kinds of tools and gadgets including a royal icing mixer (truly a Godsend) and some funky piping tubes which really sparked my imagination.  I piped gazzillions of royal icing flowers for the pure joy of it. 

This next cake demonstrates my piped flower phase. I made it for a dear dear wonderful friend for her birthday but I was really strapped for time so I bought a marble cake, coated it with Nutella (half the jar for the cake and half for me,mmmmm) Then popped on my piped roses and added a few piped leaves (thanks to the funky leaf tube from my 'lil siter Pen).

 

 

 

This next cake was my first go at a runout frame and I was totally delighted when we were shown how to spin the cake while we held up a plastic shaping tool to form the ridge embellishment along the side.  The snowman decoration was three seperate layers of run-outs stacked to create a paper-tole effect.  I took the design from a Christmas card I had recently made which featured stacked paper layers. 

 

 

 

This next cake was a gift for a friend, the side canopy supports are run-outs and the canopy was rolled and draped over a custom shaped cardboard frame to dry before being glued into place on the cake (with EXTREME caution!).  The handle is a reinforced flump (oh my wordy that's the best name for anything, ever. Mmmm, except perhaps noodle and hug, they have both been on my favourite word list for a while now). The cakey bit is just a round cake chopped in half and stuck together to make the half sphere/cylinder shape. 

 

 
  

Filligree piping hides a multitude of icing sins, the most useful things I learned in my cake course were the little cheats.

And for the transportation I made this custom box and put a photo of the cake on the top in the hope that people wouldn't peek and poke and ruin it before the christening.

 

The next piece here was the course requirement to show modelling skills and use of Pastillage.  Pastillage is an icing mixture with corn syrup and glycerin added which makes it crust extremely fast.  You have to mix it, roll it and cut it into shape like superwoman on turbo.  Then it dries hard as chalk and is a dream medium for sculptural work like my fabulous wheelbarrow below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Oct032009

Another Golden Oldie...

This is one of the first files I created towards my childrens illustrated book that I'm working on at the moment... as you can see the theme is bubbles...

Saturday
Oct032009

Poppies and Linen Handbag

Cool, just found a photo of this handbag I stitched a couple of years ago!  The bottom part and the inside were lined with deep green raw silk and the linen was painted with silk paints and treated so the flowers wont run if I get caught in the rain.  I am so excited to get stitching again!!!

Sunday
Sep272009

Oooh-la-la paper cupcake...

I went to see Sarah from Marshmallow Grove Cupcake Company do a fab baking demo at Equinox Shop in Belfast last week... The demo of swiss merengue butter cream was both fascinating and yummi, the ladies and gents organising the evening were charming and this paper cupcake really took my fancy...

It is GIANT and is hanging in their front window.  They also had some gorgeous glass cupcake stands and a very very 'have to have' cloud shaped sushi dish!

 

 

Sunday
Sep272009

Just found an old Christmas card I made!

Sunday
Sep272009

Business sticks and Promo's...

Coloured bevell-edged business card 'stick' with funky coloured backing and simple minimal print...

Of course I couldn't control myself so I have done them with loads of different funky coloured edges (the very justification for my Tria/Copic marker obsession - no really!).  The one at the bottom is actually silver edged, I've mastered the silver edging but I haven't found a smooth flowing gold ink that will behave itself...yet...

 

These next little tab-fold beauties are made from soft reptile effect shimmering cardstock and the tab was punched with a Fiskars squeeze punch.  The folds have a lovely boofy springyness to them (appologies for the very technical terminology). 

I made 500 of these following little buggers for the most fantastic doo in Edinburgh in Aid of The Prince's Trust...

*Closed...

 Opening...

 Ta-Da!!

They each had a plastic (yet very clear) safety mirror inside and featured a magnetic clasp just like the invitations I make for Simply Rouge.  Of course they are made out of stunning cardstock and feature my logo on just about every surface.  I was trying to think of a promotional item that women would keep and even carry with them.  These promo's are just the right size to pop in your handbag for checking your lippie!

 

 

 

Sunday
Sep272009

Bonding with Cindi...

Yay! Cindi arrived last week after being eagerly anticipated for many months.  When I heard the courier at the door I tumbled madly down the stairs and had to hold myself back from malling the mail man as he casually handed me my hopes and dreams in an appropriately sized box.  Since then I have been bonding with my new digital friend (Wacom Cintiq 12wx) and discovering all her qirks and potential.  This is my first attempt at using the oil painting tool on the software that was included (corel painter esentials 3)...

This is the photo of my hunny that I worked from...

 

 Then I sketched the main tonal areas as a handy map...

 

Tonal sketches up close...

 

 

With the photo removed this is the final tonal map I had to work with...

 

Then it was simply a matter of blocking in the basic tonal areas and learning how to do so digitally which was kinda surreal at first...

 

 

 

 

 

So that's as far as i got today, next session I'll keep documenting and hopefully I'll be able to get him polished and to the stage where my painting captures his true beauty.  Oh my goodness, I just called it a painting, I think I'm starting to convert already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Mar092009

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?...

No, it's definitely a bird! Bird splats are the most dramatic, comic and varied decorations and they embellish every street in every town in all the land.  Whenever I see a really good one I hear a comic voice saying 'Kerrrrrrrrrrrrsplat' in a strong old fashioned New York accent.

   

  

 

 Greatly funkified in photoshop...

 

Monday
Mar092009

Patterns and textures around Belfast

Grate on the Lisburn Road...  

 


I missed the lights twice to get this one...



 Non-slip loveliness...  Ooooh, nice shoes.

 

 

Even Belfast's rubish is beautiful! What a town! 

 

Macro shot of the spotty pattern around the window trim on the bus on my way down Botanic Avenue...

 

I couldn't help but stop and oogle at this most beautifully rusted pole on the Falls Road, I oogled daily for a year until some crazy guy came and scraped it down and painted it a respectful dark grey. That was my daily eye candy!!!!!!!!!!!!!  sacrilege!

...and another for posterity...

 

 

Monday
Mar092009

My Lagan Love...

By the river Lagan (outside my front door) in Spring.  When I reach this tree I know I'm nearly home.  Theres a colour scheme in there for sure...

The next tree along is just as beautiful, this was taken in Autumn. Now I just need a winter and Summer one to complete the set.  

 

Monday
Mar092009

Hairy Beary

My sister Pen made this!  She gave me him along with his very own birth certificate but he has always been called Hairy Beary, I talk to him every morning as he sits on my dressing table.

 

 

When she first started making teddies the first experiments were sometimes quite hillarious.  I have two wonky rejects that go on the Christmas tree each year and they make me laugh every time (in an endearing and compassionate way of course).
This hunny sits in my study and watches me blog, he was one of the first mini bears Pen made and I adore his rejectfullness...

 

 His left ear is permanently cocked at this angle and his arms and legs are stitched on so they can't move.  This is the position he is always in...

 

 

And this is a close up of his back stitches... He's like a little frankenstein teddy and I love him to bits!

 

Monday
Mar092009

What's the time Mr.Wolf?

Did you ever play that game?  Well it so happens that you can tell the time by blowing a dandylion and counting the floaty things.
This was taken by my arty sister Pensy, I love the composition and the colours.  She is just so talented, she is like a genius at everything she does, you know, like one of those people who's just good at everything. I'll try to talk her into letting me show more of her work here, she paints and crafts and is about to start glass blowing, I can't wait to see what she makes.

 

Monday
Mar092009

Does my bum look big in this?

I must have looked pretty crazy as I took this photo.  It would have just looked as if I was taking a close up of the ground.  This little fella posed politely for me on one of my long daily walks. 

 

I've seen some amazing things on my walks around Belfast, one evening I harrassed a poor egret on the river Lagan as he tried to savour a large eel.  I happened to be doing a circuit of the river, I really wasn't stalking him but I was delighted to see him several times with the eel wriggling in his beak each time.  Then another morning on my way to work I saw a big brown seal.  I couldn't believe my eyes, he just popped up in the river next to me as I was just about to turn into the botanic gardens.  After a short conversation he dissapeared into the water and this time I did stalk on purpose! Luckily I was on my bike and was able to follow him a few miles up to the ocean where I could go no further.  He kept popping up every couple of hundred meters and saying hello!  Since then I have hardly ever left the house without my camera.

Sunday
Mar082009

Wheatfields and Linen Inspiration Board...

 

 

 (Credits to come...)

Saturday
Mar072009

Mink Blush Inspiration Board...

 

Top row: Invitations by Simply Rouge Design Studio
Second row from left: Fresh water cultured pearls from beadfx, Peony from si, Chiffon minidress on blogsmarter.
Third row from left: Recycled gown by dudet, vanilla cupcake by baking bites, mink shoe from The Bridal Shoes
Bottom row from left: Lace bridal parasol from Speyside, Icecream from Featured Chef Mom, Ivory crysanthemum luxury silk clutch from redrubyrose on Etsy, Peony crystal and feather headpiece by portobello on Etsy.

 

This board was inspired by the initial palette I made up on COLOURlovers which I posted about a few days ago...

 

 Wow, two inspiration boards in one day (the other one is 'Wheatfields and Linen').  I have soooooooooo many inspiring colour schemes and design themes to get out of my head and onto an inspiration board, I just can't get them out quick enough and may spontaneously combust if I don't keep a steady outlet flowing!  I'm gorging myself on colour and ambience and delicious style, I'm going to become the 'Fat Mama' of all things sumptuous!  And I wouldn't have it any other way. 
So... 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 and ivory.  It can graduate from the deepest chocolate brown or alternatively 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 design clients at Simply Rouge.  Choosing the gorgeous pale mink dutchess satin I wrapped it around a bevel edged board, topped it with ivory pearl card layered on brushed silver card to create a peeping trim and finished it with a mid-grey grossgrain ribbon and a pearl embellishment...

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar052009

Touch of Sakura...

 

Walking home from the studio yesterday I saw this gorgeous spring blossom.  It was a seriously cold day with snow on the mountains but this little tree was bursting forth with white blossoms galore.  It inspired me to create a new pallette which I have named... 
'Touch of Sakura'. 

There's something crisp and oh so fresh when the right shades of green are paired with pure white.  The grey keeps everything cool and fresh, mimicking the silver sheen of cherry blossom bark.  Greys can graduate into silvers and/or slink into mink and light truffle browns.  There are lots of possible subtle variations, even pale blush pinks can sidle their way in without rocking the boat!

Touch of Sakura Inspiration Board...

Top row from left: Candy favours from Jenny Yoo (her own wedding), Green manolo's via shoeblogs.com, green hydrangea boquet from Martha Stewart Weddings, Amazingly soft grey fleece by Etsy's Jazzturtle (check out her gorgeous yarns, I want them all!)

Second row from left: Invitation by EdenInvitations at Etsy, Bridesmaids in green from Jenny Yoo (her own bridesmaids at her wedding), Green tea cups by etsy's studiotto

Third row from left: Dotty bag from Etsy's Retrofied, dip down to funky green cake by The Cake Girls as featured on My Sweet Connection, Floral table cone decorations by Martha Stewart Weddings

Bottom row from left: Green dress by lafayette 148, Bed with SuperFresco Bloom wallpaper by Graham and Brown, White boquets on shelf by Martha Stewart Weddings, Wildflower hobo bag by the ever inspiring Retrofied on Etsy

 

 

 

Saturday
Feb282009

Mink blush...

 

Ahhhhh, soft minky pinky shades washing into soft warm grey, mmmmmmm silky, milky smooth and sweet! Last week I discovered colourlovers and I've been in heaven ever since. I've had an obsession with colour since I was about two years old when mum put posters on the wall of cats mixing different colours. You will often find me whiling away the hours with a desk full of paper just putting different pieces together and giving out audible variations of oooohhh, ahhhhh and occasionally mehhhh.

The walls of my computer room are covered with colour charts and colour cards and really just any object with an alluring hue. The walls grow and mutate daily with my moods and depending on how much time I have to obsess over the subtleties of mink verses pink. I thought this was an obsession unique to myself so when I discovered colourlovers I felt like I had found my long lost family!

I found a fun little colour IQ test you can take which apparently measures your colour intelligence. I scored 4 but the screen started flashing madly after a couple of minutes and it was a bit of an endurance test for my brain and eyes.

Colourlovers has a great tool to help you form colour combination swatches of your own or you can browse their existing palletes (there are gazillions of them). I’m planning to paint my back yard this Summer so I made a couple of palettes to test it out before I buy any paint. When it came to designing this here blog I automatically jumped on colourlovers and came up with my silky, milky, minky, pink combo. I decided that the colour scheme for this blog had to be fairly neutral and dusty and smoky because I am a different mood of colour every couple of minutes (and it changes by the second when I’m on colourlovers) and I don’t know what mood my readers will be in when they visit so smoky neutrals were essential.

 

 

 

 

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