Archives for posts with tag: design

dreamgeniiI work for a small company that designs and manufacturers high-end sleepwear for pregnant mums, babies and children up to the age of 5. I am involved in all aspects of design from creating the textiles (something new for me) to designing the style of pyjamas and duvets to designing catalogues and adverts and being involved in the website.

One of the most exciting aspects of the job is choosing models, planning and overseeing the photo shoots and then having the photos to design the catalogues. We ‘shot’ Christmas in June in an amazing house with 10 bedrooms for us to pick and choose from. I found it fascinating to work with a superb photographer and a stylist as part of the team. It was hard work but most rewarding to see the photos. I also had to smile and I feel as if the pressure is off to make my own house perfect. In magazines, room scenes looks so peaceful and idyllic but it is mad behind the camera with all excess props chucked to the side. I suppose my house could look perfect if I had a resident stylist continually tweaking and adjusting fabrics and accessories. Photos are not real life! But such fun to create the images and make our products look gorgeous.

Click on the link to have a sneak preview of our new range which will be available to buy in a few weeks time –

Pop-up stand at a village event

…or that is what the Village Committee nicknamed their pop-up stand. I was having heart palpitations about the resolution as the image from Paul Kessling and the map were only A3 in size and I was increasing their size to over 2 metres high. Loss of resolution was inevitable and contrary to popular belief, photoshop is not magic! I printed a test strip section at 1:1 scale and felt that because of the nature of the images, it still looked acceptable. The Village Committee had their first launch and were delighted with the response to the pop-up stand. The Beast will be back at the next event!

Design section at scale of 1:1

The first challenge on any design job is images – we need something visual – and it is even more of a challenge if there is no budget. I started chatting to local creatives and Paul Kessling kindly offered me the use of one of his watercolours to use as a background. This was superb news as not only do I love his work but in his watercolours he loosely interprets the spectacular views of the countryside. I chose one called ‘From the Hare’– The Hare being the local pub. We had a decent spate of weather so my trusty camera and I went to capture some local views. I also included part of a map as a ghost like image which adds texture and another layer to the design. Then I needed words – I like words to read and as a design element so I created the strapline: to live to love to work to enjoy to celebrate to develop to protect.

Popup Design – Detail

Popup Design – Detail

The artwork is complete save for a trip to the framers.
“Father had one week of holiday a year at the beginning of August and as a family we would go to West Bay each day to camp in our tent. Every day, Mother packed delicious food for the day and we would set off for our destination, 1½ miles away. Father cycled while Mother and we four girls could choose to walk or catch the bus. If we walked, we had enough money to buy chocolate, which we made last by eating one square of chocolate per field. Father spent time fishing on his boat and even taught us to swim in the harbour. Our expectations were different then and yet not so much has changed. Children still love the sun, the sand and frolicking on the beach. The sounds of seagulls, waves and excited high-pitched voices are the same.”

Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

Detail - It is hard to see on screen but I love the way the photos melt and blur into the paper

Detail of 'Eighty Years Later'

I have glued most of the images and textures onto the artwork although I will add a few at the end if required. The next stage was to add the text. For the heading I used my letterpress wood type and after a little practice, I tackled the real thing praying I wouldn’t make a spelling mistake. I used coloured ink and allowed the colours to blend, keeping a palette of blues, greys and lilac and I will live with the slightly wobbly letters. For the main body of text I considered using a computer font and rubbing it on using artists’ thinners. In the end with encouragement from Lin Kerr, I bit the bullet and wrote in my own ‘fair’ hand. I took the view that this isn’t a computer generated image and what seems like imperfection provides the character. Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

A chocolate door and a glorious turkish delight room

The door to Roald Dahl's Writing Hut

Reminiscents of Dahl, the fighter pilot

Reminiscences of Dahl, the fighter pilot

A life less ordinary

What a magical day we spent at the Roald Dahl museum, the graphics, the displays, the humour capture the essence of his books. It is a small museum and extremely well-considered with interactive displays for children and much for adults to delight in. Towards the end of 2011, the interior and extraordinary contents of  Dahl’s entire Writing Hut was transported to the museum and set up exactly as he had it. A fantabulous day out – so which is YOUR favourite Roald Dahl story?

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

The Hungry Crocodile bench. Children beware!

Placing the first layer (feather monoprint) and preparing the photographic images

Sticking the first layer (feather monoprint) and preparing the photographic images

I have printed the photographic images onto Chinese rice paper using a laser printer – and almost destroying my printer as the rice paper is soft and not designed to be fed through it. So that the ink won’t dissolve when glue is applied, the images need to be fixed by spraying layers of Lascaux. I started gluing layers onto the base paper working very calmly and slowly when no children were around. As soon as you apply glue to the paper it becomes like wet tissue paper, is very difficult to handle and almost impossible to reposition, so learn to love the odd crease. I found that photographic images can’t be realigned at all because the ink starts to seep through even though I used fixative. I worked slowly but as efficiently as possible and then put it aside to dry. Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

Working at my desk on a rough composition

Time to stop conceptualising and start designing. To create original art works, I use a combination of designing on the computer to create a rough composition but nothing beats printing out the components and playing with them on a sheet of paper. I will make use of monoprint textures of nets and feathers. Feathers create a delicate texture and are also reminiscent of the flotsam and jetsam found on the beach. Rope and net-making was one of the chief industries of Bridport and in fact my grandmother’s first job was in Gundry’s office at the age of 14. Gundry still supply ropes, nets and twine and are still based in Bridport. I am also using holiday photos (then and now) printed onto Chinese rice paper which softens and dissolves the image.

Talking about labels, I love the design of Frank Cooper’s marmalade label on this ceramic pot. Last year I visited Mirren’s exhibition at the Jam Factory where Frank Cooper’s marmalade was originally made. The restaurant place cutlery in these old jam pots and I longed to own one so was delighted to find this one on eBay. It gives me much pleasure to see it on the table whether it is holding cutlery, flowers – or homemade marmalade.

The bleak midwinter is the season for Seville oranges and there is nothing more satisfying on an icy day than working in a steamy kitchen making marmalade to be eaten on hot buttered toast. And I had the fun of designing the label using traditional letterpress letters.

To find out more about holidays in the 1920s I read a book called ‘Just a line from West Bay’ which is a collection of post cards of West Bay. I learnt that a Fishermen’s Regatta had been revived in 1922 which provided entertainment with its booths and trade stands. There were water polo matches and it was quite normal to swim in the harbour, in fact part of it was enclosed for a swimming club. There would have been musical concerts and visits to tea rooms but I know that my granny’s family most likely enjoyed picnics and walks. The children would do much the same things as we do today – paddle in the water, catch crabs, make sand castles, bury their feet in the sand and collect pebbles. Did they whine a little if they were chilly? I understand that my great-grandmother was a battle-axe so probably not!

I wanted to use photos from the book and after contacting the author, I realised that he was one of the experts on The Antique Road Show – Paul Atterbury. I really appreciated his prompt email saying that it would be fine to use the images and did I know he had also written a large coffee table book called ‘On Holiday’? I immediately ordered it and am soaking in its nostalgic images.

Researching for this art project has enriched the experience while liaising with Paul Atterbury added to the adventure as I learnt about holidays of yesterday. Wondering what this is all about? Click here to find out more about this project.

My grandmother on holiday with her parents and two older sisters.

A few years ago my grandmother shared happy memories about her childhood holidays and how much joy they had given her. I was taken aback and shocked at her experiences compared to what we expect of holidays today. Granny Mom lived in Bridport and their much-anticipated annual family holiday was in West Bay a mere 1½ miles away. Holidays are now so complicated and we travel long distances with high expectations. We owe our family and ourselves two or three holidays a year and at least one should be overseas.

I want to create an art piece that records my grandmother’s holiday memories of the 1920s and I hope with a gentle prod help us rethink our own expectations. It will also be a reminder of happy beach holidays in childhood when simpler things gave great satisfaction. Originally the artwork was meant to emphasise the contrast of holidays 80 years apart but as I started researching, I realised that some things don’t change – children still love the sun, the sand and messing about on the beach. The sounds of seagulls, waves and excited high-pitched voices are still the same.

I will work with layering techniques similar to this piece ‘Memories’ which was also inspired by my grandmother.

Treasures from the earth

A few favourites - I especially like the delicate pink cup and linear ship drawing

As I dug around in the soil I found many pottery fragments – remnants from a people living, loving and being in Snap. Some pieces had been cups, some plates, perhaps a few chunky chamber pots and even a delicate glass top  – a perfume bottle? None look precious but they excite me and capture my imagination with the humble story they hold. I had another opportunity to visit Snap for a little more detective work a few weeks ago. Sometimes you visit a friend and have a moment of serendipity – she confessed she owned a metal detector. I confessed I had always wanted to use one so she lent it to me and I had a glorious time searching in Snap for metal. My son hoped for treasure, I had plans to find a few coins and though all we managed to find were scraps and a door handle, it was deeply satisfying to fulfil a dream.

I now have pieces of Snap and want to create an art work incorporating these fragments. I have done one piece using a similar idea called ‘Walking Home’ but I  am planning to use more pottery pieces in this art work. However, I’m also working on another art project so I may have to hold off for a while and let my ideas continue to bubble.

To read more about Snap go to

Hunting for treasure with a metal detector

Fresh from the printers… my mini calendars are selling (or being given away by me) fast. They make good stocking fillers, thank you gifts or to enjoy on your desk depicting the beautiful local countryside. They are also being sold at the Vale and Downland museum at the ‘Gift to Delight Exhibition’ which is open until 22 December – a great place to buy presents, so pop in if you need to do a little last-minute shopping.

Sticking the shapes onto the canvas was hard as they curled and twisted but I decided the odd wrinkle just was part of the deal and I’ve painted a clear varnish over my ‘Matisse’ so that it can have a happy life on our bathroom wall. I am letting the children discuss and tell me all about it without giving them clues. The shapes which I thought were suggestive of handprints or digging in the sand have been called seaweed and seagulls so it will make for some interesting conversations.