Wednesday 22 December 2010

Time off...

That's me finished for now.
After a very hectic few months I'm having some time off at Christmas. Whether I can stay away from my computer and studio for the whole of next week remains to be seen but I plan to try and relax anyway.
The lights are on, my favourite little wooden babushka dolls are on the tree (all decorations are at least half way up the tree this year to allow for our over-zealous 20 month old little girl!) and I'm looking forward to the following:
1. Having a tipple of my homemade sloe gin whilst I wrap presents.
2. Not working in an evening - I really must try to switch off.
3. Spending time with family and friends.

Right - that's me for now.
Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Monday 20 December 2010

Ok, enough of the cold now.

Ok. I know it's very pretty and it's lovely and wintery and all that but I'm going to be a bit grumpy about the cold now. Now it's no longer just Brrrrr but plain annoying when I'm trudging back and forth with kettles of water and struggling to print with hands which feel like blocks of ice! I was printing (very slowly!) at the weekend and everything is ten times harder in this weather. First my pressure washer has been frozen up and now all the water to my print room is also frozen up (hence the back and forth with water.) So out came the trusty old ( and very retro!) 60's/70's electric three bar heater from my Mum and Dad and I was toasty and warm. I remember it well from when I was growing up. Not quite sure about it's energy efficiency or it's safety come to think of it but it's heat was very welcome.
On a similar note I've been attempting to re-learn how to sew so that I can make a fabulous curtain for our front door - to keep the draught and cold out (and also with the possiblity of screenprinted cushions in the future... where I'll find the time for that I don't know!) So I have borrowed my mum's old sewing machine. Now this is another bit of 70's kit of my mum's which reminds me of my childhood. I don't think I appreciated at the time what a lovely object it is - and what a great colour!
Anyway...... other than all that faffing around I've been very very busy work-wise. I've had quite a lot of last minute orders required before Christmas (a lot of queuing in the Post Office) plus some to keep me busy in the New Year. Today I've been busy working on a design commission for a London shop - one of my stockists. I'll post some images of this when it's finished.
Lists for January have begun - and it's looking very full. My planned time-off at Christmas is dwindling somewhat.
I've also posted a photo of our Hardcastle family Christmas card. This year I opted to screen print a design I did for us rather than the usual dipping in to my card stock! I'm quite pleased with it.

Sunday 5 December 2010

More prints added to my shop

I've just added some more prints to my shop. These limited edition screen prints are sold carefully wrapped in acid-free tissue and packaged in a branded tube. They make a lovely gift for a special someone or just for yourself if you don't fancy giving it away!

Tuesday 30 November 2010


This isn't my usual attire for printing but just look at the snow outside my studio! The path was deep in snow and wellies were the only way today.
I had the heater on but still very cold and hot tea was needed.

Thanks to Print and Pattern and Kerry at The Seventy Tree for the lovely blog features today.

Monday 29 November 2010

Nice things

Hello. I'm feeling very Christmasy and after a little look around the internet with a cup of tea - seeing as it's way too cold to venture out into real shops today - I thought I'd post a few lovely finds. These things are all on my wish list (the one I keep in my head and don't get around to telling anyone).
At the top are wrist worms by Sandra Juto perfect for the weather right now! The ahoy and hello necklaces by Joanna Rutter are fantastic - if you know my work you know how fascinated I am by anything word/phrase/saying-based. So these are perfect.
I've been a fan of Abigail Percy's subtle and beautiful jewellery for a while now and follow her blog avidly so I've coveted (again in secret as it's a bit beyond budget) these for a while now.
These Orla Kiely homewares are akin to something lovely and 70's you'd find from a second-hand shop but with a modern twist. Find other Orla Kiely ceramics on sale at the fantastic York-based shop that is Snowhome.
The two prints are by Emily Hogarth and Eak Design. I love the unusual scale of the Emily Hogarth one and the Eak Design owl is going to be a present for our little girl some day soon. She loves her owls and this one looks so friendly.
Last but not least I'm a sucker for stamps so these A-Z Alice Melvin ones (available from the Red Door Gallery) are ideal as a gift from myself to myself!

Sunday 21 November 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year........

My Christmas cards are now in my shop. I've listed them individually as well as as packs so if you're looking for an extra special card for someone there's 15 lovely hand-printed designs to choose from. There are packs of 4 assorted cards and also a pack of 4 of the same card. To purchase 4 of the same click on the rather long-winded title of '4 cards of the same design'. Then simply send me an email (my email address is on the contact page of my website) stating which of all my designs you would like 4 of. Hope that makes sense.
I've also added a couple of prints for some festive present buying.
I'll be posting orders out up to and including Tuesday 21st December.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

In the press

The Garden Notes kits I produced for The Balcony Gardener seem to have been getting a bit of press lately. Here they are in December issues of Marie Claire and Country Living. They make a perfect original gift for a gardener so visit The Balcony Gardener for a bit of early Christmas shopping.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Hip Hip Hurray!! Website excitement!

I'm so so pleased with my new website! It's taken a lot of work, planning, worrying and thinking but I'm extremely happy with the end result.
It's great to have everything on my website at last and be able to confidently direct people to it to find any of my work!
Thank you so much to Evie at Eskymo for all your hard work. You've done a great job. Thank you also to Greg for all your help and contribution.
Now here's hoping I can master the content management so I can keep it all up-to-date and ship-shape!
Have a good look around and let me know what you think.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Burning the candle at both ends

Phew. I'm incredibly busy at the moment with card orders for Christmas and a couple of juicy orders from some high street names for general and valentines cards (yes - valentines - and that's why I've been designing mother & father's day cards also - which I'll post on here very soon.)
So not much time for blogging (or much else in fact) of late. I seem to spend all my spare time (i.e not with my little girl) working. Having an 18 month old obviously means early starts and as soon as bed time comes I'm in my studio working again until late. Daytime sees me fitting in printing and folding and cutting and packing orders on nursery days. As a result I'm pretty tired at the moment but I love it so I shouldn't complain.
Anyway in the meantime I thought I'd just share a couple more blog favourites and a lovely little shop who contacted me lately.
Skinny Laminx is an illustrator and designer based in Cape Town creating fantastic printed fabric.
I've just discovered The Seventy Tree and I'm enjoying the mix of beautiful creative finds, images of Kerry's work and lovely photos of inspiring (and mostly very Scandinavian-looking) homes. She seems to have a very similar taste in interiors to me - and she too has a love of triangles and patterns!
Roddy and Ginger has been a favourite of mine for a while now and I always check what she's busy with. Her hand screen printed cushions and prints are permanently on my wish-list and I've just entered her online give-away to try and win myself one. Pop over there and enter for your chance to win a lovely cushion.
Your Shop contacted me a couple of weeks ago and stock a great collection fun and different stationery, homeware and gifts. I think I'll be heading over to their website to find a bit of Christmas inspiration.

Monday 25 October 2010

German inspiration and sneak peek

I was recently given this German book by a good illustrator friend. She bought it on her travels in Berlin and it's full of illustrations of German 'types' of people - very up my street as I've always been fascinated with stereotypes which formed the basis of a lot of my work as a student.
I just think the combination of type, colours and illustrations are really different and interesting and the colour combinations are really unusual but work really well. It reminds me to look at all my other books on the book shelf which sit there gathering dust when they should be being looked at and inspiring me.
Also here's a little sneak peek of the new card designs I've been working on. They're Mother's and Father's day cards - very early I know (that's the result of working with bigger retailers - more on that to come). I'm really pleased with the results and it just goes to show I'm working and designing quicker and quicker these days - designing 5 cards and printing samples took less time than ever. I'm getting speedier! I'll post the full designs in all their glory soon.

Saturday 23 October 2010

I know this isn't strictly work-related but the lovely cold sunny autumn weather has inspired me to bake and make lots of home-made things. In the last week or two I've made sloe gin, spiced apple chutney and the other day I made Yorkshire Parkin. This treacly gingery lovely cake/loaf is simple to make and Yorkshire in origin - what more could you want. It so perfectly suits the weather and season right now. I snapped this picture when it was not long out the oven - I know it has a large crater in the middle - think I opened the oven at a crucial point - it still tasted good though!
It didn't last long once my daughter, twin nephews etc....... had all sampled a piece. I'll have to get baking again. What shall I do this time I wonder....?
The recipe I used was the following:

Ingredients -
225g/4oz self raising flour
110g/40z caster sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
200ml/7fl oz milk
55g/2oz butter
110g/4oz golden syrup

Preparation -
1. Preheat the oven to 150c/300f/gas 2. Line a tin.
2. Sieve the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
3. In a small pan gently heat the butter and syrup until melted.
4. Beat the egg into the milk
5. Gradually pour the butter and syrup into the flour and stir. The mixture will be thick
6. Pour in the egg and milk and stir until smooth and pour into a lined tin
7. Bake for 1 hour (mine needed 5-10 mins extra)

Enjoy with a cup of tea of course.

Thursday 14 October 2010

coffee + cake + elle dec

I get very few moments to sit down and look at a magazine these days so when Elle Decoration plops through the letter box every month it's always quite a treat for me. It's a bit of a ritual to save it until I have a minute to look at it properly (preferably with a cup of coffee in my favourite mug and a piece of cake!) I always have a look through the whole thing and then keep re-visiting it to look at different parts. It arrived last week but I'm still looking at it. I love looking at the lovely pics of peoples homes and always find inspiring colours and patterns in there. Having worked in homes/interiors shops for the best part of 6 years before becoming fully self-employed I developed a huge interest in interiors and find it connects with the work I do today. I often see a colour palette, photo of something in someone's home or see a new product which focuses me and keeps me motivated and inspired. And I like to stack them all away for future perusal on an uninspired day.