Friday 21 December 2012

See you in the New Year!

Hello all
The studio will close today and re-open on the 7th January. All orders and enquiries will be replied to upon my return. I'm having my annual break - hopefully relaxing and enjoying some quality time with family and friends.
I hope you all have a fabulously warm and sparkly Christmas break and a Happy New Year.
I'll be back in 2013 with a new studio (fingers crossed), new designs and hopefully lots more......

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Illustrated Calendars

I hope you're all well and in the festive spirit.
I thought I'd share with you two lovely calendars from fellow illustrators/designers. The first 3 designs are from Hanna Konola. She's currently running an illustrated Christmas calendar featuring a new picture for each day up to Christmas. The colour combinations are all warm and snug and make me feel very Christmassy.
The 2013 Calendar is from the very talented Darling Clementine. I have my eye on one of these as a 'welcome to my new studio' present for myself in January!!

Designing new Christmas cards for 2013 is keeping me very busy along with sending out orders and preparing ones which are to be sent over the festive time (the more prepared I am the less pain this will cause me I'm thinking/hoping!!)
I'm also hoping to finish some jobs in my studio and move in for the new year. Hopefully I can start the 2013 afresh with a beautiful new studio.

A quick reminder that the last posting day for orders to be received guaranteed for Christmas is Thursday 20th by 11am.
I'll be having my annual holiday from 21st December for 2 weeks. I'll be returning to my desk officially on the 7th January. All orders and emails received in this time will be replied to when I return on the 7th.
Enjoy the rest of the week.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

'The Best Is Yet To Come' print .... now available in blue

Following the success of 'The Best Is Yet To Come' in olive/ochre I have a new edition in a brand new colour. The edition of 100 comes in an equally calm and sophisticated mid blue and is the perfect Christmas present (or wedding present...or engagement present.... or just to be nice to someone and give them a touch of optimism and a bright and sunny outlook present).
You can find them in my shop and on Not On The High Street.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

I'm loving......

1. Hofdi cushion - Donna Wilson,   2. Large Owl Storage Jar - Our Workshop,   3. Owl Coasters - Alice Melvin,   4. Acorn Plate - Donna Wilson,   Tree Tray - Our Workshop,  Large Animal Tray - Our Workshop,  Logpile Tray - Roddy & Ginger

These are just some of the lovely things I've been coveting lately. It's inevitable that I always have a huge long list of beautifully designed things which I would love to be mine one day. Something which is lovingly designed and executed is so much better than a product which is not at all considered and just 'does the job' (nb sometimes just doing the job is fine - I'm not a design snob.) If I had endless pots of money I would love to fill my home with carefully chosen colourful and creative bits and pieces which I know would make me smile and really enjoy them every time I saw them. In the meantime I have to wish......
By the way - I'm having a bit of a 'tray thing' at the moment. Not sure why - I just think that a nicely designed tray is a beautiful thing. It can sit there looking pretty and is useful when required - and it's generally associated with tea and cake or breakfast in bed (not that the latter is something I ever partake in but I like the idea of it and I imagine a pretty tray would make it all the more enjoyable!)

Monday 19 November 2012

Inspiring colours

Helped by the fact that my internet was on the blink this afternoon (= no distraction!) I spent a lovely afternoon immersing myself in beautiful new colour combinations and brain-storming new ideas, colour pallets and designs for 2013. The colours around us at the moment are spectacular and just the drive to pre-school is full of earthy greens, autumnal oranges and woody browns so I'm surrounded by a rich pallet of colours. Armed with lots of photos I've been taking while out and about walking lately I set about picking those colours on the pantone chart and making some lovely combinations.

The wonderful new 6th edition of Wrap magazine arrived on Friday and with a title of 'Nordic Lights' for this edition I snapped it up without hesitation. I've been poring over it at the weekend and it features an inspiring selection of Nordic illustrators and creatives alongside articles on Marimekko and an interview with design duo Darling Clementine. The whole issue has the most beautifully Nordic wintry cosy feel to it and the colours and photography are simply stunning - with midnight blues, pale snowy greyey-turquoises, sage greens, deep purples and  the odd flash of orange or pale pink thrown in it all matches the 'Nordic Lights' feel perfectly.

Have a good week!

Monday 12 November 2012

New Festive cards

Here are my new Christmas card designs for 2012 added to my Christmas range. I've spent the last two months boxing them up and sending them out all over the country to my stockists. Now I've finally managed to find the time to add them to my own shop so they're now available to buy from my shop and also from my Not On The High Street shop. They're available in singles and I've done few packs again so you've got plenty of choice when sending out cards to loved ones. For a bit of pre-festive cheer all orders placed in November will be sent out with a free card from my everyday range.
Have a great week!

Monday 5 November 2012

A breath of fresh air

I couldn't help but smile to myself as the train pulled into one of my favourite cities on Saturday morning. I've been long-overdue a trip up to Edinburgh for some time and it felt like going back to an old friend (quite literally as I spent the weekend with two very good friends from my Edinburgh College of Art days). A change is most certainly as good as a rest. We crammed lots into a short time - walking through the woods and along the coast near South Queensferry and Cramond Island, leisurely lunches, a fantastic meal out at Timberyard, a visit to the Portrait Gallery and many cups of tea and coffee and catching up. I feel refreshed, reinvigorated and inspired. Different experiences and seeing new things are so important for the creative process and I must make sure I remember this more often. It's certainly made me feel a lot more pro-active.

I have to mention Timberyard again - a restaurant which recently opened on Lady Lawson Street near Edinburgh College of Art. We remembered and reminisced about many trips here when it was a hardware and timber shop (handy for art student supplies). It's now a fantastic large and airy simple space with log burners, mis-matching crockery, bone handled cutlery and the best food I've had in a while. They've successfully created a relaxing informal dining experience but with all-important attention to detail in both interior and food. I thoroughly recommend it.

Thank you Jill and Angela for a lovely weekend.

Friday 19 October 2012


After the busiest few weeks in what has been a very busy year so far two big deadlines both drew to a close on the same day today. 
The first being a big word map commission which is still officially under wraps but needless to say I've had my pot of black Indian ink and size 01 paintbrushes out again (for the last 32 days!!!) I'll be posting about it as soon as I can reveal it.

The second was the delivery of my first big order to Waterstones for the launch of their re-branded card and stationery areas. They're just going in selected stores but as a long-standing favourite of mine on the high street (I remember the hours I spent in Waterstones Edinburgh as a student poring over beautiful books and browsing new fiction titles before the onslaught of online book stores) it feels exciting. They're a big shop - and I do always worry a little as there's a fine line between remaining true to my initial small scale ideals and expanding - but I think they're still a well-respected book shop first and foremost and will do my cards justice without over-commericalising them too much.

So after all that busy-ness I'm left feeling very much unable to wind-down after being used to working most evenings on top of days. Sipping a (very!) small glass of last years home made sloe gin is helping though!

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Work In progress

Progress is being made in my soon-to-be studio.
It looks a little like a building site at the moment but hopefully I should be in there within the next 4-6 weeks (fingers crossed.)
It's long and thin but should give me much more space than I've ever had. I'm intending on splitting it into a designing area (a long bench for my computer etc..), a large table area for working on bigger things and for preparing orders, card and stock storage down one side and small plan chests somewhere for storing prints. (I hope it's all going to go in!!)
My favourite bits about it are the high ceiling and recently acquired windows (turning it from a dark long garage-type building into a lighter brighter studio space.)
There are exciting decisions to make on flooring, lighting and all the little nice things which will hopefully make it a vibrant and inspiring place to work. I'm even allowing for some wall space for prints to hang on. I feel an open studios opportunity coming up.....!
I'll keep you posted on the progress in the coming weeks.

Monday 1 October 2012

Meet the Maker

I've blogged before about the very lovely Melbourne-based online shop Hello Polly. Set up by Sarah Kelk only last year but already with a well-established name and a quite brilliant selection of artwork, stationery, cards, jewellery and design-led products, it's one of those online shops which I can get lost in for a long time.
Sarah has become a good friend over the years since she started selling my work in The Red Door Gallery (Edinburgh) back in 2004. She was my first stockist and has always been incredibly supportive of my work. After moving to Melbourne last year she set up her online shop and continues to stock original and inspirational products and artwork from around the world.

She recently sent me some questions as part of her 'Meet The Maker' blog series and the resulting interview can be read over on the Hello Polly blog today (complete with many photos.) I always go into too much detail so my answers are a little 'wordy' (!) but you get a little of the background behind Alison Hardcastle from the beginning as well as my working life. Hopefully a little insight into my world.

The necklace above (by LoveHate) can be found on the Hello Polly shop.

Friday 21 September 2012

Roddy & Ginger

I've been a big fan of Roddy & Ginger's products and blog for a few years and these new log pile trays and chopping boards are a great addition to her products. I love her log pile pattern - so simple and striking. We already have a couple of log pile cushions but these are definitely going on my very long wish list.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

'Gift Wrap: not just for wrapping presents anymore'


I really should have blogged about these months ago.
This is my new venture into gift wrap which I designed in Spring and launched at Pulse. It's taken me far too long to get around to publicising them properly. I can only say my excuse its moving house and the associated stresses and the sheer work load which I've had over summer.

Anyway - I suddenly realised that I've been blogging about other peoples work and beautiful patterns and haven't properly shown my own.

I've been thinking about designing and producing some high quality gift wrap for ages and was very picky about paper weight and print quality. I've gone for a lovely weighty 100gsm matt uncoated 100% recycled paper and it's great - it really feels like it's quality wrapping paper for special gifts. In fact when I was designing it I was very inspired by the line used as the title of this post - Gift wrap: not just for wrapping presents anymore (credit: the fabulous Egg Press). They have it so right. Gift wrap is much more than just a throwaway piece of paper which you wrap a gift in. I like to choose lovely papers and wrap gifts for people who will really appreciate some nice outer loveliness. Aside form wrapping gifts I wanted to design something which could line drawers & shelves, be used for making things, for decoration or even framing small bits. I keep all sorts of scraps of old beautiful gift wrap given to me.

Lastly my inspiration. Well - the blue one (which I'm calling Graphic Doodle) was an extension of all the lovely geometric doodlings I do and the various bunting/flag/pattern embellishments which my cards feature. I rolled them all into one big piece - literally. I couldn't work on a small piece of paper and fit it all together - that lost the original feel. So I worked to scale and inked it all out using my trusty 01 paint brush, Indian ink and pen. It gives it the hand drawn wobbliness which I so love.
The light charteuse green one (shapes) was taken from a quick hand painted pile of semi-circles which had been on my wall for a few years waiting for the right opportunity. I pieced a few together and was rather pleased with the simple but effective result.

So there you have it. It's been selling well and I have many more ideas in the pipeline. Now I've dipped my toe in the gift wrap world I want to do more!! Next time I'll be a little quicker at blogging about it!

I've just added both designs to my shop so you can now buy it by the sheet.