Tuesday 31 May 2011

As you have probably noticed, I have a split personality where my work is concerned.
Blueberry Park originally started as an online showcase for British Artists, but as the months, years have gone on I have been doing more and more of my own creating.

I really love sourcing the talent that we have here in the UK and providing a platform to make the work accessible for everyone. I get a real buzz from seeking out and meeting wonderful artists at Trade Fairs and the like.

As time has gone on and I have been spending more and more time on my own work, I have found this harder and harder to do and after a year of soul searching and trying desperately to do both sides of Blueberry Park, I have come to the decision that if I am to continue on my own personal creative journey then something has to give.

Whilst I am desperately disappointed that I can no longer devote time to sourcing wonderful new work and continue working relationships with existing Artists, I am very excited about where I am personally heading. As you know, I have fallen in love with Screen Printing and this is going to allow me to go in a new and exciting direction with my work.

So Blueberry Park as we know it is due for quite a change. The good news for you is that in order for this to happen Blueberry Park is offering a Sale Extravaganza!
For you, dear readers, enter KL50 at the checkout to receive 50% off your entire order of remaining Blueberry Park goodies.

So put your feet up, the kettle on, and continue with me and see where my journey takes me next.

Sunday 29 May 2011

I've been enjoying some sketching this weekend in preparation for next week's Screen Printing class.
Last week we started on colour alignment - printing a 2 colour design and aligning up the second colour on top of the first. We used a design that Gina brought and next week we are to bring a 2 layer design of our own.

My sketchbook is full to brimming of all sorts of doodles and designs and I'm trying to narrow down which I will do next week. I think I'm down to one of these 2.

Again, I'm trying to not get too caught up in getting the perfect design, but using something that will allow me to experiment with the process.

I've drawn the second layer on tracing paper and I actually love seeing the design split in two. I am excited about next week's class and experimenting with a 2 layer print and looking forward to experimenting with more of the designs in my sketchbook.

Fun, fun, fun...

Friday 27 May 2011

I know I'm a bit of a fabricaholic - I'll be the first to admit I have a teensy problem - but really, who could resist buying these wonderful scrap bags from Skinny Laminx?

Like the majority of my fabric purchases I had no specific project in mind, but when Heather listed them, it was more a question of "I want those, I NEED them!"

I had no idea whether there would be large enough pieces to make something in it's entirety, but quite frankly, even a little patch of Heather's fab designs would shine in a project. The next question was "Grey? Or Red?"
Ok, so I'm rubbish at decisions.

When they arrived yesterday, I was overcome by how gorgeous they were. Not that I doubted they wouldn't be, but like all hand-printed fabrics they look and feel even better in the flesh.
Not only that, these sure were not scraps...with pieces measuring over 25 x 50cm, I was able to rustle up a couple of wash-bags toute suite...

...perfect for the guys, hey?

(they are available here now...)

Thursday 26 May 2011

We are very lucky to have The Bowery in Leeds. The Bowery is that great combination of gallery, workshop, gifts and cafe.

It's a great place to meet friends for a coffee and it's always nice to have beautiful contemporary Artists' work on display to have a little peruse at after.

I have bought quite a few cards and gifts from here and currently have my eye on a lampshade that I keep seeing. One day soon I think I'll not be able to resist any longer...

As well as being lucky enough to live close by to The Bowery, I am also lucky enough to call them a Stockist. They came to see me at BCTF last month and it seems that other people must be as fond of the place as I am as things are selling really well and today I delivered my second box of goodies.

I haven't been in since delivering the first pieces and so hadn't seen the display. I have to say I was chuffed to bits to see all my things looking so bright and eye-catching. I am so pleased my things are doing so well here.

The only thing that isn't going too well, however, is my camera...the lead to my Mac is playing up and so am having to take photos on my iphone and as you can tell, it isn't quite cutting it. It was a pretty grey day too which didn't help much.

If you live near to The Bowery (it's in Headingley, Leeds) and haven't yet managed a trip, you won't be disappointed. And bear in mind it looks more tempting than it does in my dreary photos...

Wednesday 25 May 2011

I think I must be becoming extremely transparent. I must be becoming very predictable with my likes.
Courtney of Seamstar sent me the following samples of some new linens she has just started stocking...

Do they have my name written all over them or what??
And just to illustrate the point further (just in case you aren't quite convinced) here they are with my pencil case and purse, both of which I carry about with me at all times.

I'm going to have to start being more creative with my colour palette. Who knows, I may surprise you one day with my choices...

Monday 23 May 2011

I'm having a bit of a dotty thing going on at the moment.
Normally I line my pouches with Liberty fabric or shirting fabric, both of which i really love using, but today some relatively new Robert Kaufman purchases got a look in.

It all started when I was looking for a fabric to line one of my Summerville Pouches.
Perfect! More than a little ray of sunshine on this dismal day!

Having remembered that I had actually bought this fabric for this particular purpose, I decided to use them as linings for the other pouches that I've been making for a stockist today.
I really love them and just hope the stockist and customers do too!

Thursday 19 May 2011

Screen Printing Course Lesson 3...

For the first time since starting the course, I initially came away from today's session feeling despondent. Fortunately I quickly put the nail on the head as to why this was. Each lesson is just 2 hours but we pack so much into it. In the previous 2 weeks we focussed on learning and using one skill and for the first time today, we had to use what we had learnt in those sessions whilst learning a new skill.

I'm really pleased that (yet again) I have quickly learnt that it is such early days (impatient? moi?) and it is going to take so much time to master and be able to perform all these skills naturally.

Since last week's lesson I knew I wanted to experiment with photographs and also text, so I have spent most of the week photographing flowers and then cutting around them. I had no idea what the effects of these were going to be, but hey, it's all about the process isn't it? (I learnt that last week). Again, with the text, it didn't matter too much what was written, more seeing the effects when turned into a screen-print. (Go to the top of the class, Karen.) I used a couple of the different font stamps that I have, as I wanted to see the effects of these and found a quote from my favourite children's book...I'm sure you know where it's from...

When we got to class, the focus of the lesson was Paper Stencils. As well as producing a screen with photo emulsion, you can produce a crude screen from cutting shapes from paper and fixing this to the screen. This method is great for block colours as a base for printing something else over.

As usual I was astounded by the effects of something so simple. Here's Gina's example below. A simple rectangle was cut out and then with the use of 2 or 3 colours an amazing background to use in a design has been produced.

I forgot to take a photo of my paper stencil print, but from the screen above, you can see what I set out to do. I cut a large rectangle for the flowers to sit on and then cut 2 smaller 'windows' to highlight the larger text. First print was of the yellow (the one I forgot to take) and then when that had dried I printed over with my screen with the text and photos.

I should at this point tell you that whilst all this was going on we had to prepare our screen, the photo emulsion way, to use for the second layer. And this is where I started to take my eye off the boil. This process is one that we have done for the past 2 weeks, but in isolation, focussing on just that. This week it was a by-product within the lessons objectives. I didn't have any problems with the actual screen, but where I did fall into difficulties and realise was an area I need to focus on, was the actual printing motion. I'm quite relieved to know that this is all very natural and next week, whilst learning yet another new technique, we are going to put emphasis on the actual printing. Hurrah!

Whilst I'm not overly happy with how the flowers have turned out (the bottom left didn't take at all) I love the effects of using this idea and particularly love the use of stamped text. And even more so with the paper stencil block printing highlighting areas. This is definitely something that I will be pursuing.

Lots done already and still HEAPS to learn and do...

Friday 13 May 2011

This has been the longest week ever.

Waiting for screen printing lesson numero 2 has felt like an eternity.

Ever since I got home last Thursday I have been thinking, eating, sleeping, breathing patterns, designs, products everything!

So imagine my unadulterated joy when today came around and I could walk back into the workshop? Happy as Larry.

Today was really interesting and has given me more to think about than I thought possible.

We were asked to bring in an image of our own this week to make our own screen with. I spent the entire week trying to decide on which of my zillions of designs in progress I was going to use and which would be the basis of any future designs.

When I arrived today I still wasn't wholly decided which I was going to use (I'd narrowed it down to 5 possibles that I'd brought with me).

I very swiftly learnt a very important lesson - I was trying to sprint before I had even learnt to crawl. Everything I was trying to use was with an end product in mind. Gina very swiftly reminded us (me) that over the next few weeks we were experiencing and learning new process and exploring many different techniques and the specific design wasn't wholly important. It was more important to try out different types of images - photos, silhouettes, text.

I'm not sure why I was so narrow minded about this, but Gina's words were like a breath of fresh air to me and my previously dizzy head was cleared immediately and I started to slow myself down, no longer focus on the end product and enjoy every step of the process.

So back to today. We were split into 2 groups of 4, each to choose one or 2 images to produce one large screen. The aim of this was to clearly see the effects that different images produce. Rather than being blinkered in our own individual way of thinking, we were working side by side with people that see things in different ways. Such an eye opener in the best possible way.

Having had my wake up call today, to think about the entire journey, I have discovered that I adore the whole screen-printing process. If you would have asked me before we started what I was most looking forward to, it would have been to be able to print my own items for the business and the process was just something to get through. Now, i can tell you that the process is (obviously) an integral part of screen printing and one that I can honestly say I love.

That all said, I am pretty sure you can pick out which are my designs on the sheet above...

...but I am more than certain that next week you won't be so sure...

Monday 9 May 2011

One thing I love about the beginning of a new month is the arrival of the latest edition of magazines that pop through the letterbox.

I have a little magazine addiction that ranges from magazines for the home, women's magazines to all variety of crafting magazines.

I can't even tell you which is my favourite but I can tell you these are SOME of my favourites (I told you - I have an addiction)

Selvedge is obviously way up there at the top of the list. I love looking at inspiring pretty pictures in magazines, which Selvedge never fails on, but there are so many interesting features in here every month that each edition readily becomes a favourite bedtime read.

A new magazine on the market is Oh Comely. It has a very similar feel to Selvedge - beautiful photography, inspirational lifestyles and stories - and equally full of interesting articles of creativity and curiosity.

My favourite homes magazine is Elle Decoration. I did go off this magazine for a while as I found it too out of reach and aspirational, but either I have changed, although I don't think so, or Elle has become more reachable, that I am back into it in a big way and find there is so much inspiration in every edition.
Another new crafting magazine on the market that has become a regular monthly read is Making. A very appealing quality of Making (like Selvedge) is it's matt finish. I do like a craft magazine who's pages are matt. Is it just me or do they give a more handmade charm? I think so. Making features a variety of different crafts and a range of different artists and applications within that.

Again, there are so many inspirational artists and their work in Making, that it is rapidly becoming a must read every month.

My longest monthly subscription is Red Magazine. Whilst I spend a lot of time living, breathing crafts, Red is a monthly addiction that I don't seem to be able to kick. I like to think of it as The Thinking Woman's Magazine, full of interesting features all of which i go back to read once the initial slow flick-through-at-the-pictures-accompanied-by-a-coffee is over.
The latest flick through has left me yearning for this dress. Well, who can live without the summer's most useful dress after all?

I like to think of my magazine addiction as being relatively harmless. Apart from the damage to my bank balance, both in purchasing the mags in the first place and the money spent on Must Haves I have encountered on the way, goodness knows, there are far worse addictions out there.

Friday 6 May 2011

Do you ever make things to sell and realise actually you can't bear to part with them?
Well, I'm on a mega zipper pouch making sess and was using some small leftover pieces from various projects.
One such project was the fabric I used for my cushions for the hallway. I decided this would make perfect little pencil and coin pouches, so I set off making a set for the shop.

At the same time I covered a sketch book with some wallpaper (that my friend Tara very kindly 'bequeathed' me) that I was planning to use for my Screen Printing journey as recommended by Gina, my screen printing guru. Gina suggested (I've a feeling you may be hearing the phrase 'Gina said' fairly often around these parts) keeping a journal of prints produced and marking on them what worked, what didn't. I really love this idea as I have a brain like a sieve and to keep a record seemed a genius idea.

Back to the zipper pouches...
Because I was doing the 2 mustard-based projects in tandem, I realised there was no way on earth that these pouches were ever going to make it into the shop. I love the wallpaper that Tara sent me and this gorgeous Skinny Laminx fabric was just made to accompany it, so in record time the pouches were a keeper.

I may just order more of this beautiful fabric to make some pieces for the shop (can't keep a good thing to yourself) but in the meantime, I am more than happy and inspired by having these things for me.

Thursday 5 May 2011

After over 20 years I returned to being a student today. Albeit on a little course, not a fully fledged full time degree kind of course.
I started a screen printing course today and I LOVE it!
I've dabbled with screen-printing a tiny bit in the past (accompanying Manda to the workshop on one highly satisfactory occasion) and have more recently been enjoying the delights of Freezer Paper Printing. But I finally got myself booked onto an actual screen-printing course.

The course I am on is at Factory 4 Workshop in Leeds and is run by a wonderful lady called Gina, who is not only but a fantastic teacher but is so passionate about screen printing that it's contagious. Not that I was worried about whether I would like it or not. From my limited experience I pretty much knew this was for me.

The course is 6 weeks long (2 idyllic hours every Thursday) and I'm just back from the first session. We have learnt SO much already!
We went through the entire process of producing a screen and then printing with it.
We used an image that Gina had brought today and printed onto paper to learn a couple of techniques.
There are 6 of us on the course, all of whom are really lovely and from very different backgrounds, so we are learning a lot from each other too.

I now need to sit down and focus my brain, because at the moment it is buzzing and going in a zillion different directions. As well as making time for the course, I am going to time-table in 'design time' in order to stay focussed and productive. I am very rapidly discovering that the options are endless with screen printing and I am very keen to work out quite how it is all going to fit in with what I do.

Very exciting times...