Thursday, 14 July 2016

Blah Blah Blah

As the Pink Floyd song goes......'' there anybody out there?'
I cannot believe that it is 3 years past since I posted anything on this blog.
I actually thought about closing it and starting a new one and then I thought, no, its good to look back. Once I finally got access to it again as it was in the darkest recesses!!
I have an admission to make.
I have been totally rubbish at social media.
Apart from Facebook, I have committed very little time to it. I have been trying to work out why that is and cannot really give a reason, only excuses. 'It will take up too much of my time'...'I don't really have anything to share' ...'I don't want to spend all day on the computer' ....blah blah blah.
So I have given myself a talking to.
At the end of the day, I want my business to go in a new direction.
I have my own range of prints, textiles and stationery and have been selling them to trade within the UK since my first Trade Show in Harrogate in 2012.

Screen Printed Thistle Tea Towel and Apron
I have enjoyed my journey so far but I have run out of steam and have been lacking focus of late. At first I thought I had reached the end of the road and felt quite defeated, but then realised I had hit a ceiling point in doing things this way and I needed to change tack. And once this penny dropped I felt a whole lot better!

How many other creatives out there have gone through this?

Getting a job in lecturing gave me the time out I needed to be creative but in a totally different way and while doing this I have participated in a couple of on line courses. The first was with . A very talented designer, she has developed a fantastic range of courses with her MIID team and you can find them here
I cannot recommend these highly enough. Amazing resources and a brilliant friendly community. You have the option to to work through the modules at your own pace if need be which is what I did.
The next course I took (which I have just completed) was the Home Decor course from with Lilla Rogers and I am still buzzing.
The start of something new thanks to MATS Home Decor!

Go to her website now to see a not to be missed opportunity to enter her Global Talent Search. The winner gets Lilla's representation for a year along with a whole load of other fantastic prizes. The chance of a lifetime!

So thats me now....all ready to rock and roll and it starts here.
I currently have a couple of licensing contracts with JACCART and McLaggan Smith Mugs where my designs are used for their products and I receive royalties. This is definitely what I want to do more of and I am so looking forward to getting my hands messy putting new work together.

And as for the excuses earlier, Social Media is a very useful business tool when used properly. It needn't take up a lot of time if you are disciplined in what you want to use it for. And as for getting artwork seen, it is a necessity. If I want Natty Maid to grow then this is the way ahead. better get ready!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search

Last week I entered a fantastic competition. World renowned Illustrator and agent Lilla Rogers is looking for Talent on a Global scale. Calling for entrants from around the world, The Global Talent Search is rewarding the winner with prizes that can only be dreamed of.

So on Monday the 1st of July, I awaited the email that would give the brief that all the entrants were to follow. It arrived and its great.....but that is all I am going to say about it!
The past couple of days I have just been absorbing what it is I have to do. My mind has been whirling with imagery and colours.... and my tummy full of butterflies at the thought of working to a professional brief. 
Regardless of what happens after the hand in, this is going to be a win win situation for me. Here's why
  • Reason 1 - I am going to have FUN doing this
  • Reason 2 - This is going to challenge me
  • Reason 3 - I will be working to a professional brief
  • Reason 4 - This will give me a chance to experiment with 'digital printmaking'
  • Reason 5 - I will have fresh fodder for my folio
So in the coming weeks, I will be sharing my experience with you.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tunnel Books Continued cast your mind back to January this year. If you are anything like me you would have been full of 'trying to face 2013 head on'. The Forth Valley Open Studios was being held for the four year running and I decided to take part for the 1st time. It is a great 8 day event where artists in the Forth Valley open their studios/houses to the public. At the time (in January), when I applied, I decided to give myself an illustration based brief.
"I'll create a series of Artists Books..I said to myself..and I shall hand print them all....and I shall not even consider the fact I will have limited time to work on them when I come back from  the BCTF in Harrogate" I am such a ninny!
Having said that, I have realised that I do work better under pressure. If I don't have tight deadlines I do end up flouncing about getting nothing done.
So in effect,  I decided to create 8 tunnel books, ALL of which were to be hand printed. When I first posted about this project in April,  I didn't know whether I would use linocut or collagraph. So I spent a day or so working out how I would build up the image for each 'page' in the book.  Turned out that Linocut was really just going to be too complex for this and I would probably end up rocking in a corner! So collagraph it would be. This probably doesn't make much sense now....but bear with me. All will be clear (hopefully) the further you read and I hope you will enjoy seeing the process unfold .

So first things first, I had to plan the dimensions of my book and what sizes the concertina spines and pages within would be. This is very BORING to explain in words so if you want to get genned up in pics have a wee look at my 'Here's How I Make A Tunnel Book' post.

Once I got the sizes sorted I then started drawing up my designs. Here is my rough sketch of Wee Willie Winkie

I then got this drawn up on a template that I would use to position the elements of the composition on my printing plate.

The sketch on the left was copied onto grey cardboard using old fashioned carbon paper. 
Cardboard was cut to the same size as the page dimensions and the image was transferred onto it. A series of guides were drawn so I knew where to position the main image area. Notice that the side borders are kept clear. This is because this area will be the part that goes into the concertina spine once the book is assembled and will be more or less hidden from view. This was the start of my printing plate.
A collagraph is a print that is made from a collage of different textured materials, in this case, the green is scrunched up tissue paper and the little houses are from scraps of paper. This is the only detail I needed to add at this point as this is the back page....or background.

Ink is applied to the printing plate using the intaglio method
I added little stars to act as a stencil 
The plate was given several coats of varnish and then was inked up with a nice night time blue.
Paper was dampened and then placed on top of the inky plate. This was then put through my etching press.

Here is the print of the background.
The next stage was to add more detail to the middle area. This would be the page viewed in front of the background.

Here I used different textured papers to create more 'street scene'

The scene starts taking shape
The newly added areas of the plate were varnished and it was inked up in a nice contrasting violet solfarino. It was then printed onto a new piece of paper to create the second page. Once dry, I then cut away an area of the new print to reveal the blue background page at the rear.
Next was the main character......
The final part of the plate
Wee Willie Winkie was made out of paper, old curtains and string. He was stuck onto the plate and varnished. All ready to be put through the press.

The finished collagraph plate

I wasn't sure about colour, so I printed off a couple of proofs. Once the print was dry, I added some colour to the final print by hand. I then cut it out in the same way as before, this time revealing parts of the background and middle ground. I made a mock up tunnel book just to see how the finished item would look and also to judge whether the hand colouring was overkill.

The concertina spines for all eight tunnels books. 
Each tunnel book or scene needed 2 spines. The vertical edge of each page is butted up flush to the crease and adhered to the paper behind.

A mock up of the 3 pages together
I made two concertina spines and stuck each page on a fold. I hand coloured the figure using acrylic ink. Experimentation over, it was time to create the front 'cover' or peep hole for the viewer to look through. I made a separate plate for this and printed it 8 times in different colours so that each cover would contrast the colours used in each of the books. Here is a birds eye view of The Owl and The Pussycat so you can see how the book was assembled. For stage by stage assembly please look at my earlier 'How I make a Tunnel Book' tutorial post

Each page slips into the folds created in the concertina spines. They are then glued to secure.

What you see above is the process that I followed to create one tunnel book. I made 7 more in exactly the same way and they are all pictured below. It was quite difficult to get the camera to focus so the front cover is a bit blurry, but you should be able to get the gist.....hopefully they'll make you smile.

Wee Willie

Cock a Doodle Do

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hickory Dickory Dock

Incy Wincy

The Owl and The Pussycat

Ride a Cock Horse

Humpty Dumpty

Here's How I Make a Tunnel Book

So much for posting as I work through my project! I'm afraid I was pushing myself trying to get 8 hand printed tunnel books made in 6 weeks so I basically horsed on with it to the detriment of sparing enough time to update my blog. My apologies!
So I am updating retrospectively.

I was going to start by showing how I made my actual books and then I thought it would be much more useful for whoever reads this to see a wee tutorial on how it is constructed. Maybe it'll inspire you to make your own!! There are different methods out there and some absolute crackers! Check out this link
Here is how I made mine.

The picture below shows the basic materials required

Cutting mat, art card, bone folder, scalpel, pencil for marking and glue(not shown)

My card was cut to 4 sheets of A5 (210 x 150mm) for the pages and 2 A4 for the concertina spines.
The method of folding I use requires no measuring and you still end up with pretty equal folds
Take the a4 sheet and meet the corners of each short edge exactly.
 Hold firmly so the corners stay in pace and press fold with bone folder 

You will now have a fold which halves the paper 

Using the middle fold as a guide, take the short edge again, this time butting it right up to the line.
Hold corners firmly in place and make new crease with bone folder

You will now have a sheet that is now split into quarters, all with folds away from you.

Turn the card over and repeat the folding process, this time taking the edge
up to meet the first 'quarter' fold from the top
Turn around and repeat the process with the other edge. This results in
4 'eighth' size folds in the middle with two larger 'quarters' at either end

Take the bottom edge and butt it up to match the nearest fold. Hold firmly
 and press crease with bone folder. Repeat process on other side
Repeat all these stages with a second sheet of card and Voila! you have two spines.

The shortest edge of the 'page' is the same height as the spine.
Each page will slot in and be stuck to one of the folds on the spine

Measure the size between folds. In this case 27mm.

Draw guides from the edges of same dimensions to create a 'border' inside which the
 main image needs to be. NOTE the side border will be more hidden by the folds.

Create the back page for the book. I cut out a mountain range.

The mid ground is planned and cut within the borders

The foreground is cut

A final sheet is cut for the 'cover' and now all the pieces are ready for assembly

Glue is applied to the bottom eighth

The short edge of the back page is placed flush against the fold and is stuck firmly to this portion. The process is repeated with the other side and left hand spine.

Now the other pages can be added in exactly the same way to the other folded portions

Glue is applied to the next eighth and the page is butted up to the fold in the same way as before.

The same is done to the other side.

The process is repeated with the foreground. There is a spare eighth which could take
another page before the cover is stuck to the front. But I prefer to leave this blank
as it gives a better sense of depth

View of the book from above

The finished piece.

And there you have it! One tunnel book. This is done solely with paper cut, but the pages could be drawn onto, collaged....even made with acetate! The combinations are endless!

I hope you find this informative. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible but please feel free to ask if there is anything I have missed.

Next post is my Nursery Rhyme Collagraph Tunnel Books.... how they were made and the finished articles.

Monday, 22 April 2013

My Tunnel Book Project Begins

The Forth Valley Open Studios is just a month and a half away and I will be participating in this event for the first time. I am excited but a little anxious as I am not sure I have given myself enough time to get what I want done. Best get a wiggle on then!
I decided to do something a little different. For the past year, I have been focusing on building on my Natty Maid brand for trade/retail. As a result my illustrative work....(not that I had a great deal!) has been put on the back burner. A couple of years ago, I treated myself to an artist book workshop at the Owl & Lion Gallery in Edinburgh. It was only a day long but it was absolutely fantastic. I trundled home happily on the train with two little tunnel books that I had made. Here is one of them...pardon the pics but it is really difficult to photograph with my existing camera skills!

Basically it has 2 concertina spines, into which pages are slotted. You can have as many pages as you want....but I am not into punishing myself!
Particularly when I have time constraints.

The principal is that you view the book through a peep hole in the front. The closest pages have the most area cut away, with the picture building up the further away the pages are from the viewer. This gives the book a 'pop up' feel and is much the same as looking at a theatre set.

So I figured, why not try out something like this for the Open Studios? I had been raking through a whole load of old books that I used to read to my lads when they were small and that's when I thought Nursery Rhymes would be really fitting for this type of book. Not only that, it would maybe mean that kids would get as much enjoyment from looking at these as their parents.
But which rhymes? I have been getting brilliant suggestions today from the lovely folks following my FaceBook page and I will definitely be trying these out. In the meantime I made a start with a particular favourite of mine....the Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear. I have been wanting to draw owls for a while and it is going to be a real challenge putting a 'children's book' twist on my drawings (I was always rubbish at that side of things at art school!) So bear with me guys....
Here are my initial sketches

I have got into the habit now of scanning in my drawings and playing with composition in photoshop......saves a huge pile of scrunched up paper in the corner of the studio at the end of the day.
Here is my mock up....purely for size mind! It is a rough, hence the scribbly marks and weird colour scheme. Now to decide on whether I should use collagraph or linocut.