Pebbles

A couple of months ago I did a doodling project and (left) became fascinated by a pebble mosaic technique that I tried out – which itself was an extension of a doodle I started playing with last autumn (right).  With the first trial, I loved the mosaic effect but did not complete the rectangle because I could see the definition of the ‘circles’ disappearing, the more pebbles I added.  With the new version, I realised that varying the size of pebbles in each row of ‘contour lines’ kept the initial pattern clearly defined.  This week, in stray moments between printing, folding & packaging zines, I explored the idea of making a word mosaic:

Overall, I think I prefer the more abstract pattern (above left), but at the same time, I have a few weddings to attend this summer, and it occurred to me that a pebblified word might make a nice greeting card to commemorate an occasion.  Now I just need to decide on a ‘love’-themed word that is neither too twee nor too pretentious & start doodling.  Quickly, because the first wedding is next weekend…!

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Projects in progress…

Firstly, I’ve had quite a few updates on the Friends & Faux project over the last week or so, which I have thus far failed to update here on the blog.  Bear with me, I will be caught up soon! In the meantime, I just wanted to share a couple of projects I’ve recently been playing with…

A couple of weeks ago, I helped out a new friend (illustrator & comic artist Sally Jane Thompson) with a comic & bookmaking event.  The event was held as part of a local ‘celebration of drawing’ called the Big Draw, which sees events held across the city, with the aim to get as many people drawing as possible.
(If you have access to A4 paper, there’s a short booklet you can print to celebrate the celebration!)

Now, I am really not much of an artist, but in the spirit of the day, I decided to doodle some doodles, while I was helping out the kids – just to show that you really don’t need to be able to draw to actually draw something.  If you see what I mean!  I had pre-printed some mini-zine templates (which I have just added to the mini-zine freebie page – enjoy!) because I thought some people may find a completely blank page slightly daunting.  I personally definitely found it easier to start drawing when I had a manageable-sized space before me!  This is what I doodled on the day:

I started with the ‘flowers’ in the lower left corner, then worked my way around anti-clockwise.  I stumbled upon zentangling about a year ago, but despite being quite enthused about it at the time, I never really got into it.  I really enjoyed my afternoon of doodling, though, and am definitely going to finish off what I began.  This morning, I discovered a nice blog, the Open Seed, which has inspired me to try my hand at a couple of new patterns, and reminded me that I really need to get going with completing the above!

The other current work in progress I wanted to mention began in a supermarket.  No, really, it did!  I fell in love with a multipack of Dorset Cereals muesli boxes, and had to have them, despite not having a clue what to use them for, at the time.  I banned Corey from opening them, so that he didn’t ruin the boxes in the meantime, of course  (I’ve since emptied the mini packets out into a single ‘lucky dip’ muesli mix).  It was soon quite self-evident that what these boxes really wanted to be was notebooks, so after a quick glance through my craft library for ideas, I was ready to play:


I chose Japanese stab stitch for the binding, then proceeded to execute a very non-thorough job of researching!  As a result of my lack of planning: you can see that the stitching is very unevenly spaced, because I didn’t stop to think about measuring etc; I couldn’t have as many pages inside as I wanted, because I only had a pushpin to hand rather than a bookbinder’s awl; and I also didn’t leave a wide enough margin on the lined pages I printed off for the inside.  But overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I definitely plan to make some more – after a little spot of fine-tuning!  Lucky I like learning by trial and error (and lucky I like alliteration). 😉

Other things I like about this project: I like the ‘hemp leaf’ stitch pattern, which I thought complemented the leaf design of the cereal packet nicely; and I like the little pocket that I made on the inside front cover, by folding in some of the box flaps (I cut most of the flaps off).  I also love that there is a recipe for making lemonade on the back cover, although I can’t take any credit for that! 😉  Once I’ve played around with the idea a little more, I’ll probably write a tutorial; but if you want to experiment in the meantime, this is a good place to get started.

What’s everyone up to?

I’ve had some great updates in the last week! And it’s always cool to see what other people are working on, so if you’ve been inspired to try something by one of my kits or zines, do let me know so that I can share 🙂

wall hangingFirst up today is Sharon Schmeidel – back in January, she bought one of my ATC weaving kits and has been weaving away ever since. In her own words, tapestry weaving has become “another passion I should probably have done without”! The scale has increased somewhat since her ATC-sized beginnings – I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this wall-hanging is pretty awesome! Sharon is a member of the Iowa Art Quilters Group, and this piece has been on display in Grenell, Iowa, over the summer, at a show in conjunction with an area weaving conference. Cool!

doodle stitchI was also really happy to see Robin O. Mayberry’s post on her Alchemy Studio blog, about the bookmark she doodle-stitched, after I sent her a copy of my new ‘Contours’ zine, less than a month ago! The zine is all about doodles, and at the very last minute, I decide to include a bookmark as an extra. I didn’t have time to trial the concept first, so I just hoped that it would work – and it looks like it did – hurrah! Huge thanks to Robin for being my guinea pig & actually trying it out :-). If you would like to try it yourself, every bookmark that comes with the Contours zine is hand-doodled, and will be similar but different to Robin’s, so your doodle-stitching is guaranteed to be unique.

faux stampedAnd last but not least, I received a great piece of post from Kristina Howells in France. I’ve been taking part in some faux postage projects, lately (although Kristina was very quick off the mark with this one, & I haven’t created, let alone sent my response, yet!). The envelope I received from Kristina had 2 ‘real’ stamps at the top, which had been duly postmarked, but also a faux postage stamp just beneath – and what tickled me was that the faux stamp had also been postmarked! I hadn’t got too far yet with my ideas for the faux postage project, but receiving this really prompted me to give it some thought & I’m itching to get started, now…

A quiet week?

Despite a lack of blogging activity here which may suggest the contrary, I have been busy busy busy all week!  Well, I took a week’s holiday from ‘real’ work – caught up with a friend, saw my mum & dad (my dad has been in China for the last 6 months or so, so that was an especial treat), and went on a day trip with Corey – the highlight of which was probably when he left his umbrella behind on the train there, but found it again on the train back!  But around these brief outings I have been working non-stop.  There are some new things very nearly ready to tell you about, but the most immediate, are 2 new zines (& something else a bit different), now available in my Etsy stores:

Contours cover shotThe first is ‘Contours’, my first art zine, which is all about doodling.  This is where my brief encounter with Zentangling led me.  I suddenly realised how the majority of the patterns I have designed as an adult all stem from one basic doodle that I used to doodle all the time.  The zine looks at how that doodle has emerged in the various crafts I have worked in, considers the possible origins of the doodle, and leaves lots of spaces for you to doodle away to your own heart’s content.

tiffanyacorns1As you can see from the photo, there are some extras included – hand-doodled bookmark to stitch, and a hand-doodled ‘fingerprint’ of lino to carve & print.  Inside the zine you will also find a 4-way Acorns cross stitch chart, Bobbin Along freeform bargello pattern, plus 4 postcards (2 printed, and 2 blank for you to doodle yourself) printed on gummed paper, freeform-bobbin-alongso that you can turn any piece of scrap card into a postcard, (these come with 4 postcard reverse labels which could also be used as envelope re-use labels, if you prefer).  Check out the TangleCrafts Etsy Store for more details.

Papertrail #2 cover shot Hot on the heels of Papertrail #1, you can now also find Papertrail #2.  Papertrail #2 is a zine full of questions and books and reading habits, with answers/opinions from me, Corey, and spaces for your own responses, too.  It’s all about books, and how we live with them.  Alongside everything else is a Papertrails ‘map’ of routes you can take from novel to novel, spaces to design your own book jackets, plus copy-&-cut bookplates & bookmarks.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, Papertrail #2 also includes a free membership pack for the Papertrail Reader’s Club!

The Papertrail Reader’s Club is there for everyone who loves to read.  The Basic Membership Pack includes:Club Package

  • 2 pre-gummed Ex Libris plates
  • 2 recommendation bookmarks left blank for you to personalise
  • and the Member Book:

The Papertrail Readers’ Club Book is a membership card and reader’s record book combined! It is a 20 page, staple-bound mini-booklet, printed on high quality recycled sugar papers. Each book will be personalised with your name and membership number, and date stamped with the start date of your membership. It includes spaces to list all the books you want to read alongside dates started & finished, and there are even pages to fill in with your own mini-reviews! Club Book

Each month, a different book is chosen as a feature title, with review printed inside the back cover.  Club members are eligible to submit their own reviews of the club titles which may earn them a free Papertrail zine!

If you buy any issue of Papertrail, you will receive free membership to the Reader’s Club, including the current month’s club review.  If you don’t want to buy the zine, you can still buy a one-off membership to the club with a Basic Membership Package.  And if you fill your record book quickly, or just want another, a Renewal Membership Package is available at a reduced price.

Told you I’d been busy ;-).  And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Happy mailday to me!

I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself over the last few days – just recovering from a killer cold (definitely not swine flu, I hasten to add!) & single-handedly keeping the tissue industry afloat.  But happily, my post-lady has been going above and beyond the call of duty bringing me lovely things from the outside world to cheer me up. 🙂 (there will be lots of smile-y faces in this post)Arteth's woven postcardFirst and foremost, I have to say a HUGE thank you to Arteth Gray, one of my original D.I.Y. Weaving Club members, for the most awesome piece of mail art.  She actually wove one of the cards from the Postcard Recycling Kit, and dared to trust it to the postal service.  There’s a bit of a gap in the weaving, and I can feel dried glue there, so I do strongly suspect that perhaps an original part of this mini-masterpiece is missing, but still, I was so happy to receive it.  🙂  It’s one of the most exciting pieces of post I’ve ever received!  I’m so impressed that it made it through, relatively unscathed.  I haven’t been weaving much lately (although I have still been working on Telaic Fantasy #4, so do keep watching this space…!), but this has really motivated me to get weaving and mail some art out into the world :-).Another fun piece of unexpected mail art also came my way today – a mail art game from Misti Ko called ‘It Starts With a Pencil‘.  The game starts with an ATC blank, printed with a pencil, and the sender’s name and address on the reverse (I should really have scanned the blank ATC to show you, but I was so eager to start playing the game, I had already drawn on it, before that thought occurred to me…).  The first recipient (in this case, me) adds something to the design on the front of the ATC, adds their own name and address to the reverse, then forwards the ATC to a 3rd person.  The 3rd person adds a final element to the overall ATC design, adds their own name and address to the reverse, then returns the ATC to the first name on the card (in this case, Misti Ko).  Misti is compiling a mail art mini-zine showing off the completed cards, and each person who has filled their name & address on an ATC will receive a copy.  How cool is that?  You can check out the completed cards online here.

I was almost (but not quite) as excited about receiving this game as I was about the handwoven postcard!  I was just finishing off a zine about doodling (more on that to follow shortly) while the pencil game ATC was sitting on the arm of my chair, and in the end I just had to give in and play.  mail art gameI started of with an inkblot & a couple of stray inkspots (I know it’s a pencil, but I was using artistic license 😉 ), then doodled around the shape to fill an area of the card.  It was a completely random inkblot & doodling, but now it’s finished, don’t you think it looks kind of like a fish face, with a pencil-dinner in mind…?  But perhaps more importantly, what do you think it will look like once it’s finished?  And perhaps more relevant still, which of my correspondents will be the one to make the decision?  I’ll be sending it on this weekend, so watch your letterbox!

And as if that wasn’t enough (!) I have also just received the August Issue of Craft Leftovers.  I’m totally loving it!  The zine is themed all about drawing, and includes a pattern to sew your own ‘Pencils to Go’ pencil wrap.  My favourite part, though, is the complete kit to bind your own sketchbook, with boards, papers, binding thread, and the cutest mini-zine, ‘Stitch n’ Sketch – how to bind your own sketch book codex style’.  If you’ve ever thought about binding your own books but not known where to start, buying this issue of Craft Leftovers is definitely the first step you should take!  Honestly, subscribing to CLM is so much fun – every month just seems to get better and better! 🙂

Anyway, get thee hence & go and create some mail art of your own – it’s certainly cheered me up! 🙂

Zentangling

Corey is away for the weekend, so I am luxuriating in having a couple of decadent evenings to myself.  What am I up to?  Well, I’m about to make myself a cheese & pickle sandwich, and am otherwise having an evening off from ‘work’ and just browsing online.  That’s very rare!  And after I’ve made my sandwich, you know what else I might do?  I might actually switch off the laptop and read a novel for a couple of hours.  I’ve not done that for ages!  I know what you’re thinking: this girl’s life is just one long, endless party…  No?  Yeah, I know; it’s not the most exciting evening I’ve got lined up, but  I’m looking forward to it, anyway.

zentangleOh yes, nearly forgot the reason I stopped by here!  The reason was ‘Zentangles’.  I suspect, as with most things, I am way behind the times with this one, but just in case you’re in the dark like I was, it appears to be ‘doodling with intent’ (rather than in absentia) – hence the zen part of the name – and then (because they do look pretty cool) calling them art.  It’s not just the ‘tangle’ part of the name that attracts me (honest).  I had a flick through the gallery (see pic, right) at the official website, and a lot of the patterns just reminded me of the kind of doodles I actually do.  Therefore it didn’t strike me as something that would take an enormous leap for me to grasp the gist of.  And looking through the gallery, I also thought the black & white patterns would lend themselves well to relief printing.  I’m feeling slightly more confident in my lino-cutting skills these days, but drawing isn’t really my thing, and I hit a kind of stumbling block (no pun intended) in terms of new projects & design inspiration.  If I can get away with adapting my doodles, I will be very happy!

Now, the Zentangles website gives lots of background information about how great & therapeutic it can be for the soul, and all that kind of new age stuff, but it’s very thin in practical advice when it comes to getting started – mainly, I would guess, because they sell a $50 starter kit, and they want people to buy it, rather than think they don’t need it.  Personally, I would rather test out the principles of the concept before shelling out $50 on yes, very nice, high quality materials, but really not essential to the practice itself.  Having said that, the website does include a free online newsletter which gives clear guidance on ‘learning’ particular filling patterns, and where to find doodling inspiration etc.  But if, like me, you read through the website and can’t quite see how to get started, you might also appreciate these posts on Crazy Art Girl’s site, which demonstrate a beginner’s zentangle from start through to completion.  It really clarified the concept for me, anyway.

I bought a cool notebook from Bad Day Ben Designs on Etsy a few months back, with good thick quality paper pages measuring 2.5 x 3″ each – I think I might have just found the perfect use for it…!  I’ll let you know how my Zentangle explorations progress…

Oh, one more note ‘Zentangle’ is a trademark name, and I think refers to the method they use to teach the Zentangle doodling technique (hence $50 for starter pack).  However, you can also find references to similar stuff with a google search for the more general ‘zen doodle’.  There are ‘zen mandalas’ which are similar, too.