Monday, 11 June 2012

Q & A with Debbie Greenaway

I first fell in love with the work of Debbie Greenaway from The Imagination of the Ladysnail a few months ago through Her illustrations are so innocently charming that it’s impossible not to adore them! I recently approached Debbie and she was more than willing to take some time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about The Imagination of the Ladysnail …
Hello Debbie! So, you’re an illustrator and printmaker and a fab one at that. Did you train in these areas or are you self-taught?

Hello! I would say that I am bit of a half and half. I have always drawn, and studied art from an early age through to illustration at degree level. I was first shown lino printing during my GCSE Art studies and had to study Printmaking as part of my A-level – which at the time I wasn’t keen on. It seemed like such a lengthy process but once I got through the first learning stages and saw the results you could create – I was hooked.

What would a normal day be like in the world of The Imagination of the Ladysnail?

I try and get up early but the snooze button often ends up being hit a couple of times. I try and start the day with an hour of swimming – it helps me relax, clear my head and think a bit more clearly about the day ahead and other things. After that, I take a cup of tea in to my workroom and begin tackling the to-do list for the day or previous days. I try to get everything ticked off the lists best I can. Then it is on to emails and updating the social network sites. Then there are usually things that need drawing, sewing or printing. There is no set routine really and throughout the day there will be many brews and biscuits whilst to-ing and fro-ing from the making desk to the computer desk. I try not to get distracted but often find myself watching the birds on the bird feeder or checking to see if the squirrel has eaten my washing line (!)

You print your designs on paper, fabric and ceramics. Which is your favourite to print on?

It would be hard to choose but if forced I would say paper. After the print has dried, it is so nice to run your finger over the printed area to feel the texture and the raised areas of printed paint. Also when you see a finished piece framed and hung in a gallery, shop or home – it is a wonderful feeling to think I have made that. It is a wonderful sense of achievement to think someone has picked up a piece of my work, bought it and then put it in their home.

Do you have a favourite place or space to work in?

At the moment, I am trying to establish a proper working print area at home and have just invested in a drying rack so that when I am printing there is somewhere other than the entire floor for me to put my work to dry on! I like working at home but I also love working in a print room with other printmakers, it is a great environment and it helps to have others to talk to when so often you have to work by yourself. It is good to see what other people are doing and it gives you the chance to bounce ideas about with others.

I love your branding! For all those just starting out, was it something that just came naturally or did you take some time to plan out how you wanted your ‘brand’ to look?

Branding is hard to find. I once did a project about it at university and the majority of the class found the task quite difficult – me included. I think ‘branding’ or ‘style’ is something that often happens on its own. For me, it was easier to draw things I liked and discovered that after a year or two I found a way of working without realising that I had developed a style. There is no harm in working towards how you want your brand to look, this can be because you would like to create a collection and you want it to look a certain way but there is no harm in letting it come naturally. You can always edit your portfolio and tailor parts of it to different markets.

Who is your all-time favourite artist?

Currently, I really like the work of Oliver Jeffers - there are many of his children’s books on my shelves. I spend a lot of time in bookshops or online - having a gander at what’s out there and seeing what’s new. I like it when I find something, get all excited and enjoy telling everyone about it. Like when I was given the book ‘I Want My Hat Back’ for Christmas – I told everyone about it and showed the book to anyone who would look. It still makes me laugh every time I read it.

The notorious robber bird is my favourite character from The Imagination of the Ladysnail. What’s yours?
From my own work I would say the Lion. There is something reassuring about that character and I feel comfortable drawing him. Outside of my work I would say Gromit from Wallace and Gromit, Wall*e, any of the Mr Men or Shaun Tan’s Eric (I would like to find him living in my cupboards).

If you could give one piece of advice to someone that may be thinking about starting their own creative business what would it be?

START! Try not to over think everything. Go with what you love and enjoy doing. Go to as many business/start-up workshops and networking events as you can. There is a wealth of information and support out there to help you out. Do not be afraid to ask people questions or advice. Check to see if there are any local art/craft related groups you can join, for example Manchester Craft Mafia – they can offer you the chance to meet other like minded people. Some often organise selling events or social events and may have information about other opportunities.
Also, getting your business out there is easier than ever with the help of the internet, so what’s holding you back?

So, what next for The Imagination of the Ladysnail?

The first thing on the main to-do list is to redesign my website. My other plan is to start creating a new portfolio of work and printed items which I can start soon as I have invested in a chest and drying rack for my print room – the drying rack arrived today! Then I need to sort out printmaking facilities for exposing and cleaning my screens. I would also like to improve my photoshop and illustrator skills and learn how to use a graphics tablet.

If you have any questions for Debbie then please put them here and I will pass them on to her. You can find the wonderful The Imagination of the Ladysnail here:

Go check it out!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Second hand convert!

My other half has always moaned about me dragging him around the charity shops but I have recently managed to convert him after a really successful shopping trip! I managed to get my hands on a great desk that I’ve started working on now. I’m really excited about it, I fell in love with it the minute I saw it!
Whilst I was off trawling the bits and bobs section and looking through the old mirrors, I found my boyfriend outside the changing room with an arm full of clothes ready to try on! (YES! It always makes me happy when he takes it upon himself to buy things as he is usually so reluctant!). Anyway he bought 3 of the things he tried on and I even persuaded him to do a little fashion show to share with you …

This lovely vintage granddad jumper with bobbly grapes.

This great mint green (my ultimate favourite colour at the moment!!) shirt from Next.

And this H&M t-shirt.

I am now lucky enough to have him with me on my charity shop trips and I don’t have to worry about him following me around, bored out of his mind!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Coffee Table Upcycle!

Here is the outcome of the upcycling on the recent vintage coffee table purchase I made

I sanded down the wood, painted it in a layer of white followed by a layer of peach paint.
Once dried, I then sanded down the paint to reveal the wood underneath and then added studs to the sides of the legs. I thought a hint of peach would bring out the flowers on the tiles.

I have listed it on Folksy and it’s currently had quite a bit of interest but not been bought yet! Get in touch if you're interested!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Happy little Maid!

I just wanted to share how happy and honoured I am to have been asked to be my darling friend Deanna’s Maid of Honour. She is getting married in July next year and I simply CAN’T WAIT. I have been wedding obsessed for quite some time now and this gives me a great excuse to not be a crazy person planning their non-existent wedding! I can help plan hers instead J. I can’t think of a greater couple’s wedding to be a part of! They are so suited to each other. I cannot imagine a Dee without Nobby or a Nobby without Dee! I will have been friends with Dee for nearly 7 years when she gets married, 7 years!!! I can’t believe it. Time has gone so quickly. I can’t really believe that I’m old enough to have a best friend that’s getting married! Anyway, Dee is like the sister I never had, she’s the sort of friend who you just feel content in her company with, she makes me laugh out loud and we always come as a pair. I can’t wait to be there for her as her support on her special day and throughout the months of planning! BIG TWINNY LOVE!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A problem shared ...

I recently posted on the blog about a craft fair that left me feeling very disillusioned. I had great feedback and was later asked to write a similar piece about my experience for Folksy’s online magazine, Frankly. The piece went live last Friday and I just wanted to take the time to thank all of you who have taken the time to read it and leave your comments. I have been completely overwhelmed with the response and support. When you take the time to write something that you’re passionate about there is nothing worse than people having read it but not shared their views on the piece with you, no-one likes talking to a brick wall! So it’s been absolutely fantastic to converse with all of you about your past craft fair experiences and I really have learnt lots from you.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about then you can read the piece here:
I think it’s a subject that people sometimes feel shy of talking about. Maybe it’s that fear of failure. I know that it’s very hard when you’ve spent so much time getting ready for a fair to then not make much money on the day, sometimes not even cover your table fee. It’s hard when everyone asks you how you got on, you don’t want to admit that you spent so much time to effectively get nothing back from it. It refers to the old saying, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’; as soon as I started to speak about my bad experiences then people started sharing theirs back. Not only does it help your self-esteem to know that you’re not the only one who has had these experiences but it can help you to come to a positive conclusion about where to go next … It’s a moto that I often refer to in life and one that I think everyone should live by!
So anyway, a big THANK YOU once again to Frankly for posting the piece and a big THANK YOU to you guys for the support!

'Scrabble Thank You Card' by Sarah Martin Creative on Folksy
Maybe I will write more often J

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Engagement Party Decorations - Tutorial!

My best friend recently got engaged and you wouldn't believe how happy this made me! I can't think of anything better to look forward to! Her and her fiance make the perfect couple and I am so pleased for the both of them that they found each other!

This Saturday was their engagement party and the beautiful bride-to-be asked me and a fellow bridesmaid to help her with decorations, obviously we were more than happy to lend a hand. We made bunting and jam jar tea light holders and paper flowers. I made some paper mache hearts that were a suprise and I wanted to share with you how I made them ...

I cheated and bought Play-doh but you could so easily make some. I moulded the Play-doh into heart shapes like this ...

I made mine quite big, about 10cm but you could make whatever size you liked.

I then made a water and PVA mixture and tore layers of newspaper ready to coat in the mixture.

I moulded the wet strips of newspaper around the heart shaped Play-doh. You have to get your hands dirty with this bit! To get the strips to really stick to the heart shape you need to smooth them down with your fingers.
I did sides at a time. Once I had done one layer on all of the hearts I then painted a layer of just PVA glue on them and then PVA glued another layer of newspaper to them. They then looked like this ...

I waited a day for the glue to completely dry and then used a craft knife to cut down the heart in half. I then scooped out the Play-doh from inside the hearts and glued the halves back together with another layer of newspaper and PVA glue ...

Once the glue had dried I painted the hearts in acrylic paint, some pink, some red and I left some just as newspaper. I then drew the happy couples initials on the hearts in black marker pen.

And here we have the finished hearts ...



Monday, 2 April 2012

Latest Charity Shop Finds!

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of second hand shopping. Some of my favourite items were bought in charity shops or from vintage fairs. Here are my latest finds ...

Great shabby chic style Tea and Sugar jars. You would struggle to find any nicer than these on the highstreet!

Coral and pleats. Very Spring 2012. This top was originally from H&M and still had the label on!! It was on a size 12 hanger so it was lucky I spotted it, it was actually an XS! Perfect! £2.00.

These sandals are the perfect 'go with everything' sandal I've always been after. REAL LEATHER. Handmade in Greece, hardly worn, fit me like a glove and for the absolute bargain price of £1.25!!

And finally I bought this very interesting tiled table to upcycle. Can't wait to get my hands on it! Keep your eyes peeled for the finished result :)!

What are your latest second hand finds??