Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Crafty Exploits: Embroidery- The Library

Okay I admit I have taken forever to finish this embroidery let alone post it on the blog. The actual stitched design is A3 in size so all of the little books took a wee while to stitch. Also I have to admit that after a while your attention starts to thin when completing something like this. I tend to create very laborious works of art and if it happens that I have to do similar stitching over and over again I will sometimes take a break from it. That's exactly what happened here!

The work itself is stitched on linen which has been attached to a wooden frame. The threads I use are embroidery cotton on a reel (rather than floss) so it does take a while to fill areas with dense colour.

I'm preparing some linen so I can begin another (quicker) design tonight so I hopefully won't take as long to post next time.

Inspiring Reads: Hell Babies, Junko Mizuno

I have been reading Manga since I was a teenager. I love the illustration styles and variety of characters that feature across hundreds of titles. Since I love Manga it wouldn't be any surprise that I love Junko Mizuno.

Junko Mizuno is a Japanese artist/illustrator who creates graphic novels featuring girls with often grotesque and violent props. Mizuno is heavily influenced by Shojo Manga ( manga aimed at teenage girls with wide eyed characters). Mizuno's Bubble gum colours are used along with psychedelic patterns to create a unique style which appeals to both male and female readers.

Mizuno's most famous works that have been translated into English are re-workings of fairytales (Cinderalla, Hansel and Gretel and Princess Mermaid). Every page is a artwork in it's own right and holds a wealth of symbolism that is only found with multiple viewings.

Hell Babies (updated) is a re-release that features a soft embossed cover and contains previously unseen works. There are 108 pages in the book with full colour reproductions of Mizuno's characters. If you're a fan of this style of work I would highly recommend this book as a good example of Mizuno's works.


Hell Babies can be purchased here

Designer Picks: Awesome Origami!

I have always admired folk who can do origami with little or no instruction. It's always been a craft that I find quite difficult to do and never seem to master in any way whatsoever!
I have noticed over the past few years that there has been an increase in artists' takes on origami through lots of different contemporary products.

I have picked out a few products available online that have the spirit of origami in a modern design.

Origami Bear, Paperfolk- Buy me here

Origami Clock, Gifted Papers- Buy me here
Origami Lamp, Kate Callahan Design- Buy me here
Origami House Necklace, Laura des Villes- Buy me here
Origami Ring, Lady Fingers 6- Buy me here
Origami Bird Cushion, Kissen Studio - Buy me here

Monday, 29 April 2013

New Shoes!

Okay so i'm not usually one for doing fashion posts on my blog but I definitely had to share my birthday present with you.
The sun was shining in Glasgow so my new patent oxblood brogues were looking extra especially good!

They're actually from ASOS and cost a very affordable £35!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Embroiderer's Delight: Sewing Baskets

When I was a kid I joined a sewing group at school. I didn't have anything to keep my little collection of threads and needles in so my mum emptied out a Ferrero Rocher box which I promptly covered in stickers. Eventually the little plastic box wasn't big enough for all my bits and bobs so I upgraded to an empty Christmas biscuit tin.

Now I have a cute sewing basket that my husband bought for me. Whether you have a biscuit tin or a box with lots of compartments, it's always nice to have somewhere to keep your sewing supplies safe and organised.

Here's my pick of the most lovely sewing baskets online...
Buy me here

Buy me here
Buy me here
Buy me here

Buy me here


Daily Drawings: Tents in Camouflage

I forgot to post this drawing once it was finished a couple of weeks ago so here it is now! I used 0.05 nib black pen and sharpie markers for the red areas. The leaves are made up of 3 different patterns repeated to give them a bit of texture.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Designer Picks: Run Rabbit Run...

I love using rabbits in my artworks (usually the half human/ half rabbit kind). I think I was influenced quite early on when I watched Donnie Darko. For me, it was the first time that I had really seen rabbits been used in a creepy way rather than cute.

In celebration of rabbits I have pulled together a list of designer picks with a rabbit theme. All items are available to purchase online and individual links are given underneath each image.


Cornelia Rabbit Brooch, Lost in the Woods
Rabbit Vessel, Perch Ceramics
Flyaway Rabbit, Hour Glass Productions
Rabbit Night Light, Mouton Cerise
Bunny Earrings, Recoco NYC
Summer Holiday Bunny, Lily Kat Atelier

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Crafty Exploits: Pastel Colour Scheme

I love going to a haberdashery to choose embroidery thread for my next project. I know its cheaper to buy online but it doesn't beat standing in the shop and comparing lots of different colours. I don't know how many times I've gone in with an idea of what I wanted and then leave with a completely different set of threads.

The colours above are (left to right) 111, 206, 874106497  - All Anchor threads.

I'll keep you posted on what I use them for...

Crafty Exploits: Spot Origami Girl Embroidery


I realised this morning that I hadn't shared any of my embroidery works with you for a while. I finished this one last night- it only took a couple of nights to complete from start to finish so it was a lot quicker than the works I normally produce.

This one is on linen as usual but I used acrylic paint to stain the background (not too thick a layer just enough to add colour). I then used 3 strands of embroidery skein to complete the outline and filling of the girl. I used 2 strands of embroidery skein to complete the white marks in the background.

I've also included an image of the back just because I always like to have a nosey at the back of artworks!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Hey I made you a Mixtape!

I don't know whether it was the unusually sunny weather in Glasgow over the past couple of days or whether I need a break but I got thinking about holidays. I pulled together a collage made up of vintage fifties pinups, Victorian luggage and a map of Tokyo.

Here was the tunes that I listened to today...

1.  Don't ask me to dance - Arab Strap

2.  Jessica - Adam Green

3.  Dead Funny - Archie Bronson Outfit

4.  The boy with the arab strap - Belle and Sebastien

5.  The ribbon - Devendra Banhart

6.  Made up love song - The Guilliemots

7.  Steady as she goes - The Raconteurs

8.  Johnny Cash - Sons and Daughters

9.  Burning down the house - Talking Heads

10. Staring at the Sun - TV on the Radio

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Designer Picks: Super Kawaii!

I think I've mentioned once or twice on the blog that I love Japan! I really admire the use of colour and clashing pattern in Japanese culture. When I visited a few years ago, we spent some time in the Harajuku district (famous for cosplay and Kawaii style). As well as the hundreds of teenagers dressed as Manga characters there was also some amazing designer boutiques that I found the interior design and product styling within each very inspirational. The Anna Sui store in particular was great to spend some time in.

I've pulled together some products available online that I think have the playfulness of Japanese style and culture.

Hope you enjoy!

1.  Mini Camera, Ann Mich Treasure Box  2.  Cute Kitty Art Print, Willow Eyes  3.  Kawaii Necklace, Didepux  4.  Bunny Plastic Bag, Harvard5f  5.  Alec The Hipster Bunny, Hello Happy  6.  Felt Bone Clip, Pop and Moo  7.  Kawaii Memo Sticker, Harvard5f

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Designer Picks: Anatomical Accessories

I have to confess to being a bit of an Emo kid in my younger years so skulls were somewhat of a necessity on most pieces of clothing. Now at the ripe old age of 31 I've hung up my baggy jeans and said goodbye to primary colour hairdyes. Although i'm rockin' a different look I still find myself attracted to anything with skulls. So imagine my delight when I found some (semi) grown up jewellery featuring all types of anatomical delights. Click on the 'Buy Me Here' to purchase any of the items below.

Lung and Heart Studs, Buy Me Here

Skelinecklace, Buy Me Here

Anatomical Heart Brooch, Buy Me Here
Mouth Cufflinks, Buy Me Here
Anatomical Rib Cage Ring, Buy Me Here

Heart in a Jar Necklace, Buy Me Here


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Embroiderer's Delight: Scissors

Okay this isn't a post about any old scissors, this is all about embroidery scissors. You know the little tiny scissors that are perfect for snipping thread or picking out stitching mistakes. The exact same little scissors that you will freak out if you find that someone has mis-used (like when the man in your life innocently opens a parcel with them and lives to regret it).

For those of you who would like some special scissors to use on your equally special embroidery projects, here's some very nice ones available online.


1. Magenta Scissors, Sublime Stitching  2. Wicked Step Scissors, Sublime Stitching 
3. Swan Scissors, John Lewis  4. Colourful Embroidery Scissors, The Button Company 
5. Stork Scissors, Ernest Wright & Son  6Victoria Embroidery Scissors, Ray Stitch

Monday, 15 April 2013

Inspiring Reads: Cutting Edges, Contemporary Collage

Collage, for me is a technique that I dip in and out of. I love the possibilities of collage and the restrictions in only being able to use what you have in front of you. I used the word 'technique' because for me collage is a way of getting out of a creative rut and I use it as a stepping stone to creating a finished piece using embroidery or paint. Collage for some artists is not a 'technique' but an art form. Many interesting pieces of work have been created using the old fashioned technique of cut up images along with the more modern technique of digital manipulation.
Gestalten celebrated contemporary collage with the publication of Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage in 2011. This book has been on my wish list for a while mostly because the RRP is £37.50 which exceeds my normal expenditure on a book but hey its my birthday so I thought why not?

I'm glad I made the splurge. At first glance the book didn't disappoint but certainly didn't bowl me over. Normally in this price range books are finished with a bit of luxury, usually an embossed title if nothing else. Getting past the very average book jacket the content certainly doesn't disappoint. For a visual person this book is packed with images from contemporary artists using collage in a variety of ways. The images are large and clear with an average of 3 or 4 images per artist. At the beginning of the book we are given an introduction to collage and how this artform has developed over the years. The one slight drawback is the lack of info given on each artist but to be honest I often find these short bio's quite tedious unless they give an insight into the artist's practice.

If collage is your thing or you're looking for a bit of visual inspiration I would definitely give this book a chance. You can buy it here.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Embroiderer's Delight: Pin Cushions

I sew at home (a lot!). My husband is now at the stage where he's afraid to walk across the carpet or sit on the sofa for fear of getting a pin stuck where one doesn't want a pin stuck.
I love having nice sewing supplies. I know that you can buy embroidery scissors in nice sensible steel for 4 quid but I have lovely metallic cranberry coloured ones for 12 quid. So the same logic applies to pin cushions.

I have found a pretty selection of pin cushions available to purchase online for all of you embroiderers who like lovely sewing supplies like me. Enjoy!

1. Crown Pin Cushion, Liberty  2Teacup Pin Cushion, Sew Over It   3. Button Pin Cushion, Eva Jeanie

4Hemingway Pin Cushion, John Lewis  5East India Pin Cushion, John Lewis  6Black Forest Pin Cushion, Lily Lily Handmade

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Daily Drawings: TV Heads

I love using collage when i'm having a bit of a creative block. There's something really satisfying about already having all of the subject matter in front of you instead of a blank page. I usually keep lots of photocopies from books and magazine clippings so I can do a bit of collage when I need to.

Have a nice day everyone!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Designer Picks: Red Brick

Hello my name's Michelle and i'm a scarf-a holic. There I said it. I have baskets overflowing with scarves of various designs, sizes and prices. Scarves might not be most ladies first choice in favourite accessories but I love the way a nice scarf can cheer up a pretty boring (or cheap) coat. I have to be honest, I rarely buy scarves from the highstreet because no matter how lovely the design, I know there will be so many other people who have it as well. I normally pick up my favourite scarves from independent shops and vintage stores. Imagine my excitement when I stumbled across Red Brick online.

This online store is a haven for scarves with unique designs courtesy of Royal College of Art graduate, Karen Mabon. Prices for silk scarves start at £35 which is a bargain for something to brighten up any tired wardrobe.

Here are my favourites...

Robbery in a Sweet Shop

Space Race
Circus Gymnast
Rabbits in the Allotment

Tippi Hedren

Pick up all of these designs and more at www.redbricknorth.co.uk

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

I Made You A Mixtape...

Today's mixtape comes with a mixed media drawing using graph paper, ink, photocopies and letraset. It's an all female listing for you this week enjoy...

1. Shoplifting - The Slits

2. L.E.S Artistes - Santogold

3. Delayed Reaction - The Roger's Sisters

4. Glorybox - Portishead

5. Hombre - M.I.A

6. On Guard - Le Tigre

7. Come Away - ESG

8. Innocence - Bjork

9. Trophy - Bjork

10. Yr Mangled Heart - The Gossip

11. Bang - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Monday, 8 April 2013

Inspiring Reads: Lady Snowblood Vol.1

My artwork is greatly inspired by the vibrant culture of Japan and Manga is no exception to that. I have read Manga since I was a teenager and I believe these small books containing black and white illustrations are the main reason why I prefer to use tone and texture in my drawings with very limited or no colour.

Lady Snowblood is one of my favourite Manga series. The front cover with its striking yellow, black and red colour palette is visually exciting. The content is even better. If you haven't heard of the Lady Snowblood Manga you will be familiar with the Quentin Tarantino films, Kill Bill 1 & 2 which is said to have been inspired by Lady Snowblood. Dark Horse comics eventually released the books in English for western audiences to enjoy.

Volume 1 sees the introduction of the main protagonist, Yuki, whose father was brutally murdered and her mother abused. Her mother assassinated one of her husband's killers leaving her imprisoned for life. The mother's need for vengeance against the gang who killed her husband was so great that she seduced a prison guard in order to become pregnant. The idea of the pregnancy was to produce a child, Yuki, who would be able to carry out the revenge that her mother could not. Yuki's mother died in childbirth but a close friend explained her mother's wishes.

Yuki becomes a skilful assassin who murder's for a fee of 1000 yen.

The book was also turned into a film in the seventies but for me it doesn't live up to the book.

What inspires your artwork? Drop me a note in the comments section with a link to your blog or website.