December 20, 2017

Creative Life Round Up

Hi there! My creative-life-round-up posts are just a round up of random creativity that's happening in my world at the moment. 

Christmas is a-coming! I have just finished this little elf for a special little niece in my life. Her mama has extremely good taste and loves all the same fabrics and colours I do, so basically I made this with her in mind! I got the pattern from Wee Wonderfuls

I chose to make the elf on the left, and I used real wool felt for the felt components. Real wool felt is SO much better than the acrylic stuff.

Aren't they just so cute!? I really would like to get this animal pattern and make each of these cute little animals too! They are smoochalicious!! 

Food. Food is always happening here, and no, it's not always this pretty! This was for the girls' birthdays not too long ago. Right now I'm starting my Christmas cooking. My first project was shortbread cookies which I just burned. *Cry*

The husband-man and I recently took a trip... BY OURSELVES... no kids!!! Into Melbs. (Melbourne.) We saw a show, had some dinner, strolled around the streets, saw a couple of celebs, and basically felt like teenagers again. We went on our first dates as youngsters together into the city, so it felt strange to be walking around there for fun again together post having children. We don't often do things without the kids, but I could really get used to more of these outings! I like some of the creative laneways that are covered in art. Should've taken more photos!

Here's a landscape painting I started that is really not my style but was compelled to do it from a photo I took when out walking the dog. I have to say it's quite refreshing trying out a different style and I'm happy with where this small painting is heading. 

And another painting I've started! I had an image in my head of a pegasus painting, it's not turning out quite how I imagined, but I'm happy with it all the same. Maybe I'll have to keep painting pegasus paintings until I get it right!? A whole series perhaps??

And here's a terrarium I made for a good friend!

Hope you enjoyed my latest creative life round up. 

Jules :)

December 14, 2017

DIY Christmas Craft: Fabric & Glitter Christmas Tree Decoration

Time for a DIY Christmas craft!

We are staying home this year for Christmas, and I'm excited not to have to get up and rush all around trying to fit in all the visits to various family members. That may be a tad selfish, but it's been a busy year and just want to see out the end of the year moseying around my home.

Lots of sucky things happened this year, nothing terrible, but I got to the point of being over the constant flow of problems. I'm really hoping 2018 will be the opposite of this year! I'm not going to dwell on the negatives and list them all here, I must try and think positive thoughts and perhaps that will help bring some more positive experiences into my life :)

I did get to the point of everything compounding and I dropped my bundle! My blog slowed down, and I've hardly been able to seem to find the time to be creative. It's slowly coming back and I really need to make art and creativity a priority. I have been creating here and there but I haven't been sharing a whole heap here or on social media. Not deliberately, just because of shifting priorities, and my time was taken up elsewhere. 

Consequently, I've been thinking about where I want to be next year, and what form I want my creative business to head towards. I'm planning on doing a fair bit of work around this house decorating, so I can blog about my progress and share other things I'm getting up to creatively. I'll add new products to the shop when they eventuate. But I'm going to slow things down a tad and just share when I can. That may mean a lot if I'm going through a phase where I seem to be able to fit it all in, and others times it may slow down a bit, depending on life. 

So I'm going to forget all the negative stuff that happened this year and enjoy the heck out of this Christmas!! A lot of ace stuff has happened too! So I am going to focus on those things. 

Enough of that, let's get into some craft! I created this tutorial for Alisa Burke's wonderful blog, but I like to share them here for my readers too :)

I just love super colourful decorations. So I delved into my fabric scrap collection (I can never throw out small pretty pieces of fabric- the always have a use!) and came up with these christmas tree decorations. I then accentuated them with glitter, because it’s the perfect time of the year for an excuse to use the sparkly stuff!

You’ll need:

Stiff card
PVA glue
Assorted fabric scraps
Silver glitter
Masking tape
Baking paper or sheet of plastic
Tiny amount of stuffing

First, we’ll make the cone out of the card.

Start by making a centre point (top anchor point) at the top of your card and measure 27cm (10.5”) straight down (bottom middle point), then mark again. Then, using your top anchor point, swivel your ruler to the sides and mark with dots using the same length. Join the dots up and you will have created a curve for the bottom of the cone. From the centre bottom point, measure an equal distance straight out to both edges. I chose 16cm (6”). Draw lines from your top anchor point down to those side marks for the outline of the cone shape, adding a flap to the side that will be used to glue the cone together. Cut out.

You can see using this method of creating a cone that you could make play around with different sizes.

Curl the card around so the flap lines up to the other side, glue, and use masking tape to hold in place.

Make a template out of some card for the scollops using the diagram as a guide. Place onto the wrong side of the fabric, outline and cut out. You can keep placing the template side by side to get longer lengths. As you go, check by wrapping your fabric strips around the cone to make sure you have enough lengths.

Lay fabric strips out over baking paper or plastic. Mix some PVA glue and water with a ratio of 1:1. Paint it on to the back and front of the fabric strips and leave to dry.

Once they are dry and stiffened, use your fingers to curl up the edges of the fabric.

Start by gluing a strip of fabric along the bottom of the cone before you start with your scolloped pieces.

Run glue along the top edges of the scolloped fabric strips and start wrapping them around the cone. Make sure when you go up a layer that the cone is covered by the fabric so that you can’t see the card underneath. Continue until the cone is completely covered.

Using 2 small scraps of fabric, place wrong sides together and lightly draw a star shape. Sew all around the star leaving the bottom two edges open. Lightly fill the star with some stuffing, and then sew the two remaining edges closed, leaving a small gap in the bottom middle. Trim around the star close to the stitching. Pop some glue onto the end of a tooth pick and insert it into the base of the star, and then place some more glue onto the other end of the toothpick and poke it into the top of the tree. (If there’s no hole there use your scissors to snip off the very tip of the cone so that there is.)

Using a brush, paint PVA glue onto the very edges of the scolloped fabric and the edges of the star and sprinkle silver glitter all over, tapping off the excess.

Then enjoy your colourful christmas tree decoration! I’d love to see yours if you make one!

Jules :)

November 27, 2017

Koby Cumulus Children's Picture Book released!

How exciting, my latest Children's Picture Book has been released!

Koby Cumulus, written by Melissa Doughty and illustrated by me :)

It's called Koby Cumulus and I've been blogging about the process (3rd and last blog post still due, but you can read blog posts one and two here and here respectively.)

The book turned out beautifully, and we were all very happy with the printing and the papers used. What a nerve racking experience to see the book you've been working on for the last 6 months appear; knowing that it's too late to change anything if need be!

The endpapers

Koby Cumulus is a 6 year old cloud who loves life... until he hears people grumbling about the weather.

It's a beautiful story about realising your own self worth in the face of negativity and rejection. Koby also has a mentor, who is his granny, so it'd be a lovely book for a grandparent to read to their grandchild! 

I have favourite parts of the book that I have illustrated, I like how this horse turned out and the ripples in the water. It reminds me of a book from my past that I can't quite put my finger on... 

And my favourite page is where Koby is sprinkling a light shower over some red roofed homes.

Lots of kids like the page with the rainbow!

Melissa has done a beautiful job of creating a story with a message of self confidence that can be used as a tool to help children become more resilient.

I'm so happy to finally share this with you all!

If you'd like to learn more about Koby Cumulus or purchase a copy head over to Published Panda where they have low shipping for the rest of this year.

Jules :)

October 31, 2017

The Making of an Illustrated Children's Picture Book: Part 2

So I left the last post about illustrating a children's picture book at the story board stage. You can read about part one here.

*Update. Things have been a little slow here lately on the blog. I have reevaluated my priorities and time commitments and for the rest of the year I will still post here, but not as frequently as I was. I will reassess in the new year and decide what direction I want to take with all my arty and crafty projects. I'm still producing tutorials, and will update here on my creative life now that my latest kids book is finished, but for the rest of the year it's going to be a bit slower here on the old blog! Ok, back to the blog post!*

After everyone is happy with the way the whole book goes together, it's time for the final roughs.

With this book, some of the pages were shuffled around and text needed to move and new quick roughs needed to be done. It is in this stage when you see the images with the text that something you feel needs to be changed will become apparent, where it might not have been before.

A section of a rough from one of my favourite pages

The text is a huge part of the book and needs to not be an afterthought. I designed where the text would go in this book, and had a lot of help from a designer. The space for type is allocated before the final roughs are done.

Looking through kid's picture books is interesting to look at the amount of space type takes, the placement, size and font choices. You'll see wavy text, enlarged text, bold text, hand written text. The choices are varied, just as the illustration choices are.

I do my roughs to scale. I did mine larger than the final book would be, so I can fit more detail in where needed.

Some pages need more nutting-out than others. Some I wrestle with and redraw parts, and I also use my scanner and photoshop to help me rearrange parts of the roughs if it's not working for me on paper. Modern technology!

Some come easily. I'm sure this is similar to the workings of many different creative pursuits.

Things that I have to keep in mind when doing the roughs are character continuity, and keeping the style throughout the whole book. I also nut out landmarks or features if there are a few pages that will feature the same area. You want the same colour & shaped roof on the same house on different pages for example. Notes are helpful for you to remember things when it comes time to render the final illustrations.

I read and reread the text, as it's easy to miss out on little details that you thought you would remember.

Once the roughs are all done they are scanned in, edited and compiled into a PDF for viewing by the publisher. For my last kids book, I made a little dummy book which I loved. It was great to be able to pick it up and hold it and flick through the pages and get an idea of the final look and feel of the real book.

Extra detail is added into the final roughs, and I like little surprises such as continuing themes that aren't in the text of a book. It's great to think of all your characters (and even background characters) as total individuals so you can make them unique in their expressions or what they're wearing.

Taking breaks is important. Minds go stale and tired, and after a break I return fresh with new perspective.

So many tea breaks :)

If I get a bad case of the fears, also known as procrastination, I remind myself that no matter what I do, I will always be better off sitting down and doing an hour or so of work. If will learn something. I will progress, even if just by a tiny bit. Even if it's a stuff up, it's a stuff up that needed to happen as it is part of the process. This mindset has helped me deal with procrastination a lot. No matter how dull and practical and unmystical that is!

The cover design needs some in-depth thought and a fantastic illustration. I'm hoping mine lives up to the task! It is after all the first thing you see, and it either catches your eye or it doesn't. I did a couple of different layouts, and it was funny that in a survey to some little people they all chose the one I liked least! Considering it's for kids, we decided to trust those fresh untainted opinions, and that they knew best.

The next instalment will be regarding painting the finals, and the final book will be on it's way very soon! Stay tuned!

Next up... painting the final illustrations

Jules :)

September 28, 2017

DIY Pet Memorial Stone

A craft DIY for you today in the form of pet memorial stones, if you have any furry friends to honour.

Just before our new pup came along I had a pang of guilt that I hadn’t yet made memorial stones for my two previous fur babies who have since passed on. So in their honour, I purchased a bag of mortar mix, dreamed up the project and completed the task. I couldn't find what I wanted them to look like online, so I came up with a project myself.

You will need:

-Mortar mix
-Cement additive/ fortifier (optional- but gives your finished piece extra strength)
-Chicken wire (use a small gauge- not the big size)
-Masking Tape
-Acrylic paint in black and white
-Matte medium

Tools & other useful items:

Pliers, metal spatula, rubber gloves, various clay tools or skewer, stamps, paintbrush, rags, plastic bags.

To start with draw on a piece of paper how big you want your stone to be. Scrunch up some newspaper and wrap it in masking tape. Make the scrunched newspaper shape about two thirds the size you want your final stone, as adding wire and cement layers will add extra bulk.

Cut some lengths of chicken wire and start wrapping around your newspaper shape. Cover the shape with approximately 3 layers of chicken wire. Use pliers to twist ends together and inwards so there are no spikes sticking out.

Take your mortar mix and mix some up adding some cement fortifier as per instructions. I used Bondcrete. I guess how much cement I’m going to use, trying not to make too much as I can always make more. Make your mix on the drier side rather than making it too wet. You will get better detail when it comes to making the marks, and a stronger mix.

Working on a plastic work surface start pressing your cement mix into the chicken wire. You need to do this all over the stone shape, including underneath. 

Keep adding cement until all of the wire is covered. My stones ended up having a flat base, and I just smoothed the cement all around the bottom edge for a neat appearance. On the top of the stones you need a fairly thick layer of cement, so that you can stamp & draw some elements in without hitting the chicken wire underneath.

When this is all done make the whole stone nice and smooth using your gloved hand or a metal spatula. It’s quite fun- similar to icing a cake.

Use a clay tool to write words by pressing into the cement rather than ‘drawing’, and use stamps with bold shapes to press into the surface. Fine detailed stamps will not show up so well. I made some stamps out of polymer clay specifically for this project.

Once you are happy with your creation, leave to set under plastic. Wrap the plastic around the stone loosely, as you do not want the plastic to disturb the surface of the stone.

Once the cement has set (keep checking at half hour intervals. It might take 1-3 hours and it still should be wet), come back and wrap wet rags around the stone, then wrap in plastic and leave to cure for 3- 7 days. Curing cement slowly like this gives it extra strength.

Once the stone has had decent time to cure let it dry, and mix some black acrylic paint with equal parts matte medium and enough water to make a runny mix. Working quickly, paint the black paint mix into the stamped and written crevices, and wipe the excess away using a damp rag. As I used a cement fortifier, my cement wasn’t super porous, so this stopped a lot of paint seeping in where I didn’t want it too. If you didn’t use fortifier, wetting the stone first might help.

If you want extra depth and contrast to your stone, dry brush some white acrylic paint over the top to highlight. You do this by getting paint on your brush (not diluted) then brush most of it off on some paper so that when you paint your stone only minimal paint is being transferred. 

Place your stone in the garden and you can remember those furry friends every time you wander in the backyard.

Yes, we named our previous dogs after Futurama characters!

RIP you guys.. miss you xx

I’m also thinking this project would work well as gifts to grandparents with little handprints pressed in with names and dates, heart shapes and pebbles pressed in.
Have fun,

Jules :)


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