Christmas Independent shopping guide

I think christmas preparation is starting to really pick up now. I like to get started early so that I don't leave everything to the last minute. With a growing family there are more and more people to think about. This year I am trying to spend some time thinking about the gifts I get and where I get them from. For some people I am going to down the hand made route but for others I am trying hard to support independent shops. Since setting up my etsy shop earlier in the year I have just realised how lovely it is to support independent makers and designers and there are so many beautiful online shops out there that I have discovered this year. 

So I thought to help you guys out if you are looking for ideas I would put together a post of some of my favourite shops. Some of these I have bought from myself - some of them I am planning to buy from - and some are on my own christmas wish list! All of these are UK based because I wanted to support shopping local as well. 

Have a look through at all the talent out there and hopefully this will help kick start your christmas shopping. If you click on the images below it will take you straight to the shops

Oh My Clumsy Heart - Minimal handmade jewellry

Oh My Clumsy Heart - Minimal handmade jewellry

Lucie Ellen - Handmade wooden products,

Lucie Ellen - Handmade wooden products,

Fred and Noah

Fred and Noah

Anna Wiscombe

Anna Wiscombe

Handsome Craft

Handsome Craft

The lovely drawer

The lovely drawer

Alice Gabb - Calligraphy starter kit

Alice Gabb - Calligraphy starter kit

Sort - Hand printed letterpress gifts & ephemera

Sort - Hand printed letterpress gifts & ephemera

So there you go. This is not an exhaustive list but I hope you enjoy exploring these shops and finding new things, and hopefully more folks will make an effort and shop independent this Christmas! It really makes a difference.

(Also if you are lucky there may be some black friday deals today so get in there quick!)

Print Club London - Screen printing workshop


For my birthday my colleagues bought me a gift voucher for Print Club London to do a screen printing workshop...I had wanted to do it for ages and so I had obviously gone on about it enough for them to decide that it would make the perfect gift! 

It took me a while to get my act together and actually find a weekend free to do it, but a couple of weekends ago I headed over to Dalston on a rainy Saturday morning ready to get messy and go through all the process of screen printing. 

I'm afraid I didn't take loads of pictures because, you know, I was getting on with the business of actually making my screen prints and the ones that I did take are a bit fuzzy and from my phone but hopefully they give you an idea. 

The lovely Barry and Oli led our workshop. We started off with a talk from Barry going through the basics of screen printing and showing us lots of amazing examples of things that had been created at PCL. Then Oli talked us through the process of taking our artwork and preparing it so that it was suitable to go onto a screen. 

All our black and white artwork was printed onto tracing paper ready to expose onto our screens. We then went into a dark room with red light to cover our screens with emulsion. These were then left to dry. While the screens were drying we checked our artwork for any imperfections. 

Once the screens were dry we used the large exposure unit to expose our screens. It literally took 40 seconds! Crazy. We rinsed the screens down to get the emulsion that hadn't hardened off (the bits that hadn't been exposed to the light because they were covered by the black artwork) and left them out to dry. 

After lunch we were ready to start printing. The major dilemma was picking which coloured ink to use!

We all helped each other out with printing on the table - and after doing a few test runs, all eventually came out with 6 beautiful prints. I loved seeing everyone's work on the drying rack and it was fun to see people's image choices and colour choices coming together.  

The prints came out really well considering it was a beginners workshop and most people's first go at screen printing. 

I will be honest I fell in love with screen printing all over again (I had done a little bit at university and also some fairly rudimentary printing on my kitchen table) - and the thought of spending hours and days in those studios really appealed. It took me back to the very happy days of art college and having lots of time to experiment. I might save up the pennies and try and become a member in the new year because I would love to be able to offer all sorts of screen printed items in my little shop

If you have ever wondered about screen printing or just wanted to give it ago I can't recommend this workshop enough. All of the people running the course and on the course were so lovely and friendly and it was a great way to spend a Saturday! 

Etsy shop earlybird discount code

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I haven't done a discount code yet since I opened the shop so since things are about to start ramping up for Christmas I thought I would do a little early bird special. 

Until the end of November I will be offering 15% off in the shop using the code GETINEARLY. Perfect if you want to get some Christmas cards or if you're organised - get in some early Christmas shopping. 

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend! 

Creating a distinctive illustrative style

I love finding new illustrators whose style I admire and I'm always impressed by how so many illustrators create such distinct styles, to the point now where there are certain artists work I will see in a magazine or advertising campaign and just know that it is them.

Although I am not an illustrator as such, my design work often includes illustrative elements, but I have always struggled with creating a distinct style. Although saying that, friends at university always reassured me that I did have a distinct style – I guess it was just harder for me to see. I think sometimes it's really good to limit yourself to inspire creativity when producing new work. Sometimes I try to limit my colour palette or the tools that I use.  Recently I've been trying to limit myself (well not exclusively but mostly) – to black ink.

I read an article once about how creative types find it hard to just do one thing, they want to try everything. I think that is definitely the case for me. I struggle to pick just one thing and get really, really good at it, because I'm inspired by so much, and want to try so many things and learn new stuff.

Sometimes I love this, but sometimes I get frustrated and feel like that famous quote “Jack of all trades, master of none” applies to me.

Anyway I don’t really have any answers, I think I'm still going to want to keep learning and trying lots of new things, but I think for my personal work and my etsy shop I am going to try and limit myself a bit more, choose a few things to work on and get particularly good at. At the moment I feel like the things I want to focus on are my black ink illustrations (whether typographic or patterns etc) and lino printing. I only just started lino printing recently but really loved it and feel like it could be a printing medium that could work really well for me. I might dabble in screenprinting too and see where things go from there.

Now that I've written that though I've remembered that I've been really wanting to experiment more with collage too. See I just can’t help myself!

I feel that since I've opened my etsy shop I've stepped things up a bit in terms of creating personal work rather than just work for clients (which I do love to do too) – and it's meaning I'm making much more time to experiment, produce more and make mistakes, and I 'm really enjoying it. As ever I'm hoping to keep sharing more of my creative journey on this blog. 

I would love to hear other peoples thoughts on whether they find it easy to focus on just one discipline or work in one particular style, or whether they're always wanting to try new things, and experiment with different styles and tools.  

Moodboard Monday

I haven't done a moodboard in a while so thought I would start as I mean to go on with a bit of inspiration from good old pinterest.

clockwise from top left you can find these images here: 
Letterbox // envelope // roses // sea // wanted and wild // arrow
(sadly couldn't find a lot of the original sources for these - that does frustrate me about pinterest sometimes) you can follow me on pinterest here

Hope you all have a lovely monday. 


While we were in Venice we visited the islands of Burano and Murano. Both were beautiful and it was a great day out, but the one that really stood out was Burano. The island is not big at all (you could probably walk around the whole island in about 30 minutes) but it is absolutely full of striking brightly coloured houses and quaint canals. We were there on a glorious sunny day and it was just amazing. I found it really inspiring because the colour combinations were just so bold, and every little corner made you want to take a photograph.  Burano is famous for lace, and in the olden days (not as much now) lace was a big Venetian export and this was where it was made. It was also a fishing village and the story goes that the fisherman painted their houses different bright colours so that they could spot them easily while they were out at sea. I'm not sure that is the reason anymore, it's probably more to attract tourists, but it really is lovely.

As I mentioned in this post, the concentration of tourists in Venice is pretty high, and on Burano it is even higher. It's such a tiny island and basically the vaparetto is full of people planning to wander around the brightly coloured streets.

Here are some of the photos I took. I really love how some of them came out so I think I might print and frame some and have a little set to go on the wall. They would definitely brighten up any room! 

Happy Monday!

The studio book of alphabets

The in-house studio that I work in has been going for a really long time and it originally started as a cartographic unit in the geography department. As a result when we are having a bit of a clear out in the studio we often stumble across lots of lovely old school treats. I have found so many lovely maps over the years, some of which I have kept to put up on my walls and some of which I've made into envelopes in my shop

Anyway we were recently having a sort out and I stumbled across this lovely little book called 'The studio book of alphabets' - and being a design geek and a lover of typography I was pretty excited about it. It was first published in 1953 and the aim of the book (as stated in the introduction) was to 'provide a useful collection of well-designed alphabets, each in its entirety.' 

I took a few photos of the book and included some of the beautiful and lovely typefaces that are my favourites. I am going to treasure this book...such a lovely little find. 

Happy Friday type nerds! 

Visiting Venice

You may have worked out from my Instagram or this blog post, that NM and I went for a week's holiday in Venice. I thought I would do a little post about our time there in case anybody is planning a trip and wants some tips and advice. 

We decided for this trip to rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel. Partly because hotels in Venice are pretty expensive and partly because we love food and we wanted to be able to buy and cook our own food from the local markets. We booked an apartment from this place - it was small but very central, perfect for two people and just what we wanted. 

We are total food lovers, so when we travel food plays a big part in our plans and what we do! It can be hard to find good restaurants in Venice as there are just so many geared up for tourists that don't serve anything very special or that appetising. Our general rule was if they had photographs of the food in the windows we would give it a miss. We were lucky to have a few restaurant recommendations from friends which served us well, and I would definitely recommend doing a bit of research about places to eat. The other thing we discovered early in the week was Cicchetti which is basically an Italian form of tapas. It's common for Italians to head to their favourite Bacari for Cicchetti and a glass of wine or prosecco throughout the day. When we discovered it we realised this was much more our sort of vibe rather than fancy meals out, so we would plan our days around various Cicchetti stops and on the last day decided to do a Cicchetti crawl where we visited a few great Bacari's that we had seen throughout the week. 

Here are a few of our favourite places that served Cicchetti: Cantine del vino gia schiavi, Osteria Al Squero, Al Bocon Divino, Do Spade

Some restaurants we liked were: Osteria alla Frasca, Taverna Al Remer,

The other thing we did in Venice was head to the Rialto market (which opens in the mornings) and bought fresh ingredients to make our own dinner. We got some fantastic sardines and king prawns and made a really lovely pasta dish. The seafood in Venice really is pretty spectacular, and so if you enjoy cooking and are staying in an apartment with a kitchen I would totally recommend this! 

Also GELATO - eat it, lots of is amazing. (especially the pistachio flavour) - We went to: Gelateria Nico

Travelling around
On our way to Venice we were debating on whether we should buy a week's Vaparetto pass (it works out cheaper than buying a ticket each day or for each trip) - but we decided not to in the end and I'm so glad we did. Because our apartment was pretty central in the San Marco sestiere (district) we were able to easily walk to all of the 6 different districts to explore them each day. We found that we had no need to take the Vaparetto. Going everywhere on foot ended up saving us quite a bit of money. We did get a Vaparetto pass for one day and that was to go to the islands further out to the North, called Murano and Burano. It was totally worth a day trip as they are absolutely stunning islands - especially Burano which is very small but full of brightly coloured houses. 


I would definitely recommend getting the Vaparetto for at least one of the days you are there because it is nice to see the city from the Grand Canal - even though the boats are often very crowded.

I am hoping that all the walking we did cancelled out all the eating and drinking we did. We did find we had to make stops to just sit and watch the world go by because if we walked for too long we both got tired and grumpy. ha. 

Things to do
There are lots of things to do in Venice and to be honest we didn't really do any of them. We needed a chilled week and so we decided to do Venice our way. This consisted mostly of walking around and exploring the different districts, stopping off for food and drinks when we wanted and just generally taking it easy. As I mentioned above we did go to Burano and Murano one day which was really fun. Venice is SO touristy. It kind of bothered me a lot at the beginning (even though I know, I know, I was one of the tourists) - I think because Venice is not that big the concentration of tourists is just way more intense, and everywhere you go there are people speaking different languages and taking pictures of themselves with selfie sticks. As the week went on I was more chilled about it and just embraced it though. We would often try and go off the beaten track to area's that were more residential, a lot quieter and a lot less touristy. We went to two art galleries when we were there. The Peggy Guggenheim and also the Ca'Pesaro where they had an exhibition of modern art called 'Rauchenberg to Jeff Koons'. I loved this exhibition, partly because it was full of artists that I love, but also the building was spectacular and there weren't loads of people there. I would recommend the Peggy Guggenheim too but it was much busier so it was harder to really appreciate the works of art. 

We decided not to go on a Gondola ride while we there...some people have their hearts set on it, and if that is you, I would say go for it. I enjoyed watching them go by - those Gondola men have some serious skills navigating the canals but yeah actually getting on one didn't appeal. 

There are lots of shops selling leather made goods, glass goods, Venetian masks and things like that, and also much to my delight stationery shops selling absolutely stunning hand printed papers and things made out of those hand printed papers. haha - I am such a geek but these are the shops that got me really excited. I spent all week going into them and then at the end of the week found a shop that had a beautiful range of handprinted and machine printed paper, so I treated myself to 6 sheets. 

Venice is a truly magical city. It is just like you have seen in the films - there is a stunning view around every corner and it is unlike anywhere else in the world. It is the most touristy place I have ever been to too, but I loved exploring this city. Lots of people were surprised when we said we were going for a week, and on reflection I can see why, you could totally get a sense of what Venice is like in a few days, but we took things at a slow pace and wandered around in the sunshine and had a really lovely relaxing time. If there is anything else you want to know feel free to ask in the comments below...I might not know the answer but will do my best to help! 

Linocut experiments

For my birthday this year NM bought me a linocutting starter kit from Linocut boy on etsy. It was such a great gift and I love how it was all packaged and presented. Sadly it sat on my shelf for a few months before I found time to have a play around, but last week I finally got the chance. 

I have done screen printing before at art college and couple of years ago I did a letterpress course which I loved so I was really excited about learning a new printing technique. 

The box included everything I needed to get started. A roller, a beautiful set of carving tools, some small pieces of lino (which are easy to buy more of when you run out) black ink (am excited to experiment with other colour later on but black was all i needed to get started).

If you decide to give lino printing a go, my top tip to you would be make sure you have some plasters handy. Haha. It wasn't too bad but i did cut myself once - am hoping as my technique improves that will happen less often. 

So I started off pretty simple and inspired by autumn drew some simple leaf shapes. The smaller one on the left above worked much better for printing than the one on the right. I also had an old stamp handle so I stuck it onto that since it was so small and I found it easier to stamp it rather than lay the paper on top of it (which is what you do for larger prints). I really like how the pattern came out below. I actually used an ink stamp I had in a green colour rather than the black ink. It is pretty rough and basic but it was an encouraging start. I would really like to make some more patterns like this incorporating different shapes and colours. 

I then experimented with the black ink on different scraps of coloured paper I had lying around. For some reason the black ink didn't seem to stamp as well for me, but I think I just need to keep experimenting to see what works best and also making sure that I roll the ink on smoothly. I think often I want to see amazing and perfect results straight away and forget that I actually need to practise and take time to learn a new skill. Patience does not come naturally to me! Ha.

I started sketching out and carving a new design for a greeting card (below). I am not sure how it will turn out but I will keep experimenting and let you know how I get on. 

I don't think linocut boy is selling these started kits at the moment but if he ever does again I can't recommend them highly enough - such a good place to start. (Check out his shop anyway though because he obviously has skills when it comes to linocutting and it gives me inspiration for something to work towards).

You can buy linocutting kits all over the place so if you are keen to have a go just google and see what you can find. 

Underwater adventures

I have some pictures to share in the up coming weeks from our travels to Colombia in the summer but one of the highlights was snorkeling off the carribean coast while we were there. My little sister it seems was born to be in the water..she loves it. It was almost as fun watching her diving down to the sea bed as watching the beautiful fish. she had an underwater camera with her so we had lots of fun taking photos. I think she took most of these because she was just a total natural diving down and getting close up to the brightly coloured fish. 

My favourite thing about it all (apart from the amazing fish obvs) was the way the sun made patterns through the water. Nature is seriously inspiring and I want to let it inspire and influence my work more. I am going to see if I can recreate and incorporate this pattern in some way. 

Also see that coral in the second image. That maze sort of pattern is incredible!

Anyway I hope you enjoy some of these underwater photographs. 


things I am loving on etsy

Since re-launching my etsy shop I guess I have been hanging out on there quite a bit more, and so I have been discovering lots of beautiful shops and things that I love. Etsy really is such a lovely and wonderful community and I just love exploring and finding creative and inspiring people – So I thought I would share some of the things I have found recently and that are on my wishlist! Expect more of these sort of posts in the future! 

Miplusedesign has become a firm favourite etsy shop of mine. I just love the beautifully simple designs > and I pretty much love everything in this shop. 

If I had a bottomless pit of money I would snap these beautiful dishes up in a heart beat. Can you imagine these on your chest of drawers holding rings and jewellry? Stunning. 

A beautiful simple triangle necklace that I would happily hand round my neck! 

sadly these beautiful cups with handlettering don't ship to the UK. 

These are quite possibly the most beautiful envelopes I have even seen. If i owned them though I don't think I would be able to send them to anyone.  The rest of Karolin's shop is lovely too.

Inspired by Jordan Sullivan

This week I stumbled across (on Fubiz) the work of Jordan Sullivan and I fell in love with this series called 'Death Valley' - seriously! imagine having a whole series of these on your wall. I love the subtle colours, the compositions of the photographs and the simplicity of them. There is something seriously striking and dream like about these images. Especially when you see them all as a set. Sullivan has a really dreamy style to his photography and you can see more of his work here. (Be warned if you are looking at this at work - there are quite a lot of images of naked ladies!) 

a little wandering in the Gower

Quite a few months ago now (yeah yeah I am way behind on posting loads of stuff!) we took a little a trip to the Gower in Wales with some wonderful friends and it was pretty awesome. The weather wasn't amazing but we still managed to get out, sit on the beach and get burnt. Here are a couple of pics. Not all of these pics were taken by me...some were taken by Steve.  The Gower area on the south coast of Wales is seriously beautiful and a place that I really want to explore more. I think in the past I have always had major wanderlust for exploring foreign climbs but I think I am coming around to the idea that holidays in the UK are pretty cool too, I have quite a long list of places that I would like to explore.

Talking of foreign adventures though - I am looking forward to sharing some pics from Colombia soon too over the coming weeks - and next month we head to Venice. Am feeling super blessed that we have got to do go on some awesome trips since we got married. I really do love adventures with that guy.