Monday, 3 June 2013

The creative muse

Apologies for lack of recent blogging activity.  Life really does get in the way sometimes.  I've been working hard on an indexing project which is a little out of my comfort zone, and has stretched me to the limit.  In addition, I've spent time caring for my mother who has terminal cancer - a challenge of even greater proportions.

Both commitments have left little time for creative endeavours, but I did manage to submit an entry into the exhibition 'Rain', held at the Funky Aardvark in Chester (my first ever exhibit!), as well as completing a number of mini notebooks for the Funky Aardvark shop.  In addition, I've had a few commissions to work on which have presented their own unique challenges.  Having never received any formal arts training, or even remotely considered myself an artist, I found it terrifying to be confronted with a blank canvas (in book form), and told to "express my personality" on the cover.  Feeling far from creative, possibly as a result of worrying about my mum, amongst other things, and knowing little about my client's taste, I lay awake over several nights, worrying about the result of the project, the deadline for which was growing ever nearer, and eventually produced a notebook which was adequate, but hardly inspired.  Thankfully the gentleman who had requested the commission was understanding of my situation, and was happy enough with the result, but I had a definite feeling of what I can only describe as 'incompleteness' (is that even a word?) with the results of my efforts.

Since then, I've managed to fire myself up a bit more, and have indulged my passion for fine bindings, artists' books and the like, and the ideas and inspiration have been a bit more forthcoming.  But the whole experience has brought into sharp focus just how elusive the creative muse can be at times, and how much simpler it would be if we could turn it on and off like a tap.

As an example, as I walked my mum's dogs this morning across the fields in the heart of rural Worcestershire (about as far removed from my urban Manchester home as you can get), although feeling tired and anxious from worry and lack of sleep, the sun was shining, and as my eight year-old daughter ran amongst the tall grasses ahead of me, the sight of her tomato red cardigan contrasting with the fresh green of the grass was truly beautiful and inspiring.  I then noticed the plants and living things around me, and immediately began to feel more alive.  Sometimes it really is just the simple things that make a difference....

Until next time...happy creating!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Abstract-style bindings

My latest collection of mini notebooks features bright colours, bold abstract shapes, and a touch of gold tooling.  Having long been inspired by the work of many designer bookbinders, I began experimenting with inlays and gold tooling, using not leather but skivertex - a book covering material which has the appearance of leather, but is much finer, and is available in some amazing colours and finishes.

The notebooks are smaller than usual, the bookblocks sewn using French stitching with brightly coloured endpapers and skivertex covers.  Each design features random shapes which have been cut out in greyboard, and imprinted onto the book's covers in order to create a recess.  Into these recesses have been glued coloured pieces of skivertex.  Other books have been created by overlaying a handmade stencil over the cover in order to let the background colours show through.

In addition I've added some gold tooling (well, copper tooling actually), just to give them a bit of bling.  I've enjoyed making these books - I love the bright colours, abstract shapes, and I've been happy with the way the whole effect has come together.

The Designer Bookbinders website has some fabulous examples of abstract-style bindings, and I have included a few of my favourites here.  I would love to be able to produce work to this standard one day...

Binding by Jeanette Koch

Binding by Lester Capon

 Binding by Derek Hood

There are also a few gems out there on Etsy which I discovered whilst researching this post:

This coptic bound notebook by TheGiftShed was inspired by a greetings card.  The bright colours and shapes were a key feature, and resulted in this beautiful book.

This notebook by TheMojaveRose features another wonderful abstract design using bold shapes and colours.  The design has been finished with an acrylic medium which gives it extra flexibility and protection.

Hope you've enjoyed this post.  Until next time, have fun!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The notepad clutch

Having long been inspired by vintage fashion and design, I wanted to create a product which would pay homage to the various vintage styles, and which would exude the effortless elegance of previous eras.  My latest creations took their inspiration from vintage clutch bags, particularly those of the 1950s and 60s, and I wanted to inject a little glamour into the office or the boardroom, with these notepad holders.

Basing my designs on the different styles associated with Hollywood stars, each product has been given its own name in an attempt to inject a little character into each design.

Firstly, the 'Audrey' notepad holder takes its inspiration from its namesake Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey style - classic, sophisticated

Covered in black, mock crocodile-effect fabric, the vibe is classic and sophisticated.  Features of the design include a notepad insert (to hold a 8 x 5 inch notepad), a business card holder, and two silver buckles to keep the notepad closed.  My favourite feature has to be the small vanity mirror, discretely hidden by a small flap - perfect for touching up your lippy before heading into the meeting.


Other products in this range follow a similar pattern, although the features of each item differ ever so slightly.

The 'Grace' notepad holder attempts to emulate the cool, classic elegance of Grace Kelly, and has a gold casing,with the front cover wrapped in black lace, and a black silk ribbon and diamante slider closure.

There are other designs in the pipeline, including a 1920s flapper-inspired design, complete with gold fringing - a nod to the growing trend of Gatsby-inspired products available right now.

My Etsy selections this week are taken from the vast range of vintage sellers.  There were so many wonderful items to choose from, but I've narrowed my favourites down, using the themes of 'mock croc' and lace.

I love these two imitation crocodile skin handbags from ItsVintageIndeed and EclecticShop.  They're such classic designs, timeless and elegant.

Going with the lace theme, here's two of my personal favourites:

I love this1950s black and beige handbag in black lace from EmbraceLace and, this item from TrulyVintageUK.  Although not strictly lace, I love the design and the intricate beaded pattern.

Until next time, have fun!