Spring

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Laura Crouchley Photography

It’s been a bit of a slow start to the year, but with spring underway and all the lovely sunshine I feel I’m emerging from hibernation.

I’ve been spending most of my time drawing and coming up with new ideas for cards and prints, mainly focusing on floral patterns at the moment. I have plans to experiment with copper foil over the coming weeks and have just invested in materials, can’t wait to get started!

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I’ve also completed a number of commissioned projects over the last couple of months.  My favourite of which is a set of wedding invitations I made for two lovely friends who are getting married this summer.  As they have now sent out the invites I thought it safe to add the design work to my blog 🙂  This is my first attempt at map drawing and although quite challenging to start with, I am very pleased with the final result.

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In other news, I have just spent a weekend away at Eastor Pottery taking part in a wonderful two day workshop.  I had forgotten how meditative the process of throwing a pot can be and I fully recommend it as a form of stress relief to anyone.  It has also been lovely experimenting with a different medium outside of my usual drawing and print making.  I was very excited to experiment with sgraffito, a decorative technique I hadn’t tried before.  Here’s a peep at my pots before firing, they will be ready for me to collect in a months time, I can’t wait to get the finished versions.

Winter Craft Market and Press

I am very excited to share my first piece of press for Little Penn!  Thank you to IKON Gallery and The Mix Magazine (a lifestyle magazine for Brindley Place) for featuring an interview with me, about my work.   Also, a massive thank you to  Laura Crouchley photography for the photos.

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IKON Gallery will be hosting a Winter Craft Market this Friday 25th and Saturday 26th November, which I will also be taking part in.  It will be a great opportunity to pick up beautiful hand made gifts for your nearest and dearest, all produced by a talented bunch of local craft makers.  Further information can be found here.

I am really looking forward to kick starting my Christmas Markets and the festive season with this one.  Hope to see you there!

Autumn

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In Little Penn news this autumn I have been working more and more with fabric printing.  Mainly coming up with little pieces like these lavender bags below. They have been very popular at recent handmade markets and I am now working on some new ideas for Christmas. The plan is to make Christmas tree decorations in a similar style, substituting the lavender for more seasonal smells such as cinnamon and spices.

I have also been working on some floral block printed patterns with a plan to make a series of table runners for Christmas. They will be variations on the design below, with some festive colours such as red and gold added. The finished products will be available at a number of regional Christmas markets in Birmingham during November and December, dates to follow soon.

img_3016In other news, a few months ago I asked my good friend Laura Crouchley to take some promotional shots for me which I could use for both print and social media. As I hate having my photo taken and completely tense up as soon as I sense a camera is near, Laura had a bit of a job on her hands!  I am really pleased with her photos. They appear so natural and I think she is the only person ever to succeed in getting me to relax in front of the camera. Here are a couple of pics from the shoot.

We chose Winterbourne House & Garden as a location because the grounds are beautiful, the perfect backdrop.  If you are visiting Birmingham I definitely recommend a visit.

Experimenting with Fabric Printing

Over the last few weeks I have spent more and more time experimenting with fabric printing, this time block printing onto linen.   I’m so pleased with the results. My earlier attempts of fabric printing using cotton were a bit hit and miss, sometimes the fabric didn’t absorb enough of the ink and at other times to much ink.Tree printLinen is a wonderful surface to print onto, it takes on so much of the detail, the natural tones are wonderful and the rustic look really compliments block printed images.  Here I have used a beautiful linen fabric called French Clay from Merchant & Mills.Birds fabric printIt has also given me an opportunity to really play with repeat images on large areas of fabric, considering placement and composition.  Now I just need to get the sewing machine out and work out what to make with all this lovely fabric!

 

March Antics

I thought I’d start with a round up of what I’ve been up to during March.  With the Easter Weekend and my first market of 2016 it has been a busy month.

I took part in The Paperdolls Handmade Spring Market on Sunday 20th March. The Paperdolls markets are among my favourite local markets in Birmingham, there is always a lovely atmosphere and I’m constantly blown away by the quality of work available by local makers and designers in Birmingham.  Jo and Carolyn who run Paperdolls have a real passion for good quality hand made products and this really comes across at each market.   Through a combination of carefully curated stalls, workshops and music they continually put on great events. To find out more about Paperdolls handmade check out there website: http://www.paperdollshandmade.com/

I also had an opportunity over the Easter break to have a good studio tidy.  It was during this clean up that I rediscovered some old magpie drawings I’d been meaning to do something with for some time, this got the cogs in my mind turning and I set to work designing a new happy birthday card.

Magpie happy birthday cards (1)I like to play around with ideas relating to folklore and superstition, so I incorporated two little Magpie sketches into this card design playing on the traditonal Magpie Nursery Rhyme ‘One for Sorrow’.  The number of magpies you see determining whether you will have good luck or bad luck. Two magpies are lucky by the way.

Finally I have been working on some new forest drawings, again this is down to rediscovering some older sketches and doodles, as well as in response to some really positive feedback from people regarding the banjo commission I completed recently.  Here are some works in progress.  Looking forward to making these into prints.Forest drawings 2forest drawings

 

 

Banjo commission

I’ve been working on a number of commissions over the last couple of months, the most recent of which was to illustrate a banjo with a forest themed pen and ink drawing.Banjo detailPen and ink is easily my favorite method of drawing and I really enjoyed dedicating many hours to this piece.  The detailed leaves being rather meditative to draw.  It was also a little unnerving having the responsibility of someone else’s prize possession and a little challenging at first to get used to the more textured surface.

Banjo full imageI am pleased to say the the recipient loves the design, now all I need to do is replace the strings.

 

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Happy New Year everyone! After a restful Christmas break I’m back in the studio ready to embark on some new and exciting projects for 2016.

2015 has been an amazing year for me, I feel I’ve come a long way, as this time last year was pretty much the start of Little Penn.  I’ve grown in confidence and developed a body of work I’m really pleased with.

One of my major plans for the start of this year is to finally set up my website! This is something which has been in the pipeline for some time and now with the aid of brilliant stock photos (courtesy of the lovely Laura Crouchley) I feel I have the perfect imagery to best display my work on line.

Here are some of the photos Laura has taken of my work, she has managed to capture and display every item in a style I love, lots of natural light and great props.  She makes it look completely effortless (which believe me it isn’t, I’ve tried!)

To see more of Laura’s work visit her website. Laura is a freelance photographer specialising in Weddings, Lifestyle and Event Photography.  She’s a pleasure to work with and very professional.

Now I need to make a start on my website!

Christmas Markets!

After a busy few weeks selling work at Christmas  Markets during November and early December, I’ve found some time to stop and write a post! I took part in four markets over three weekends and really enjoyed the experience.  This year having done a bit more research into fairs and markets, I’ve found a selection of fairs which complement my work.  I’ve also met some lovely sellers, crafts makers and customers along the way.

My first Christmas market was at Bearwood Handmade on 21st November.

Bearwood Handmade is a wonderful market which takes place annually and is organised by Crafty Muthas.  As a born and bread Bearwoodian, I was excited to be given the opportunity to take part in the fair.

It was such a lovely event, I was blown away by the enthusiasm and warmth of the visitors, stall holders and organisers.  It was also my most successful fair to date with regards to sales. It is great to know I have the support of my local community.

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The second market I took part in was The Paperdolls Christmas Market on 29th November, in Kings Heath, Birmingham. This is one of my favorite markets, run by the lovely Jo & Carolyn.  There is always a great atmosphere at the Paperdolls Markets, made all the more special by the live music and craft activities which take place throughout the day.  This market also takes place in the Hare and Hounds, one of my favorite Birmingham pubs.

The 5th & 6th December was the MAC Christmas Craft Market, this was my first time at the MAC and also the first time I have attempted a market over two days. I was impressed with the choice of products and quality of work available and  I’d definitely take part again.  I also had a massive table to fill for the first time which was brillaint! See below.

IMG_1731I was also very pleased to be invited to take part in a Victorian Christmas Fair at Hillhead Farm in Ugborough, Devon where my good friend Laura was manning a stall, selling some of my Little Penn Products.  This fair was held in a beautiful Victorian farm yard,  full of handmade gifts, festive treat, roast chestnuts and Christmas trees.  To see more beautiful photos from this event have a look at Laura’s blog post.

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Victorian Christmas Fair, photo credit Laura Crouchley

Now I feel that its time for a well earned rest in the run up to Christmas!

Christmas cards now available online

It might be a little early to say this but I’m far to excited to wait any longer! I’m pleased to announce that my Christmas cards are now available to buy online via my etsy shop.

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I have some old favorites like my penguins and robins from last year as well as two new designs pictured above. Cards are on sale in a variety of packs as well as individually.  My Christmas cards will also be on sale at Christmas Markets in Birmingham throughout November and December.

Cat card pack     Penguins and robin card pack