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28 February 2017

Meet the local artist - Gemma Luker

I'm chuffed to be able to share with you a little interview I did with Gemma Luker, a.k.a Ginger Doodles Designs. She's an incredible artist, whose work is fun, different and colourful. I always know when I see one of her designs and I may have bought a few lovely pieces over the years. So, without further ado, here's the interview in full...

Hi there, can you introduce yourself to all my lovely blog readers pretty please?
Hello, I'm Gemma (or Ginger Doodles!) and I'm an illustrator/print maker based in leafy South London. I'm a massive craft enthusiast and foodie, spending my days sewing or knitting when I'm not working, or hunting out cool and quirky food joints!

Ginger Doodle Designs

What kind of art do you do?
I started out primarily as an illustrator, with an illustration style combining mixed media and digital, then moved back into messy printmaking a few years ago. I like to create unique gifts for friends and family, and found screen printing the best way to do this. As the popularity of these gifts grew, Ginger Doodles was born! I started creating 'collections', inspired by the people and things that I love. I also design a range of print products and accessories that will hopefully make you smile! 

Ginger Doodle Designs

How do you work and get inspired?
Inspiration can be something as simple as a comment made (and with most of my work it is!) or something I see when out and about. Often product inspiration comes from me needing something special for someone and not quite finding what it is I'm after, so I just make it myself.

All the products I create are totally unique pieces. My process starts with the initial design and illustration stages and then I create hand cut stencils for each colour layer needed. These are then screen printed (so the more colours the more layers, oh my!) and with my fabric products, these are then sewn and constructed by me as well, it's a very busy process! But I love things that are different to the norm and things created by hand, often the little mistakes makes a piece that bit more special.

Ginger Doodle Designs

What do you love about art?
I love that art is anything you want it to be and can be created by anyone with an idea! Its individuality is what inspires me, I love uniqueness and art is a great way to show this off.

Ginger Doodle Designs

What's the art scene like in London? 
London is excellent for art, there is always a show or exhibition on somewhere and quirky places that combine food and art seamlessly. Where I'm based in south London, we run several art trails and open houses as well as regular craft markets, meaning there are so many ways to connect with local artists and makers. I'm a big fan of supporting local business and love the community feel these connections can create, I would definitely recommend it to others for inspiration or a good day out!

Ginger Doodle Designs

If you had to take only one art tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Ooh, such a hard question! If I was thinking practically, it would probably be something to help me survive, but the crafter in me would forget that and say something like knitting needles, in the hope I can do something fun while trying to survive!

Ginger Doodle Designs

If you could go to an Art Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive) and/or fictional characters, who would you choose? 
What a dinner this would be! I would say Frida Khalo, Moonface from the Magic Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton (he always seemed like such a great character and I wanted to be his friend when I was a child), JK Rowling alongside Albus Dumbldore and Beyonce; people that would give me great advice and conversation, hopefully!

Thank you so much, Gemma! It's been wonderful hearing all about your artistic world and ooh, I sure do love your Art Award dinner guests, they would make for a fun evening!

If you enjoyed this interview, you might like to catch up on my previous 'Meet the local artist' interviews here and if you'd like to be featured, feel free to drop me a line.

26 February 2017

Five top embroidery tips

Five top embroidery tips by Adventures & Tea Parties

Embroidery is a wonderful craft for those early spring days when it's too rainy to go out and play and over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing five top embroidery tips. These tricks are great for beginners or those who may have picked up some bad habits along the way - I look at myself when saying this! ;)  Happy stitching! 

25 February 2017

Gardening jobs for February

Gardening jobs for February

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing some gardening jobs for February, which you still have time to do. So, pop those wellies on and head out for a spot of mental and physical exercise!

24 February 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Adventures and Tea Parties sewing flatlay

This week has been crazy and I've still got work to do, so that I can go play this weekend. Tomorrow I'm doing a jewellery course, then heading to the cinema and Sunday I'm off to Weston Super Mare for the day. On Sunday night I may well collapse with happy exhaustion! So, I'll keep this short. Here are five positive things that happened this week:

- Ordered a cool bit of equipment for the studio.

- I went to the first ever Etsy Somerset Team meet-up in Taunton, which was bloomin' lovely. I ate flapjack, drank loads of tea and got to chat to fab people about things I love.

- I watched a lovely programme all about dogs and my plan to find a doggy companion is getting beyond exciting now!

- Loads of happy post arrived, including the giveaway I won from Simple and Season.

- Booked my Blogtacular ticket. I've never been, so I'm bouncing off the walls with excitement!

And, as usual, here's a bit of music to end the week on:

Black by Okkervil River
Crash by The Primitives
Ever Fallen In Love (With Some You Shouldn't) by Buzzcocks
Outro by M83
No One's Gonna Love You by Band of Horses
Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones

Happy Friday everyone. Have a wonderful weekend!

23 February 2017

Lucky Shamrock Personalised Handkerchief

Lucky Shamrock Hanky by Adventures & Tea Parties

Inspired by lots of lovely friends and family starting off on new ventures and needing a bit of luck thrown their way, I've created the Lucky Shamrock Personalised Handkerchief. It can be personalised with initials, a name or even a special date. This makes a lovely gift for wishing someone luck in a new job, new chapter or for their big wedding day! Pop on over to my shop for a look see!

Lucky Shamrock Hanky

20 February 2017

Five minutes with designer/maker, Tom Gyr

Tom Gyr

Head over to the Simple Stylish Makes blog where I'm finding about the incredible designer/maker, Tom Gyr, who creates these beautiful calligraphy holders!

14 February 2017

Alternative Valentine's Day Ideas

alternative valentine's day ideas

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing some alternative ways to celebrate Valentine's Day. Head on over for a read and happy Valentine's Day!

13 February 2017

Guest Post - Valentine's Day Brooch Tutorial

Today the fabulous Samantha from Crafternoon Tea is sharing this wonderful Valentine's Day Brooch tutorial. Take it away Samantha!

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show a little handmade love. This cute little brooch can be made in a few hours (or an evening) and makes a lovely gift for February 14th.  If you fancy making a stash, they are lovely for girlie get togethers (thinking hen party here) or for Mother’s Day (your Mum, Aunty, Grandma).

This self draft brooch uses just one skein of your favourite embroidery thread and just one stitch, satin stitch (that’s the long and short one). You will need the following items to get started.

- one piece of cotton fabric measuring 10 cm x 10cm
- one piece of felt measuring 5cm x 5cm
- one piece of tabletop protector measuring 10cm x 10cm
- a skein of your favourite pink embroidery thread /floss 
- a brooch and back
- 5 pretty vintage pearls or similar
- to self draft you will need a lid from your hairspray or similar size lid (e.g. wax polish)
- small embroidery hoop
- sewing box essentials
- pencil and paper

To get started you need to self draft your easy pattern. Take your paper and draw around the hairspray lid twice. Cut both out, one is your brooch template and the other is your heart template. Fold the second in two and draw half a heart on it then cut out and open up. You have created your own bespoke heart. 

Trace around your piece of fabric 2cm larger than the template (for turnings) and pop the fabric in your hoop. Trace around the circle to the pattern on your table protector and cut it out. This is the brooch backing.

Trace around your heart in the centre of the brooch. Then it’s time to get stitching. Strand down your thread to 3 strands and using 20cm at a time simply colour in your heart with thread with long and short stitches. This will take about an hour.

Once stitched, cut out your heart and cover your table protector circle using small pleats and stitching into the foam of the table protector fabric. Stitch on the brooch back and if you feel fancy some pretty stitches too.

Stitch a few vintage beads on and a little running stitch around the edge before you parcel up your brooch and give it to someone special. Why not chalk paint a wooden box from the craft store and fill it with petals as a perfect gift box for your brooch!

For more vintage inspired crafts visit Samantha’s blog at www.createitsamantha.co.uk or her Crafternoon Tea Parties at www.crafternoonteahostess.co.uk.

Happy making!

How to stay motivated for the year ahead

How to stay motivated for the year ahead

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing some tips on how to stay motivated for the year ahead. After that initial rush of enthusiasm, now is a common time for the motivation to waiver. So, if, like me, you need a little push to get back into that motivated frame of mind, head on over here to find out how you can get enthusiastic about your goals again. 

Do you have any tips for staying motivated throughout the year? 

10 February 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Adventures and Tea Parties

Good stuff that happened this week....

- Chatted and laughed with friends via all forms of technology and noticed that I like to pull silly faces when using Facetime. I think that harks back to my childhood days of putting plays on for family and friends and trying my hardest to make them laugh.

- Watched lots of Starling murmurations dance past the studio window. I really want to go and watch their full acrobatic display at Ham Wall some time soon.

- The white hyacinth bloomed and filled the studio with refreshing scent all week

- I had some absolutely wonderful feedback from a customer

- Much creating and making happened as I designed some product protoypes, which involved using the drill, always satisfying.

- I booked some lovely social things into my diary

- Started creating my Look Lane shop - I'll shout when it's launched :)

- Listened to some good music and interviews on the radio, including these songs. Pop them on, it's Friday and that deserves some nice music.

Spitfire by Public Broadcasting Limited
9 #Strafford APTS by Bon Iver
I Heard Wonders by David Holmes
Everybody Come Down by The Delgados
Public Image by Public Image Limited
Ride On Time by Black Box

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

9 February 2017

How to choose the right craft for you

How to choose the right craft for you. Finding the a craft to suit you can be tricky but here are some tricks to help you. Written by designer/maker and creative business owner, Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog and brand, Adventures & Tea Parties
Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm looking at how to choose the right craft for you. So, if you've been thinking about starting up a new craft, head over here and get some ideas about finding a craft the suits you.
Happy making!

7 February 2017

Valentine's Day Gifts

If you haven't already seen, I've got lots of new designs and colour combinations in my Etsy and NOTHS shops, which make perfect Valentine's Day gifts. There are bow ties, personalised dog neckerchiefs, necklaces and of course, plenty of Adventures & Tea Parties' signature handkerchiefs! Pop on over to get something totally unique in time for Valentine's or Galentine's Day and as a special treat from me to you, get 15% off in my Etsy shop until the 14th February with coupon code: LOVEU. 

Adventures & Tea Parties

Adventures & Tea Parties

Adventures & Tea Parties

Adventures & Tea Parties

Adventures & Tea Parties

Adventures & Tea Parties

6 February 2017

A day in the life of a stationery and gift designer

After you guys went crazy for the first 'Day in the life' interview, I'm super excited to share another behind the scenes glimpse! So, let's dive on in and find out how Gabrielle Izen became a full time stationery and gift designer and what her average day is like...

I studied Graphic Design and illustration at Chelsea School of art and am very fortunate to have been taught by Quentin Blake. I set up the business in 2013 having lost a very nice editorial design job in 2009. I spent 4 years freelancing as on various publications, travelling all over the place; Teddington, London, Bromsgrove, Bristol, East Sussex, Kent. I was also sending samples to greeting card publishers all of whom rejected my designs. It was all pretty soul destroying. The last straw came when I was rejected for the third time by a large card publisher who actually encouraged me to submit more designs! My husband said I should set up my own business designing cards, gifts, and artwork. So after some research, I thought, 'I have nothing to lose, it's do or die time' and so I did!

Gabrielle Izen

I set up my business really to do what I love, enjoy and want to do. I design stationery, decorative artwork and gifts from my tiny home studio in Kent. I had been designing personalised products for customers, but this has taken off since joining Not On The High Street.
I produce the work by hand using traditional methods of modern calligraphy, lettering and illustration; a variety of old dip pens, Japanese reed pens, brushes, Indian inks, water colour paints and papers. Typography is used in some of the designs. 

My 'studio' is the converted loft at home. It's bijou so I have to keep it tidy otherwise I fall over things. I have to get really inventive with storage, as there is so little room. I'm always on the hunt for lovely storage when I potter around markets and fairs.
The theme of love and friendship plays a big part in my work. Many of the designs feature messages of love, celebration and appreciation. Uplifting, humorous sayings and famous quotes are also used. My love of old books, romantic verses, Jane Austen and 1950s designs have inspired me along the way.  

Gabrielle Izen

Time is taken to create the artwork, so it’s a real labour of love. I endeavour to produce original and beautiful artwork that people love to give and receive. One of the main principles about my business is that I keep all print, production and fulfilment in the UK. The paper merchants are local as are the printers. I'm also a stickler for recycling and ethical waste management as much as possible. All the paper waste is either composted or recycled. The non-recyclable waste is sent to a Kent based steam power station where it is used to generate energy for the local area.
I sell my work in a variety of independent shops and galleries around the UK. I also sell online via my website and via Not On The High Street since May 2015. Selling on NOTHS is one of my proudest achievements to date.
My business was recognised by Theo Paphitis of Dragon’s Den fame when he chose my business as one of 6 winners in his Small business Sunday awards in 2014. When I received the retweet from Theo Paphitis, I was flabbergasted!
I’m proud to say my work is made in England!

Gabrielle Izen

I'm usually up at 7 or so. My first job over coffee is to check emails, social media and orders. I usually spend my mornings working on any commissions, developing ideas and designs, responding to customers and orders. I work in silence as I can get so distracted by the radio.
I usually have something simple for lunch and usually at my desk, which is very bad! I pack my orders and make the daily walk to the Post Office. I do admin when I come home.  Then it's a mad dash to get dinner sorted.

Gabrielle Izen

After dinner, I shut the studio and spend some of the evening brainstorming, researching, and working on the Marker's Yearbook 2017. Sometimes, I switch everything off and just spend the evening relaxing. A very rare treat! I like to leave the studio tidy with notes about the next day. I'm very organised; working as an editorial designer and illustrator have taught me this.
I endeavour to keep out of the studio unless I have an urgent or large order or commission to work on. At the weekends, I like to spend time with the family, doing DIY jobs around the house and tiding the garden, going for walks, outings, and country fairs. 

Gabrielle Izen

I love having my own business. If I'm honest, it's been nagging at me for years. I had to be pushed and it's really the best decision I've made. It can be isolating and you never have the daily contact with colleagues and friends. My work is more bespoke than commercial so it can take longer for a business like mine to develop. One of my biggest challenges is to keep focussed on what my business is about and what's important to me. It's very easy to compare yourself to others, especially those who are doing really well. But for me the overall challenge and fulfilment of running a business, customers buying my products and coming back for more is worth everything. My plans are to keep at it, develop new products, endeavour to get to grips with social media and generally grow the business as organically as possible.

Thank you so much, Gabrielle. It's been truly fascinating hearing all about what your average day at work is like and how you decided to make that jump into becoming a full time business owner. You have clearly made the right decision!
I hope you've all enjoyed reading about Gabrielle's average day as a stationery and gift designer. Here are some handy links to her website, shop and social media pages:

Not On The High Street

If you missed the last 'Day in the life' with jewellery designer, Erica Sharp, you can read the full post here and do get in touch if you'd like to share your day.

4 February 2017

Meet the local artist - Jenny Sibthorp

I first came across this Dorset based textile designer on Instagram when her work made me stop and look and then feel immensely happy; you know that feeling you get when you see a combination of colours, patterns and shapes and they're completely in tune with you and make your heart glow? That feeling is incredible and so, before I knew it I was typing out an email asking if I could interview her for my 'Meet the local artist' series. I was over the moon when she said yes. Before I continue going on about how much I love her work, I think I should share the interview! 

Jenny Sibthorp

Hi there, can you tell me and my blog readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m Jenny and I’m a textile designer working from a farm studio in the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. I am largely self taught; inspired by an Upholstery Evening Class I took whilst living in London where I realised I needed to find a way of earning a living by working with my hands. 

What kind of art do you do?
I design and screen-print my work onto linen and leather. These are then made into home wares and fashion accessories. I like to design bright, bold, graphic repeat patterns, sometimes with a tongue in cheek reference and generally pretty colourful too. I’m a huge fan of colour and I think I can safely say you probably won’t find any black in my palettes. 

Jenny Sibthorp

How do you work and get inspired?
I’ve been running my business now for a little over 3 years and I must admit, the creative side sometimes takes a bit of a back seat to the day to day running, admin and stock maintenance side. For inspiration, I turn my gaze outside. I’m a country gal through and through despite trying my hand at being a Londoner for nearly 6 years, and it’s the wide open spaces that inspire me. I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the country that has it all: beach, countryside, rugged hills, rivers, and the plethora of fauna and flora that accompanies that, so I can take my pick really. If I’m feeling stuck or needing some inspiration I’ll take myself off for a walk with a notebook. Jot down ideas and sketch, collecting ephemera as I go.

Jenny Sibthorp

What do you love about art?
Art is the everyday. It surrounds us. It is accessible to anyone and everyone, and has no limiting factor. From the most mundane, to the most intricate, it has appeal and countless perspectives. I love most how it touches every aspect of our day to day life.

Jenny Sibthorp

What's the creative scene like in Dorset? 
Dorset is a big county and there’s a lot going on! I’m involved with a very popular local Arts Festival who run a fantastic annual fortnight of exhibitions, events and open studios and it’s been a brilliant way of getting to know fellow creative people. I also sell regularly in Bridport at their weekly street market. I am also lucky enough to be involved in a shared retail space in Wareham, which allows me a platform to sell my work on a permanent basis, and also run workshops in the space too.  

Jenny Sibthorp

If you had to take only one art tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Very simple, but I’d be happy with a pencil. I start everything I do by hand, and I even write my to do lists in pencil. 

If you could go to an Art Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive) and/or fictional characters, who would you choose? 
Edward Bawden, P G Wodehouse, Kaye Blegvad, Ariele Alasko and Jean Jullien. I think we’d have a wild old time. 

Thank you so much, Jenny! I feel so inspired hearing all about your creative, artistic world. I think you're right that art is the everyday and surrounds all of us. That needs to be written on a plaque in every village, town and city. 

I hope you've all enjoyed reading about Jenny's artistic world as much as I have. Don't forget to check out her beautiful website and head over here to read more 'Meet the local artist' interviews. If you'd like to take part in an interview, please do drop me a line as I love sharing people's creative worlds :)


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