Printing Fabric & Cherry Cola Dreams

I’ve been busy recently making bags with loads of lovely fabric, while also doing some smaller embroidery pieces.

After reading about designing fabric I decided to try it out and this is my latest bag, designed and created by me!

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I started with the beetle watercolour I painted as a new header to this blog and put it in Photoshop to cut it out and sharpen up the colours. I found a company through another blog called Fashion Formula that print designs for a reasonable price and got a fat quarter printed with the pattern of my beetle reflected.

I was super excited to get my finished material! I had already decided to make a bag with the fabric as it was a good length piece. I bought some orange and black strap material and found an orange paisley design fabric in my stash that would be great for the lining. I also wanted to create a zip pocket for my bag and bough a 5 inch chunky zip with a cute yellow flower print for the inside lining.

This is my first bag using D rings for the straps and I really like how they turned out. I also added a small swivel clasp on the side of the bag with ribbon to attach a keyring or charm.

I am really happy with how my beetle bag came out. I think I would have made the straps a bit thicker, but the quality of the print is wonderful and is the ultimate in unique style!

Cherry Cola Dreams

I’ve been running this blog for six years now and it has changed a lot since I started. I’ve wanted to create something new related to my art for a while and decided to let this happen organically. I still enjoy blogging and sharing my work, but I want to focus more on a specific area and really develop my skills and styles in textiles.

This is how my new website Cherry Cola Dreams came to be. I wanted somewhere to showcase my work and sell it, starting fresh with new ideas and styles. I want it to be fun, whimsical, bright and show my own take on all things I love that are kitsch, tacky, lowbrow and pop art related.

I feel energised and excited about this new project in the making. It is starting off small as I am doing everything myself but I get great feedback from my work through social media and hope this will too.

Post Apocalyptic Pop Art

I seem to like setting myself massive art projects, until I am half way through them and then think ‘what the fuck am I doing?’

This is what happened with this 12 inch embroidery hoop project! I loved the pin up/ pop art women I had been sewing and thought it would be cool to carry on this theme. But this time she would be wearing sunglasses with a reflection, suck a lollipop and have beading in her earrings. Straightforward, right?!

Lollipop Woman

I decided on this cute ice cream fabric as it was quite muted compared to the colours I wanted to use in my piece. I knew I wanted her to gave aqua hair and red lips and I normally do a few sketches in my notebook before I draw on the fabric.

lollipo begining

I stitched the general outline before I started the beading in her earring and hair piece. I used an invisible plastic thread, which is kind of tricky but looks really good when finished.

Beading Details

I started this huge project in February, and had quite a few breaks in-between, including going to Berlin. Sometimes, to keep my sanity, I would work on smaller hoops and did a vintage style lipstick for my sister, a little pink alpaca and a super small cartoon bomb.

I’ve also been working on some cute tote bags and purses with my sewing machine as well as preparing my entry into the Hand and Lock Embroidery competition. I have my ideas really, I just need to get stitching and stop procrastinating!

Birthday Adventures in Berlin

Berlin has been on my list of places to visit for a while now. What better way to turn 34 than to have an adventure in such a cool, modern city with such rich history with my boyfriend Jonathan?

We flew to Schönefeld airport on the Monday 2nd April in the afternoon and got the S-Bahn to our hotel which was between Charlottenberg and Wilmerdorf. The first thing I noticed were all the long names for streets! Berlin felt sprawling compared to Paris as it has no centre. I also saw loads of these bears dotted in different places.

On Tuesday we made our way to the Naturkundemuseum which I was excited to see; I love natural history! They had two huge Brachiosaurus skeletons in the central exhibit. They were so big I couldn’t fit them in to get a good picture. They also had the world’s best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex and a lot of interesting taxidermy including Knut the polar bear.

My favourite thing in the museum were these insect sculptures by Alfred Keller who made them between 1930 and 1955 specifically for the museum. I love the attention to detail and they would have taken him up to a year for each model.

After lunch we made our way to the Botanical Gardens in the south-west of Berlin. It was a warm, sunny day so walking round the grounds it felt like Spring, and going into the greenhouses felt like summer!

On Wednesday we headed out to Alexanderplatz, and went to the Bodyworlds exhibition which I had missed when it was in the UK. I’ve always been interested in biology and this was fascinating. Seeing real people in the exhibition was surreal; sometimes you forgot they were real bodies. Some things made me feel a bit squish to be honest!

After lunch we decided to go to Checkpoint Charlie, the famous boundary between East and West Germany. It was weird seeing this in the middle of the road, surrounded by fast food outlets and tourists. We walked around this area and found the watchtower that would have been between the two walls separating the countries, as well as parts of the wall still standing.

Thursday was my birthday, whoopie! After a breakfast of coffee and German pastry we headed to Berlin Zoo and Aquarium, not too far from Charlottenberg.

I loved this zoo, it has so many animals. The best thing about it was probably seeing a panda munching his way through bamboo! There are only 2,000 left in the wild. I know some people object to zoos, but I do think they help people realise we need to protect our planet and all living things. All the zoos I’ve been to highlight our need for conservation, endangered species and climate change.

After the zoo we went out to eat and I had a little cheeky cocktail to celebrate turning 34! My 30s are definitely better than my 20s and getting older doesn’t mean getting serious! I think it’s about embracing who you are and your interests, as well as being aware of the world around you.

On Friday we went to the Spy Museum in Potsdamer Platz which was brilliant. Loads of things in there you would only imagine in a James Bond film, like these playing cards with a map inside and the cigarette packet with a tiny camera. Here we are dressed as spies!

We then went to the what is known as the alternative Berlin in Bergmannkiez and Kreuzberg, which was full of indie cafes, small thrifty shops and Vicktoriapark. We wondered round here all afternoon and found an art shop, a magic shop and a juggling shop! No chains in sight which was really nice, I felt like this was true Berlin where locals go rather than just tourist places.

Saturday was our last day so we headed to the DDR Musuem near the river Spree. I think this was my favourite museum because it showed what it was like living in East Germany before the wall came down. It was interactive with rooms set up to look like a prison sell, an interrogation room and an East German flat.

I studied German cinema when I was doing my Masters and this place made me think of films like The Lives of Others and Goodbye, Lenin! 

After the DDR Museum we went on a boat tour on the river Spree past Museum Island and rested our feet – we had done a lot of walking the past few days.

In the afternoon we got the train to the East Side Gallery – Conserved graffiti project by 118 artists covering part of the Berlin Wall and celebrating its demise. I thought it was very moving and showed how creativity and individuality are fundamental to what it means to be human. It is so long but I have put up some of my favourite pieces.

Berlin is a fantastic city rich with so much history, culture, art and friendly people. I can’t wait to go back one day.

Metal Purse Frames & Zipper Purses

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I had a sewing machine about 7 years ago and really got into sewing things. But, as life gets in the way and you move house and jobs and stuff, I stopped sewing and gave my sewing machine to my sister.

I’ve always wanted to get back into it and having a spare room with space was a good reason to get a new sewing machine. I bought the Brother LS14 Metal Chassis sewing machine at Christmas and it is a great machine at a really good price.

Of course now I have an excuse to get sewing supplies! I got different fat quarters, zips, threads and sparkly embellishments from Hobbycraft. I already had a lot of sewing stash but too much is never enough!

Here a few of my recent projects I’ve been making. Some metal framed coin purses which I think are so cute and then as a challenge, I sewed some zipper purses as well and found a cool tutorial on YouTube by Gretchen Hirsch. She’s my new craft lady crush! I need to check out her books.

Because Hobbycraft is like a sweet shop to me, I also got a plain wooden box and decorated it to keep all my threads nice and tidy. As if I don’t already have a million projects on the go!

With this new craft added to my ever increasing crafty hobbies, I’ve been rearranging my art space and put up a shelf for useful items I need to grab when I start sewing. I loved making the zipped purses as well. The first one came out a little crooked but I think I have the hang of it now, and preparing everything before sewing is definitely a big plus (instead of my usual rushing into new things and messing them up!).

I also got some labels printed of my new beetle logo from Etsy and think they look so cute as part of my finished projects. Just have to remember to add them!Mini Metal Frame Coin Purse

Pop Art Embroidery

pop art hoop

I wanted to set myself an embroidery hoop challenge and found a pop art style image I liked online I thought would be a great addition to my wall. This piece really was a labour of love!

I started it in December and in total I’ve spent over 50 hours on it. That is a lot of stitching!

This piece is a different direction from my other work. I’ve always loved Pop Art, especially Lichtenstein with his comic book style and bold use of colour and shape. I think it is still as relevant today, with Pop Surrealist artists putting their own twist on the art of the 1950s and 60s.

Roy-lichtenstein --its hopeless!

I had prepared my hoop (I always use embroidery stabiliser with my work) I sketch my image directly onto the fabric. I just used a green sharpie here, nothing that fancy! I then used black shimmery thread to on all my bold lines, stitching at least two lines to make them thicker.

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I really like the contrast of this floral fabric and my pop art style girl eating an ice cream. I decided to fill in some colour almost like a guide to myself, and faintly outlined where the different highlights of purple would go against her eyelids.

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The majority of this embroidery was done with a satin stitch, back stitch and stem stitch to get some nice curves. You can see from this picture why it took so long to sew the whole hoop!

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To add texture to the piece, I sewed some beads into the ice cream as sprinkles and stitched her earring from beads as well.  I found it hard to get the colour right for her skin tone but overall I am pleased with the result.

I’ve been reading up on sewing and started using my new sewing machine I got at Christmas. I also got some great new books recently, and got some fabric labels made with my little beetle logo. I love them!

 

Magic Bunny Art Doll

I’ve been obsessing about art dolls since I discovered them last year and have been meaning to make one for ages. To me, they encompass all my creative interests; sculpting, sewing, embroidery, mixed media. I found loads of great doll artists online and even got Art Dolls Quarterly which I love.

I suppose my Halloween art project was when really started to experiment with dolls. I felt I got mixed results with them as I was customising a doll rather than creating it from scratch. I decided it was time to give it a try and stop putting myself off just because I was letting perfectionism creep in. So here is how I made my blue rabbit.

Materials & Tools

  • Super Sculpey
  • Foil
  • Wire
  • Glass cabochon eyes
  • Faux fur
  • Polyfil
  • ribbon
  • Cotton
  • Acrylic Paint
  • varnish
  • Brushes
  • Glue Gun
  • embroidery thread & Needle
  • Pliers
  • Clay tools
  • Pens
  • Notebook

I started by sketching some rabbits from reference photos and then creating a more stylistic bunny sitting on his hind legs. As this was going to be a sort of homage to my boyfriend, a magician, I played around with ideas for him wearing a top hat.

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When it came to making, I started with the head first. I scrunched foil up and formed a almond face shape . I used thin wire for the ears and wrapped foil around them to keep their shape. I softened the Super Sculpey clay with my hands and a pasta machine and started adding it to the foil, building up the face.

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Fantasy Cakes & Embroidery

Well hello 2018, what great things awaits me? I hope everyone had a great festive season and are planning some wonderful things this year. I’ve already had enough of rainy, windy Manchester, where is Spring?

I got a proper mixing stand in November and have been busy making cakes like they were going out of fashion! I really enjoy cake making. I read somewhere baking is like chemistry and I couldn’t agree more. Planning the flavours, size and of course themes and decorating is so fun! Below are some I made in the last two months for birthdays and various Christmas celebrations.

This cake making frenzy found its way into my crafts too! I challenged myself to make a large embroidery hoop, which can be rough on my fingers –  a Kawaii-inspired cake slice. But not any old cake, this was a space-mermaid-tripping-on-acid psychedelic kind of cake slice!

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Adieu 2017!

Bead Embroidery Beetle

As 2017 comes to an end, this would be a good time to write a post reflecting on everything I’ve done, the art I’ve made and how I’ve changed.

This year I’ve naturally focused more on my embroidery and as a result I’ve become more precise in my work. Moving house meant I had more space for my crafts and while I set up the art room I would do embroidery projects in the living room. The more embroidery hoops I made, the more ideas and I would get for new ones.

I also started to spray paint the hoops, giving the whole piece a more completed look. I have lots of fabric pieces so embroidery was like a fun way to plan, doodle and relax. I would pick out my fabric, sketch an idea onto it and play around with colours and stitches to bring my ideas to life. I also challenged myself to try something more complex each time I started a new piece.

 

When it came to subject, the main themes for my pieces were nature and whimsical – no surprises there! I find inspiration in so many things; beetles, flowers, seasons, the sea, anatomy, space. I also love looking at other artists and different styles such as Pop Surrealism, Kitsch, Kawaii.

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Autumn Musings & Makings

Here are a few things I’ve been working on over October and November. I really wanted to get back into sculpting so made a derpy pumpkin for Halloween! Then I decided to try making a poison apple. I got these cool plastic eyes but they were much smaller than I thought!

I also finally finished my anatomical heart embroidery – it was a bit of a slog because I added more flowers around the heart to give it more depth, as well as adding beads and sequins. I love the little spider!

I’ve been brushing up on my baking skills with a new mixer and the last week have made Oreo brownies and chocolate marble cupcakes. Tasty! As usual my little helper Truffles was on hand for a bit of inspiration.

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Halloween: Wednesdays’ Dolls

Horror Dolls

I wish every day was Halloween!

For my Halloween art project this year I thought I would try something different.

I love films, film props, costumes, kitsch and pop culture; and of course Halloween. I’ve been interested in art dolls for a while, reading up about making them and finding new doll artists online. In September I found some old dolls in a charity shop – 3 for £5 because the guy working there found them creepy!

Doll One – Ava the Corpse Bride

For my first doll I wanted to make a corpse bride. I actually removed her head to paint it, which I quickly realised wasn’t the best idea – it was so difficult to sew back on!

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Bead Embroidery Insects

Here are a few bead embroidery projects I started before I went on holiday, and finished when I came back.

I love dragonflies, so I started this with a few larger beads I had and lots of seed beads and lovely gold thread. I had a lot of issues with this project! I used organza and some stabilizer but the material was just to fragile and kept tearing. I decided to cut out the body and try a stronger fabric.

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Paradise in Portugal

I’ve not been on a beach holiday since I was a teenager. I’m so used to this wet British weather that when my boyfriend and I went to Portugal last week for a lovely holiday, I think I was in shock!

We stayed near Carvoeiro in a little holiday village with a gorgeous swimming pool and beaches really close by. Here are a few pictures from our little bit of paradise before autumn sets in.

The skies were a perfect blue all day and in the evening turned orange, pink and yellow like a watercolour.

We swam in the pool everyday and read books in the sun, drank iced coffees and in the afternoon went to the beach.

In Carvoeiro we saw these phone cabinets painted with different things and there were a lot of pottery shops next to food and drink places along towards the beach. I loved this frog!

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Beads, Beads, Beads!

Beads are my current obsession. As a mixed media artist, I’ve always had a stash of beads; seed beads, bungle beads, faceted beads, lampwork beads. I normally pick them up from somewhere because I like the look of them and mostly used them in my polymer clay work or other mixed media projects.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that I realised bead embroidery was a thing!

I started a mini project of this beetle with a mixture of beads and threads. I also wanted to make some new earrings and made these little spiders from a video I found on YouTube. Mine are a little big but so cute and once you get the hang of making them, you can make variations.

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Mixed Media & Clay Jungle Frame

I wanted to get back into my clay work for a while and have a lot of ideas scribbled in my notebook. I had a few deep box frames since last year that I had been meaning to create something with, similar to my sea themed box.

To get back into using polymer clay I started with a mini frame and used scrap bits of clay to make a little frog. I definitely felt rusty as I made the foliage to go round the frog and the clay was super hard – it took ages to soften it.

I added some beads on a wire to give the piece some texture and added different Perfect Pearl Shimmers, beads and then some resin to the baked piece. I couldn’t fit the glass frame back onto the box as the frog was a little bit too big, although I quite like it without.

 

I decided to continue with the jungle theme on a bigger frame, this time with a tropical bird as my focal point.

I used scraps of blue and purple clays to make a background to build my image from. I then added different layers of leaves and two large branches across the piece. I decided to make another frog and used a skinner blend of peach and a translucent yellow. Looking at it now I think he was a bit too big, although I was try to create perspective.

I loved looking up different leaves for reference and trying to capture the shape and colours in clay.

One thing I find most enjoyable about working on a project like this is building the image by adding layers. I built the toucan up with black clay and had fun creating his colourful beak. I used a variety of tools to smooth the clay into the background, and textured the feathers to make him look less solid.

When I felt I had enough foliage in the piece I made some beaded wires as vines and placed them in over the leaves. I added some smaller leaves to hid where the wires started.

I made a little beaded spider from a tutorial I found on YouTube and decided to add him into the frame. I also added a few metal leaves, beads and a mixture of shimmer powders to add more bling.

Once I baked him, I added some resin sparingly to look like rain and spray painted the front of the frame with blue and splatters of gold. I varnished the rest of the piece without resin and added a few gems – because he wasn’t bling enough!

With this being my first clay piece in a long time I am happy with how he turned out. One major problem though, was that he isn’t secured to the back piece of wood. He feels quite solid with the frame in place, but next time I will try Sculpey Back and Bond to secure him.

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He is now on the wall in our living room. I’ve also been making a lot of beaded spiders which I will put up in another post and am planning another one of these mixed media clay frames. Possibly a desert for my next theme 🙂

Skull, Flowers and Goofy Embroidery

Because I like to give myself art projects and challenges, I decided my next big embroidery piece would be a skull, surrounded with flowers. And I must have been crazy, because this piece took me ages! There was a lot of frustration, swearing and accidental stabbing of fingers, and wondering why I thought this was a good idea!

 

I love using black fabric for embroidery, it makes all the colours pop. As this hoop was pretty big I used two pieces of stabiliser fabric in the back to support my work. I used a white gel pen to sketch out an idea, looking at a few references for the skull and butterfly. With the flowers and foliage, I went with my instincts as I wanted it to be semi stylistic. I have loads of embroidery thread I bought online, so you will see quite a mixture in this piece. I think of it as painting with a needle, so there isn’t a lot of variation with the stitches, it is mostly satin stitch, back stitch and stem stitch.

 

I actually started this in June and had a few stumbling blocks as I tried to motivate myself to continue. So I set myself a mini task of doing 10 minutes a day free hand embroidery as a way to change my perspective on being so rigid with my work. This really helped as I had to think of something and start stitching without lots of planning and analysing.

Skull

While this was my larger ongoing project, I also did a few mini embroidery hoops and put together a travel pack when I went away to Paris and also for my lunch breaks at work.

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