Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Happy Easter!

Easter will soon be here, and with that in mind, welcome to my ham-fisted attempt at painting real eggshells. Why? Because polystyrene ones feel like cheating. This craft was in an activity book I had as a child and it's one of the first crafts I remember doing. It was one craft I was desperate to do as well, perhaps because it carried a certain amount of risk and responsibility, but nothing a child couldn't handle. And the sense of satisfaction when you finished your egg without breaking it and felt the fragile, beautiful weightlessness in your hand couldn't be topped. This blog post is the first one I photographed using my new Nikon  D3100. Hooray!

You'll need:
Free range eggs
A pin
A glass bowl
PVA glue (to varnish if you want)
Cocktail sticks

So, first of all you need to make a small hole in the top and the bottom of the egg. The hole in the bottom needs to be slightly bigger to allow the egg to come out. Now the tricky bit, (and I'm NOT providing a photo of me doing this): you need to blow through the top of the egg to force the contents out into a bowl. Use the egg to make cakes, omlettes or any other egg-based deliciousness you fancy.

Now that's done, run your eggshell under cold water just to make sure all the egg is out, although what's good is that there's usually little to no residue left after you've finished blowing (stop giggling). Now you're ready to paint!

Plasti-kote craft paint came to the fore once again. Poster and acrylic paints are also fine. I sponged my eggs all over in pale colours, then painted all over using stronger tones for the patterns. I was slightly cowardly and went with simple patterns for my eggs, but I was pleased with the overall effect, especially when they're viewed altogether. 

Saying that, there are examples online that just blow mine out of the water. I'm sure with practise I'd get better, I'd also love to try other concepts, like painting portraits onto eggs like these by Brittany on Craft Phesine.

To hang your eggs, you simply cut cocktail sticks into approximate one inch sections, and tie thread around the middle. Push your stick into the hole in the eggshell, and you're left with a secure  hang for your egg.

Oh, and if you're wondering why there's only two eggs hanging in this last picture... it's because when I was trying to hang these on my wall for a nice white background, two fell off onto the floor... and smashed. Fail. At least it happened at the end of the shoot! So, to conclude... polystyrene eggs are easier, cheaper and won't break. But I still loved painting these. Try tying yours to an ornamental tree branch or hanging them somewhere safe at home. :-)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

5 Books / Publications I find inspiring

I thought I’d share some of the books I turn to again and again when I need inspiration. I have an illustration background and illustration has always been a huge passion of mine. Over the years I’ve accrued a great selection that keeps growing all the time. The following books inspire me in different ways. To try something new, to be myself, to have fun, to think carefully about composition, colour, character... I could go on and on. Instead, have a look at five of my favourite tomes:  

This is for You by Rob Ryan

Maybe not the most original of choices, after all, Rob Ryan has enjoyed massive popularity in recent years and rightly so, his papercut artwork is everywhere now. BUT the real thing to admire about this little book is that it grips you from start to finish, even when you’ve read it a few times before. The artwork is so beautiful and so intricate, but also interesting, in that the nature of the cut-out words means your eyes have to work harder to read it, so you find yourself really looking at the imagery instead of just skating over it. 

This book teaches me that time, thought and developed skill really can’t be beaten, and that’s why this book can be found on coffee tables and inside wrapping paper across the land.

Ms. Rubenstein’s Beauty by Pep Montserrat

I found this in a small book shop in Indiana, back when I lived in the States for a short while. This was in between terms at university so I was always on the lookout for gorgeous imagery to add to my collection. I won’t ruin the story for you but it centres on inner beauty and true love. 

Best thing about this book? The AMAZING limited colour palette. I think this was the first piece of illustration that really sold me on the impact of limited colour. The prose is also pretty and eloquent, I think it’s a translation from Spanish, either way it’s lovely. The paint-y textures are lovely too, and all the little people populating the backgrounds.... basically it’s great, OK? Buy it!

Okido - The Arts and Science Magazine for Kids 

I first saw this magazine for sale in one of the big London galleries - it might have been the Tate Modern or the V&A Museum, both of which have amazing gift shops that I could spend a lot of money in if I had it! I’ve also seen this magazine in The Museum of Childhood in the East End. It’s cute, bright, and packed with really alternative illustrations aimed at learning. Each issue has a theme - growth, weather, etc. I don’t have every issue but I pick it up when I can.

They’ve got a website too which is well worth a look.

Hand Job by Michael Perry

Aaaarggghhhh this book is SO COOL! And probably the most well-thumbed and stared at and generally drooled over book in my collection. I’m really into typography, more so in recent years, and this book is stuffed with amazing examples of type from many talented illustrators.

Everything about this book is gorgeous. It’s colourful, printed on beautiful heavy paper stock, it even has blank bits for you to draw your own stuff in! Brilliant! 

And lastly....

I have a couple of friends who just seem to have a knack for finding amazing things in charity shops. My friend Karen found this book in a charity shop and bought it for me a couple of years back. I think it’s one of those illustration sample catalogues that agencies send out to their clients. I like to get it out and look through it from time to time, it’s packed full of weird and wonderful imagery. And the great thing about looking at illustration from other cultures is you get a fresh look at the creative process, with a completely different angle.

I could definitely have made this post "50+ books Hannah likes to look at", but you can have too much of a good thing. I think I’ll definitely be doing another Top 5 post on books again at some point!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Birthday party in a Bento Box

Remember when I got all excited about bento boxes? This is my first attempt. Not very healthy but I love how cute the little treats look all next to each other in the box.

The nesting boxes are for sale in Paperchase at the moment, you get four in total so you can play around with different sizes. This bento box is meant for a friend's birthday, so I included a teeny birthday cake, a little bird's nest, a chocolate covered strawberry and some marzipan treats.

The marzipan sweets were made simply by adding food colouring to separate lumps of marzipan, then rolling out four equal sized sauages and pushing them together to form a long block, which you then cut into cubes with a sharp knife. You can roll them in a bit of icing sugar to stop them sweating, then I used chocolate writing icing to draw little kawaii faces.

I got a Bento recipe book recently so I'll definitely be making up some more bento boxes. I can't wait to try some healthier recipes and making up some fun lunches for work. :-)