Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Cambridge Magazine Article

On 27th October I had the pleasure of welcoming Alice Ryan, head of editorial for Cambridge Magazine, to my studio.  We had a lovely chat about my work and the inspiration behind my designs and the reasons why I use various styles.

With her was photographer Keith Jones who took photos of everything from my tea towels, coasters, decorations and even of Ollie our dog (sadly Ollie ended up on the cutting room floor although he does get a mention). I had to pretend I was painting and also turning the etching press for an 'action' shot!

If you would like to read the full article, click HERE and scroll to pages 50 - 52. Or pick up the December issue in Cambridge.

Photos from the Winter Open Studios & Mulled Cider Recipe

We really enjoyed doing a winter open studio for the first time last weekend.  Kindly hosted by jeweller Cheryl Bird in her wonderful workshop, we were really pleased with how it went in terms of visitor numbers, sales and the lovely festive atmosphere.  We hope to do it again next year.

We had lots of compliments about our mulled cider and spiced apple juice, so here is the recipe:

Mulled Cider / Spiced Apple Juice Recipe
  • 2 litres good cider or apple juice
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 or 4 star anise
  • ¼nutmeg, finely grated into the pan
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  •  vanilla essence to taste (half tsp)
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 2 clementines
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons of caster sugar, to taste
  1. Pour all of the cider into a large pan on a low heat and warm it through for a few minutes. Add all of the spices and fruit juices and turn the heat up. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and leave to tick away for 5 to 8 minutes. As everything infuses you'll get the most delicious layers of flavour. Taste and add a few tablespoons of sugar to taste. You don't want it to be sweet;  you just want the sugar to join up all the different spices so you get a harmonious taste.
  2. When you are happy with the flavours, ladle into glasses or mugs and serve while warm and delicious.
About 15 generous wine glasses per 2ltr bottle of cider or apple juice.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Winter Open Studios

For the first time I have teamed up with two other members of Open Studios to hold a winter open studio.  We will be based at jeweller, Cheryl Bird's studio in Milton and Linda Bartlett is also joining us.
 Come and see their range of beautifully made items including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, cuff links and crystal decorations - find out how they were made.

I will have my range of screen printed tea towels and coasters and a selection of my products designed for Phoenix Trading such as cards, wrapping paper, bunting, paper-chains and advent calendars.
Look out for the white flag on the road through the village, parking available in the driveway beside the house. There will be mince pies and mulled cider.

Address: The Garden Studio, 6 Cambridge Road, Milton, Cambridge, CB24 6AW
Open between 10am and 4pm.

Cambridge Showcase

Cambridge Showcase (formally known as Cambridge Christmas) was held this Monday at the Unitarian Church Hall.  With 15 hand-picked local artists and makers, it's always a wonderful event and this year I think it looked better than ever.
This is my stall - the coasters proved to be the most popular item closely followed by the new Woodland tea towel.
As always I can never resist buying work from other makers, including this beautiful mug made by Katharina Klug and the crochet bauble made by Kate Green of Flourish and Fly.
It's a fantastic venue and lovely to work with such a talented group of people.  Thanks to the volunteers, Ali and Sheila who served the mulled cider and mince-pies with donations that this year went to the Cambridge Cyrenians.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Wicken Fen - National Trust Shop

 I have recently been informed that the National Trust Shop at Wicken Fen is now stocking my Bikes and Blue Goldfinch tea towels.
I think I may have to work on a new design featuring sedge warblers.

Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair

I'm just about recovered from the three days at the show and what a wonderful event it was. This is my second time to be lucky enough to have my work selected. I had a great position at the front of the nave, next to the wonderful Katie Lynn from Molten Wonky.

The setting for the fair is magnificent and with over 150 stalls to choose from the visitors were spoilt for choice.  My sales surpassed last year, so I was very pleased, especially as I sold several framed prints as well as hundreds of coasters and nearly 100 tea towels.  I also swapped items and bought things from several stalls including Katie Lynn, Amanda MacPhail, Anna Osborne from The Speculating Rook, Slate & Nature, Breckland Orchard and a lovely chocolate brownie stall.

Other stalls I really enjoyed seeing were beautiful jewellery from Heather Stowell & Birgitte Bruun, Sarah Went Ceramics, wood engravings by Andy English, prints and paintings by Claire Cockayne and Melanie Goemans, illustrations and gifts by Debbie Bellaby and Jo Clark and creatures by Sue Miller from itoosho-soo.

Now it's all systems go to get ready and restock in time for the next show, Cambridge Showcase, on Monday 23rd November at the Unitarian Church Hall.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Autumn Colours

I love this time of year when there are clear crisp days.  Not so keen when it's damp and foggy, but this week has been perfect dog walking weather.  I have the most basic mobile phone, it doesn't even have a camera, so on sunny days I try to remember to take my proper camera.  I thought I'd do a little montage of inspiring autumnal colours.  These were mostly taken in Milton Country Park apart from the red leaves which are in my road and the pyracantha berries on an amazing hedge en-route.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Cambridge Showcase Meeting

It's just under a month until Cambridge Showcase opens it's doors for one day only.  It takes a lot of planning, expertly steered by founder, Jo Tunmer, at the helm.  Last night we held a meeting at my house, with 13 out of the 15 makers able to make it.  We discussed various things such as publicity and how the day is expected to pan out.  It is my favourite event of the year and I love meeting new makers and forging new friendships.

So if you are in Cambridge on Monday 23rd November, do come along and see us, it really is a one off show.  More details on my events page.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

New designs for Phoenix Trading

October is the release date of new products for Phoenix Trading and I have two new designs in the catalogue.  One is this cute little thank you card printed on matt textured board.

This jolly bunting design was specially commissioned.  However I will have to wait until next month before I can use it for my birthday.

Products on sale

I had the pleasure of returning to Anglesey Abbey today to deliver more stock.  So proud to have them on prime display as you walk into the shop.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Nationl Trust

I am thrilled to announce that the shop at Anglesey Abbey is now stocking some of my designs.  This week they took delivery of my tea towels and coasters.  When I designed my first range of tea towels in October 2011, based on the beautiful stand of silver birch trees in the 'Winter Walk', I always hoped that one day they would stock them in their shop.  Now they are!

The National Trust are changing the way their shops look, so they have more products that are made locally to the property.  This makes the shopping experience more interesting and helps support local businesses.  I was approached by the manager this summer, who spotted my entry in the Cambridge Open Studios guide book.  She visited my studio in July and saw my selection of designs.  After some paperwork and confirmation of the designs she wanted, I was able to deliver everything this morning.

They also have my Flower tea towels based on the colourful dahlia garden which is in full bloom at the moment and the Goldfinch, Bikes and Woodland designs.  Plus a selection of 11 different coasters that customers can 'pick and mix'.

Monday, 31 August 2015

New stockists

I have three new stockists for my tea towels, prints and cards.  All listed on the tab above.

The Arter Gallery - Stratford-upon-Avon (this lovely painting by Claire Henley shows the house where the gallery is situated to the right of the main entrance).

Rachel Dormer Ceramics - Burwash Manor, Barton, Cambridgeshire.

The Robin's Nest Gallery - Wargrave, Berkshire.

I am also sending off a parcel to a new shop in Switzerland this week and will hopefully have some exciting news very soon about supplying my nearest NT shop.


As usual August blog posts seem to go out of the window, so this will be the only one as it's September tomorrow (and it feels like it, due to the rubbish weather today).

So what have I been doing?  Quick summary in photos and sketches:

A week in Anglesey with the family.  Never been before and was delighted with what we found.  Lovely rolling country-side, much easier to get to than Cornwall and no traffic jams.  Beautiful beaches, although the waves aren't very good for surfing.

We loved Beaumaris and made a bee-line for the Janet Bell Gallery, somewhere I've been wanting to visit for ages.  I had a little chat with Janet herself and bought this tactile porcelain pebble by Clare Mahoney and iridescent pot by Karin Eriksson.

The North East 

Our next stop was Northumberland!  Long suffering husband, me and the dog headed north while the kids were away volunteering at a Scout Jamboree.  We had a night in Durham to explore family connections, then to Beadnell for two nights and another night in Newcastle itself.  I studied at the old Newcastle Polytechnic graduating in 1990 - so it was 25 years since my last visit.  Long's a fantastic part of the country and we have vowed to go back much sooner than in 25 years.
We walked four miles along Beadnell beach for lunch at The Ship Inn, Low Newton-by-the-Sea.  A wonderful walk, only spoilt by the dog getting a whiff of dead seal from half a mile away and having to race him to the sand dunes (you can guess who won).  The less said about this the better.  The afternoon was very warm indeed so we sat in the shade of the old lime kilns reading and sketching the harbour.  I have a bit of an obsession with lobster pots but drawing them has got it out of my system as they were very tricky to get right, especially with a dip pen that kept clogging up in the sunshine.

Other highlights were walking from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle (whilst eating kippers in a bun), Bamburgh Castle at sunset with the whole beach to ourselves.  We also had a brief visit to the National Trust property Cragside and must return as so much to see.  Also loved the redevelopment along the Tyne, particularly the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Sage Gateshead.

Friday, 24 July 2015

NEW Woodland Tea Towels

After our recent trip to Sweden I wanted to design something with a Scandinavian feel and came up with the idea for these rather jolly tea towels.  Both available on 100% cotton, either white or natural unbleached.

I've always loved the combination of orange and lime, so these will be sure to brighten up any kitchen.

I also wanted another colour-way that was perhaps a little more subtle, so added the red and jade option.  This one accidentally has become my most 'Christmassy' design in the range.  All available through by etsy shop or website, priced £9.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

My 20th Year of Open Studios

The first year I took part in Cambridge Open Studios was 1996, so that makes this my 20th year!  I hadn't realised I'd been doing it for so long, how time flies.  The first three years were at my parents house in Hoadly Road in Cambridge.  They then moved to Ely, by which time we'd moved from our tiny cottage in Waterbeach to a larger house in Milton.  The detached double garage was an ideal place to house my etching press and the space was big enough to use for displaying my work.

I started off with just a few paintings and some hand-made lino-printed cards and it's steadily grown over the years with a huge range of cards and stationery for various publishers most notably Phoenix Trading.  My first publisher was Stone Marketing and I did several hundred products for them until they changed direction around 2002/2003.

Green Pebble also produced a range of six of my fine art seed head cards and Artists' Cards have just released two of my bird themed cards (above).

I still enjoy creating my drypoint prints both framed and unframed, but it's my range of tea towels and coasters that have become the most popular product.  They make ideal gifts and are affordable, whereas a picture may be out of some people's price bracket.

I continue to enjoy working towards Open Studios each year, even though it is a tremendous amount of work and my long suffering family are neglected throughout July.  Here's to many more years putting up the yellow flags!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Cambridge Open Studios 2015

My studio is open this weekend, 11th & 12th July and next weekend, 18th & 19th July, from 11am - 6pm.  Directions from Cambridge: cross the A14, turn into Milton Village, pass Tesco on left, continue through village, over zebra crossing, take next turning on the right (Fen Road) and follow the bright yellow flags.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Flower Garden Tea Towels

The first of my new screen-printed tea towel designs arrived this week.  The orange and cerise pink ones will certainly brighten up any kitchen.  And I think the Scandi-chic blue ones create a calm air of retro sophistication.  I will certainly be using this one at home.

Both colours are available on either white cotton or unbleached cream cotton through my etsy shop or website, priced £9.  I will also have them at my Open Studios which starts on 11th July.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Self Published Greetings Cards

I decided to bite the bullet and have four of my original designs printed as A6 greetings cards.  I am really pleased with how they have turned out.  I chose a good quality 300gsm watercolour style paper and white envelopes, so they look very classy.  They are available from my etsy shop, website, Cambridge Contemporary Crafts and I will have them at my Open Studios next month.

Whenever possible I'd prefer to licence my designs for other people to produce into products.  The main reasons for this is that it's a big financial outlay, much time has to be spent on researching the right manufacturer, getting quotes and samples.  Also space has to be found for storage and time has to be spent on packaging, promotion and distribution.  However there are also benefits; being able to specify the product to my own taste and having a product I'm really proud of is a great feeling.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Birthday Calendar

This was a really lovely project commissioned by Phoenix Trading.  It was also a very quick turnaround.  I received the brief mid April, the artwork was completed by the end of April and the finished product was available from 1st June.
The brief was to create a perpetual calendar suitable for writing dates of birthdays and anniversaries.  I was given the dimensions (190mm x 340mm) and that it should have a header image with a smaller matching strip below.  I also included little icons on each month, my favourite being the little bird on May.

The images had to be previous designs of mine that Phoenix have published over the last ten years I've been designing for them. They all relate to the appropriate month.  For example, there are strawberries in June.  It was quite tricky as most of my original artwork was square and therefore had to be re-designed to fit the rectangular header.

I am really pleased with the finished product.


During half term, 23rd May - 30th May, we went to Sweden.  Firstly to Gothenburg to visit friends and then travelled up the east coast for a few days.  We then drove the 300 miles across to Stockholm on the west coast, where we spent two more days.  We stayed in Gamla Stan, which is the oldest part of the city and central for all the major sights, ideal if you haven't got much time there.  I'd recommend the open top bus and boat tours for exploring the city which is built on several linked islands.
I've never been to Scandinavia before and really loved it.  It's a beautiful clean country mainly consisting of lakes, trees and rocks.  They seem to favour wooden clad houses painted an ox-blood red colour. It wasn't too expensive as the pound is quite strong at the moment against the Swedish kroner.

I'd like to show you some of arty places we visited and would recommend to you, should you ever visit.

 Tony Cragg sculpture, Marstrand

 Strandverket Art Museum, Marstrand

Nordiska Akvarellmuseet (top photo from their website).  We had an excellent meal in their restaurant with the most amazing views out across the water.  There are little studios that artists can rent.

 Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

This is the ceiling of the foyer.  I'm not sure if it's an installation or if it's always like this?  Again there was an amazing cafĂ©, stylish, with great food....and you could make your own waffles for dessert!

And for some kitsch nostalgia, the Abba Museum in Stockholm is a must!