Vintage Fabric from the States

Flower patterns

Polka dots



60's style

Another fabulous reference book from the Japanese publishers at Pie Books!

Lots of cute images and reference material covering American vintage fabrics, from polka dots, to flower patterns, stripes and childrens designs. 

Although its a new book for me (bought from The Hill of Content bookshop) it looks like it was published in 2005 and I can't seem to find it on the Pie Books website.  It might have been superseded by the book Vintage Dress Fabrics from the States that I blogged about a few months ago, although the books are different and there are no repeated designs.

As a designer I love having access to lots of resource material at my fingertips for design inspiration and ideas, these Pie Books are great little reference books with heaps of imagery and I love the fact they cover vintage designs.

Moving on....

Our little house......sold!
Looking back on all the renovations we did - this is what confronted us after a
'simple' re-stumping process!!

Plaster was removed, with architraves and skirting boards removed to insulate internal & external walls. 
The front garden before......
......and after
We lived in the house throughout all the renovation crazyness.... here Mr B combines studying for a Masters whilst also working full time and house renovating in evenings and weekends!
                                                           Mr B installs the new kitchen.......

......with help from Jolly cat!

The living room & kitchen before.....

.....And after

Some favourite house details

Last week our house sold!  It feels quite exciting, but also quite sad at the same time.  Its the first house myself and Mr B have owned and is full of lots of happy memories.....and also full of some horrible renovation nightmares. 

We lived in the house for a year before organising a 'simple' re-stumping to level the house.  Unfortunately this is where it all went wrong.  We came home to find the house was level, but in the process floor boards had been ripped up and crudely cut, the original plaster was popping off the walls - and the house just looked like it was falling apart! 

Over a two year period we put nearly all our belongings into storage and embarked on a steep learning curve of how-to-renovate-your-house-on-a-budget-on-weekends-and-evenings!!  We lived in the house throughout the experience, whilst both working full time and Mr B studying for a Masters degree.  Although it was dirty, exhausting and pretty horrendous, it also gave us the opportunity to transform the house and garden and make some serious improvements to our little 1940's weatherboard. 

The house was featured on The Design Files a few years back (before all the renovations were completed) as well as being included in Sanctuary magazine and the Herald Sun Home magazine.  We managed to renovate on a budget (although this did mean doing a lot of the work ourselves) and utilise a lot of second-hand and salvaged furniture, building materials - and generally being quite inventive with resources. 

So we'll be moving away from a very special house, some very good friends and an area we're very familar with - but we're looking forward to a new adventure and experiencing life in the country!  Wish us luck with the house packing and moving - eek!!

Painting plates

         Light washes of colour are applied over the plate sketch to form the outline, shape,
                                                 texture and shadows of the plate
Once the lighter washes and key shapes have been applied, the detailed areas of the plate can
                                                      start to be painted 
       The layers of colour and detail are gradually built up until the illustration is complete
It's a chilly day here in Melbourne and I've just finished some home-made parsnip and ginger soup to warm me up a little, put my comfy ugg boots on and turned the heating up a notch.  Ahhh, much better! 

I thought I'd share how I created some of my recent plate illustrations for Real Living magazine and the process I went through with the painting.  For these illustrations I worked on Arches Medium textured 300gsm watercolour paper.   

The first stage I went through was stretching the watercolour paper, the process of stretching paper prior to painting means the paper will always remain perfectly flat, and won't buckle when the wet paint is applied.  I don't always stretch my paper before painting - especially when using the 300gsm weight paper, but as the illustrations where to be photographed I wanted to ensure the artworks remained perfectly flat.

Using a B pencil I sketched the outline of the plates, including any pattern and detailed areas.  I try to do this quite lightly, so I can rub out any pencil marks once the artwork is finished.  Sometimes I work 'blind' and paint directly onto the paper without any pencil sketches first, but for these illustrations I chose to sketch the plates first to ensure I could capture the plates as accurately as possible.

Once the outlines were sketched, I started to apply light washes of watercolour paint to create the plate outline, as well as shadows to give a sense of 3 dimension.  Once the basic shape of the plate was finished, I added more layers of colour to acheive some of the basic detail and pattern of the plate.

The layers continued to be built up, finishing with the darkest areas and fine detail.  With watercolour you always paint light to dark - so lightest areas first and building up to the darker sections last.  Any white areas are created by letting the white paper show through, rather than using a white paint colour. 

It depends how detailed you want the artwork as to how many layers of paint are added or how much detail to include.  I like my illustrations to have a sense of realism and detail to them - but without being too perfect or 'finished'.

J&G Meakin retro 'Aztec' coffee pot

 'Aztec' coffee pot by J&G Meakin
I'm very chuffed that little Jasper at just 9 months old, already seems to have a keen eye for vintage ceramics - as I got this rather fabulous retro coffee pot for mothers day! 

The coffee pot design is called 'Aztec' and is applied to the 'Studio' shape, which was introduced by British manufacturer J&G Meakin in about 1964.  J&G Meakin started manufacturing ceramic ranges way back in 1851, and their Studio range was particularly popular both in the UK and overseas.

This is the third design by J&G Meakin I have in the Studio shape, the other two being Topic (left) and Elite (right).  I love the elegance of the studio coffee pots with their tall, slender and statuesque shape - and I also love the colour palettes of the three designs with their turquise, aqua, and olive green shades.  Gorgeous!!

The Topic design in particular has become a favourite of mine, and has featured in many of my illustrations and sketches in recent times. 

Various sketches and illustrations featuring the Topic coffee pot.

Mother's Day plate illo's in Real Living magazine

My watercolour plate illustrations for Real Living magazine  
This months edition of Real Living magazine features some yummy cake recipes for Mothers Day - and the cakes are photographed on my watercolour plate illustrations!

Rather than have the cakes on actual plates, I was asked to paint the plates so the cakes could be photographed on the illustrated versions.  A very cute idea!  It was great to paint the pretty plates knowing they were going to be used as styling props, as its something very different to what I normally do. 

The delicious recipes for the cakes are: flower jam drops, blueberry cheesecakes with white chocolate base, chocolate coconut hedgehog slice, fig and frangipane tart and triple chocolate cherry cakes.