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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014

2015 is going to have to try really damn hard to beat 2014. I’m almost certain it isn’t going to be as good but that’s okay, because this year really was a great year.

  • I went to Japan, and for that alone 2014 has been better than all years previously. Japan is somewhere that has always been top of my list of countries to visit. It’s still top of my list now, because I can’t wait to go back! (I’m currently putting together a book of my travels – much like the digital version).
  • I moved out, and although only 20 miles or so down the road, I no longer live in Milton Keynes nor with my parents. I live closer to work, and my job/workplace is pretty darn great too, by the way. Not wanting to move back home yet, although it has been nice being ‘home’ for Christmas this last week.
  • It’s been an awesome year for music (last years resolution accomplished). Almost all of my favourite bands had new albums – I vote Chuck Ragan’s Something May Catch Fire as my album of the year but The Menzingers’ Rented World was the soundtrack to my Japan trip so that’s special too. And Against Me! at the Electric Ballroom last month was my top gig. Although, again, that was closely followed by The Menzingers closing WTFest in Southampton. I had a top gig buddy (boyfriend) too. :)

2015 will be alright, probably.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas Cards 2014

As you may have realised from my previous blog post, I have been crafting my own Christmas cards this year – although, to be honest, I do most years. But this year I have done something a little different. I made my cards by carving a small Christmas tree design (a bit smaller than A6) into a piece of lino and printing onto various papers in black ink. So the paper shows through where the design is rather than the blank ink.

Red paper, brown paper, Japanese newspaper
Shiny gold paper, crinkly white paper
I have only written 4 so far, this is the rest…

These cards were inspired by the linocutting workshop I took part in at work, back in November (see the blog post here!). I even re-printed my wintery tree design, that I created at that workshop, to have a more limited edition and larger (A5) card. Not that these cards are actually for sale at all anyway.

Red and gold

This isn’t the only Christmas card I’ve worked on this year. I also contributed to the emc design ‘12 days of Christmas’ card – read the emc blog here – with nine ladies dancing. Although this was digitally created, not handmade.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sunday Crafternoon

It’s been a busy weekend for me. Starting Friday, I had a day off work and spent it Christmas shopping, with mama-Prew in Milton Keynes, and then shot off to London to watch Once the Musical, with Becca and Lana. The shopping was very successful and the musical was truly wonderful. Saturday I didn’t do so much but I stuck around in MK and decorated the parents’ Christmas tree among other things.

Today I returned home to Bedford for my weekly pilates class, then spent the afternoon happily out of the cold and busily doing some arts and crafts.

First on my crafting agenda was the WTFest/Menzingers poster-setlist-ticket-wristband combo collage I’ve been meaning to work on since October. Well, I think it was well worth the wait.

I added some ‘polaroids’ of my photos from WTFest weekend, as well.

The next craft is more of a work in progress. I plan to have linocut printed Christmas cards this year and these were my very first attempt. I was intending on this particular lino design being only a tester but I liked my first print so much that I went ahead and produced many more. It won’t be the last linocutting/printing I do this side of Christmas, but I have to wait for all of these mini prints to dry before I do any more! 


And finally, the third ‘craft’ is a bit of a cheat as I simply paper-mâchéd gold tissue paper onto a cardboard reindeer that I bought in Hobby Craft yesterday – on a whim. 


Also worth mentioning: as well as my WTFest collage, I now have these Japanese prints up in my room. The two larger prints I was given by my parents when I moved and the smaller four are postcards that I picked up in Tokyo. All are replicas of ukiyo-e by Hiroshige, my favourite artist.


And it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Both in my flat.
And at the parental home.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Fox Fotography

If you know me, you probably know that I like foxes. And this pretty much solely comes from the fact that my car, first and only, is a Volkswagen Fox. I call her – yes, my car is a her – Foxy and she has a little stuffed mini fox (Lil Fox) looking out the back window. But, I have always loved wolves as well and I guess they’re not so different really. Sort of like a cross between a wolf and a cat? In appearance anyway… and we all know how I feel about cats.

But onto the foxes… One Russian miner, Ivan Kislov, has been spending his down time taking spectacular photos of foxes, among other creatures, in the Arctic circle.


Bored Panda wrote a blog post about Ivan Kislov’s amazing images here and include more of his fox photos.

‘Though he takes pictures of everything from bears and reindeer to wolves and stoats, Kislov says the foxes are often very willing models: “Foxes are curious and can come very close, and I shoot with wide angle and telephoto lenses.” ’

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fat Cat Art

Svetlana Petrova is a Russian artist and the owner of Zarathustra. Zarathustra is a very fat ginger cat and Internet star – but for reasons unlike any other feline Internet star.

“I’ve had cats before and included them in my work, like playing in theatre shows and I’ve made costumes for them. But I thought, ‘What can I do with Zarathustra, because my mother spoilt him and he’s so fat’. Zarathustra likes posing and is a really intelligent cat. He likes to lie on his back and make strange faces like he's speaking with somebody, so I began to take photos of him and inserted them into paintings.”BBC News


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Linocut

After work on Thursday, a few of us stayed on to learn the craft of linocut! Director of the company, Mike, recently did a two day course in London learning the craft himself. I followed some of his photos on Instagram at the time – they’re awesome. Mike enjoyed it so much that he thought it would a great idea to get more of us, at emc, involved in linocutting.

Strangely, despite being a student of art and design for 5 years (college and university), I’ve never properly done any linocutting/printing. I’ve done monoprinting which is, I think, probably the laziest of all printing techniques and did a workshop in letterpress printing a few years ago (blog here and here). I think I was always a bit scared of the actual carving-into-lino process and figured it would take a lot of time and skill.

But it didn’t really. I’m happy with what I produced and can’t wait to a) print some more from this design and b) carve and print some new designs!


I’ve got myself a roller, some ink, some lino and a handle… but no blades. Christmas is coming, maybe I’ll treat myself.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cat Toons

Last night, as I often [sadly] do, I found myself looking at a new cat profile on Instagram. Seriously, Instagram is full of cats, and they’re all wonderful, so it is very easy to get caught up looking at their cuteness – especially when my own kitty is 20 miles away. Also because, y’know, I’m what you might call a crazy cat lady. But this particular Instagram profile is cats with a difference.


Custom illustrated cartoon portraits of your feline friends, Cat Toons is the successful side project of graphic designer and illustrator Tim K, from Philadelphia. The illustrations capture each individual cat’s personalities and they certainly don’t all look the same (which is probably what would happen if I attempted something like this!).


The Cat Toons store offers various different options for your cat’s portrait, ranging from a single cat crest to a trio of cats. Each crest is unique in design and includes a stylised name plate, making it not only each cat that is individual.


The illustrations are produced in Adobe Illustrator with a Wacom intuos tablet and, as a customer, you receive not only a copy of the digital file but also a 4x6 print.


Tim, of course, is a cat owner himself and his cat Junior (and his crochet partner in crime, Floppit) has his own Instagram account too.


It is very tempting to send a photo of Cleo over to Tim. She’d look marvelous in her own Cat Toon, don’t you think? Although I’d have to find a more face-on photograph (or visit my parents’ house and Cleo to take a new one).


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Kaleidoscopic

The Decemberists released this new song, Make You Better, yesterday and the video to accompany it is beautifully mesmerising.


They also announced a UK tour for February next year, following the new album release in January. This is a band I have been wanting to see live for a long time but, until now, haven’t had the chance. Also a band, like Band of Horses and Arcade Fire, that both me and my dad love – so that’s my gig buddy sorted!

New album artwork – clearly where the video imagery comes from.
And there is a mural too.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Robin Hobb

I’m going to go out there and say it… Robin Hobb is my favourite author. (Although Lian Hearn, with her fantasy-come-feudal-Japan-themed books, is hard to beat.) I’ve just finished reading my ninth book of Hobb’s, Ship of Destiny – which was the last in the Liveship Traders trilogy and it was, of course, awesome. Pirates and dragons – what’s not to like?

Robin Hobb is a US fantasy writer, best known for her trilogies set in The Realm of the Elderlings. Readers were first introduced to that world with the publication of Assassin’s Apprentice, the first volume of The Farseer Trilogy, in 1995. […] The Farseer Trilogy was followed by The Liveship Traders trilogy, a tale set in the same world, but in Bingtown, a trading city far to the south. Chronologically, these stories occur after the events of The Farseer Trilogy and are influenced by the events Fitz has set in motion. Ship of Magic (1998), Mad Ship (1999) and Ship of Destiny (2000) comprise that trilogy.
Fantasy Book Review


I don’t think I’ve ever been so hooked on a book, series or author as I have been with both this trilogy, and the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies I’d read prior to this one. Incidentally, it’s only when reading this last book that I realised it was set between the other two trilogies and that I probably should have read it before Tawny Man. Because although each trilogy follows its own characters (with couple appearing in more than one series) and storylines, they all take place in the land of the Elderlings – did I mention these are fantasy books?

This is also one of the only series[es] that I’ve read entirely on Kindle. I bought the first Farseer book when it was a bargain price of £1.99, not long after I’d ventured into the world of ebooks. And I’ve never looked back. It would be nice to own physical copies of the books but the versions I’ve seen don’t have amazing book cover designs. Certainly not as awesome as the covers at the top of this blog post – read about those cover[s] in someone else’s blogpost here.

This is my next series to read. Four books this time!
And when I’m done with that, there’s another Farseer/Fool book and it is brand new!

p.s. Yes, it has been almost a month since I last wrote a blog post. That’s because I’ve been too busy reading to even touch my computer!