Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Prints & Postcards

The final designs to be screenprinted:




The finished size will be 39 cm x 49cm printed on A2 cartridge. These three will also be printed up as postcards by good old Vistaprint (with slight re-jigging to fit the taller format) with this image on the back:


(My phone number is the part blurred out)

I did um and ahh about this other white version below, but as I received three other Objective Opinions in the favour of the black path version I naturally had to swing that way!


REALLY looking forward to the print session tomorrow.

In other news, the new iMac came today! I'm going to wait until Thursday when I'll have pretty much all day to set it up, otherwise I'll still be here at 4 in the morning playing with it!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Some Screenprints - Finally.








These are just a few from the middle couple of weeks of the eight-week course. What you can't really tell from these photos is that that green ink is actually shimmery. Fab. I have a third from this set, M is for Midnight, which has glow in the dark ink, which is just AWESOME, but I've not photographed it yet. I've set up a new Etsy shop called "Screening Blue Murder" to sell my prints through, so when that's up and running I will take new photos of everything. I also have some number-based prints to take pictures of and stick in there, plus my Little Red Riding Hood-inspired screenprints will be up in there once the exhibition is over.

The re-planning of the LRRH posters is now done so I'll put the new ideas up here ASAP. I have an all-day printing session at the print studio this Wednesday, so I'm sure I'll have some documentary-style photos afterwards, too.

Even though the planning stage is now over it seems to have taken ages. I suppose that's the difference between planning your own work and doing it for someone else; you're never quite sure if your personal work is "good enough" so you faff a lot more. As long as it pleases you then I suppose it doesn't matter!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

In May, I am taking part in an Open House at Jubilee Library as part of the Brighton Festival. It's called PBK09 (that's Paperback 09) and it showcases the artwork of library staff. So, as all the pieces have to be submitted by 25th April, I thought I'd better get my behind into gear and design something.

I'm going to be producing a set of three screenprinted posters with a bit of a Red Riding Hood theme. Here are a few of my scribbled ideas:



I have an all-day session booked at the print studio next Wednesday, so hopefully I will have something more finished to show then. I'm getting very excited about producing new work! I'm going to make a set of postcards to sell at the exhibition, too.

That reminds me, I didn't blog any of my later screenprinting sessions. The main reason for this is that I gave a couple of prints as birthday presents at the end of February and the beginning of March, so I wanted to keep them under wraps. Now the recipients have their prints, however, I can put them up here. Will try and update that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cake Cake Cake

I promised I would blog about my Raspberry and Coconut Sponge Cake, so here it is. I was a-sitting' in a well-know American coffee chain named after a well-known literary character, Stitching and Bitching away and munching on a square of OK, but not amazing, sponge cake with a topping of thick white icing, raspberry jam and desiccated coconut; when I realised I could make something similar, but 794 times more yummy. It's very simple:

For the cake:

8oz butter/Stork
8oz caster sugar
8oz self raising flour
4 large, free range eggs.
1 tsp vanilla extract.

For the topping:

Icing sugar (I don't weigh it, but I'm going to take an educated guess at 80z/200g, depends on the size of your cake(s))
Splash of water/lemon juice
Good quality raspberry jam (I swing between Frank Cooper's and Tiptree's)
Desiccated coconut (or, indeed, any kind of shaved coconut, toasted or untoasted as you desire)

Other Chattels:

1 square tin, measuring approx. 23cm x 23cm, buttered and floured
OR 2 sandwich tins, buttered and floured
OR cupcake papers and tin, makes about 12 large/18 small.

This batter will make one largish square/rectangular single layer cake, or a slightly smaller two-layer round sponge, or little baby cupcakes, or, indeed, huge mama muffin-sized cupcakes. Entirely up to you. Tis the beauty of this versatile Everyday Cake Batter.

What You Do:

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating well between each one, sift in flour in three stages, beat in vanilla.

Take whatever tins you are using and butter well, then sprinkle over a light dusting of flour to prevent any sticking. Belt and braces. Spoon in your batter, give a shake and a tap to level out, then bake at 180 degrees centigrade for between 20 (for cupcakes) and forty (for tins) minutes. Lick the bowl. The cake is ready when you can lightly press the surface and it springs back atcha.

Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and leave until completely cold. (Obviously, if you are making cupcakes, just take them out of the tin after five minutes and place upon the rack.)

Then comes the fun part.

If you have a two layer sponge, this is where you can stick it together with a generous spread of the jam. Then, to the icing.

Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl, then add in a splash of water/lemon juice at a time until you get a thick but pourable liquid. You want to be able to cover the surface of the cake, but not have it run away so much that more ends up on the counter than on the cake, and therefore, in your mouth. Pour/spoon over your cake. Spread it about with a spoon/palette knife/whatever until the surface is covered. Any drips down the edges just add to the charm. Once that has set (about 30 minutes), take a couple of tablespoons of the raspberry jam and melt over a low heat in a saucepan with a splash of water, stirring constantly. You don't want this to boil, just become liquid again, so it really only takes a minute or two. Pour over your cake, then sprinkle from on high with the coconut. Et voila.

This is the cake I made yesterday. It is my go-to recipe. I made the single layer version, but I don't have a picture of it. However, I do have have photos from late last year when I made the cupcake version:


Give me a Hom, another Hom and a Nom.

The fab thing about this batter is that it is so versatile. You can add anything to it. Choc chips, nuts, banana, cocoa powder, cherries, coffee, lemon......whatever takes your fancy. The even greater thing about it is that if you need to increase/decrease the quantities, all you have to remember is the Golden Rule: one egg to every 2oz of flour, butter and sugar. Just increase/decrease the cooking times accordingly. This is why I find it easier to work in ounces, even if it is a bit retro old skool classic these days. This is also due to the genius of my mother, who has been making awesome sponge cakes this way since the dawn of time, and even probably before that. Cheers Ma.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Korean Books and A Bit of a Breather At Last!

Back in August I was working on a set of five books for a Korean publisher (this is the project that turned into a nightmare of Wes Craven proportions after the original five week timescale was dragged out to three months after lots of faffing about, unnecessary changes and language difficulties). Last week, I got the finished books through:






Yes, I am the sap who named their character after their boyfriend. No need to tell me I'm cruising near the top of the Spew-o-Meter.

They are not what I would call my best work. They wanted me to work in "real" paint and cited my book "Munch" as the example to follow. This was all very well, but I wrote and illustrated "Munch" waaaay back in 2004, and four years in a long time in Illustration when you are constantly developing and changing your style, usually subconsciously. So I painted it with real brushes and gouache and paper and everything, but I was just constantly reminded of why I now prefer to colour my illustrations digitally. Like, for example, when you've completed all the artwork, sent off low-res scans for colour approval, only for them to say they don't like the main character (after OK-ing him at the rough stage) and can I change his hair style? happens, you can do it all at a click of a button.

I have to admit, they have turned out much better than I thought they would. The colours have reproduced well, the endpapers (not my work at all*) are lovely, and the covers bright and interesting, even though they are not the ones I supplied. (But here I really don't mind as their idea was much better than mine). I shouldn't really complain, even though it was hard work, as the fee meant I could buy my toaster and sofa, not to mention a new iMac which should hopefully be delivered this week, and given me a bit more financial security over the coming months.

So this weekend I finished the remainder of all my other work. Pirates II was in the bag the weekend before, and Frogs IV finished Friday evening. This was an unexpected bonus, as I fully expected to be working all through the lovely spring sunshine over Saturday and Sunday. It was Boyfriend's weekend off, so he was down and we spent a lovely day wandering through Stanmer Park, getting the bus into town for a few purchases, eating ginger cake at The Sanctuary and scoffing a Grubbs on the seafront in the early evening. So right now I am in a rather unusual position: a weekday with no work. I've caught up with the washing up, put the washing machine on three times and baked a cake. I think I will go out this afternoon and enjoy a bit more of the spring sunshine before it all disappears and make a list of what to tackle next....

*Edit: When I say not my work, they are, of course, my work, I just didn't design them. They took bits from other pages and made them up. Sorry!

Monday, 16 March 2009


Pirates II is finished, just the last piece (cover tweaks) uploading now. Just the last Frogs book to colour now. Due in next Monday. Better get cracking...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Funny for Money

As it is Red Nose Day tomorrow, I've decided to "do something funny for money" and dye my hair pink. That's right. Pink. Really, really bright pink. This involves bleach and everything.

The kit just arrived:



That's the dye itself there are the bottom. As you can see, it's called "Hot Hot Pink". Sure is.

So tomorrow (hopefully, time willing, over the weekend if not) I will becoming pink. Not sure how the library will react to that, but oh well, it's for charidee!

If you would like to help raise money for good causes please go to www.myrednoseday.com/ohmygodthatspink and sponsor me.

Monday, 9 March 2009


The lovely peeps over at Cuteable have featured one of my button bracelets on their yellow Monday Mosaic today! Coolio.


LOTS of work left to do. One deadline for this Friday, and another for the 23rd. But then Freedom! Hurrah! I've decided to give myself lots of breaks and "treats" to get myself through the last couple of weeks. I'm just about to transfer the latest Simon Mayo/Mark Kermode podcast onto my iPod so I can listen to a bit of Wittertainment while I work and will pop out for some fresh air later, especially as it's just turned all spring-like in past week or so.

Just wish my brain would concentrate on the jobs in hand rather than going off on lots of "Ooo, I could do this next" tangents!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Oh God...

...think am addicted to Twitter.

See, even writing in less than 140 characters here!

Friday, 6 March 2009

And it was all Yellow...


Joined that there Twitter last night. I am so Down With The Kids now. Well, Stephen Fry (Honorary Dad) does it, so it must be cool, right? Got my updates over there on the right hand side. As you can see, I'm just about to pop out and enjoy a bit more yellow stuff.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Somewhere to Sit!

At last!


Klippan sofas have certainly changed since I last bought one four years ago. They now come in four parts you have to screw together. Definitely makes the whole package smaller and it easier to move around, but if you're by yourself and totally unprepared for it, it's a bit of a shock! As for fitting the cover.....whoa.

Monday, 2 March 2009

1st June??!!!

This Amazon page tells me the first pirates book, "Crash Landing" is available to pre-order for publication on 1st June! Awesome.