Tuesday 31 May 2016

review: A-blogpost-a-day-during-May...

31 days of blogging...

I had blogged previously but hadn't felt it a comfortable thing to do. But I was still determined to blog. So after Kayla from Oh Hello Stationery Co had started a page to help bloggers old and new communicate with each other, pass on advice and share their writing, I decided to try again. With a new blogsite on 'blogspot' it proved very straightforward.

I set myself the challenge of writing a-blogpost-a-day-during-May. Nothing like doing things by halves. I reckoned it would either put me off blogging for a very long time or else gee me up and practice blogging so much that it would then become second nature.

I planned it like a military exercise, Montgomery would've been proud. Listing forty potential blogpost titles I wrote up blog plans for most during the last days of April. I even began to take photos for the first blogposts just to get ahead. I would 'break the back' of the following day's blogpost the previous day, as soon as I'd posted that day's. It was tough but I'm glad I did it and today is the final day of my challenge.

Hardest parts? 

  • Being physically tired and having to post a blog
  • Using a crazy old mobile to upload images
  • Not having a good camera and lighting
  • Running out of ideas 
  • Not having all the information at hand to write the blogpost
  • Posting blogpost after blogpost and no-one commenting (although 32 published comments including my responses were made about a small few blogposts)

Best bits?
  • Feeling I was breaking the back of a mega project (mega for me)
  • Not giving in
  • Learning a lot from researching subjects
  • Building my confidence
  • The challenge helped my fb page Bloowabbit
  • At the end I know feel I could write about anything

My favourite three blogposts are: 
They show that side of me that likes to write and the Rumpelstiltskin review caught the eye of an Arts Centre CEO who requested to share it.

The blogpost which received the highest number or viewers was Artwork process: Mother of Bees possibly due to my linking it back to my fb art page BloowabbitThere was an equal interest in art and decorative planning blogposts.

Blog readers came mostly from the UK followed by Ireland, the US and Poland. On the 29th I paid the small fee of $5 (£4) to boost my fb art page and this might well have helped. Over 800 viewers saw the blogposts there.

Would I do it again? Not until the memories have faded and I forget what I've let myself in for. I'm glad I did it and succeeded but once is enough unless I change my blogging style and write short paragraphs! However I now feel that writing a blog three times a week is not difficult. And thanks for reading :-)

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

Monday 30 May 2016

Making stickers without a Silhouette...

Sci-fi spread

I had got so caught up in decorative planning that I did think about getting a Silhouette Cameo. I love gadgets but reckoned I'd probably use it for a month and then the novelty might wear off as I've no intention of producing stickers for sale. There are enough sticker makers out there to choose stickers to buy from plus you can find plenty of free downloads. I did like the idea of designing some as a giveaway. Not having a Silhouette means having to cut printed stickers by hand so my downloadables would have mostly straight edges, making the cutting a lot simpler.

I opened up a Google Doc and began to play about with tables, selected a row of four boxes and changed the sizing for each to suit the MAMBI Happy Planner. This is easy enough to do - right mouse click and select 'Properties' and you can alter height and width of each box.

Once I'd created a series of full and half boxes, event stickers and spaces for weekend banners I went back into Properties and altered the line colour around the table from black to a pale grey. I needed a subtle outline to draw within and didn't want a dark line around them. I then printed this onto a sheet of white paper and coloured each box. Designs were random!

Once I'd coloured and drawn the box shapes with black ink I then measured out and marked cut lines at top and bottom of page and colour photocopied the sticker designs onto a matte A4 sheet of self-adhesive photo paper (Chiltern Wove). I then cut out my stickers by hand though you could use a paper cutter. Sometimes I prefer scissors. 

I've emboldened the key words of the process to make it easier to follow as I didn't photograph each stage of design. I was laughing as I used the stickers to create a planner spread as they were badly cut and did not have a cohesive design theme! Terrible stickers in my beautiful planner...

So armed with what I'd learned I redesigned the sticker table on Google Doc, this time creating skinny boxes (spaces) in between each full box to allow for accurate cutting. I also included resized boxes for checklists and tiny boxes for icons. I again changed the box colour to pale grey and printed the sticker boxes onto Bristol Board which would take the alcohol markers I'd used much better than cheapo printer paper. 

I also decided on a sci-fi theme for my sticker kit. Good to go. Spaceship, rocket, aliens and the cosmos with scatterings of stars. I line drew the shapes and made a mental note to invest in some grey drawing pens, the black seemed quite harsh. I left room in the full and half boxes to enable words to be written when planning.

I've tried to indicate where to cut if you're not using a Silhouette and I did colour over the edges to make sure that when the stickers were cut there wouldn't be any white edges visible. The stickers are sized for a MAMBI Planner which may make them a little long for the Erin Condren Planner, but if you don't mind having a more organic style of spread they could still work.

Having tried them out on my planner it's obvious I have a long way to go! Perhaps I need to adjust the box sizes slightly and not colour over the lines. If you do try them out please leave a comment below, I'd really appreciate that. 

Links to pdf files containing giveaway sticker designs:

Tomorrow's blogpost: Review of my 'a-blogpost-a-day-during-May' challenge

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

Sunday 29 May 2016

sub boxes - Lucky Dip Club & Happie Scrappie

Subscription boxes come in many forms. Graze snacks, Birchbox beauty, Japan Crate sweets, Not Another Bill design, Funko collectables & Wantable accessories to name a few. The list is almost endless and there's something for everyone if you're into paying a monthly fee and getting surprise contents.

I've tried a few and currently am signed up to two subscription boxes: Lucky DIp Club and Happie Scrappie.

Lucky Dip Box is a UK subscription that ships worldwide though within the UK shipping is free. Cost per month is £18 plus shipping if going to an international address. 

There's always a theme each month, May's being all about 'Flower Market'. The box arrives small enough to fit through a standard letterbox and can contain jewellery, functional items, stationery products and more. The magazine has articles about the artists and designers making it a decent read. There's definitely a quirkiness to each selection and personalised products are made 3 to 4 times per year.

In the May box were flower seeds in a machine stitched packet, an embroidered fabric patch 'Bloom where you are planted', a laser-cut sunflower with option to make it adhesive or a brooch, an enamelled cactus-in-a-teacup pin and a printed floral bag 'Petal Power'. Plus! In the mini magazine Leona includes a 'colour-me-in' page which I go straight to and a craft-make idea to upcycle the cardboard box. It's worth taking photos and posting them on instagram #luckydipclub as there are monthly winners of other unique items.

Previous LDC sub boxes:
 Cats & Cocktails, Seek Adventure & Girl Planet

This has to be my all time favourite sub box. The contents are fun, colourful and cheer up a grey day. Plus, the items I don't use are perfect for Christmas fillers.

Happie Scrappie is a subscription from Malaysia/Singapore I stumbled onto after watching an unboxing on YT. It's contents are mostly Kawaii but also useful if you're into planning. It arrives in a bubble envelope and inside everything is neatly packed into a fun card envelope. May's theme is all about cactuses and hedgehogs and the inevitable confusion if the hedgehog is green. Low growing cactii. On legs. That moves.

The subscription costs vary as Happie Scrappie offers a range of subs to suit most people and postage varies according to where you live in the world. I get the Personal Sized kit and pay £12.99 + shipping to UK. Again, this is a quirky styled subscription box but it ALWAYS has a pen, a great coloured/decorated/shaped pen that is usually extra fine gel. And her little notebooks are printed on both sides of the paper. The printed cards that are included are perfect to laminate, punch and use as dashboards in planners.

Washi is often from mt (desirable) and there are co-ordinating extras just for fun. In this month's box were a little printed bag (perfect for storing gel pens or ballpoints), a sturdy planner charm and a decorative roller - mine was a pinky-red watercolour effect. Sam includes stickers for planning and with them I found a card hedgehog page marker and cactus book mark.

A lot of thought and planning seems to go into each Happie Scrappie sub plus there are monthly YT videos giving sneak peaks of the upcoming themes. They're worth watching as I found the different sizes on offer a little confusing. Check out Sam's blog with free printables.

Japan Crate
Not Another Bill

Tomorrow's blogpost: to be decided...

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Art Process: 3 ballpoints

There's quite a lot of challenges about, one of which involves not only using  ballpoint pens but using three that are picked by chance, without conscious choice of the artist. 

four-ballpoint drawing

I'd previously tried a four-ballpoint artwork and randomly picked a range of colours that worked well with each other - dark blue, turquoise, pink and orange. It can be very much hit-or-miss. But it's a challenge which often forces an artist to work with colours they might not necessarily choose. 

For this artwork the colours chosen were:
- dark green
- purple
- light green
A white gel pen is used to add highlights to the eyes and other areas

I'd pre-decided that the drawing would be something elfin, in case the colours drawn were 'difficult'. After seeing the ballpoints I'd begun to visualise a lot of leaves with a face emerging from them. I drew the figure initially in pencil onto 150gsm paper, based on the preliminary sketch

 images taken while drawing on bus journey, light very distorted

I had to decide which colour would be dominant and carry through most of the image, a bit like taking the place of the black fine liner I normally use. In this case the dark green seemed the best choice. I used the light green to block in some of the areas with textured marks and solid shapes of leaves. 

Purple was used to give shadow to some edges and add definition to the figure. By darkening areas between the leaves the foliage popped visually. 

Dark green was added to create shadows between the leaves. And finally the white gel pen added reflective light to the pupils and highlighted edges opposite to the darkened edges.

I'm quite pleased considering most of it was drawn during a 50 mile bus journey! And I'd happily try this challenge again.

Tomorrow's blogpost: sub boxes - Lucky Dip Club and Happie Scrappie

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.