Thursday, 23 April 2015

an ice cream kind of day

I thought it would be fun for the kids at craft club to make some miniature ice creams. So I set about making some examples this morning. It ended up taking a lot longer than I thought. But I was pretty pleased with how this first batch came out. I don't think they're bad for a first try!

Here is Celestine modelling one- a Mr Whippy (without the flake) in the garden. I must admit she was quite disappointed that it wasn't real. I promised her some real ice cream afterwards!


Thursday, 16 April 2015


These past few weeks have been all warm golden sunshine. Celestine has been eating ice lollies in the garden (grape and raspberry flavoured) and we have been eating outside, putting up tents outside (to test them for camping later this year) lying outside, reading outside, walking outside. It's been especially nice because Henry has been on his Easter holiday- perks of being a teacher! Some days have just been actual summer springy perfection with lunch outside on the picnic rug with friends, playing in the park and walking round the hills. We have been up to Nottingham to see Henry's family and we took his Gran to a miniatures fair where I found THE perfect boat for Celestine. I know she already has a boat but this one is far FAR better. I need to varnish it before it can go in the water but I am so pleased because I have been looking for something exactly like it for an age! I often scour ebay for the perfect miniature boat but it has been hard to find. I think because miniature boats are either plasticky and for kids or they are model makers boats so not very suitable for going in the water, or not the right scale. I THINK I've found the holy grail of miniature boats now, finally! I seem to have done well for miniatures lately.

Do you like Celestine's hat in the picture above? I thought it was quite sweet but Henry thought it looked too 'perched' on top of her head. Perchy hat! Celestine and her funny little perchy hat. I think it's just quite shallow.

Now I am going to try this for fun. What have I been doing?

MAKING pictures. For books. In 2d (!!!) for a change.

WATCHING we just finished the first series of True Detective - SO good. Also for some reason we watched Jane Eyre last night which was also pretty good.

COOKING Over Easter Henry cooked me a special dinner from our middle eastern cookbook which was all aubergines and tabbouleh and hummus and stuff. It was delicious.

DRINKING gallons of sparkling water as always!

READING various different things. Book hopping! I am currently listening to The Night Circus on audiobook too.

LOOKING forward to being able to go to Turkey with Henry's mum when we can afford it (HOPEFULLY sometime this year). It's going to be so exciting when we do go! Celestine has started planning for the trip too, she has been looking up miniature sun loungers. We are crossing our fingers that we might be able to go sometime this summer... maybe. We will have to see.

These ones look good:
Lundby Stockholm Sunbeds and Parasol set
via amazon
BUYING not a lot but a few miniatures. The day before yesterday, the last day of Henrys Easter holidays, we walked to this mini shopping village place near our village. It has an old fashioned style sweetshop and a wedding dress shop and a bear shop etc, all fun shops. And and antique shop where I found a tiny little bureau for Celestine's castle. I've been looking for the perfect desk for her 'study/office' room in the castle for ages. So that was a great find. It does need painting and touching up though. I am thinking either silver of black with silver stars.

PLAYING  with my castle! haha. I have been sorting out all my miniatures and organising them into boxes and arranging a few things in the actual castle. You can see Celestine's dining room is coming along nicely. I got the little silver plates at the weekend when we visited Henry's family. 

WISHING  I could multitask more rather that always having to be so focused on just one thing. I can't seem to work any other way though.

BAKING  my ideal chocolate cake with buttery buttercream and crackly chocolate on the top and m&ms. All gone now.

ENJOYING  the sunshine and the way the light shines into our house all the time. Also I am enjoying the challenge of creating books in 2d (flat art) rather than building 3d sets all the time. It's a lot less messy.

WALKING  round the hills nearly every day. We found a rope swing there the other day when we were walking with a friend and we all had a go on it, swinging out over a very very steep hill.

NEEDING more time!! I feel like my life is slipping by way too fast at the moment. It seemed like only yesterday it was Christmas. I just can't believe how fast time is flying. Stop!!

SMELLING my FAVOURITE perfume, the one by Hotel Chocolat. It smells of sun and holdiays and Dubai for some reason. I love it.

EATING well Celestine has been wading through her Easter egg. She got a pink spotty one this year.

I think that's enough now - I'm running out of things!

I hope you are having a nice sunny springy spring!

Until next time! X

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Miniatura 2015 and other things

Let's start with a selfie! A Celestine selfie!

This was taken on Saturday at a train station in Birmingham. We went to visit Henrys mum in Derby  for the weekend and I took a train across to Birmingham on the Saturday so I could go to Miniatura as Birmingham is not too far from Derby. It was a fun little trip. Of course Celestine came too. She wouldn't miss out on a trip to Miniatura!

The other picture is a little pack of patchwork fabric that my mums friend brought back for me from Liberty in London. That's the exact kind of little present I love to receive! I am going to make some summer clothes for Celestine with the fabric when I have time. She's going to go all flowery!

Back to Miniatura. It was nice to go there on my own actually, not having to worry that Henry is bored outside when I take an absolute age to look at everything. Also it was nice that I had birthday money so didn't feel too bad buying quite a few things. 

I bought the most beautiful little string of miniature colour changing multicoloured fairy lights! Celestine's tree is going to be a stunner this Christmas. That was my favourite thing I bought. I don't have a good picture of them though. 

Here we are on the train on the way to Miniatura. We had to change at Birmingham New Street station to get a train to the NEC. I have to say, Birmingham train station is horrible. Really! So gloomy! I have never seen such a gloomy train station. I felt like i was in Jacobs Ladder or underground. It was all dark and covered and massive.

Celestine wasn't that impressed either. Look how dark it is!

Anyway. So that was fun. Miniatura. 

On the subject of miniatures here are a few of Celestine's castle since she has been home. She is very pleased to be home back in her castle with all her favourite things and all her jewels.

What else? Craft club! recently in craft club I have been introducing the idea of 'mascots' and miniatures. Some of the kids have really taken to it. I think it's one of those things you just get or your just not bothered about. 

Here's one of the 'mascots' with its growing wardrobe of clothes:

On the last session before Easter we had an easter teaparty using mini chairs and tables that the children had made in previous weeks (from lolly sticks). there was a treasure hunt and real tiny cake. I always like the miniature food to be real if possible. The eggs on the cake are mini eggs but mini mini ones! I found them in Sainsburys.

The children made tiny sandwiches for the mascots and also their own miniature Easter cakes. There they are sitting round the table with their sandwiches!

So that was fun.

Let's finish with a very serious selfie (to go full circle!) because it's not all about Celestine.. and some other pictures... just of life and stuff and stuff...

We are still LOVING being in our own house. Loving the evening sunlight coming through the windows. I am working and practicing my 2d, flat illustration for a book I am illustrating. Going to London, walking on the hills, eating the cherry choc slices that Henry made for me (they are the most delicious things ever invented I swear, I'll have to share them here one day) dreaming of all the tiny sunshiny yellow, red, orange, flower crown, summery things I want to make for Celestine, eating berries for breakfast every day, I love berries, wanting platinum blonde scarecrow hair- what am I thinking? watching lots of films and series, seeing friends, trying to keep to my new years resolutions, trying to focus, reorganising my studio into a much better configuration... sleeping a lot. Henry goes on Easter holidays tomorrow which is nice.

And that is all!


Monday, 23 March 2015

Postcards from Penguin and a miniature fishing rod

As you may or may not know, Celestine has been on holiday for quite a while. A bit too long in my opinion. I received a postcard from her a while back but then nothing. She was obviusly having too good a time. 

Well, Celestine has a friend called Penguin who belongs to my friend Sian. Penguin suddenly went missing for a while too and Sian and I wondered if maybe Celestine and Penguin had gone off together on holiday.

Then, tiny postcards began to appear at Sians house from Penguin. It turned out that indeed he and Celestine were on holiday together. 

And what a holiday they've been on!

They went to Hawaii, Italy, Switzerland, France and Cornwall!

Jealous doesn't begin cover it. 

Anyway, Celestine is finally home from her long holiday. She arrived back home yesterday with a battered suitcase and sand in her hair. She was surprised to see that we had moved house in the time that she'd been away. She went straight out to explore the river nearby and practice using her new fishing rod that Carol made for her.

It was actually made for Celestine a few months ago but the weather has been cold and then Celestine has been on holiday so it didn't get its proper first outing until yesterday. Isn't it amazing though! I am in awe of how Carol has made it out of what looks like a tiny, thin piece of bamboo and some cork and string and wire.

Celestine didn't catch anything but she still had fun.

Hopefully she won't disappear for so long again anytime soon!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Our house / Birthdays

The thing I most looked forward to about moving into our own house was being able to put all my favourite pictures on the walls! So when we moved in it was one of the first things I did.

I decided to do a gallery style wall because I just have so many pictures I want to put up. One or two frames on the wall just wasn't going to cut it.

So... My Celestine wall was born!

I absolutely love this wall of pictures. It makes me so happy to look at. All these pictures are memories of places we've been and things we've done (but through a miniature person's eyes!)- holidays to Cornwall, honeymoon, Dubai, our visit to Brugge, autumn walks etc... so I find it just so nice to look at.

The frames I bought from Wilkinsons. Altogether I think they came to about 65 pounds-ish and I printed out all the photos myself on glossy paper.

My second gallery wall is for illustrations and is above the sofa. For these frames I wanted them all to be gold (to match the rococo mirror theme) and all to look different. I gemmed some of them up with crystals. A lot of these frames I actually bought for one pound at the pound shop and then just painted them gold. Some of the pictures I scanned from my favourite childrens books but most of them are postcards collected up over the last few years.

I have many of my favourite illustrations up there! Also I have a box frame with a little 3d fairy in it made by Betty Bib. It's a domestic fairy with little grey feather wings to help with all the cleaning! I have had it for quite a while and have been so eager to get it up on the wall on display. I love it!

Here's a zoomed out picture of our living room so you can get an idea of what the gallery wall looks like over the sofa.

And there are my beloved lanterns. I can't express how much I love to see the lanterns all lit up (almost) every night!

Oh and now some more lanterns but in the garden this time. They come on automatically when it gets dark and we can see them through the living room window. I love coloured lights.

Back to the inside. Either side of the mirror in the living room, we have two gold twirly frames. Henry put a Zelda picture in one of them and in the other I put (yes another) picture of Celestine because I just thought that this picture of Celestine eating her birthday cake would go so well in a gold twirly frame.

We are still so so so happy to finally be in our own house. We felt at home very very quickly here and we have had some really nice weekends lately. Last weekend Henry's mum came to visit which was really nice. We went to  Turkish restaurant and just chatted loads and watched Gone Girl and cooked Sunday lunch for my grandparents. Henry made poached pears in brandy snap baskets.It was very relaxed.

This weekend we had a birthday/housewarming party and had friends round because it was both mine and Henry's birthday this week. We tried out a local restaurant in our village (calamari for me- yum!) and then came back to the house for drinks and dessert. I just love to see those friends and it was a really good mix of people who came. I was sorry when they all went home at the end. I had a lot of fun. My mum made us birthday cakes, mine a creamy chocolaty pudding thing and Henry's a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate chips. We do like chocolate!

Here's a funny 'family portrait' picture we self-timered of everyone at the party. My friend Sian is holding the squid Henry got for his birthday and Henry has the octopus on his head. Henry got a cuddly toy squid and a cuddly toy octopus for his birthday and he is very enamoured with them. They follow us downstairs in the morning and back up to bed at night.

So yes, I am now twenty seven as I am writing this on the 8th March which is my birthday! -a day after our party. Twenty seven definitely feels like a jump because now I am suddenly in my LATE twenties rather than just my twenties- ahh!

Here I am a week or so ago on a walk on the hills near our house. I try and go up those hills most days. It's necessary I think when you work on your own from home all day. I would be too cooped up otherwise. I absolutely love love love living near them, I am so glad we moved here! You can see the wild horses behind me.

Twenty seven was a good birthday.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

a post about miniatures

This week there was a programme on TV about dolls houses and Lauren Child. Being interested in miniatures and illustration, a programme combining both these things was right up my street. So I watched it, of course (it's on iplayer for another twenty something days if you're interested in watching it too.) It was very inspiring actually.

What I really loved about it was getting to see Lauren Childs own dolls house that she has been working on for 30 years. It was beeeautiful. And it also really looked like Lauren Childs dolls house- if you know what her illustration work is like then you will know what I mean! The colours and the patterns and the shape and design of the furniture... and I love the lighting!

Here, I did a screen shot for you:

And some inside shots. Beautiful kitchen! I love the spindly little coloured glass bottles.

I also love how she has put one of her own illustrations up on the wall in miniature:

And look, there's some tiny alcohol bottles in that red cupboard...

Not sure which room this was in but I like this little cupboard space too:

The programme is called 'Secret Knowledge: The Private Life of a Doll's house. I also liked how it explored the reasons why some people love dolls houses so much- they allow you to control and escape into a tiny little world of your own. Also dolls houses tell stories.

Talking of miniatures, I also just wanted to highlight an etsy shop I discovered last year called Nalladris.  The reason I love this shop so much is because it sell the most exquisite, glittering miniature jewellery. I have mentioned this shop before last year when I bought Celestine a tiny mauve necklace but I thought it was worth mentioning again.

Just look at the tiny sparkles!

I wish I could buy ALL the jewellery in that shop!

Sunday, 22 February 2015


I was pleased to kick off 2015 with the release of the Glitterbelle books which are illustrated by me. Three of them are activity books and one of them is a picture book. Above you can see a video of me talking about the books in a interview. This was filmed over a year ago now, just before Christmas in 2013! It was filmed when I went to visit Parragon Publishing in Bath to help direct the photography for the sets because there's a lot of fiddly little things in the sets that only I would know what to do with. I was there for two nights and three full working days. It was really interesting to see how a professional photographer photographed all my sets. I couldn't believe how much equipment was involved!

Anyway, I thought now that the books are out I would share some behind the scenes stuff.

Here are my very first character sketches of Glitterbelle. This was back when I still drew ALL kid characters with dot eyes.

She changed quite a bit from those original sketches as you can see. She also made it to 3d - originally the plan was for the books to be drawn flat.

Here's a flat image I painted that never got used in the end. It was meant to be the back cover for the picture book. This was painted quite large so I had to scan it in in bits and patch it together in photoshop which is why it looks a bit wonky here. I quite liked this image though. I especially like how the glitter scans in- still sparkly!

Once it was decided that the Glitterbelle books were going to be in 3d I did this image for the sales pitch. This was back when I was still going to photograph all the images myself.

Welcome to Glitterbelle's glittery bedroom! She also had a purple streak in her hair at that point too.

Here are character designs for Glitterbelle's friends Angel and Dazzlina and also her little sister (middle)  who didn't end up making it into the books.

All three girls have their own pets. Glitterbelle has a dog, Dazzlina has a cat and Angel has a gold dust gecko called George. Here are the character designs for Angels gold dust gecko. I am quite fond of him actually. I think he is my favourite of all the pets- and he the easiest to draw haha!

Here are various different versions for the front cover of the picture book. It went through quite a few changes as you can see! None of these made it.

Back cover:

Here are some more covers for the activity books that didn't quite make the cut but I still like anyway:

The creativity cover (minus character, this is the background)... I loved making all those tiny little art things.

Snapshots of an earlier creativity cover idea:

This was the original cover for the dress up title. I actually really like this cover but it sadly got scrapped. It took me absolutely ages to set up all those paper clothes in exactly the right position so that they looked right in the photograph. That was a real challenge. There were supposed to be badges and all sorts of things in the wardrobe door spaces that's why they look a bit bare here.

This (below left) is pretty much the image they used for the final cover in the end.

   I like all the bottles of perfume on the dressing table.

My absolute favourite of all the covers is the 'Me and You' cover. I just really love it.

This is what it started out looking like, back and front cover. It was looking a bit plain so I added stars and fairylights and other various things and I think the final result is much better.

Final cover- this version photographed by me but it did get photographed by a professional for the published cover.

Couple more back covers:

And an internal scene from one of the activity books. Again this one is photographed by me but for the final version it was photographed by a professional and various tiny details were changed- like getting rid of the purple stripe in Glitterbelle's hair.

Lots of the rooms have wallpaper in them so I had to design lots of fancy wallpaper patterns suitable for a palace. These I printed off in sheets and stuck on the walls.

At one point I was asked to design a crest but I'm not sure that ever made it into the books. Here are the sketches for it anyway.
Chandelier! This was a regular dolls house chandelier but I covered it in silver glitter and added gems hanging down.

Here is an early internal scene, photographed by me.

By the time it made it into the picture book it had gone through quite a few changes and additions! (It's quite a large book so this scan doesn't show the entire picture)

Here are a few more pictures from the actual book- again not full scans as my scanner is not big enough.

The garden was the trickiest scene to make as I had never made an outdoor scene in 3d before. I am quite fond of the glittery flamingo fountain. I'd like a full size one in my garden!

That tree took me ages to make. I cut out every single leaf from glitter paper and stuck them all onto the branches. 

Here are some tree work in progress shots. I made it from wire, newspaper and masking tape.

Oh look it's my favourite- the bathroom!

Bob the dog sitting on a very gemmed up chair:

 The Queen placing a pea under Glitterbelle's mattress:

Another scene I was especially fond of was the final scene where the three princesses were all behind a table of cakes.

Those cakes were fun to make!

Another fun one to do was the jewel cabinet. Here it is all laid out before glittering.

You can see it finished in the background in this picture, sort of. It was actually extremely difficult to photograph because of the mirrored back I had put in it. For some reason this made the jewel cabinet look less sparkly than it is in real life.

Along with the Glitterbelle picture book there are three activity books. It was interesting for me to see how all my illustrations were photographed and put together for the activity books. 

Here's a better photo of the finished jewel cabinet from the Doodle, Dazzle, Create! activity book:

And another part of a page from the Doodle, Dazzle, Create! book featuring the 3d kitchen:

I follow Parragon books on twitter so it was exciting to see Glitterbelle kitchen cakes popping up on my twitter feed. I guess Parragon must have commissioned them to be made and given to certain people/companies? I am not sure but whatever the reason it was really cool to see my 3d illustrations being made into 3d cake form!

Here's a picture I spotted on twitter uploaded by House PR (@House_PR)

and another uploaded by Ben Pulsford (@BenFirstNews)

And here's another picture of the actual kitchen uploaded by Parragon (@parragonbooks)

So yeah, Glitterbelle cake kitchens, that was pretty cool to see.

Among the activity books there is a dress up sticker book. I have to admit I did spend quite a bit of time actually doing the sticker book when it arrived in the post. 

A scene from the royal sitting room:

And my favourite, the golden ballroom with glittery piano. As you can see I have put the stickers on the princesses in this one.

Can't resist having a go at a sticker book. It was actually the fist night we spent in our new house that I received the sticker book in the post. We didn't have internet, tv or anything that night so it was nice to have the sticker book to occupy me haha.

Well, I think it's about time to finish up this post now. 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some behind the scenes stuff from 'Glitterbelle!'