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!'