Sunday, 29 January 2012

5 Tips on Mood Boards

At the moment I'm working on the branding for my shop that I plan to open later in the year (eeee!) and one of my favourite ways to focus my ideas is through a mood board. For me, it's so much easier to express a mood visually than through words, and sometimes I get a bit impatient with drawing (shock horror!) so a good old collage is perfect to get all my ideas down on paper. Here is my new shop mood board - my branding reform starting point!

I thought it might be fun to share my top mood board tips. I mean I'm no expert, but I have  been cutting and sticking since I was little (ask my Mum, who ever so patiently put up with little bits of paper and magazine scattered all over the house) so perhaps some of these might inspire some of you to go fetch the scissors and Pritt Stick! 

1. Become a hoarder! I keep pretty much ANYTHING: wrapping paper, stickers, magazine clippings, birthday cards, buttons, stuff I find on the street.... the list is endless. And although this can contribute to an extremely messy bedroom, you never know when that box of keeps might come in handy! 

2. Mix media... Sometimes it's nice to add to texture by using fabric or different weights of paper, but also you could draw, paint, print and sew into your collage to really bring it to life. 

3. Think Big! Don't go squeezing all those pretty things on to a tiny bit of paper - give your ideas space. I always find that the bigger the canvas, the braver decisions I make. 

4. Make an inspiration wall. Make sure you display your finished mood boards in your work space so that they inspire your future work. This way you can keep adding to it whenever you find something that fits the style you are looking for, so all your ideas are in one place. 

5. Use Technology - there are some great social media sites for image book marking. The most obvious of course being Pinterest where you can categorize your images into online mood boards - what did we ever do without it? Some other websites that I use regularly are: FFFFound, Flickr, Tumblr, Shuttercal and Getty Images. 

And that's it for my latest 5 Tips, hope you enjoyed them! 

x Rachel 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Little Peeks

Here is a little snapshot of my day today - playing with my new blog scheduler, new ideas and of course this months Vogue. I am trying to start collecting Vogue every month so I have back issues to research from in the future... My only problem is that I am ADDICTED to cutting up magazines for collages/inspiration walls etc. So that will be a challenge to leave them untouched! Who else is a serial magazine ruiner?

x Rachel

Monday, 23 January 2012

Design Tool of the Week

It's the return of another feature that has been out for a while... I've been neglecting my design tools recently, but now they are back with a vengeance! 

Indian ink got me through my degree... I love drawing with it because for some reason it makes me feel a bit less pressured to be perfectly accurate. I think it's a more "feeling-y" medium (yes that is a legitimate art word). Also you can use whatever you want to draw with so you get different effects - reed pen, paint brush, quill... I actually mostly use twigs from the garden because again it takes the pressure off being "neat". 

Here's one of my favourite costume drawings from a little while ago where I used indian ink and Photoshop together:

I've been doing a bit of ink drawing for fun lately too (kind of unheard of for me in recent years).... 

But more on that later because that's part of something bigger that I'm going to share later on in the week... Curious? Heehee, life is so exciting at the moment :) 

Happy Monday Everyone,

x Rachel 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

5 Simple Photography Tips

Photography is one of the most important aspects of my practice as a designer, and is fast becoming one of my favourite hobbies too! I think it's easy to feel intimidated by photography and make excuses why you "can't do it" eg. not having a good enough camera, not understanding things like shutter speed and aperture settings etc. I am still learning how to use my camera to its full potential, and I am by no means an expert! But I have picked up some handy tips along the way which I found really helpful as a beginner - I hope they are useful to some of you too!

1. Choose your moment - Get into the habit of always having your camera to hand, batteries charged, card empty and ready to use so that when the perfect picture opportunity arises you don't miss your chance! Practice makes perfect and the best way to learn is always to experiment. 

2. Think carefully about exposure - Lighting is arguably the most important factor to consider when taking photographs. I prefer to use natural light and I very rarely use the flash on my camera because it washes out the subject in the photo. If your camera is an SLR and has a light metre, always remember to use it to check for over/under exposure. 

3. Depth of field - This refers to the range of distance in an image which controls the sharpness of the background. If your camera has a setting that allows you to change your aperture (or F stops) then you can control your depth of field and get those blurry background shots! Lower F stop numbers (such as F2.8) allow a shallow depth of field (blurry background) while the higher numbers (such as F16 or above) have a longer focal length so more of the background is in focus. This can seem a bit confusing and is just the tip of the iceberg on this subject but it really is worth getting to grips with these rules, especially if you own an SLR or a digital camera with certain SLR capacities. 

4. Composition - This is where art comes into photography. It may seem obvious, but the way you choose to frame your subject really is everything. Are you trying to capture the whole subject or an isolated part? Think about your background, especially in product photography. Do you want to have a totally clean background or do you want to style it with certain props or environments? Everything in shot should be considered to make the image really special. 

5. Edit. - Something that is often left out but really makes all the difference in finishing off your photographs is the editing. I edit every photo that appears on this blog using Photoshop, but there are lots of free programmes and apps that do the job. Editing can minimise mistakes with exposure, sharpening, vibrance and can just give the photos the extra pop they need. 

I hope these tips help a little, but as I said before this barely scratches the surface of how much there is to learn about photography! There is a lot of really useful information on the internet, but I have learnt the most so far from books - especially Understanding Exposure by Andrey Nauman which explains everything in detail but in a very easy and manageable way. I recommend it :) 

Now go get snapping!

x Rachel 

Monday, 16 January 2012

My Week in Pictures

I've been doing pretty well at keeping up with my "photo a day" challenge so far... I've been taking some on my digital SLR, some on Jake's iPhone and some on my Blackberry - hence the extreme difference in quality (oh Blackberry, why is your camera so pointless?) - but I like to think it's part of their charm. Here's some of my favourites from last week.

Looking at them all together like that has made me realise that they all have quite a similar colour palette (umm... dark...), this week's challenge is to take more colourful photographs I think! Later on in the week I will be sharing my 5 best photography tips... but more on that later... 

x Rachel

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Happy List

It's back! The Happy List has been on pause for a little while, but the time has come for it's reappearance. Here's what has been making me smile this week:

DIY: This cute Pom Pom Pillow tutorial from Living with Punks.

FASHION: Joules Patch Jumper - anything with a Jack Russel on it makes the list!

ART: Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramee - continuing the book art obsession. 

BLOG POST: A Picture an Hour by Meredith from One Sheepish Girl - one of my favourite bloggers and I really enjoyed seeing little snippets from her day.

ACCESSORY: Swatch Dummy LL104 in "Pink Lolly" - just yum. 

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend,

x Rachel 

Friday, 13 January 2012

DIY - Fancy Dolly Pegs

I used to love decorating dolly pegs to look like little people when I was younger, so when I saw a pack of these dolly pegs going cheap in a craft shop I had to get some! I'm trying to print out more of my photos this year, so I thought these would be fun to use to hang some pictures around our room. This way of decorating might result in a more "grown-up" look for dolly pegs, but it's just as fun as I remember! 

You will need: wooden dolly pegs, acrylic paints, masking tape, PVA glue, pretty paper (the thinner the better).

I've used two methods to decorate these pegs using a blue and gold theme as a general guide.

1. Decoupage - very fun - just cover the peg in glue and paste on the pretty paper in little bits until all the wood is covered. Leave to dry. Simples.

2. Cover half of the peg with masking tape in a spiral shape and paint the other half in whatever colour you fancy, leave to dry, then do the same in the gaps with a contrasting colour!

I'm really pleased with how these turned out! I can't wait to use them to hang some pictures on a long piece of wire or string when I get them printed...

Happy Friday!

x Rachel

Thursday, 12 January 2012

New Job Nails!

I hardly ever paint my nails anymore, but I started an exciting new job yesterday which I thought deserved celebratory sparkles!

 Here's how I did them, it's very easy! Use any colour for the base - I've used a couple of coats of Barry M in Coral. While the nail varnish is still tacky, sprinkle on some glitter or sequins... I like the effect of these oversized glitter pieces because they look like shiny polka dots. When the nails are dry, pop on a clear topcoat to keep the glitter in place.

Ta-daa! I think I might start painting my nails more often, it's quite fun :)

x Rachel

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

22 Before 23

I always really like reading about other bloggers goals for the year, because it gives a little personal insight and also you can follow their progress along with them! I think the "__ before__" format for goals is really clever and I've been wanting to finish my own for ages! So finally here is my finished "22 Before 23" list - and now you've seen it I can't get away with not doing these things ;) 

1. Read 20 books.
2. Open an Etsy Shop - really excited about this one!
3. Increase my readership - I have big plans for this blog and I want to share them with as many people as possible. Plus I am really enjoying meeting such lovely friends through blogging. 
4. Start accepting sponsors.
5. Get the hang of Twitter - I admit, I am still a little bit befuddled by Twitter... I know that is a very embarrassing thing to admit in the social media world... but I really want to start using it a lot more. 
6. Continue to improve my photography.
7. Get a table at my first craft fair - another one I'm very excited about!
8. Do at least one big set and costume design - I really really want to go out and do what I spent three years studying for! Obviously I hope for more than one, but at least one biggy and I'd be happy. 
9. Go to the theatre and exhibitions twice a month - it should be more than that really, but I'm shooting low so hopefully I beat this target!
10. Make a dress - something I never give myself time to do.
11. Learn to crochet.
12. Knit something other than a scarf.
13. Draw every day - this is very important but something I always neglect. 
14. Keep my desk tidy and use it more - I'm starting on this today, it is currently hidden under an explosion of craft materials. 
15. Pay of student overdraft - boring, but inevitably essential. 
16. Plan and schedule my blogging - I have a cute new calendar which I aim to put to good use!
17. LEARN TO COUNT - I missed this number off my list up there... but the real goal is... get an iPhone and start using instagram - counting down the days! 
18. Work on a film in the art department - I'd love to do this again.
19. Watch more good films - sometimes I worry that I get a bit out of touch with films.. any suggestions?
20. Have a go at some book art - one of my current obsessions. 
21. Style a photo shoot - have always loved the idea of designing for photography. 
22. Sort out all of my stuff at home and have a boot sale! I need to downsize the amount of stuff I own, because it is pretty silly. 

That's it, thanks for reading my little list. I love this time of year. What are your goals?

x Rachel 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Pottering Around...

For our first monthly couple treat, we decided to go on an adventure in Jake's home county, Derbyshire. I love just popping out in the car without a plan and seeing where we end up, and this time was a cracker! We seemed to accidentally go along a sort of pottery theme with a visit to Denby Pottery and my new favourite place in the world... The Bottle Kiln. 

I was in pointless and pretty overload! The converted historic building is gorgeous, and we had a lovely lunch in the cafe, and then more than a short browse through the shop. So many beautiful things from so many talented designers... If anyone is close to the area, I absolutely recommend it! Here is the website for more info.  

What a successful day out! 

x Rachel 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The First Handmade of 2012

Happy 2012 Everyone!

I'm really enjoying reading my favourite bloggers resolutions and to-do lists for the new year, and I am still working on my "22 before 23" list which I can't wait to finish and share! But on top of that, Jake and I wanted to think up a fun version of new years resolutions that we could do together. We are both very competitive and we definitely get the most done when one of us challenges the other, eg. I bet I can tidy my side of the bed quicker than you can tidy yours... yes slightly sad but also very efficient. So we came up with this twist on new years resolutions which was really fun to make and will be even more fun for the rest of the year!

In secret, we both came up with three new years challenges for each other and wrote them down. The rules were:

- Only positive challenges allowed - i.e nothing that's about changing the other's personality... So no "stop watching so much football"...

- Things that are tangible and achievable in a year.

Coincidently, we both came up with challenges along the same themes. We had one each that was money related, one that was an every day thing and one that was once a month and beneficial to both of us! This worked out quite well, so maybe setting certain themes like that would make it easier to think of more specific challenges.

And that's it! I'm really excited to get going on my challenges :) I'd love to see what other people come up with, so if you give it a go send me a link!

Hope everyone is having a lovely start to the year,

x Rachel

After some deliberation, I have decided that this post will be both the first handmade of the new year and the last of the handmades of Christmas series. This is mainly because, like most people, I like to start the new year with a fresh start, and I feel like if I continued with Christmassy themed handmades I would just be blogging for the sake of blogging and it would start to feel a bit rushed and stale - and nobody wants that! So I nearly made it to 12 handmades, but not quite... But this gives me a fun challenge for next year!


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