Here are some watercolour patterns I painted yesterday and today, when I realised I had a full blank pad of watercolour paper that I'd forgotten I'd bought. I've been quite into making freeform watercolour doodles lately - it's fun and therapeutic and relaxing. And because I'm so colour restricted with screen printing and with ceramics, I've gone a bit nuts on colour overload. Who needs a colouring in book?
There is something about decaying urban landscapes that I just love, and the old typography/signage/handwriting that often goes alongside it. There's lots of this in the photos I've taken this week, while walking around my neighbourhood (and bits of the city). I've also got a thing for sweets and baking, it would seem. Happy Monday.
I just love fruit and vegetables and most weeks I go to the local farmers market and buy produce directly from those who grew it. Although often not perfect looking, it tastes so good (and who wants perfect looking produce anyway?) I like that there's dirt on the potatoes, mushrooms and beets, that the apples and pears have russeting.
The other day I decided to draw some of the produce I'd bought that weekend. I'm no great drawer but trust me when I say that the first few greylead sketches looked terrible. I was about to move onto doing something else but then I picked up a new pen I bought in Japan and it was like the pen took over (seriously!) and I was drawing things in a different way. And the drawings just all seemed to fit together. Yesterday I finally had time to sit down at my computer and turn the drawings into a pattern. I might yet tweak it a bit but think it might soon find itself onto a tea towel.
I feel like I'm getting nothing done lately...just running around in circles each week. But I just had a look at the photos I've taken in the last month (it seems I take my camera with me almost all the time) and I realise I have been doing things, just not what I was planning on doing. So instead of making ceramic things, refining new designs and doing lots of printing I've been walking the dog, cooking winter food (it seems I also do a LOT of cooking), shopping at the market, hanging out in my local Masonic hall and then doing other, non-fun work. But that's OK, because Melbourne in winter is pretty nice.
Because screenprinting requires a different separation for each colour, I tend to think about design/patterns in a certain way. As I'm also a massive fan of minimal colour palettes (two or three colours maximum), this has been just fine. But lately I've had a hankering for a change, so the other day I bought a set of watercolours. Here are a few patterns I've been playing around with (ie: me going colour crazy).
On a different note, I've just posted a couple of fabric packs in my Etsy shop. Snap them up while you can...
One of the things I most love about travel is noticing the differences between the place I'm visiting and home - the architecture, the light, the plants, the people. I find this stuff fascinating, even if the 'travel' is just going to a country town an hour away. Going slight further afield, say from Melbourne to Sydney or Hobart is great, as each city is so different in terms of climate, architecture and more. And going overseas blows my mind - I notice everything, am fascinated about how & why things are the way they are.
All this year I'd been reading about Japan (well, I'd read bits of Hello Sandwich's Tokyo Guide and also Tokyo Precincts and Monocle's Tokyo Travel Guide, all highly recommended, along with a few general online travel guides and some blogs) and I knew what to expect generally. But when I got there, there were all these little quirky differences that I loved. So I decided to write them down, so I wouldn't forget them. And as I know a few people going to Japan soon, I thought I'd share them in case they're interested.
Thank you. I don't speak Japanese but I already knew one thing - "thank you" is "arigatou". But when thanking you (which happens a million times a day - everyone is so polite!) people actually seemed to be saying something else. It took me a while to figure out it was the more formal "arigatou gozaimasu" (pronounced "goes eye moss" with a silent "u").
You get hand towels at eating and drinking establishments. Sometimes it's a real towel (face washer sized) and it's hot. Sometimes it's a small wet napkin in a plastic bag (like you used to get on planes!) It's always nice.
You don't need to press the button at traffic lights (and often there is no button). Well, this was the case pretty much everywhere we went. Occasionally you need to press the button at night but generally the lights just cycle through, as there are always pedestrians everywhere.
People wait for the green light at traffic lights. Yep, no crossing on the red! Generally, anyway. Why rush?
Crows. There were loud, squawking crows everywhere we went. Initially they freaked me out (is it an omen?!) Then I got used to them. Apparently they're very smart, remember faces and do swoop people, so don't be mean to them, as they'll remember you next time!
Footpath = road. It's not the case everywhere, but in lots of places we went to there's no footpath and you just walk on the side of the road. It's how it's always been so it's very safe, but it took me a little while to get my head around the idea.
So many pot plants. It's definitely not the case everywhere, but in the first area we stayed in Tokyo, there are pot plants all over the place. There often isn't room for everyone to have a garden but you can still have greenery this way. Excellent!
The train station music/jingles. They're unique, to say the least. According to the sister of someone I know, the tunes have "baroque foundations and excellent augmented triads." So kawaii.
Stripes. So much striped clothing. Who would have thought you could have so much variation with stripes!
Folded toilet paper edges. Everywhere - in all the AirBNB places we stayed, in little bars, restaurants, even in department stores. Everywhere. And public toilets are everywhere and clean, amazing. But finding a bin...well, that's another story.
Toilet flush confusion. Sometimes it took me way too long to figure out how to flush a toilet (push a button here? Push a button there? Hover your hand over a sensor? Pull a lever?) that I'd accidentally hit the flush sound effect button. Yep.
Craft beer. OK, I knew Japanese craft beer was a bit of a thing. But it's actually a super big thing and there are so many great local artisan brews. If you're into beer, prepare you palette and your wallet - they're excellent but can be pricey.
Hydrangeas and ivy. Unfortunately we couldn't time our holiday to coincide with cherry blossom season (just missed out) but the hydrangeas everywhere more than made up for it. They're one of my favourite plants but I had no idea they came in so many varieties and in such vibrant colours. And ivy, often variegated, also seemed to be everywhere. I used to hate ivy and thought of it as a weed but now I'm going to have to find some and pot it in an indoor hanging basket ASAP.
Let me know if you've been to Japan and have more things to add to this list!
So I've been on holiday in Japan for a couple of weeks and oh my, I wonder how it is that I've never been before - it's is soooo amazing! So many people but so much order, so much politeness, so much good food, so much good coffee, so many adorable pot plants everywhere, so much matcha everything, amazing hydrangeas and ivy everywhere, home of the best sweets ever (mochi!), so much good and simple design in the right places. And the home of Muji - going to the flagship store was a semi-religious moment for me (sad but true!) And I cannot wait to share the latest instalment of Studio Space, and the first international workspace. Here is a really brief edit, in photo form, of some of my highlights so far. Now I'm off to Nippori Fabric Town, home to more than 80 fabric stores. It's going to be a good day :)
I've had a sore tooth all week, which has totally sucked. But it's inspired me to draw the offending tooth and turn it into a pattern. Can you tell I'm a fan of simple colour palettes and imperfect lines?
So here are a couple of sore tooth inspired patterns and below that - some hairy legs I drew last week, which I kind of think would make a cute tea towel. I hope your week has been better than mine and your teeth are happier than these!
Recently I've had a hankering for some quick and easy crafty projects (ie: ones that don't involve a millions steps, like hand making ceramics that take weeks to be ready, or screen printing with emulsion screens that also take a bit of time to make up). Projects that are a bit different, where you end up with a practical, usable object at the end of it.
When I discovered ceramic pens (via Beci Orphin's book Find and Keep) my mind was blown. You can use a texta to draw on finished ceramics, put them in the oven and then have your own design/drawing on a cup/plate/bowl/whatever? Amazing!
You can get the pens from craft shops or online. They come in different colours and sizes. I chose to stick with black and got one with a 0.7mm nib and one with a 1.2mm nib. Once you've painted your object you let it dry for 24 hours, then bake in the oven for 35 mins at 150 degrees celsius. So fun!
I found some plain white porcelain mugs at the supermarket and painted a really simple grid pattern. I also gave a mug to my 5- and 3-year-old niece and nephew to paint, which kept them entertained for at least 3 minutes!