Mole has been out in the garden…

…and is reassured that warmer days will soon be here. He may even take his scarf off.   The crocuses and snowdrops are flowering and I can’t wait to get outside to tidy up and plant.   This week I’ll be sowing tomato seeds.  That’s always my first gardening job of the year and heralds the almost-arrival of Spring.  And I’m looking forward to photographing my woolly characters without getting wet knees.   🙂
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A Few Edinburgh Bears

 

CattravellingEarlier this month I managed to pack my bags and head off to Edinburgh, with my daughter, for a few days.  Naturally, I was on the look out for bears.

The signs were there. 37438782952_56f11d5916_o

 

 

The first bears we met were a bit on the stiff side to say the least..

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..and this was not at all what we’d expected from the famous Edinburgh pandas.  IMG_4657

 

 

Those are in the National Museum of Scotland which is lovely and well worth a visit. It also serves excellent cake.

 

We did catch up with a real live panda at Edinburgh Zoo, but I didn’t manage to get a photo. These chaps were more co-operative IMG_4691(and more terrifying).

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I think my last Edinburgh bear is my favourite.   It’s the memorial to Wotjek, the WWII ‘Soldier’ bear, in Princes Street Gardens.  You can read about him here.

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There was also whisky, getting wet, history and tales of body snatchers in the kirkyard after dark, but you should go and find out about those for yourself.

I’ll be back soon with needle felting, new drawings and other things I’m making.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to look at the new things in my shop.

 

 

 

Pasta Machine Printing

I love prints as an art form, but apart from some basic lino printing and screen printing I haven’t done any myself.  Print making seems a bit of a daunting thing to try, requiring expensive equipment and space. I’ve always particularly wanted to try dry point etching, so I got really excited when I saw an artist on Twitter talking about PRINTING AN ETCHING WITH A PASTA MACHINE!  Gosh.

Naturally I rushed out to buy one. Luckily my local cookshop had a modest one on sale and I got some sheets of flexible clear plastic from a nearby model shop.

This is what I did:

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The plastic sheets I bought were A4, so I cut them up so that they were small enough to feed through the pasta machine. They don’t need to be clear, but it’s handy if you want to trace over a drawing. I scratched my design with a pointed implement I found in an old box of tools. I’ve no idea what it’s really for. Any pointed tool you can comfortably hold should work.

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I used block printing ink as it was available. It worked fine. I’m going to try printing with acrylic paint with a drying retardant mixed in. I found the best way to ink the design was to rub the ink into the scratches with a cloth, then rubbing of the excess with a dry cloth.

2I printed onto cartridge paper, as I had some. Soak it in water for a few minutes first and pat dry.  You’ll need to experiment with how wet the paper needs to be.  Put the paper onto another piece of paper and some felt and place the inked plate face down on your paper. Fold the other side over. Be careful to hold the plate and paper together as you feed it into your pasta roller.

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Wind the handle! You’ll need to guide the bottom end so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the machine as it emerges.

 

 

This is what I made:71

There are several demonstrations of this by artists on YouTube. Worth a visit.

I’m looking forward to experimenting and printing lots more 🙂

 

 

 

Merry Christmas…

 

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Wishing you all a very jolly Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I was pleased to have this picture in the SCBWI Advent Calendar this year alongside Christmas illustrations from some super talented artists.

Lots of micro stories were written to go with the illustrations, you can read them on Twitter.

Thank you to the lovely SCBWI writers who wrote words to go with my illustration:

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Finally, thank you all for your support during 2016.  Hoping 2017 will be peaceful and marvellous.

Jools x

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A Brief Ramble about the SCBWI Conference 2016

I’ll keep it short and incoherent. For those of you who don’t know SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (British Isles). Last weekend they held their annual conference in Winchester (and have lots of other exciting and interesting activities the rest of the time).

This was the 2nd time I’ve been to the conference.  It’s so fabulous I just have to tell you about it.  It’s also very intense, and fabulous.  I’m still mentally digesting all the wonderful fabulousness and remembering odd bits of fabulous stuff at odd times, so this is a very garbled account of some of the bits I did.

3The Sketch Crawl.

Drawing out and about in Winchester with a bunch of other illustrators and non illustrators. I drew skaters, buildings and other things.  Then we met up to compare sketches and chat over a mulled cider.  Here’s one of my sketches in progress:

Roman glass in Winchester Museum

Being inclined towards art the best thing about the conference for me is the opportunity to 8listen and talk to proper illustrators with books out in the real world…

This year Leigh Hodgkinson (she’s @hoonbutton on Twitter) was one of the keynote speakers and I also attended a break out session with her.  It’s completely fabulously fabulous to find out what goes on in the head of another artist. I love all her making different things and ideas, and came away with ideas of my own about collaging things and ways of working to try.

Viviane Schwarz gave an amazing picture book workshop. Lots of fast drawing, cutting up, stealing other people’s drawings and making a group picture book.  I learned a whole new way of thinking about ideas and creating characters.  You can follow Viviane on Twitter.

2One of the other things I did was to dare to put my portfolio out on a table where people could see it. That won’t be scary next time. It was brilliantly educational just seeing my work alongside other peoples.

10And there was so, so much more. So many people, opportunites, interest, books, pictures, cake.

The weekend was a lovely bubble of talking about writing and illustration.  I learnt so much and met so many lovely people.  I made friends.

You can visit the website of the SCBWI here.

Thanks to Dom Conlon for letting me steal some photos.