Spring

Lately I have been thinking that I want to explore a bit more with type outside of the computer. Often I get so caught up with the digital possibilities that I forget how fun and rewarding making something real with your own two hands can be. I did jewellery design for three years, and I miss the hands on nature of the discipline.

The perfect opportunity hit me a couple of days ago. I am again participating in 7 Vignettes (an Instagram competition/activity where you create a vignette based on a theme for the first seven days of each month) and the word for September 1 was Green. September 1 was also the first day of Spring, so I created the word Spring out of the leaves and flowers of a Jasmine plant.

It was much more difficult than I had anticipated – the curve of each leaf meant that some wouldn’t sit together properly, as you touched one it moved five others and then the wind threw in another challenge. Despite all these things, I am happy with the result. And I really enjoyed creating it.

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And now I have this little beauty sitting in front of me while I work.

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So excited that Spring is here!

Update: I just found this quote from one of the design greats which makes me feel even better than when I first finished this piece.

“It is important to use your hands. This is what distinguishes you from a cow or a computer operator.”
–Paul Rand

High five Paul Rand. High five.

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Fall In Love

Just a little type piece I did for fun.

It was inspired by Perth designer Corey James’ Three Word Advice project. It’s a public art project where anybody can submit a piece of advice (in three words) and designers can turn them into type pieces to be exhibited and sold as posters. He is currently revamping the format, but I will be looking to contribute when he reopens submissions.

You can never have enough love in the world.

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Wild Things Typeface

This is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time. I have always been in love with type. Since before I knew what it was I loved it. As a kid I was obsessed with books, and as a teenager I was always that weird kid who took photos of cool signs. Since I figured out what graphic design was, and what typography was, I have always wanted to be one of those über talented artist-cum-designers who creates insane type pieces. Cue my massive girl crushes on Gemma O’Brien and Jessica Hische.

I have always played around with type, but never had it come out as perfectly as I wanted. And then I realised that it doesn’t need to be perfect. I found a way to really channel my personality into type. I’m not sleek and sophisticated and stylish. I’m a bit of a grub, I live in jeans and singlets and couldn’t pull off ‘polished’ if my life depended on it. Why is that a bad thing? Why couldn’t my type be like me?

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With this in mind, when I was branding myself as a designer a couple of years ago I did myself some custom type. When I started my blog Wild Things, I decided that as it was an extension of myself, it would also use the same type. And now, as I’m using it for so many things, I thought that I would actually create an entire alphabet.

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I’m pretty proud of it – I might even look at converting it into a font. Oh, the possibilities.

Kaleidoscope Blooms

Being a designer, I often find graphics during my internet wanderings and think to myself – could I do that? Sometimes the answer is a resounding no, but a lot of the time my curiosity gets the better of me and I try it out. This was the case when I came across the poster for Sydney club night, Swoon.

The guy who runs the night works with a friend, but I found the poster individually and only discovered it was his work after he checked out my tumblr and saw it. His dj name is Roof and his stuff is pretty banging. But it’s his design that really impresses me. Over the past year or so he has developed a very kaleidoscopic style for his dj brand which I find hypnotic and intriguing. After seeing this poster, I decided to try out his style and see what I could come up with.

Swoon

I have been loving on Peonies recently so I found an image with plenty of bright colour and started playing. I did a couple of versions of this and then moved onto some yellow daffodils  The resulting art I turned into headers for my different blogs. I played with the colour of the Wild Things one because the type wasn’t coming up clearly. I’m especially happy with the one for this blog, which you can see at the top of your screen.

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Check out Roof’s facebook for more of his design work, and his soundcloud for some dance worthy mixes.

Pimp my workspace

As you may or may not know, I am still hunting for my foot-in-the-door-but-amazing design job. And have been feeling a bit disillusioned. So to stave off negativity and keep me creating, I have been giving myself projects. All sorts of things, like re-hanging the art in my room, random hand-drawn type pieces, learning web design and crocheting a blanket (as it turns out, I’m not so good at/dedicated to crochet. So Mama Bear has been taking the helm on that one). One of the more major projects I gave myself was a new desk. The old desk has been floating around for years, and while very good at having all of my crap piled on top of it for months at a time, wasn’t a particularly good work space for several reasons. One is that it’s ugly. The other is that because of the drawers down one side, I couldn’t cross my legs while I was working. Which sounds really silly, but is a big deal for me. I almost always sit with my legs curled up underneath me, for goodness sake I sleep cross-legged sometimes.

All of this boiled down to the fact that I needed a new desk, and I wanted it to be awesome. Somewhere that I would look forward to sitting down, somewhere that would encourage my creativity not kill it. I went through several options, with two front runners. 1) Source a door/slab of wood (much easier for me than most as my Dad is a builder) and purchase some trestle legs from Ikea and go for the stripped back industrial look which would work splendidly as a counter point in my room (This idea was much encouraged by style conscious lady Jess of We Are). Or 2) Buy an old kitchen table off eBay and go for the rustic farmhouse kitchen look.

I actively searched for both options, but couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. The game changer was when I went to my local Vinnies. I found this kind of dodgy but incredible Queen Anne style desk. Definitely a cheap knock off of some antique, it was just sitting there all scratched with broken drawers waiting for me to adopt it. $45 and one ute ride later, it was all mine!

First thing I did was sand back the scratched varnish. I figured out at this point that it was a mix of decent wood, shit wood and veneer. Because of this, I was careful not to sand to much because I still wanted a smooth surface to work with. This took the longest time out of anything. I did the top with an electric sander (Thanks Dad!), but because of the angles I had to do most of it by hand with a sanding block.

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Then I applied a primer ( I used Taubmans Easy Coat Prep) so that if I had missed any spots of varnish during the sanding process the paint would still stick there. I also found that the wood soaked up the primer something chronic. I worked out later that I used roughly twice as much primer than paint to cover the same surface area.

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Once this was dry, I did a light sand to get rid of any little nobbly bits and the bigger streak marks, bought myself a roller and a small paint brush and attacked it with the white. I used Taubmans again, and picked a slight off-white. I didn’t want cream, but to have just straight white would have looked artificial and weird. After two coats, I was pretty impressed. My original intention was to sand the paint back again and create a distressed affect. But I liked the solid colour so much I decided to leave it.

Now for the fun part! I introduced colour. The colour choice was a hot topic. My original thought was a seafoam green/blue, but as my room has one bright turquoise feature wall I moved away from it. It was then going to be hot pink, but I thought that while it would look amaze, I would probably grown out of it/get sick of it in a year or two. So I settled on yellow. Happy, buttery, sunshine yellow. I have been in love with yellow for a while now, using it in quite a lot of my design work. But I haven’t found a more permanent way of having it in my life until now. I can’t wear yellow because of my complexion, so this seemed like an excellent way of having some happy colour in my daily life.

I did the inside of the drawers as a surprise colour pop, and then thought it looked a bit lonely, and decided to also paint the indent detail around the bottom edge. This was the point that my sister and best friend decided to help (nobody was interested in being involved when it was all boring sanding and white!). We finished and decided it was still missing something and so added yellow to the bottom section of each leg. And still it looked unfinished, so we taped it up again and added more yellow to one of the routed edges of the top. And finally were happy that it looked balanced and complete.

I am so happy with the result. It makes me smile every time I look at it, and has the added bonus of being much wider than my other desk so it is the perfect place for drawing and other crafty/arty pursuits.

The only thing is that now I have to do the chair to match! Stay tuned for the final duo.

Make Something Today

I am an insomniac. I have been as long as I can remember, and 7 years of hospitality work have not helped the situation. Generally this is a bad thing – I lie in bed for hours on end trying to trick my mind into switching off. Occasionally though, being awake into the wee hours of the morning yields rewards.

I worked an 11hour shift a couple of Saturdays ago, after only getting two hours sleep the night before. By the time I got home, I was so overtired I couldn’t actually sleep. I am being particularly pro-active with my general creativity recently, so when I saw this image which is making the Tumblr rounds at the moment I connected with it.

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In my sleep deprived state, I decided to replicate the typography on my wardrobe in chalk. I placed it so that it was the first thing I would see as I was getting out of bed in the morning. Subliminal messaging anyone?

Luckily enough, my birthday was a couple of weeks ago and one of the pressies I received was this mini chalk board and chalk from my delightful sister.

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I love when a creative plan comes together.

Sweet Type

One of my besties Jess (a very talented lady in many ways) has a special kind of magic when it comes to baking. I can bake, and bake well, but I’ve got nothing on her. She is the one in our friend circle who is relied upon for birthday cakes/brownies/scones/general-deliciousness, and every time manages to produce drool inducing treats.

A little while ago while trawling the internet, she came across Miss Anna Garforth. More specifically, Garforth’s Edible Poster project which you can see below. Baked letters! Baked words! She got very over-excited and sent me the link. I in turn got very over-excited and we have been planning on trying it ever since.

With our powers combined (Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! Sorry, couldn’t help the Captain Planet interlude) we attacked the project with gusto. Jess made the dough, I created the graphics and away we went.

Jess decided that we should make sugar cookie letters because a) sugar cookies are delicious, and b) the dough wouldn’t spread as it baked. Below is the recipe we used, but there are alternatives all over the internet.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
225g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Icing sugar, for rolling out dough

Method

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color.

3. Add egg and milk and beat to combine.

4. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.

5. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.

7. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with icing sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with icing sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Once the dough is malleable, roll it out on a sheet of baking paper.

8. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.

9. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.

The two hours while the  dough is in the fridge are the perfect time to create your graphic. Because we had never made these cookies before, I didn’t know how delicate I could be. I created two forms, one big bold one spelling out ‘SUGAR’, and one more delicate in cursive spelling ‘eat me’.

I created both arrangements by hand, scanned them and then enlarged them using photoshop. When I thought they were big enough, I printed them and cut each individual letter out with a scalpel. With the rolled out dough (on it’s sheet of baking paper) on top of a cutting board to protect the kitchen bench, I placed the paper letter forms on top of the dough, and cut around them with the scalpel. I had to work quite fast because the dough softens quickly, becoming harder and harder to work. When the dough became too soft to work, we chucked the whole lot back in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden and then continued. Taking away the excess dough as I went, I neatened up the edges and popped our creations in the oven.

10 minutes later and voila! Edible words! I’m really happy with how they turned out, particularly the ‘eat me’. Now that we know the material, we want to push it next time and do a big elaborate piece with flourishes and fancy bits.

For more random and amazing internet finds from Jess, check out her tumblr. For some lifestyle yumminess by Jess (and our other best friend Ness) check out We Are… (incidentally, all of the We Are… graphics are my creations). And for some more drool-worthy treats, take a gander at Jess and her sister’s baking blog, Get Stuffed with Miss Muffins.

And simply because it’s been stuck in my head since I made the joke and it’s flipping legendary, here is the Captain Planet song.