Inspired by :: Michaël Cailloux

Scarf design by Michaël Cailloux

In surface pattern design I sometimes get overwhelmed by florals. So when I spot something unusual that is not a floral I tend to sit up and take notice. I stumbled across Michaël Cailloux’s work, quite by accident and was immediately intrigued. Michaël is a French designer of ‘wall jewellery’, scarves (like the one above) and painted papers. I strongly recommend you visit his site (it’s in French and English) so you can really appreciate his work.

For me, I was struck by the unusual imagery he adds to his designs; gingko leaves with fish and eels. You’ll find frogs, pelicans, parrots and beetles and my personally I love that most of his designs include flies.

Scarf design by Michaël Cailloux

They are beautifully rendered and arranged and remind me somewhat of my fascination when I was at art school of trying to spot the beetles or flies in Renaissance paintings. In northern Renaissance religious art especially the fly was sometimes included as it was thought to repel real flies and in some Christian art the fly was symbol of evil, pestilence or sin.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 12.37.17 pm

The fly is central to most of Michaël’s work as a symbol of life and death, he references 16th Century still life paintings as inspiration for his work. His graduating thesis was on the fly in 18th century art. I think that’s why his work is so appealing to me.

You can view all Michaël’s work on his website and get a glimpse of what he’s working on via twitter.

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July 12, 2015 \ inspiration \ 1 comment

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Taking stock #2

Mitten covered hands holding a coffee cup

This is only my second taking stock post but it’s such a great was to explain my silence of late. I think it’s okay to blog when you feel like it, wouldn’t you agree?

Making : My own variation of Bear’s Rainbow Quilt
Cooking : Bread with fresh yeast
Drinking : A lot of black tea
Reading: You Before Me by Jojo Moyes and Nicely Said by Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee
Wanting: This crochet kit from Wool and the Gang
Looking: For inspiration
Playing: Blendoku on my iPad
Deciding: To renovate the kitchen
Wishing: I had more time or less interests
Enjoying: The cold mornings
Waiting: For the rest of my wool to arrive
Liking: Paleo Granola sprinkled over my morning oats
Wondering: How many more plants I should buy
Loving: Swimming without a program or coach
Pondering: A new direction for my business
Considering: Building a ‘portable’ screen printing table top
Watching: Too many things on Netflix
Hoping: To finish my nephew’s quilt
Marvelling: At how quickly time passes and that we are already enrolling the jolly monkey in high school
Needing: To go and pull more weeds
Smelling: Waffles
Wearing: This cowl that I made
Following: Pip Lincolne’s wonderful blog posts
Noticing: How much my boys are growing up
Knowing: That I am more capable that I often believe
Thinking: Of taking some long service leave
Feeling: So much better now that I am sleeping
Admiring: People who stay true to their own style
Sorting: Through so many books
Buying: Too many ebooks
Getting: Ready to start a new series of ‘how to’ posts on my blog
Bookmarking: Geometric and vintage patterns
Disliking: Websites that ignore accessibility
Opening: My latest Uppercase magazine (I love that smell)
Giggling: At the conversations between my boys (‘Why don’t you talk to him instead of picking his pockets?’)
Feeling: Less fatigued
Snacking: On mandarins
Coveting: This bag from Farrago Bags (now sold but I’m sure he’d make me one)
Wishing: My husband well in his new job
Helping: A friend with a site design
Hearing: Our very noisy cat, who always thinks he’s hungry

Image via Unsplash (wonderful free stock photo library) is by Padurariu Alexandru

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June 9, 2015 \ sharing \ 0 comments - be the first


An eye for :: tribal and native prints

A collection of native an tribal inspired products

Firstly I don’t want to give offence by using the words ‘tribal’ or ‘native’ but I am seriously stuck for words when it comes to a better description. I hope you understand my meaning when I say I have had a serious eye for patterns and products inspired by native American, Aztec and African motifs and patterns. To be honest I’m not sure if I would ever use these designs in my own work but right now I am so attracted to the colour and geometry and texture.

You can find all these gorgeous products on my Patterns and Motifs Pinterest board. They are:

  1. Pendleton Rainbow Blanket (sold out) from Urban Outfitters
  2. Pattern A4 Print from Sandra Dieckmann Etsy Store
  3. Tribal Feather Art Print from A Girl and Her Brush Etsy Store
  4. Classic Friendship Bracelets – Tutorial from Purl Bee
  5. iPhone 5 case from Field Trip Etsy Store
  6. Image via E Art Ekstrax blog – read this post on Tribal Art and Culture, it’s truly wonderful
  7. Image via The Beautiful Soup
  8. 8×10 art print – Native American / Navajo Inspired – Bright, Colorful & Graphic Art Pattern Poster Print from Fancy That Design House Etsy Store
  9. Going Hunting – Black and Cornstalk – Modern Hand Printed Pillow Cover from Simka Sol Etsy Store


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June 7, 2015 \ design \ 0 comments - be the first

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Working on :: crochet

That’s not what you expected from me, is it? I’m not exactly known for my amazing crochet skills but there you have it, I’ve been crocheting like mad, although I wouldn’t call my skills amazing. After being inspired by Bear’s rainbow blanket by The Purl Bee, I’ve been working away on many squares.

Crochet blanket from Purl Bee

Did you have the same reaction as I did to this blanket? Isn’t it amazing? I was determined to make one exactly the same and so excited to see that Purl Soho had a kit to do just that – BUT – at US$780 to make exactly this one, it was waaayyy out of my price range. So I moved to plan B, at least learn how to make that square. I was really taken with the circle that becomes a square and after many, many attempts I finally nailed it. Now I’m just waiting on wool from Nundle Woollen Mill so I can make my own colourful (but perhaps not so spectacular) variation.

In the meantime I discovered this wonderful ebook from Spincushions called More Than A Granny and made all 20 squares in the book using a weird assortment of wool that I inherited from my mother. Did you know that US and UK speak a different language in crochet? Well I didn’t, so being Australian of course I bought the UK version and then had to translate it back to US, cause that’s where my learning started. My brain is getting a work out and that can only be a good thing.

Then I bought some (truly terrible) wool and made my favourites out of the book.


What do you think? Don’t look too closely as you’ll see my mistakes and these squares haven’t been ‘blocked’, which apparently will give me the opportunity to make them flatter and more square. You can see I’m very drawn to those that start out round and end up square and the one in the bottom left has a neat stitch called a ‘popcorn’, which is fun to do and makes the centre 3D.

I’ve also been knitting, but I’ll save that story (read saga) for another time. So how have you been?

This images of Bear’s Rainbow Blanket are via The Purl Bee.

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May 7, 2015 \ projects \ 1 comment

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Illustrating in Illustrator :: not for the faint hearted

Book jacket design for Uni project

This is a book jacket cover for a project I did at Uni last year that I have been wanting to share this with you for a while now. The brief was to design a piece for a fictitious media franchise, which could have been a TV show, movie, animation or graphic novel. I thought it would be fun to tackle the graphic novel. My inspiration came about as my boys’ are obsessed with manga and was watching ‘Reign’, so my graphic novel was titled ‘Queen Bee’. I set out to see what it would take to illustrate in Illustrator. Oh my! I did not know what I had set myself up for and many many times I almost gave up but I am very glad I persisted.

There were two tutorials I used to get me started. The first one was Creating a Photo Inspired Vector Artwork in Illustrator from Digital Tutors. The tutorial was great but the detail in the illustration was way more than the style I was aiming for and that’s when I found Vector Portraits for Beginners on Tuts Plus. Sharon Milne, who leads this tutorial is so good at explaining the process and I learned many great tricks along the way. I did this tutorial from beginning to end before attempting my own illustration.


STEP 1 – I started with the image on the left which is a photo of Adelaide Kane from the TV series ‘Reign’, she had a nice intense gaze that I wanted to try and reproduce but also her hand position made it look like she had something to hide and I felt I could make use of that.

STEP 2 – at first I just drew the basic shapes of my figure. The torso, hands face, head, hair and the basic outline for the eyes and mouth. This was a good way to work as these outlines are used repeatedly as you progress with the illustration, especially the eyes and mouth.

STEP 3 – I created solid shapes for the eyes and mouth. I also drew in the nose and the creases on the hands. It was also the point at which I created the line art, which entailed drawing the same shapes as the basic shapes but slightly smaller and then using the Pathfinder Minus Front tool to create a single shape. Doing it this way meant the lines are more realistic than if I had just applied a paintbrush stroke. Once this was done I use the Shape Builder tool to remove any extraneous areas and join some shapes together.


STEP 4 – I then set to work on the eyes, this included extending the shape to make them more feminine, adding the eyeball and pupil, the reflection in the eye. It also meant creating the waterline and the crease of the eyelid as well the shadow that appears over the eyeball. These were drawn using the pen tool and applying a brush stroke that I created before I began. I also added the lines and details to the lips as well as the shadow at the bottom of the lips.

STEP 5 – The final detail for the face was the eyelashes and the eyebrows. These were done with the brush tool using the brushes I had created at the beginning of the process.


STEP 6 – The next step was the hair and this was done using the brush tool of varying stroke weights. The biggest challenge here was the fact that she had some hair behind her and some over her shoulder. My solution was a very strange clipping mask that somehow seemed to work. The highlights and shadows in the hair were achieved by adjusting the opacity and blending modes over using different colours.

STEP 7 – with most of the detail there I began to block in the base colour of the skin, dress and lips. For the neck used a slightly darker shade since it was already in shadow. Having already created outlines of the lips made this easier and only a few adjustment were necessary.

STEP 8 – then I used the pen tool to trace around the dark areas of the original image and filled this will a darker skin tone. Again the neck shadows are darker than the rest.


STEP 9 – next was adding the highlights and this was also done by tracing around the original image with the pen tool. There is a slight opacity applied here as my initial attempt made the light contrast too much and it became distracting. The highlights of the neck are the same colour as the base colour of the rest of the face.

STEP 10 – I then started adding the final refinement details to the face, which included highlights and shadows on the lips as well as two shades of eyeshadow that was achieved using the feather effect. I added some pink on her cheeks to give her some colour.

STEP 11 – the last step was adding the details, bringing in the bee, creating the crown and the jewels on it as well as the subtle details in her dress.

I estimate the whole process took about 35 hours – I’m not sure I’ll do it again but I did love the final outcome.

P.S. And you know what, I’ve just realised I left her fingernails off the final image – I guess I better go and fix that.

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March 7, 2015 \ design \ 2 comments

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Any eye for :: neon


Ever since half the players at the Australian Open burst onto the court sporting energetic neon (thanks Nike), I have not been able to get neon out of my head. To be honest I thought it was something that I had safely left behind in the 80’s and until recently I remained convinced that this is where it belonged. The modern use of neon are wonderful pops of colour that literally brighten your day. My neon research did not disappoint as you can see, but tell me, are you a fan or were you like me and hoped it was a trend that would never see the light of day once we ticked over to 1990?

I’ve been collecting all my favourites on my Colour Combos Pinterest board.

My neon finds are:

  1. Wooden Salad Bowl, 7″ Set of 2, Neon Pink, Neon Yellow from Willow & Willow Home Etsy store
  2. Black cross cushion with single pink cross – source unknown, let me know if you know where it is from.
  3. Diablo wall hooks from Lightly
  4. Triple Pack Neon Dip Dye Pillar Candles — Orange, Pink & Yellow from NEONLDN Etsy Store
  5. Neon print via Total Inspiration blog
  6. Cushion cover Messy Posey design. Fluro pink design on white Linen/Cotton with yellow piping 40cmx30cm from from Aqua Door Designs Etsy Store
  7. Neon Ombre Air Plant Planter Trio with Air Plants – Neon pink, neon orange and neon yellow from Thrifted & Made Etsy Store
  8. Ampersand Screen Print – Neon Yellow from Ampersand Shop Etsy Store

  9. Unique hand made bead necklace – Fluro Pink, Orange and Yellow by ViolentKittenShop – could not find the item or the shop again!
  10. Purse / Pouch – Original Design ‘Flame Forrest’ – Neon Yellow and Neon Pink from Paravent Etsy Store
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February 12, 2015 \ design \ 0 comments - be the first


Can’t get away from: skinny fonts

Can you believe it’s been 4 months since my last real post? When you blog again after a big absence it makes me wonder what the protocol is, do I just dive back in or do I explain myself? I might just dive back in if that’s OK? I’ll save the explanation for another post.

I’m not going to call skinny fonts my current obsession but I am seeing them everywhere and I mean everywhere. Is it just me or have you noticed too? I had originally thought they were reserved for travel sites and quotes but when they started turning up on girls pyjamas at Target, the bus shelter advertising company’s van and inside the lift at Hotel Hotel then I think the reach is greater than I thought. To be honest I like the look of skinny fonts but I have never successfully made use of them.

I’ve put together this selection and hope it inspires me.


All my skinny font treasures can be found on my Typography Board over at Pinterest, and they are:

  1. Skinny Marker a free typeface by Daniel Samama via Behance
  2. Mountain Retreat a free typeface by Andrew Clark via VectorHQ
  3. I want to travel the world – inspiration poster (the link is broken)
  4. The Skinny free font from
  5. DHD Cool Skinny a paid from by Konrad Bednarski via Behance
  6. Skinny Walrus a paid font mur via My Fonts
  7. Nice use of a skinny font on the Fit Fabulous Foodie eBook via ajd creative
  8. Skinny Vanilla Latte free font by Food on the Wall via
  9. Skinny Chips handmade paid font by ankepanke via Creative Market
  10. Adventure Awaits inspiration poster – the original link doesn’t seem to go anywhere!


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January 5, 2015 \ design, fonts \ 0 comments - be the first

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