My partner, Elly Hadaway, is a folk musician, and I’ve just helped them record, produce, and release a single. You can buy digital or physical copies at Bandcamp, and I’ll talk a bit about the design aspects after the jump.
I & some friends recently spent a weekend acting some classic murder mysteries for our own entertainment. For various reasons, we needed to produce scripts for them – private use only, so this isn’t a copyright issue – and it would have been a shame not to do our own cover designs with original artwork. This is mine, for Dorothy L Sayers’ Gaudy Night (the radio version, adapted by Mary Cutler) and I wanted to share it. (Mine bar the face sketch; that was done by my partner, because I’m truly appalling at faces.)
The text is my own handwriting; the brick wall is local London Stock, a few doors down from me; the dress pattern & book cover were taken from Lost & Taken; everything else is done in acrylics & assembled in Inkscape.
Since a lot of you won’t be familiar with the empty shops movement, here’s a short executive summary. There are a lot of disused commercial & retail spaces in the UK, and that’s only set to increase. There are also a great many creative people who don’t have, and can’t get, the capital & guaranteed income stream to make use of them at market rents. (Not to mention: the requirement for that sort of income stream rules out a lot of really good & innovative uses for these sites which just wouldn’t generate enough to pay a market rent, business rates, and running costs.) There are some legal & organisational tools which remove a lot of the barriers, both for landlords and for tenants.
The day opened, of course, with a bit of coffee & networking. As Eva said, artists hate that word but can’t stop doing it. When you reframe it as just chatting to each other about your practice & experiences, swapping useful contacts & tips for getting things done, artists look at you oddly and start wondering whether there are really people who don’t do that instinctively.
This is a sign I made for craft fairs—it’s a nice heavy block of reclaimed hardwood, thick enough to stand up on its own, and it proved very eye-catching indeed. Commercial laser-cutting is very expensive (I’ve been quoted £1 a minute) but London Hackspace own their own laser-cutter, and £3 an hour covers maintenance, electricity, and replacement laser tubes. I shaped the wooden block by hand, squaring it off with a chisel and smoothing it with a knife & sandpaper. The text is all digital; the font is True Golden from Scriptorium Fontworks, based on William Morris’s Golden Type, while the E is done in Roughwork, reverse engineered from True Golden capitals to show construction lines. Since I’m a big William Morris fan, these are perfect for my purposes… and if only True Golden had proper double-quotes, it would be wonderful overall, but the left double quote is backwards. (This doesn’t match Kelmscott Press originals; I went to check specially. It’s entirely inexplicable.) I did all the designs in Inkscape (free open source vector graphics programme, much recommended) and from there they load straight into the computer which controls the laser cutter.
I’ve been making jewellery blanks with a scalpel so far, but that means I can’t do curves or complex shapes with small cutouts reliably. The laser cutter, on the other hand, can cut anything it likes quickly and precisely. These shapes are done in MDF, which lacks the romance of paper but was sitting right there in the offcut bin. Since the offcut bin also had a nice chunk of 10mm perspex in, I decided to try re-running a couple of the text designs on that for comparison. As you can see, they all turned out perfectly readable, though with the perspex of course it depends on the light and the viewing angle. I’m looking forward to experimenting with painting all these blanks—part of the reason for this experiment was to see if I could engrave text that would still be legible once painted. Given the shallowness of the engraving (sort of necessary on this scale, if I wasn’t to set the whole thing on fire) I’m a little dubious, but we can see.
Sounds like a silly idea, but it’s actually a really good material—tough, lightweight, and durable. That black & silver choker is made from Fabriano Tiziano pastel paper, folded & laminated, and then very thoroughly varnished. It ends up very like thin leather, but it’s entirely vegan. (Not all papers are; most art paper uses animal gelatin for sizing. Fabriano use acrylic sizing, though.)
I’d made a couple of these already, without having had the time, or a model, to show them off properly, but these two were done (and put into my intermittent prototype giveaway bonanza) as an experiment to see whether I could attach a D-ring to the underside in a secure and decorative fashion. The answer, it turns out, is “yes”—the knot at the back isn’t going to be proof against a hard tug, if any of my customers were prone to do such things, but even if I’d put a buckle in the D-ring and strap would still be quite strong enough.
I’ve also been making more of these pendants—they’re artist’s mountboard with a ribbon loop, very light (barely a gram each) and rather tough. The design is Roberson liquid metal ink, done with a No. 6 italic nib.
Linocut, roughly 200mm square, posted in my Etsy shop.
This was inspired by a conversation with a friend about druidry, and remembering the mountains of Snowdonia where I grew up. It wasn’t originally intended to be a night scene, and it’s turned out a lot smoother and more Art Nouveau than I’d intended – I want to revisit the sketch with another block, probably in relief next time rather than incised, and see if I can get something closer to my original vision.
I don’t normally make separate design sketches – I usually do my designing straight onto the block – but since I did this time, here it is. I copied it freehand onto the lino, since the original sketch had slightly the wrong proportions for the block I had handy.
This evening, Liz showed me this article about the redesign of the internal communications in Friends House, and for the Quakers generally – helping them speak with one image, one voice, one visual vocabulary. Not only is it a really nice style, but the agency – Hoop Associates – went about it very sensitively and respectfully, and it evokes the Quakers I’ve known very powerfully. This dove, for instance – my grandmother Meg used to make beautiful patchwork projects.
And the font used in this poster –
– that’s perfect. Sturdy, reliable, unpretentious, balanced, very readable. (I remember babbling in a Meeting once about the combination of light and water, too. But then I’m obsessed with rainbows.)