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New Website – SianShrimpton.co.uk

This blog and website have now moved over to sianshrimpton.co.uk. It should redirect automatically but if it doesn’t, please go on over to www.sianshrimpton.co.uk to keep up to date with all of my new work and products. Be sure to update your Blog Reader to the new URL too.


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Graduation Card Design

With the end of term fast approaching for most schools and students moving into a new academic year or even a new school, I was asked to design a set of graduation cards for a group of preschool children who were leaving for primary school. I had great fun creating this fun and cute card design.

I started by thinking of all the school and stationery related things that these children will be using and started by drawing then all. I wanted the background to almost look like a chalkboard and the illustrations to look like they’d been drawn in chalk.

I enjoyed adding in smiley faces on the pencils and the addition of hand drawn text in the centre made be a really fun greeting card. Inside the card was the word “Congratulations!” in crayon looking text and space for my client to write a message to her students.

If you’d like a custom greeting card design, please get in touch.

Thank You Card Design

I was asked to design a set of Thank you cards for my client to give to a group of people, who generously donated prizes for a raffle. The client wanted something simple and had loved some of the designs in my Etsy Shop so wanted something similar for these cards. So I got to work straight away, trying a few different lettering styles and this is the design that was chosen.

If you’d like a custom greeting card design, please get in touch.

Introducing my new Love & Lilah store

I’m pleased to introduce to you my wedding store on Love & Lilah.

Love & Lilah is an online wedding store that brings together a fabulous range of British wedding suppliers under one virtual roof and I was so pleased to be approached by them a couple of months ago.

I am so excited to be selling on a dedicated Wedding website, especially for British suppliers. At the moment you’ll be able to order from all seven House Collections on the site, which all include free postage & packaging.

Please go on over and have a little look and let me know what you think. I hope to be adding more products in the near future including Save the Dates and on-the-day Wedding stationery.

April & May: Wedding Stationery, Afternoon Tea & Our Anniversary

Well, I haven’t exactly stuck to my weekly blog plan. Life gets busy and the blog seems to be the first thing to suffer, sorry blog! Onwards and upwards I suppose! And because I’ve been totally neglectful, I’ll update you on the last 2 months in one post.

Wedding Stationery

Work wise, April and May have been so full of me working on the new Wedding Stationery Collections. When I think back to 2 months ago, I had been struggling with these designs, all the self-doubt was going through my mind. I worried they’d never be good enough, worried no-one would like them and the other half of me just wanted them done and out in the world already. Then after struggling for a while, I decided to keep it simple and get it done.

They slowly but surely started to come together. I wrote a rough timing plan for myself and after worrying that everything was taking too long, I managed to launch the new designs ahead of schedule.

More importantly, though I am over the moon with how these have turned out. I’m in love with every one of these Stationery Collections. There are seven new Collections, all named after some of my best friends and family. Each collection features day/evening invites, details sheets, RSVP cards, envelope liners and belly bands. Each can be completely customised to your colour scheme and wording. You can even mix and match between Collections to make it completely personal to you and your partner if that’s something you’d like to do. They are all available in my Etsy Shop or get in contact and I’d be happy to discuss your requirements.

I can also create something completely customised if you have an idea for something a little different.

Photography & Lightroom

When you run an online shop, the photography can be the difference between making a success or failure of a product. When you’re someone like me, who has had a DSLR for less than a year, doesn’t exactly know how it all works and got completely lost in the photography class she took more than 10 years ago, it can be a bit of a struggle to take great photos.

However, over the last few months, I have learned a lot about photography. I still have to face a lot of trial and error before getting it right but I learn something new and hope I get better at it each time. I’ve also found the great place to take photos in our home, I thought that by the window in my studio was great but found that by the window in our bedroom was even better!

Over the last few weeks, I have started to use Adobe Lightroom, an app that I thought was either made up or inaccessible to me, but it has changed my life! I used Lightroom to edit all of my photos before doing a bit of refining in Photoshop and after having a mostly turbulent relationship with Photoshop in the past, Lightroom seems to speak my language. However, photoshop and I are starting to understand each other a bit more recently too.

Beauty & the Beast Afternoon Tea

Little Sidenote: Whilst writing this post, I had been having a bit of a crisis about what I wanted to share on this blog. As I was so far behind with these little updates, was it worth sharing what I did in April when it’s almost June? Do I really want to document my life online for all to see? But then I’ve been so excited to share this that I decided to share anyway. I almost shared it as a separate post but it’s here instead.

Back in February, around my birthday, I saw an advert online for a Beauty & the Beast themed afternoon tea and spent one Sunday afternoon trying to book a table for my Mum, Sister and myself to go. Beauty & the Beast is my absolute favourite Disney film, and this would have made my life!

It was booked up so quickly however for the original dates and the site kept crashing. I didn’t want to give up, however, so I tweeted the hotel asking if it was in fact fully booked which it was but they later messaged me privately to say they’d added more dates! So it was a race against time to book a table before they were sold out again and I got it! I was so happy! I likened it to getting tickets for a super popular gig or festival (something that I’ve never even tried!)

When the day came around at the end of April, I was so excited! I have, what I call, a Beauty and the Beast dress. It is navy with a pink floral pattern, so I wore that and we went excitedly on our way.

The Kensington Hotel, where is was held, was beautiful! Even though I had dressed up, it felt much too posh for me! The staff were lovely too, it had the feel of a very special day and the fact that I shared it with my Mum and Sister made it even more special.

We started with a glass of Champagne and our starters, which were based on the “Be our guest” song. Beef Ragu, Cheese Souffle and a venison pie, all bite-sized treats that I could have eaten a lot more of. Then came the tea, I had earl grey, of course. There were mini brioche baguettes instead of scones, because of the line in the film “Marie, the baguettes, hurry up!” These came with an Apricot Jam and a chocolate pot. There were the usual mini sandwiches then the small puddings were the best part. “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious” was served in a Chip cup and was a white chocolate mouse with a grey coloured white chocolate topping. Cogsworth’s face was a chocolate and shortbread biscuit with a few marzipan details. There was a clear jelly and edible rose petal, served in an upside-down glass, so it looked like the cloche over the rose. The waiter poured cream from Mrs Potts into the top of this glass. There was also a coconut and chocolate macaron to look like the snowballs that they throw in the film. We were then given a gingerbread biscuit covered in marzipan to look like Belle’s dress, I took this home to enjoy the next day.

It was so well thought out and put together and really was a special day with my family. It was like all my childhood dreams in one.

The Beauty & the Beast Afternoon Tea is currently sold out until the end of November but you can sign up for updates on the Kensington Hotel website.

Our Wedding Anniversary & Centre Parcs

The 7th May saw our first Wedding Anniversary. I really can’t believe how quickly that year has gone! They say that the first year is the most difficult but the marriage part of our lives has been so easy. I’m not sure whether Rob will say the same, having to deal with me every day!

We celebrated with a nice dinner and night’s stay at the same hotel where we had our Wedding Reception. It was so lovely, the weather was similar to our day last year, the bluebells were out again and it was nice to reminisce about the lovely memories together.

We then made our way to Centre Parcs in Elveden Forest straight from the hotel. It was especially for my Sister-in-law’s 30th Birthday. I had never been to a Centre Parcs before, so wasn’t sure what to expect. I think it exceeded my expectations though. I loved being in the middle of nowhere, the number of trees, deer, ducks, birds and squirrels.

I also loved riding a bike everywhere, I get nervous on a bike usually but as there were very few cars around, I could ride without feeling anxious. We swam (well, went down a few slides and round the wild rapids!) went on a Katakanu, spent time in our hot tub, played adventure golf, played lawn bowls, went ten pin bowling, had a toast to our anniversary with Champagne from our Wedding and spent a day at the spa. It was a great holiday, I just wish it was a little bit longer (isn’t that always the case?). It was quite an active holiday for me, I took my sketchbook and paints with me but didn’t have two minutes to even open them. That might have been a good thing in hindsight, I returned from that holiday ready to hit the ground running with my work.

Other little things over the last couple of months have included a hair cut, planting a fuschia called “Shrimp Cocktail” for our anniversary, visiting the Ashridge Estate and taking more photos of Bluebells, lots of work on a little website refresh (coming soon!) and seeing Lion King at the Theatre.

Wedding Stationery: The Rhiannon Collection

To celebrate the launch of my new Wedding Stationery Collections, I thought I’d write about each collection so that you can get a bit of background about each design and find out all about each one.

The Rhiannon Collection is a good place to start. I don’t like to have favourites but I feel like the Rhiannon Collection is the closest to my heart. It is named after my Sister for a start and is loosely based on our own Wedding Stationery.

In the year since I designed our Wedding Stationery, my illustration and lettering style has improved through practice and so I thought I’d redesign our Wedding Invitations to reflect that and offer them out to you. The lettering is on a straighter line and the floral illustrations are more complex than on our own Wedding Stationery. I’ve also introduced envelope liners and a floral pattern on the back of the Invitations. I’ve used my favourite colour scheme on these samples, although the colours can be completely customised to your colour scheme. I almost wish we were doing it all again so that I could use these invites myself!

My favourite part of these invites is the custom lettering. Your names will be drawn from scratch if you opt for this collection, they’ll be in a similar style to that in the photos but will be completely unique to you and your partner! The coordinating Save the Dates have the same style of hand lettering. Save the Dates are available here. 

This Collection features a 5×7” Day/Evening Invitation and an A5 details sheet. The front of the Day/Evening Invite has space for your names and all the most important information like time, date, location. The back of each invite features a floral pattern, which can also be completely customised to your colour scheme. The details sheet is a great place for addresses, accommodation, dress code, gift lists and any other information that you think your guests will find useful.

The difference in size means that the details sheet can be seen behind the invite when they’re put together in the envelope. If you love the design of these invites but would like a different size, I will happily discuss this with you and create them in a different size. Day/Evening Invitations and detail sheets are available here. 

To make it quick and simple for your guests to reply to you, RSVP cards can be added to your order. These will be customised to your colour scheme so that everything is coordinated. RSVP Cards are available here. 

This Collection also features belly bands or twine to tie everything together and keep it together in the envelope and so that your guests can keep all vital information together. Belly Bands are available here and Bakers Twine is available here.

If you want to add a bit of luxury to your Wedding Stationery, you can opt for envelope liners, which have a coordinating floral pattern, like the rest of the collection they can be completely customised to your colour scheme. Envelope Liners are available here. 

The ordering process

– You can either order these through Etsy or contact me directly with your requirements. I’m afraid there is a minimum order of 25 sets of invitations.

– I will ask for a few details so that I can get to work on your Invites straight away, this will include things like your names, date, wording, your colour scheme, quantities and your address for delivery.

– Your first proofs will be sent to you within 5 working days after I receive all relevant information and payments. These proofs will be sent through Etsy conversations. Two rounds of revisions are included if you need to make any changes to wording or colours.

– Once the final proof has been approved by you, no more changes can be made and your Wedding Invitations will be sent to a local printer in London. The printing process takes approximately a week.

– I will ship your Wedding Invitations out to you once I have received them from the printers and have checked them for quality. Your invites and details sheets will be collated in their envelopes, all you will need to do is secure the envelope, write the addresses and apply postage.

If you’d like to see all the new collections, they are now available in my Etsy Shop. You can also contact me directly at hello[at]sianlouise[dot]co[dot]uk if you’re interested in having me design your Wedding Stationery or if you have any questions about them.

To read more about my Wedding Design services, take a look at my Wedding page. 

Dollhouse progress

I previously wrote about my dollhouse on the blog before all of my previous posts went into the abyss, never to be seen again! So if you didn’t catch that, I’ll update you.

My Mum’s friend built a Dollhouse as a Wedding present for us (read: for me! Although it is probably intended to keep be busy whilst any football is on, so Rob is grateful for it too!) It was made completely from scratch apart from little details like the window frames and the door. We were so impressed by it when we returned from Honeymoon to find it had been delivered by two secret squirrels.

Here are a couple of photos from before I did any work on it: (Please note that I had only had my big camera for a couple of days here and no amount of photoshop has made up for my not knowing which setting to have the camera on!)

I delayed getting started on it for a few reasons, firstly, where do you start with a dollhouse? I had no idea what to do first. Secondly, I didn’t have any tools or paints etc to get started; and thirdly, I found that you could see the roof behind the dorma windows, so I cheekily asked my Mum’s friend if he could cut two small squares in the roof before I started work on it, this was so that you could see through those windows to the top floor rooms. He was happy to do it and managed to cut out the windows during the Christmas break, then I started work on it almost straight away.

I started off by painting the outside. We had some light blue paint left-over from painting our Kitchen, so instead of buying new paint, I started with that.

I then painted all the interior walls, floors and ceilings in the white paint that we painted our kitchen ceiling with. The inside was only roughly painted so I thought that painting it again would create a blank canvas to work with. I also like the fresh white look of interiors, so might leave some of the walls white. Here are some in-progress photos where I had painted the blue exterior and started on the white details. You can see that I painted white triangles above the squares for the windows in the roof, this is because you would be able to see that space when peeking through the window and I wanted it to look finished behind there, not just the plain wood.

I bought a small tester pot of charcoal grey paint for the window frames, door and chimneys. I considered painting the roof tiles grey originally but am undecided now that I’ve tiled the roof, what do you think?

Here is a close up of the door, I still have a few details to add to the door, including deciding which number it should be. I’m thinking Number 7 for 7th May, which is our anniversary.

Just after Christmas, in a little dollhouse related shopping spree, I bought some cute wooden tiles and took some time to build up the courage to work on the roof over the last few weeks or so. Working on the roof was a lesson learned the hard way. I’m usually someone who reads instructions and follows them to the letter. The instructions said to use hot glue for the roof tiles, I didn’t have a hot glue gun but they’re made out of wood, so wood glue should work, right? …wrong! I spent a couple of hours battling with the wood glue and clothes pegs and holding each tile down for ten minutes each whilst it dried, then another ten minutes later found that each tile had warped! I stuck at it trying to make it work for a few hours before insisting on a road trip to Homebase for a glue gun. My gosh did that make a difference?

Most of the first half of the roof was done over the following few hours. The most difficult part was cutting each tile to fit around things like the chimneys and dorma windows. I quite enjoyed it once I had the right tools! I’ve also added a small magnet so that the whole thing stays closed now.

So that’s where I have got to so far. The dollhouse has six rooms and I plan on creating a living room, kitchen, bedroom, art studio, man cave (although I’m undecided about this one, it’s mostly because I want a miniature pool table but might think of something else for that room!) and a beauty and the beast style library (which I’m so excited about!). I’ve already bought a few bits and pieces for each room but will finish the exterior decor first before starting on each room.

I really love that this dollhouse is something arty/crafty for me to work on in my spare time. If you know me at all you’ll know that I love anything creative. I’ve wanted a dollhouse for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I don’t think I realised that the making/decorating of it was half the fun, so it’s probably exactly the right time to be working on it now. I wouldn’t have had the patience before either. I’m sure if I owned a dollhouse when I was about 9, I’d expect it to be some sort of magic house for Borrowers or the Indian in the Cupboard! (I loved that film!)

I love that it is such a slow process too, everything else seems to be needed yesterday in today’s world and I really appreciate anything that encourages life to slow down for a couple of hours and will be exactly as I left it when I go back to it after a break.

March: Meet the Maker, creative block and herbs

Yay! I’m finally getting to grips with this whole blogging regularly thing! Here is what March looked like for me.

March meet the maker

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been taking part in March Meet the Maker organised by Joanne Hawker. Initially, I was quite nervous about taking part because after the failure of my 100-day project, I wondered whether I’d be able to keep up. As I write this, I haven’t had to catch up more than one day at any one point throughout the month and I’ve really enjoyed taking part.

I’ve gained a few more followers on social media and have met loads more creatives and makers online, which has been great. There are so many talented creatives around!

I’ve also been developing my photography for Instagram. Content and the caption are still key, however, shooting in low light is no longer an option and ensuring I use good composition and more importantly, lots of colour have been high on my priority list.

To catch up with my March Meet the Maker posts, take a look here. 

New paints and a mother’s day card

I used to use gouache paints all the time when I was doing my foundation course (10 years ago!) but have never owned my own set and haven’t used them since. Having seen a lot of designers and illustrators using gouache in their work online, I wanted to try my hand at using them again. So I bought my own gouache introductory set in a little art supplies shopping spree a couple of weeks ago.

When they arrived soon after, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them and to get painting. First of all, I doodled quite tentatively in my sketchbook, but a few days later, I wanted to create a Mother’s Day card for my Mum, so I got to work.

Mixing the right colour was tricky – only because I didn’t mix enough paint the first time, it ran out, then I ended up having to paint the entire background again after mixing a darker shade the second time around. I also found that I needed to use a lot of white to get the pastel colours that I wanted. I’m used to just adding more water to watercolours to make them lighter (and my first watercolour set didn’t even have any white paint) so I’m sure it is something that I will get used to. I love how this Mother’s Day card turned out, though, my Mum loved it and I look forward to playing with these paints even more in the future.

Creative Block

I feel like I’m finally finding my groove for this year, however, it hasn’t been easy. At the end of last year, I felt incredibly grateful and very overwhelmed (read: shocked) at the success of the desk calendars. Throughout December, I knew that I should be working on new ideas ready for the new year but I couldn’t focus on them. I hoped to hit the ground running in January with a few Wedding Stationery ideas that I’d had but nothing I created seemed to be working.

I got into a vicious cycle of first of all thinking that I wasn’t going to make a success of it all, then not doing anything anyway, so that was a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself. I would then look at what everyone else was doing, of course, it was all better than what I was creating and even when I saw work that I thought “I could do that,” even that was better than anything I’d created. It was a horrible rut to be in.

That was until, a couple of weeks ago, one evening after I’d had an especially bad day, I found a couple of articles about creating positive thought patterns and chatted to a couple of friends and made a few decisions/realisations:

Negativity isn’t going to be my default anymore
I think that I’m quite a positive person and I am about most things. Apart from the story, I tell myself about myself. That needed to change.

I will not be led by anxiety
Almost related to above, but I’d got to the point where I’d feel anxious about not feeling anxious and try to think back to why I was feeling anxious before. It seems silly when I think about it now and anxiety is real but I seem to have taken control at the moment.

I must make an effort to get outside or do at least 20 mins of exercise every day
Fresh air, stretches, yoga, breathing, and focusing on right now is healthy and it works.

Switch off notifications!
Put the phone down, back away from Instagram and stop worrying about why you only have 10 likes and whatsername has 10,000 likes and she only posted a photo of her lunch, whereas you posted a piece of work which took hours! (not based on real people or real events but I’m sure most people can relate to this)

Change my 7 am alarm to 6:35 am
This is a small change but I am a morning person and get up a lot quicker when my alarm goes off earlier and feel better for fitting in stretches, a walk and a slow breakfast when I get up early, any later and I feel as though I must get to work almost straight away.

These new plans have already made a significant difference to my days, my work seems to be looking a lot better too, which I’m not sure if it is a coincidence or not. I’m sure my positive outlook and good habits have made some difference.

Herb growing

It’s now Spring! Yay! Spring is my favourite season, mostly because the days get lighter as the weeks roll by, also because all the new plants and flowers are waking up and popping up everywhere! In the UK, it is ever so slightly warmer, we still have grey rainy days but we can’t have everything.

Rob and I planted some herbs in a little box on our windowsill and teeny tiny shoots have started to appear. We planted basil, coriander, rosemary and thyme as they’re the herbs that we cook with the most. The coriander is the one in the photo which is going a bit wild, the others are slow and steady. So that is exciting! I look forward to eating our own herbs. We also have a chilli plant which has woken up after the winter and already looks as though it’s going to produce more chillis than last year.  

Beauty and the beast

Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney film which I was a child (it still is!), right next to Mary Poppins, I knew all of the words by heart. So when I heard that they were remaking the film I was equal parts excited and nervous that it’d be ruined forever. However, we went to see the live action remake a few days after it was released in cinemas and it did not disappoint! It was, first of all, absolutely stunning, had all the charm that I enjoyed from the animated original and included a lot more of Belle and Beast’s story that you don’t hear about in the original. I really enjoyed it and would go to see it again in a heartbeat.

Lastly, another photo from the March Meet the Maker challenge, this one was all about milestones and included designing Wedding Stationery, Penguin Calendars, setting up shop and becoming self-employed.

February: my birthday, penguins and letters

Well, that was February! Whoosh! And now we’re over half-way through March and I’m posting this late again. I’m determined to get his blogging thing down.

A lot of the start of February was spent fretting about my work, and feeling a bit creatively stuck. Although I wrote about my new website design in my last post, I did a lot of the work for it at the start of February and started to feel a lot better about my “style” when I saw it all together on my new site. Thank you for all your lovely comments on the new design.

Wedding designs & Business cards

The big plan to start designing Wedding Stationery became a lot more real in February as I was invited to a Bridal shop opening to represent myself as a Wedding Stationery designer. It was a fantastic opportunity and lovely to meet lots of other suppliers and brides. It was also the boost that I needed to speed this process of setting everything up. I’m getting there. For the shop opening, I created some promotional postcards and business cards which I was so pleased with and have had some lovely comments about them.

I’ve also been working on my new collections of Wedding Stationery, I’m aiming to have these ready in the next few months. So watch this space!

100 Days of Lettering

On 1st Feb I had the amazing (read: silly!) idea of starting a 100-day project of drawing a piece of lettering each day for 100 days! It seemed like a good idea at the time, to build up my portfolio with lettering and for a little challenge to see if I could do 100 days. It was fun at the start, then it got to about day 4 and I realised a couple of potential problems.

First of all, I have got myself into what I feel is a good process of grouping similar tasks together. For example, doing all the drawing at one time, then all the scanning or photographing in one go so that I can build up focus on that one thing and get into a flow of getting it all done. So this challenge felt like an inefficient way of working, even if the actual drawing was done quickly (it rarely was!) I’d then have to work around the natural light for photography (this probably bothered me more than it should have!) edit the photography, write a description and share as one long disjointed process of different tasks. It didn’t feel natural to me and felt unfocused.

Throughout February, I was also quite busy with client work and planning wedding stationery bits and pieces, which I felt were a priority. I’d get into doing those for the day, then the letter of the day would be on my mind and the thought of stopping what I was doing to start this inefficient process would cause me to be unfocused on what I was doing until I’d completed the letter. That time could have been used more efficiently getting more important things done. So I stopped doing the challenge at day 26 and it felt like a bit of a relief, although I really enjoyed the drawing part of the challenge. I definitely want to return to those drawings and create something out of them. My favourite was the letter F, I eventually want to create the whole alphabet in this style.

This challenge has encouraged me to focus a lot more on photography however, I’ve realised how important photography is and have been getting a lot of practice in by posting on Instagram every day for the March Meet the Maker challenge.

My Birthday

I turned 29 in February and had a really lovely day. It was a low key day but I gave myself the day off, had a slow morning to myself, my sister visited and we sung along to musical soundtracks whilst drinking tea, opening presents and catching up on life. My Mum came round for a cuppa a bit later on and I went out to dinner with Rob and his sisters.

A trip to the Zoo

As a Wedding present, my cousin had the brilliant idea of adopting two Humboldt Penguins at Marwell Zoo for us! I thought this was a brilliant idea because 1. A couple of admission tickets were included so it included a day out for us and 2. It was supporting the preservation work at the Zoo and helps towards caring for the Penguins, which are my favourite animal! I was overjoyed! My Auntie also celebrated a special birthday the day before mine and as part of it, she wanted to do something special with the people closest to her. So, we all took a trip to Marwell Zoo for the day. It was such a lovely day, I loved seeing the Penguins (obviously!) and seeing our names on the list of people who have adopted animals. I also loved watching the Meerkats, the Otters and the Giraffes. It was a really fun day spent with family.

So that was February! 2017 is already going far too quickly but I’m glad that Spring is now on its way, we have some exciting plans coming up and I’m really enjoying my work so long may it last.