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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.

Meet the Maker Week – Day 4

This week I’m joining in with #MeetTheMakerWeek organised by @joannehawker and if I were to take an “in action” video right now, you’d see me sipping on lemsip, wrapped up in a blanket, working on a boring spreadsheet. So thankfully, I took this video a few days ago when I was painting away with Gilmore Girls on in the background.

Meet the Maker Week – Day 1

meetthemakerweek_1

This week I’m joining in with #MeetTheMakerWeek organised by @joannehawker . So here goes, my name is Sian Shrimpton, I’m based in Hertfordshire and this is what I do.

I first opened my Etsy shop in 2010, just after graduating with a degree in Graphic Design. I would create hand painted notecards and stationery for family and friends. I had to stop selling because I found that I didn’t have the time with a full time job and a long commute.

I didn’t stop drawing however and I quickly filled many a sketchbook with ideas, drawings and a few penguins for good measure. Fast forward to 2016 and I have decided to take the leap and open my Etsy shop with all new products and working freelance as a designer and illustrator. Currently, I’m selling little desk Calendars and Greeting Cards (Greeting cards will be back in stock this afternoon).

My work is inspired by bright colours and bold lines. I have a passion for hand drawn lettering, paint and illustration. I put a lot of love into everything that I do and I enjoy every second of it, I hope that my work can put a smile on your face as much as it has mine.

Etsy Shop now open!

If you follow me elsewhere on the internet, you’ll know that back at the beginning of October, I made the leap to open my Etsy Shop again. I’ve started small, and have designed two really cute desk calendars. One features penguin in all sorts of cute situations and the other is a more minimal, typographic design. Each of them sit on a little wooden easel and are a perfect addition to your desk or office, with Christmas just over a month away, they’d made an ideal stocking filler.

Alongside the Calendars, I’ve added some Christmas cards and notecards that I had left over from previous attempts at an Etsy Shop, they are reduced for now to make space for new products in the new year. Plus, you can get 10% off on orders over £10 by using the code SALE10 until the 31 December 2016!

I am so proud of these and they have been quite successful so far, in my opinion anyway. I’ve had a few attempts at running an Etsy Shop in the past and I’ve sold four times more over the last couple of months than I ever did in the previous 6 years.

sianlouise_etsyshop

penguin_desk_calendar_1

penguin_desk_calendar_2

minimal_desk_calendar_3

Hello again

Hello again! This is a very unexpected post because you may have noticed that all of my previous blog posts have been deleted. I started this blog back in 2008, whilst still at Uni, so that is 8 years worth of rambling from me, all gone!

It all happened when I was trying to update WordPress and suddenly my screen went blank, I couldn’t log in to the dashboard, I couldn’t even see my website, just “Computer says no!” I had downloaded a “back-up” plugin previously and thought it had been doing it’s job, but no! To be honest I was tired, so I left it overnight, still the next morning I couldn’t find a way of getting it back. To cut a long, quite complicated, story short, I decided/was forced to just start again, I had tried and failed long enough to get all of my posts back. So here I am, fresh and new!

I’m glad in a way that I have this chance to start afresh, I had been considering it for a while but without deleting all the old posts. Over the eight years of having this (the old?) blog, I had learnt as I’d gone along and all of the old posts were in a mess, with broken links, small images, low quality images, a million categories which were unused, some questionable spelling and grammar, the lot! So I’m glad I have this chance to start again. I’m a very nostalgic person so I’m sad that I don’t get to look back on old posts because it became like a diary for me but a lot of the special posts were drafted elsewhere first so all is not lost!

So Hello! I’m glad you’ve found me. If you’re new here, Hello and Welcome! My name is Sian and I’m a Designer and Illustrator. Here I will share my work, some work in progress, a few sneaky peeks into my sketchbooks and moments from my everyday life. I hope to share my progress as I work on opening my Etsy shop in the near future.