Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Funky Fish Fabric!

I've been watching the Great British Sewing Bee and it has inspired me to do a bit of sewing again! 

Look at this great fabric I bought:

It's really a quilting fabric, but I'm going to use it to make a dress to wear for school visits. I've got a few fishy dresses that I wear, but this material is the best I've found. There are lots of funny faces, but I think this little orange guy is my favorite!

I'm not sure on the style yet, but maybe something a bit vintage-y would look nice. It's just a shame I won't be able to make it in time for World Book Day on Thursday, but it will be a fun project for next week.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Smiley Shark in Korean!

Look what arrived this morning! Several other languages came too, but this was the most exciting  because the Korean language looks so different and amazing. They've even translated my name into Korean, which I'm quite happy about. I always wondered what it would look like!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

I finished my chair!

I just finished my little project, re-upholstering the knackered office chair I got a couple of weeks ago. I had planned to cover it in stripey fabric, but in the end I decided on plain after I realised I wouldn't be able to match up the stripes on the front and back of the backrest because of the curve.

The material is a heavy duty wool upholstery fabric that I found on ebay. The colour is called 'pumpkin', and I was hoping it would be a slightly brighter orange, but now it's covered I think it looks quite 1970's and kind of suits the chair.

More importantly, it's really comfortable to sit on, and doesn't lower itself down with a jolt at the worst possible moment like my crappy old Ikea chair did.

Here's a 'before' picture:

You can probably see that the arms are a bit wonky, this was just down to the way it was bolted together, one of the bolts was in the wrong place, and needed an extra washer. So I took it all apart, replaced the foam, then covered it in new fabric.

I took lots of photos of the process, let me know in the comments if you would like to see how I did it step-by-step!

Redlands School Mural III

Just a quick update on the mural I'm doing for Redlands School: I haven't had a huge amount of time in the last couple of weeks to work on it, the weather has been a bit more autumnal, and I can't really paint in the rain. Also I went to visit Drapers-Mills school in Margate last week, to talk to the kids about my books. It was a fantastic trip, the children were lovely - but I've had a lot of catching up to do, what with trying to move my studio etc...

You can see faint chalk outlines where I am going to add in more little fish and details, there will be more of these appearing soon as I finish the main creatures and move on to the finer details.

I added in some more pink and purples, and started on the greens, I think the greens really add a lot more depth. I am pleased with how it looks so far, it is just a bit frustrating when I want to crack on but the weather has other ideas!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Smiley Shark and The Great Big Hiccup in Finnish...

Here's another co-edition copy of my newest book, this time in Finnish. Or at least I think it is in Finnish, it's not always easy to tell. If I'm wrong maybe you could let me know!

As some of you know, I'm currently in the process of moving my studio from one room to another, I'm going to have a dedicated bookcase to house all these foreign editions of my books. It would be good to keep track of how many languages my books have been translated into, at last count I think it was about 25.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Redlands School Mural II

As promised, some updated photos of the mural I am doing for Redlands School Nursery:

I finished Smiley Shark, I need to do a little finishing work on the jellyfish, crab and starfish, but they're almost done! I really like how the bubbles have turned out, I think I'll add a load more towards the end when I can see how much space is left.

I still need to add in lots of little creatures to make it really fun. My favourite part is adding silly expressions to the incidental characters in my books, and I don't see any reason why a mural should be any different.

Some of the older kids peeped over the fence today, and asked me if I was going to add Fidgety Fish, so I'm going to pop him in next to the angelfish. I need to fill in some of the space on the sand, too, maybe with some more rocks and shells. Next time I'll be adding more greens and blues which will give it more depth. I try and stick to using a few colours at a time when I'm painting, it means I can keep the colours cleaner, and I don't have to keep going inside and washing my palette and brushes too often. It takes a bit of self-discipline though, because it looks better every time I add a new colour, so it's tempting to use them all at once!

I'm really pleased with how bright and colourful it is looking so far, it makes such a difference to the whole playground.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Brazilian Books

Every now and then I get a package from my publisher, Little Tiger Press, with copies of a new overseas edition, and yesterday these two arrived:

This one's a Brazilian translated edition of the first book I ever wrote, Fidgety Fish. It's great to see that it's still popular all these years later.

I originally wrote it when my oldest son, Mortimer, was a little baby, and now he's a great big nearly-fifteen year old! It's lovely to think that children all around the world are enjoying my stories -or at least I hope they are enjoying them!

This is also a Brazilian co-edition of my most recent book, Smiley Shark and The Great Big Hiccup. Craig, our lodger who's from Brazil was mightily impressed that I've finally had my books translated into his native language.

He said it was interesting because they don't really have an onomatopoeic word for hiccups, so they've just left it the same as in the English version. Maybe the word 'Hic' will catch on!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A New (very old) Chair...

Well here she is, poor old thing! It may not look like much of a good buy, but I reckon with a lot of tlc it will look as good as new, or perhaps better. I think it was an absolute bargain! It is signed "Labofa", which is a Danish company. According to their website they started producing office chairs in 1955, and still do to this day. I'm not sure how old this one is, but at a guess I'd say 60s or 70s. The upholstery's pretty knackered, but everything else is in good working order. I love the wheely bits, they remind me of little feet!

Today I bought some new foam for the seat and back, and dug through my extensive fabric stash looking for suitable upholstery fabrics. And according to everyone I have asked, (admittedly only my immediate family) the fabric I have chosen is completely unsuitable. Not in weight, durability, or texture, but because it has stripes.

Still what do they know? It's my chair, and I'll cover it in whatever I like.

Now where's that socket set....

My New Studio...

We're currently doing a whole lot of work on our house, and out of the dust and piles of tools and bits of wood things are finally beginning to take shape! This room was our old Family Room, and is now going to be my new art studio. I've spent far too much time poring over the Houzz website, if I'd spent as much time actually working on the house as I have spent on that flipping website it would have been done long ago.

The guys came to lay the new flooring this morning, it's quite a discreet coloured (i.e boring) vinyl, but I wanted something neutral so it fits in with any colour. It looks a bit like concrete which I like. It needs to have the skirting board put back in place, which will help it look more finished. In the photos the room looks dark, but it's actually a pretty light room, I need to sort out the electric lighting though because it hasn't got any at all at the moment.

My old study is very dark, with wood panelling and dark grey walls, and also it's full of clutter, so it will be great to start afresh and have a good clear out. I also bought a new (old) office chair which I am planning to restore. I'll blog about re-covering the chair too when I get a chance. I bought a plain white blind that I'm going to put up, I think I might stencil it so it looks something like this:

It is going to make a big difference to me to be working in such a light room, I can't wait!

Redlands School Mural I

I've been painting a mural in the Nursery playground at Redlands School, which is where my youngest son goes. The lovely caretaker at Redlands kindly painted the blue and yellow background for me, which has saved loads of time, and leaves me to get on with the fun part -painting the fishy characters! I started off drawing the outlines in chalk, then painted the shapes in white acrylic, because the background colour is quite dark, and I don't want it to show through. If you know any of my books you will probably be able to spot a few familiar faces already!

In the playground next door the bigger kids were doing P.E, and several of them came over to chat to me afterwards about what I was doing. It was interesting to get a sneaky peek at their P.E class, it took me right back to being 8 years old and being completely useless at throwing and catching! I've been in to visit most of the classes at Redlands to talk about my books and illustrations so most of them know what I do, they usually address me as 'Roan's Mum', which always amuses me.
The wall is fairly long, but luckily not too high, so I can easily reach the top without a ladder, but it is an old Victorian brick wall and quite lumpy and bumpy. I spent about an hour on it this morning, but by 10.15 I had run out of coffee and my arms ached -what a wimp! I'll post updated pictures as the mural progresses, which I hope will happen fairly fast. I'd really love to get it finished before the weather gets too cold, so that the nursery children can enjoy it!