Monday, 27 May 2013

Colour from the Season - Dandelion Seedhead Grey

Yesterday I woke with the idea that I would deconstruct the parts of a Dandelion seed head and put them back together. It's great to wake up feeling inspired and I decided to act on it.

It was the most gorgeous May day, so I drew outside. No wonder Dandelions are so prolific – a brilliant piece of design, the parachuted seed heads take off on the slightest of breezes and little hooks to anchor them when they touch ground. I'm afraid there could be quite a lot of collateral damage in the garden next year.

Later that day I went to a crowded memorial service for industrial/graphic designer, teacher, mentor, automata maker and friend Tony Mann.
Tony inspired many people, including me. He had forceful opinions, especially about design and education, but was always ready to pass on his extensive knowledge and give constructive advice. One of the things he said to me was "What is it that has actually inspired you Sam? Don't ever write inspired by nature about your work, it's just wishy washy nonsense."

Which I've always taken on board, therefore...

Inspired by a Dandelion seed head – Analysis of the construction and colour.

(Just heard that I/my studio have been selected for an Artisan feature in Period Living magazine - very exciting!!) 

N.B. Discover the brilliant yellow of the Dandelion flower in an earlier notebook page here!

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Monday, 20 May 2013

My favourite things – Still life with Night Light Clock

Another in 'a few of my favourite things' series...

I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't surrounded by clocks and watches. That's because my dad was a watch and clock maker (still strange not to say is). One of my friends told me she remembers when she came to stay once and woke up every hour through the night.

My dad offered me a clock as an incentive to give up smoking and this is the one I chose. Took me a long time to actually own it, as I slipped back a number of times, and though I didn't let on that I was having the occasional roll up again, I didn't take the clock either.

This is a night light clock - the wrought iron surround is Victorian, the dial original of the same period, at the back it holds a candle. It's unusual and I've never seen another like it. However, the real interest (and excitement) was opening the back and discovering that the verge movement inside (almost certainly taken from a pocket watch) was made by a maker called Eardley Norton of St. John St. London, in 1762. One of the most important clock makers in the United Kingdom and clock maker to George III! 

Lichen, Moss, Ivy and Bramble (links to notebook pages), because they seemed the right sort of plants to clamber invasively over something so old.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Screen Printing - Studio sampling

A few photos in the studio showing some of the sampling stages of the new geometric design I've been printing.

The dye bench in my studio – 4.2 metres long (including sinks). The dyes piled up on the top of the cupboard are natural dyes, Lichen, Cochineal, Madder, Brazilwood, Walnut and many more. The oversize wooden spoons, turned blue from past Indigo vats, are great for dyeing. The old plough came with the building and the rabbit, a first test paper print, keeps a wary eye on everything.

My invaluable dye notebooks and scales.  Industrial Marigold gloves!

I'm printing onto natural (ie unbleached) linen. Here are some of the colours and first sample prints.

Two Belfast Sinks, one clean(ish), one dirty for washing dye-pots etc. Dyes/chemicals etc are stored underneath.

printed sample detail of indigo/brown colourway...after printing the fabrics are steamed to fix the dye, then washed thoroughly to remove excess dye, thickeners etc.

First full screen print.  I designed this geometric stripe originally to be laser etched into cork (as a very fine lined stripe) and I've always thought it would make a great design for fabric. A different variation of it is being (digitally) manufactured in the U.K. currently onto fabric lengths, based upon these samples I've printed in the studio. The design is startlingly modern and yet quite ethnic, even rustic in feel, and I think really successful. My design inspirations originally were influenced by the textiles of the Weiner Werkst├Ątte and also Josef Albers, Formulation: Articulation. (links are to books I have).

These cushions are filled with 100% wool filled pads (, which importantly supports the UK wool industry, as well as being far more cosy than feathers. At 30"x 24", they will make a pretty impressive design statement to a room. Designed to be bed-cushions, they are I think, exactly perfect for lazy Sunday mornings!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Colour from the season – Horsetail pink

Last week I was fascinated by the design and colours of this plant...

...but couldn't discover what it was. Not in books, nor on the web (I won't repeat some of the search words I resorted to). Just as well I've a couple of friends who seem to have an entire plant encyclopaedia in their heads! So...this is HORSETAIL (or the fertile stems of it anyway).

Honeycomb patterning on it's head (right) which becomes increasingly less defined as it ripens (left). Colours are light and breezy – sun bleached colours I thought? (wistfully). Full of healing and medicinal properties, Horsetail is also a really invasive weed I now discover, so hoping I didn't let any of its (murky green) spores loose in my garden or there'll be trouble...

(Thx P&B - who incidentally are also pretty good table tennis players).

...from my seasonal colour notebook.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Old Tea Rose - Stamping!

I'm delighted that some of my favourite illustrations from my colour notebooks on Planet Sam are being launched this week as card maker's stamp sets by 'Flourishes' who are based in Sunny Florida! Starting with Old Tea Rose (Read my original Tea Rose post here), they will be releasing a number of my illustrations as stamp sets over the coming months (see my interview yesterday on the Flourishes blog here)!

Many thanks to Jan Marie and the whole team at Flourishes for such a warm welcome! I'll be adding a link to the first set when it's released tomorrow (Here), very exciting! in fact I'm thinking I'd love to have some fun experimenting with these fabulous sets myself..! 
(for those of you new to my blog – I only wear (my dad's) specs for drawing!)

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Colour from the season – Ash red

You'll be pleased to hear that I've been keeping an eye on the Ash trees in Devon, and after what seemed like an age – they've done this!  Every hoof–like bud has exploded into tiny little red fruit like flower, truly extraordinary and I can hardly believe that I've gone through my whole life without noticing this before, but that's the case.

A hurried sketch, but you get the idea I hope. Also, I should add that within a day (indoors) these flowers had become seeds - which I don't have time to draw, so photo below...

See my previous post showing the Ash in bud here

Now heading off to a barn in the wilds of Devon to see Sheelanigig (think Balkan, Jazz, Folk mayhem) for a bit of a knees up! have a good wk/end.
...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.