Daisies in the Shade

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks…well, in the evenings when the little one has been in bed at least!

For some reason I’ve become a little obsessed with putting daisies on dresses! It stems (excuse the pun!) from a memory that struck me a short while ago, of making daisy chains with my paternal grandfather. It’s one of my earliest memories.

I also decided that I needed something less harsh than the black fineliners I was using for the outline of the designs. I had hoped to find myself a grey Copic fineliner but they seemed to be out of stock wherever I looked so I bought a few alternatives and it was the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner which has beaten the competition for shade and flow. The effect is much softer and much more suitable for bridal.

As for colour, I’ve been building up a nice selection of Tombow pens since I first started this whole design thing. These double ended pens (brush tip and liner) have a lovely satisfying flow and depth of colour as well as a vast palette of shades to choose from. However, until recently I hadn’t used the clear blender pens and palette that are also available.

The palette is, effectively, a small piece of completely non-porous paper. All you do is apply your chosen colour to the palette and then “pick it up” with the blending pen. When applied to your artwork, it naturally creates a graduated effect, making shading smooth and easy. It’s very simple to do in a straight line but not so easy to apply to the curves of a fashion figure or folds of a dress. Well, not easy for me anyway! I’m still working on getting that spot on!

I generally only use 3 or 4 of the multitude of colours that I have but have chosen a nice peacock blue to demonstrate the technique. There are a number of videos on YouTube showing other uses for the blending pens too.

And of course the glitter is there too!

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Silk taffeta ball gown with applique daisies and sage green sash
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Ball gown with tulle skirt, applique daisies on bodice and illusion back

The combination of all these factors has resulted in renewed enthusiasm and a boost to production, such as it is! These few designs are some of the slightly better ones to emerge from this flurry of activity. They are by no means perfect, not even close, but I’m still finding my way.

All designs copyright Sarah Searle 2016.

Grown Up Glitter!

A huge pile of germs and sleep deprivation have been thrown at our house over the last fortnight or so which has meant hobbies and blogging taking something of a back seat to tissues and Snuffle Babe!

I have however found a bit of time to look around for something to bring the bridal designs a bit more to life. I’d been debating using some kind of glitter to convey elaborate beading and “bling” as it’s often referred to on my favourite American bridal show! But it just made me think of kids crafts and shaking some garishly coloured sparkly mess onto blobs of PVA glue and hoovering up the resulting debris for weeks to come.

20160210_140120 - CopyThen I came across the delightfully named Stickles during a cheeky Ebay browsing session. A bit of further investigation lead me to the conclusion that these could be just the ticket so I set about ordering a few that might work.

And I love them! On the whole, they really add another dimension to the dresses and give the impression of beading and sparkle beautifully. And they are super easy to use. They look to be pretty versatile too for projects other than those I’m using them for.

I chose from 2 ranges, what I think are some newer “shades” from your basic Stickles and a couple from the designer Tim Holtz Distress Stickles. I’ve had a go with all of them and have settled on “Diamond” being my favourite and most effective, with “Star Dust” a close second. I thought I’d be especially taken with “Tattered Rose” from the Distress range but I’m afraid on the one design I used it for, it came out looking a bit rash-like!! I think I was a little heavy handed…these darker shades will definitely need a lighter brush application.

DIAMOND

As much as I’m raving about these Stickles, it’s proving very difficult to photograph the results to do them justice. I’ve picked just a couple of images of “Diamond” in use – it’s still impossible to see just how delightfully sparkly they are but hopefully you’ll get the jist!

DIAMOND CLOSE UP

I purchased some of my Stickles from Ebay for under £2 each (always worth searching on here for the best price). The Tim Holtz Distress Stickles were £1.99 from Grafton Crafts. This is by far the best price I’ve found them for (some were in the region of £4-£8 each elsewhere!). The service was great from these guys too and they have a pretty good range of colours.

There really does seem to be an almost infinite array of colours available in the Stickles ranges, just have a quick image search for a colour chart! So although they may not all be suitable for my needs, I think you’re bound to find something that works for you whilst still feeling like you’ve found a “grown up” way to splash glitter around!

Find out more about the complete Stickles range here.

Small Steps

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I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to put any bridal designs online. A friend of mine who has seen them suggested that I may find it helpful blog about my progress – part of what inspired me to blog in the first place.

I feel pretty comfortable blogging about miniature stuff – it’s safe. Reviewing other people’s work and basically playing make-believe whilst pretending to be a grown up!

But now I actually come to share some designs with people outside of my tiny comfort circle, I’m scared. The same friend told me I should watermark/copyright the designs if I’m adding them to a blog. So I’ve done that at his suggestion, not because I think they’re remotely good enough to be pinched!

I’m so inexperienced and below even novice level with this whole thing! I’ve gone back to the very first designs I did today, thinking that I’d find a few I was happy to post. But looking through them, all I could see was very poorly executed, naive and primitive sketches. I’ve bravely picked the best of a bad bunch to show where I started.

I drew the figures free-hand from templates I’d found online and in the books I had. They aren’t at all ground-breaking but everyone has to start somewhere!

Fast forward a few months and past about 30 more sketches to the most recent set. These were done using templates in The PANTONE Fashion Sketchpad, which was a Christmas gift. The figures in here are drawn in such a way that the outlines disappear when scanned or photocopied.

It’s certainly a quicker way of working and takes a lot of the effort out of trying to proportion figures. Indeed I read that the vast majority of designers have one or two ready made figures that they use over and over to create their designs onto.

There are a lot of figures in the book that don’t really lend themselves to slinky, sleek bridal dresses (there’s many a wide stance!) but the ones I found work rather nicely and it may be that I continue to use them for my sketches. But a large part of me wants to create my own figure to use again and again!

So that’s where I am so far. Very much a beginner, with a lot to learn, but getting a lot of pleasure from it!

Drawing back to happiness!

I’ve been writing a lot about miniatures so I thought I’d pop in a post about one of my other hobbies.

I mentioned in the “About” section why these hobbies of mine have been so important. The hobby that really was the start of me feeling like me again is something entirely new to me. Bridal dress design! And it’s kind of hard to explain why!

Like a lot of little girls, I dreamed about my wedding day pretty much from the time I was old enough! The groom would vary according to my stage in life. At one point it was a real struggle to choose between Glen Medeiros and Rick Astley! But I always had my dream dress firmly planted in my mind.

A few years before I actually got married, my Mum started working as a seamstress in a bridal shop. She would bring home dress after dress to alter and I started to take a real interest in their styles and construction. Then, once I started planning my own wedding, I went crazy with magazines, websites, wedding TV (yep, there was such a thing if you chose to delve far enough into the Sky menu!).

But for some reason my fascination with wedding dresses carried on long after my dress was packed firmly away in the loft.

I have something of a design background, all be it vague! I have an A-level in Graphic Design and most of the design needed for the charity is entirely my work . A few years ago I met a graphic designer who was doing the job for real and he really encouraged me to explore the design world further and gave me plenty of tips which really helped my understanding and honed my skills, such as they were! (Incidentally, he has his own pretty cool illustration blog now. You should check it out).

But fashion design was never something I’d tried to do. I’ve always loved looking at fashion illustrations and had a few books about the subject. And it was something I always thought I’d like to have a go at but never really did. So, one day, I picked up a book about how to draw fashion figures and gave it a go!

It was fun, but it didn’t really click. Well, not until I was watching yet another episode of Say Yes to the Dress that is. My guilty secret is out. I love that show! I got started on it when I was feeding Munch as a tiny baby and couldn’t reach the remote and now I’m hooked! I can take or leave a lot of the people on it but I can’t get enough of looking at the dresses.

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A small selection of my “tools”

And that was it! Once I started drawing wedding dress designs, I couldn’t stop! Munch would go to bed and immediately my sketch pad came out. And it made me happy! It gave me back something that I couldn’t describe but it was tangible.

In another show of his utter awesomeness and seeing a spark in me that had all but disappeared, my husband took me shopping for new pens, portfolio folders, sketch pads. Last year my birthday presents consisted entirely of reference books, material sample books, pens and drawing boards.

My Mum reckons my designs are really good…and so do the select few others I’ve been brave enough to share them with. I’m hoping that maybe I’ll brave sharing them with you all too. My Mum is even talking about making some of the designs for me and has visions of me launching a new career in bridal fashion! I think that’s very kind of her but a step too far perhaps! For now I’m just enjoying my new found hobby and trying to be better at it!

Introducing Minis, Munch and Me!

Well, here goes nothing! My first ever blog post! I hope it doesn’t prove too painful for me or for you!

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ME

I’m very adept at repeating myself, so in order not to do that, it might be worth checking out the About page to learn more about why I started this blog and what I hope to gain from it.

To introduce myself properly though, I’m Sarah. I’m 36 and I live on the Isle of Wight but I’m originally from Southampton. I live with my husband of 5 years, Matt and my beautiful almost 2 year old daughter…more about her later! Oh, and Maisie the cat, who I must mention as she’s spent the last 2 years looking rather put-out!

I used to be a professional dancer, until I got injured and realised that actually, as much as I loved dancing, a lot of what comes with being a dancer, wasn’t for me after all. I now work for an awesome charity and find helping people through some of the worst experiences of their lives super rewarding.

I love history, music, reading, art and I am collecting hobbies! You can read more about why in that About page I mentioned before. When the little one is in bed or Daddy is being amazing and letting me have some “me” time, that’s when I indulge myself in all the things I love. Which brings me to “Minis”.

MINIS

This refers to just one of my hobbies and was the only one that seemed to lend itself to the blog title!

Maybe it’s because I’m short (5ft exactly) that I like small things or maybe I’m trying to recapture some part of childhood! Whatever the reason, I’m the proud owner of 3 doll houses. My first is Edwardian in style and this is the most complete, the second is a modern bridal shop (you’ll see a theme here) and the most recent acquisition is tudor. They’re all 12th scale and in varying states of completion. I intend to blog a bit about my progress on each of these and any really good products or techniques I uncover along the way.

Other hobbies which I shall be blogging about (is that even the right term?!) are my newly discovered love of fashion design (specifically bridal), my lifelong love of music and 3 month long relationship with acoustic guitar and perhaps a little bit of baking and cake decoration may find its way in.

Hopefully anyone reading will find something they like or find interesting – or perhaps just something that you want to point and laugh at! As long as it makes you smile!

MUNCH

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And finally, Munch.

This is an easy one to explain. When I was pregnant with my little girl, we had a scan at 10 weeks. My husband’s first reaction to seeing the little bean-like dot on the screen was “it looks like one of the Munch Bunch!”.

I couldn’t see it myself but somehow the Munch bit stuck and from then until this day, despite having a very pretty name, our little girl is very often referred to as “Munch”. Thus fulfilling the “Mummy Stuff” element!

That’s it! Introductory post done. Now follows the interesting stuff…I hope!