Tuesday, 25 June 2013

My Process: Creating the Marmalade Images + "Taking Requests" Contest

Since I've been spending quite a bit of time over the past week creating new patterns for my jewellery, I thought I'd take a little time to explain a bit about this process.  When people initially look at my pieces they usually think that they are embroidered.  Which, of course, they are not.  Embroidering these tiny patterns would be next to impossible, and even if it were possible, it would likely drive me to drink!

The patterns are actually tiny pieces of printed linen, which I design myself, using a few tools and some much practiced techniques.  First of all, I do not consider myself great artiste.  Growing up, I loved to make things, but wasn't much of a drawer.  In my 20s I took some art classes, and was fortunate enough to discover that drawing is a skill that can be learned.   With this perspective, some practice and confidence, I began to incorporate my own designs into my jewellery collection in 2010.

I decided it was time to add a little mouse to my collection.  I asked myself:  Would anybody wear a mouse?  and then I thought...hey, I'd wear a mouse!  After all, I've called Amelia "mouse" since she was a baby! So here's the cutest mouse I could muster...without being cartoonish, that's usually my goal.
I like to start with a sketch, pretty simple right!?

I then scan my sketch into the computer, so that i can start the process of designing the fabric.

I like to use Adobe Illustrator to draw the actual digital image.  The tool I use is called the pen tool.  It isn't like a normal pen that creates a line where you'd like one.  Instead, you direct the pen tool to create a series of anchor points and vectors, which allows me to manipulate and alter my drawing until the shapes look right.

This process really works for me, since each of my characters has to fit into a tiny circle, so I often have to alter proportions to make this possible.

Here's the horse that I was working on last week...(As you can see, I let Amelia add her own personal touches to the sketch!)  This one took a good deal of manipulation to make sure that the image will be visible in the 3/8" circles that it will fit into.  That's the beauty of this technique:  You can draw big, then shrink to small, and see what you've got, then go from there...

This isn't actually the final horse...sometimes I just keep tweaking and tweaking.  Make it bigger, shorten the nose; shrink it down, see how it looks...repeat!

Here are a couple more new patterns I worked on today:  My favorite animal is the bear, so it's about time that this guy joined the collection.

These little friends are now ready to be printed onto fabric!  I always get really excited to see them come to life, first as linen, and then as jewellery.

I'm still going to be drawing a few more designs before sending this batch to print...
So, because I often get requests for favorite animals or images, I'm going to do a little contest:  If you read this and have any ideas for patterns you'd like to see added to my collection, tell me in a  comment on my blog or facebook page, and if you have time, tell me why you'd like this design added (I'm genuinely interested!) If I end up using your idea, you'll be entered into a draw for a necklace (in the pattern that  you suggested!)  Fun right?!  Check out my website to see the patterns that are already a part of the Marmalade collection:  marmaladedesigns.ca 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Cufflink project: Check.

This blog post is a long time coming.  But better late than never, right!?  Maybe I just had to wait for the sun to come out before I could post again! Does that make me a fair weather writer? I guess it does, literally :)

But life has been moving swiftly along.  And "project beginnings" (an older blog post) have led successfully to project endings and, even better, to a project that seems to have sprouted legs kept on running.

In January I posted on my blog some Canadiana drawings that I was working on for an exciting upcoming project. Well the drawings became fabric, the fabric was set into many many cufflinks, and now those cufflinks rest on the french cuffed shirts of the waiters an Canoe restaurant here in Toronto. I'm so so pleased!

From beginning to end, making these cufflinks took almost 9 months.  There were a couple of drafts of the drawings, 2 fabric prints (the first one came back from the printer kind of dull), custom cufflinks to design, fabricate and polish.  Finally time to actually make the cufflinks...
The Fabric:  It came back from the printer really bright!

Cutting and stamping cards to be inserted into boxes.

Almost Done!

Ready to deliver....
Delivering the cufflinks was actually one of the most fun parts of this whole adventure.  Amelia came with me.  I tried to pack in the delivery after an afternoon playdate...bringing us To Wellington and Bay (the financial district of Toronto) at exactly 5PM - not a supersmart mom move.  We successfully navigated our way through the rat race, up the 46 floors to the restaurant atop the TD centre, where we were given a tour and Amelia was able to gaze at the city from way up in the sky.  We were both in awe of the view from Canoe!   Now if only we could have sat down and shared a Shirley Temple, but it was business after all :)

The best part is that these cufflinks are now a part of the Marmalade line! I brought a bunch of pairs to the One of  Kind Show in March, and the men seemed to really like them.  This was really rewarding:  Its a new market for me, that brings new and different customers.  


That's all on the cufflink front.  Thanks for reading, and more to come (as long as the sun keeps shining)!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Fun in the snow

This weekend we decided to do something FUN!  I shouldn't make it sound like we don't USUALLY do fun things.  But the truth is, there seem to have been a lot of tasks to complete as of late.  And we seem to feel happiest about our weekends if we just keep our heads down and tackle that which needs tackling.  This is probably least true of Amelia who, after all, is just (almost) 3 and likely doesn't feel the weight of the disorganized basement, jewellery orders, and nursery school co-op commitments, on her shoulders just yet.  Unfortunately for her, she's too small to take herself to cool places, so she has to bare with us while we go about getting our s*?! together.   I hope we're not alone here...I'm starting to feel kind of guilty.  

So, this Saturday morning, while tiredly drinking our coffee/juice, we decided, enough was enough.    It was time to do something fun.  Snowsuits and silly hats on, to Brickworks winter market we go.

exiting the Yurt.

Soaking up every frozen drop of fun!

I wasn't joking about the silly hat.  Circa 1985. 

Did we have fun? YES WE DID! for 1.5 entire hours.  We had to rush home because we had a time sensitive appointment with the dishwasher repairman, who found a very smooth and clean chicken bone in our pump.  It was strangely satisfying.

fingers crossed for a productive week...with maybe a bit of fun too
thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Time for an old fashioned Calendar

Last night, while driving home from a mundane errand, I decided it was time for a calendar.   It's  half way through January and I'm feeling sufficiently overwhelmed with things to do. I've never been a daytimer kind of person. First, you have to remember to write down the appointment/deadline/goal.  Then you have to remember to have look at your daytimer in the morning, or the day or week before, to make sure that you don't forget about it.  Unfortunately for me,  I'm just as likely to forget to open that little book, as I am to forget the appointment.  Then came the smart phone, and yes I do have one, but still, I'm not very consistant at inputting appointments, and I find it unsettling to be a slave to the reminder "buzz". I guess I'm a visual person, and the old fashioned calendar, with place to write in the little boxes, and then stare at them hanging on the wall while I eat my breakfast, works for me!

So I decided to make one, and to share it with you...you can download the pdf at the end of the post.

The calendar - printed on my inkjet printer, on card stock (my printer's not the best)

If you're a calendar person too, and would like to print one out for yourself, here's the link to a free download...

2013 Calendar ready-to-print

have a nice day!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Project beginnings...

Blog entry #4.  Finally, after so many years, it seems I've become comfortable with the medium!  I realize I do have lots to share, and I hope that it may be of interest to some people out there.  Maybe to help people to better understand what goes into running a creative small business, or to inspire a few to pursue an idea for a business of their own.  I'd love to hear from anyone who happens upon this blog, and feels like piping in with a comment.  I'm always so shy to comment on other people's blogs, but I think this is silly, as people love to know that their contributions to the blogosphere are being enjoyed.    The idea of the possibility of having a conversation with potential readers is something that really excites me, and would bring a new dimension to, what can sometimes feel like, a bit of a lonely pursuit.

So, I thought I'd post a sneak preview of a new project that I'm working on today.   I'm not going to say what the actual end result will be, as I think its going to be pretty cool and worthy of a reveal!! The pieces will be ready in a couple of weeks and I'll definitely post then.

These are my drawings for the project...
All Canadiana and mostly food...not your usual Marmalade fare, but definitely cute!

The fabric is currently on order, hopefully it turns out nice, then production can begin!
xo Kate

Friday, 11 January 2013

New Year, New Space, New Beginning

Back from the holidays...filled with fun times with family, but also not-so-fun times with the flu.  Seems like we're not alone in having been hit by the bug this season.  I had visions of completing all kinds of tasks  - designing new images, packaging, website updates etc. etc.  Really, what was accomplished was a whole bunch of sleeping, shivering, and popping meds on a steady diet of nyquil, sudafed, and tylenol cold....

Next up - getting the studio in order and ready
for 2013.   We have lots of big plans, and are definitely excited about a new place to realize them.  Here are some photos of the workshop in progress.  Insulation, windows, skylight, walls, floor.  That was all done before the holiday.  But upon our return it was straight to Home Depot, on a mission to outfit the inside with work benches and shelves, to create the organized craft haven I've been craving for years.   Organizing doesn't come naturally, so starting out on the right foot will definitely help keep things running like a well oiled machine...instead of a machine that's constantly searching for the right pliers and that darned glue stick :)

This is the beginning of workbench construction.  Lots of plans, lots of excitement. 
Lots to come....Happy New Year! Kate

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The holidays: all done and just beginning...

Well, the work is done, and the fun is just beginning!
First of all, thanks to everyone who supported Marmalade this holiday season.  I am so thankful to the wonderful people who find my creations "so cute!" and remind me of why I like to make things in the first place:  To see the faces, young and old, break into smiles, excited by the tiny little pictures, inside those tiny little charms.  Why are things just so much cuter when then they're little?   In case you're wondering, I NEVER get tired of hearing these joyful exclamations.  Makes the work, the chaos, and all the craziness surrounding this time of year, worthwhile.

And let me tell you,  this year had its fair share of chaos.  We moved, exciting! But less so when scheduled for the last Saturday of the One of a Kind show.  So my mother-in-law came in and together with my husband, basically packed up our entire house.  Coming home to boxes, an exhausted (but much appreciated) mother in law, and an out of sorts toddler, didn't make for the relaxing nights one craves during the show.  But we all knew we'd get through it, and we did.   Corrupt movers, cranky husbands suffering from post-move PTSD,  and all.

I'm starting work on my new studio, and its going to be really beautiful.  Its in my backyard, which is really convenient.  It was a storage shed, but in my opinion it was far to nice and too big to just store stuff in.  So we are having it insulated, adding a skylight and a window, and its sure to become an amazing place to work.  I'm looking forward to setting everything up, and getting to to work in the new year.
Till then...
Here's to the holidays!