Friday, 27 September 2013

Materials and Techniques - 'Dee Dub Designs'

Each fortnight, I chat with another crafter about the materials and techniques that they use in the creation of their work. Today's special guest is Meredith, who is the creator behind Dee Dub Designs. This Sydney-based artist creates digital printable files and physical prints, which become fabulous invitations, cards or wall art. Do read on to find out more.

Please tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Meredith and I am the owner of Dee Dub Designs. Dee Dub was set up in February this year after many months of "Should I, Shouldn't I?" discussions with myself. I am married to a very talented Graphic designer and a Mum of a little cheeky 19 month old little girl. I live in Sydney but spent the first 18 years of my life in the country growing up on a farm, so I like to say that I am a city girl with country values.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

As all of Dee Dub's work is design the "materials" are in a digital format. So there is lots of mouse clicking, keyboard tapping and many many many hours in front of a computer. My design process starts way before all of that computer time, with me waking in the middle of the night with a "brilliant" idea and scribbling it down before it is lost and forgotten. Many mornings I can not read my own writing or work out my sketches and in the morning light it really wasn't a "brilliant" idea, but none the less it goes into my idea book and waits for me to possibly one day bring it to life. I first started out using a scalpel (how science prac of me), and a metal ruler to cut out my prints. After some negotiations with my quilting mad Mum I now have a self healing cutting mat, a rotary blade cutter and a ruler than now allows me to trim my prints without the fear of cutting off the tips off any fingers. My favourite "material" is typography. I really think the font makes or breaks any design and with my husband’s experience he makes sure we get it right for each design.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

Our printable range (digital files that are sent directly to the client) has to be checked for any imperfections before we send the final. I have always had to remember that computers can also "have bad days" and issues can arise in the saving and exporting process. These days so much of celebrations and party planning can be done online, allowing families to print invites, thank you cards, cupcake toppers, you name it on the home printed and at places like Kwik Kopy and Officeworks. One issue we came across early in the whole process was the gradients in our design; even though they looked snazzy on our screen, when printed at different printing places it did not produce a consistent result. As we pride ourselves on the quality of work we could not risk our clients having an issue so we have now made our designs prefect for every printer, no matter if you print at home, at a photo lab or even at Officeworks.

What drives you to create? 

My inspiration comes from my little girl (I know - cliché right! but it's true – my work space is littered with photos of her and her artworks). I dream up of lavish celebration ideas for her and design the stationery for each event (much cheaper than putting them all on). Any item that I design needs to fit the criteria "would I want that for my child" - if it doesn't then it needs to be tweaked or put on the back burner until I make it work. There have been plenty of ideas that were okay,  but I don't want okay in my shop, it want them to be amazing. 

What is coming up next?

Dee Dub started with invitations and thank you cards that clients can print at home. We then introduced postcards and other printed products. We now have a range of wall art that continues to grow. We have had a great response to our Fathers' Day range so we are working on now Christmas and Mothers' Day. What about the future? Isn't that the million dollar question when it comes to small businesses but that's all part of the journey. I started Dee Dub to put all my ideas to paper and to the world and the feedback from my clients has been magic. Onwards and upwards I say. I can’t wait.

All images have been provided by Meredith of Dee Dub Designs. 

Follow the materials and techniques series. Want to share your creative process? Please do get in contact to tell us all about your skills.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Toddler Play: Colour Sort Mail Box

As a result of our renovations, we have accumulated a large collection of colour sample cards. We used these to make a colour sorting game for the girls.

I cut slots into an old shoe box and wrote colours on each slot. Each of the girls was then given a stack of colour cards to "mail" into the correct slot (they're very fond of mailing letters at the moment).

We had to add in another row of slots down the middle eventually, because some of the cards, like white and orange, couldn't be easily mailed into the original slots.

A cheap and easy way for toddlers to practice their colours.

I've written lots of other posts on toddler art, cooking and play - do have a browse.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Three Months To Go

Under 100 days now until Christmas. Which means that I should probably start getting ready...


These canvases are ready to ship and will be available in my Madeit and Etsy stores shortly, with more to come. If you have something special in mind, especially larger sized display boards, get in touch early to make sure that you don't miss out.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Toddler Art: Crepe Paper

One of the nifty things about crepe paper is that the colour transfers off it very easily. Miss 2 and I made some coloured paper by laying crepe paper on sheets of butcher's paper and then wetting it.

Then just lay it on a flat surface to dry.

Not the world's cleanest activity...

But we had fun and the results were pretty and will make excellent wrapping paper.

Looking for more toddler activities? Read the toddler art, cooking and play posts. 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Materials and Techniques - 'Flights Of Fancy'

An unusual materials and techniques interview today. Anita is from Toowoomba, Queensland and she creates the most incredible items out of dead insects and butterflies, as well as other upcycled components. Her store, Flights of Fancy, is filled with all sorts of jewellery, accessories and décor and today she is telling us about how she creates her pieces.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am a mother to 2 amazing children [ed: Kayla and Noah, who have their own Madeit stores] who bring me joy (as well as the usual daily struggles of strong wills) and happiness. I have an amazing hubby who supports my creativity even though the house may sometimes not be as clean as a result.

I am very blessed to have been raised by a Mum that had a love for making things and instilled that in me from a very early age. So many different art or craft activities were lovingly and patiently shown to me.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?
I get bored easily so I like to switch between various mediums. I create using upcycled materials, wire, metal, leather, resin and material.

My favourite material is my butterfly wing and insect jewellery. These are ethically obtained through registered breeders once they have lived out their life and then I get to transform them into something that they can then be treasured for much longer than their natural lifespan would allow. I have spent a few years perfecting a process by which some pieces are handpainted in resin so that their natural beauty is preserved and have managed to now achieve a 3D style pose so that they look even more natural once complete.

I also enjoy electroforming which is the process by which a natural item, such as an acorn, can be coated in copper via a process using electricity and acid.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

When I first delved into my butterfly and resin work I had some dismal failures! I didn't realise that simply adding resin would drown out the light refracting scales on the butterflies' wings and I ended up with some brown sticky messes in the beginning. With any problem, do not give up! By trying new methods and by lots of research I eventually found the perfect solution which allows me to retain the stunning colours found in nature.

What drives you to create? 

For me creating is my therapy. I suffer from some health issues and I find that by creating it serves as a great distraction and helps divert my attention to something else. I find inspiration in nature mainly and in whimsical things like fairytales and fantasy. Sometimes a piece just jumps into my head and I need to create it, other times I find by pulling out various supplies a picture starts to form in my head.

What is coming up next?

I am dying to get my hands on some metalworking tools and to make more items from scratch and delve into other areas to complement my current range.

All images have been provided by Anita from Flights of Fancy.

Read the previous materials and techniques interviews. I do love finding out about new creative ideas. If you would like to share your materials and techniques on this Blog, please drop me a line.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Toddler Cooking: Combating Fears With Food

At about 18 months old, Miss 2 developed a fear of vacuum cleaners, which then extended to a fear of most electrical appliances that make loud noises, including hair dryers, hand dryers, lawn mowers, mixers... One day, she had gone for her nap and I was making a cake using the mixer. I realised that she was in her room crying, because she was afraid of the noise, but when I pointed out that I was making a cake, she announced "I like cake!" and went to sleep.

The way to her heart is through her stomach.

We decided to help her to learn that loud noises don't have to be scary by letting her use the juicer. So, when we have uneaten fruit and vegetables on the weekend, we make juice out of them. An adult cuts up the fruit and vegetables and Miss 2 feeds them into the noisy juicer, under close supervision.

 And then she is allowed to drink the juice, which is quite a treat.

This system means that now she is no longer scared of loud electrical appliances, although she does give them suspicious looks when they're in action and is still not impressed by lawn mowers.

Have you come up with clever ways of helping a toddler combat their fears?

Check out more toddler play, art and cooking posts.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Baby Wall Art

Going crazy making baby wall art at the moment.

There are have been four new arrivals in my friendship group in the last couple of months and I've yet to meet any of them. But this weekend I will be meeting two new babies and as a result, I've been busy making name plaques for them.

I've had a range of nursery art for little girls for a while now, but two of the new arrivals are little boys. So, at the same time as making gifts for the new babies, I have expanded out my range of matching wall plaques with a transport theme.

Available in my Madeit and Etsy stores over the next week.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Toddler Play: Explaining Absence

On Wednesdays, Miss 2 usually spends the day with her paternal grandparents. They come over late the night before and stay until bedtime the next day. Miss 2 and Grandpa have a special routine, which involves her waking him up in the morning and helping him eat his breakfast and helping him drink his juice. Then they walk to the newsagent to buy the newspaper, and to the bakery to buy a monkey face. They play in the park on the way home before morning tea. Then there is story time, nap time, lunch time, more story time, train time...

Sadly for Miss 2, Grandma and Grandpa are currently on a 8 week holiday around Europe. And for a little person, it is hard to comprehend how far away they are and how long it will be until they come home. On the way home on the second Tuesday after they left (the first, we were also away on holidays, so routines were a bit out), Miss 2 started asking if Grandpa would be coming over tonight. And I tried to explain that he wasn't and that he wouldn't be for a long time. But she resorted to "calling him" on the telephone several times a day to ask if he would like to come over tomorrow.

I used this same toddler calendar when Darren was overseas for an extended period before Miss 2 was one year old. Simply draw a grid on a sheet of paper and number the boxes. Then get some stickers, or a small picture of the person who is away with some blu tack on the back.

Put it up on a wall or the fridge and each morning, ask your little one to put a sticker on the number of days remaining until their loved one comes home. 53 days is a long time for a toddler to comprehend, but having a visual aid is really helpful.

Do you have any good ways of helping toddlers cope with the short-term absence of a loved one? Catch up with some more toddler play, art and cooking ideas.