Where Have I Been? (Apology & Art Update!)

Taken by Oliver J Cooper (Instagram @coastaloliver), September 2017, Eastbourne, UK.

I am completely aware of my lack of new art work recently, and I apologise!

As I discussed in my December vlog, I recently took the leap into freelance work (you can read more about it here). This was one of the best decisions I have made and I am loving it. My big fear was not being able to find enough work to make a living, but recently I have been receiving so much it has been difficult to juggle.

Alongside my art work I create design pieces. I am working with some really fascinating small businesses, ranging from designers to therapists to photographers. While it’s mostly graphic work, I sometimes get to use watercolours in my designs, which creates a lovely combo between my two passions. I also write and work with different crafts, and and I’ve been learning how to balance and make time for a bit of everything.

I love the variety of my work and am grateful for the opportunity to work on so many great projects, but unfortunately I have found that while I have been finding and building a repertoire with my design clients, my artwork has been pushed to the side.

Learning how to manage my work is becoming easier with time. I am planning to spend a large part of the Spring sitting down outside with my paints, getting all the ideas that have been buzzing around my head onto paper.

What’s coming next?

Recently I have been really keen on minimalist line work, and I am looking forward to combining this style with my own.

I have also started to get my children’s book ideas onto paper, which is really exciting and should be the start of a fascinating project.

Another goal is to create a series of textile designs, as I think it’s interesting to cross the line between art and something that is functional – I’m looking forward to sharing more with you, thank you so much for your continued support.


Photo credit: Oliver J Cooper (Instagram: @coastaloliver). 

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How To: Introduction to Jewellery Making & Creating a Wire Wrapped Ring

You can head over to Youtube to watch my tutorial on how you can get started in jewellery making. In the tutorial I show how to make a simple wire wrapped ring. Once you get the hang of it you can easily create a ring in under ten minutes using really cheap materials – although there is a lot of space for customisation if you would like to jazz it up.

I make a lot of jewellery – taking the time to work on craft and make something with my hands is really important to me. Collecting stones from forests and oceans, learning about their formation and meanings, learning new ways of crafting with metal and turning it all into something that someone is going to wear is fascinating to me.

In my tutorial I explain the steps you need to take to make your own ring, as well as the materials you need and where you can find them. There was too much information to fit into the video, so I have compiled all the information about the making process and materials in this post.

Please watch the video below before reading the rest of this post so you can follow along.


The first thing you need is a bead. This can be a plastic or glass bead, which is on the cheaper end of the spectrum and will be available in any craft store. Alternatively, you can choose a semi-precious stone bead like quartz, or a more expensive precious stone like emerald or ruby. In this tutorial I chose to use an imperial turquoise bead. This is a stone that I really love. It has some really bold turquoise tones that intermingle with the more natural beige patterns. If you choose to use a gemstone, remember to sift through your beads and pick one with colours and patterns that you like, as no two natural beads are the same and all will be slightly different.

I recommend looking on Etsy Studio (Etsy’s source for craft supplies) and searching for gemstone beads, there’s a lot of really great shops where you will be able to find some beautiful pieces.

In this tutorial I use a 6mm bead, which is pretty small and creates a delicate look. I also like to use 8mm beads, and you could use 10mm beads for chunkier, statement pieces.

I mention in the video that you can collect raw stones yourself. Stones like quartz are abundant in forests and beaches, and with a little searching you can find them yourself. All you do is pop them in a rock tumbler with water and grit, and let it tumble for several weeks. The tumbler wears down and smooths the rocks. The same thing happens to rocks in rivers and the ocean, but the tumbler dramatically speeds up the process by several thousand years.


The next thing that you will need is wire. I really recommend 925 Sterling silver wire, because it’s really high quality, durable and doesn’t tarnish easily. However, it can be expensive, so if you are just starting out then buy a cheaper wire to practice on. If you’re just making for fun, then silver plated wire, copper wire or even aluminium wire and much cheaper alternatives that will also work really well.

You can also use Etsy Studio to search for wire. The wire I used in the tutorial is 0.05mm, which is quite thin. You can use slightly thinner wire, 0.04mm wire would be usable, but any smaller and the ring will become very fiddly to make and may not hold together well. I also wouldn’t recommend getting wire that is too thick. After about 1mm, it becomes quite difficult to bend.


The last thing you need before you can start making are some tools. A small pair of wire cutters are a must have, they really will make working with wire so much easier. You will also need a ring mandrel, which you will use to bend the ring into shape and make it the right size. The last thing you need is a ring sizer, which you use to determine the ring size of yourself or the person you are making the ring for.

Amazon is a great place to look for craft tools, it’s where I buy mine, and they’re also good value. I picked up my mandrel and ring sizer for under £10.

Ready to begin!

That’s it! One you have your supplies you can use them to follow along with the rest of the tutorial. Happy crafting!

If you do decided to give this tutorial a go, let me see the results! Post a photo of your handmade jewellery on Instagram and tag me at @theartofhannahroseshaw, and I’ll be sure to take a look.

If you would like to see more of my jewellery please visit my Etsy shop.


Please note that the recommendations in this article are personal recommendations and are in no way sponsored or endorsed.

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Illulina on Colour Tones, Texture and Fluidity

Melina – or Illulina, as she is known online, describes herself as a ‘tea drinker, woodland dweller and illustrator.’ I’ve been a fan of her work on Instagram for a while, falling in love with the use of texture and and fluid lines. I caught up with her to discuss her workspace, how she is influenced by the natural world and why illustration has always been her passion.

Tell us about yourself?

First of all, hi! I’m Melina. I was born and raised in the north of Germany’s beautiful Bavaria. I am very passionate about hot drinks, especially tea, which is the reason I am constantly sitting in Cafes or exploring old, Diagon-Alley-like tea shops. I love books, especially the ones about faraway places with wizards, magical creatures, flying broomsticks or pipe-smoking Hobbits.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

What is the story behind the name Illulina?

Lina is one of my nicknames and ‘illu’ is short for illustration. Little me was so creative! I got used the to nickname and learnt to love it.

How did you being illustrating?

My interest in art started to develop in kindergarden, when I was lucky enough to spend my days in a small library full of illustrated children’s books. From a very early age I realised that I might want to do this for a living, so I began to take the wish seriously. Studying art has been my dream ever since.

How did you develop your illustration style?

At first I didn’t really have my own style. After a long time of pressuring myself to find my very own way of drawing I realised that I just have to let go and draw in a way that is the most comfortable for me. This was the moment I started to develop the style I have today.

Do you use certain themes or colours in your work?

I’m in love with muted, earthy tones. Sometimes I dip my toe into the world pastels and strong, saturated colours, but I prefer my palette inspired by nature.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

What inspires you to create?

The people and things around me, my dreams and wishes.

What are you artistic tools of the trade?

My favourite tools are coloured or graphite pencils, because they create a lot of texture and movement in my illustrations.

What is your creative process like?

I actually just go for it. If I see something I find interesting or an idea jumps into my mind, I start doodling rough shapes and colours. If I like what I brought to paper, I start working on more detailed pieces.

Where do you like to create your work?

Most of the time I’m working in my room. It’s cozy, safe and silent. My desk is in front of a window, facing a beautiful old oak and a forest. Often enough I space out and just sit there, forgetting about my tea, which is then becoming cold.

What is your favourite piece you have created?

I haven’t really thought about a possible favourite. I cherish all of my illustrations, since each one of them shows my progress.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

Have you ever lost passion for your work?

Actually, yes, quite recently even. Art school rejected me and I started doubting my skill. I was sulking for about a week, but I never stopped drawing. If something doesn’t work, don’t give up. In Germany we have a saying which goes “if there’s a will, there’s a way,” – it’s true.

What are the most challenging parts of illustrating?

Frustration caused by not being able to visualise the image in your head right away.

And what are the best parts?

Telling stories in my very own way and the loving and heart-warming art community.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started in illustration?

Go for it, and don’t give up if it doesn’t work immediately. The beautiful thing about art and illustration is the progress you make and looking back after months of hard work.

All images copyright of Illulina.

You can find Illulina’s work on Instagram at www.instagram.com/illulina and on Tumblr at www.illulina.tumblr.com.

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New Year 2018: Trial, Error and Experimentation

Experiment with Gouache

Some fun trying out new paints! This is my first experiment with gouache, it's a little different to watercolour but so far I really like it, particularly the thickness of the paint and the way it can be layered. I'm looking forward to using these for bolder pieces.

Posted by The Art of Hannah Rose Shaw on Saturday, December 30, 2017

Hello, and happy New Year! As we go into January, there’s a lot of ‘new year, new me’ posts on social media. Of course, self improvement isn’t bad, but I like to remember that imperfection, mistakes and uncertainty are not always wrong.

I posted this video of a few clips from the painting process of a new piece I’ve been working on. It is far from being my favourite piece I have ever painted, but I want to show the experiments, the trail and error pieces, as well as the ‘good’ stuff.

I received a set of gouache paints for Christmas, and using them is really new to me. They’re a lot thicker and more opaque than watercolour, so using them a very different way of working, but they can be layered beautifully to make much richer, bolder pieces.

The concept for this piece came out of a bad week, where among other things I was seeing negativity and unkindess. This painting is about the importance of positive relationships, of allowing others to grow, and to grow through you.

It isn’t finished and I may not finish it for a while – I want to get some large sheets of watercolour so I can re-create it in detail, as at the moment it’s quite tiny. But it was an experiment and a learning process, a way of working that I will perfect over time as I become better with gouache and remember not to try and fit detailed paintings onto A4 sheets of paper.

The point is, imperfection is not a downfall but a sign of growth and a learning process. If we don’t make mistakes then we aren’t trying new things, and that is a failure indeed.


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An Unconventional Path to Art and Design

In my latest Youtube video I shared the story of how and why I do what I do. I wanted to show that there is no ‘right’ way of achieving something. If you have something you want to do and are working towards doing it then you are already on the right track. The important part is finding your own path and deciding what works for you.


Making things is my passion. It’s how I express myself – since being a child I have always drawn my experiences, whether it was days out or illustrations to sit beside my stories.

Beyond school I never had any art lessons. I believed for a long time that I couldn’t paint, that I could only draw, because my style didn’t seem to fit the way that art was taught in school. I was eighteen when I sat down with a drawing and some watercolours and decided to paint without thinking about composition or technique or colour, and to work in a way that felt really natural to me. That was when it all came together, and I realised I had my own style and my own way of working.

Since then I painted constantly. While I didn’t study art after school, I always painted during my spare time at university, setting up mini painting studios in my rooms. I went back to art in my postgraduate degree, where I studied the history of art and art theory. I still completely believed for a long time that there was no way to earn a living from art. I don’t deny that it is difficult, but it took a while for me to stop believing it was impossible.


Since deciding to go my own way I have worked on some really amazing projects, from curating and exhibition design to metal work and ceramics to graphic design and illustration, as well as starting my blog and my Youtube channel and planning some longer term projects, mainly my books and animations.

It took a lot of indecision and travelling down the wrong path to find out where I want to go. Don’t worry if you are still in that place – I find that the world has a funny way of righting itself. Keep exploring, and more often than not the right way is around the corner.

Do you have a passion that you’re pursuing? Let me know how you are doing it in the comments – I’m looking forward to reading your stories.


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Painting Process: Watercolour Eye Study

I finally bought myself a camera, which means that a series of new videos is on the way! I am incredibly excited about this and I can’t wait to share some new work with you in the New Year.

I have uploaded the quick eye study to my Youtube channel. I wanted to see what I could do with just 5-10 minutes, and I thought an eye study would be fun.

I love trying to capture expressions using just eyes, because for me they are the focus of any portrait and are where the most emotion is found. If you can get the eyes right, the rest of the portrait falls into place.

Please like, subscribe and keep an eye out for new videos.


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Alyce Brown: Feminism, Activism and Wearable Art

Alyce Brown is a forensic science graduate who became a self employed artist after discovering her passion for wearable art and statement designs. She is an activist, and much of her work deals with feminism, beauty standards and mental health. We discussed why wearable art is a great way to promote a cause, how she creates her pieces, and why she chose to leave full-time employment to pursue her passion.

Tell us a little about your work?

I am a full-time artist, but that wasn’t always the case. I have both a BSc and an MSc in forensic science and forensic anthropology respectively. However, there are no jobs in forensic anthropology. I taught for approximately three months and it really wasn’t for me, so I decided to take the leap and be self-employed. I started with prints of my illustrations but didn’t get very far. When I made my Smile painting and print, it instantly became a bestseller and I realised that instead of making ‘pretty for the sake of pretty’ illustrations (not that I believe they do not have their place), I could make art that has a purpose and can make a difference. This evolved into wearable art when I bought my badge machine (Betty) and started making acetate stencil patches.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

What materials do you like to use?

My most frequently used materials are my Huion tablet to design all of my badge designs; Betty my badge maker to actually make the designs into badges; Speedball, Vallejo and Permaset screenprinting inks, acetate, a sharpie, a scalpel, sponges, the lid of a jar (as a palette for the ink – see, you don’t need fancy equipment!) and various canvas and floral craft cotton fabrics to make patches. I also work with markers for my illustrations and work with oil paint for commissions and for my own enjoyment. I love to try new things, but making badges and patches seems to have stuck pretty well in my restless brain. If I won the lottery tonight, I’d still go to work on Monday making badges and patches.

What inspired you to start to create feminist and activist art?

My first feminist print was “Smile” which sports the slogan “It’s my face and I’ll smile if I want to” became an immediate bestseller as soon as I listed it. I’m a feminist, I’m an activist, I suffer with my mental health and I’m a chronic illness warrior. There are a lot of things in the world that need awareness raising for them. In a day and age where women are still hesitant to refer to themselves as feminists (I know because I used to be one of them), because of the negative connotations the word has picked up, I feel that feminism and the promotion of feminism and social activism is more important than ever. I don’t mean to imply that my work is doing grand things; but I like to think that it at least makes a small difference, whether that be providing a ‘he him’ pin for someone who is sick of people referring to them with the wrong pronouns, or just someone who wants a quirky neon witch patch.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

What do you like about making wearable art, compared to making art on paper?

I’d wanted a badge machine for ages because I had loads of ideas that I felt would work best on pins and the like, quick slogans and small images. I like making wearable art because whilst people may not have room on a wall for a large painting exploring issues of feminism and social activism, they usually have a garment to which they can affix a cute pin or patch.

What themes and motifs are most often present in your work?

My most consistent themes are feminism, activism and chronic/invisible and mental illness awareness. I don’t have any particularly consistent colours or motifs but I do tend to go with pastel colours rather than anything particularly bold or bright (though some of my work is very bright or dark or both!)

What is your creative process like?

I have sketchbooks lying around that are filled with ideas, or I have ideas that I’ve scribbled on pieces of paper or the notes section of my phone. If I want to create, I go to those first if I don’t have anything firmly in mind. Sometimes my other half and friends makes suggestions to me as well, sometimes I ask my audience what they’d like to see on a pin, a patch, a mirror.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

How do you create a piece of work from start to finish?

It’s kind of hard to explain how, exactly. For pins; I colour the background, I add imagery or text, I remove the bleed lines, I print the inserts, I run them through Betty and press them into pins. For patches I rough the design onto the acetate using a sharpie then I cut it out by hand with a scalpel, then I tape them to the fabric (also hand cut, but with scissors) and I use a sponge to blot the ink on; I peel the tape away and then I peel the acetate away and voila! Sometimes patches need touching up a bit with black ink to crisp up the lines, or if it’s on floral fabric and it’s been smudged it is destined to become a misfit (essentially, an imperfect patch sold as a second). Whilst I’m working I usually listen to music or watch YouTube videos (I’m a big fan of Minecraft let’s play videos) or The Simpsons.

Where do you create your work?

I have a studio in my home. I work mostly at my desk and generally I spend most of my time in my studio. I have it set up so that everything I need is within easy reach (badge maker on the desk, badge parts in the drawers by the desk, saxophone for stress relief, and so on).

What are the most challenging parts of working as an artist?

I think one of the most challenging aspects as working as a self-employed person in general, let alone an artist, is dealing with the uncertainty. Mostly it’s financial uncertainty, but sometimes it’s the uncertainty that you’re going to be able to create anything worthwhile that day. But that’s okay. As long as you’re creating that’s fine. Your tastes will overtake your skills frequently, you just have to try and keep up. With being an artist comes the necessity for a willingness to live with those uncertainties.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

And what are the best parts?

Being able to get up every day and do what I love. I love creating, I love making feminist and activist art because it has a purpose, it furthers a cause. As I said previously, even if I won the lottery tonight, I would still get up on Monday morning, go to work and make pins and patches. It is a passion and it is unceasing, so I have to be unceasing too.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

All you have to do is never give up. It is not easy, but it is simple. My dad (very successfully self-employed) has wise words on this subject. This is a message he sent me when I was having a bad day, early in my self-employed journey:

“Keep going! I know you think you aren’t getting anything back, but you’re wrong. You are. You just have not seen it. But it’s there, waiting for you and it’s yours for the taking. But, only those who REFUSE to give up will get there. I am one of those few people. You are too.”

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

What are you currently working on?

I’m always working on new badge designs but I’m currently, at the time of responding to these questions, working on a collaboration with a wonderful artist called Emily from KittyCraftsCo on some moon phase pins. I’ve wanted to make moon phase pins for ages and Emily recently made a watercolour painting of moon phases – so it seemed perfect!

What will you be working on next?

I got a laser cutting machine for my birthday but unfortunately the CO2 laser tube was broken so the laser was not firing and the machine didn’t work. I’ve just ordered a replacement machine so I’m really excited to make some acrylic jewellery, wooden and acrylic charms and badges and other awesome things!

All images copyright of Alyce Brown.

You can find Alyce’s work at www.doodlepeople.etsy.com, www.doodlepeople.co.uk, and on Instagram and Facebook at @doodlepeoplexo. 

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Just do it Already

I noticed a while ago that a particular colour in my watercolour palette was running low. It was very vibrant pink hue, and it happened to be the colour that I used for just about everything. It featured somewhere in almost every piece I painted, which is why it ended up running out before all the others. Instead of going out and buying a new one, I decided that I could buy it later, that the colour would last for the foreseeable future.

Of course, not too long later, it ran out. This was pretty troublesome, considering that I really needed this colour. By the time I got around to visiting the shops and looking for a new one, the colour had ran dry and as a result of not keeping any of the packaging, there was no way for me to find the same colour again.

After a couple of weeks of searching I brought a new palette, and it had a lot of similar pink shades. Not the same shade, but several that were close enough to be passable.

Although my example is a weird little analogy, it did leave me thinking how much easier I would have made things for myself if I had just gone to the shop when I knew I needed to, instead of putting off the trip in the hope of saving money, or not wasting time, or doing something unnecessary.

Stress. Fear. Paralysis. We spend a lot of time worrying and putting things off. I think this applies to the everyday things – putting off that dental appointment, not writing that essay – but also to the big things. Putting off searching for that new job because of a lack of security, putting off that travel adventure because of concerns over money. These are all valid concerns, and of course you should probably weigh up those decisions, but sometimes simply acting is a lot less scary and stressful than we think it will be. Sometimes, we realise that it’s what we should have done all along, and only wish we had done it sooner.

While you might not be able to relate to my situation, maybe you have something that you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s taking some overdue time for yourself. Maybe it’s finally showing the world that project you’ve had stashed away in a drawer. If you have been putting off something that you should have done a long time ago, take the time out to do it. You never know how it might change things down the line. Come on, just do it already.

Photo Credit: Hannah Rose Shaw by Oliver J. Cooper.

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Sophia Shaw: Watercolour, Nomadic Lifestyle and Connecting to the Land

Sophia Shaw lives a nomadic lifestyle with her partner on the UK waterways. She works from their narrowboat, finding inspiration in the surrounding countryside. Her illustration style is light and playful, and has grown from her experiences of travelling and connecting with different lands and cultures. 

Tell us about you and your work?

My name is Sophia, the face behind Sophia’s Illustration. I am 29, a dreamer and tea-drinker who loves to draw, paint and live quite a nomadic lifestyle. Last winter my partner and I bought our first home together – a 1987 Springer 42ft narrowboat, the perfect life for us right now!

Sophia Shaw.

What are your artistic tools of the trade?

For the past few years I have been working with watercolour, ink and gouache. I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator  to prepare my work for print, but never usually for anything more – I have always preferred to work by hand with paint.

How did you discover art and illustration?

My mum was always creative and really inspired me as a child. We used to have lots of crafty days and once I sat for her to draw. I always knew that I would like to be an artist and it was always a strong subject for me at school. In college I studied an amazing full-time arts course and it was my tutor who advised me to apply to study Illustration, which I studied at Swansea University.

Map of Wales © Sophia Shaw

How did you begin map-making and what kind of projects have you worked on?

After I finished university I was so over illustration! I went travelling with my partner to Australia and Asia and ended up being away from home for two and a half years. We had the most amazing time and we learnt a lot. Whilst we were away I always carried a sketchbook around, but I still hadn’t found my ‘style’ of working, which was a constant pressure throughout university. I played around painting large scale murals in Australia and also in Kuala Lumpur. It was amazing to enjoy painting without any pressure. We spent six months working in Fremantle, Western Australia, and lived in the garden of the most amazing house. There was no exterior wall at the back of the house and the kitchen and living rooms were outside. Matthew, the owner, was an eccentric photographer who created recycled sculpture from old metal objects, which were all over the roof and garden. It was Matthew’s house where my style of working was born. The very first ‘map’ I drew was his wonderful house and gardens. Once we returned to the UK we moved back to Swansea and I started painting maps of Wales to reconnect with the land and culture.

What inspires you to create your work?

My paintings are often inspired by things that I see in day-to-day life, such as the shapes in a landscape, or a glimpse of a cat sitting in a field or a beautiful allotment. I am a big day-dreamer and always looking for the perfect composition. I have a sketchbook which I use to jot down little ideas of things that have happened, or things that I see, that I can refer back to when painting.

Do you find that you often use certain motifs, themes or colours in your work?

The colour green definitely features most in my work at the moment. I really love to paint gardens and the countryside. I also like to add in little personal details; if I paint animals I will often add pets of mine who have passed away. I really like the personal touch and the connection that this work has to me, but a stranger wouldn’t know.

Boat Workspace © Sophia Shaw

What is your creative process like?

I feel like I am one of life’s great procrastinators! Give me a sketchbook and I can draw and paint all day every day, but when it comes to painting a final piece I find myself doing anything but starting the painting. I seem to get an ‘artist’s block’ and feel like I don’t know where to start. Often I can overcome this if I have a deadline to work to, so this is usually what I do – I seem to work better under pressure. Once I get started I can work quite quickly. I can never finish a piece in one go, but have to leave it a few days and see it again with fresh eyes.

Tell us more about your workspace, and your life living and working on a boat on the UK waterways?

Living on the boat is awesome, but space is tight. The boat is just 13m in length and 2m in width. I have a desk which takes up half the living space, but can be packed down if we have guests. My partner is very chilled out, and we are both very used to living in small spaces, and so it suits us. Under the bed I have a large A3 scanner/ printer and I have to make my prints in very small quantities. In the summer we installed a solar panel to the roof, so I can charge my laptop easily now. At the moment my partner is working in West London and so we have to float around in one area, but our licence states that we must move a couple of miles every 14 days. In the summer we roamed the countryside and enjoyed our freedom! Life on the boat is wonderful, but there is a lot to learn and a lot of time spent opening and closing locks in the pouring rain!

What are the most challenging parts of working as an artist?

I think that taking knock-backs is the most challenging thing. It is quite hard to separate yourself from the work and not take knock-backs too personally. Also making yourself stay motivated; it can be quite a lonely life working as an independent artist from a home studio! My dream is to one day have my own studio/ gallery space to invite people in for arts workshops.

In The Wild © Sophia Shaw

And what are the best parts?

The best part of working as an artist has to be when somebody chooses to own a piece of my work, it’s a lovely feeling that somebody has made that connection and wants my work in their home!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Be patient! Work hard and always make sure you are enjoying creating your work.

What are you currently working on? And what’s next?

I have just finished painting my Christmas card designs for this year ready for some Christmas markets that I am selling my work at in West London. Next thing I am working on is illustrated map tea towels, I have always loved the kitsch holiday souvenir tea towel designs and I want to create some in my own style, watch this space!

English Country Garden © Sophia Shaw

Connect with Sophia at www.sophiasillustration.co.uk, and www.sophiasillustration.etsy.com.

All images copyright of Sophia Shaw.

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Make Your Own Handbound Notebook

I recently added these hand-bound notebooks to my Etsy store. I had a lot of fun making them and wanted to share a few tips on how to get started with book-binding. The idea can seem quite daunting, but once you get the hang of it there are so many options for customisation.

What you need:

  1. 10x sheets of paper. It is best to use a high quality writing paper, but you can also use regular printing paper. 10 folded sheets will make a 20 page notebook (40 sides) when the binding process is complete.
  2. 1x sheet of thick printing paper. Make sure that it is 150gsm or more.
  3. A small awl.
  4. A needle.
  5. Thread. There are many different kinds of thread that you can use for book binding. The best is linen thread, but cotton will work as well. The important thing is to choose a natural fibre that will last a long time and be strong enough to hold the notebook together.

Step 1

Print your chosen design onto your printing paper. This will be the cover of your notebook.

Step 2

Fold your notebook cover in half. Repeat with the 10x sheets of writing paper, and place the writing paper inside the cover, as you want the pages to lay.

Step 3

Find the centre of your notebook. You should start binding from the inside. You may want to use paperclips to hold the pages in place while you begin threading. Use the awl to make three holes – one in the centre, one an inch from the top, and the last an inch from the bottom. If you want the binding to be perfect then you should measure the holes to make sure they are at equal distances, but this is not completely necessary. Begin by threading the needle through the centre hole.

Step 4

Flip the notebook over and pull the thread through. The cover should now be facing up. Thread the needle back through the top hole, and flip the notebook over so the writing paper is facing up. Thread back through the centre hole.

Step 5

Repeat step 4 by threading through the third hole at the bottom of the notebook, so that the cover is facing up, then push the needle back through the centre hole. You may repeat steps 4 and 5 twice if you would like the binding to be particularly strong.

Step 5

Finish by laying the notebook and the writing paper facing up, and tie the loose ends together. Trim the loose thread and you’re done!

There’s so much opportunity to play with this process, designing your own covers and working with a variety of paper sizes, creating mini notebooks as well as larger books with different types of paper. Notebooks, sketchbooks and journals can all be created in the exact same way.

If you decide to try it out, I’d love to see the results!


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