Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Rolling on...

Afternoon, dear readers! Here's a more upbeat post for you thanks to modern pharmaceuticals, and I suppose mindfulness. The past few months have crept by under a cloud and I appear to now spy glimmers of hope and future plans (that are still waiting to unfold from the last New Year). In our household, along with the usual Christmas nativities to prepare for, there is also the School Christmas Fair (do I, don't I hold a stall when social anxiety is a little prevalent), Christmas orders, Christmas presents to be bought and made, and a house move. That's right, we are deciding to up and re-clutter in another part of Denbigh just moments before the Christmas mayhem peaks. Why? Because that's the way we roll in our house, against the norm and when the time is right for us.
Lately, I have been able to moderately work on bits and pieces. I took to making some straight forward plaques as the repetitiveness was therapeutic. Whilst weeding (not your garden variety) and painting, I was able to get my thoughts going again about what my orders should look like, and how best to achieve them.
Here are some recent Christmas bits...

Now as I'm listening to Rhianna's glorious 'Diamonds' on BBC Radio 2 and it's starting to darken outside (3.46pm!), I am looking forward to already writing the next blog with more pieces to show you. The heating has had to come on early, we don't have snow yet, and the kids are safe home eating crackers and melon.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Bleak Mid-Winter

It's midday and I've done more since waking this morning than I seem to have managed in the past week. It's winter, and today the sun is out. The difference in my coping ability is striking. Yesterday winter was all about greys, blacks, dark thoughts and hopelessness. Today, it's about fresh faces, blue skies, crisp air, orange and red leaves, and icicles on the porch roof. Same me, different outlook. I'd really like to hold onto today's outlook for longer! Have not posted here for quite some time. Not because I had nothing to say, but because I couldn't bring myself to say what was going round and round in my head. Off with the old, awkward nonsense, here's what I came on here to show you...

Individual letter AlphaCubes painted with Annie Sloan, Craig&Rose or Farrow & Ball paints. These can be personalised if you would like a set made for you.

Hallowe'en - I sort of missed the date with these, but they'll be ready for next year!

SEASIDE - Examples of styles and patters used - the E went a bit squiffy, but with practise they'll be beautiful.

LOVE - another font and pattern that can be put together, as well as HOME below.

Little AlphaCubes I call them. They're 4x4x4cm and made of redwood. They're hand-cut, sanded, painted, re-sanded, varnished and decorated with a decal. I've made lots of different ones which go together to make a word, or individual letters with an image. Some are retro, some are vintage, some are bright and colourful. While I gather my creative armour for the orders I have on the go, these cubes give me that edge to do something different which is very in-keeping with the eden with pencils style. More Christmas delights on the way in the next post. Until then, stay safe everyone xx

Monday, 8 October 2012

Shifting horizons

Morning readers, today is a grim weather day, particularly so after the lovely blue sky of October's first weekend. I am scoffing chocolate, my soul food at the moment, it's going a long way to keeping me a little bit cheery while my nose is fresh and pink. It comforts the palette in any case.
It's been a while since my last post, mostly because life at home has taken some unexpected twists and turns, with reality being obscured and routine immensely disrupted. Commissions I painted over the summer are posted below, and perhaps I could churn out some non-commissioned pieces before Christmas, who knows. Whilst not wanting to deliver a blog memo that is unconvincingly vague about what's really going on,  I'm talking about depression and its ability to cling onto emotions and brain-thoughts like chewing gum. Days are passing by with small goals to achieve; getting up, dressed and eating being the main ones, so it's not so easy to concentrate on the larger goals of art pieces that I would love to have ready by Christmas and the chase for buyers of commissioned work.  Every now and then I might have a spurt of energy that eclipses the darker patches, but they don't last long, perhaps long enough for me to have the idea of doing some housework or starting a new plaque design. Inevitably, there are a few unfinished ideas hanging about the desk space, I'm sure they will come together eventually, but not today.

The Lily Pad is a nursery on Anglesey. One of their little ones graduated from there this summer and his family wanted to give a unique gift to the nursery as a thank you present. The plaque shows the different classes of the nursery - tadpoles, frogs and dragonflies. With this I also decided to start painting the edges of the plaques so that the story could be seen from all angles. It makes a more interesting piece and is a style that has delighted the receivers.

Kitty was also a summer project. Born in 2012, hers is inevitably related to the Jubilee, and that London City  style.

'Aiden' was a project I started over the summer, a present from a husband to his wife on her birthday. A door plaque for Aiden's room and a watercolour new baby painting depicting New York Central Park in the background and Aiden's baby statistics in the detail. I didn't get a final photo of Aiden's baby painting, so hopefully the new owner will be able to oblige...?

Since finishing Aiden's designs I took a rest from wanting to build ideas. My thoughts were tired. Last weekend I sat down and painted what came to me. Minimalism is appealing at the moment as I have little want or patience for longer projects. I managed to quickly mix up some new Christmas cards - solitude, peace, and simplicity are the reason for their 'lack' of whimsical, intricate and bold designs that I tend to go for. Perhaps next time I will be more cheery and even festive? Take a look at the pieces and let me know what you think xx

Monday, 27 August 2012

It's a little bit funny

Greetings reader, if you're in the UK you'll no doubt be wishing for better, drier weather before the summer has well and truly passed. I sit here in a roll neck polo jumper thinking just that.
Recently I have had a frenzy of business with orders to process according to a schedule in my diary, and gifts to make that weren't on the list but were made as any handmade product is, a stand-in for that children's party where both parents forgot to buy the little present and card. Step in 'creative mother' with a few spare letter blocks and voilà! The child has a gift for the birthday girl...of course, handmade card from mother's stock in accompaniment.

A new plaque for this week is a delightfully whimsical watery plaque for a nursery over on Anglesey. It's a little bit funny with each character playing a part in the aquatic display. The theme derives from the stages of this particular nursery that are tadpoles, dragonflies and frogs. So a few other bugs were thrown in for good measure.

This time I decided to paint all the edges as part of the image so that the story continues from all angles (except the back which retains its clean original wood). If you would like to see more creatures like these then drop me an email and what you have in mind. I think this is one of my favourites and will become part of the printed range which will be ready before Christmas...oooh, now there's a word which will crop up again soon!

Till then, tally ho! x

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The wonders of printing

Greetings on this sunny-rainy Sunday afternoon, weather that is typically British in indecisiveness and unreliability. If anything, I feel less guilty about having to spend every last second absorbing the rays to increase my melanin levels. Mine comes from a bottle, much safer, and quicker!!
So yesterday a friend and her family went on their merry way to the Middle East, an adventure if ever there will be one, as they've taken their two little boys with them. When they return, the boys will be speaking Arabic no doubt and have tans to die for! As a parting gift from her sister, a dear friend of mine, Charlie (think Liza Tarbuck), requested a commissioned plaque to represent their journey. Charlie pretty much left the detail to me but I still needed some facts - the boys' favourite items/costumes/activities - we are talking about two boys under 4 so options were limited - and really what does the dad do? Straight away the image came to me of a hot air balloon and the family making the crossing in that - the kids swinging from it, the native and destination countries on polar sides, and wording that isn't a run-of-the-mill message. Here is the outcome (apologies for the photo quality, a decent camera is on the shopping list).

And with this sparked new ideas - initially painting location plaques and re-printing them in various hues.

So far I've added a variety of Wales' towns and country parks, obviously the UK cities, and perhaps country ideas too. As usual, one plaque snowballs into ideas for many, many more. I just need to leave more food out for the elves to come out and sand the wood for me...
Enjoy your Sunday! Yvie x

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Wonderful moments x

Today has been a day filled with wonderful moments. The sun came out and delighted us all, as we kicked off our shoes and lay out on the grass. When I say we, I refer to myself and two old friends of some 24 years gone, each with at least two children, most aged four and under. So as we gathered as Mothers do, on the grass, seven children running amok next to the tarmac'd playground, ducking in and out of the hedge-turned-den along the wall, I relish in the atmosphere and forget all the worries of the day, the week, the month...yes, I could go on. Once the children were hungry we just packed up and walked the 200 metres back to the house to continue taking advantage of this belated summer weather in the back garden. Not at all perturbed by the mounting leaning towers of cups and saucers, I am pleased to have spent a lovely day with my friends and their children, and look forward to more days like this.

My 'Evelyn' range seems to remind me of this day: colourful, little moments of love, laughter and delights. The 'Evelyn' motifs and colours are full of summer and fabulous memories. Enjoy x

Monday, 30 July 2012

Oh, I do like to be beside the sea...

With 24 hours to go before little 10 year old Alfie's birthday party, the girls are asking me what they could buy him for a present....what do I know about 10 year old boys!?
Having just printed off 40 odd pages of lettering for making stencils for a range of wooden letters I spot an opportunity to make little Alfie a unique gift. My daughter Eden is his girlfriend after all, so something special would hopefully keep her in his good books.
Previous wooden blocks have been the colourful lettering only, some with the occasional design - Jubilee theme, Christmas - however this time, with it being summer, I decided to opt for a nautical theme and put my lovely Craig&Rose1829 colours to use. Sticking to a blue-green range I also decided to add a touch of class to the rear of the letters by painting on white images relating to the seaside.
All things nautical, I am really pleased with how these have turned out, and as with all experiments I will be looking to produce more of this 'Alfie' nautical range in the future.
Next up will be some letter block designs for little girls...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympia v Snowdonia

With Radio 2 in the background, I worked hard over the past two days to finish this little delight. My fourth baby commission, it's completely different to the first three. Not only because there are surely hundreds of different ideas that I could come up with, but mostly because this is a bespoke painting and it's all about Sylva - where she comes from, her baby birth statistics, nationality, Chinese year of birth, zodiac sign, her parentage and the meaning of her name - Goddess of the woods and forests, Protector of the fields - and it's in this meaning and the season of her birth (Autumn), that the theme is set. A Goddess for Snowdonia.
Fitting, then, that this painting was finished just prior to the start of the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Enthused, as I mentioned, by the Radio 2 DJs' excited commentaries, and the adrenaline-rushing, heart-pumping, emotion-tugging sporting montages on the television, I was on course to complete this task. Having lost momentum over Easter whilst juggling work commitments, training, childcare (x 3), health and family commitments, Sylva - nicknamed Maple Leaf baby - seemed to require pure commitment in order to bring out the best in her. Regularly, my art time is just a little bit here and a tiny bit there, but Sylva needed more, and more time was scarce.
Now, at the start of the summer holidays, with a few rest days available, and the positive vibes transcending the airwaves, I gave it my all and didn't stop until every last stroke had been delivered. Of course, it's quirky in places and part 'realistic' - part 'cartoon', but the vibrancy in the colours just make it work (for me).
As with all my paintings, a lot of emotion goes in, so it's almost inevitable that there will be a tug of heart strings when it's time to let her go.

If you'd like to commission a baby painting like this one, or like my other paintings on the Baby Boy, Baby Girl page, please get in touch! You can email me on, leave me a message on facebook, twitter or linked in, or give me a call.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Long days and pleasant nights!

Happy Friday!
And it's the first Friday of my kids' Summer Holidays...I wonder how wonderful it'll be over the next few weeks?
Well, today went well as the kids were in and out of the house, playing with friends, running for the ice cream van, back in for a carpet picnic, back out on their bikes, back in to play hide-and-seek...then came the disaster. Wee man wanted to draw, like me I suppose...but drew off the paper and over the carpet. It was actually quite spectacular. One very long slightly curved line ending in a wiggle on the fireplace hearth. Throw in two very large stars shaped like this * and we had something that Ikea would probably sell on their curtains. Come to think of it, my girl has that exact same pattern on her bedroom rug...? 
Nothing serious, good old washable pens (thank goodness!)
In between all this to-do, I managed to come up with these 4 ideas (inset) for up and coming projects. They don't always look like the what comes out of the paintbrush tends to take a life of its own.
Bit by bit though, I'll plough through the sketch book and build up my range. So exciting! Just loving the list of themes to work on. Next week Bryn (the master craftsman with the tools and the k-now-how) will be supplying my 20 plaques to get the originals painted onto. How long these will take is unknown, but I'll be giving myself until the end of the Summer holidays to have them done. Then once they're done, it's printing time!
Alongside these, I need to get down with the Marketing thang! I've probably only scratched the surface, already made a few boo-boos with the survey (will redo, promise), and could do with a dictionary at the ready to translate the lingo. Accounts? Yep, need to figure them out too, am lucky to have Katy offering her guidance...will certainly be needed. So, my Summer Holiday will mostly consist of the day job, revising, designing, keeping the kids entertained, and making headway with these plans. Oh and did I mention I'm racing in the International Snowdon Race tomorrow? That's my other Sun's going to be out, it's going to be a hot race, it's going to be fantastic! Especially the post-race birthday BBQ x
So, Day 1 has been recorded...looking forward to how the rest of the summer pans out!
Long days and pleasant nights, my friends.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Marketing a name plaque?

Afternoon Folks!
I'm taking stock of the year so far. It started with a flourish of orders in the first week of January just as I was on holiday in Stoke St Gregory, with visits to the Glastonbury Tor (inset), City of Wells, and environs. Steadily I've been building up my ideas, experimenting, researching, slowly turning this hobby into a product. Now 'business' is the word of the day at eden with pencils HQ. Time is being diverted into developing a marketing strategy, and for someone who left an International Business degree to focus on living and working in the real world (in Lyon), such words conjure up dark images of what I have to learn, and what I am able to retain....all the while wanting to just get to the drawing board! I have been given sound advice and I need to act on it (thanks little bro). So here goes, I'm reading up on Market Analysis. Hopefully, with several fresh cups of coffee, flap jack, fruit and yoghurt...and a little stretch...I'll have retained enough information to write up a survey to send out to those who have already had the pleasure of receiving an eden with pencils product. It's a mine field out there, so if you're about to help me along the way, let me know! I'm good for conversation and listening to advice. Hope you all enjoy your day, which isn't so different to January's  mild winter weather. It's cold, it's pouring with rain...the sound is bersing  me into a doze as it rattles off the conservatory/study/dining room ceiling. Better than traffic honking, I guess?
Until next blog (when I expect to be somewhat more educated?)....

Monday, 9 July 2012

Wedding Belles & Buttons

This weekend saw my biggest project yet - 9 wooden table plaques for the Owain-Ford wedding in the quaint, quite out-of-the-way, vintage village location of Clocaenog, near Ruthin. As luck (or skill) would have it, the colours used for the plaques were bright and cheerful and met the occasion well. A whitewash marquee adorned with beautiful bunting and flowers, the plaques helped to mark the event in true style.

Now out of stock of wood!

Only kidding, thanks to Bryn Jones I hope to maintain plenty of stock as Phase II of my business gets under way...printing plaques. It's an interesting time at eden with pencils HQ, and I hope to make the most of it and really get this business going. It's all learning, with quirky facebook marketing, and homemade photo effects, but these are the foundations that I'm sure I'll look back on in years to come and laugh heartily over. Hence the blog to keep a diary of how things are going...or going round.

Right, am now off to the printers to test out this gorgeous piece of wood on their machines...fingers crossed!

If you want to check out all 9 of the plaques from the wedding,then head over to my Wooden Plaques & Retro Lettering page for the full monty x

Friday, 29 June 2012

Moving on, moving on...

A shift has occurred recently. In the stars (according to Russell Grant), at work and at home. It is as if different areas of my life are finally heading in the same direction and it's up to me to link them all together. I know this sounds rather mystical, and it's pretty vague...but isn't that how life is sometimes? I guess when one door closes, you only really notice that there is already a path laid out in the opposite direction. Not for you to go backwards, but for a complete change, one that is needed. So I'm taking big steps to make a change in my career. I'll be refining what my business is, as it's unsustainable at the moment, too much of a hobby and not effective as an income. I'll be going back to school, to get the skills and the tools to really fulfil my dream of putting my mark on the art world. With so many projects in my head, and little time to see them through, my head sort of gets all cramped and daily life becomes unmanageable. So I'm going to free up all that space and let those ideas out!! It's going to be scary, it's going to be an adventure. And hopefully, with some hard work, faith, courage, determination and dedication, I will make my family proud of me, and be their shining example x

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Safaris and Fantasies

Greetings ladies, menfolk and ramblers...or as the saying goes something along those lines? The Jubilee fever has sort of passed, my orders are being dreamt up, mulled over and attacked with creative spirit, and summer is really trying to return to North Wales.
I have ingested some heat and safari mania in my latest plaque, where I decided to create an optical illusion! The name plaque, on a name plaque...where the name plaque IS the name plaque!! Basically, my plaque is painted around sections of the wood to give the impression that the wood is on the plaque I confusing you yet? How muddily.
Take a look, I am proud of this little creation for a little boy who loves tigers. I have never painted or even drawn a tiger before, nor a giraffe, or zebra, so have been not so silently promoting my work to colleagues at the 'day job'. Yet again, this little dude is something I've created with hours of love, painstaking tenderness and care, and giving him away is somewhat heartbreaking....but the smile it'll put on a little boy's face more than makes up for the loss.

Am considering being able to make these plaques full time...but the question is how do I manage to charge their worth in terms of the hours I put in to make them? At the rate they're being sold, they're an absolute bargain. All originals too. I wonder how people would feel if I painted many different themes, but was able to alter the name on them and then print those images off. Would that steer too far from what I love doing most? Painting on wood and leaving my mark? It's a costly little venture I have here, and am wondering how best to move forward with it all...Answers on a postcard! I love receiving postcards, no really! Give me handwritten any day...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Something for the Jubilee

Well it's the Diamond Jubilee 4 day weekend (for many), and it's raining cats and dogs here in Denbigh, just as my tele has broken so there's no watching the Royal procession or the flotilla or any of the other Jubilee spectacles in my house. But in keeping with the spirit of all things British, here are some Jubilee works I prepared for 5 lucky ladies as part of the Pay it Forward 2012 project. One of the ladies is Australian, so just in case she wasn't a fan of the Commonwealth her design is more of a Coral Reef/Surf concept.
Other work I've been doing is home décor - bath blocks and a wall hanging for a new home (check out my Wooden works page).
Still plenty of other projects to fill my spare time when I'm not doing my day job, and hopefully they will be up here soon too. So what am I working on? Currently I'm painting a new baby scene, 2 more children's name plaques, 1 wedding plaque with 7 number blocks, my Year of Greetings cards, a curious Alice plaque project, a children's adventure story with illustrations and a logo for a pastry company. More than enough to fill me boots. Hope you all enjoy your Jubilee parties, I'm off to St Asaph tomorrow to join in the festivities in St Asaph becoming one of the new Jubilee cities. Then it's back to the grindstone...
So to sign off it's got to be long live the Queen, and may you all enjoy long days and pleasant nights, so says Roland.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

If I were a superhero...

Ah, it's been a while since my last post, life really does take odd twists and turns. Plans are upended. What a rollercoaster.

A little out of the ordinary, and fun; I sketched a couple of superheroines and coloured them in with the laptop magic paintbrush to add some life. I guess it is a private joke, but I wanted to share these ladies with you...who knows where they might take me!

Make way for Sniper Golightly and Mistress Omnicompetent (aka working Mothers of the 21st Century)....

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Totally Tropical

I've been working hard on another name plaque recently (still a few more to go but as they are so detailed they do take a fair amount of time and effort!). As with the others, I was led by the name and preferred theme and colour. For this one, Cassia was never going to be about pink butterflies, fairies and flowers, much to her Nana's dismay...and as her room is decorated in yellow and green with giraffes and elephants, I decided to make this a tropical jungle theme - with a few tropical flowers thrown in...
I've really enjoyed working on this one, and yet again feel like a part of me is going to go with it when it reaches its new home...

Spreading the love! Happy days x

Thursday, 2 February 2012

social media icons...why not?

Having just completed another design, I congratulated myself with a cup of tea. No sooner had I taken a sip when an idea sprang to the surface...what fun could I have with my own social media icons? Why not paint one, make it my own! So using some of my favourite characters I whipped up these two as a bit of a treat for myself :0)

Onwards and upwards then...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

...and recently

Every day is different, every week is different, so routines just go out of the window. Who wants a routine anyway!? Recently, I've had ups and downs with getting commission work done, and have spent longer thinking about what to do than doing anything - partly due to not being at my desk when thinking, and partly because I haven't yet committed to getting some work done. However, I have done some orders and here are two, very different plaques for two special little girls, both brand new to the world, born only days apart. Welcome to the world little girls x

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Ed Wood, wood, wood

Today I have mostly been painting wood.
I have finished one plaque for a dear little girl, and have started are some snippets until they are sent to their new homes.
As I start a new name plaque I haven't quite decided on a theme, and then the ideas start to flow as I think of the name, and I find it's not easy to stop and go to bed (like now at 00h13!). The wood seems to give a life to the paintings that I haven't found yet on paper. Perhaps their rough edges (well, smooth but shabby) are what make the difference. The wood is reclaimed from the family farm (my sustainability-enthusiastic sister will, of course, approve) and the paints have changed from the Reeves acrylics to the Craig&Rose 1829 range...mostly because they're not quite as vibrant and give a matt effect that acrylics just can't pull off. They're both used where necessary, but for these two plaques, the Craig&Rose won hands down.
I've another project on wood (shh, this one isn't actually out of the bag yet) to get started on. All at the 'thought' stage, I guess these name plaques are good practice for this 'other' project is going to be something special x

'Til then, g'night all!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Rock and roll

Good evening, it's nearly time for sleep before an early start tomorrow. I much prefer my lie ins, especially in the winter, but I guess a few 05h30 rises are good for the soul...
I've started my A Year of Greetings project and the first card's theme has landed a '50s feel. I love that era (aesthetically speaking), and will no doubt be rolling out a few more along the same style.
Other plans are afoot, and darn it if time is too short. The year has started well with 6 new orders by 6th January. Enough to keep me busy, you could say. Strangely, they are all different requests which gives me a lovely positive vibe that I am able to churn out some diverse material. As well working on new stuff I thought I'd show what I managed to do for my daughter, Eden (the namesake), which is slightly experimental (as with most of my work).

Onwards and upwards...

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Hogmanay 2011

Happy New Year folks, wow, what an end to the year 2011.

This year started with some level of uncertainty, with each day a stepping stone to something brighter, more certain, more creative, and a realisation that my passion really is in my art. This has been a journey that was meant to be. I have ended with a wealth of vision for what I want to achieve and what I want to create. So here's to our mistakes, and failures that help us to build our strengths. Here's to being inspired and loving to create, to bringing a smile to others and building hopes for our future. In good spirit and in good health. Bring on 2012!

...and here's what I finished the year with, a delightful plaque for a little boy.