Repurposing for the better – Mosaic tile process

A broken mug becomes a mosaic plate

A broken mug becomes a mosaic plate

How do you come up with your ideas and solve problems? I quite pleased with the smashing result of a recent smash.

Back in 2010, I went to a paint-your-own-pottery place and painted a mug for my husband – he’s used it every day since for his morning coffee. Recently it broke, right down the middle. There we were, looking at the two halves feeling a bit sad. Then it occurred to me – the paint-your-own-pottery place also did mosaics. They had tiles available and encouraged people to make pretty mosaic frames and the suchlike.

I felt a flash of hope and called to check that they could accommodate my very own broken mug. They warmly assured me that I could bring it in and make a mosaic.

The mosaic design in process

The mosaic design in process

The people in studio were very encouraging and helpful. They had tile cutters and cut the mug into little pieces for me to use in the mosaic. The lovely woman helping me was initially upset that the bottom of the mug split in two as she cut it. But we quickly agreed that the diagonal slice added an extra element to the design. It was destined to be the focal point of the mosaic plate. As I experimented with the design, it became clear that I couldn’t make it a dense mosaic – it seemed that the irregular little pieces didn’t like to be close to each other and positively demanded breathing room.

I ended up with an airy design that had pops of red and black and cream. It’s got circular movement, spiraling out from the bottom of the mug in the center. I pushed in the grout with my fingers and left it looking a bit nobbly. I didn’t smooth it out as I felt the rough contrast with the shiny shards of pottery worked well. It turned out well and we are now figuring out where to hang it on the wall.

My lovely father in law asked me how I’d thought to make a mosaic – it’s just the way my brain works. Perhaps your visuals aren’t broken, but lets put together both our different brains to make sure they truly express who you are.

The Mosaic

Website Illustration – visual vocabulary and narrative

Sometimes you want your website visuals to be more like illustrations rather than web design. Recently I’ve designed a couple of illustrations for a client who is re-branding. He has a health coaching company so it’s important for his ideas and process to be presented visually as well as in words and for both to work together re-enforcing each other. We came up with this for a core part of his process:

CREATE LogoWe wanted to evoke energy, movement, joy: this is not about denial. I used the green from his website and liked the idea of having the figures in the sun cast a shadow that very loosely spells CREATE. He can use the acronym with or without its phrases, so it’s versatile. The look is upbeat, cheerful, and inviting, very much in keeping with his branding. We’ve been told it’s ‘hopeful, clear, appealing’ – just the ticket.

Another important aspect of his process is the 5R’s – the mainstay of what’s important in life. We wanted something circular, to show there’s no order to evolving these aspects of our life and also to re-enforce that you will probably work on more then one at one time. We then wondered what to put in the center of that circle – why CREATE of course: it’s through CREATE that you improve the 5R’s. We made it into a note on a cork board – to signify that this should become part of your life, your routine – the visual says that it’s like having a reminder up at home.

5RS Create

How can your visuals re-enforce your ideas and help create a visual narrative? Let me help you find the right visual vocabulary and look.

Leap Year Proposals

Leap Year Proposals

No matter how modern we are and how much we believe in equality, there’s something romantic about a leap year proposal isn’t there? Perhaps it’s the excitement of a woman asking her fella to marry her on a specific day that only comes round once every four years. Exclusivity has such allure.

The tradition of leap year proposals are steeped in lore, which adds a lovely touch of mystery. Are you being mysterious about your proposal – lots of hushed conversations and suppressed excitement about how it will all come off? Here are a few ideas that I like to whet your appetite:

Hidden in Plain Sight – some museums will let you hide a card or a ring in one of the cases. Imagine the two of you looking at the display when he catches sight of your card asking him to marry you.

A Romantic Weekend – and a deal – We all love a bargain, so if you’re planning a weekend lovely away to pop the question ask around hotels – some give discounts off your wedding or have other incentives.

Intimacy – in the end nothing says intimate more than a breakfast in bed proposal. It’s fully about the just the two of you and the life you will forge together.

Whether you’re taking advantage of leap year to propose to your chap – or if you plan to pop the question on any date – contact me to be part of your wonderful plans by designing a card asking your beau to marry you.



Molding Experience in Your Art

I’ve been pondering how the past influences artists and informs design. This was brought to mind when my friend and I recently enjoyed a wonderful Exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts: Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today.

It’s striking how some of these artists made the local visual style their own – molding it, shaping it. The art became something new and idiosyncratic but at the same time echoed the past, putting it on a continuum of artistic evolution.

Christine Nofchissey McHorse

Originally a Navajo from Arizona, McHorse went to high school in Santa Fe, NM. She met her husband there and it was her mother in law who taught her pottery using the sparkly micaceous clay that is common in the Taos are of New Mexico. McHorse is always experimenting, I love how she describes her approach, you can read more here:

There’s a period where I gain as much of the craft as I can, and then I start exploring structure — how far I can push the shape or how much extension I can get without losing the strength of the clay. A lot of them are experimental pieces of construction. I do a lot of combinations of shapes that I’ve done before or ideas I’ve had before and it just leads me to other shapes and ideas.

At the same time, you can see the Santa Clara Pueblo Influence in her work. She pushes the medium and the style to make it her own.

This is a tiny Santa Clara Pueblo bowl I picked up in Santa Fe:

Santa Clara Pueblo pottery, molding your experience in art

Here’s McHorse’s pottery in the exhibit:

Christine Nofchissey McHorse, Molding your experience in your art

Magdalene Odundo

Born in Kenya, Odundo moved to London after secondary school for training. Her work takes her African roots and European experience and uses the two beautifully. Their form is balanced and nuanced – decorative containers that hark back to traditional African style but are molded by her European experience. Is that silhouette of a face and head we see? Is it abstract or representational?

Magdalene Odundo, molding experience in art

Anne Wilson

The work Wilson shows in this exhibit lets the history speak for itself – she took wood tools for making textiles and made them in glass. This transformed them with luminosity. I’ve always had a soft spot of tools of trade – so often they really are works of art.

Anne Wilson, molding experience in art

Like these artists, his is what I often do – my fine arts background informs my designs. Let me use that to give voice to your graphic design vision.

Custom Design for Paperless Post and Evites

Basic RGB

Did you know you can use a custom design for Paperless Post? This is great news for those of us leaning towards an evite. You can still make the invitation stand out and reflect your occasion.

Recently I designed an exciting invitation for a book signing being sent using Paperless Post. The book is amazing by the way – and I adored the book cover design. I kept its wonderful bold and crisp look and continued with the water theme, echoing the struggle and tumultuousness of  Katrina – and the author’s personal journey. I think it’s arresting and in tone with the book cover.

As you can see, the design itself doesn’t have contain a lot of the event details – these go elsewhere when you upload the design onto Paperless Post. this means you can have a nice clean design. In fact, I toyed with a design that had less text, but in the end opted for a bit more info.

Want to cause a splash with the evite to your next event? Let’s have a chat about a custom design.


Art Deco Great Gatsby Wedding Invitations

Save-The-Date-web Web-with-background-RSVP

Don’t put away your glam dancing frocks yet – Art Deco and the Great Gatsby are still all the rage for weddings. Who can wonder why – it’s an elegant and sophisticated look with some glitz, glitter, and shine to give it an extra touch of pizzazz.

Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby got everyone putting on their dancing shoes. It does what he does best – creates a luscious world, one in which we can lose ourselves. The art direction takes much from the style of the period and then takes off light a flight of fancy. It’s vintage Baz Luhrmann  – and it showcases who he is as a director.

His world has a bit more shine and glitz than the nineteen thirties. It has bit ‘more’ in general – Art Deco grand opera style. The architectural looking features of Art Deco that we all love are more intense and are bolder in Baz Luhrmann’s hands. It’s almost a technicolor world. It’s a visual feast.

When we look at Baz Luhrmann’s Art Deco and we look at Art Deco itself, they are not the same. Compare The Great Gatsby art direction to that of the BBC’s Poirot. Both have garnered great praise for their Art Deco visualization, with justification. But they are very different.

Baz Luhrmann transports us with a new take on Art Deco. It is a visual feast that delights contemporary tastes. No wonder it’s still all the rage for wedding invitations. You can have this luscious Great Gatsby wedding suite personalized through my Etsy site.

Want something unique – contact me to have your own custom roaring wwenties wedding invitation design.


Using a Visual – Chalkboard Wedding Invitation

Hungarian-Chalk-blog Lily-chalk-blog

One powerful visual can change the whole look of an invitation.

Recently I’ve been having some fun with chalkboard wedding invitations. They are arresting and can be extremely versatile – no wonder they’re popular. I created two wedding invitations where the only difference was the one image. What a difference that one change makes.

In the first invitation, I used Hungarian folk art embroidery – in fact, it’s a Transylvanian style. You can see some examples here. It looks like lace, yet it’s mostly crewel work – embroidery using wool.  This tends to look more robust than silk embroidery, which helps give the invitation its rugged look. Interestingly, there’s a formal air to the design too – an unusual combination.

I also created a lacy backer.


We’ve ended up with a design that’s elegant, rugged and formal – in fact, it looks almost like it could be cloth, a very pleasing effect.

It’s very different from the other chalkboard wedding invitation design.


This wedding invitation is intensely romantic in an old fashioned way – Lily of the Valley was such a popular flower to depict love. At the same time, the chalk board gives it a fresh and modern feel, as does the splash of red adding color to the couple’s names. The Lily of the Valley also gives movement and a clean feel. This design is wonderfully romantic and traditional but with a twist. It’s just right for the contemporary traditionalist.

What’s a visual that captures heartbeat? Let’s make sure we use it in your graphic design.

Changes in Graphic Design and the retro look – Stork Margarine and ‘The Art of Home Cooking’

The Art of Home Cooking

Graphic design is always changing. Sometimes it’s style driven – Art Deco gave way to Mid-Centry Modern and Mad Men trends. Technology also plays a part in how graphic design evolves. Advances in photography, the cost of printing – these all affect the designs we see. Just feast your eyes on the cover of this Stork margarine recipe book.

Stork margarine has long been a name brand in the UK. Stork’s parent company says The Art of Home Cooking was published in 1954, when Second World War rationing in the UK finally ended. The stork looks quite fetching as he doffs his hat while disembarking from his lean wartime journey. It’s also full of fabulous Nineteen Fifties Brit writing style.

Stork Margarine Inside Front

The aim was to get housewives to put on their pinnies and re-discover Stork – what better way than through a glossy cookbook. By today’s standards, this is not food porn but the design and photos are typical of high end food photography for the time.

The Art of Home Cooking Cover

I must say the  following centerfold spread does look delish. I think I could manage anything on that page.

The Art of Home Cooking Centerfold

What baked delights do you remember from your childhood that are no longer popular – or are making a comeback? My husband was just mentioning to me that lemon squares were on the upswing again.

Nostalgia plays an important role in graphic design. This photo in The Art of Home Cooking reminded me how much I miss cream horns – an Afternoon Tea treat from my childhood. I remember the bliss of the flaky, crunchy shell giving way to soft, luscious cream.

Sandwich Cakes Page

Whether your look is retro and evocative or fresh and modern, I can help you evoke your style. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get cooking.