From vision to reality

To me, a few words is all it takes. My brain engages, visuals start coming to me and the main elements are constructed within minutes of a conversation with a client. Then comes the research. How do I make this vision become a reality? This bit is harder and this is where the work starts. Sometimes elements will fall nicely together, but more often than not they will not, like an escape artist which I need to catch, sometimes, at the most unlikely moment. It is not always like making a recipe from precise measures. It is most like tweaking techniques that I used before whilst trying out new ones that fit this particular client or design better. I just know when it happens.

See, recently I have had this idea integrating Siamese fighting fish, swimming gently in a shallow pond in between rocks. I inked paper to add details of lily pads and dew. Stems holding the pads were ready to go. Except that when I starting painting the watery background, I decided to strip my design back to the bare essentials. I kept the hand painted Tyvek rocks with sand and I swapped ink and acrylic for the fish. It became more gentle but at the same time much more powerful. Less is more. I have just carefully applied glue to the rocks to assemble them to the watery backdrop. Tomorrow, I will make the final lampshade. At the time of writing this, I am less than an hour away from having a finished product and photographs I will be able to share with you.

Shallow pond 3

You may think that this process could be much shorter and to the point and sometimes it is. But on some other occasions it is when you start putting elements together that they start making sense … or not. The techniques I use or try hone my style into a more controlled finish that I am happy to hand to a client. Some of these techniques become easier to reproduce so that I can make this design again as part of a standard line. Some techniques I have perfected this week I will be shortly use for a couple of commissions I have started working on. Because whether this is working from my own ideas or making someone else vision, these techniques will surely come in handy at some point.

Shallow pond 1Shallow pond lit

Next time you see a handcrafted piece, functional or not, remember this process. Things do not happen from thin air but require materials, skills, research and “making” time. They also require marketing efforts so that we get the products in places when you can see and maybe touch them. With the best descriptions in the world and a selection of photographs, it will never match the product in the flesh because reality is so much better, It is tactile and textured, details will keep you intrigued for a long time and the result of not rushing this process will be all the difference between mass produced and unique pieces. Come and see me at home or at one of my exhibitions. You will get a warm welcome and maybe a vision of your own you want to make reality… with a little bit of help…


In a child’s mind…

… there are wonderful things, magical things and colours, lots of it. There is nothing that can’t be done. In fact, the world is an open shell where the most wonderful things can happen and they will help in any way they can. Children know what they like. That means they are tricky customers and they like to be involved. So my latest lampshade is for a 4 year old little strong mind, passionate about dogs and rainbow colours. When I started working with watercolours, I painted blobs of colours that happily spread into the fibres of the paper. My little one added a few drops of colour with a carefully applied brush and once done, we had a colourful base to work from. I then worked on some purple, pink and green threads free motion embroidery. I did not have any other brief on this one other than colours and lots of it so it was probably a bit more colourful than some of my recent work but I have to say I really enjoyed making it. I am also very pleased with the result and my little client is happy too. Not bad for a day’s work! Blooms detail So here are some pictures from painting to the final lampshade. Let me know what you think and if you ever consider asking me for a commission, don’t hesitate. This is great fun for all parties involved. BloomsBlooms lit

From the heart

What a year this has been! We have just come back from France for a cosy Christmas with my family. We left this morning for a 12 hours journey with many white roads, a light covering of snow and our little one saying ” I really, really want to make a snow ball!”. Not enough down and having left late after a lazy relaxed breakfast with my mum, there was not enough time either. Now we are back, it would be nice to have a snow dusting here too. I love snow, It completes Xmas ad makes it really magical.

We were in such a rush before leaving. Making many handmade Xmas cards and some presents added to the pressure. When people still had 4 days of shopping and the like, we had to be packed and ready. Well, we were, just after recovering from a lingering cold and my voice going very raucous for a couple of days but we were ready. What is it when you make something really special that the pressure builds? It is not that I did not know what I was doing, far from it. One of them simply had to be finished in time for us to take on our journey It was just a mix of trying to impress my mum and making something she loved that may not be something I would have in my home. I had to reflect her taste and not mine but without compromising on quality and a style I would be proud to add to my portfolio as someone else may like it and ask me to do something similar.

So what did it take? Lots of cotton to sew the different trials and final lampshade. A few hours of carving lino stamps that are stored until I use them for a different version. A few heated moments struggling to get some fabric glue to work and going for a an alternative in desperation. Spreading myself literally quite a bit leaving sorting out the house to the last minute… After a lot of anticipation, my mum loved it, my brother too and I think quite a few of the people that saw it since too. It is deceptively simple but has a lot of flowing lines sewed in the background and orchids added for the final flourish. This will join mum’s collection and cover that bare bulb naked for over 3 years! Here are a few pictures.

Orchids lampshade  with close ups from both side.  This was designed for a ceiling  but has not been fitted in situ yet as I have discovered since the French fitting is different to the one we have in the UK and  needs changing. Nothing expensive but a picture of it properly fitted will hopefully soon.

Orchids lampshade with close ups from both side. This was designed for a ceiling but has not been fitted in situ yet as I have discovered since the French fitting is different to the one we have in the UK and needs changing. Nothing expensive but a picture of it properly fitted will hopefully soon.

So, after all this making, I have just had a free week which felt quite strange and the main reason is my brain has engaged into a very creative process for the last few weeks, even during the orchid lampshade. Ideas are just parked in a corner of my head waiting to come out. I have also bought new materials and tools before I left which I have not had yet the chance to “play with”. Yes, some of what I do includes paying and experimenting. What I call “happy accidents” when something turn out unexpectedly to create a bit of magic. You can’t rush it, you can plan for it. You just do it.

So now the new year is approaching, I am planning more experimenting time, a few lines of wonderfully bespoke lampshades and artwork. Oh and planning a wedding! Yes a we are back on after putting things on hold for a year. Less than 6 months (if we get the date and venue we want) to organise a handmade (you could have guessed that) and laid back wedding filled with wild flowers and unconventional moments. If you like formal, look away now as they say!

But before I do all that I wish you all a year filled with health and happiness. I also wish for more peace in a very agitated and suffering world. It should not be that way and if we can all put out two pence of peace in our patch, maybe it will have a ripple effect, you never know. Fancy trying?

Best wishes to all.

Breathing again

This was a beautiful summer, bright and dry days, lots of sunshine and despite this it has been one of the hardest I have been through. After the previous year with the end of renovation and a stressful move, I did not think we could top this but I was wrong. Cancer killing slowly my dad (or quickly whichever way you want to look at it), being ill myself for most of the last 3 months, It has only been 3 days since my mind has started to become clear again, my body functioning as it should and my brain being to handle times ahead. No doubt the next few weeks will be challenging but this is not the story tonight.

I am behind in my work and in less than 3 weeks, I will be part of the Launch 2014, a black-tie event launching about 16 companies locally to where I live in Truro, Cornwall. I am part of the organizing team and this event that seemed so far for so long is now so close. I need to sort out my display, start pulling my weight about the promotion and help to iron concerns and questions that participants may have.

So what is this event I hear you asking? Well, earlier this year, Abbi my friend suggesting renting a village hall and showcase our work with  a glass of wine and a few biscuits. Our mentor Spencer shook this plan and told us to add sparkle and pazzazz! So here we are, a few months later, just about to have a first for the region in the stunning location of the Alverton Manor great hall.

I am getting nervous and the next few days I will have to decide how to best showcase what I do. What do I show? I have designed, created and dreamed new crafts and artworks. All I need is a bit of magic to make them materialize themselves. I am using more materials and techniques than before and that it itself is exciting.

So leave it with me and give me a few days to craft lovingly made artworks filled with emotion. You may catch a glimpse of new work but this is a launch after all so a touch of mystery is required…

So catch up with this blog and the following links, and follow us on #thelaunch2014. Cheers everybody!

The Launch 2014 logo

The Launch 2014 logo

Capturing an emotion

Emotions come and go like butterflies. But sometimes you want to capture them forever, especially if you want to celebrate a special event. So today, I am writing the story of Jo’s frame, complete with goats and how it came about.

A few months back, I took a couple of my frames with me to a baby group and showed them to a couple of people, one of them being Jo. She was overwhelmed by one of me which was one I did for Valentine and was the story of how Adrian and I met. Jo wanted one. But then doubts set in because she thought maybe this was more something she would like but was not so sure her husband would be as keen as her. I just told her that if the story was about them He probably would. So time passed and a few weeks ago< I got the go ahead to make one for her wedding anniversary which is, at the moment of writing this, tomorrow.

We had a coffee together one morning and chatted about how they met. Even though there were nice memories, none was standing out enough so I said to her maybe that is not where the story was. See, when I made my frame, it was with a person and an intention in mind. You cannot reproduce that. You have to listen to the clues. Then, Jo told me how she knew he was the man she wanted to marry and I thought “that’s it, we’ve got the story!”. In a couple of minutes, I had jotted down notes about them and picked on the visual of the gats. The day he proposed, they were in a field in Portugal surrounded by goats!

So I searched for goats! Oh and a bell! Jo said “wouldn’t it be great to add a bell?”

Easier said than done but I like a challenge. I found one coming with Tibet of all places last weekend at an fairy festival. Sometimes, when all normal places fail, you just have to look beyond! The layout changed to accommodate a goat big enough to wear the bell and I removed the glass. A I wrapped the frame in tissue paper, I could hear the tiny tinkling of the bell. Not discreet but lovely.

A wedding anniversary present bringing back how you know he is the one. Gaelle by the sea

A wedding anniversary present bringing back how you know he is the one.
Gaelle by the sea

I have delivered the frame this morning and I am glad to say Jo was over the moon. I can’t wait to hear from her husband. I met him this morning and he knows there is a surprise waiting for him. Part of the pleasure in all this is the build up. After that I am safe in the knowledge that each time Jo and Pritch glance at the frame, it will probably bring a smile on their face and most likely take them back straight there in that field… I love what I do and being able to capture an emotion, a moment in time and bring it to life, the best job in the world.

Do you have stories inside of you? I would love to hear about it and you never know, I could even help… 

The first of many: My world is…

A while ago whilst planning the collection for my launch, I had an idea for my friend’s birthday. All I knew is that I wanted to do something handmade for her and play around with new techniques at the same time.

So first I went to my local florist and picked some roses. The selection was very narrow but peeling back the petals they turned out to be beautiful and having wonderful colours in them. I did spread the petals on a mounting board and started shooting. I think it is fair to say that despite having an idea in mind, I like the magic of trying things out and one of the pictures will happen as per magic and make my idea of it even better than it was in my mind. I was not disappointed. It turned out better than I planned.

My world is photoshot collage

Then I thought about my friend and how she is all about emotion and passion. She is creative and I wanted to celebrate that. May I say that I have not done something handmade for a long time apart for my partner and my daughter so I was a bit nervous.

I worked with different fonts and ended up printing on muslin. It’s light texture made the photograph almost vintage and added a very soft feel to it. Well, that also said a lot about my friend too!

So a few hours later, a few occasions where she almost saw it and some home wrapping later, I finally got to give it to her. I loved her face when she opened it.

See, for me, this is why I am doing what I do now. If I can help spreading a bit of joy and help celebrate someone special, then it is a real pleasure and one worth sharing.

My world is frame © Gaelle by the sea

My world is … frame © Gaelle by the sea

So now I am launching my shop in Etsy I will start sharing what I have been working on for a few weeks. Enjoy. Ask questions. Give me some feedback.

PS: the link to Etsy is now live at

Busy bee

Gosh it has been a while since my last post! I said I did not want to post for the sake of it and recently I found it hard to write. Saying that I think I am now back behind the keyboard.

Where to start? First the last few weeks have been creative. I have finished the Outset course and I have had more time to create, make artwork and plan for the business even though I miss the interaction with the other people there. We are planning to all catch up for a drink once a month so we stay in touch and support each other.

I may have mentioned before that that I regularly meet with two of my friends. We are on the same boat and pretty much at the same stage. But what I find amazing is to be able to offload, share concerns, experiences and great moments too. We have created a pool of books to keep costs down. The other advantage is that we can compare notes and help each other when we get stuck. So around a cup of tea, we also make sure that we are still on track.

ripped paper gaelle by the sea coming soon

So apart from sorting our packaging, transport and materials, I have also experimented with different printing techniques. I have had some “panic moments” and some “eureka moments” too. I am getting closer to launch and then I will be able to share more with you. Just another week or so before I can. One of the artwork I have created is a present and I have to give it before I share photos of it. I would not want to ruin the surprise!