Thursday, 3 December 2009

No rest...

Hello hello lovely people. Just a quick one to remind Manchester types that the Craft Centre is open extra hours throughout December. Tonight is our first late night Thursday, we're open 'til 8, and on Sunday we will be open 11-5. Come and do your Christmas shopping in a relaxed and cosy manner, away from the insane Arndale crowds and chilly winter weather!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Crafting and grafting

The last couple of months have been all about workshops for me! It's been great, I've mentioned before that I always find them really inspirational and that my own practice moves on as a result. I'm on the last week of the Design for Life project, then I will be concentrating on Christmas and plotting the coming year...yikes!

Linocut inspired by the Egyptology collection at Bolton Museum

Linocut inspired by the bolt stamps collection at Bolton Museum

Mittens monoprint

Mittens linocut

Matryoshka doll monoprint with brusho colour

Matryoshka doll linocut, produced at my Ministry of Craft print workshop

Grumpy bird screenprint with bonded fabric elements, produced at my Ministry of Craft print workshop

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Hi hi! Friday was the first session of the Design for Life project that I've mentioned before. The kids came to Bolton Museum for a day of looking, touching and drawing. We went down to the aquarium and took a peek at the beasties there and chatted to Paul, the awesomely knowledgeable aquarium guy.

This is a knifefish - related to the electric eel. Isn't he an amazing shape? Lovely stuff.

Later Don, the entomology guy, brought some of his insect collection from home for the kids to look at and handle if they were brave enough! I held the beauty below, a clicking cockroach, which felt a bit like a piece of varnished wood. All was well and fine until I tried to pass it to one of the kids and it started running away - I'm ashamed to say I squealed, dear reader. And swore. Oops!

Here are some of my sketches. It was really lovely to do some drawing from life as its been a while. I tried to encourage the kids to draw quickly and not be too precious about each sketch, quite a difficult task it turns out!

On Monday Kirsty, the project co-ordinator and I went to the school in Bolton to do a workshop on mono printing, which I was really nervous about as I hadn't done any for ages and had never taught anyone this technique. Luckily it went really well and the work the kids produced really impressed me. I like doing workshops as it always influences my own practice, it's easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut when you do the same thing every day. Fingers crossed the rest of the project goes as well! I'm also doing a workshop on Saturday at the museum for The Big Draw and don't actually have a clue what I'm supposed to be doing! Eek! Better find out really...

Monday, 28 September 2009

Let there be light!

The new studio is finished, and looking bloomin' lovely if I do say so! Jane and I worked our socks off, trawling second hand shops for furniture to tart up. I developed a brand new muscle from sanding, cleaning and painting, but it was all worth while as it looks exactly how we imagined, fresh and cosy. We both agree that more people are coming in and looking at our work - more than 6 people at a time would not have been possible in either of our old cupboards/studios! Here are a few shots of the work in progress:

Thank god for the orbital sander!

Amazing cocktail cabinet for 20 quid, including lemon squeezers, whoop! (totally impractical, of course)

Finished! Although we will no doubt be making some changes as time goes on, for the moment we're really pleased with how it looks. To celebrate, we will be having a little party on Saturday 7th of November, so be sure to pop along for a nosy, there's bound to be a drink in it for you! Of course, you may also be able to get all your Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop, how good would that be?! ;)

Aside from all this excitement, Jane and I exhibited some work on the Craft Centre's stand at The Buy Art Fair, Urbis and we both sold some pieces, so are both happy girls. I start my workshops for Bolton Museum on Friday, looking forward to the Entomology guy bringing his insects in for the kids to draw, even if they aren't!!
Adios amigos xx

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Back to School!

What what what?! Did I really not blog for the whole of August? How remiss of me! Well fear ye not, I'm back and ready to knuckle down! I was out and about having fun a-plenty. I've been to The Big Chill in Hereford, the Lake District and North Devon for a spot of camping and surfing. Phew! Pretty pooped now, I can tell you. But! no rest for the wicked, I have exciting plans! The beautiful and talented Jane Blease and I are going into cahoots, and will be moving into a bigger studio in our beloved Craft and Design Centre asap! Stay tooned for more info, we're bound to have a shindig to celebrate the opening, and you're invited, baby!

We're in the middle of a HUGE thunderstorm here in Manchester, so a nice pic of some sunny times is needed! xx

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Where's Summer, B?

Wowzer, I can't believe it's halfway through July already...well, more than halfway, yikes! And I haven't written a post all this time! I've been busy as always, so busy working and playing that I seem to have developed quite the eye twitch! I blame too much time staring at the computer, so had planned a splendid day of gardening and household errands. Alas, the weather here in Manchester is absolutely appalling! So I'm waiting patiently for a break in the rain to whiz out on my bike for provisions.
Last weekend I went down to London town to attend a training day at the V&A for the Design For Life project, it was super-inspiring and brilliant to meet some more experienced designers and educators. I felt a little sheepish that people seem to manage to do so much more than me, juggling design projects with teaching and personal art endeavours. So I hereby decree that next year I will definitely apply for a residency somewhere so that I can put some of my less commercial ideas into practice.
Other than that my customised baby T Shirts and bibs are proving popular, you can purchase them here on my Folksy site for UK buyers, and here on Etsy for you worldwide lovelies!
I took these product pics when the sun was shining! Ah, remember those days?! Hope you kids are enjoying a splendid Summer x

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Just so busy, busy busy, busy scissors oh-oh

Hello! Thought it's about time for a real post, written with my real hands and mind.
First off, the workshop I did as part of Ministry of Craft went brilliantly, I was so impressed with the designs people came up with, you can read about it and see the results here. I'm going to be leading another day-long workshop in September, this time including monoprinting, lino cutting and screenprinting, so stay tuned for more info about booking.

I've been working hard on lots of new products, such as these alphabet print posters, which are for sale on my etsy and folksy sites.

I'm working on completing the alphabet set, so keep 'em peeled for more designs and colours coming soon. I'm really enjoying working with larger blocks of colour, working on paper gives me a bit more freedom to play with ideas, so I'm happy with that.

My most exciting news is that I've been selected to be workshop leader for the Design For Life project, working with Bolton Museum in conjunction with the Victoria and Albert Museum! I'm bursting with happiness about this, yesterday was so inspiring (and geeky) and I got to poke about behind the scenes at Bolton Museum, and chat to lovely Paul, the aquarium guy about mudskippers and the like! So, so good. I have loads of ideas for the project, I'll reveal more later...The workshops won't start until October, so I have plenty of time to prepare. I'm off down to London in a week to do a training day at the V&A, yippee!

That's probably enough for now, suffice to say I'm feeling very, very positive right now! <3 <3 <3

Friday, 26 June 2009

Max Ehrmann 1927 Baltimore


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing future of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
Beyond wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labours & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Eek, I didn't realise it had been so long since my last post! Oopsie! Today has been spent updating my etsy and Folksy sites at long last, because the sun has reappeared and I was able to take some product shots on Saturday. Yippee! I've got some new t shirt designs and a couple more bibs. The tee pictured is my fave and I'm wearing one now. It's a bit of a change in direction because I just wanted to play with colour more and use some shapes that I felt would carry strong tones well.
I've started to do custom kid's bibs and tees, with names printed on them, hopefully they'll do quite well. I always loved anything with my name or initial on it when I was small(er)! I must must must get some shots of those at the weekend.
Other than new ideas whizzing around my brain, I've been digging a spot of exercise of late - I did the Great Manchester Run a couple of weeks ago and managed to beat last year's time, 10k in 1 hour 5 seconds. Next year I will do it in under an hour! I raised nearly £200 for Mind, the Mental Health charity as well, so I'm really pleased. Muchos gracias to all those that sponsored me.
I've also been going to intermediate (killer) yoga classes on a Wednesday and hula hoop classes on Mondays! Fun fun fun. I've even bought a hoop, bring on the abs of steel. This is all old news for those following my ramblings on Twitter, soz!
Tomorrow I'm facilitating a workshop at Manchester Art Gallery, hurray! All is pretty sweet in the Nell Camp. Hope it is for everyone else too :) xx

Friday, 1 May 2009

MAPS Festival...

MAPS festival is on this weekend in the good old Northern Quarter and we at the Craft and Design Centre are pleased to be a part of the fun. There will be paper cutting and embroidery activities from 2-4 to celebrate the end of the Craft Mafia exhibition, which is brill and worth a peek - it's your last chance!
We've also got bands on from 3-8, with all the studios and the cafe open for business. Come holla at me! It's free entry and therefore no excuses are acceptable for not coming on down to support local musicians, artists and all round good eggs. Start the Bank Holiday Weekend in good cheer! xx

Monday, 27 April 2009


Print by Charlie Harper, one of my most favourite illustrators.

Tiring of making excuses, I resolve yet again to move forward and make changes in my life. I read this poem on The Love Diaries blog today and it resonated with me.

Risk, by Anais Nin

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.

I'm in a strange mood today, maybe it's because the sun has gone away again. Over and out. xx

Friday, 24 April 2009

This Week's Round Up...

Illustration by Lock Sin.

Been a bit shy on the blog front of late, this week has been pretty productive due to a surge of energy thanks to the sweet, sweet sunshine and the pure glee of cycling to work.

Things that have been keeping me going through the lean times here at the Craft Centre are: creativity, past loves, losing track of Springtime crushes, barbeques, rocking out, bedroom dancing, pop hits, positive thoughts and bullshit avoidance tactics. Sweet deal.
I really wish I had some money for new tattoos, I would fully be getting this sexy little mama on my upper do some work then, eh? Pow! xx

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

In love with my shoooes

I don't usually do 'what I wore' posts, but I have a tripod now and I'm not afraid to use it! So a little light posing was called for before I went out last night. I went to see Gideon Conn at the Deaf Institute, I have seen him many times, but my friend Nick is making a film about him for his Masters, so I thought I'd show my support. Thoroughly enjoyed myself!
I mostly wanted to post pictures of these brillo shoes I got in New York, a fabulous vintage find, I'm sure you'll agree! They were only $14 and look like they've hardly been worn! Huzzah!

Yesterday I received a call from Dena, a lovely lady that I have freelanced for at Manchester Art Gallery, facilitating family workshops. She has a new job in Barnsley and has asked me to help with a workshop there on Saturday, I'm excited, it sounds like it will be a lot of fun!

Friday, 3 April 2009

More tricks up my sleeve...

Hurray hurray, another project is go! Over the past couple of months I have been in talks with Sam of the Ministry of Craft. She is an absolutely lovely lady (with an uber cute baby!) and I'm very pleased to announce that I will be heading up my first T Shirt printing workshop on the 6th of June, at The Friend's Meeting House in Manchester City Centre. Check out the Ministry of Craft website to book yourself (and a friend!) a slot. Wouldn't that make a brilliant pressie?! Go go go, do it now! It'll fill up fast ;)

Monday, 30 March 2009

It's a helluva town

Originally uploaded by little nell smith
What can I say? New York was amazing, amazing! I flew First Class, gobbled much food, drank my own body weight in fine wines, stayed at the swanky Soho Grand, shopped shopped shopped, went on a helicopter ride over Manhattan, had my mind blown by the collection at MoMA, walked through Central Park, goggled at the Guggenheim, drank cocktails at the Rainbow Rooms, chomped a cheeseburger at the Union Square coffee shop and generally lived it up. The only disappointment in the tale is that we saw no
celebs until we were dining before our flight home, when we witnessed the massive horse-like visage of Piers Morgan. Yeah, great. Still, a roaring success, felt like I was away for 2 weeks rather than 2 nights!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

up and down and round and round

Hello! Despite my good intentions to blog more often, I always leave it too long and end up forgetting all the splendid things I've see and done. Sorry about that.
On Sunday I got a call from lovely Kwong from Castlefield Gallery inviting me to be part of a focus group tomorrow night to assist in audience development planning. I am interested and excited, but also a little nervous - I have the fear that it may all be a bit highbrow for little old me. I just draw pretty things, gah! But I guess you always know more than you think you do, right?

The questions we're going to be discussing are:

1. What interests you about contemporary arts and culture in Greater Manchester and further afield?

2. Where do you experience/go for contemporary arts and culture in Greater Manchester?

3. How do you find out about contemporary arts and cultural?

Any thoughts?! xx

p.s, please can someone get me this outfit from Minimarket, I need it for dinner in New York on Saturday! But more on that at a later date, promise ;) xx

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Scramblin' gals

Sunday saw me and my good friend Liz (of Lily Greenwood fame) embarking on a little adventure to the hills of Edale. The day started out grey n'drizzly, in true Manchester style, but once we were further into the countryside, the sun came struggling through the clouds.
I haven't been walking in ages, it was so, so good to breathe in the fresh air and to take in the beautiful scenery...and laugh, drink rum and stumble around.
I'm teaching again tomorrow and feeling a little nervous. Positive thinking all the way!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Professor Peabody...

Aha! Here is me as a small child, with previously mentioned Munch Bunch book! As you can clearly see, I had rad styles even then, red shoes and dungas?! Oh yes, I would rock those sandals today. My amazo sister sent me a Munch Bunch annual through the post last week, I may well treat you with a little look once I've sorted my accursed scanner out. That is all for today, I am feeling a little ropey due to too much adventuring in the hills. More on that at a later date. Over and out!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Living my childhood dream...

When I was small my favourite book was the Munch Bunch book about Professor Peabody. He loved books and learning and sharing knowledge. He was also a peapod with legs and shoes. Now, I'm no peapod, but I sure loves to learn. Anyone who has read previous posts will know how I've been rambling on about the good times around the corner - well, the good times are HERE BABY!! So many good things have happened of late, it's been incredible. Today was my first day of teaching at UCLAN in Preston. I did a presentation about my work to the final year Textiles students and went through the brief of a project I will be teaching on over the next 8 weeks. Exciting stuff and I will be writing more about it.
A couple of weeks ago I did a workshop and talk about my work to a group of teenage boys seeking asylum in the UK. I was pretty nervous about it, but I really enjoyed it, and it seemed they did too. I got the gig through Manchester Art Gallery, where Lilli Brodner and Jason Tayor are running a programme called Design Your Life. All good stuff.
I have been featured the Autonomous Artisans blog this week and have been included in an article on etsy. Wowzers. It's all go! You know I like to keep it brief, so that's enough trumpet-blowing for now. I guess I'll just have to blog more frequently...
Oh, yes, one more thing, it was my birthday on Saturday, I'm a Valentine's baby and boy was I feeling the love from my awesome friends. Thank you all for a fantastic day and night, love love love you all xxx

Monday, 2 February 2009

I've got a tiny little crush...

...on the lovely Guy Garvey off of out of Elbow. The 'thinking woman's bearded crumpet' came into my studio on Saturday and made some purchases. I think I kept it pretty cool, but inside I was mad swooning! He bought a feather-print apron and matching tea towel for his friend's housewarming, what an absolute gent! He was chatting away nicely as I stared at him, agog. Yes, we shared a moment.

In other news, the snow has caused me some small pain, I absolutely stacked it walking to the bus stop this morning, causing me to swear like a trooper and crushing the life out of my coccyx. I will be bruised.

Monday, 26 January 2009

N to the E, double L, that's me!

Planning, planning, planning. I can feel good things a-coming. Whether the changes I am going to make are radical or subtle, they are going to happen SOON! So watch this space...
I had a pretty good weekend, drunken fun with some excellent buddies, a chance meeting with a certain someone who has been occupying my mind and a day of rest with a spot of Mario Kart on the side!
Today is apparently a good day for envisioning what we want in the future, need to focus my returning energy on creative success! It's also Chinese New Year, so I donned some red lippy and nail varnish for luck and my super-cool name necklace from Paraphernalia. Thanks Ms. Vanda!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


I've been listening to Kiss A LOT recently. I don't know what's wrong with me. I really, really want to see this film:

...even though it looks like a load of guff, I feel it could be rather amusing. So please will someone fix it for me? I especially like the sound of this, 'Peter Criss (the Catman) had super agility, could leap great distances and possessed the amazing ability to make cat-related puns.' Ha ha. Amazing.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Today was quick face sketch day. Here's a couple of my favourites:

When I got home there was a copy of TEXT from the Textile Society waiting for me, with the report I wrote for them all shiny and glorious. I am a real published artiste!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Hey, I'm on it!

It was my first day back at the studio today, and boy was it cold. There was also no internet connection, which is always a blessing and a curse. I pretty much drew and chatted to my fellow crafters all day, which was pretty pleasant really. I feel a sense of anticipation, something exciting is just around the this space!
In the meantime, I was pleased to be featured in an etsy treasury for the second time. Glad to see an appreciation for glorious grey and orange!
Also, I haven't even mentioned that I'm a featured seller on Folksy this month. Praise be to the splendid Sally Fort for bigging me up!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Hear hear!

Ah, what a splendid day I've had, pottering round charity shops and stomping through crunchy snow with a dear friend, discussing future plans and feeling general merriment. Tomorrow it's back to the studio, so thought I'd allow myself one more day of fun times, just to make sure mind body and soul are ready to rock!

Monday, 5 January 2009

A little piece of my mind

Here's a little drawing I just did whilst listening to Metamorphosis read by Benedict Cumberbatch (possibly best name ever?!). I would like to say that I'll do a drawing a day and post it up, but I fear I'm not too hot at routine and will most likely tire of it soon. I've been a tad lazy of late, not really done much work over the festive season, although I was in urgent need of a rest, so I won't beat myself up too much! So starting to draw again, no matter how nonsensical, weird, rubbish or stupid the drawings may be, is really helpful for the creative process. Enjoy my stupidity!