Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Work in Progress Wednesday

Inspired by my travels this summer, I decided to do a little mountain and tree design, which I've made into lino prints and screenprints.

A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on

A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on
I used my lovely block printing kit from Fred Aldous to make the lino cuts. If you have something you're working on and would like to share, join in with the hashtag WIPWednesday on Twitter and Instagram!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Saturday Sketchbook

sketchbook bugs

Here's a page from last night's super rough sketching times. I'm intending on making a new screenprint for the Buy Art Fair, which is rapidly approaching. Genius me thought it was in October, whoops...I've always been a big fan of shield bugs, they come in many shapes, sizes and an incredible array of shimmering colours. I've seen a few around this Summer that have captured my imagination. Here's hoping I can get the print done in time! Set up is the 23rd September, wish me luck.

A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on
A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on
A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Back to Skool

I've had such a lovely summer, full of friends, fun times and adventures. I'll be blogging more about what I've been up to over the coming weeks, this is part of my back-to-school plan. I went to a Creative Business Development session yesterday here at the Craft Centre, run by the very lovely Pete Mosley. It was a very inspiring day, I feel ready to make some Big Plans and get myself into gear!

I'll leave you with some things I've been working on, some Shit Portraits of some of my favourite people! Can you tell who they are?? (portraits aren't my forte, but they're lots of fun to do!) As always, there's more on my instagram

A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on

A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on
How is everyone getting ready for the new season?

Friday, 1 May 2015

Blog Every Day in May

I'm attempting this challenge for the second time, and have decided to start off with 10 random facts about me as an introduction.

I'm a printmaker, I've been running my own business for nearly 7 years, making and selling my stuffs.

I don't like small talk. I prefer big talk or being completely ludicrous.

I say I'm not a fan of routine and repetition, but actually I really need it to stay focused.

My favourite food is probably the noble avocado.

I'm pretty good at hula hooping.

I was once sick in a bin under the counter at work. I carried on serving customers afterwards.

I have a lot of stories about massages. Ask me about them if we meet!

I'm at my happiest when drawing and listening to music, preferably in sunshine.

I sing in an all girl choir, She Choir Manchester. We're really good, come see us if you get the chance!

I love creative swearing.

There you go! Hope that's not too boring a start. I'm looking forward to reading everyone's  posts and writing some more of my own. Happy May everybody!

A photo posted by Nell Smith (@iamnell) on

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Work in Progress Wednesday

Yesterday I did a large scale dotwork drawing on the window of the Craft Centre, which was very enjoyable, and a bit of a learning curve! I drew an heptagon measuring about half a metre across using 0.7 mm Posca markers. This was my first error. I've never drawn on glass before and using a nib so narrow made the ink kind of slide around, and of course it took a VERY long time to build up enough colour to make an impact. I wish I had drawn a larger shape, as it gets a bit lost in the window, and next time I would use fatter pens. I've got lots of ideas for my next window, so I'm really glad I've made a start on large scale work outside of the studio. I felt pretty nervous before I started, then I popped my headphones in and all was well. My arm really hurts today.

Vinyl stickers for the window.

Poscas in the pouch, plus makeshift measuring devices (i.e string)

Tiny, tiny dots.


 Pretty much impossible to get a decent picture from the outside, but I like the layers of shapes behind my drawing.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Oslo Adventures

I went away for another little trip last weekend, this time to Oslo for my friend Laura's 30th birthday, I had such an amazing time, we managed to cram in a lot of japes in just a couple of days!

First things first, we'd heard how expensive everything is in Norway, so we decided to stock up on Duty Free at the airport. Cue much bewilderment about what we were allowed to take with us. Turns out Norway is NOT part of the European Union. Who knew?? Fiercely independent, it turns out. This was good news for us.

I hadn't really done much research as it was quite a last minute thing, we had originally planned on going to Berlin, but the flights were too expensive. So I hadn't really realised how beautiful Norway is, I fell asleep on the plane and awoke to amazing icy vistas!


train to Oslo Sentral
Birthday girl Laura

We got the train from the airport to Oslo Sentral, more beauty to feast our eyes upon. Snowy scenes! Our apartment was near the Opera House, which is an amazing building, I was very excited as you can see into the costume department and there were wigs and models aplenty.

Oslo sunset

There was a spectacular sunset across the water. Absolutely amazing. After finding the apartment, and spending around a thousand Krone on snacks, we found our way to Grunelökke, which is a cool, independent area in Olso. We went for cocktails and burritos, and immediately had to take a cavalier approach to spending, as it was too depressing to work out how much everything actually cost.

The next day we took the tram to Frogner Park to see the Vigeland sculptures. Everything has a bit of a retro, slightly 80s vibe to it, but the actual park is incredible, and we were super lucky that the weather was bob on, cold and clear and crisp.

Oslo tram
Tram chums

Frogner park, Vigeland scultptures
Hands in the air like you just don't care

Vigeland Park
Vigeland sculptures

After checking out the sculptures we decided to walk to the museum quarter. It took quite a while, and we were all desperate for an open sandwich and a sit down by the time we got there.

Viking ship museum
Viking ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum was brilliant, really interesting and a very cool building. We spent about an hour there before getting the bus back to Grunelökke to refuel. We got beer and burgers from a place called Munchies, which was absolute 100% hunk central. Ridiculous.

Show me you're tough.

Oslo Opera House
Oslo Opera House

Godt Bröd Oslo
Egg custard of dreams

On sunday we went to try and find the Oslo flea market via a scamper up the Opera house building. Unfortunately we had to carry all our bags, which was a little arduous. The market wasn't quite where I expected it to  be, but we went to Godt Br√∂d bakery and coffee shop for the World's Most Amazing egg custard and cinnamon bun, which lifted our spirits into the sky! We found the flea market, but it was a bit disappointing, some great furniture, but that was just a pipe dream when flying with Ryan Air. We made our way to the bus station after a delicious hotdog. The bus journey to the airport was really beautiful, I wish we had more time (and money) to explore the countryside more! Can only imagine the wonder of Summer in Norway.

In summary: the men are insanely handsome, the dogs are amazing, and there's not a wallet in the world big enough for the amount of Krone you'll need. I would love to see more of Scandinavia!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Studio Shake Up

It's all change at Studio 25, as we sadly say bye bye to Lily Greenwood, and hi hi to Kathryn Edwards.

Lily Greenwood
Butterflies on red by Lily Greenwood

Liz (aka Lily Greenwood) has been a resident at Manchester Craft and Design Centre for nearly 9 years, and has been an inspiration, friend and shoulder to cry on at various points since I started in 2008! She encouraged me to apply for my first studio, and helped me with my business plan and application, so I would like to say a massive THANK YOU and good luck to her! She will carry on with her creative business, you can still buy her beautiful work direct from her website.

Kathryn is returning to the Craft Centre after some time out to get married, move to London and back, and have a baby! We are super excited to welcome her back, as she is a total good egg, and produces wonderful illustrative work, focusing on landmark Manchester buildings, such as Victoria Baths and The Star and Garter. Check out her work here!

Star and Garter
Star and Garter by Kathryn Edwards

And last, but not least, the very lovely Jane Blease is off on maternity leave soon too! Must be something in the water, I'd best watch out. Taking over her days at the craft centre is recent graduate Daisy Lee-Overton, who makes beautiful sculptural jewellery. We look forward to welcoming her to the Craft Centre!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Print Workshops

How to screen print

On Saturday I ran a couple of print workshops for Ministry of Craft, screen printing in the morning and lino print in the afternoon.
They were both great groups, I love seeing what people come up with , all such different designs! My next workshops are on the 4th of April, you can book here if you fancy giving it a go!

How to screen print
Printmakers help each other!

Split fountain experiments!

How to screen print
Avocadude. This was my design!

How to screen print

How to screen print

How to screen print

How to lino print
Lino cut card designs

Lino print workshop

Lino print workshop
Experimenting with overlaying colours. Looks amazing!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Work in Progress Wednesday

This year I want to push my 'other' work more, as it's a good stretch for my brain, and part of what I really love and excites me is coming up with new ideas, the ping ping ping of working on something new. I don't necessary love the 'end product' or even really producing something to sell. I keep thinking I should start a new blog and website for this separate part of my practice as it might be a bit confusing for people as it is so different, so far removed from my craft business.

I am also trying to blog more and writing does help me to think about things more clearly and deeply.
Apologies if this post is a bit of a mind splurge, I am trying to be more honest, not everything is great in the land of craft, it is  a struggle sometimes, lots of doubts creep in, especially this time of year, it's quiet, cold and cash flow is a nightmare! (aka, I'm skint).

On the plus side, I've just booked flights to Oslo for my friend's 30th birthday! Never too poor for a bit of adventure!

So, my WIP (work in progress for those uninitiated into the language of the maker) today is for the window display at the Craft Centre. Some of the resident makers are going to take it in turns throughout the year to dress the window. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to produce some larger-scale geometric work. I loved making my giant paper wreath at Christmas and doing something for the window feels quite low-pressure, rather than producing work to 'exhibit'. So, still along the lines of geometry, colour theory, spectrums, looking at shapes within shapes, heptagons, RGB, CMYK, the number 7...this will take form over the next few weeks, but I really think this line of work my constantly progress and change.

Tracing paper hexagon and coloured paper
Work in progress: circle, heptagon, triangle from tracing paper. 

Black and gold geometric papercut wreath
Handmade massive papercut wreath - about a metre square. Enjoyed making something 3 dimensional for a change.

I went to see the Liz West installation at the weekend at Federation House, which was really beautiful and inspiring. An amazing spectrum of coloured light, that looked different from each part of the building. I love Federation House, such a great space and ace for the art scene in Manchester!

Coloured light installation
Liz West installation

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Valentines Papercuts

It's February, my birthday month, and I have been working away getting my website updated with lots of products. January felt like a bit of a slog, so I'm starting afresh and looking forward to Chinese New Year! My papercuts are now online, I really love making these, especially the anatomical heart, which was something I started when I was working on the weekly word drawing project.

Red Lovebirds Papercut

Puffin Heart Papercut

Red Anatomical Heart Papercut