30 Sep 2011

Progress on My Studio

I've spent a few days sorting out my studio, during a full scale proper clear out, it's amazing to discover how much stuff I have. This is particularly daunting during a stage when I had thought I was really low in stock, just last week I ordered TONNES of materials to make Christmas stock. Now I just have to figure out where it all goes when it arrives. The studio is a work in progress, I think it will take me quite a while to finish it, but here are a couple of quick snap shots of what I've done so far this week.

I decided to add a second desk, it was only last week when John saw me working under a mountain of materials that I realised that my working space is far too small. The danger of this is that no matter how big the space is, it will always be filled. 

I need to get a lot more boxes, but they are surprisingly pricey, the coloured boxes above are €5 a pop, and even the plastic red ones are nearly €8 each. I think I'll just have to buy a few each week, it would hurt too much to go in and spend nearly €50 in one go on boxes! Sadly I don't have the beautiful matching boxes that you see all the time in interior design magazines, but this is real life, I want to spend my money on the stuff that goes in the boxes, not have everything beautifully matching!(although ideally I'd have both)

29 Sep 2011

New Handmade Cards

I've been working on some new cards this week, I really do love making them. It's so relaxing, I just turn on my audiobook, switch off my brain, and start cutting and sticking to my hearts content.

28 Sep 2011

Senator David Norris-A New Hope

I don't know about you but I was glued to the outcome of Senator David Norris bid to get on the ballot paper. I was sitting here looking at his facebook page clicking refresh every few minutes. Thankfully Dublin gave us the result the nation wanted and the upcoming Presidential election will be a proper democratic one. I was gutted when Senator David Norris initially stepped down from the running due to an ugly smear campaign, with the media dredging up issues that he had answered to years ago. It was so sad to see that our country is blatantly run by a big boys club who didn't want a man to run who stands for change. According to all the surveys there is a huge majority of support for David Norris, a fact that the boys blatantly tried to ignore in blocking him.

Just minutes after I found out the good news I decided I wanted to make a badge to show my support for his campaign. I looked through lots of photos of him online, but none of them were punchy enough. Some of you might know my design work and my interest in red, black and white designs used in political propaganda artwork. This led me to look at the Hope piece made for Obama during his campaign. I spent a few hours on photoshop editing an image of David Norris in the style of this artwork. I've seen a few different pastiches of this image before, I've no idea how they did them, if there is some quick filter to use, if there is I don't know about it. Anyhow a couple of hours later I was finished my image, I made a full poster, and then also a badge design. You are more than welcome to use the poster image on your websites/blogs/facebook to show your support for the Senators campaign(just please credit me with a link back to this website if you use it). I have also listed the badge in my etsy shop here.

Last night it was pointed out to me on Twitter that my design might be misconstrued as someone trying to cash in on David Norris' success. I was a little shocked by this suggestion , but when I stepped aside from my enthusiasm and looked at it objectively I could see how someone could misunderstand my intentions. This image was made in a moment of excitement, and genuine pride in a man that symbolises change and hope for this country, something most of us have not felt in a very long time. I responded in the way that is natural to me, to make an artwork. Since receiving the questioning tweet(s) I have contacted the Senator David Norris team asking them for permission, stating that the listing will be removed if they have any issue with it. I also offered the use of the poster for free, which I've also offered to all of you guys too.

22 Sep 2011

Culture Night

As some of you may know already I let kids draw and make their own badges at the market, it's proved really popular as it's not only a fun activity but the kids get something cool at the end of it. I approached The Hunt Museum about doing some badge making with them for Culture Night. They loved the idea, so this Friday I will be at The Hunt with my trusty badge maker. We thought it would be a good idea to have pre-drawn ones for people if they get a bit of artists' block, so I'll have badge template colouring sheets as well as blank pages. The usual price applies of €3 each or 3 for €6. I still have to confirm the times that I'll be there, but from the website it looks like I'll be around at 5-10pm.
I'm delighted to be taking part in Culture Night, but I'm a little sad that I'll be missing lots of cool events. Whats your Culture Night itinerary like?

21 Sep 2011

Christmas Supplies Shopping

I came to the daunting realisation yesterday that Christmas is soon approaching, and as usual I'm not properly prepared. So in an effort to tackle this problem I went supplies shopping yesterday online. 

At Christmas cards are obviously a bit seller for me, by rights I should have started making them already...but sadly I'm not that organised. I popped over to the Cork Art Supplies website to have a gander at what they have. I picked up 4 large paper pads, and two smaller ones too, including a drool worthy set from Graphic45 I also got some rubber clear stamps to add to my ever expanding collection. They also had some other paper that was out of stock which I'll check back on next week.

Much to delight and surprise it arrived this morning! Talk about fantastic service! I also ordered some nifty supplies from Papermania, but that will probably get here next week or so to get here.

20 Sep 2011

More Movie Reviews...

I've been doing lots of brooch sewing lately, one of the nice things about this is that once they're prepped and cut/co-ordinated I can sit down on front of a movie and sew to my hearts content. That way I get to catch up on my brooches and have some chill out time too. My local rental shop Moviedrome does a great deal that you get 6 old movies for €10 for a week. If you're from Limerick and you haven't liked their business page go do so now over here, Paul posts lots of fun film tit-bits regularly. You can also see the nifty new profile picture I made for him last week too. Here are some of the film I rented.

Crazy Heart: John wanted to rent this ages ago,but in one of my grumpy mood I said no. I used up one of my 6 rentals to 'get something for John' to be nice to him. But I was thrilled by how much I loved this film. It's a story of a drunken washed up country singer played perfectly by Jeff Bridges. He meets a young journalist, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a relationship grows between them. The music alone is fantastic, a surprisingly genuine and believable performance from Bridges, who has a wonky whiskey voice perfect for country music. Add to that a good slowly building story and honest performances from all and it makes for a great film. I think I'll be adding this to my collection at some point soon.

The Special Relationship: The film portrays the relationship between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair during the initial few years of Blairs term. There were solid performances all round but ultimately it's a bit of a forgettable film. It was interesting to watch it as I was quite young when all this was happening but I still remembered snippets of it coming back to me while watching the film.

Remember Me: I'm not sure why I left it so long to watch this. I think I overheard a friend saying it was crap, and it just put me off. Sadly I mentioned to my housemate Cecily that I rented it and she let slip the ending before I watched it!! Even knowing the outcome I still really enjoyed this picture. I has predictably delicious Robert Patinson in it, which is always a bonus I wont lie. It show the burgeoning love between a couple and both of their difficult relationships with their fathers. After typing that I realise how trite it sounds, but trust me it's good. Strong and believable performances from both leads add depth to it.

All the King's Men: Sometimes I have a moment while watching a film I'm really not enjoying and I think 'why bother?'. I had that moment while trying to enduring the pained over acting of Sean Penn..and I just thought life is too short. I switched it off after about 45mins. Maybe I watched it on a bad day, or in the wrong mood, but the whole thing came across as clunky. I was seeing Sean Penn shouting on a stage, not believing a character, I was thinking about the dull script and not believing the story. I turned it off and had a chit chat with Cecily while doing my sewing, a far nicer way to spend an evening.

Conversations With Other Women: I absolutely loved this film! It's an interesting take a the portrayal of a failed relationship. It stars Helena Bonham Carter(in my opinion one of the most beautiful women ever) and Aaron Eckhart. The entire film is shot in a dual screen which means you can see both actors at the same time, this is totally engrossing as you can watch all the tiny nuances between this couple as the negotiate their way through this meeting. The performance from Bonham Carter is one of her best, and she captures beautifully the inner tension between guilt, desire, and loss. You could watch this again and again and see new things every time.

19 Sep 2011

Halloween and Zombie Love

It's coming into Halloween season soon and for once I want to be prepared. While waiting on John yesterday in the lovely Tom Collins' I sat down and did a little brain storming session. I came up with a few ideas:
Headless Horseman
The Thing type crawling hand
Spooky castle

I know I'm missing loads of stuff so I'm asking for suggestions please.

I'll be selling them as party sets either to give as party favours, or to hand out at the door instead of sweets. I did this last year and I must say that the kids loved it! I'll also be selling them individually.
Image Courtesy of Limerick Eye

At the end of this month there is a Zombie Outbreak Festival in Limerick. The Festival kicks off on Thursday, 29th September with the students of Limerick hosting events around the city and and continues right through until the 2nd of October, with a full schedule of music events, talks with guest speakers, movie screenings and children’s spooky tours in the Hunt Museum. I'm sure I'll take part in this somehow, I love fancy dress. I was thinking of Zombifying one of my old costumes...I think a Zombie clown would be pretty cool. I'll also be making some zombie badges to mark the occasion, maybe try to sell them at some of the events like I did for the Pride Parade last week.

13 Sep 2011

Spicy Sausage and Bean Casserole

As a lot of my regular readers will know I've changed my eating habits a lot over the past few months. .I've been refining this concoction over the fast few weeks but I think I hit the perfect balance at last.

Spicy Bean and Sausage Casserole:
You will need the following:

1 Tin of Tomatoes
1 Tin of Mixed Beans( I use the organic ones from Eats of Eden)
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Red Onion
1 Red/Green Pepper
1 Punnet of Cherry Tomatoes
2/3 Large Spicy Sausages(from the French Stall at the Milk Market...and they are gluten free too!)
1 Cup of brown Rice(also from Eats of Eden)
1 Veg Knor Stock Pot
Small Pinch of Chilli Powder
Small Pinch Sweet Paprika

(I get all my veg from the Milk Market which helps keep costs low)

*Turn your hob to No.2 and heat a large pot with a small bit of olive oil, pop in your 2/3 sausages in the pot and cover with a lid. While they are slowly sizzling chop your onion finely and crush your 4 cloves of garlic. Leave to slowly cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

*In the meantime chop your cherry tomatoes in half, and your pepper into long strips. When the onions and garlic have softened and started to smell delicious pop your peppers and tomatoes in the pot. At this stage add your spices to taste. I use Sonnentor Chili Powder which packs quite a punch, so I only use the smallest pinch. I then add about a half a tea spoon of paprika. Leave for 5 minutes.

*Strain your tin of mixed beans, put both your beans and tomatoes into the pot.

*In another pot put on your cup of brown rice, adding 2 1/2 parts water to 1 part rice. Add your knor stock  pot to the rice water to add extra flavour. Leave your bean dish stewing on No.2 for the length of time it takes for your brown rice to cook.

*At this point sit down and have a cup of tea and relax...this is when I watched an episode of the IT Crowd on 4OD.

If you've used 3 sausages this is more than enough for 3 servings, with maybe a bit left over for lunch the next day. It's a really luscious hearty meal, perfect for a cold blustery evening.

Here is some info on the health benefits of adding beans to your diet and also some info on brown rice.

PS: Please excuse the poor picture quality, I was way too hungry to hunt down my camera, so I used Johns phone instead.

11 Sep 2011

Books Books Everywhere

Stock Photography: Old recipes

Royalty-free Stock Photo: mug and pile of books

Stock Photography: Antique Books stacked

Royalty-free Stock Photo: les livres

Myself and John are trying our hand today at selling second hand book at the Milk Market. At last count we have 350-odd for sale and we plan to add lots more. More news on this later in the week. Today will be our first day, so wish us luck! We're open 11-4pm if you are about and fancy a browse, prices start at €1, but the average paperback is €3-€4, bargaintastic! Also suggestions for names for the stall are welcome, John is being very picky!

All images are from Gettyimages

10 Sep 2011

Limerick Pride

It's Limerick Pride this week so to help celebrate this fabulous event I've designed some pride badges. As usual they are for sale at my stall for €3 each or 3 for €6. I will be listing them on etsy over the coming week but I'm a bit up to my eyes at the minute.

8 Sep 2011

For the Love of Pinterest

Beatriz Martin Vidal

I joined Pinterest last week and have become completely addicted! I had stumbled upon it a few months ago, thought it was pretty but quickly moved on, but once I actually joined then it got it's well groomed claws into me. For those of you who haven't heard of it it's like creating an online mood board, with sections and categories. There is a handy toolbar button that you click anytime you see something cool on the web, they you can add it to your categories. The idea being that you have lots of people following you and they can see the pretty/fun/cool things you've clicked and then in theory pass them onto others. It's a nice way to browse the web for research purposes, it's an artist and design haven. It's really handy as all you have to do is click the image and it brings you to the original blog post/website. Already I have categories like tattoos, studio envy, crafty projects. As the weeks and months go on these collections will get bigger and bigger.
Since joining I've discovered some great new craft blogs and lots of inspiration for making some crafty tweaks to my house...now just to find the time to make them!!

As a blogger and a crafter selling online it's another way of getting my work out there, the odd time I plan to slip some of my own pieces into my mood boards and hopefully bring them too a new audience. I've also used Pinterest to 'pin' some artist friends of mine's work. With the 'repin' option this has the potential to reach lots of people. I just have to figure out how on earth to get more followers, anyone have any tips?

So if you would like to follow me click here, if you haven't joined already I would highly recommend it, although beware it's another online time burner!

Tattoo artist David Hale

7 Sep 2011

Major Blog Overhaul

I spent most of Monday sorting through my blog, it was a really painful process but I think I've made some real improvements. I had wanted to get a complete website overhaul and move to wordpress, but it was a little beyond my current budget. So instead I spent many hours slogging though the new options on blogger trying to make it do what I want it to.

Last week I made some changes to my About, Contact and Stockists tabs, getting rid of some really ugly formatting and instead replacing them with some collaged images that I made in photoshop. Thanks to the very lovely Alexia McInerney I also have some tasty product shots and portraits of myself. She very kindly let me use the images she had taken for the Prudence article she wrote about me a few months back. I'm much happier with these pages now and I feel they reflect the look of my products a lot better than what I had before.

Blogger have also made some new improvements that have meant that I can link directly to another website from one of my tabs. So now I'm able to have a craft shop and supplies shop that link directly to my etsy stores. As a regular reader of blogs I know this is really important, the tabs at the top are there to quickly navigate around the places people most commonly look for. The last thing I want is to have a reader searching for info that they can't find.

The only page that I'm still frustrated with is the Custom Order Badges section. I can't seem to find a way of making all the information easily readable. I attempted to solve this by making a pricing table in photoshop, and then loading it as an image. But I really hate that it's a long list of information that someone has to trawl through. I would really appreciate some feedback or suggestions to help deal with this issue.

The other massive change was that I no longer have the stupidly clunky address of www.nicedaydesigns-ruth.blogspot.com, I was able to buy a custom domain name and it has now switched to www.nicedaydesigns.org, which looks 100 times more professional, and people will be far more likely to search for it. Sadly there is still a fake tv company sitting on the .com address waiting for me to offer them loads of money to buy it off them. But I'm just not that rich! I'll have to be happy with a .org address instead.

Another change that took hours-and I mean HOURS- to arrange was a categories section. I meant going though the tags of 500 posts and arranging them into 11 different sections. Blogger have added an option that makes this a bit faster but some lazy design has meant that the tool is a bit glitchy and I made a few mistakes during the process. Mistakes that all had to be fixed manually. It was a truly brain melting exercise but I'm really glad I bothered. If there are a few posts in the wrong sections you'll just have to forgive me, I had to stop when grey matter started dripping out of my ears. The end result is I not have a categories tab, with 11 headings of: Handmade, Personal, Limerick, Market Stall,Pretty Things, Social Media, Supplies Shopping, Customised Clothes, Hotty But Notty, Art, and Health. I'm hoping that all this effort will lead to people reading more of by 3 years worth of back catalogue. If you are wondering how to add this to your blog, add a labels tag to your sidebar, then select about 10 labels. When you are in the overview of the new blogger editor you can tick your posts and apply a tag (this is the bit that a bit tricky as it added some of my posts to the wrong tags). When this is completed you can then add a new Page, you can then link your text to one of your tag searches from your labels tag in the sidebar.Make sense?

Lastly I've wanted a gallery on my blog for ages. I tried using lots of different methods, but none of them are supported by blogger. The only solution that I could find was to make a slideshow with Picassa from my web albums. To be honest this looks like a slideshow from the late 90's and I really think it's butt ugly. But it looks like there is no alternative. Does anyone know of a way to make a slideshow with pure html with no java or css? That seems to be the only thing that's allowed in the Pages section.

Apart from that I made a couple of small cosmetic changes, like uploading my own background. Sometimes a change of colour is the most noticeable thing that people notice. So to signal all the other tweaks I wanted to give the blog a new lick of paint so to speak. I used one of my own background images, meaning I was able to get rid of the shabby blogs logo. It's a really great website, but the less advertising for other people that I do the better. I also resized my banner so that it fits properly into the space at the top, the random chunk of blue was really annoying me. I kind of look at all the changes like a really good spring cleaning; all the stuff I've been meaning to do for ages I eventually got done. So all in all I'm really happy with the changes I've make. There are still some clunky wrinkles that I just can't seem to iron out, but hopefully in time I'll find a few solutions. I'd love to hear what you all think...

Update: Since writing this ( I use scheduled posting to help me manage my time better) I had a brain wave. One of the new functions on Pages is that you can link directly to an external website. I saw this as a solution to my gallery issues. I did some Googling and found this website Jalbum which generates and hosts online galleries. It's €2 per month and it has a 30 day free trial. I looked at some other free solutions but they were pretty ugly and not much better than the Picassa option. The only thing I would be concerned about is that it links out of my blog. But to solve this I might make an image from which to link to the gallery and stick in some code to make it come up in a new window. It involves a little bit of extra work but it will be worth it so I'm not sending readers away from my site. I now have an Art Gallery and a Clothes Gallery and have satisfied my inner that I'm not putting something butt ugly on the site!

6 Sep 2011

As Gaeilge Handmade Cards

I've been meaning to make As Gaeilge cards for forever and an age and i finally got around to it the other day. A lot of people have asked me for them over the years as they find it hard to get Irish language cards that aren't twee and 'Oirish'. I made my  cards as normal in my usual style and I made up some As Gaeilge greetings on photoshop and printed them out on photographic paper.
If my Irish school teacher could see me now she would laugh quite a lot as I was a really terrible student and never put any effort into her class. I was renowned for being the kind of pupil that was excellent at the things I liked/was good at and very lazy at the subjects that had no interest for me. I found Irish very hard so therefore I didn't bother. I regret this now in later life, but I think that's stands true for a lot of adults in Ireland. After a quick Google search I came up with the correct spelling for all the phrases. If anyone has any suggestions for other occasions requests are welcome.
As usual I will only be selling my cards at the Milk Market for €4 each or 3 for €10, but in this case if someone wanted to order a few of them then I would be happy to ship, just contact me via email. Above are some samples of the ones I've made already, I don't duplicate cards but similar ones can be made in the same colour schemes etc.

Ps: Sorry for the poor image quality, I had to snap off a few pics late at night before I packaged them to go to the market the next morning.

5 Sep 2011

Shopping at the Barbootsale

Last Saturday I went to the  Barbootsale (which I blogged about here), and I picked up a selection of treats for myself and bargaintastic prices. I've been meaning to buy some art from Dish Pig for ages, I missed his last exhibition so when I heard he would be selling at this I put some money aside. Although I hadn't intended on buying 4 pieces!! At €10 a pop though I couldn't really resist though. I have a thing for sets of 3, and also for robots, so it was quite logical that I would buy this triptych, I love the detail of the black and white one contrasting with the bold shapes of the two colour pieces sitting either side of it. My friend Emmet Kierans was also selling his work too, and I paired his tv man with another one from Dish Pig to make this set. We already have one of Emmets pieces, I like his two distinctive styles, his painterly fine art work, and also his grubby seedy cartoonish pieces.

Aside from splurging on art I also picked up this very Mad Men looking dress for only €5. When I got home and tried it on it actually is a little tight across the chest. I would get away with it, but at the moment(due to the ongoing detox) I'm loosing weight on a continuous basis, so I'd say in another month or so it will be that little bit more comfortable. On top of being adorable, a lovely shade of green, in thick warm material, it also has pockets which in my book makes it a total winner! I also picked up this lovely dresy scarf. I can't remember how much I paid for it, but I know it was really reasonable. I also got a really fun button necklace from fellow blogger Claire-Ann for only €1!

2 Sep 2011

Bettyoctopus Necklace: A Lesson in Self Gifting

I did pretty well selling badges to the kids at the Limerick Show at the weekend so I decided to spoil myself to a little gift from a fellow seller. I've been eyeing up these necklaces from Bettyoctopus for ages. I love them and knew I would buy one eventually, and what better time than after a long days work.

Jess Byrne is actually a neighbour of mine, I met her originally through John as he is a very good friend of her brother-in-law. But over the past year I've gotten to know her much better through all things crafty and she had a large role in the pop-up shop that we ran in Limerick this year. She makes beautiful brooches from felt, little adorable artworks, and these lovely necklaces. She also has a full time job and a daughter, I really don't know where she finds the time!

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