29 Sep 2012

Featured Artist: Magic Forest Toys


To help promote what I'm doing with the Limerick Craft & Design project I've decided to do a weekly featured artist post. It will let you guys know about some of the fab things happening in crafts in Limerick at the moment and hopefully will help drive some traffic towards the site too.


For this first feature I'm going to show you work from Joanna Luczak, Magic Forest Toys. When I first saw these on Facebook I couldn't believe that they were being made in Limerick (this was back at the start when I was searching for local crafters). Joanna is in business less than a year, which is quite unbelievable as her designs are so polished and professional. There is an adorable sense of playfulness to her work while still retaining a slick timeless quality to the pieces. Her toys would make brilliant keepsake presents for new borns that would impress both the kids and super stylish parents.

Her prices start at €10 for brooches and range between €35-€45 for the toys. She even knits the little jumpers on her rabbits, how adorable is that??




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28 Sep 2012

Window Painting


So what have I been up to in the last month? Apart from not writing for my blog I've been trying to get things organised for the grand opening of Limerick Craft & Design. One of the many things I did was paint the window to drum up a bit of enthusiasm about the project. What had initially been quite a simple idea in my head became a little more complicated when I added polka dots into the equation; they take time to measurepaint and then paint around.

It involved lots of fag breaks for Orla who was there with me shampooing the carpet, so I took photos during these painting pit stops. Here they are.... 








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27 Sep 2012

I Have Returned

First of all I just want to announce I'm not dead! I just did something really stupid. You know when you get (yet another) bill in the door and you think it's OK to ignore it? Well I got a few Google warnings saying my domain was going to expire and I needed to update my payment settings. I got these at a really bad time when every bill in my whole life seemed to be late, so it seemed pretty low down on the list after lighting and my rent.

Oh how silly of me!

I didn't give it too much thought and I let the domain name expire, thinking it would be really easy to fix. But it really wasn't. At first I thought someone has purchased it and was squatting on the site. Queue complete hysterical freak out where I had a shouting melt down in my kitchen(I thought I lost 5 years worth of a blog). After consulting a few tech savvy friends I found out a bit more(thanks Dave and Jess), but I was still no nearer to a solution.

Then two things happened; A)I arranged a meeting for Limerick Craft and Design B)some of the committee were late, so I had an hour to chat to Neville about my problem. Add in a dash of free Wifi, and a sprinkle of an iPad and we were a few steps closer to resolving the issue. Neville then donned his super hero cape and called over to my house to save the day, and my website. 

Neville is not just a tango teaching, fencing, photo taking mastermind, he is also a computer superhero too in his spare time. If you have a moment head over to his website and have a gander through his lovely photos.

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5 Sep 2012

Full Range of Canvas Tote Bags


I have at long last sorted out all the problems I was having with my canvas bag production. At the very beginning I was ironing them on by hand and using prohibitively expensive transfer paper. Then when I got a heat press from a friend of mine I had major issues with getting the pressure right. Then ensued a problem with burning the canvas of the bag, which a teflon sheet from ebay solved. After all that I still wasn't getting full coverage all the time, there was a lot of costly wastage. I just recently changed my brand of transfer sheets and all my problems were solved-eureka!

Today I did a whole batch of bags and there was no wastage whatsoever. So thrilled was I by this revelation that I took some photos of my range of bags and listed them all in my Etsy shop. I've been meaning to do this for ages, but since I was having so many problems it didn't seem to be worth my while.

To see all 12 designs go to this section in my shop, they are €5 each. I will also be selling them every weekend at the Milk Market. Now that all the glitches are sorted I'm looking forward to working on some new designs.







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3 Sep 2012

Revised Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Drawing





Do you remember this image that I did a while back as a canvas bag design? After about a week of looking at it I was really unhappy, it was way too busy, and I didn't like all the shading that I did on the original line drawing. I posted an evolution of the drawing that you can see here, and even when I originally posted it I preferred the simple drawing. I asked two friends of mine Declan Shalvey, an award winning comic book artist, and his partner master colourist Jordie Bellaire for some constructive feedback; they were really good to give me some helpful pointers. I put the piece on the shelf for a few months but last night I decided to go back to it after I was inspired by a book I was listening to*.



I liked the texture that I had developed in the hair and vest in the second stage of shading, so I just placed one layer on top of the other in Photoshop and erased the shading on the skin. Immediately I could see an improvement. I also made a colour palette to try to simplify my image, I used the original image as a starting point. I read Jordie's blog a lot and I've been trying to pick up some trade secrets, she does lots of palettes from films that she likes and then uses these to colour work. After making the palette above I was not too thrilled with the colours so I did some playing around and came up with the one below, I'm new to this so I was kind stumbling about a bit.

I added shape and contour with large shapes of colour, which kinda reminded me of the lino cutting process I used to do in college. This has the advantage of leaving the delicate black line still very visible.


I like this stage I felt she looked too much like a zombie with the blue flesh tone, I don't think I'm confident enough yet to use such bold colour with much skill. You'll also notice I changed the colour of the vest to try to tie in the background more and introduced this as an eye shadow colour too.


I went back to the original green image and pulled out some of the skin tone layers, removing all the complicated brush ones and played around with the existing blue layers. The result is more subtle than the zombie version, and more delicate than the scratchy green image. I'm much happier with this version that the over-reaching mess of the first attempt. I'm really happy that I saved all my stages so I was able to revisit this piece. I will have this new revised canvas bag on the stall from this weekend.


So be honest, which do you prefer?


Update: After reading the really constructive advice from Declan in the comments below I reassessed my last minute wimp out from the blue skin. I went back to the image again(wouldn't Stephen King be so proud after all his advice for going with my gut and taking on difficult rewrites!) and brought it back to the blue. I also tweaked the background too, pushing the right side back into darkness and brightening the left side.

I really value critiques, they can be hard to give, especially to friends. Declan was always great for this in college, people sometimes thought he was brutal, but I thought it was more constructive that someone expected more from me and didn't accept the first result.

 *For the past week I've been listening to On Writing by Stephen King, which is a hybrid autobiography and a manual for aspiring writers. I listened to it because I'm an avid Stephen King listener(all his book that I read are audio) and I love his book introductions which give a window into his life and process. Even though I enjoy writing as a hobby for this blog most of what he was talking about applied to the artistic process too. There was one particular passage that talked about leaving a book in the drawer to brew for a few weeks that reminded me of this drawing, and how I might be better equipped to view it with unlazy eyes.


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