Category: My Personal Journey

The 'Mad Hen Design' Award 2012



Glyndwr University Award 2012

How exciting!! Yesterday was my long awaited graduation day, where i had been told i was also receiving an award ‘The Mad Hen Design Award’ for the most outstanding design graduate at Glyndwr University! I was chosen for this award from all the Design Communication students in our year, Milena Polak won the award for Graphic Design and John Whitbred won it for animation.

Not only did we get to shake the vice chancellors hand but we also had our photo taken with him as well! whoooop whooop! 🙂

But seriously, it was an absolute honour and a privilege and i felt that all the hard work i had put into my work and also into helping others had been recognised throughout the 3 years, and it has really spurred me on to continue the standard throughout my MA !

Shaking the hand of the vice chancellor when i received my award.

Leaving the stage very very carefully, trying not to fall!! 🙂



How exciting today when my lovely friend Jean set about making my cushion ‘prototypes’ out  of the fabrics i have designed. This one is called ‘Hearts and Squares’ and was originally designed for children’s wallpaper, but all the while i was thinking that it would be better as fabric – and here we go…with a little cushion to show!

The first of many ‘Jaminosh Designs’ cushions – courtesy of the lovely Jean!!


The cushion is sized only 14 x 14″ as i wanted to be able to display a collection  of 6 at the graduate show  (2 of each design) and would struggle a little if they were too big. I decided to ask Jean to make them with an overlapping flap at the back where we could insert the cushion and also to save her time putting zips in (or so i thought!!) – the first one ( the one pictured above) went well, however i was in charge of cutting out all the fabric for the remaining cushions – and soon found out i had cut the backs out wrong (uh oh!!) and so now all the remaining ones will have zips in!! – i don’t think i would get a job as a sewer….. mind you Jean has kindly offered to ‘teach’ me how to sew over the summer ( i havent told her that i think it would take several summers to teach me, but i will give it a good go that’s for sure!!!)

So i now know that if you are making a 14 x 14 cushion – with a flap, you would cut the fronts 15 x 15, and the back 22 x 15, which you would then cut into 2 pieces of 15×10 and 15 x 12!! …hmmmm, it is all a big learning curve, next to learn how to put a zip in..then there will be no stopping me! :0) Sewing ‘should’ be in my blood, and i am sure it probably is somewhere as my grandma was a tailoress and seamstress and my grandad was a master tailor, so i am wondering what they must be thinking watching me doing this? Lets hope they will be urging me on!

The lovely Jean with her newly made cushion!! 🙂

I have just submitted my entry to the Macmillan Children’s book competition where i managed to get 8 double colour pages done, a book jacket, end papers and title and copyright, but still need to do 4 more doubles now to finish by sunday so i can send it off to Blurb to get a really professional mock book done for my final university assessment in a couple of weeks – so the pressure is still on for now!!

Here  is an example of one of the pages in the book

Image from ‘Brenda the Misunderstood Witch’

The story is about a witch that is judged because she looks scary, and is green and hairy etc, and it gives you a surprising insight into her world, and details what she is really like.It is a book that aims to teach children to not ‘judge a book by its cover’ and to be more accepting of others (which i think is really important especially in this modern day world where the boundaries of race, creed and culture become merged). I think it is important that children’s books carry some sort of message, as children are really influenced by what they see and read, and i tried to make the main character as loveable as possible so that the children would be drawn to her.

Other books that i have written also carry messages for children, and as i am now coming to the end of my degree i would like to continue with my work to Masters level where i would like to continue to look at the role of the book in children’s lives with reference to their personal development and also how they interpret colour and image…exciting stuff i think!! :0)

Well what a great day today, just as i was working on creating a 4 foot green witch for my graduate show, and was struggling to get the dimensions right, the doorbell rang and there was a Fed Ex guy at the door with a tiny little package…i was excited though as i knew this would be the first sample of my fabric design that i had sent off to ‘Spoonflower’, and i needed it to make things to show how i would use the fabric.

The design is called ‘Time for Tea’ and it is based on the ‘British afternoon tea’ which consists of bone china cups, silver tea pots, sugar cubes, cake, strawberries, coffee pots, and lovely old clocks. It is really designed as a kitchen design that could be used for T Towels (if anyone still uses them) aprons, serviettes, place mats etc, but then it would also look lovely on cake tins etc.

I am working on a black and white version for kitchen wallpaper too. I like the ‘illustrated look’ for wallpaper and also fabrics, and have some others that i need to try and get done before the show, but time is running out, so i may need to save some of it for ‘New Designers’ show in london at the beginning of July this year.

At the show i will be displaying the 2 books i have written – and also fabric and wallpaper designs, so please feel free to come along during that week to see. The trade and professional day is the wednesday 4th July, when i will be there along with my portfolio etc, the rest of the week is open to the general public.

Here is the finished fabric – shame to cut into it don’t you think?

‘Time for Tea’ – my fabric design, based on the British afternoon tea! 🙂

Looking at these Tea Towel designs that are on exhibition in the V and A in London (in their spring exhibition 2012) makes me realise how repeat pattern in design is everywhere – even on the bit of cloth we use to dry the pots!! However i don’t think that we will have seen many designs as intricate and as impressive as these for a long while – shame to get them wet really, there are a few i would have put on the wall as a work of art!

All of the images are from ‘,uk’ – with the link, and i will note the individual image numbers with each image.

V & A Tea Towel, 'Fishermen' - image 001


V&A Tea Towel 'Green Vases' - 003


V&A Tea Towel 'Mugs'


I really like the design on the T Towel above and i wonder if it is because the colours are so deliberately separate and bold? It reminds me of Picasso in his cubist period for some reason.

V&A Tea Towel - 'Harvest' - 005


V&A Tea Towel -'Houses' - 001


I think the last one is really my most favourite, i love the blue, yellow and red houses, and the clearly visible repeat. I find the imagery to be quite contemporary which is interesting as they are 1950’s designs, which then makes us beg the question of whether or not anything is every truly unique, as we surely use the past as a reference point at some point?

I have never been an artist or designer that will copy others work, at first when i was training i was appalled to see people directly copying, and i would be determined to not look at any other influences, but i soon found that there were benefits to looking at people’s work but it depends on what you are looking at it for. I am never short of ideas, so i would never look at other artists work for ideas, but sometimes if i am working with a technique i will research artists that use a similar technique, and then this tends to open my mind to a wealth of opportunities, But i think that we are constantly influenced whether it is deliberate or not, from the TV, magazines, our environment etc – we can’t get away from it.


But is it all going round in ever decreasing circles? and are we re vamping the ideas of the past again and again? Definite food for thought i think! 🙂

Although it has been 3 weeks since i went to the ‘Ideal Home Exhibition’ in London, and as of yet have not had any time to blog my amazing experience (will do it next week though before i go back to uni for the final push to the end)…..but in the mean time, i now find i am inspired by so many things, design wise – that i am going to use my blog to collect them for inspiration purposes…

Because i am totally paranoid about copyright and the abuse of such, i will start by saying that i found these images on the ‘’ website, under the heading of ‘India meets China: Homeware with an Asian twist’ – and was totally impressed with the bright and bold designs two of these companies ‘Play Clan’ and ‘Happily Unmarried’ (what a totally amazing name for a company – i am also happily unmarried/divorced, but don’t really feel the need to share that with the world – but if it makes them feel better then what the hell!!!

Here are just a few of the images that i liked….





I am totally in love with the vibrant colours, strong lines and design. There is no attempt to soften and blend, but only to be bold….a bit similar to myself perhaps? :0) – maybe that is why i like it? I have always been a great fan of Matisse and Hockney, loving their strong lines, and the fact they were seemingly fearless when it came to using colour – this i think can be seen in these designs also, although i know that they are also representing their culture as well, and that is a huge influence on the design.

One day i would like to go to India, and also places like Peru, to look at the designs and colours in the local fabrics etc – and many other places where the use of colour is flamboyant and used without restraint!!

I have found quite a lot of people who use the multiplane technique for animation, but was struggling to find an artist that used it – let alone an illustrator! fortunately one of my tutors mentioned Clive Walley, and the fact that he was an artist who used this technique in his work – layering up the individual pieces of glass with paints.

The clip below is taken from YouTube - and shows him creating a piece of work that was called ‘Brush stroke by Clive Walley’ and was shown at the Flip Fest 2007


Here is a second, more intricate piece – found at



Today i have come across the work by an amazing artist Andrea Dezso. She describes her tunnel books as ‘drawings in space’, and creates amongst other things, contemporary styled tunnel books.

A tunnel book is a set of cut-out panels, set one behind the other, and attached together with accordion folded hinges so that the scene can be opened out for viewing or folded flat for storage.They were popular paper toys in the mid 1800’s when they were known as ‘peep shows’.

Andrea Dezso's cut-out tunnel book creations


During the day she works at Parsons new school for design – you can see a wide array of her tunnel books here at -

She also does lots of other types of creative work – animated embroidery, works in porcelain,public art pieces such as can be seen below, where an enormous tunnel type creation was commissioned by the Rice Gallery in Houston in 2010. I would so love to see some of these creations in real life as they are stunning digitally, i can only imagine how amazing they look in real life!!

Commissioned large scale tunnel effect piece - called 'sometimes in my dreams i fly' - inspired by imaginary travel to the moon!

Andrea also produces work in cut paper and uses silhouettes , as can be seen in this one that was commissioned by the New York Times in 2007

Below are just a small selection of some of the work of Andreas that i find absolutely amazing – all images are taken from :




The main focus of my dissertation has evolved over the last few months, particularly due to the experience i had teaching the group of 5 – 11 year olds over the summer. I became very interested in what limits and what stimulates children’s imaginations. I noticed that some of the children in the group seemed to be totally restricted by their fear of making a mistake.I overcame that by showing them a Powerpoint on the different types of art, realistic and non realistic,and explained to them that the aim in art is just to be creative.It was very interesting as usually children are not afraid to make a mistake, it is only when we get older that we learn the ‘rules’ and become frightened of breaking them.


Sir Ken Robinson talks about the issue of creativity in a couple of TED talks .I loved watching these as it was a sheer delight to find someone speaking the thoughts that are in my head! For a long time i have been aware (through my Life Coaching work) that we restrict ourselves so much in life because we have this fear of failure. Robinson says ‘if you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original’ and here he is referring to children being creative, but i would actually apply that to the whole of life itself. How will we ever know what we are capable of becoming if we never try?’we are educating people out of their creativity’



The education system today has a lot to answer for, with the focus being constantly on the academic subjects, with very little attention or resources given to the arts – as if they are not as important in a child’s upbringing. Robinson says ‘creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status’ and he is right, where do they think the designers and problem solvers of tomorrow will come from? as well as the writers, illustrators and artists? The governments of today are so short sighted.In the USA they are saying that they are having a ‘creativity crisis’ where children are scoring higher and higher in SATS tests, but lower and lower in the CQ tests (creative quotient). They are trying to remedy this by creating problem solving solutions, and also looking at the effect that digital media has on the imagination potential of a child.

If a child reads a page of a book and it has one picture with it, the picture enables them to visualise the character, but they then have to ‘imagine’ the rest of the story, the movements, the expressions, the voices, and any other abstract thoughts that they may have. In digital stories the child doesn’t have to do any of this as the sound and moving image provides all of the above – leaving nothing for the child’s imagination to work on. As Pie Corbett said (educational advisor to the government) a digital story ‘doesn’t know if you are not listening anymore’ and of course continues with the story. There isn’t a pause for questions, no opportunities to expand on the story, all the information is laid out in front of the child.

I can, however also see the benefits of digital media, in the fact that children with learning difficulties find the digital image easier to work with and it also holds their attention for longer periods of time etc. I think that it is not a black and white situation where we need to be one or the other, more that we need to monitor the effect of excess use of digital media, particularly when it is taking children away from the traditional stories, that stimulate their imagination more. I also think that we need to build into the curriculum some personal development work on ;failure is feedback’ and to allow children to not be frightened of failing, as if they are they will also be frightened of trying –  and that will in the end have a devastating effect on out society in years to come!

So this session was to be the last one in a course of six sessions.  I had grown quite fond of the group of children that had attended every week without fail, bringing with them egg boxes and newspapers and lots of enthusiasm and creativity. They had been a joy to be with, and i learned so much about myself as an artist, a teacher, and also as a parent to my own children.

As we didnt have the balloon characters to work on any more i decided that the last session needed to have a ‘theme’, and i wanted to plan lots of activities within it so that it was lots of fun! The theme i chose was that of PIRATES!! as i knew that most children love pirates!

The first thing that we did was to talk about Pirates, and what sort of lives they had, what they ate, and where they lived and what they did etc – then i gave them a basic cardboard cut out of a pirate shape and asked them to use materials and felts etc to decorate them and to create different pirate characters out of it all. At first a couple of the children struggles a little with what the pirates should wear until i reminded them again that there wasn’t a right or a wrong as they were their characters, and they could create whatever they wanted.

The end result was a wonderful array of colourful, sassy, and glamorous pirates as well as some more scary ones! See what you think…

Cardboard cut outs

Pirate hats were compulsory today!!

and a good time was had by all!!

Even boat building was undertaken

Pirates on parade!

Glitzy Pirates!

Of course pirates HAVE to go on a treasure hunt!

Of course you can't look when you are rooting for treasure....

and make sure you get the treasure out of the Pinnate too!!

and a good good time was had by all!!

and special thanks to my little helper!! assistant Ben 🙂