Thursday, 3 October 2013

Toot toot!

Officially Red magazine's best cushion.
From Howkapow btw.
Toot toot.

Saturday plans

If you need me this weekend, this is where I'll be.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


I love getting post. I clearly remember the morning my Weetabix Club membership arrived when I was eight. Even getting a 'Brains' badge instead of a 'Bixie' badge didn't spoil the thrill of a parcel arriving at our house, addressed to me.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever grow up and stop feeling surges of giddy Weetabix Gang excitement when parcels or letters arrive in my letterbox. (Bills and junk mail please note, this does not apply to you.) There's no sign of that yet, especially when someone sends me a parcel filled with pictures, stories and adventures. Which is what happened when Mamoko came through my door.

Each page in Mamoko is filled from corner to corner with characters and clues, which you uncover to tell the story. The first page introduces the players, but this is the only time words are used – the rest of the story is all told through Daniel Mizielinski's maze of brilliantly simple illustrations. So you find out that Clyde Snatchit (the cat) has been up to not good and it's down to Claude van Clue (the rat) to solve the crime. Then you follow Clyde's pink-and-green striped socks through the pages to uncover their tales/tails. (I won't spoil it for you, but it involves a famous Expressionist painting by an anxious Norwegian.) Or you start with Otto Trump the elephant and roller-skate with him all the way to the fair.  Or the aliens visiting from outer-space. Or Magical Miss Chubb and her mystery box.

Mamoko is a little bit like one of my all-time favourite books The Great Green Mouse Disaster, but with extra effort because you need to scour each page to find the character and learn the next bit of their story. It needs you to look, remember and imagine. And in return it gives you hundreds of stories rolled into sixteen pages, with a new place to begin and a new ending every time you pick it up.

I love this book with all my heart because the illustrations are allowed to tell the story. The pictures aren't just there to enhance the story, they are the story. And I imagine that no matter how many times I read it, I'll probably still find another story to tell.


PS. Big Picture Press, you are even better than a Bixie badge.

Thursday, 26 September 2013


This is Claude. He lives with us now. He was born on the streets, so he probably knows his way round a restaurant bin and might come in handy in a fight. He's partial to a post-it note.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Jack in the Box cushions

There was sunshine this afternoon. So I took some new photos of my Jack in the Box cushions. This is the print of the box. Without Jack. And this is the story behind them . . .
"Jack the Clown curls up tight inside his candy-coloured box. He hears the chatter of visitors by the gates of the Butterscotch & Beesting CircusOne. Two. Three. Boing. Out jumps Jack. Right out. In fact, all the way out . . . Up through the open lid of his box and high into the air. Jack somersaults to the ground and takes his place among the curious troupes of this most magical circus."

The whole Jack in the Box collection is for sale in my Folksy shop.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Six months in bullets

Hello September. How did you get here?

Since March, life has been flying by. This is the way it went . . .

• Got a job at Folksy putting together their summer school
• Took Butterscotch & Beesting to Pulse
• Picked up lots of lovely new stockists
• Felt very happy
• Started work on orders
• Got behind
• Started wondering how 280 people, 28 speakers and 450 ice-creams could all fit into a small centre in the woods
• Started to panic
• Remembered I had three children
• Panicked more
• Abandoned my blog and my sanity
• Worked every hour in the day and every hour never meant to fit into a day
• Was a bad friend
• Was a bad wife
• Was a bad mother
• Was a bad business woman
• Ate chocolate
• Ate lots more chocolate
• Found an email from Liberty's in my inbox
• Comforted my husband as his company collapsed
• Wondered how to feed children, cats, rabbits and fish on cushions and lampshades
• Was featured in Mollie Makes (and forgot to tell anyone about it)
• Ran out of Lady Grey tea
• Cried
• Pulled myself together
• Fell apart
• Thanked the heavens for the wonder that is Siansbury's
• Loved the summer sunshine
• Fell in love with Lena Dunham
• Had a v. important meeting with John Lewis
• Visited the woods and watched the Folksy classroom tent go up
• Realised the classroom was the wrong size . . .
• . . . and looked like a bad wedding with dirty sheets and wonky chandeliers
• Formed an emergency action plan with Siansbury's involving extra tentage, paper pompoms and lots and lots of cotton sheeting
• Learned everything looks fine once strung with yarnbombed tassels
• Fell in love with Kerry
• Got two hours' sleep
• Felt sick
• Watched people arriving through the trees
• Had a mini heart attack (not really)
• Heard rumours of a power cut
• Hid
• Saw people smiling and not even one person shouting at me
• Came out of hiding
• Shared a strawberry mivvi with my design heroes Mini Moderns
• Sniggered like a schoolgirl with Tilly
• Sat around an (unofficial) campfire under the stars started by Mellorware
• Got carried around by Kerry
• Slept
• Had one of the best weekends of my life
• Shared a hot chocolate on a tree trunk with one of the loveliest people I've met, Lapin Blu
• Heard myself tell Doug Richard I was really pleased he was a vegan
• Why? Why? Why?
• Slept
• Enjoyed the sunshine
• Lost Otto
• Found Otto and looked on as he lost all ability to walk or eat
• Wondered how to pay the vet bills
• Cried
• Brought Otto home and couldn't believe we had him back
• Sewed, printed and made
• Was featured in Mollie Makes. Again. Twice in the one issue. (And forgot to tell anyone about it)
• Sat next to Pia as she flew above the clouds in an aeroplane for the very first time
• Spent 10 days in the sunshine with very special friends
• Watched Pia become best friends with Rosa the dog
• Hugged my son as he struggled with growing up
• Listened as he screamed that he hated me
• Learned that me finding a grasshopper isn't quite as exciting as Middle finding a Praying Mantis
• Flew home in a cloud-free sky
• Realised Otto was missing
• Watched as Middle hoped and made posters
• Had a phone call
• Felt my heart break in two
• Heard my daughter's heart break
• Dressed Pia in a school uniform for the first time
• Wondered how it is that you can be only four years and two-weeks old and be at school
• Started my new job writing, blogging, and tweeting for Folksy
• Felt very lucky
• Learned that it's ok to be me and not pretend to be someone else . . .
• . . . and that everything's going to be ok . . .
• . . . and that bright blue tights worn with red shoes make every day a bit more sunny.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Made in Sheffield

Today was the last day my last child will spend at nursery. Time moves too quickly.

When I got home, having been very brave and not shedding even one tear (or at least not a terribly big one), there was a message waiting in my inbox from Pia's new school. It took me to this.

Thank you Jo Peel and Zoe Genders for making this perfect animation and reminding me that growing up is how we are made.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Butterscotch & Beesting in the Little Green Shed

Lovely Lou (I'm almost positive that's her actual, official name) is celebrating 1000 posts on her utterly fabulous Little Green Shed blog. Because that's a very special thing (just like her), I'm helping her mark the occasion with a giveaway.

So if you're super lucky you might just win one of these . . .

Quick, quick, hop on over >>

Friday, 10 May 2013

New collection

This weekend I'm launching the new Butterscotch & Beesting collection at Pulse.

Everything will be in the shop soon, but in the meantime here are some shots from the new catalogue (... ooo fancy ...). I hope you like them.

I'll be at stand LP9 if you want to come and say hello.

Friday, 3 May 2013

The circus is off to Pulse

Next weekend (12-14 May) I'll be taking the Butterscotch & Beesting Circus Pulse.

I'm *almost* ready.

Here's a sketch of what the stand will look like.

The shelves on the left are based on trapezes, with oak shelves suspended from hemp ropes. The ones at the back in the middle are a very simplified ferris wheel, and they'll have painted semi-circular 'gondolas' at the end of each shelf that twirl round. There'll also be a few oak-topped podiums sprinkled around, and some wall lamp fittings.

It's lived in my head for so long, and now it's on paper too. It's about time it existed in the real world.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

screen-printing tees

Lots of exciting things happening in the circus tents recently. I've almost finished the new collection which will launch at Pulse from 12-14 May (I'm even on their front page, so probably best to have everything ready in time).

One of things I've been working on is a redesigned logo and packaging, which I'll tell you more about soon. As part of that, I've been screen-printing some tshirts. I haven't printed tees since I was at school, but it's the most fun I've had in ages. So if everything round the house soon has a top hat on it, you'll know why.

I'll post more peeks of the new collection soon, I promise. I just need to finish it first! (If you look closely at the photo, though, you might be able to spy a corner of a couple of the new prints).


PS. I've been a bit preoccupied lately. Trying to squeeze four different jobs and three children into one week with a three-year-old at home on most days is proving tricky. There's been lots of jigsaw building on the studio floor (thank you jigsaw makers – you're a godsend). So, sorry for the sporadic posting and communication. And if I forget to phone, or email, or reply, or talk to you, or pick you up from school, please just bug me until I do.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Woodland wall

Yesterday was the last day of the holidays. I'm a bit sad I didn't get to spend more time with my children, but we did do a lot of skipping, tie sky-high balloons around our wrists and make a woodland wall. 

Sunday, 31 March 2013

happy easter

This year it's pink and white bonbon bunny tails at our house.
We're still waiting for the Easter Bunny to arrive.
I hope he hops along soon or we may have a riot on our hands.
Have a wonderful Easter. See you in April.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

crafty fox-timers + crafty fox-vourites

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


top row / left to right   
'Texture necklace 1' in silver and gold by Julia Almeida

middle row / left to right

bottom row / left to right

This weekend Crafty Fox will once again be taking over the Dogstar in Brixton.

Scootching (is that a word . . . it's underlined in red on my screen, so I'm assuming it's probably not) through the list of stalls, I found a rather exciting collection of makers whose work I haven't seen before. Discovering makers for the very first time and finding new products to love is always a delight.

[I do have one tiny weeny confession. I first saw Yas-Ming Ceramics last year at Designers/Makers. But she's never been at Crafty Fox before. Not even once. So she's new here. Am I allowed get away with that? Please say yes?]

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


And I couldn't do a post without mentioning some of my other favourite people who'll be there too.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

>  >  >  > LAST MINUTE UPDATE  >  >  >  >

I can't make it to Crafty Fox. I've been snowed in.

Where has all this crazy weather come from? Last year it was 25 degrees and today my plans have been scuppered by a mile-high (almost) pile of snow. I am pretty devastated not to be going, but there will still be millions (almost) of utterly fantastic stalls there, so I'm sure I won't be missed. I hope you all have a wonderful time and that the snow doesn't make down it to Brixton. Love you Crafty Fox xx

Saturday, 16 March 2013

a handmade living

So . . . a few weeks ago I had an exciting phone call from the very extraordinarily nice people at Handmade Living magazine. They were doing a circus issue, they said, and wanted to feature my work, they said. Ooh, that's nice, I said, and imagined a little mention somewhere.

It turned out to be a bit more than that. How my heart raced when my husband returned from town, a copy in hand, and I flicked through not one, not two, but six pages of Butterscotch & Beesting (if you count a mention on the front page - which I definitely am).

I got a whole armful of goosebumps when I read Elaine Pearson's words about the imaginary world I've been building. I felt like she had climbed under the canvas of my mind and explored the circus until she knew every part of it. Seeing the issue for the first time was probably, or almost definitely, one of the best days I've ever had.

From now on, anytime I feel a bit low, overworked or overwhelmed, I've promised my family I will get out my magazine and disappear in its lovely pages and India's beautiful photos.

PS. It's the April issue and it's out now. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

world dressing-up day

Today is World Book Day. Another excuse to dress up my children.
Middle went into school this morning as Pippi Longstocking. Or Pippi Langstrømpe as I knew her when I was growing up. She's one of my all-time heroines. Middle especially loves the edition illustrated by Lauren Child (another of my heroines).
One of the best bits about dressing up as the girl from Villa Villekulla is that it's super easy - - - a bit of orange hair dye, some flower wire, stripy socks and you're there.

Today is also nearly-teen's birthday. As a present, he didn't have to dress up. Happy birthday you beautiful child.

Monday, 4 March 2013


I've been working on some porcelain lamp bases with my mum as part of my new collection. Last week while I was at her studio waiting for an electrician I took some photos.

Her studio is an utterly fascinating mix of science and beauty. Delicate, fragile pieces result from a combination of art, chemistry, physics, material, knowledge, skill, creativity and craft. I'm pretty sure that's the exact translation of the Danish word kunsthåndværk.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


Varoom! Isn't that a glorious name for a magazine? It's produced by the Association of Illustrators and the latest issue is about the Muse – where and how people find their inspiration.

Included is a look at natural history illustration and the work done by illustrators for the Ghosts of Gone Birds project, taking extinct birds as their inspiration while also using their work to raise awareness of the threat facing many species now.

Alongside beautiful examples from the heyday of natural history illustration, there are a few pieces made for the Ghosts exhibition – and among those is my Red Snail-Eating Dodo.

I still have a few prints left from the show which are now available to buy from my shop.
You can also buy them from the Ghosts of Gone Birds shop.
And you can read more about the inspiration for my work here.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

pretty dandy flea wishlist


 <<   1. Donkey Collage by James Green Printworks   >>
<<   2. Tickety Boo card from Pretty Dandy  >>
<<  3. Apple Tea Towel from Pretty Dandy  >>
<<  4. Kissing Birds Plate by Carly Dodsley  >>
<<  5. Drring Bike Bell by Claire La Secretaire  >>
<< 6. Bird Brooch by Modflowers  >>
<<  7. HeHeHe Ay Ay Caramba Family by Tracey Meek  >>
<<  8. Bird of Prey Card by Ding Ding Makes Things  >>
<<   9. Daydream Wallpaper by Julia Rothman from Pretty Dandy  >>
<<  10. Untitled editorial illustration by Lou Illustrator  >>

On Saturday I'll be taking Butterscotch & Beesting to the Pretty Dandy Flea in Nottingham. It's my first market of 2013 and I'm only doing a few this year, so it feels a bit special.

The flea is split between two venues - The Corner in the creative quarter and The Broadway Cinema (which is where I'll be). Two fairs for the price of one. Actually there's no charge for entry, so it's two for the price of free! There'll be fabulous makers at both sites, as well as lots of glorious vintage finds. I've picked some of my favourites.

Pretty Dandy Flea
• Saturday 23 February • 10.30am - 5.30pm
Broadway Cinema • The Corner • Nottingham

Friday, 15 February 2013

diy wax seal

All my hinting may have fallen on Mr Bettyscotch's impoverished ears this valentine's day (two blog posts and an Etsy treasury didn't do the trick), but I did get a delightful treat in Skin and Blister Blog's fabulous #heartswap. Reams of washi tape and ribbon are a sure-fire way to win my heart, and totally made my day. Thank you most gratefully heart swap friend xx

When Anna first sent me the name of my heart swap back in January, I read through her q+a and saw that as well as being partial to a bar of fruit and nut, my #hs also loved wax seals. So my brain started whirring until I remembered a project from the quite wonderful Print Workshop book by Christine Schmidt from Yellow Owl Workshop.

The Print Workshop tutorial uses a lip gloss to mount the stamp, but I didn't have one so I scoured my art box and found some wooden dowels instead (aka long rounded sticks). I glued these together and wrapped different coloured cotton around them to get a gradient effect.

This is how it looked > > >

wax seal, gradient colours, wax seal tutorial, handmade

I had so much fun I thought I should share.

a pencil
a piece of paper
a rubber carving block (I use Speedball Speedy-Carve - HandPrinted sells a nice kit with tools)
cutting tools + craft knife
wooden dowels cut to the same length, or sticks, or anything cylindrical you can wrap
cotton thread in lovely colours
a stick of sealing wax (I got mine from local bookbinder Sue Callaghan - opening the door to her shop is like stepping back in time and into the pages of a Mr Benn book)
a candle and a match
a (metal) teaspoon you don't mind never using again
a sheet of baking paper or waxed paper

wax seal, gradient colours, wax seal tutorial, handmade

1 /      draw your illustration or initials in pencil on a piece of paper
2 /      draw a nice neat-ish circle (or square or rectangle) around your picture
3 /      turn over your piece of paper and lay it on your rubber carving block
4 /      trace your picture by scribbling all over the back with a pencil (it will be reversed on your block)
5 /      carve out your design with your tools
6 /      cut around the outside of your circle / square / rectangle with a craft knife
7 /      this is your stamp

- - - whoooohoooo first bit done - - -

8 /     now line up your sticks so you have a flat base at one end
9 /     glue the sticks together (I used a glue gun for this bit, but other glues should be fine too)
10 /   take your cotton and, starting at one side, wrap it around your sticks, covering the loose thread
11 /   to change colour, knot in the next cotton and carry on winding
12 /   keep going like this with different coloured cottons until your sticks are totally covered and beautiful
13 /   tie a knot and tuck in the loose thread
14 /   stop and admire your rainbow-like workmanship
15 /   now attach your stamp to the end of your pretty sticks using superglue
16 /   I painted the other end with acrylic paint, but you don't have to

- - - whoooohoooo, you've made your very own colourful stamp stick - - -

1 /    lay out a piece of baking paper on the floor or on a table
2 /    cut a slice off the sealing wax and put it in the teaspoon
3 /    heat the teaspoon by holding a lit candle below
4 /    when all the wax in your spoon is melted, pour it out on the baking sheet (you want to make a smallish circle of wax)
5 /   stamp the wax using your fabulous seal
6 /   when the wax is set, carefully lift it off the baking sheet and stick it where you want it using a glue dot or double-sided sticky tape or just glue

Once you've perfected the seal making, you can just pour the wax directly where you want it to be. You can even miss out the teaspoon bit altogether and drip it where you want it, but watch out because the wax can burn and you'll be left with black streaks.

And that's it - - - a diy wax seal. Ta da!

wax seal, gradient colours, wax seal tutorial, handmade gift