Archive for March, 2014


I came across Laura Olivia’s site Surface Pattern Designs whilst searching for, haha no prizes for guessing right, surface pattern designs, on Pinterest. My first thought was “This must be a large, international company, if they have a name like that”.  I clicked on the link, as I wanted to see if it was indeed a large, international company where I could possibly submit my own designs for consideration.  Well, it might as well be a large, international company, as Laura Olivia is a veritable powerhouse, with hundreds of designs represented in dozens of formats by different licensing companies.  Laura is only young, but already she has broken into the world of textile design, homewares, greeting cards, stationery, etc.  There doesn’t seem to be anything that this young lassie can’t turn her hand to.

She is living the life that I would love to be living.  Lucky, lucky girl, and well done too!! Here are some of Laura Olivia’s designs, to whet your appetite, before you start exploring her website.  Definitely ONE TO WATCH!

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Bohemia Cascade

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Here is what Laura Olivia says about herself, on her “About” page:

About Laura Olivia

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I am a very passionate and ambitious designer with a love of surface pattern and textiles. My work is mainly focused around print design and I am lucky enough to work for some fantastic clients in various industries including interiors, fashion and stationery.  I absolutely love what I do and hope that comes across in the vibrancy of my work and the patterns that I create.

Originally from Berkshire, I moved up to Nottingham to study Textile Design at Nottingham Trent University. After gaining my degree I worked in the interiors industry for a few years which I believe gave me an invaluable insight in to the furnishings fabric and wallpaper industries.

After realizing that a nine to five was not for me, I took a leap of faith and left it all behind to follow my dream of doing what I love and making a living out of it, as for me there is nothing better than that! Although it has not been plain sailing all the way, I’ve never looked back and find seeing my designs on the finished product, and in people’s homes, the ultimate reward.

I began my journey by launching my own range of homewares as well as working with an agent who sold my furnishing fabric and wallpaper designs to clients around the globe.  Within my first year I was very lucky to be selected to exhibit at ‘One Year On’ which is an event for designer’s within their first year of business at the ‘New Designers’ exhibition in London. The show was a huge success and shortly after I was commissioned by high street retailer ‘Wilkinson’ to produce a large range of stationery which was sold throughout 250 stores with my photo and name alongside. This amazing opportunity led to working directly with some fantastic clients in the UK and abroad on projects from curtains and wall art to dresses and resort-wear prints. Past clients I have worked with and/or sold work to include Arthouse, Wilkinson, Bianca Turner, Ellison First Asia. Mori Tessuti and more. I now also have a range of licensing partners including Artistic Britain, S-Blinds and Keka Case.

My work is mainly inspired by the beauty of nature and I usually use a range of techniques within my designs including watercolours and hand drawing. Different clients require different styles, but I try to reflect my true style within my own product range as here I can do what I want! For fashion I often use photographic elements also and sometimes collage when designing for wall art.

I am always looking for new opportunities so if you are a supplier, manufacturer or retailer interested in working with myself, please feel free to email me at sales@lauraolivia.com.

Wishi Washi

Washi Tape. What is it? It’s been around for a number of years, but I guess I never had call for it, so it escaped my personal radar.

But now, just a few days ago, I was creating a new piece of artwork involving laying 2 prints onto a 12×24 inch piece of cradled wooden panel, and the prints were slightly smaller than the overall panel. One of the prints was an A3 size, the other an A4 landscape. I needed something that would neaten the joins between the two prints, as well as create a border to fill in the tiny gaps where the prints ended on the panel.

Then it struck me that, instead of creating and printing my own borders, and cutting them to size, etc, what about using Washi Tape?

But exactly what is Washi Tape? For the uninitiated, mysrlf included, here’s a jolly good description of this magical tape that seems to have taken the world by storm.

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So here is my first project using Washi Tape all done (apart from painting the sides of the frame black). It was really easy to apply the tape, and it adhered well.

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Surprisingly enough, I couldn’t find many entries online about the use of Washi tape as borders for wall art. As borders, yes, taped directly to the wall, but as part and parcel of the artwork, not so much. Apart from that, there appear to be several thousand applications for Washi tape, it seems. Here are but a few, courtesy of Google images.

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It must be really trending right now, as the folks at Sellotape and Ducktape have recently jumped into the foray and introduced their own, respective, decorative tape. Perhaps they know something good when they see it.

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Putting it all together. In Part I, I described the process of creating these panels. Part Deux was about the practicalities of getting a large square diptych and a long vertical diptych out of printers that can only print up to A4 and A3.

Now here, in Part III, I will show you how I assembled 2 separate prints onto 1 long vertical panel. The digital version looks like this:

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And here’s where it starts resembling that old favourite sci-fi film The Matrix: where the real world is much less glamorous, more gritty and grungy and downright dirty. Where what you see in The Matrix is nothing like the real thing.

Here’s what the real thing looks like when it’s home and handmade:

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This is printed onto A3 tissue paper (baking parchment is what I use, having had enough of tears and tears using craft tissue paper. Not to even mention the waste of expensive printer inks).

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This was printed with a landscape orientation on A4.

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Here the two are placed on top of the prepared 12×24 inch cradled wooden panel. As you can see, there will be gaps around the sides, as the panel is slightly bigger than the prints. I will use my secret weapons to cover up the gaps and create a neat border.

I’m talking about Washi Tape.
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I haven’t decided if I’ll be using the Dominoes tape, the Film Border tape, or the Tape Measure tape.

Anyway, here’s a photo of the board which I prepared earlier using Gesso and Heavy Gel. I’ve laid down my prints over the still-wet surface. And smoothened out any wrinkles and bubbles…personally I like some wrinkles as they give a more natural look than a completely smooth surface. Bubbles are a big no-no, though, so either chase them to the corners and edges where they can escape, or prick and deflate them with a pin.

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Once this has dried, I will use the Washi tape across the top, bottom and sides of the panel, and one across the joins where the two prints overlap. I think I’ll use the Dominoes tape.

Here’s the artwork after applying the Washi tape borders and a few layers of spray gloss.

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And ta daa! Here is the completed artwork, hanging on the wall.

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Love One Another…

…even if you’re not from the same species.

I find it hard to fathom why us human beings, with our apparent “higher intelligence”, can be so cruel and inhumane to each other. What’s with the fighting and bickering and killing of each other? Enough already!! Animals are putting the human race to shame, with their compassion, kindness and love for one another. Why can’t we be like them?

You only have to look online or read the newspapers to see the thousands of examples of animals demonstrating love for each other, regardless of species. “And the Lion shall lie down with the Lamb” sort of thing. Really awesome, and valuable lessons we humans could benefit from, if we would only stop our journey to self-destruction for even one minute to contemplate and emulate this.

Here are some pics I found on Pinterest. Who’s the savage beast now?

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Still not convinced? Then be sure to check out this great site, which has links to the stories behind the photos.

http://www.topinspired.com/top-10-unusual-animal-friendships/
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Because it’s there…

I’m not sure if someone actually said it, or if it’s apocryphal, but the above was supposedly in response to a question why someone felt they just Had to climb that mountain.

I challenged my own Everest today. I love cycling, and now that I’m not gainfully employed, I have loads of free time to cycle around my area, taking in the sights and stopping at scenic spots and photo opportunities. And also stopping at different places to try out the food, naturally.

Today I felt like I needed a new challenge. I know, I’ll go shopping! :D Seriously though, I’ll cycle to the railway station where I live in Rockingham, and take the train to Bullcreek, where I would then normally take bus no.501 to Booragoon Garden City. Only this time, instead of taking the bus, I’m going to take my bicycle on the train from Rockingham to Bullcreek, then cycle from Bullcreek to Booragoon.

It isn’t that far of a distance to cycle, really. Just a bit hilly. I dislike cycling up hills immensely lol. And quite possibly a very sweaty activity too. Not a big fan of that, either.

So why do it?

Because I know I can. And it’s an easily achievable goal, with a nice reward in the middle i.e The Mall!

Now, to psych myself up to the challenge, let’s break the trip down into its 3 components.

1. Cycle from home to Rockingham station. 3km. 11 mins. Easy enough, I used to do this every weekday when I was commuting to work in the City.

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2. Take the bike on the train to Bullcreek. 22 mins ride. Whahey, free aircon!

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3. Cycle from Bullcreek station to Booragoon Garden City Shopping Centre. This is the hilly and sweaty part. Boom! 3.1 km. 13 mins.

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And then, after some window shopping and a bite to eat, do it all in reverse to get back home.

4:30pm Well, I did it! It was quite a pleasant ride, actually, and the hills were not so steep but rather long inclines (even better on the way back as it was mostly downhill then!).

Now to cool off by jumping in the pool. Happy days!

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Are You A Believer?

My life has been a series of ups and downs, and all arounds for more than a decade now. I have worn so many different hats it’s not funny anymore. I have found myself as a Single Mum stranded in a foreign country, I have been a poultry farmer, been labelled “Red Hot China” and most recently I have been The Wronged Woman.

I believe it all began when I had my palm read by an expatriate friend in Spain. For reasons known only to himself, “John” would not say anything about my destiny, apart from giving me a cryptic clue, that it would be “very unsettled for quite a few years”.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking “Anyone can say that, it doesn’t mean anything!” Out of context, that might have rung true, but wait til I tell you that just five minutes prior to that, “John” had just read a friend’s palm and had been very accurate, right down to her having kidney problems and the fact she’d had a miscarriage before her only child was born, 18 years earlier.

Turns out “John” was right. My life did turn into a runaway rollercoaster ride soon after that. But that’s another story.

Years later, when things appeared to have settled down a little, I consulted another clairvoyant to see what the future held for me. This one claimed to have come from a family of 3 generations of clairvoyants. Well, he obviously got my Timelines all confused, as he spoke about past boyfriends as if they were the same person, and about events that had already happened as if they were only about to happen. He said my future lay “across the water”. That was easy enough to predict – Ireland is after all an island!

Ok now fast forward yet a few more years to Australia and 2014. How shall I describe the events that led to my seeking out another fortune teller? Let’s just say someone decided to destroy the truth, honesty, integrity and trust of our marriage. Now, in the aftermath, I struggle to decide if these things can be salvaged and resurrected. Should I stay, or should I go?

The clairvoyant this time was from an online site. She stated that I was going to go through a Transit Period, a period of great change. Ok, she probably tells everyone that, to hook them in. Then she said my fortune would change from 18th March 2014.

That was the day I saw him off at the airport, where he was to start his new job over in Queensland, over 2200 miles away. It was a highly paid job, it would dig us out of the financial rut we are currently in, it’s 4 weeks on, 1 week off. So, the clairvoyant was right about my fortune changing – but which aspect of it did she mean – the improvement in our financial situation, or the fact we would effectively be living separate lives?

Today I received a weekly digest from her. Here are some of the points she made (I’ve taken out the jargon about planets being in retrograde or in conjunction etc). The parts that I resonate with me personally I have highlighted in italics.


Monday – Feelings of something missing resurface. Follow hunches. Good fortune yields breakthroughs. Internet makes it easy to make extra income overseas. In love, release pain and let the past go.

Tuesday – It’s time to live spiritually and metaphysically. Apply for journalism or freelance writing assignments. A new love asks for the chance to win your heart.

Wednesday and Thursday – Take your mind off, call friends and host a party. Satisfy the urge for creative self-expression with Karaoke. Attend special events as networking opportunities. Consider online dating sites that use astrology! Astrology tells you when to expect the “unexpected”. Get a specialized Cinderella Time reading on when to marry and “who”.

Friday – “How do you fulfill self-destiny? Do you see life in terms of diamonds or pearls – of wisdom? Wounds heal, what do you choose to be now? Be selective where you shop talents. Match projects by passion and mutual vision. Discern, what feels natural to you long-term?

Weekend – Intuition shows you how to get those wishes granted, fast! Reflect. 2013’s celestial Grand Cardinal Cross weighs “values”. Relationships are tested for intentions. Can trust be restored? Formal decisions are made after quarrels. Use astrology or a Love Guide for pressing questions of compatibility.

What do YOU think? She probably prepares the same blanket email digest to everyone under the same Astrological sign, and then we wrap our psychological selves around, to make it fit our own lives. Still, some bits are eerily spot on right now.

Where do I go from here?

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Here are the 7 other Things I Like from the June 2013 issue of Real Living.

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I love bird cages. The more ornate, the better. Not to put birds into, as that would be cruel. My birds are kept together in aviaries, not separately in individual cages. I just like the romanticism of an antique birdcage, its “architecture”, so to speak. If I had birdcages like these, they would have potted plants in them.

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My 2 dogs would love a doghouse like this, with the flowery surroundings. I believe the flowers are Pelargoniums…I have very similar pink ones named “Graziosa”.

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Ahhh…the simple life. The large circular platter reminds me once again of Australian Aboriginal Dot Paintings. I love the simplicity of the whitewashed floorboards, the large cowrie shell, the various bits and pieces in black and white. If only Life really was this simple, anf everything was black and white and clearcut.

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What attracts me to this photo? 3 things, actually. The wooden camera, which reminds me of a wooden “iPhone” I saw in a shop specialising in gadgets and gimmicks. The wooden “iPhone” had a chalkboard “screen” and a pair of earplugs instead of earphones. The orange owl. One simply must have at least 1 owl in their home. I used to have a collection of them, alas now lost in time. I do still have one made of a strange Greek stone…it acts as an indicator of dampness. When I lived in Ireland, the bedroom walls literally ran with water, it was so damp, and my little owl was always sopping wet. The 3rd thing or things are the paint splashes. I have a fondness for paint splashes, whether accidental or by design.

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More paint splashes and splodges, this time manifested as Art. I admire how an artist can conjure up a feeling just by a few drawn lines and seemingly random splashes of paint.

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This room has a 60’s vibe to it. I like the dramatic wallpaper, the colours of the rug, the model’s floral jacket. I like having cushions on sofas, and they don’t have to match either. Ring the changes every now and then, by changing the cushion covers and rug.

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These “ice-dyed” linen throws intrigue me. I wonder what it actually means – “ice-dyed”. I remember when I got a tie-dye kit and created similar items to this, only mine were t-shirts and tote bags.

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This is my favourite Real Living issue so far. So much so that I’ve actually got 14 favourite photos out of it, not just 10. So much so I’ve decided to split this post into 2 halves, with 7 Things I Like in each post.

Here goes. Part 1.

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My first piano, and one that my parents still have, looked a lot like this one. I started having piano lessons at age 4. When I outgrew my old piano, (you don’t really outgrow a piano, you simply need one with a better tone, better action, better resonance), I asked my father if I could get a grand piano next. We had the space for it. I even pointed out to him a Yamaha baby grand that I’d tried out at a showroom. It was $20,000 Malaysian Ringgit. I showed him how I could prepare the piano the same way avant-garde piano composers like Henry Cowell and John Cage did, turning the piano into a real percussion instrument.

Unfortunately, I failed to convince my father, who believed he knew best. He bought me a Yamaha upright instead. It was adequate. I still think he’d have gotten more value for money if he’d bought the baby grand…after all, they both cost the same.$20,000 Malaysian Ringgit. I think it was my father’s way of telling me that I was not in charge of my own destiny.

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Aboriginal Art. I find the dot paintings intriguing, and always believed the style and techniques went back thousands of years. Would you believe they only go back to the 1970s? Dot paintings originate from when a white teacher, Geoffrey Bardon started teaching at an Aboriginal outpost in Papunya, and decided that the students should decorate the walls of the school. Et voila! What started as an exercise to encourage Aboriginal schoolchildren to record their traditional sand patterns and games rapidly evolved into what the world knows as Aboriginal Dot Paintings.

The seminal book about this is “Papunya – A Place Made After The Story” by Geoffrey and James Bardon.

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Books can tell a lot about their owners. Like Rorschach inkblot tests, books can be the litmus paper by which you can tell someone’s taste in Art, History, Science etc, what their predilections are, how they organise their lives, what their livestyles are like, even what phase of Life they are in.

I would dearly love to photograph people’s bookshelves and then interview the owners about themselves.
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I like this photo because of the aubergine colours and complementary tones. There is just something unctuous, rich and satisfying about the name “Aubergine” and the colour itself. As a food, I like my aubergines simply sliced and roasted until they’re melt-in-the-mouth soft.

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I would love to have space for a chill-out room like this. A haven to escape to, from the heat of Summer, somewhere to curl up and read a book, listen to Classical music, or just lay down for a nap.

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I’ve always loved colourful rugs, especially Persian rugs. But lately also I’m into colourful abstract designs, Ethnic designs, large florals, geometrics. Alright, call me fickle.

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Now here is an armchair one can sink into. The padding makes it a soft, inviting cocoon. It reminds me of the egg chairs from the film “Men in Black”, where Will Smith does his written test…only eminently more comfortable.

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I have seen how effective long, tall wooden panels can be as wall art. They can either be carved, painted or printed, it doesn’t matter. There is something tangible about a solid piece of wood or hardboard against the wall, that isn’t present on a piece of canvas.

In the past, I’ve printed onto tissue paper and then pasted the image onto stretched canvas. Whilst the results are good, I’m not satisfied with how much extra effort and work I have to then put in, to create a varnished surface. Whereas with a flat, solid, wooden surface, the varnish goes on smoothly and dries evenly, giving me that glassy look that reminds me of Chinese lacquer.

I have made up several Masonite hardboard and timber cradled wooden panels. Read about it here. All that remains is for me to create a suitable image and print it.

Now there’s the challenge. I’ve never printed any size other than A3 and A4, with the occasional small 20x20cm square. My homemade panels are 12×12 inches, or 12×24 inches.

I figure, for the square panels, I would have to use 1 A4 print and another 1/2 A4 print. Which means a Diptych of sorts. In the 2 photos below, to demonstrate what I just said, I’ve placed my canvas carrier sheet on top of the square panel. You can see how the empty space to the right can be filled up with a 1/2 A4 piece.

The orientation of the 2 pieces can be either Landscape or Portrait.

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For the 12×24 inch panel, I found that I can use an A3 print plus an A4 print on its side. The A4 image will need to be a Landscape and not a Portrait oriented print. The photos below show how I’ve placed my A3 and A4 canvas carrier sheets.

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Home printing always has its defects and slight aberrations, depending on the idiosyncracies of each printer. My Canon Pixma MX870 A4 printer, for example, loves to smudge just the beginning and the end of its printing. My Epson Artisan 1430 A3 printer loves chewing up paper by misfeeding it, I sometimes have to try 3 or 4 times before it feeds through properly. And then it likes to muck me around by sometimes streaking the inks here and there. Bugger!

Printing on tissue paper (or baking parchment, in my case) also has its share of mishaps. No matter how careful you are in applying repositionable glue to ensure the tissue paper sticks just right to the canvas carrier sheet, when it gets rolled through the paper feeder, sometimes it gets too glued together and consequently tears when you’re separating the sheets after printing. What I do if that happens, if it’s only a small tear and reparable, is I turn the sheet over and quickly glue on a tiny piece of blank tissue paper over the tear. Then, I prise the torn scrap from the carrier sheet and stick it back in place where it belongs, on the front of the print.

I’m going to use Washi tape as borders for the panels, as they will lend a neater edge to the overall piece, and I can also use them to hide any multitude of sins committed by my 2 printers around the edges.

What remains now is to put into practice my theory. Wish me luck, folks!

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Awake in the night

Awake in the night
I’m thinking
Of things that have happened
Are happening
And are yet to happen
To me

Maybe I’m psychic
But haven’t realised it
Maybe it’s just my
subconscious talking
– crazy cosmic psychobabble

Why do I seem to make
the wrong decisions
Choose
the wrong person
Do
the wrong thing
at
the wrong time?

Here I stand, once again
at the edge
of a chasm
of apocalyptic proportions
Where voices from the deep keep
Yelling “Make up your mind!”
To me in sweet sulphuric tones
Yeah, been there,
done that before already…
Tell me something new, please
Sing me a new Song
Dante’s Inferno is so yesterday

Is it Karma?
Was I a bad person in a previous life?
– What did I do to deserve this?

Or has someone pushed the players on the board, rearranged them and reassigned them different roles
So what was left is now right
And what was right is now wrong
– the Wife is now The Other Woman
– The Other Woman is now the Wife
Or so the perception appears to be…

Why is it Me who has to
pick up the pieces
And glue things back together
When I was not even a player
in these cruel
Games People Play
I do not know the rules
So I cannot make the decisions
I do not like this game.
I do not like the strange feeling Superglue leaves on my fingers.

I wonder…
Is there a “Reset” button for Love?

AlyZen Moonshadow

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