My pattern repeats are smoother than my segues from one blog post to the next, but I never claimed to be editorially expert, so …

For the recent ‘geology‘ challenge I was going to do strata as stripes but it seemed a few others had the same idea so I ditched it (although I might go back to that at some point). I’d intended to build a cohesive collection but then I discovered Grut Brushes and was monumentally distracted by playing with them all.

Best $20 ever spent on any Photoshop add-on! The brushes have excellent flow and variety, and I have no complaints – except that the PDF list (just for CS6 users; CC subscribers are able to use a preview plugin) has really tiny labels. I made a more readable version which you are welcome to use: grut brushes guide.

The next Spoonflower challenge was ‘endangered species‘ so I finally got on with creating a collection for that instead. It’s no mean feat: achieving variety of scale, value and colour; open and closed ground; lead designs and supporting designs – without losing a sense of cohesion. I don’t yet think I’ve mastered it but I’m on the right path now.

coordinates for wordpress



I have been lax at keeping the blog posts going. I suppose I’d rather be doing than talking about doing. Things are a little less busy at work, so I ought to get back into this. It’s a while since I visited the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican which I was going to write about. I decided not to because I wasn’t much impressed. But then, I’m not wild about his work anyway, it all feels a bit emperor’s new clothes to me. I only went because it’s free to the art gallery with a Barbican membership – a Christmas gift I’ve used more enthusiastically to see films at a discount.

I’ve had a few enquiries about Spoonflower through this site and I realise it’s because I added a link to here from there, and perhaps it’s tricky to locate the contact form on Spoonflower itself. Well as long as you reach me, it’s all good.

I have a tonne of proofing swatches I didn’t know what to do with, and made a wall art thingy with them. It’s an improvement on the various layers of paintings the panel has worn over the years. I wonder if I could strip back the layers when I get bored with it and show its previous forms like geological strata. In what I hope will prove a decent segue, this may be foreshadowing my next pattern design …


Tabloid redesign

Yes, I’ve been a bit quiet. In the weeks before Christmas (also our busiest time of year), I led the redesign of Church Times. As a cost-saving move to tabloid format necessitated some layout tweaks, the opportunity was taken for a general freshen-up.

Everyone agreed we should honour the design of our revamped website, so each section has corresponding colours. These are picked out in the running heads (now also with previous footer details), tint panels, and various typographic elements. The introduction of heavy horizontal lines using these colour codes indicates the separation of articles as well as sections.

Although I wanted heavier rules, along with bolder dots for the verticals, for yet more emphasis and a lively feel, the editor wasn’t convinced. I chose my battles wisely and instead earned a small victory in closing up the space between pictures and captions. We were trying to save space after all.

I sourced a lovely font, Whitney, to replace tired old Gill, and we’re all happy with its versatility and easiness on the eye. It looks serious but friendly and I believe it will age well. Unfortunately, we weren’t let loose with the masthead, which looks a bit tired – and wonky! I was confident we could do something to smarten it up without losing identity or authority. Instead, we have retained it within a sharper front page layout which allows for dynamic images and text that won’t interfere with each other as before.

Enough waffle, see for yourself.  I’ve now seen the new tabloid format for The Guardian, launched just days after Church Times (we had several months less time and fewer staff to work on ours!), and was interested to read about their process. There will be revisions along the way, of course, as we respond to readers and the constraints of the new format. So far I’m pleased to say it feels like we have gained more than we have lost.

mockup redesign copy

Challenge set, challenge met

After deciding I should create a cohesive collection, I think I’ve achieved it with this lot. The brief was to create a pattern under the title ‘Centre Stage’, being a theatrical theme, thinking ‘under the spotlight’ and so on. I had the velvety red curtain in mind, as well as a literal star as my focal point. The lead design in this (the busiest one) contains most of the elements which I’ve then leaked out into more than a dozen coordinates. Spots and stripes are represented, along with a garish floral, a loose tartan, and some bold geometrics. I could go even further with this but the colour scheme started to wear me out. I might revisit this later in calmer blue tones and add some curvier shapes.


I keep meaning to delve into the art world outside of my four walls and report on that. Or learn a new creative skill and share my progress. But I’m still distracted by making repeat patterns (and it’s proving lucrative) so for now here’s yet another promo post.

There’s a 10% off Gift wrap offer at Spoonflower, and I have a good haul of festive designs. If you’re already thinking about getting your presents wrapped, here’s a peek at my seasonal stuff, all available in my shop.

Marketed Up

The recent extra mention on Spoonflower has definitely encouraged an upturn in sales. I’m pleased to say I’ve been included in another promotion, with a (much older) pattern of mine was suggested “for the handyman” in their ‘50 teatowel designs for everyone on your list’. Christmas shoppers get busy!


Marketing assistance

4AF48703-695F-4A47-B81C-08E5A4E6712B.jpegSpoonflower have another 2-for1 deal on fat quarters, and have featured my botanical Block Print design in a small selection of promoted designs. It will be interesting to see if this has an impact on sales in the coming week. Have a look in my shop for a bargain!

I recommend

I’ve been a bit quiet because I was on holiday in Sicily. There is so much graffiti in Catania – arty pieces, political slogans, tags, messages of love, expressions of ire, and plenty I couldn’t decipher. With the peeling paintwork of predominantly baroque architecture there’s a scruffy charm I ought to have photographed. But I was busy eating too much and drinking plenty of cheap delicious wine.

In the absence of a decent visual record of my time away, Here’s a somewhat unrelated link to Unsplash which is a great resource of free-to-use photos that don’t all look stock library ish. Be sure to give credit with any use – we wouldn’t want to lose willing contributions from talent deserving of recognition.

Oh, also! In Sicily we saw a fab Escher exhibition which is on until Nov 5 if you get a chance to see it. Here’s my son looking cool on cue.AE579167-95F5-4861-8765-3FED37F88BD8

Top ten winner!

58EAC7AD-9915-4EF2-A630-28FD1AC5E29CI’m very pleased that my hard work paid off in the Botanical Block Print contest at Spoonflower this week (just snuck in at number 10). There were around 430 entries and loads of really great designs so I am extra happy to do so well in light of that. I’ve been credited with $20 to spend on the site, plus they’ll send a tea towel featuring my design from their sister site Roostery. Thanks to all who voted for me!