Sketch diary: drawing every day


As a teenager I would draw every single day. Not because I had to, or because I wanted to keep my eye in, but because I just did. It didn’t require discipline and it never felt like a chore.

As an adult, finding the time to draw is much harder: I feel guilty that I should be doing more important things – even in my spare time (and Netflix has a lot to answer for). Anyway, following a bit more travel and some much-needed reflection time, I’ve started drawing again. Here’s to crappy sketches until I start getting it right!


Sketch diary: drawing every day

Wedding: Step-by-step pinwheels tutorial

I spent ages looking for how to make durable, safe paper pinwheels that actually spun (and didn’t have bare pins poking out). In the end I mashed together the advice from about 8 tutorials online – and thought I’d make my own. Here’s what you need:


For 1 x pinwheel:

  • 1 x double-sided patterned paper (6″ x 6″ works well)
  • 1 x paper drinking straw
  • 1 x 25mm paper fastener (brad / butterfly fastener)
  • 4mm holepunch
  • 4mm eyelet setter (mine has a holepunch as part of it)
  • 1 x 4mm metal eyelet
  • hammer (for eyelets, and for my type of holepunch)
  • scissors or craft knife & mat
  • pencil and eraser. A ruler / straightedge is also helpful


Step 1: Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner of your patterned paper. Erase the middle – you’re going to use scissors to cut along the pencil lines.


Step 2: Cut along the pencil lines. Then, add dots in every other corner, as below, and one dot in the centre of your paper. These are where you are going to punch your 4mm holes. Make sure your dots are at least 2mm from all edges!

My holepunch (also an eyelet setter) uses a hammer and a setting-cylinder to punch a hole through the paper. It means I don’t have to curl up my paper to get a hole in the middle of it.

Step 3: Pull the top left corner hole towards the center, and push the eyelet into the hole. Then go round in a clockwise direction, pushing the eyelet through each corner hole as you go, until you’ve done all 4. It should be looking a bit like a pinwheel now, but don’t let go or your eyelet will ping out!

Step 4: Turn the pinwheel over, and poke the eyelet through the centre hole. Use the hammer to set the eyelet. The hard part is done!



Step 5: Cut a 1cm slit in the top of your paper straw, about 2cm from the end of the straw. Push the paper fastener through the pinwheel, and into the straw, fastening it loosely at the back.

Make sure you leave a bit of extra length when you fold back the paper fastener, as you need to leave enough room for the pinwheel to spin freely.


Your pinwheel is complete! You might need to push the fins away from the straw a little, in order for it to spin freely, but it is now a functioning pinwheel. Celebrate by giving one to a friend:


Wedding: Step-by-step pinwheels tutorial

“Can you make me a website?”


As a designer I often get asked if I can make websites. But what does it mean to “make” a website?

I can design a website, sure. I can tell you where everything is supposed to go, make you a pixel-perfect or responsive layout that changes shape depending on what device you look at it on, and I can make your website look pretty cool. But building it? That’s another matter. It would usually be something I’d work with a web developer on.

But surely I can just get the web developer to design my site too?
Yes, you can. But many web developers don’t offer a design service, and the ones who do may not always be your first choice for design. For the same reason you wouldn’t hire a plumber to do your electrics, it’s probably in your best interests to work with a team of designer plus developer. This isn’t to say developers can’t do design – and vice versa – a lot of them can. But if you want excellent bespoke design AND excellent build quality, it makes sense to hire two specialists instead of just the one.

So what is involved in building a website?


Research, Design and Development
No two teams work in the same way. However, as a general rule, the first step for most website building is talking to the client. The designer will work with the client to learn what they need and what they want, before formulating a visual layout for the website, and designing the components. The designer will then work with a developer to make sure the design can translate to code effectively, and the website coding commences.

codeCoding the website: Content Management Systems vs ‘from-scratch’ bespoke websites
With lots of Content Management Systems around like WordPress and Drupal, the process of building websites has changed a lot over the years. Approximations vary, but it’s estimated that 20% of all websites are now built on the WordPress platform, and a further 20% on other Content Management Systems. Anyone can now “build” a simple website using online templates.

The alternative to using a Content Management System is ‘from-scratch’ bespoke design, where a developer builds your website on an independent, standalone platform.

But what is a Content Management System? What is WordPress?
Think about a Filofax. It’s a set template for how to arrange your life – there are lots of different inserts you can buy: a calendar insert, an address-book insert, notepad, etc. Content Management Systems are like an online Filofax. But instead of organising your time, they organise your website content. You can mix and match components (e.g. a photo gallery or a blog) within your website, and you can – to an extent – choose how they look.

Content Management Systems are like an online Filofax for your content       Image:

One of the benefits of working within a Content Management System like WordPress is that once the website is made, you (as the website owner) can learn to update certain bits yourself. Say your company runs an annual offer selling all your earrings at half price. You can log in to your website’s admin area and upload a banner that says “ALL EARRINGS HALF PRICE” – and then you can take it down again when the offer is over. You can also write blog posts, update website copy and  images, and generally be a little more in control of your own site, without having to engage a developer every time you need to make a small change.

I’m fairly technical. Can’t I just make my own website on WordPress?
There is nothing stopping you from doing this! But it depends what you want to use it for. If you’re building a website as a business investment it makes good commercial sense to hire a specialist for the things outside the capabilities of the widely-available templates. It also means that your website will look different from everyone elses’ who has used the same template as you.

A good developer can take a WordPress template (or build their own) and adapt it to suit your exact requirements. Say you like a template that has a great layout, good spacing and nice fonts. But the nav bar is on the left, and you really want it at the top. And you like the style of the inbuilt gallery, but you want images to pop out in a lightbox, rather than scroll across the screen. These are all things that a web developer can easily change.

But more than this, say you already have a design that you really like – from a previous website, or supplied to you by a designer. It might be drawn in Photoshop, or it might be someone else’s website that you love the layout of. You want your website to work like that. A web developer can work with this design, and adapt it to make it work as you intend it.

So I want a designer and a developer?
Probably. You probably know one or the other, or have someone in mind already. It’s often wise to speak to this person first – lots of designers have developers who they trust, and work with often, and vice-versa. So even though you’re technically looking for two people, you’ll often find that the second person comes recommended by the first.

“Can you make me a website?”

I Dress Myself – screen printing workshop

idm logo

Last year I did some work with the wonderful Hannah and Pete of I Dress Myself Screen Printing studio. They very kindly ran a one-off workshop for me, so I could learn how to screen print for myself.


After a few doodled ideas I opted for something unknowingly difficult to print… lots of fine lines! (d’oh!) – this was the concept and a screengrab of my potential linework:

Which isn’t actually that different from my finished product! (I flipped the triangle upside-down after realising this would be on a t-shirt, and the last thing I need is an optical illusion of wider hips 😉 )

Also, wasn’t expecting to choose gold ink, but boy I’m glad I did!


Now, the step-by step! First, getting the linework ready to print on acetate (I think Pete did this bit for me, I was clearly faffing with my camera at this point). Also that’s not me in the photo…


Printed the acetates, so I could expose my two screens. We opted not to knock out the linework on the triangle; something I’m grateful for as it would’ve been a pain to line up. Instead we chose to print the white bug directly over the gold triangle, which worked even better than expected (and is lasting fine through the wash).



Mixing a nice grainy gold with gold, copper and a hint of black ink, and setting up the carousel:

Printy print print!


Through the drier…

And onto our bodies! Nice and warm 🙂

Massive thank you to Hannah and Pete for all their help and advice – it was loads of fun, and I learnt so much.


Hannah and Pete don’t run regular workshops, but if you’re interested in hearing about future workshops and events you can sign up to their mailing list.

I Dress Myself – screen printing workshop

The Gruffalo lino prints

gruff lino 1
Eek! The mouse is missing a hand! (I fixed this in the final print)

I recently bought this starter Lino Printing kit from Amazon, and I’m actually pretty impressed. Having done lino cutting at school many years ago I assumed it was still a case of ‘hairdryer, get ink in your hair, go home covered in blue plasters’ – but with the new Softcut lino, it’s really good fun. And easy. you just draw a design, cut over your pencil lines, and roll on the ink. Simples!

I imagine I’ll be gradually replacing the parts from the kit as my needs increase (for example the print tray is pretty rubbish at being totally flat – I’ve been using a sheet of glass from an old photo frame instead) – but as a starter kit it has everything you need to try it out. Ace 🙂

gruff lino 2
Gift for a small person! (The frame didn’t come with the kit)
The Gruffalo lino prints

Making Cookie Cat charms from Steven Universe


If you haven’t seen the first episode of Steven Universe you probably won’t get what this post is all about. But if you have, I present to you…

cookiecat 3


As a bit of an experiment I thought it’d be fun to make the packaging too – and although I didn’t get a side view of it before posting it to my friends Ceri and Eira, I can promise that it looked just like this 🙂

To make them, I bought a cat cookie cutter on eBay, which didn’t arrive for nearly 6 weeks, so I abandoned the wait and instead constructed a very dangerous cutting template out of a Coke can, using this instructable.

I then rolled out brown, candyfloss pink and white sculpey with a wine bottle (because who has rolling pins now) to approx 4mm thick, and cut my cat shapes out. I halved the white and pink cats, and fused half white to half pink, using the other half to make the second cookie cat.


Two eye holes on two of the brown cutouts, and a metal keyring jabbed into the top of the pink/white sculpey. At this point you want to make sure your sculpey is as flat as you can get it, and the side you DON’T want to see should be face down on the foil. I learnt the hard way that letting the foil touch the outside when cooking leaves you with random shiny bits of cookie cat. Sad.

Once they’re out of the oven, glue them together (I used super-strength UHU, but you can use anything that sticks. Just make sure it’s a glue that won’t dissolve polymer clay (which rules out a lot of superglues.) I’d recommend Araldite/epoxy resin if you have the patience.)

cookie cat 4

You can varnish your Cookie Cats if you like, but I think they look more realistic without the varnish. Then, pop them in the packaging (made on Illustrator with painstaking measuring and craft-knife cutout), and you’re done!

EDIT: I’ve updated the packaging template to be actually useable by other people!

Click to download Cookie Cat Packaging Template (PDF)




Making Cookie Cat charms from Steven Universe