New arrivals!

I am slowly expanding the range of offerings in the MissElaineous Shop, and I am very excited to announce that my latest designs have come back from my suppliers.*

First, a new birthday tag to tie in with the forthcoming brilliant bugs (or interesting insects?) range:

image

This is the second birthday tag so far, and I am looking forward to adding more soon.  However, I am currently working on a very different collection of birthday gift tags for children.  Here’s a hint: Tagosaurus.

The other addition is a magnetic menagerie.  The rabbit magnets and badges that serve as the finishing touch on the Magnificent Mammals gift set were so popular that I’ve had several of the other silhouettes produced.  Currently the menagerie has the fox, hedgehog, and stag from the greeting card collection, and I will be developing more over time.  Right now you can get all four designs (these three plus the original rabbit) as magnets or badges for 15% off.

image

* Allow me to advertise on behalf of Woodworms, who have been instrumental in turning my designs into reality.  If you’re looking for fun, personalised children’s products, please check them out!

Evolution of a Stag

Sometimes everything just falls into place.  Like with the badger and the fox—a bit of luck and the design just seemed to happen like it was meant to be. And sometimes, well, it doesn’t.  The stag went through several iterations before ending up like it looks now.  This was the first attempt:

image

I really liked this one, but it needs to be printed in a portrait orientation.  Every other card was landscape.  So it was back to the drawing board, or rather, book of (copyright free) drawings.  Which yielded this:

image

I am absolutely enamoured of natural history engravings.  This art form was replaced by photography in the late 19th and early 20th century, and my work continues this tradition – literally.  I use the sharp outlines of the engravings as a digital stencil on my photographs, which turns them into the designs I use on the greeting cards.

image

I thought I was done once I had this design, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the feet (I had to excise the stag from his original landscape, which was not as easy as I had hoped).  Then, finally, it was third time lucky.  This bellowing stag was popular when I showed it to my Facebook focus group and the rest, as they say, is history.

image

And not only history, but it’s turned out to be one of the most popular beasties in the “Magnificent Mammals” collection.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised – I liked the original photo so much that a canvas print of it hangs above my bed, showing Japanese maples (acers) and their riot of autumn colour at Westonbirt Arboretum.  So while things may not fall into place immediately with my increasing stable of wildlife designs, they certainly seem to fall out like they should!

image

Why MissElaineous? (Part 2)

As I discussed in the first part of what may become an ongoing series, I enjoy a lot of different things. Over the past several years, this has turned into a number of different websites: Indian River by Air for a small online business. Rubbish Walks and Off the Ground for my anti-litter advocacy. And, my latest project, a range of greeting cards and gift tags that I am already looking forward to expanding. So one of the things I intended to do with miss-elaineous.com is bring every website I run together in one place.

Which I have done. However, on the main site you’ll notice a few greyed out circles, just waiting for me to bring them to life. These are related to writing, and this is one of the driving reasons behind developing the site in general and this blog in particular: to encourage myself to get back into the habit of writing.

I have written stories since I was a child, and it’s one of those activities that, when it’s going well, inspires an incredible feeling of flow. Yet for the last decade or so of my life, I have found myself down the blind alley of writing for academia. This is not like normal writing.  In many cases, you are rewarded for conformity, not creativity. The voice of the author is often forced to neutrality, storytelling gives way to data analysis, and the spark of interest in a project is often killed by over editing.

So one of the reasons I wanted to kick off a new blog is so that I could rediscover my own voice, which has been tamped down after years of academic writing and, most recently, exposure to corporate speak. Over the past year, this voice has tasted freedom through my blog for Rubbish Walks, which has been an excellent exercise in harnessing my passion for a topic into bitesize bits (or not-so-bitesize in the case of my rubbish manifesto), but I am
looking forward to exploring other subjects in addition to litter.

I had forgotten the first, and perhaps only, rule of writing: a writer writes. So this blog is to help me do just that, in a format that offers accountability to an audience, even if that audience is just my mother (hi, mom!). Blogs also helps to prevent perfectionism by encouraging me to get things out there without excuses: after all, I can’t learn and improve unless I try in the first place.

[Want to keep up to date with what I am writing and posting?  Sign up for MissElaienous Musings in the sidebar over there on the right.  Through the magic of Really Simple Syndication, you’ll get the blog post delivered directly to your inbox soon after it’s published.  Completely free of spam and other additives.]

Interesting Insects

… are what I plan to follow the “Magnificent Mammals” gift set with (or maybe “Brilliant Bugs”?).  I have an incredibly long list of wildlife cards I’d like to design, and I don’t know how long I’ll be able to have alliterative titles, but I’m having fun with it while I can.

While actually creating the design takes seconds, the hard part is finding the right silhouette to use as a stencil, the right photo to use, and the right part of the image to concentrate on to get the effect I want.  I have started to experiment with new designs and, while I am fairly confident about the bee, it is likely the butterfly and dragonfly will undergo a metamorphosis between now and final printing.

image
image
image

They grow up so fast …

It was two weeks ago that I posted about watching frog eggs turn into tadpoles, and even after hatching they have been providing me with a great deal of entertainment.  The pond is the first place I stop after work; before even going into the house I take a peek to see what’s going on and how the tadpoles are developing.  They have easily quadrupled in size and are incredibly active in their efforts to clean algae from the sides of the pond (and, in the instance illustrated below, from the heads of one of their parents).  I can’t even begin to estimate their numbers as the pond is nearly black with them and, if the newt is actively hunting them, it doesn’t seem to be making a dent.

Most of what I’ve read about frog development indicates that the metamorphosis takes a few months, so I am anticipating a mass migration from the pond in June. Although at the moment I am trying not to think about how to handle a thousand miniature frogs hopping around in the front garden, but simply enjoying having this privileged view of wildlife on my doorstep.

image
image