Preserving madness

The garden has done pretty well this year. To make me quite happy the tomatoes went a bit “bananas”. I have never to date managed to grow so many. I can tell you what I did, but as most gardeners can tell you, I was also lucky; avoiding ravenous insects and disease.¬† But the slightly mad thing was me, designing and drawing individual labels for each batch of preserves.¬† I am still a designer at heart and the latest design trend is “hand lettering”. I have always rather admired this and decided to hand draw, scan and print out our preserve labels this year. Not just one “blank” label, but specific labels for each thing. Yup mad. I did three. Then made a blank one. ūüôā I did have a few self imposed”rules”. It must be hand drawn (no re-touching just sizing and pencil lines maybe allowed). Below are the results, pretty “newbie” looking I think, but I am still pleased, if I had let myself tidy them up (or trace them and make look professional) they would have never have made it on the bottles.

Tomato ketchup tomato sauce courgette relish

Liqueur label

First I would sketch out a super quick idea, then measure the label in my workbook to twice the size. Then pencil out the final, colour in with black ink pen. Scan, size down by 50%, digitally rub out errant pencil lines I forgot to rub out then repeat them across a A4 size file and print them out, cut them up and attach to the jar/bottle!

workbook labels

Inspired: Angie Lewin

One whole year ago I thought I should blog about this amazing lady. Finally I am getting around to it! Angie Lewin, a¬†British Printmaker/Artist business woman¬†extraordinaire¬†. I brought her book with my birthday money when wandering around my favorite bookshop “Minerva” in Wellington last year. I saw the cover and was drawn in. LOVE her work, I get it… It makes me want to make stuff.Angie Lewin book
Angie Lewin book
Angie Lewin book

To be honest I only¬†recognized¬†her work, I didn’t actually know who she was. But now I do! I have read the book cover to cover and spent much longer looking at all the pictures. It never stays on the bookshelf long before I take it down to flick through and feel inspired to draw, paint, design.

Here are some piccies of some things I have made pretty much directly inspired by her work.

A¬†wardrobe door¬†mural for Quinn’s room.
Quinn's wardobe

A baby mobile I drew then traced in illustrator – this has been printed and glued together several times as gifts for people having babies. Something fun for baby (the black and white picture) and the print is a bit more grown up for the big kids suddenly surrounding themselves with loads of baby stuff. Seems to go down pretty well with both!
baby mobile

Poor Quinn got the slightly more messy prototype (as will probably be my kids lot in life) I found the best one was one with proper thin nylon rope from a hardware store and small pom poms as the ‘beads’ great way to use up yarn, much quicker than these crocheted beads and the nylon thin rope looks much tidier. But you get the idea!

There are quite a few random sketches and things aswell, none really that interesting! But the point is I am getting my arty self moving.

You don’t need to book to be suitably inspired – just go to her website. Or buy all sorts by her and similar artists through this online shop.

Feed the designer : Online Resources and things to read

The online world is a MAD one. Things change overnight and the ways to market yourself online are growing everyday. There is so much out there sometimes I just want to, one – plug myself in Matrix style and have all that knowledge right there to fly my SEO helicopter in and save the day, or, two – bury my head in the sand and deny that the nothing changes and eat chocolate. Lets just say since neither one is an option.

Today while I write up some little posts on the latest sites to come out of the QDM web design studio I wanted to share with you where I pickup my tid bits to help myself and my clients along when it comes to marketing.

Join up and unsubscribe if you don’t like them!

  • Campaign Monitor – Newsletters on email marketing.
  • Etsy – Joining up as a “seller” will get you the emails aimed at marketing your business.


  • SeoMoz – Search engine stuff
  • Google webmaster Central – Search engine news and important info.
  • Seth Godin’s blog Awesome author who writes about marketing and business anthropological style and is funny too.
  • One Woman Marketing – One woman who does it all and talks about it. Great place to get ideas on workflow and general marketing.

Books and Online Guides

Podcast to listen too

Right thats it, I don’t want to bombard you too much. Flick around have a look and subscribe to the ones that appeal. Off to eat some chocolate.

Feed the designer: inspired by Laurent Nivalle

Not long ago I signed up to a website that sent pretty pictures to my inbox once a week. This morning I follwed their link to this post with photos taken by Laurent Nivalle. I have downloaded a few pictures for you to see, but you should really head over to the other post to see the whole lot together they are such a nice nostalgic story. I am hankering to play with these colours and effects.

Laurent Nivalle
By Laurent Nivalle
Laurent Nivalle
By Laurent Nivalle

Go the website here:
and blog:

As for my music of choice I have another old school album for you from my student days. An album by a christchurch¬†musician Bic Runga. ¬†I am currently listening alot to her first album “drive” and the more recent one “birds

Would you like a video? Here ya go.

Have a great week!

Feed the designer : Jessica Hische!

‘Feed the designer’ blog post¬†series¬†is an¬†attempt¬†to share with you what inspires me each week.

Walking along the cool sunny wintry streets of Christchurch I saw a poster with some names I knew all about, this poster was for an upcoming conference for designers up in Auckland – Semi Permanent. One of those names had me going straight to the website and buying myself a ticket.

Jessica hische-Drop Caps

Jessica Hische is a lovely, motivated and super talented designer/illustrator/typographer. Ever since she showed up on the interweb I have been admiring from afar for her attention to detail and gorgeous colour palettes. Here is a video! Make sure you head to her shop if you like her style and would like something for your walls.

SP 2010 Speaker – Jessica Hische from Semi Permanent on Vimeo.

Whats inspiring without a little music? I’m gonna show my age here, I listened alot to Lamb on those all night stints working on that assignment due the next day, way back in the uni days. I now have no idea how I managed those all nighters. I remember large amounts of spicy chips, chocolate and coffee being involved. Lamb still helps me focus on work. If I need to get some stuff done quick (usually some HTML and CSS!), this is my sound track. Play the vid for a sample:

Memories and nostalgia! The last design conference I went to was Semi Permanent in Sydney, just after graduating from uni. Add in listening Lamb and no time has passed. I’m that poor silly student all over again. So fun.

Crochet Afghan and a Pretty Website

This weekend is going to be a fun one. Originally we wanted to go to the Mokihinui, take photos and explore what is scheduled to flooded and turned into a dam. But it is a bit of drive so instead we will venture out next weekend and plan to leave on the Friday night. This weekend is now turning out to be fun time making things and planning (not to mention writing in the blog!).
Crochet Granny Square Afghan
First I want to introduce you too the granny square afghan I have been crocheting on and off for at least a year. Its finished! I love it much more than I thought I would. At first I wanted something colourful and interesting, but now I enjoy how it blends into the lounge Рlike its always been there. Feeling understated and comforting. Not to mention how warm it is to snuggle under. The yarns were all sourced out of peoples stash, the main brown colour thanks to Jess and the greens and blacks a trademe find.
Today I found a lovely pretty inspiring website thanks to Kylie spotting something I would like on The link to this site called “upon a fold” – the blog is the coolest! I have been screen-shooting and feeling inspired to do some collage combo painting SOON.
Sewing Pj's!
I will leave you now with the first of the winter sewing. A peak at some pajama pants I made out of some stash re-hash fabric. Using an Amy Butler pattern from her book “In Stitches“.. I changed it up a little by adding an elastic band recycled from an old pair of torn pajama pants and a silky blue ribbon for a bit of luxury. The fabric is so soft and cuddly. Just perfect for the chilly winter nights.

Handmade Nation

Handmade Nation

I went to the documentary Handmade Nation last night. Organised by Miss Millie and¬†sponsored¬†by Felt. Credits over heres what i thought…

SO lovely to see many wonderful women and a few brave men in the theatre. The theatre seemed quite full. Quite the success! I caught up with a few delightful ladies I have not seen in ages, which was awesome. The doco itself is very inspiring and left me feeling capable of anything! I also really liked and appreciated the honest¬†portrayal¬†of crafters. Some make things to sell because they like it, not because it makes them lots of money. Infact alot of them sounded like they held down familes, jobs and their crafting lives, including making enough to sell their work at craft fairs. Its funny I always got this idea we are all supposed to strive to craft and make money crafting full time. For some, they make a product that works and it becomes a sort of fad and takes over, all of a sudden they are making enough money to live off. But for others it doesn’t, no reflection on the quality or coolness of the product, almost luck. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is friends and creative outlets and sometimes funding your craft. One resounded clang I got was a guilt lifted, the guilt I felt for not making it ‘big’ in my hobbies or having my hobbies make me enough money to live off. So what right? I like my hobbies, just because i dont make money off them doesn’t mean I stop doing them. I get to share it with a few, my photos get used on walls and in designs, thats enough right?

OK so about the money thing. My actual JOB is web design. Life in freelance has been slooow. Since Christmas I have been only just making ends meet and thats thanks to the support of my amazing loyal customers and fabulous partner. Due to slowness I have been REALLY looking into what I am doing and how I can re-think it, re-market them and get this show on the road again. I have made no secret of it though, the talking it out really helps me get perspective and removes the stress of it all somewhat. I also have had many great ideas come my way thanks to my business-y techy friends, esp Ben from Diversity.

The changes are inspired by the new ways of communicating to customers via the internet, things I can do to really help business’s in their online marketing strategies. The need to start pushing my passion for usability and logical layout has also become apparent. I really don’t make a big enough deal of that side of my web design experience.¬†I am still working on the best way to explain these new services and how best to reflect it on my online¬†presence¬†and then follow that up with real life stuff. So many ways to do this these days, its so easy to get bogged down by them all! Along with it, will be a new website design AGAIN. Yeah what can i say, its what i do… So watch out soon to be a new website, new marketing approach and new bunch of services. Any colour requests?

Bits of Wisdom from Hartmut Esslinger

Found here via swissmiss

The creatives will love this, quite wise I think. Any excuse to investigate the theory and motivation behind design. Love to know what you think….

I also liked the point on hiring people who are better than you and leaving them to it. So many owners of business’s let their ego dictate their decisions. Seen many a business with amazing people and never really succeed because they wouldn’t give the right freedom to their staff.

Web Design – Layout Panic Software

Panic software have a sale on right now, I grabbed “Transmit” because quite simply its the best ftp app I have used thus far and software that saves you time and is easy to use is worth the money. I just thought I should say (and take screen shots), that I really like this layout. Easy, pretty and the language is chatty and nice… why not give them money?