How The Spring/Summer 2016 Collection Was Made

My collection of Noctiluna products for Spring/Summer 2016 now almost fully exists, and here are some photos of them for you to see. Also, being in a caring and sharing kind of mood, I have included a list for you, of the stages that I go through in order to make these lovely things.  Read, gasp, and pray for me. Ha!

Stage 1. I order t-shirts, onesies, bags, cushion covers, and printing inks, and sign up for fairs until my business credit card actually starts whimpering for me to stop.

Stage 2. Preparing screens and washing them in the bath tub, then manically scrubbing the bath tub down so that the kids don’t get turned into day-glo mutants overnight.Then praying that the screens turn out okay, so that I don’t have to start the whole process all over again (it has happened before!).

Stage 3. The shirts arrive and I start squealing excitedly, and organizing them into size and color groups….all over my living room. Everyone in my family hates me a little bit.

Stage 4. Screen printing takes place on my dining table over a roughly three week period. I get mad if there are any dirty dishes in the sink when I need to clean a screen. Kids who come over for play dates ooh and ahh at the shirts. However, my family properly hate me now.

Stage 5. I iron every single product to fix the inks, while watching every single costume drama ever made in the universe. After a week my right arm feels heavier than my left, and I can’t stop thinking about Mr Darcy. My husband wears slightly crumpled shirts to work (sort of reminds me of Darcy), and the kids have started using words such as countenance, affectation and disposition in their everyday language.

Stage 6. The sewing begins. This is when the most cursing is done during production. Sewing is not something that comes easily to me. I have fantasies of taking my machine out into the yard and attacking it Office Spaces style.This stage is long and painful. Much chocolate is consumed.

Stage 7. The photo session. Oh my god. Why is it always windy when I decide to photograph my collection? Is some kind of cosmic joke being played on me? I struggle through an amateurish day of taking acceptable photos, and then another day  of painstakingly uploading them to Etsy and my website, and trying not to accidentally delete them all.

Stage 8. I finally start clearing my mess up properly, my family starts talking to me again. The Spring fairs beckon,  the weather gets nice, my shirts are packed away into satisfyingly neat piles and I start worrying about why I didn’t make more stuff!

Note: My love for screen printing overcomes all the rest of it, so it’s all good!

Looking for Inspiration?


For a long time I have been interested in the idea of inspiration, and how it is referred to in relation to artists and their work processes. Is the idea of the artist struck by inspiration sometimes a  romanticized ideal, invented by art historians to explain a lot of hard work, passion, unusual perspective, and skill? Being an artist is sometimes viewed as a god given talent, but like anything else it is a learnt skill that takes practice and training to get better at. Being able to stay motivated and inspired in a creative profession is the same.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines inspiration as: The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Being hit by inspiration does happen, but not always in the way people think it should. In my experience, inspiration doesn’t often come crashing at me like a bolt of lightning. I wouldn’t really describe it as just a split second ‘aha’ moment. For me, feeling inspired is just the result of a series of actions and events. My big ideas happen after long explorations, or a forced break from my normal routine, or a step outside my comfort zone. My inspiration is often self engineered.

This brings me to a book I found at my local library called Creative Block.  I love this book, and want to share it with others because it gives you a look into the work processes of real artists. It is full of  practical advice and projects that can keep you ticking, and help you reboot during a creative block.

One artist in the book mentioned that when she is stuck, she gets five or six sheets of paper and draws all over them, the way you would doodle over a school  binder, no worries about the outcome, just keep doodling. Then when you are done, sit back and analyse the results, are there any recurring motifs or styles on the pages, what insights can you gain from this?
Another artist mentioned setting yourself automated daily tasks that force you to keep going no matter what. After reading this, I started doing a combination of these two ideas every night, drawing spontaneously in a sketch book after the kids go to bed, sometimes in front of the TV. It has been a really nice experience not having to worry about whether the drawing will turn into anything.  I plan to keep on drawing every night, and take on a few of the other projects from the book that look interesting. I have already started an exploration into drawing with embroidery, that has been strangely satisfying. This has all made me feel stimulated and happy and that in turn has increased my productivity, all good things.

There have been many points during my career, far more than I care to share, when I have thought “What the hell am I doing?”, and when I have experienced a genuine lack of direction or purpose. So far, I have always managed to bounce back from these periods. The word my tutor at art school used most to describe me was ‘tenacious’ (That was in public, god knows what he called me in private.). Anyway, bouncing back matters, bouncing back is an important part of being human. We can’t always feel inspired and motivated, but getting tips for bouncing back is always welcome, thank you Creative Block.


The Wonder of it all

This post is going to consist of very little writing because, well, the pictures say it all really.

I have been wanting to go to the Renwick gallery ever since it reopened in November to see Wonder. The Renwick and I have a history, it was one of my favorite haunts when I first moved to DC eleven years ago and I feel a bit possessive about it, okay? Every time a friend would tell me about how amazingly wonder-ful (ha ha)  the exhibition was, I would feel a ridiculous little twinge of envy, and a need to sulk and eat chocolate (because basically I am a big baby).
I finally got to see it on Saturday, and despite the heaving crowds, and one massive melt down courtesy of my five year old, it did not disappoint. I can’t even write about it properly because, somehow, I feel that my words couldn’t really do the art justice, and would end up diminishing the work in some way. So here are some images:

My nine year old daughter was so inspired by the work, especially Tara Donovan’s structures made of index cards, that I feel that I have to do a project linked to this at my summer camp. The nine year old wants to recycle and re-purpose everyday objects to make her art so let the grand hoarding begin. Watch out neighborhood – toothpicks, bottle caps, newspapers and drinking straws – I had better start cleaning out the garage to make space!