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#Stationery made with love

Stationery by Ella Johnston

As you know I’ve been blogging a lot about stationery this week for National Stationery Week. It’s really got me thinking about my own work over the years.  Shown above are my illustrated greetings cards, handprinted notelets and tags, plus a 40-page notebook.

My ranges so far have consisted of detailed illustrative motifs and individually handprinted pieces. Whatever style I plump for at a particular time it’s important to me that my stationery offers something that you can only get from me.

So the handmade, handcrafted, hand-drawn element is essential to every collection I create. All the time I’ve been creating stationery I’ve put a little bit of myself in every collection. I really want each piece to be made with love. 

You can take a look at my most up to date stationery collections on my Not On The High Street, Folksy or Etsy shops.

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Sparrow! Finished Bird of the Fortnight

Watercolour sparrow illustration. Ella Johnston. Bird of the Fortnight

When Dr B urged me to draw sparrows for Bird of the Fortnight I did so reluctantly – what a fool I was! Through working up the black and white sketches, then exploring the bird through watercolour and ink, I’ve come to realise how charming these creatures are.

Their mottled black, brown, golden and coffee-coloured plumage is really quite lovely. The bird’s bodies are great for an artist too; depending on the individual creature it can either be cute, full and fat or sleek, slim and almost svelte-like. Now I think I’m going to work on a few more sparrow sketches.

I’m not the only one who loves these birds. In fact as I was working on these drawings I was approached by someone who is opening an antiques shop in the US. She wanted a logo featuring a sparrow wearing a crown. I was only too happy to oblige. Here’s the finished commission.
King Sparrow. Illustration Commission. Ella Johnston.

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#FreebieFriday! Stationery Giveaway

Ella Johnston Stationery

In honour of National Stationery Week I thought I’d giveaway some items from my favourite stationery collections (plus some little extras) via Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve gathered a set of my garden bird postcards wrapped in twine, a cute little Thank you notelet, and my last remaining set of screenprinted blue tit writing sheets and black and white bird greetings featuring a scops owl and redshank. In all the collection is worth more than £25 and I’m packing it all up in a handmade box for an extra special gift.

For your chance to win, go to my twitter page @ellajohnstonart and tweet me with the hash tag #loveellasstationery and what you love about stationery. If you’re not on twitter you can visit my Facebook page and post onto the wall what you love about stationery with the hashtag above.


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My favourite stationery

Stationery buys

I love stationery. Of course I do, I create my own stationery collections – so I thought I’d share my favourite pieces with you.

Stationery buys

The book with the Eames quote was given to me by my sister, it’s a dinky little size so it I take it out and about with me for sketching and jotting down any ideas.

The pens are Uni-ball fine line – these guys are essential for my art practice. The various-sized nibs are great for detail and provide excellent ink coverage, and, because they are pigment based, the colour is beautifully black. Gift tags and washi tape are an addiction of mine and key materials for packaging my stationery orders.

Both the scissors and the rather snazzy Tom Dixon ruler were both bought for me by my Dr B – I have used them both but I don’t like to because they’re too nice.

I love my big notebook too, it’s lovely and thick – ideal for my lists of projects and ideas. I adore the marbled edges on the pages.

I’m addicted to pens and pencils too, particularly metallic pens – these Posca and Uni-ball ones give great coverage. The gorgeous red pen was a gift from my colleagues at Homemaker and Make it Today when I left, so it’s a well treasured item. The postcard (I send out many postcards) comes from The Calm Gallery, you can get them here.

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Quick Hack: Customise a lamp

Customise a light

OMG, this is a ridiculously easy up-cycle. It simply involves a lamp-stand, an ornate lampshade frame and a can of spray paint.

I originally did this project for Homemaker Magazine using on-trend metallic paint with a cool matte finish but I wanted something really bright and fun light for my otherwise smart, sleek study/office. I raided my spray paint stash and got this gorgeous cerise/purple shade in gloss from Valspar. Just what I wanted.

Remember to spray in a ventilated area – I do it in my garden. To get an even tone place your object on a box you can swivel around so you’re not missing bits. I hung the shade from inside the top of a deep box so I could get to all the little nooks and crannies. I’m dead please with this update, soon it will take pride of place on the new study shelves.

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Beginner’s Guide to Wading Birds

Waders and Shorebirds Illustrated Guide by Ella Johnston

As you know last week myself and Dr B launched our latest book The Migrant Waders. The publication features 21 illustrations of wading birds by yours truly. To accompany the book I’ve produced an illustrated poster of wading birds inspired by vintage bird guides I’ve come across in various antique shops and thrift stores as well as on pinterest.

Waders poster by Ella Johnston.

Waders poster by Ella Johnston. These illustrated bird guides have been enduring classics in terms of design and I must admit I’m very pleased with my own version. It’s great to see the birds all together and I’m tempted to do a guide featuring my garden birds too.

Waders poster by Ella Johnston.

As well as the poster I’ve also produced a set of postcards featuring the birds. Waders postcards by Ella Johnston.

There are six postcards in the set depicting a redshank, lapwing, curlew, greenshank, avocet and golden plover. Waders postcards by Ella Johnston.

Both the postcards and the poster were printed on textured high-quality gesso paper – I love the way it holds colour and it also shows off the fact that these illustrations were originally created on watercolour paper.
Waders postcards by Ella Johnston.

The poster and the cards are available at my various online shops on Folksy, Etsy and Not On the High Street. You can also buy them (along with the book) at the Dunlin Press online store.

Greenshank postcard by Ella Johnston.

Waders poster by Ella Johnston.

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Bird of the Fortnight wc 25.04.16: The Sparrow

Sparrow black and white sketch, Ella Johnston

For ages now Dr B has been on at me to draw a sparrow; “People love them, I love them. I think they’ll be really popular.” So to please the man I love, this fortnight I’ve done some black and white sketches of these chestnut coloured creatures.
Black and white sparrow drawing, Ella Johnston.

Although I grew up slap bang in the middle of London, our flat was next to a park that used to be full of sparrows when I was little kid. But, by the time I left home in the mid 1990s there wasn’t a sparrow in sight. This wasn’t because I simply wasn’t noticing them anymore but there has been a decline the UK sparrow population. It has been estimated that they have dropped by 71 per cent between 1977 and 2008 with substantial declines in both rural and urban populations. They now have RSPB red status; red is the highest conservation priority, with species needing urgent action.

Black and white sparrow drawing, Ella Johnston.

It seems that where I live now didn’t get this memo. Wivenhoe is full of them and you can’t pass a hedgerow, gate post or indeed our local train station without hearing them tweeting away. It’s quite a comforting sound and creates quite a quaint atmosphere while you’re waiting for your train or taking a stroll around the ‘village’. So it’s only fitting they be the subject of illustration.

Check in later on this week to see more worked-up colour sparrow portraits.

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Finished Plant of the Fortnight: Iris

Iris, watercolour and ink (c) Ella Johnston

I’m really pleased with my finished plant of the fortnight illustration. I love the way the layers of watercolour have captured the deep blue and purple tones of the iris flower. I’m also happy with how the different nib weights of my felt-tip drawing pens add texture and structure to the petals, stem and leaves.

We’re attempting to grow irises in our garden this year. Regular Ella’s Place readers will know that my garden can be a be of a diva, only growing the things she likes. The garden is lovely as occasionally we agree but I wouldn’t mind her doing me a favour this spring/summer. I’ll let you know if the irises appear and if they look nice I’ll post photos.

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How I made bedside lanterns in 10 minutes

Homemade lanterns with thistle fabric my on-going quest to revamp the bedroom I decided we could do with some subtle lighting. I’m a massive fan of candles but they are not always the safest thing to have burning while you’re falling asleep to some night-time reading or Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime (I know, I’m so street). So I’ve opted with some safe bespoke LED lanterns.
Homemade lanterns with thistle fabric  bought a needcraft lantern making kit which enables you to make three little lights using fabric or paper as a covering.  They’re a fab little update and would make a great gift.
Homemade lanterns with thistle fabric’ve used a lot of needcraft kits  (the company are not paying me) to give elements of my home the personal touch. From lampshades to bins, the kits have allowed me to make use of my own fabric designs with quick-win, no-sew makes.  The instructions are super easy so you really can whip these up in minutes.
Homemade lanterns with thistle fabric’ve covered the lanterns with my thistle fabric from Spoonflower in keeping with the blue bedroom theme. However they are currently living in the dining room – Dr B loves them and is very keen on using them along with our candles when we have our evening meals (weekends mostly if I’m being honest – we eat on the kitchen or lounge most days).
Homemade lanterns with thistle fabric
Homemade lanterns with thistle fabric

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Plant of the Fortnight: Iris

Iris Sketch Ella Johnston

Ever since I was a kid my go-to drawing would be an iris, so I almost resisted the temptation to make it plant of the fortnight. However, through simply playing with these three black and white sketches, I know why I’m obsessed with this flower. They are so ornate and structural and kinda weird at the same time. In colour they are incredible, so drop by on Friday to see my final watercolour version.

Iris Sketch Ella Johnston

Iris Sketch Ella Johnston