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Drawing of the week: Leaves

Leaves watercolour illustration Ella Johnston
Leaves are my go-to shape for doodling and have been a constant subject for my drawing over the years. The variety, the curves, the veins, the lush texture all provide a rich resource for artists and illustrators.
Leaves illustration Ella Johnston

I recently visited the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge. Among the various planting schemes and a lovely gaggle of ducks (I know that’s the collective noun for geese but you didn’t see these guys), the gardens also boasts an impressive glasshouse where plants from around the world are nurtured and displayed. The rainforest area is fabulous and I was struck by its enormous leaves that cover such large areas.

Leaves watercolour illustration Ella Johnston
The nearest things we get to this is our household plants. So I thought I’d get busy with some  watercolour illustrations and black and white sketches of Monstera, Aralia, Alocacia and Cycad.
Leaves illustration Ella Johnston Leaves illustration Ella JohnstonLeaves watercolour illustration Ella Johnston
Leaves illustration Ella Johnston Leaves illustration Ella Johnston

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Learning the art of Shibori


It’s always great to learn new craft techniques – especially when they can be put to good use on home and fashion makes. I recently got to grips with the art of Shibori, an ancient Japanese dying technique, during a workshop at White House Arts in Cambridge.

Japanese printing

I went to the one-day workshop with my mum and my sister and we had a go at two Shibori dying methods; Arashi and Itajime.

Arashi shibori is also known as pole-wrapping shibori. You wrap your cloth around a pole (which looks like a large section of plastic industrial piping), then tightly bind it by wrapping a thin cord up and down the pole. Once the cord is secured, you scrunch the cloth up the pole and sink it into the dye. Arashi is the Japanese word for storm – and that’s a pretty accurate description of the kind of effect you get from this particular type of printing. As you can see above in the first picture in this post and in the photograph here:


Itajime shibori is what is known as a shaped-resist technique. This means that an object is placed over the folded fabric (for example, a piece of wood) which be used to form a ‘resist’ that stops the dye making contact with the material. Because the fabric is folded (this can be done in many ways) the end result is a gorgeous geometric design that would look great on bedding and other homewares.

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