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Monday Moodboard: Liberty Print

Monday Moodboard Liberty Print

I’m working on loads patterns at the moment and Liberty print is the ultimate source of inspiration.

The eclectic collection from Liberty of London is so well loved and it’s not difficult to see why. Each design is a joyous celebration of colour, form and the beauty of illustration – it’s absolutely what I’m working towards with my work.

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Monday Moodboard: Penguin book design

Penguin Book Design Penguin book design has been an obsession of mine since I was a teenager when I spent an awful lot of time in libraries. Probably too much time if I’m being honest.

In those days I was continually on the hunt for new words, stories and worlds, I used to get lots of books out on spec. I read a lot of duds but I also came across a lot of good stuff too that has stayed with me.

The cover design played a very big part in my decision making process. From the classic orange cover fiction and stylish mid-century illustration to the glorious repeat patterns, it is all the stuff of wonder and as much of an inspiration as the words inside. As a consequence of this I read a lot of books published by Penguin; a great deal of classics and quite a few poetry collections. I’ve now bought a lot of the books that I borrowed and devoured during my teenage years (the ones I enjoyed at least).

As Creative Director of an indie publisher, I design all the books for Dunlin Press. So my youthful interest has become increasingly important now I’m a grown-up. When approaching the layout for each Dunlin Press book I always ask myself, “What would the Penguin designers do?”

 

 

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11 Indigo Inspired Buys

11 Indigo Inspired Buys
While I often plump for hot shades and vibrant hues come summer, sometimes I yearn for clean lines, cooling colours and simplicity.

A beautiful indigo inspired palette fits the bill perfectly. This colour scheme can be used to create a Tuscan, Moroccan  or even Japanese art style vibe. It’s a look that incorporates artisan craft, intricate illustration plus both geometric and ornate pattern so you indulge in it whatever your tastes. I’ve used the look in my dining room with shibori coasters and my bedroom using my blue and white thistle fabric to make bedside lanterns. The deep blues, crisp whites and dark accents give everything a fresh, light feel that you can carry on into very early autumn.

The high street agrees with me – in fact it’s all about the indigo for SS16 so, here’s my top 11 blue for you buys…

Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Moroccan Blue Dinnerware from Sainsbury’s
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Octopus Indigo Linen Cushion from Cream Cornwall
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Tom Dixon Bowl at Amara
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Welsh Knot Throw from Eclect Design
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Geometric Pillar Candles from Mia Fleur
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Sinilintu Rug and Cushions from Vallila Interior
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Vase from  Debenhams
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Lene Bjerre Camelia Tea Jar From Houseology
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Rug from Very
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Hand Painted Moroccan Cups from St Barts
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DIY: Update a wooden box

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

I’ve had this little wooden box for years. It was plain and unloved for ages. I kept pencils in it and every time I retrieved them I thought “I should really do something with this” and then I’d leave it.

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

Then a couple of weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to do some projects with Uni-ball the makers of Posca pens. Before I started on the projects I thought it best to re-familiarise myself with them and have a little practice. The pens work on a range of surfaces, so after I used them on a set of notebooks I thought I’d give them a try by drawing on that plain old wooden box.
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

First I painted the box to give it an even white background. Then I used my wood anemone sketch as a basis for my hand-drawn box design. I wanted to make it look quite retro so influenced by sixties and seventies floral patterns I gave the flowers a bright blue colour.

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

What I like about these pens is that you can layer them without them bleeding and apply lighter shades over darker ones which means I could add depth to the flowers with lovely yellow centres and white pollen.You can set the design by simply spraying some varnish over it.
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

You can set the design on the box by

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Plant of the Fortnight: Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone Illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

On Monday I shared some sketchy five minute drawings of some wood anemones, here’s my colour version using watercolour and ink. I’ve also worked up a pretty pattern repeat using the flower and foliage as a motif.

These are really lovely delicate flowers, I love their light, paper-like petals and delicate minty coloured leaves. I’m lucky enough to live near woods and every spring it is full with a delightful carpet of green and white. It’s a wonderful gift every year and gives us a tremendous amount of pleasure.

Wood anemone pattern (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

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Make a Mindfulness Gift Box

Little box of mindfulness (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Is there someone in your life that would benefit from practicing a little mindfulness? This box of tricks could be the perfect gift for them.

The concept of ‘mindfulness’ is everywhere now and has been for a while. For anyone who’s feeling a bit cynical about the term, I can understand, but I think it’s worth exploring.
Poska Pens pimped-up notebooks (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Being mindful works for me. After years and years of throwing myself into my work and very little else, stepping back and becoming more aware of being in the present moment and enjoying the here and now has transformed who I am and how I am. It’s also freed me up to be more creative and be better to myself and the people around me.

Poska Pens pimped-up notebooks (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
As someone who loves to work and thrives on being busy I really had to learn to be mindful. I mean really learn. At the start I needed it to be ‘project mindfulness’ (I know). So I made myself a mindfulness kit: candles to light in the evening or while I was having a bath to change the mood and unwind; a (personalised) notebook to write thoughts and observations in (and for doodles and sketches); soothing, properly nice hot beverages that I would enjoy sitting down to drink but wouldn’t be full of caffeine (I love tea pigs chamomile tea); colour therapy pages so I could absorb myself into making something pretty that wasn’t my work.
Poska Pens pimped-up notebooks (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
In those early days I really appreciated this ‘mindfulness kit’ but, regardless of whether you subscribe to the concept or not, it also makes a great gift in itself. I put together a personalised gift box for new mums, friends who are working hard with an all-consuming project or a busy period at work and mates who simply need someone to tell them “I’m rooting for you.” I’ll sometimes swap the tea for hot chocolate for sweet-toothed friends and change the message on the notebook for something a little more rude for certain mates of mine who share my love of curse words (have I not told you that yet?). I’ve also been known to slip in a favourite book to read, which may not totally embody the mindfulness thing but is nice to have nonetheless. The box itself is just a shoe box covered in my scandi leaf paper. I’ve designed the colour therapy/colouring in sheets myself which you can download next week so watch this space. You can find out how to pimp up your candle votives here