So I’ve been away from the old Peepiecheep office for the past couple of weeks while my family and I went on an adventure to Newquay in Cornwall for my birthday. I absolutely love Cornwall, it always feels to me like being in a different country without having to leave the UK! On our way back home we took a random detour to Glastonbury where we climbed the Tor barefoot and I found the most amazing shop in the town centre. Linda Ravenscroft draws the most wonderful faerie and magical art and I simply had to buy some of her cards to frame.
As you can see I ended up with quite a few, but my absolute favourite was her moon hares design (top right). Something inside me clicked and a design I’d had in my head for ages for a tattoo came suddenly into focus. It was all I could do to stop myself from grabbing some paper and a pen and drawing what I saw right there. You know sometimes you just see something and it is so *right*? I have loved the Celtic triskele symbol for many, many years, so I knew I needed to incorporate that, plus I wanted something meaningful to me and my family. I did some doodling when I got home. Bearing in mind I am not that great at art, I just have to bash out the ideas!
This was my first “finished” design. My husband helped me scan it into my Mac and make the lines nice and crisp, and I did some more edits and tweaks digitally until I was satisfied.
(I’ve water-marked this image as it is an original design.)
Today I went into town merely for a mooch, and with the idea of spending some of my birthday cash. I ended up popping into a tattoo shop, ABody on Loseby Lane in Leicester, and they were able to fit me in today. They are lovely people, knowledgeable and friendly and put me completely at ease. Leanne, who inked me, is very talented and super conscientious. I knew straight away I was in good hands.
So, after two hours of sitting very, very still, here he is – my star-gazing, triskele-stamped moon hare, on my arm forever. I love him so much. I can’t believe my idea is now on my skin, what started as a simple thought is an actual reality. Now I just have to fight the urge to design more!
Sometimes I get ideas for things from totally random places, other times they come from things I have seen or read or heard. I wanted to share with you the process of one of my recent ideas – just to show how long it can take from having the original idea for a piece, until it becomes real.
I’m not a big fan of television on the whole, but I do enjoy binge-watching things on Netflix when I get the chance. My most recent binge was a series from Kurt Sutter called “Sons of Anarchy” about a motorcycle gang in California. It’s considered an older programme now, (from 2008-2014), but that didn’t stop me getting completely sucked in and adoring literally all of the characters, even the really horrible ones! As someone who identifies with the goth and rock scene, I also (predictably) fell completely in love with the styling and the motorcycle patch designs.
I decided I really wanted to make my own patch, but not something that was necessarily linked to a gang of any kind, merely something that said something about me and my own personal style. I started scribbling down a few ideas – I like cats so I felt like they should be incorporated, but not a cute cat, something more edgy like a skeleton or skull. I tossed around a few ideas for the slogan, eventually settling on the theme of cats having nine lives, which is also appropriate for me as I have beaten quite a few illnesses in the past. I looked at a lot of real gang designs and how they are put together, and then I started a rough sketch – a VERY rough sketch.
I knew that anything I drew I could scan onto my laptop and edit digitally, so the placing and execution wasn’t as important as having the actual idea. I inked the lines with black pen and scanned it in and cleaned up the image as best as I could. I actually ended up cutting and mirroring the cat skull to make it look more balanced.
Next I downloaded a few free fonts from Dafont.com to play around with what looked best – I really liked the idea of using a bone-type font as well as the more recognisable motorcycle gang type of font – in this case Jibril. Dafont allow you to download fonts for personal use only, which is something every artist must keep in mind. Copyright theft is not cool.
This part of the process was actually one of the hardest as I was using Pixelmator on my Mac, and it does not like making curved text! I had to turn each letter into an image and adjust them manually in proportion with the cat skull. It bugs me, as I know it is still not as accurate as I would like, but: “progress not perfection” is my mantra, and sometimes it’s okay to just let things be as they are without striving to make them absolutely exact. At this point I just needed to make sure I could turn my idea into reality.
I had originally toyed with the notion of making a full back patch for a denim jacket, and my first attempt was actually cutting out the design with a scalpel and using white spray paint to stencil the design on to the material. Thankfully I used a scrap piece first as the stencil idea was absolutely awful.
I don’t have an image of the mess it made after I sprayed it, I was too disappointed to take one. The image was too intricate and had too many precise lines to work right with the paint and simply blurred into a big splurge on the fabric. It looked like my patch wasn’t going to work very well and at that point I had no other ideas as to how to transfer it onto something to make it wearable.
After a lot of thought and some digging through my craft box supplies, I found some t-shirt transfer paper which allows you to print a design onto the paper and then iron it on to material. I realised that trying to print and iron-on a huge back patch might not be the most successful idea, especially as the texture of the paper can be very plastic-like and not very tactile, so I decided to scale down my design to the size of a regular iron-on or sew-on patch, similar to what you might find on a jacket or hat or bag.
Scaling it down presented its own problems in that the smaller the design, the less detail was visible, so I had to do some more editing and make sure the outlines were clear and bright. I ended up reducing an A4 size image to a circle 7cm in diameter. I printed the design onto the special printer paper and ironed it onto a scrap of t-shirt material to make it more rigid, but not completely solid. I then used contrasting white thread, (in keeping with a punk rock aesthetic), to sew it onto the shoulder of my denim jacket.
I am pretty happy with it overall. The design is almost exactly what I had in my head and I am pretty impressed with how well it worked on the transfer paper, although I am a little sad that I didn’t manage to do a full back piece like I originally planned, and that might be something I try to do another time. This whole process took me over five days from initial idea to sewing it on, spending around a couple of hours each day working out new ideas and solutions.
Right now, I am wearing my motorcycle patch proudly on my jacket with all my other pins and patches, loving the fact that it is a piece of original and wearable art, and a patch design unique to me.
One of the most successful ranges I ever made with Peepiecheep was my Doctor Who inspired pieces. As well as bracelets and badges, I made tiny sonic screwdrivers which could be worn as earrings or pendants. As public interest in popular culture pieces often ebbs and wanes depending on whether the show is currently being screened on TV, I frequently found myself either completely inundated with requests, or ending up with too much surplus stock to sell. Then the universe put me in touch with a wonderful lady who also made geeky-inspired pieces – Suzi’s Doctor Who Crafts. She commissioned me to make lots of tiny sonics which she could then add to her wonderful hand-made Doctor plushies.
It is with great pleasure that I have found myself spending time this morning making a batch of sonics to be added to her pieces. It always cheers me to see how some seemingly random bead selection can come together and make something recognisable and different. While I feel that Peepiecheep may move in a different direction in the future, I will always be grateful for those who supported my geeky ventures.
As could be expected from a business that has been around for a while, not all the stock that gets made also gets sold. I have been clearing out my craft drawers lately and came across a few pieces which were made a while ago now and are still hoping for a new home. I’ve added them to the shop one final time, albeit at discounted prices, because while I love my past work, it really is time for it to be loved by someone else, so I can focus on the new things I wish to make.
So, if you fancy a bargain, or if you missed out on my old designs before, please do check out the online shop. I must apologise, but at this moment I can only ship to UK buyers, I will amend that in time.
Peepiecheep was started in 2010 as a creative outlet for me to make things I found interesting and fun, in a variety of mediums. It soon became apparent that while I was making things for myself, other people were also very keen to own some of my pieces, and via my website and craft fairs, I made and sold bespoke pieces. Most of these were totally unique and one-of-a-kind, some were copies as people fell in love with certain designs. For the most part, this worked very well, I was happy making my pieces, and even more happy that people were willing to pay me for them. However, things change, and I put Peepiecheep on a temporary hiatus, at least where the shop was concerned.
I was still very interested in making and creating, and my passion for doing so did not wane. I realised that I had always felt like I was missing something somewhere, experiencing some sort of loss, perhaps, for the pieces that I had designed and sent off to new homes. It was not the longing for the actual item, but more the wish that I had documented the creative process more deliberately and in more depth. For me, it was less about the finished product, and more about how I had got there in the first place.
Now I have decided to resurrect Peepiecheep, but with a key difference. I will still sell certain pieces via my store, but more prominently I will take my followers on a journey, where they can see how each piece came to be, and what I am working on right now.