Amy Judd’s Recent Avian

While doing another late night Pinterest insporation session, I stumbled upon the brilliant work of Amy Judd. To quote her website, Amy’s latest pieces entitled Recent Avian “draw inspiration from the enchanting and imaginative relationship between women and birds found in traditional mythologies and folklores”.

This London based artist’s bold compositions create a whole new world of mythological creatures, where feathers and flesh are seen as symbols of strength and bravery as opposed to the stereotyped fragility.

Be sure to visit Amy Judd’s website for of her gorgeous work.

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Amy Judd

Read more about Amy Judd here.

When I grow up I want to be a Flower Engineer

Andreas Verheijen is a “flower engineer.” He takes beautiful blooms and turns them into magical hybrids and gorgeous arrangements. This amazing floral artist was born in the Dutch epicenter for Dahlia culture, Zundert. He then spent 16 working as a floral sales executive for Harrods (a store close to my own heart, having worked there myself) in London. Andreas now lives back in the Netherlands and works across Europe on exciting floral exhibitions and commissions. I love his whimsical style and completely out the box approach to floristry, makes me want to give it all up and learn to become a florist. So inspiring indeed!

Read more about Andreas Verheijen and see more of his gorgeous work here

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen

Andreas Verheijen
All photos from Andreas Verheijen’s website

Wise Words

If you, like me, are having a crazy week and can’t seem to find time to pause and breathe, then here is a little mid week motivation to keep your spirits lifted and your heart pointed in the right direction.

I am afraid I cannot find any solid reference as to who’s quote it is and who did the lettering, but it seems so relevant that I simply had to post it. If you know more about its origins then please let me know.

Have a happy and productive Wednesday folks.

Wise Wiords

Dish Cup Ring by Martin Azua

How often do you see an amazing idea and wish you had thought of that? Well today I stumbled across just such a gem. It’s the Dish Cup Ring by Martin Azua. Martin is a Basque designer working in Barcelona.

This piece was commissioned by a friend of the designer who wanted: “a plate, cup and ring that can be used for presenting and eating small desserts. Later, it can be used as a keepsake ring from a special meal.”

So clever!

Martin Azua's Dish Cup Ring

Martin Azua's Dish Cup Ring

Martin Azua's Dish Cup Ring

Martin Azua's Dish Cup Ring

Martin Azua's Dish Cup Ring

Martin Azua's Dish Cup Ring

All photos are from Martin Azua’s website

Heng Lee Brooches

I spotted these embroidered brooches on Pinterest and couldn’t resist showing you. Aren’t they just so gorgeous? I don’t know much about them other than that they are made by the very talented Heng Lee, a Taiwanese Jewelry designer. You can see more of Heng Lee’s work on his Facebook page

Heng Lee Jewelry

Heng Lee Jewelry

Heng Lee Jewelry

Heng Lee Jewelry

Heng Lee Jewelry

All photos from Heng Lee’s Facebook page

Ladybird Birthday cake for the twins

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Last week was my niece and nephew’s second birthday and they where having an insect themed party. Wow can you believe it’s been two years since these little critters joined us? – so to celebrate and make my sister’s life a little easier I volunteered to make them a ladybird cake. Yes, this probably was a completely bonkers idea as I had never made a proper birthday cake before. By proper cake I mean one with fancy icing and shaped like a something, as opposed to the run of mill round choccie cake I have made many a time before.

My plan was pretty straight forward – Youtube was to be my baking instructor and if all else failed I would dash off to Charley’s Bakery and buy a backup conventional cake as a substitute.

And so my adventure as a #nervousbaker began. First I watched a bazmillion Youtube videos and read a ton of forums and blogs on cake making, crumb icing and fondant covering, then I set about making my cake. The Buttermilk Cake recipe I chose was from this nifty website called Craftsy, they have all sorts of great tutorials and videos (some of which you have to pay for) but the bits I needed where all part of a free online course, so I signed up and got going.

After backing all my cakes I left them to cool in the fridge overnight, as this makes the cake much easier to work with and sculpt. So far, so good!

Next morning I made my buttercream icing – beginning of problem number one (eek!)

I followed the recipe precisely, in fact I watched the necessary video 3 or 4 times, but for some reason my egg whites did not whip up like marshmallow fluff, as in the video… oh dear! What had I done wrong?
I tried googling it again, looking at loads more Swiss Buttercream recipes till I came across good old Martha Stewart’s recipe where she said to let the eggs whip for 15-20 minutes… a lot more then the recipe I was following, they said whip for 5 minutes.
So I decided to just let the mixer go and see if anything happened. Well, after staring at the whites being sloshed about in the mixer bowl for at least 15 minutes, the egg whites finally started to look a little thicker and after 20 minutes of whipping the egg whites turned shiny and thick… yippee! Problem number one solved! I then continued to follow the recipe and successfully made the buttercream icing.

Next step was to assemble the cake, sculpt it and them crumb ice the outside. The twins chose a lady bird as the shape they wanted for a cake so off I set to make these 4 round cakes into the rough shape of a lady bird. This step was surprising easily, thanks to the fancy cake cutter and handy palette knife I bought -it always pays to have the right tools.

The neatly iced cake required lots of resting and cooling in the fridge in between layers of crumb icing, thus making sure the edges where all beautifully smooth and ready for the coloured fondant. So after another night in the fridge, my little naked lady bird was ready for her red and black outfit.

Here the real fun began. I had bought red and black fondant from Woolies so I didn’t have to mess about with food coloring, so I got stuck in straight away.
Working with fondant is fiddly and thanks to the endless tutorials I had watched I had lots of tips and tricks to fall back on. Before you knew it, the cake was looking like the real deal and I was having so much fun!

I could almost not believe my good luck, thus far there had been no problem number 2 (don’t tempt fate Jo!)

I opted to make the feelers for the lady bird out of air drying clay, so I whipped those up. I then cut up all the dots her back and made some eyes and a mouth and of course 6 little feet. WOW -the cake was was looking more and more like a success, I was so surprised!

On Saturday morning I carefully nestled my lady bird in a box in the back of the Landy and off we set to the twin’s party. This was the bit I was dreading the most and I think poor Alexis was sweating all the way there. Each corner we went around I cringed and he apologized, but all went well and all three of us survived intact.

When we got there I popped Miss Ladybird’s feelers in and she was placed in the middle of the birthday table.
WOW – I could not believe it, this was too good to be true! The cake was a success, we did not have to move to plan B and the twins where ecstatic. Oh and I had a blast! Who would have thought making cakes could be so much fun! If asked, I think I would happily do it again.

Just goes to show, if you put your mind to it (and you watch a Youtube video or two) you can do anything.

Blog Makeovers and Website Design

Are you wanting to start 2014 on a fresh, clean note? Is your blog or website looking a little tired and in need of some love? Why not give me a shout, a Blog Makeover could be just what is needed.

Blog Makovers - Pretty Pretty

Yes, I know – you have every intention of attending to this daunting task, but you are super busy – and somehow your portfolio/website/blog design always gets reprioritized, eventually falling off the list entirely.
Well don’t waste anymore time putting off this simple and fun task – give me a shout now? I could help out!

Along with doing all sorts of digital design, I also love helping out fellow bloggers with livening up their much loved blogs.

Hey, giving your website/blog/portfolio a refresh should not be a painful experience – in fact it should give you the boost you need to make 2014 the best year yet, so give me a shout – I would love to help you get back in the swing of things.

Why not check out my portfolio to see some of the recent work I have done.

I look forward to a year of lots of fabulous makeovers – book yours now!

Delicious Food Pairing Cufflinks

Valentines day is less than a month away and the quest for the perfect gift for the man in your life has begun. If your fella is a bit of a foodie (and snappy dresser) then you are in luck. Check out my latest Pretty Pretty collection: the Food Pairing Cufflinks. There are Coffee and Doughnuts, Beer and Pretzels, Cookies and Milk and many more. Check it out on Hello Pretty and Hello Man.

Food Pairing Cufflinks

Creative inspiration – Sweet Bestiary

I never did art in high school, in fact I never even considered it. All it took was one uptight and ignorant art teacher to put me off entirely. Instead I took very academic subjects and got myself ready to start to attend university and studying something which would lead to a career in medicine.

Thanks goodness a gap year spent doing odd jobs and finding myself convinced me that medicine was not the route for me. So I took a chance and applied to the Cape Technikon to study Graphic Design. Well the rest is history – here I am many years later, a happy (and somewhat successful) designer. No thanks to that twit of an art teacher who convinced me I didn’t possess an artist bone in my body.

Enough ranting Jo! My point here is not to moan about the stupidity of the past, but instead to highlight what I think I missed out on at school – ceramics and pottery classes (amongst other arty adventures) – I would have loved to learn how to manipulate clay and make beautiful things.

For a while now I have had my eye on a few ceramic artists who’s simple but endearing pieces have really given me so much inspiration – so I decided to throw caution to the wind and give this sculpting thing a bash.

After much time spent on Pinterest and Google as well as watching countless Youtube tutorials I am now officially ready to start some serious sculpting… so watch this space – I promise to share more of my journey here.

In the interim, here is one of my current favourite artists, Flor Panichelli. Flor is an Argentinian living in London – her work is strange and magical (in a really good way) and reminds me of forgotten illustrations in fairytale books that my Dad read to me as a kid. She sculpts using paper clay, acrylics and varnish. You can read more about Flor on her blog here.

I am wildly jealous of Flor’s amazing talent and can only hope my novice attempts look a smidgin as special as hers do.

Sweet Bestiary

Sweet Bestiary

Sweet Bestiary

Sweet Bestiary

Sweet Bestiary

Sweet Bestiary

Sweet Bestiary

Read more about Flor Panichelli from Sweet Bestiary here

Colour Inspiration – Rainbows at Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Where is the best spot to view this breathtaking installation at Grace Cathedral in San Fransisco? Lying down on a pew… from there you can look up at the over 1000 statin rainbow ribbons pouring light down from the heavens.

Anne Patterson’s breathtaking work entitled Graced With Light is meant to represent “a series of light pathways, connecting heaven and earth, manifest as ribbons. The ribbons carry our prayers, dreams and wishes skyward, and, in turn, grace streams down the ribbons to us.” Truly inspiring!
Read more about this installation and Grace Cathedral here. Found here.

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Photo credits: Esteban Valdivieso, Fiesteban Photography, Mike Blank

Good things

2014 is going to be a year of fabulousness. There are lots of big plans on the horizons and with a spot of luck and lots of hard work, I hope that this year will be the best to date!

What exciting things do you have planned for your year? What resolutions have you made?

I am hoping for a year of old school craftiness – where my laptop is not the only focus of my day. So… I plan on dusting off my camera and taking loads more proper photos (not just Instagrams), getting out my inks and getting back into hand lettering, learning to use water colours, loosing myself in proper (paper) books, finishing off the embroidery I started a zillion years ago etc etc. So, to make sure I stick to my guns – I will be posting my progress here.

What are your non-computer plans for 2014? Let me know – I would love to follow your progress too and know I am not the only one planning on taking on a more hands on approach to design this year.

What ever you have planned for 2014, good luck!

Good things are going to happen

Gorgeous hand lettering found here