Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Steps to Creating a New Design from Start to Finish

Since my business consistently keeps me busy year round I try to make the most of the days when the pace slows down. For me, this is a great time to develop and create new designs. 

5 Steps to Creating a New Product Design from the birth of an idea to the finished product.

SKETCHBOOK + JOURNALING 

Typically, coming up with new ideas means walking away from my studio space and sitting with a sketching journal. I write out notes and sketch whatever comes to mind. If my daughter is with me, she is also making sketches as we bounce ideas back and forth.

I have to admit, I don’t have just one sketchbook. I have a handful of them going all the time. They’re not just full of little drawings. Each page has notes and dimensions and references to inspiration I’ve found in magazines, books and on the web.

RESOURCES + REFERENCES 

When I’m working in my studio, besides listening to music, I often get caught up on the latest podcasts on my list. More times than not they reference a resource or website that I want to remember and refer to later. My journaling sketchbook is the perfect place to jot those things down but it’s not always within reach so I’ll grab something handy like an envelope from my pile of mail, tear off a corner and make my note.

If you do the same thing don’t stop there. Don’t find yourself wondering what you did with that little piece of paper that contains that nugget of wisdom. Grab some tape and stick in on a page. If you want it to add some cuteness then use some pretty washi tape!

Journals with notes and sketches is where new ideas are born

Journals with notes and sketches is where new ideas are born


DRAFTING A PATTERN 

Unless I’m just altering one of my existing designs, this part of the process is very time consuming. I recently had someone ask me to create a custom bag for them and it took me weeks to get the dimensions figured out, patterns drafted and placement of the stitched design perfected.

I prefer to use tracing pattern or some other transparent paper for my patterns. I took a pattern drafting class in college and learned that this worked really well for me then and nothing has changed that.

The transparent quality of the paper allows me to see the dimensional grid on my cutting board which helps with making straight lines and figuring measurements. If need be, I tape several sheets of paper together to make my pattern the necessary size.

MAKING A PROTOTYPE 

I learned the hard way that my first pattern is never perfect. My second and third draft are rarely perfect either. To be sure that my pattern will product an item that is exactly what it needs to be, I make a prototype.

Although I would love to make it from my designer fabrics to see how pretty it will turn out, I use a pile of muslin and hand-me-down fabrics so I don’t waste the good stuff.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT 

When all the details are worked out, the pattern is tweaked and I’m set to go, THEN I make the real deal. Yes, this may take several days to a week or more but the end result is worth it. When I put this much work into making sure that my patterns can be used repeatedly then I know I can make beautiful items for my customers that I can stand behind and that they will enjoy.

Monogram wreath clutches | perfect as gifts for bridesmaid or baby shower hostess gifts | www.mamableudesigns.com

I’ve been walked through this creative process since last summer with a new design that my daughter sketched one day as we sat at my patio table. The first bag of this design was introduced just before Christmas and quickly grew to become one of the most popular items in my shop. 

So, as simple as it may seem, my ideas always start out as a sketch in my journal!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Surface Printing Workshop with Lotta Jansdotter

As my daughter and I were making our way through the maze of heavy traffic on the side streets of Los Angeles this past Saturday we laughed at the fact that we were on our way to an event that has been on our bucket list for awhile. Not only were we going to meet Lotta Jansdotter, someone we have both admired for many years, but we were going to spend 3 hours with her at a workshop learning the surface printing techniques that she’s perfected over the last 20 years. 

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter, carving stamps

It was certainly a pinch-me moment and a most enjoyable afternoon gathered around tables with a couple dozen other surface printing enthusiasts. 

Secluded under a clear plastic canopy on a second floor balcony, we were treated to a bag full of goodies that included tools, fabric swatches, drawstring bag, tote bag and various paper goods. Lotta walked us through several techniques of printmaking. 

Surface Printing Workshop with Lotta Jansdotter

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Bucketlist Event | The Line Hotel | Poketo | Los Angeles California

Goodie Bag for Surface Printing Workshop with Lotta Jansdotter

We carved potatoes with simple shapes and displayed our repeat-pattern art on the wall of windows bordering our work space. 

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Bucketlist Event | The Line Hotel | Poketo | Los Angeles California

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Potato Printmaking

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Potato printmaking

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | display of potato prints

Rubber stamp carving was next. One of the techniques she shared inspired my design of a spool of thread. 


Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Carving Rubber Stamps | The Line Hotel | Poketo | Los Angeles California

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter |Carving Rubber Stamps | The Line Hotel | Poketo | Los Angeles California

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Bucketlist Event for MamaBleuDesigns and GreenBugMarketplace

 
Lastly, she shared her wisdom about stencil making. Although she loves screen printing, the process can be time consuming and expensive. With a little practice, printmaking with stencils is a great alternative. 

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Stencil making | The Line Hotel | Poketo | Los Angeles California

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Printmaking Art Displayed | The Line Hotel | Poketo | Los Angeles California

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Supplies and Tools for Printmaking

The workshop was everything we could have imagined and Lotta was a delightful instructor!! One of my biggest take aways from the workshop is how similar I am to Lotta in that we both went to Junior College and took every art class possible. The only classes I never ventured into was printmaking. I’m not sure why but I know I would have completely enjoyed it! All those classes I took have brought me to where I am today and the same is true for her. Neither one of us ever pursued a formal art education or degree. 
 
I’m encouraged and I’m inspired and I hope these photos bring some inspiration into your day as well! 

Surface printing workshop with Lotta Jansdotter | Rubber stamp carving of a spool of thread | MamaBleuDesigns

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Creating Art as a Family

During the Christmas holiday rush of orders and to-do lists I longed for a day to just play and create art. There’s something about getting off my regular track of everyday creativity to do something different that sparks fresh ideas and renews my creative soul.

When I shared the idea of an art day with my son and daughter (because they both work from home) we made it into a family activity and it turned out to be one of the best gifts of the season!!

Creating Art as a Family

Creating Art as a Family

Limiting my paint palette to 4 colors and creating rainbows

Creating art as a family

Creating art as a family

Limiting my paint palette to 4 colors and creating rainbows

Creating art as a family

Turning music lyrics into art inspiration

Limiting my paint palette to 4 colors and creating rainbows