Day 13: Triskaidekaphobia

Is it an omen that day 13 falls on Halloween?! No trick-or-treating for me tonight, but there has been toil, trouble and copious bubbles from the pan I forgot about on the stove.

My witchery prevailed however: I’m very pleased to introduce Flossie! She’s a bit chilly but Its too late to start on clothes tonight…. Zzz…

Flossie edit


Day 4: Oh sew simple…

Day 4 and my flat is suffering under a layer of confetti (and a few lentils). I’m attempting to make a doll pattern; I had a go at the body and now know what not to do (pour lentils without a funnel).

doll pattern process

I think the doll needs to be as simple as possible but not too ‘wooden’; i.e. adjustable whilst holding its shape. The body is going to be wired to give it some flexibility and I want the limbs to bend at the knees and elbows. So I’m planning to use bead joints between the upper and lower leg sections – suspect an army of dismembered doll parts will shortly be joining the lentils.

Doll pattern - edit

Day 2: Dolly Daydream

I love the idea of mixing old and new things together, like wearing a beautiful silk dress with a ratty old jumper. I’d like to work this theme into the book and a rag doll could be its perfect character – something beautiful crafted out of scraps and left-overs. I’ve toyed with this idea for some time – but never managed to make the character speak to me. All illustrators have different ways of getting to know their subjects, some imagine how they’d react in different scenarios, others act out the character themselves and literally step into their shoes. For me its more simple, mine are based on real, physical things (be it person, pet or toy). My first story occurred when I was 11 years old, it featured a giraffe called Geraldine who I was given by Father Christmas. I intentionally use the word ‘occurred’ because no writing or imagining ever really took place; Geraldine had such a strong personality that words walked onto the pages by themselves. I’m hoping that by physically designing, sewing and creating my character, I will slowly get to know her, learn what makes her tick, understand her quirks and expressions. So I’m going to make a rag doll, based on some of the sketches below, and see where that leads.

initial sketches


Day 1: What you don’t know would make a great book.

Everything I know about illustration and children’s books has come from reading and admiring the work of others. My best and most relevant qualification is an A-level in Art and Design. That was over 5 years ago – and involved little illustration. Since then I have been studying chemistry at university and indulging in a ‘closet artist’ lifestyle. But no more! So let’s crack on shall we? And hope I don’t fail my PhD in the process.

You might be wondering how much I know about the book I’m about to write. The answer is not a lot but I have an idea of what the story involves, how it progresses and how it will finish. It is a book aimed at children up to the age of 5 or 6; a 24-page picture book where the illustrations tell a majority of the story and the words are kept to a minimum. I have a vague idea about the characters: two friends, possibly a child and their pet or toy. So that’s where I’m going to start, by getting to know my characters. I have found a fantastic book which covers the topic of character development, Martin Salisbury’s “Illustrating Children’s Book’s”, not only is it well written and informative, but it includes beautifully illustrated examples – not as common as you might think in books about illustration. And so it begins…