here's one I made earlier :: sketchbooks

Katie | January 7, 2011

A sketchbook is a great way to collect and explore ideas – and of course the best thing is to keep one on you and get into the habit of using it every day.

Wax crayon and watercolour pencils - inspired by swimming pool

I’m not that good, but I do always try to find the time when I go on holiday. On my latest two trips, I tried to push myself to develop my ideas as well as just recording what I saw – and also to feel more able to take risks and make mistakes. Here’s how I got on:

LHS: stamps collected around Kyoto. RHS: roof panels from a Japanese temple

RHS: Impressions of a Japanese fish market LHS: Development of earlier roof panel

Manga collage

I loved the main character’s blue hair, so coloured it in, in some of the black and white panels – and even found a similar character in a poster to photograph and add in. This page also gave me the idea to make a collage using comic strips turned on their sides to represent skyscrapers.

Hong Kong by day

Hong Kong by night

I was struck by how different Hong Kong is by day from how it is at night and wanted to capture that somehow. The top card is from an art exhibition that captured the same scenes at sunset and sunrise, so was absolutely perfect. The bottom one is a Polaroid I took, with a picture from a flyer stuck on the reverse. The hinge is just made from tape.

Photograph, currency note, watercolour and collage all depicting Li River Valley, Yangshuo

These hills were breathtaking – I tried to capture them in as many different ways as I could.

Map of Maui tagged with activities

Watercolour pencil drawings of leaf and flowers

Watercolour pencils are a great medium if you a bit nervous about painting, because you can draw everything nice and neatly first and then add water, creating the watercolour effect. I’m quite proud of these. Perhaps they could be a starting point for some sort of textile design.

Fish collage inspired by snorkelling trip to Molokini

Line drawings of everything on the bar in the Old Ship Saloon (inspired by Kate Bingaman-Burt's work)

I’m not very confident at drawing and found this style very liberating – drawing in pen and accepting the first line I drew, rather than going back and correcting things. If only I had Kate‘s talent!

San Francisco receipts stitched into book

I wanted to experiment with mixed media a little bit. I was conscious of how much money I was spending(!) and thought something using all the receipts could be an interesting way to record how we’d spent our time.

Collage representing SF design district and pen drawing of lunch on the paper serviette it was served on

Such good crab and fries – one of the best meals of the trip!

Patterns inspired by Hawaiian roof tops

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Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

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  • Won’t the dye eventually lose its colour over time, or if left in sunlight or put in the dishwasher?

    • The higher the concentration of dye in the solution, the less colour is lost. There seems to be a point at which the moisture is fully absorbed back into the air, leaving the particles of dye in the ceramic body unable to move and so the colour/ pattern is fixed

      Sunlight doesn’t seem to affect the colour; I had a few test pieces sat on the window sill in direct sunlight with a line of tape on them to see if sunlight did anything and nothing happened. The test was conducted over the few months so am not sure about longer term exposure

      The pieces are decorative so wouldn’t need to be put in the dishwater but I did test them, one with a sealant on and one without, and there wasn’t any change – although I left some tiled pieces I made in the rain and the dye moved around again and became very vibrant

      There is lot of science behind the process, most of which I don’t fully understand and sometimes doesn’t make any sense – could talk about it for hours but I’ve tried to be concise!

  • Kuo

    this is such a cool process. did your friend emma come up with this on her own?? that’s incredible! also, i was watching the video while listening to “Goodnight, Travel Well” by the Killers, so the video was very dramatic for me haha

    • Thank you and yes – the process came from trying to dye everything, even the studio sink!

  • The technique is so pretty and natural. Thanks for sharing.

  • Fer

    Wow! I love your work. Congratulations!

  • Christine Lynn

    I like the watercolour effect on the pieces. They look very natural because they don’t look like they were painted. By using the dye to colour the pieces, is it safe to use the bowls and cups for dinnerware?

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