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Polar bear print – inspiration to final design

Polar bears are one of my favourite animals.

I visited the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and was lucky to see the polar bears out and about, playing in the water and with their toys. After seeing them in real life I absolutely fell in love with them and knew I had to design a polar bear print.

Polar bear at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

I looked through the photos I’d taken and researched more close-up images online too. When I’m designing a print I always like to use reference pictures. This way my drawings are as true to life as possible. For the polar bear print I decided to use pencil crayons as their colouring is very soft.

The drawing stages of the polar bear

To make sure that I got the shape of the polar bear right I studied the photos I’d collected. Using simple shapes I built up the initial structure of the polar bear. Then I joined all the shapes together to get the outline of the polar bear and added texture lines to show the fur. The face was especially difficult to get right. It turns out polar bears have a very particular face shape and can easily end up looking like a tiger if you’re not careful!

Polar bear drawing step by step

Once I was happy with the shape of the polar bear I started to colour. It’s always difficult to colour something that is predominantly white to make it stand out. However on close inspection I picked out lots of shades of browns and yellows in the folds of fur that created shade. I used lots of short sharp marks to show the furry texture of the polar bear which I think worked well.

The finished polar bear drawing

From the sketchbook to the computer

After finishing up the drawing in the sketchbook it was time to transform it into a digital design. I scanned the polar bear into the computer and adjusted the levels in Photoshop to ensure the details were clear. Once the drawing was cleaned up I started thinking about the composition of the print. First of all I tried a simple half drop repeat. I paired this with a cool icy blue background to mimic the polar bear’s natural surroundings. I also thought the polar bears would stand out well against a blue background without looking too contrasted.

Half drop repeats are simple but they work well! I always like to have a random repeat option as well though so I started work on that next. These take more work as it’s surprisingly difficult to arrange a random pattern whilst getting a good mix of sizes and angles. After a lot of tweaking I finally settled on a design that I was happy with.

Then it was time to have the design printed onto the fabric and make some items with it!

Going into production

If you like the polar bear design, take a look at the items available in this print. Just click the picture to be taken to the product page.

Polar bear wash bag
Polar bear makeup pads
Polar bear pencil case
Polar bear apron
Polar bear reusable beeswax food wrap
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Your next plastic-free swap: reusable sponges

So you’ve tried reusable beeswax food wraps and reusable makeup pads, but what’s next? Reusable sponges.

Did you know most sponges are actually made of plastic? Every time you use them, tiny bits of plastic are released into the water and make their way into the ocean. Plus once you’re finished with it, it will just sit in a landfill for hundreds of years! All in all not a great way to wash the dishes.

This is where reusable sponges come in.

Panda reusable sponge

What are reusable sponges made of?

Reusable sponges are 100% plastic free! There are two sponges per pack – one scrubby sponge and one soft sponge. Each sponge features a pretty printed cotton side and five layers of bamboo filling. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial and super absorbent so is the perfect centre.

The scrubby sponge then has a layer of hessian on top of this which is made from recycled coffee sacks so you may get a slither of text or imagery on the back of your sponge. This just adds to the character and saves the coffee sacks from landfill too! The soft sponge has a layer of cotton towelling on the back for gently wiping clean surfaces and crockery. Each sponge has a ribbon loop at the top to hang them up when you’re not using them. The ribbon is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles – how cool is that?!

One soft sponge and one scrubby sponge per pack

How do you look after them?

Reusable sponges are designed to last a long time if they’re well cared for. Use them the same as a regular sponge when you’re doing the washing up or cleaning surfaces but remember to hang them up between uses. Reusable sponges are more absorbent than regular sponges so it’s important they are given time to drain properly.

Lighthouse reusable sponge

When they’re ready for a freshen up just chuck them in with a regular load of laundry then hang them out to dry after. They can also be washed in the top drawer of the dishwasher, though they will need extra drying time if cleaned this way. Please note that the printed cotton fabric may begin to fade slightly over time if it’s washed at high temperatures. As the sponges are made of all natural materials, they’re 100% compostable! Once the sponges reach the end of their life, chop them up into strips and add to your compost heap.

Penguin reusable sponge

Sound good? Click the pictures to be taken to the reusable sponges product pages to give them a go!

Banana reusable sponge
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Getting back to work

I’m back!

With lockdown starting to ease I’m back in the studio. I’ve got lots of new items to sew so the website will be fully stocked again in no time! Keep an eye out on social media and the ‘New in’ section of the homepage for all the fab new items that will be landing very soon. I’m also working on some new products that I can’t wait to share with you all! Sign up to the newsletter to be the first to hear about when they’ll be available.

Drawn by Rhiannon industrial sewing machine

So what’s changed?

Events are still off the cards for the time being but I’ll update you as soon as I start doing markets again. Other than that, everything is pretty much back to normal. I’ll still be sending all orders contact-free by paying in advance for postage and popping the packages straight into the post box. Because of this international deliveries are still suspended for now as I need to visit the post office to process these. Please note there are still delays to the postal service. All orders are sent out First Class within 1-2 business days but please allow extra time for your order to arrive.

Back to work - contactless postage

Gift wrap options are also back to normal. If you’d like to order something to cheer someone up, select the gift wrap option on the product page. Then enter their address in the shipping details section at checkout to send it straight to them. As with all Drawn by Rhiannon packaging, the gift wrap option is completely plastic free! Your gift will be wrapped in blue kraft paper and tied with blue polka dot ribbon. If you’d like to add a gift note, just leave your message in the order notes section at checkout.

Back to work - gift wrap options are back to normal

Thank you so much for your continued support during this strange time!

Any questions? Drop them below or use the contact page. Stay safe everyone ❤️

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And the winner is…. daisies!

As a thank you for reaching 1000 Instagram followers I decided to run a custom print giveaway.

The lucky winner would have the print of their choice designed and made into any item they wanted. There were lots of great suggestions but the idea that was chosen at random was daisies. I was very pleased with this as I love drawing flowers so I started my research. After looking in the garden and researching photos online I discovered there’s a lot more to daisies than you might first think.

Daisies research photo

It all begins with a hand drawing

Once I had chosen the type of daisy I wanted for the design I started to draw. I knew that it would need to be a soft drawing to represent the softness of the daisies so I chose coloured pencils. The middle section in particular required a lot of work. After looking closely I realised there were so many shades of yellows, greens and darker tones that would be needed to give a realistic effect. The petals also proved quite a challenge. I wanted to use some shading to give them depth whilst keeping an overall pure white feel.

Daisy drawing in the sketchbook

Once I was happy with the drawing it was time to scan it in to the computer. The process of cleaning up the image ready to be made into a digital print took a very long time as the fine lines of the petals were very delicate. Eventually the daisy drawing was transformed into a clean digital image that was ready to be made into a pattern.

Daisy drawing as a digital image

Daisies – creating the finished design

Next it was time to arrange the design. I knew I wanted the daisy print to be a random repeat so that it looked like a field of daisies. This is always harder than a simple half drop repeat as it’s tricky to get the right balance of size and placement. I resized the daisies into small, medium and large and rotated and flipped them to create a more random selection. After a long time of nudging daisies this way and that I was finally happy with the design! I had originally envisioned the daisy print with a pale blue background which is what I tried first.

Daisy print on a light blue background

Although I love the colour combo of blue and yellow and think this gives a real Spring feel, I don’t think the daisies stand out very well so I tried a darker blue variation.

Daisies on a dark blue background

I love how vivid the daisies look on the darker blue background. It gave me the idea to try other bold colour backgrounds too.

Daisies on a pink background

I’m not usually a fan of pink but I think the daisies look great on this pink background! I think it would be perfect for the reusable makeup remover pads and a matching wash bag.

Daisies on a green background

The green background took a bit more time as many shades of green didn’t look quite right. I’m really pleased with this tone though as it looks really fresh.

Daisies on a yellow background

Finally I also tried the daisies on a yellow background. Yellow is my favourite colour so I absolutely love this one!

Which is your favourite colour background? Let me know in the comments below.

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You can never have enough houseplants

There’s something wonderful about having a house full of fresh green plants.

I used to love having a beautiful bunch of flowers in my living room. Unfortunately the cost of fresh flowers every week was becoming too much so I had to have a rethink. Then I discovered houseplants and I was hooked! These lovely plants bring the fresh feel to the indoors like flowers but live much longer than just a few days. I gathered all my houseplants and chose three that varied in colour and shape.

Houseplants inspiration
Houseplants inspiration
Houseplants inspiration

Let’s get drawing

I knew that I wanted to create a bold print design. The lush colours of the houseplants jumped out at me and I wanted to replicate that. For that reason I decided to use oil pastels. I love working with oil pastels as the layers of colours can be blended to get really rich tones.

I wanted this print to be as colourful as possible so I made sure to draw the plant pots too. It was fun recreating the woven effect of this plant holder.

Before drawing this houseplant I had never noticed quite how many different tones it had in its leaves. I used a wide range of different greens, browns and yellows to mimic the patches.

The soil was a difficult texture to work out. I wanted to make sure it looked different to the smooth ceramic pot so used different shades of brown in little dabs. Layering up the various tones worked quite well and I’m happy with the effect it created.

From paper to screen

Once I’d completed the drawings it was time to scan them into the computer. Because oil pastel drawings are really bold the sketches didn’t take too much digital cleaning up. I wasn’t sure how I wanted the print to look but when I lined all the houseplants up to think about it I thought that it worked really well! I spent a short time nudging each plant a few millimetres this way and that until I was happy with the spacing of them and then the design was finished.

If you love the new houseplants print then good news! There are already a few items in the shop featuring this fab design with more coming very soon.

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Stay home, stay safe, order online

With all the uncertainty going on at the moment I wanted to update you with what’s happening here.

Drawn by Rhiannon is still open! Everything is carrying on as normal as possible here. Instead of visiting the post office, I will be paying for postage online. Then I can pop your orders straight into the postbox to avoid contact. PLEASE NOTE items are taking longer than usual to arrive due to staff shortages at Royal Mail. The boxes that I send orders in fit through your letterbox so you don’t need to worry about missing your happy post or having to come into contact with a delivery person. Unfortunately international postage is suspended for the time being.

If you’re away from friends and family but want them to know that you’re thinking of them, I can help! Just select the gift wrap option when you add an item to your basket. Then at checkout you can leave a gift message and I’ll add a handwritten note to your order and send it straight to your loved ones.
The blue kraft paper is currently unavailable so until I can get back to the studio, gifts will be wrapped in brown kraft paper instead. They will still be tied with lovely blue polka dot ribbon and fastened with paper tape so it will still be plastic free.

Plus if you live in Beverley I can hand deliver your order for free! Use discount code BEVFREEPOST at checkout to remove the postage charge. Please note this is only available for orders being delivered to Beverley. It will be invalid if the delivery address is not in Beverley.

What’s next for Drawn by Rhiannon?

I’ll be spending the lock-down photographing new items that I’ve made other the past couple of months. These will all be available to buy very soon so keep an eye on the ‘New In’ section on the homepage. There are a few sale items that I don’t have access to right now so I have removed those from the website for the moment to avoid disappointment.

The spring events have either been cancelled or postponed so I will update you once I know more. You can find all the events for later in the year here.

If you have any questions about anything, please get in touch. I’ll be keeping an eye on the developments and update you all if anything changes.

Finally a huge thank you to everyone that is continuing to support Drawn by Rhiannon at this difficult time. Being a small business is hard work at the best of times. With all the spring events being cancelled, online orders are more important than ever. Thank you so much for shopping small ?

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New year new products

A new year calls for some exciting new items.

After the crazy Christmas season stock levels were looking a bit low. That could only mean one thing – time to order more fabric! I always like to spend January designing new prints so once I had a collection ready to go I put in the fabric order. If you don’t know anything about the pattern design and fabric printing process check out the about page. The first new print to be released was the sea turtles design which you can read about here.

With so many new items being made I thought it would be a good idea to make a quick list of what’s coming up in the next month. Lots of items are being restocked too so if there’s anything out of stock on the website don’t forget to sign up for product alerts on the product page. If you spot something on the list that you would like just let me know!

Reusable makeup remover pads

New makeup remover pads

The reusable makeup remover pads were hugely popular over Christmas – I couldn’t make them fast enough! They’re really pretty and they’re kind to the planet too. Here’s a list of the new makeup pads coming soon:

Turtles
Houseplants
Bluebells
Chickens
Unicorns
Apples
Giraffes

Plus lots more extras of the favourites already on the website too!

Pencil cases

The pencil cases were another firm favourite over the festive period. Their handy size means they can be used for all sorts of purposes. A handbag makeup bag, a travel sewing kit, or even a teabag pouch.

Turtles
Houseplants
Bluebells
Penguins
Flamingos
Elephants
Bees
Llamas
Autumn leaves
Kingfishers
Puffins
Pandas
Pineapples
Raccoons
Lighthouses
Chickens
Otters
Giraffes
Robins
Beach huts
Seaside

Reusable beeswax wraps

If you’ve not heard about beeswax wraps yet check out my post about them here. These are a super easy way to start your journey towards less single use plastic. A lot of the fabric allocated for these was just to make sure stock levels are topped up but there were a few new ones too.

Bluebells
Turtles
Houseplants

Wash bags

Wash bags are another product that are super versatile. Being made with water resistant fabric means they can be used for a whole host of reasons.

Otters
Chickens
Cows
Sheep
Turtles
Houseplants
Bluebells
Bananas

Aprons

New aprons being cut out

It’s great having the water resistant fabric for the aprons. It’s just so much easier to have a wipe clean apron if you’re a messy chef! A few of these completely sold out over Christmas so it was time for a restock.

Flamingos
Puffins
Teacups
Elephants
Turtles
Houseplants
Pineapples
Robins
Penguins

Stocks are limited so if you want to reserve any items please get in touch soon!

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Turtle print: from inspiration to final design

Many of my print designs are inspired by my travels including the new turtle print.

A couple of years ago I visited the beautiful Greek island of Zakynthos. The island is home to an endangered species of turtle which are absolutely adorable but hard to spot. On a day cruise around the island we were lucky enough to see a few and snap a couple of pictures. I loved the fascinating patterns on their shells and was inspired to design a turtle print.

Loggerhead turtle of Zante

I knew that I wanted to use watercolour paints for the drawings of the turtles to match their watery habitat. It’s great to get all my paints and brushes out; the possibilities of all the different colour mixes is really inspiring. To begin the drawings I always draw a rough outline in grey pencil. For watercolour paintings I draw the outline with a watercolour pencil so that the lines can be blended in to the painting as it progresses.

As well as the photographs I’d taken in Zante I researched more pictures to have a bigger range of angles and shell designs to choose from. I selected three different turtles with a mix of different colour shell patterns because I wanted to give variety to the print.

The final stages

Once I’d painted the turtles it was time to scan them in to the computer and clean up the images. Cleaning up drawings is an important part of the print design process. When sketchbook pages are scanned the texture of the paper is also picked up which can look messy in a digital print.

After cleaning up the paintings the final stage is to arrange the turtles in to the digital print. This stage always takes far longer than I think although I knew that I wanted the turtles to be in a random arrangement to look like they were swimming around. After a lot of tweaking (2mm up, 3mm across and repeat) the design was finished!

Finished turtle print

I also tried it with a sea blue background colour to make them look like they’re swimming in the ocean. Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.

Finished turtle print sea background
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5 easy ways to be more eco-friendly in the bathroom

If your new year’s resolution is to be more eco-friendly then you might be wondering where to start.

We’ve already discussed 5 easy ways to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen. Now it’s time to tackle the bathroom.

1. Make recycling easier

It might sound obvious but if it’s easier for you to recycle, you’re much more likely to do it. You probably already have a recycling bin in your kitchen but do you have one in your bathroom? All those cardboard toilet rolls and shampoo bottles add up so make sure to stick a recycling bin in your bathroom for easy access. Otherwise those recyclable items might end up in the normal bin headed for landfill…

Add a recycling bin to your bathroom to make it easier to be eco-friendly

2. Try switching to bars

Unless you’re brand new to the eco-friendly way of life you will have heard about shampoo bars. A solid bar of shampoo is roughly the equivalent of 3-4 bottles of shampoo. Just think of all that plastic being saved! These handy bars are growing in popularity so there are plenty of different flavours to choose from now. Find them in your local eco shop or keep an eye out for them appearing in the bigger supermarkets. My personal favourites are The Friendly Soap Company and Alter/native.

Shampoo bars come in all sorts of scents these days

If a shampoo bar is too much of a jump for you, why not switch your hand soap instead? Bars of soap are so easy to find and come in a huge range of different scents. Try to buy ones that are wrapped in card/paper instead of plastic. Bonus points if you support a local or Fairtrade business!

Switching to bars of soap is an easy way to make your bathroom more eco-friendly

2b. Refill your plastic bottles

If bars just aren’t your thing you can still reduce your plastic use in the bathroom by refilling. Take your empty shampoo, conditioner and soap bottles to your local refill station. These are popping up all over the place, usually with Faith in Nature products. (If you’re in Newcastle/North East and want to know where you can refill your bottles, just ask!)

3. Look for plastic free alternatives in the kitchen

Simple changes can be made to make your bathroom entirely plastic free. For example, did you know honey makes fantastic cleanser? I’ve always struggled with eczema but since using honey on my face I’ve had the smoothest skin! Don’t worry about the stickiness, it wipes off with water surprisingly well. Plus it’s so much cheaper than standard cleansers and comes in a glass jar which you can reuse afterwards.

Honey makes a great cleanser alternative

Another foodie swap which surprised me was apple cider vinegar. Strangely it makes a wonderful conditioner and leaves your hair super soft. It’s also handy to use when you first switch to shampoo bars to make the transition easier for your hair. Magically the vinegar smell disappears as your hair dries leaving you with silky smooth locks. If you’re not convinced, this article goes in to the ins and outs of the science of it.

Apple cider vinegar makes a great plastic free alternative to conditioner

4. Zero plastic everyday essentials

An important item to consider going plastic free with is toilet paper. There’s no reason for it to be wrapped in plastic, we all know what toilet paper looks like! There are companies out there providing toilet paper without all the unnecessary plastic packaging. I use Who Gives a Crap – they wrap their rolls in super pretty paper instead of plastic so they’re still nice and hygienic. As well as that, the paper itself is recycled and they give 50% of their profits to help build toilets for people in need of them. You can’t go wrong! (If you want to give them a try, click here to get £5 off your first order over £36)

Look for a more eco-friendly toilet paper option

If you’re using disposable razors it’s really worth swapping to a more eco-friendly alternative. Metal razors are fantastic as you get a much closer shave and you can just replace the blade when it starts to blunt. The initial cost of buying the razor itself is obviously higher than the cheap plastic razors but the replacement blades are super cheap and it’s all recyclable!

Switch your disposable plastic razor to a metal razor

5. Swap makeup wipes for reusable makeup remover pads

Of course I couldn’t write a post about eco-friendly bathroom habits without mentioning reusable makeup remover pads. You may be wondering what’s so bad about makeup wipes; they look like they would naturally break down right? But no, the majority of makeup wipes are actually made of plastic that block drains and fill the oceans once you throw them away. This is why reusable makeup remover pads are a much better option. Not only do they look super pretty, they can be reused over and over again. Just tie them up in their washing bag then chuck them in a 30 degree wash. Check out the full range of makeup pads here.

Reusable makeup remover pads are the perfect addition for an eco-friendly bathroom

I hope that’s given you some ideas for how to make your bathroom more eco-friendly. Which was your favourite tip? Let me know in the comments below.

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Let’s save the planet

Our planet is super important and Drawn by Rhiannon is committed to minimising the environmental impacts that come with running a business.

As lovely as it is to bring wonderful new items in to the world, it’s important these items aren’t causing too much of a negative impact on the environment. Here are the steps that Drawn by Rhiannon is taking to help save the planet.

Designed and handmade in the UK

This isn’t just some catchy tagline. Drawn by Rhiannon is committed to supporting British businesses and reducing transportation pollution. Because of this, keeping everything in the UK just makes sense. All the cotton printed fabric, lining fabrics, thread, and packaging supplies are sourced within 12 miles of Drawn by Rhiannon HQ. Other haberdashery essentials such as zips and D-rings are currently sourced from Birmingham. Ongoing research is being carried out to find a more local supplier for these. And of course, everything is handmade by Rhiannon in her studio in Newcastle Upon Tyne which is powered by 100% renewable energy.

Drawn by Rhiannon industrial sewing machine

Eco friendly fabric printing

Once the fabric has been designed by Rhiannon, the files are sent to a fabric printing company in North Tyneside. The cotton fabric is printed using digital pigment inks. This process of printing requires no water and uses around 95% less energy than screen printing. There is virtually no ink waste and no soapy residues from production. All this helps to reduce the environmental impact and the print quality is fantastic with fab vibrant colours!
Currently the water resistant fabric is printed in London but once a suitable base fabric is sourced this will also be printed in North Tyneside.

Eco friendly fabric printing - Drawn by Rhiannon environmental policies

Reusable products

As well as implementing eco-friendly policies in the running of the business, Drawn by Rhiannon wants to encourage other people to think in a more sustainable way too. Through the eco range of reusable products, Drawn by Rhiannon is offering simple changes that will drastically reduce plastic waste in customers’ homes. Find out more about the reusable beeswax food wraps, the reusable makeup remover pads, and the reusable sponges. Stay tuned for more reusable products being released soon to help you reduce your environmental impact.

Plastic free packaging

It’s lovely to receive some beautifully packaged happy post but not if it’s full of nasty plastic. All the packaging at Drawn by Rhiannon, as well as the gift wrap options, are completely plastic free. Orders are either wrapped in blue polka dot paper bags or blue tissue paper depending on size. Items are then packaged in cardboard mailing boxes, sealed with paper tape. The paper bags and mailing boxes can be reused or put straight in home recycling bins. The tissue paper can be reused or put in a compost bin as it’s biodegradable.

It’s not just the postal packaging that’s zero plastic; all product packaging is also 100% plastic free. The reusable beeswax food wraps are packaged in paper envelopes and the labels are printed on 100% recycled paper. The tags for the reusable makeup remover pads are printed on card and tied with vintage ribbon, and the packaging for the reusable sponges is also plastic free and fully recyclable at home.

Reusable beeswax food wraps

If you have any questions or suggestions about Drawn by Rhiannon’s environmental policies please get in touch. You can use the contact page or social media.