HZ Zine

Birthday Zine Interviews Pt 6: I Am Acrylic

By

We’ve been having lots of fun these last few weeks, celebrating our 10th birthday and interviewing our zine contributors! Latest on the list is I Am Acrylic who we were lucky enough to hang out with in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. Again we asked them 10 questions and this is what they answered…

Brendan and Ruth - I Am Acrylic
Brendan and Ruth – I Am Acrylic

Did you have a childhood career ambition?

Ruth: Long distance lorry driver.

Brendan: I wanted to be a robot that turned into a car.

If you could go on holiday anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

R & B: We’d go straight back to Edinburgh (having just had the best holiday there!)

What is the best place to visit in the town/city you live? London:

R: The Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road via Columbia Road Flower market on a Sunday.

B: Mama Thai, best place for lunch and just round the corner from us on Toynbee Street.

Tell us one thing we’d never know about you?

R: I’ve done a loop-the-loop in a glider – twice!

B: I buy my shirts from BHS Children’s school uniform dept.

What’s the best joke you know?

R: What did the cat get when she ate a ball of wool? Mittens!

B: My nephew sent me the best joke for my birthday: Why did the cow cross the road? To get to the udder side! (see attached photo)

Toby's joke.
Toby’s joke.

If you weren’t doing this for a living what would you like to do?

R: I’d be a super sleuth…a bit like Jessica Fletcher (you know…..her from Murder She Wrote)

B: I’d be a robot that turned into a car!

What music/radio etc do you listen to when you’re working?

R: BBC Radio 6music B: Talk Sport – or my spotify playlist: http://open.spotify.com/user/bwyfan/starred

Who is your biggest artistic inspiration?

R: It changes all the time between various members of my family and famous artists and designers…currently my uncle who made my favourite ever wooden dolls.

B: Chris Burden (An American artist working in performance, sculpture, and installation art)

Ruth's Uncle is her current biggest artisitic inspiration.
Ruth’s favourite wooden dolls, made by her uncle.

Do you have a favourite feel good film of all time. What is it?

R: Desperately Seeking Susan ranks very highly as a favourite film.

B: Die Hard

Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan

Do you have a favourite quote or phrase?

R: Suck it up and stop crying!

B: Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker (you know…..it’s from Die Hard)

Coming soon we’ll have our very own version of I Am Acrylic’s zine contribution – a mechanical HZ world! You really don’t want to miss it!

Leave a comment

Birthday Zine Interviews Pt 5: Lucy from Eclectic Eccentricity

By

Earlier this week we brought you the extended version of Lucy’s 10 Fun Space Facts from the Hannah Zakari 10th Birthday Zine and I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed them very much and have been wowing my friends with my knowledge all week!

Of course, we couldn’t let Lucy get away without answering our 10 questions interview and this is what she told us…

Did you have a childhood career ambition?

I was quite adamant that I wanted to be an astronaut. More specifically, I wanted to be the first woman on Mars (may still happen!) It’s a career ambition that carried through into adulthood and I even studied astrophysics at university – guess I found a niche producing space themed jewellery! As a child I was forward thinking enough to have back up plans though – if NASA didn’t come knocking then I would also have settled for being a geologist, geophysicist, volcanologist, palaeontologist, or a fighter pilot.

If you could go on holiday anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

I love shutting down from the world and escaping so somewhere in the middle of nowhere would be wonderful. My mind has wandered off to New Zealand a lot recently so I think a get away to the south island would be perfect. I’d get a remote cabin in the mountains with an amazing view and plenty of time for reading, hiking and watching the stars.

What is the best place to visit in the town/city you live?

Norwich is absolutely full of amazing places to go, it’s easy to take for granted just how much history you have right in front of you. If I could recommend one place, I’d say the Cathedral. It was built over 900 years ago and is one of the biggest in the country. It’s easy to lose hours in there and a wander through the beautifully tranquil Cathedral Close is lovely. Finish it off with a pub lunch at the nearby Adam and Eve pub – it’s the oldest pub in Norwich and it’s said the monks who owned the pub at the time gave drinks to the workmen building the Cathedral.

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral


Tell us one thing we’d never know about you?

I invented the question mark in 1997. Okay, that’s not actually true. I’m really good at crazy golf and I can go round under par much to the annoyance of my boyfriend who plays golf every weekend. I offered to give him lessons but he declined.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee. We have shelves in our kitchen dedicated to different coffee beans. We’re something of a coffee obsessed household and life doesn’t start until coffee has been drunk in the mornings.

What’s the best joke you know?

Why do Christmas trees make useless knitters? They keep losing their needles!

What music/radio etc do you listen to when you’re working?

BBC 6Music mostly, the office favourite obviously being Lauren. If we’re mixing up our own tunes, it’s going to be made up of M83, The Black Keys, Augustines, Foals and the like. Near Christmas we break out the Christmas songs (much to chief maker Tom’s distaste) and have a bop around to She & Him.

Do you have a favourite feel good film of all time. What is it?

Elf; I know it’s technically a Christmas film but I really could watch it all year round. I absolutely adore Elf, everything about it is just perfect. ‘Did you hear that?’ – always has me laughing and feeling the warm and fuzzies!

Cats or dogs?

That’s a difficult one. I should say cats as we have two: Flo, my little black fluffy monster, and Timmy, who technically doesn’t live with us and we just get to visit. Timmy is the most laid back cat you could ever meet and lives to give you Timmy kisses. Having said that, I long for a dog and would love nothing more than to have a herd of German Shepherds!

Flo the Cat

Flo the Cat

Do you have a favourite quote or phrase?

Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt. When I first heard this phrase, something instantly clicked in my brain. In a time when the highlights of the lives of others are paraded on Facebook, Instagram and every other social media outlet, it’s easy to start to compare what you’re doing to that. Both on a personal and a business level, this phrase is a great reminder to focus on what’s important to you – everything else is just a background noise.

Thanks again Lucy!

Leave a comment

Birthday Interviews Pt 4: Carrie Maclennan

By

Next in our line up of interviews with our super duper zine contributors is the wonderful Carrie Maclennan, previously of Made In The Shade and The Maisonette in Glasgow, now of her hilarious blog Not The Kind Of Girl You’d Marry (and some other lucky lot in London).

Hannah Zakari is such a big fan of Carrie’s writing, and I’ve been unusually persuasive and manged to have her contribute a piece to our last 2 zines! You can read Carrie’s latest article about her favourite birthday (her 10th, natch) in this edition of the zine (find out how to get your hands on one here).

Here’s how Carrie answered our 10 questions birthday interviews…

Carrie

Carrie

Did you have a childhood career ambition?

When I was little, maybe about 4, I wanted to be a stripper. Can you imagine? And, on the basis that I enjoyed playing with plasticine and gooey stuff, I thought at one stage I wanted to be a butcher. That passed quite quickly. Of course, there were various moments at different ages when I wanted to be a singer or a musician and by the time I was 13 or so, I talked a lot about becoming a journalist. Or a psychologist. Or a journalist. Or a psychologist.  Or a journalist.

What is your favourite colour? Does this impact your designs at all?

I have to pick one? Nope, can’t do that!  I tend to gravitate to bright green a lot and to electric blue. I also love yellow. And shocking pink. And red. And orange. Mmmm, those three clashed together, preferably. I like quite loud, shouty colours so when it comes to discussing design at work, for instance, I need to remember that not everyone else does!  Sometimes I need to work hard to convince people to break the ‘rules’ of colour! Don’t get me wrong, I do like ‘matchy matchy’ and by god I love a colour wheel, but I get most excited about colour combinations that are a bit ‘wrong’, a little bit difficult to look at!  

Tea or coffee?

Tea.  Always tea. 

If you weren’t doing this for a living what would you like to do?

I’d like to be a rock star.  Or an actress. I’d like to open another shop. Or a super-fun B&B somewhere lovely. I’d like to write all day long and print as many magazines about as many things as I liked. I’d do a lot of things. 

What’s your best fashion tip for a timeless look?

I’m pretty sure my look isn’t timeless – but I’m not sure I want it it to be. Wear all the colours. 

Wear all the colours.

Wear all the colours.

If you had to predict the next next trend for fashion, what do you think it would be?

I think I gave up caring too much about fashion trends a long time ago – though I am rather enjoying the latest incarnation of the metallic theme and I am also loving the resurgence of (faux) fur.  When I was about 16, my black Miss Selfridge fur-fronted cardigan was one of my favourite things. I wore it well in to my twenties. Actually, I’m now wondering what happened to it… As for future trends, I reckon it can’t be long before elasticated waists become the next big fashion thing.  Fingers crossed. 

What music/radio etc do you listen to when you’re working?

When I’m working at home, I usually listen to 6music – all day. When I work from the office, I tend to plug in to my Spotify account.  I recently bought some very special headphones so ‘plugging in’ is a real joy. Yesterday I listened to Meghan Trainor, ‘All About That Bass’ on loop for about 8 hours. Today I’ve listened to First Aid Kit, ABBA, Connie Francis, MC Hammer and The Everly Brothers. I like to jiggle around in my chair when I write. Music’s very important. 

Do you have a favourite feel good film of all time. What is it?

I bloody love Calamity Jane.  I also bloody love The Jolson Story – though I’m not sure if that’s particularly ‘feel good’. Oh – and I find myself watching Crazy Stupid Love more regularly than is normal.


Cats or dogs?

Cats!  My cat is called Bruce.  I’m quite sure I love him more than he loves me, but that’s ok. I am scared of dogs. Well, I am scared of dogs I reckon could kill me – or I suspect might try to kill me. 

Bruce the Cat

Bruce the Cat

Thanks Carrie!

Leave a comment

Birthday Interviews Pt 3: Marceline from Asking For Trouble

By

Asking for Trouble is my favourite purveyor of kawaii characters, it seems like Marceline can make anything cute – from a planet to an aubergine!

Since we also both have a love of Japan I asked Marceline to contribute her top 10 tips on what to do in Tokyo for our 10th Birthday Zine, and I can’t wait to put some of them into action on my next visit.

Of course we asked Marceline to answer our 10 questions interview and here are her replies…

Did you have a childhood career ambition?

I wanted to be an astronaut! My parents let me stay up to see Halley’s comet when I was 11 and I still have my lovely vintage Japanese telescope I got for Christmas a year or two later. There’s little chance I’ll make into space now, but I can at least draw the Solar System.

Marceline can make anything cute!

Marceline can make anything cute!

What is your favourite colour? Does this impact your designs at all?

My favourite colour is grey, so that really doesn’t work with my kawaii designs. I find I always default to blue but I also like to combine lots of bright colours in my artwork, as well as my outfits and home decoration.

If you could go on holiday anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

Japan. Always Japan. I miss Tokyo so badly, but I would also like to visit Kagoshima on the southern island – it’s sub-tropical and has an active volcano – what more do you need?

What is the best place to visit in the town/city you live?

I’ve only lived in Helensburgh for 7 months but it’s got to be the seafront. The views over the Clyde are lovely in all weathers, the Waverley paddle steamer stops by in the summer and there are multiple ice cream parlours (try Dino’s), chip shops and charity shops.

Helensburgh Sea Front

Helensburgh Sea Front

Tell us one thing we’d never know about you?

I’m half Dutch and my family’s windmill Het Pink (http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Het_Pink) is a working museum in Zaandam. You can even view a bust of my Great-Great-Grandfather in the windmill museum!

Marceline's Family WIndmill - Het Pink

Marceline’s Family Windmill – Het Pink

If you weren’t doing this for a living what would you like to do?

I would like to work in an antiquarian bookshop or a very specialist library so that I could spend all day reading about 1950s expeditions and studying out of date maps.

What music/radio etc do you listen to when you’re working?

I find English lyrics extremely distracting when I’m trying to work so I mostly listen to J-Pop (Perfume, Capsule, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) and instrumental bands (Mogwai, Errors, Tortoise).

Who is your biggest artistic inspiration?

Far too many to mention! If I had to pick one, I’d go with Bill Drummond, who’s been such an amazing cantankerous hero of mine for decades. He doesn’t directly inspire my work, but he reminds me that making art is a form of madness and that you should never follow the rules if you’ve got a better idea.

Do you have a favourite feel good film of all time. What is it?

Probably My Neighbour Totoro. I saw it at the cinema about ten years ago and was completely charmed and then spent many hours trying to win a copy of the DVD off eBay. I love all the Ghibli films and can watch them endlessly but Totoro is so simple and perfect.

Do you have a favourite quote or phrase?

Say aye tae a pie!

I must say I loved these answers, especially the windmill one! How cool is that?!

Remember you can get a copy of our zine – find out how >here< and you can visit Asking For Trouble at http://www.askingfortrouble.org/

Rachael x

Leave a comment

10 Fun Space Facts with Lucy from Eclectic Eccentricity

By

Eclectic Eccentricity are one of our ‘oldest’ designers at Hannah Zakari and we’ve been stocking their beautiful jewellery since 2008. We love their inspired designs, but also loved that Lucy gave up a career in Astrophysics to pursue her jewellery making dream!

We asked Lucy to contribute 10 fun space facts to include in our birthday zine and here’s the extended version of her facts!

I Just Need Some Space, Man.

I Just Need Some Space, Man.

There are 10 times more stars in the visible universe than there are grains of sand on all of Earth’s beaches and deserts. At the other end of the scale, a single grain of sand has more atoms than there are stars in the visible universe.

Venus has a longer day than it does a year – it completes one orbit of the Sun in less time than it takes to complete one full rotation on its axis. Venus is also the only planet within our solar system to rotate on its axis in a clockwise motion, known as a retrograde rotation.

The sun doesn’t actually burn (which would require oxygen); instead it glows. Heat is generated by a nuclear reaction where hydrogen is fused into helium. It’s going at quite the rate with the core releasing the equivalent of 100 billion nuclear bombs every second.

The universe is 13.8 billion years old. To put that into perspective, if all of time until now was represented as one year with the Big Bang occurring at midnight on January 1st, then humans would only show up to the party at 10.30pm on December 31st.

Looking up at the stars is like looking back in time – due to the time it takes for their light to reach us, what we’re actually seeing is what the object looked like hundreds or thousands of years ago. The most famous example is the ‘Pillars of Creation’ image of the Eagle nebula, photographed by Hubble back in 1995. These beautiful gas clouds were actually destroyed by a supernova approximately 6000 years ago, but it will take another 1000 years for us to see this destruction take place.

Despite what Stars Wars would have you believe, traveling through an asteroid field is actually quite safe. Our asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter, has a total combined mass of only 4% the mass of the Moon; in fact of that total mass, most is made up of just four asteroids with the remainder being tiny tennis ball sized meteroids which are hundreds of thousands of miles apart. Even the four large asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea) will only have, on average, one collision every ten million years.

There is a diamond star called ‘Lucy’ (or more technically, BPM 37093, a collapsed star located 50 light years from Earth). Discovered in 2004, the star is 10 billion trillion trillion carats and is 4,000km across.

Despite venturing to the Moon, the Apollo 11 astronauts still had to clear customs upon their return to Earth. Arriving at Honolulu airport, they declared Moon rock and Moon dust samples as their cargo and listed their departure point as the Moon.

There is no such thing as a ‘dark side of the moon’. Due to tidal locking, the moon rotates on its axis in roughly the same time as it takes to complete an orbit of the Earth. Because of this, we always see the same side of the moon pointing towards us. However, the side we don’t see will still receive sunlight – it’s not a cold barren place after all!

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is on a collision course with our cosmic neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy. Although we’re speeding towards each other at 402,000 km an hour we don’t have to worry about our meet up for another 4 billion years. Even then, due to the distances between stars within each galaxy, very few will actually collide so statistically speaking, we’re quite safe.

If you’d like a copy of the zine to see Lucy’s illustrated contribution and all the other wonderful stuff, you can find out how to get your mitts on one here.

We’ll have an interview with Lucy coming up very soon indeed so keep your peepers peeled!

Rachael x

Leave a comment

Birthday Interviews Pt 2: Kate Broughton

By

Next up in our birthday zine contributors interview is Kate Broughton (the Kates are good at speedy replies!)

Kate adapted one of our favourite illustrations, The Classic Cocktails, into a special HZ cocktail crawl version – how cool is that! We asked Kate 10 questions and here’s what she replied…

kate broughton

Did you have a childhood career ambition?
My dad used to be an art lecturer and sometimes when I was off school I would go into work with him, my older sister and brother both did art degrees too, so all I ever wanted to be was an art student, I never even thought beyond that.

What is your favourite colour? Does this impact your designs at all?
Green is my favourite colour, it features in my designs quite a bit. Depending on what I’m working on I go through phases of other colours but I always seem to come back to green.

If you could go on holiday anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. My brother is living in South Korea at the moment so sometime in the next couple of years we’re going to do a trip over and visit Japan too, I can’t wait!

What is the best place to visit in the town/city you live?

This year I moved back to my home town of Otley, in West Yorkshire, there are loads of nice pubs worth a visit, but my favourite place of all is the top of the Chevin (a big hill on one side of the town), the views are lovely.

Chevin

Chevin

Tea or coffee?
Coffee!! An espresso always makes me feel like I’m on holiday!

If you weren’t doing this for a living what would you like to do?
I would love to work with wildlife, maybe on a nature reserve or something.

What music/radio etc do you listen to when you’re working?
I share a studio at home with my boyfriend and we usually listen to 6 music, it stops us from fighting over what to play next.

Who is your biggest artistic inspiration?

My dad, he’s an illustrator and he does very detailed pen drawings, mainly of gardens/landscapes. He draws constantly, he’s got piles and piles of full sketchbooks and now he draws on his iPad too!

Do you have a favourite feel good film of all time. What is it?
Ooh I really don’t think I could choose just one, here’s three instead: Labyrinth, Dazed and Confused and The Life Aquatic.

Cats or dogs?
Cats, definitely cats, I grew up with them and I really really want to get one (or two) but we’re not allowed them in our rented house 🙁

Thanks Kate B! You can visit Kate online at www.katebroughton.co.uk or at the HZ Webshoppe.

Leave a comment

Birthday interviews… Pt 1: Kate Rowland

By

Ooh, so today is the the day that Hannah Zakari officially turns 10 years old, how exciting! By now some of you have a copy of our zine, and if you don’t that link tells you how to get one just by emailing us!

In addition to contributing to the zine some of our brilliant designers and friends have done a little interview with us – 10 questions, natch – and we’ll be sharing them with you over the next week or so. We’re starting off with the fab Kate Rowland who did a wonderful illustration of her top 10 party guests for the zine…

Kate in her studio.

Did you have a childhood career ambition?

I wanted to be an archaeologist (Indiana Jones) or a pilot in the RAF. I actually went to air cadets for a few years before I realised it wasn’t for me!

If you could go on holiday anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

I have big dreams of a trip around Japan (this is mostly due to my love of their food, the beautiful landscapes and reading Haruki Murakami novels). 

Tea or coffee?

Peppermint tea!

If you weren’t doing this for a living what would you like to do?

I’ve always thought that being in the police would be interesting and challenging. I can’t imagine not drawing or making anything though.

What’s your best fashion tip for a timeless look?

I’m definitely not one for fashion tips (most of my friends would agree!) so I’d say – don’t worry about fashion or trend, just wear whatever makes you happy. Happiness is timeless!

What music/radio etc do you listen to when you’re working?

Most days I listen to BBC6 Music as it’s relaxed, interesting and I like that it’s not playlisted. I don’t have one favourite artist (I’m too indecisive), but my sister recently recommended Paul Thomas Saunders, and his album ‘Beautiful Desolation’ is dreamy.

Who is your biggest artistic inspiration?

It must sound odd, but I don’t really have a favourite artist or creative. I tend to be more inspired by my other interests than looking within the creative world. I’ve been reading about Beryl Burton recently, who was a champion road cyclist around the 1960s. She was an amazing woman! 

Do you have a favourite feel good film of all time. What is it?

Fantasic Mr Fox (directed by Wes Anderson). The filmic style makes me feel like a child again; I love how it looks so tangible, like you could step right into the set. 

Cats or dogs?

Cats. They are so chilled out.

Thanks Kate!

 You can visit Kate online at www.katerowland.co.uk or at the HZ Webshoppe.

Leave a comment

Our 10th Birthday Zine!

By

Wowee!  Can hardly believe that it’s been a 10 whole years ago that I started Hannah Zakari from my spare room in Glasgow! But how to celebrate this momentous occasion, I asked myself?! It seemed like a new zine was the obvious solution, so that’s what we’ve done.

The zine is free to all of our wonderful customers far and wide! All you need to do is email me – rachael@hz.co.uk – with the subject line ‘Happy Birthday’ let me know your name and address and I shall pop one in the post to you asap.

The zine includes some fun party activities and  I’d love to know your thoughts via Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #10thbirthdayzine. Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll find inside…

Pretty confetti front cover!

Pretty confetti front cover!

 

10 friends/designers/illustrators have taken part!

10 friends/designers/illustrators have taken part!

 

HZ Shoppe Girl Steph has written about her 10 favourite party foods. Illustrated perfectly by Gemma Correll.

HZ Shoppe Girl Steph has written about her 10 favourite party foods. Illustrated perfectly by Gemma Correll.

 

There's an awesome illustrated Cocktail Crawl you can take part in!

There’s an awesome illustrated Cocktail Crawl you can take part in!

 

The awesome peeps at I AM Acrylic have created a cut out and keep 'Hannah Zakari World' - how cool is that?!

The awesome peeps at I Am Acrylic have created a cut out and keep ‘Hannah Zakari World’ – how cool is that?!

 

Lucy from Eclectic Eccentricity tells us her top 10 fun space facts!

Lucy from Eclectic Eccentricity tells us her top 10 fun space facts!

 

Leona from Lucky Dip Club has some cute budgies to decorate your cakes!

Leona from Lucky Dip Club has some cute budgies to decorate your cakes!

And so much more!!!

This 10th birthday zine is full of stuff from some of our ‘oldest’ friends and designers, previous collaborators and lovely friends. Thank you to all of them for taking part, you rock!

Love to you all!

Rachael xx

Leave a comment

Interview with Jazmine Miles-Long.

By

We thought we’d take a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to share this interview we did for our last Zine with you. Enjoy!

Many years ago, I used to travel down to London once or twice a year to attend, either as a stall holder or customer, the Bust Craftacular. It was great fun putting faces to names and getting to know my peers, seeking out new work for and meeting new customers.

One of the stallholders who I will always remember is Jazmine Miles-Long, an ethical taxidermist. I was mesmerised by her stall and especially the beautiful lamb in the suitcase (it wasn’t for sale, I would have bought it). Jazmine told me about how she came to have the lamb and I was struck at the tenderness by which she described the process. I’ve kept up to date with her work ever since and introduced HZ shoppe girl Anna Forrest to her work. Anna also fell in love and suggested she interview her for the HZ Zine. Here’s a version of the interview for the blog!

Jazmine’s Taxidermy Squirrel.

How did you get into practising taxidermy and how long have you been doing it?

When I graduated from Sculpture at Brighton University in 2007 I wanted to get a job I loved but had no idea what I wanted to do. So I started by volunteering at the Booth museum of Natural history. Once a week I would go and help renovate old Taxidermy cases, clean Bones, and type up chapters of Mr Booths diary. The first thing I actually ‘preserved’ myself at the museum was a moles skull. I enjoyed the process and so started doing Taxidermy at home with the help of a book a family friend had given me.

What inspirations lie behind your work…were you particularly inspired by anyone/anything?

I am inspired by animals and my love of animals (a bit obvious but there it is). I have always had them around me, cats when I was young, I worked on a farm as a teenager and now I have a horrible little grumpy terrier that I love. There are many artists and people who inspire me but when I do Taxidermy I am only really interested in that animal and the emotion I hope to give it.

What do you love most about what you do, what you perhaps not love so much?

 I love and hate how hard and frustrating it can be. It’s very rewarding when it goes well and there are tears when it doesn’t. You only get one try with each animal so its high pressure for it to be perfect and it’s dreadful when a skin is too old and the whole thing has to go in the bin. All the animals I work with have died naturally or have been hit by a car so I often have no way of knowing how long the animal has been dead and can almost finish the process when I realise its too late and I cant work with the skin.  


How do you feel when someone brings you an animal that was perhaps a loved pet, have you had any interesting or memorable experiences that stand out in your mind?

The first cat I skinned made me feel very uncomfortable, it was a bit too familiar for me. And when I first started doing taxidermy and every animal was new, I found it sad and hard working on them but it got easier. I have done pets in the past but not had good experiences as you just can not make the animal have the feeling the owner remembers, its impossible to recreate that bond. I won’t do any more pets unless they are simply donated to me because it’s just too difficult emotionally for myself and the owner. 


The process looks very delicate and complex, how long does it take from start to finish? How do you decide what you want the finished idea to be…the position, pose?

Tiny Lamb by Jazmine Miles-Long.

I always start with deciding on the pose before getting the animal out of the freezer. It is good to be thinking about this when you are skinning, so that you can literally figure out how it works and how it would sit in that position. Taxidermy takes a lot of patience to get right, it is much better to take as much time as possible, you can tell when a piece of taxidermy has been rushed. Birds and Mammals have very different skins because of the feathers and fur. Mammal skin needs to be tanned first otherwise the fur falls out; this is called ‘slipping’. It also depends on the mammal for example a squirrel only takes one day to tan but a deer can take a couple of weeks. There is also the fat to consider, a fox has half as much fat as a badger and every fibre of fat must be removed and it takes ages! It’s the same with birds; ducks and geese have a very very thick fatty layer in comparison to a garden bird. The mannequins I put the skins onto I mostly carve from Balsa wood and it simply depends on each animal as to how long this will take me, I can spend days just making the mannequin. But because of this I like to work on a few pieces simultaneously, at the moment it’s a Mallard Duck, a Vole and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.


What has been your favourite collaboration with another artist to date? Have you any up and coming projects that you are really excited about?

I am currently working with Illustrator and Artist Benjamin Phillips , my favourite pieces so far are a tiny duckling with an evil shadow painted by Benjamin that we had in a group show in November. I enjoy working with Benjamin because his work can be seen as humorous and often lude or creepy but he has a very particular sensitivity to the way he captures characters and mannerism’s that I find very beautiful and seductive. It is hard however for me to find someone that I can work with as I have so many personal rules about my own taxidermy, I want the taxidermy to be beautiful, I want the animal to seem respected and for the viewer to empathise with its predicament. I get very upset when I see Taxidermy art that is demeaning and badly done. Benjamin and me will be showing some of our new work in London in June. 

 

What direction do you want your work to go in the future?

I want to keep doing what I am doing now, developing new techniques and collaborating with other artists. I really enjoy learning and it seems that with taxidermy there are endless things I can learn. I only hope I will be able to do this forever.

 

You must love animals, what is your favourite?

I love dogs. They are very weird creatures. My difficult runt Betty is the best obviously.

Thank you to Jazmine and Anna for the interview, I really enjoyed finding out more about Jazmine’s working methods and ideas. Please check out Jazmine’s website to keep up to date with her work at jazminemileslong.co.uk.

DucklingShadow

Duckling Shadow. A collaborative work with Artist Benjamin Phillips.

Leave a comment

Cross Stitch Tutorial from The Bellwether

By

Ahoy there, me hearties! Claire from The Bellwether here, to tell you how to add a splash of nautical style to your home with just a few simple stitches. I’m going to let you into a trade secret here – cross stitch is really easy. Honestly, there’s no mystery to it – you just make crosses and that’s THAT.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Here’s what you need to get started on our super-simple anchor design:

  • 14 count sky blue aida
  • 1 skein of red embroidery thread
  • 1 skein of grey embroidery thread
  • 4″ wooden embroidery hoop
  • scissors
  • embroidery needle

To get started, take your fabric, fold it in half and then in half again. Lightly  crease it and then unfold. You’ll see the faint lines which intersect in the centre of the fabric. Place the fabric in the hoop with the centre of the fabric in the centre of the hoop.

You can either start from the centre of the design, or in this case, I’d recommend stitching the anchor first, from the top downwards. It’s roughly the centre of the design, anyway.

Take the grey thread and cut a length roughly 12″ long. Separate the threads so you are only using 2 strands. Thread your needle and we’re ready to go…

Bring your needle up from the  underside of the fabric in the bottom left-hand hole of the square you want to stitch in. Draw the thread through slowly, taking care to keep the thread running smoothly, so it does not knot or get snarled up. If you pull too hard, the thread will come all the way through.

Now repeat this to form the second leg of the cross – from the underside, insert the needle of the top left hand corner of the same square and pull the thread through, with the cross being completed by entering the bottom right hand corner from the top side. Now you have one complete cross stitch – easy, was n’t it? Now you need to secure the end of your thread so it does n’t unravel.

As you carry on, flatten the tail of your thread along the underside of your fabric and stitch over it as you go, catching the thread under your stitches. This will keep the thread from unravelling without making your work bumpy or bulky.

Once you’ve completed the grey anchor, secure your threads by weaving your needle in and out of the back of your stitches a few times and draw the thread through, taking care not to go through to the front side.

Switch to red – again, use two strands to stitch the chain and then secure your stitches. Next separate the red thread so you have just one strand in your needle.

For the lettering, we’re going to backstitch. I personally find it easiest to tie a knot in the thread for this, but you can use the same anchoring method as described previously. Count up from the anchor on the chart and locate the square one square on from where you want to start your stitch. Bring the needle through and then stab back through from the top, through the square you wanted to start in, so you are working ‘back’ from where you started. Sounds confusing, but you’ll soon get the hang of it (and there’s plenty of videos on YouTube if you need pointers).

Finish off your lettering, et voila! There you have it, a little seaside themed sampler for your home. Was n’t that simple? Pat yourself on the back and have a biscuit, you’ve earned it.

Enjoyed this tutorial from our Zine? Find more of Claire’s  work and her craft kits here.

 

 

 

Leave a comment