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How to make a diary

January 30th, 2013 Comments 0

I promise this was mostly not a procrastination activity.  Oxfam usually sell the diaries I like:  month to view, small pages, thick card, Sundays the same size as all the other days.  This year they have STOPPED.  So I decided to make one myself.

Step one: make a document with your calendar in it, print all pages and crop.

diary 05

Fold pages carefully.  At this point I realised I had laid it out all wrong.  Half of January should have been December, every month should be split, and then I could have stapled the whole thing.  Instead I decided I would have to sew it together.

Gather pages carefully; I have now added an oscillating page aligner to my imaginary birthday list – I’m sure one exists.

diary 04


diary 01

Sew into the spine of each page and then up and over the top of it, them cross from one page to the next.  I wish I hadn’t folded the pages so sharply, it was much harder to get the needle into the right place. diary 03diary 02

Re-clamp and repeat at the other end, and again in the middle.

diary 06

Attach a ribbon onto the back page.

diary 07

Glue or tape the spines, and the first and last pages, to the cover.  I didn’t glue the spines at first and all the middle pages were moving about.diary 09

Et voila!

diary 08

(Harry Potter says “Expecto Patronus” and my diary appears.  It’s magic.)

How to make a mask (a WiLD mask!)

September 9th, 2012 Comments 0

How do I show pictures of masks without freaking you out?  They’re sinister just by being masks.  With all the facial recognition portions of our brains I think they have an enormous power, not supernatural, but… stirring.  I definitely had a ‘moment’ whilst making this one.  Here was the process:

Step 1:
Make a base layer mask on your face, using gummed paper.  Theatre designer Steve Denton taught me this process, it’s an easy, cheap and environmentally friendly way to make a mask that fits your face perfectly. 

Start by taping first around your crown and then under your chin and over the top of your head.  Then you gradually fill in the gaps.  For the first layer put the tape gummy side out.

mask 01

It looks slimy and wet, and it actually… is, but it’s also fun!  Like a facial with absolutely no beautifying properties.  Actually the inside is mostly dry, so it’s not too bad.  I switched from blue to brown tape because the blue tape was too thick.  This turns out to be a useful way to see what I did first and second.

To begin with you have to manipulate the tape every once in a while to make sure you get a good nose shape rather than a big domed nose face.  Maybe there’s a better way to do this, but I haven’t figured it out yet.  I think lying on your back and having someone make a mask on you would solve this problem.

mask 02

Making it on myself with the help of a mirror made it easy to get in really close to my eyes without inadvertently gluing my eyelashes together.

mask 05

Here’s the base mask with several layers of tape over the whole face.  You can see there’s a better fit over the eyebrows, nose and forehead than there is around the mouth, but I tweak that later.  I’m actually smiling in this photo so I don’t look too scary.

mask 03

Taking it off – the stocking-hat protected my hair from getting glued into the mask.  Before taking it off I gave it a blast with a hair dryer.  Then I let it dry overnight.

mask 07

Step 2:
Once it’s dry you can sculpt it with the mask sitting on a table.  Here I’ve added eyebrows, mouth creases and cheeks.  I also cut out the mouth, remade it and then cut out the shape I wanted.  It’s winking – I just haven’t done the second eye yet.  Even with the very first eyebrow it started to come to life, enough to make me want to put it on and show everyone.

mask 09

I still use the mirror at this point, trying on the mask every few minutes so that I can see what needs to change.  It looks surprisingly different on a face compared to just sitting on a table.  Somehow I can see asymmetry more easily with it on my face.


It was at this point that I tried it on for Rob.  He hadn’t seen the new eyes yet.  He liked it but said it could still be a bit evil or ghoulish (which isn’t what I want for this character).  I agreed.  It was happy with a dark side… (maybe it was the way I wore it?)

mask 12

In the image below you can see I have added much bigger rosy cheeks.  This solved the ‘evil’ problem.  I think it must be something to do with baby faces – we all love fat babies!  It was at this point that every time I put it on I instinctively started to jiggle and breathe differently, and then suddenly I couldn’t stop giggling.  The mask had come to life.  I went and danced around the garden for a bit.  The way I had imagined the character would move had evolved into something much clearer and more rounded.

You can also see that I’ve changed the shape of the nose, tidied up the mouth and nostrils and a few other bits and pieces.         

mask 13

Step 3, 4, 5:
When it’s bone dry I’ll give it a light sanding with a very fine sandpaper.  Then I’ll paint it and finally decorate it with…

Ooh, but I’m not going to show you any of that.  For that you’ll have to come and see the show! 
Book your tickets now!

mask 14

First Days of Rehearsal!

December 11th, 2011 Comments 0

Welcome to production update No.1!  I’m so excited and happy to be working on the creative parts of this project and not just on the admin.

So far I’ve been working on the narrative, the script and the AV.  There have been some interesting decisions to make.  The more I work on the story, the more I feel like I really understand what makes a story work.  I’ve noticed that sometimes I don’t know what the answer to a narrative problem is yet, but I am very clear about which potential solutions DON’T fit.  The process of examining what doesn’t work often brings you closer to a solution that really does.meeting 1 1

The second thing I’ve noticed is what happens when you immerse yourself in a creative world.  My mind is inside the story now (sometimes when I’m tired I wish it wasn’t).  This state of thinking is the only way to arrive at exciting breakthroughs.  I’ve been working on the character design for one of the creatures in the play, and just kept drawing the same slightly boring version again and again, until all of a sudden a slightly different idea leaped off the page – ‘The One’.  As my mind was ticking over the consequences of this new design for the other elements in the play, a HUGE solution for the ending became clear.  I can’t tell you what it is because it will spoil it for you when you come to see the show.  I was so excited I wanted to run around the room and phone people to tell them.  It was midnight so I held back on that.

This ending solution has actually renewed my excitement for the second half of the play and removed many obstacles I was feeling were in the way.  This couldn’t have happened a few weeks ago.

meeting 1 5

The other new and exciting thing that happened this week was starting work with the rest of the team.  The first production meeting went really well, we dived into the costume boxes, tried everything on, and made new plans.

meeting 1 2

I will introduce you to individual members of the team over the next few weeks.  They’re all wonderful.

The video above was an example of trying something only to discover it is not going to work.  We fiddled around with the video effects and I thought I’d keep it to show you.  It doesn’t tell you a lot about what we were trying to achieve, but you can see we’ve been busy!

And with that, I am having an actual day off today, the first in a while, so off I go!

meeting 1 6

Photos by Sarah Jane Leigh.

What happened with the Fundraising?

December 4th, 2011 Comments 0

The Puffin that Won

Having set a very high fund-raising target on my Wefund page (which has a target deadline), I then didn’t quite achieve it.  That’s ok – I had not tried fundraising like this before and I was doing it mostly on my own.  I have learnt a great deal about fundraising which will help enormously for future projects.

But what happened to WiLD?

Would a small thing like this stop me?  HA! NO!  Everything is going ahead as planned.  I reshuffled my budget and called in some favours, I have the Arts Council Grant – the show will go on!

I also have the fantastic donations that many of you have made.  The amount I am raising with your help is making a huge difference to the show, and I am always bowled over by your generosity. Thanks to each of you.

If you would still like to donate then fundraising will continue the whole length of the project – that is until the performances on January 20th and 21st (and possibly beyond).

Use this link to go to my website to donate

I do have a new more modest target of £500, which will complete my budget.  I am still honouring the rewards that are listed on the website, so for £10 you will get three artworks as a digital download, and for £25 you will also get a handmade sock puppet – and many more items for different amounts.  Everyone who donates will get their name in the programme and can visit a rehearsal if they wish.

Thank you for your on-going support, it makes a huge difference to me!

The picture:  In return for her generous donation, I painted Kim as a Puffin last night, to accompany her wonderful costume for a Fancy Dress Party.  She won first prize!

Facepainting Summer 2011

September 19th, 2011 Comments 4

I’ve been learning to face paint over the past couple of years (very slowly) and this summer I started earning proper money from it.  Here’s what I’ve managed to paint. 

Butterflies:Blue Bow Butterfly small

Butterfly Love Hearts smallButterfly Pink smallButterfly red smallButterfly Turquoise smallButterfly1 small

Some One Direction fans wanted carrots and turtles (and a shamrock not pictured). 

Carrots Turtle small

Other pretty things:

Mermaid small

Pink Flower Princess small

rose arm purple small

Big Cats, small cats and a Parrot:

Brown Pink Cat 2 smallBrown Pink Cat small

Cheetah smallTiger girl smallFunTiger small

Snow Tiger smallParrot small


Godzilla small

skull smallT Rex small


Teifi painting small

It’s very pleasing to practice something and watch yourself improve.  When I started, the brushstrokes felt impossible, then there comes the magic moment where you realize you can do it – the point where the muscles in your hand understand what’s going on.  Face painting is completely different to ordinary painting because the surface is rounded and with crevices, each face is completely different and what’s more, many children move the whole time.  The challenge for me now is to speed up, when I can do a face in 5 minutes I’ll be happy.

WiLD trailer

August 16th, 2011 Comments 0

Another project come to completion.  By no means perfect, but after several weeks work you have to know when to stop…

(Again, I’m actually really pleased!)

I now know how to video edit, apply all sorts of effects and edit sound for video.  It turns out the sound is probably more important than the picture.  Several times during this project I thought about how long it must take to edit a feature length movie and how glad I am not to be doing that.  I’m sure it pays well, but I value sunlight too much.

Anyway, hooray I did it!

Evolution of a theatre poster

August 6th, 2011 Comments 1

Hello, been away from blogging for a while, busy creating a new life for my play.  I will be performing it next January and February, more about that another time…

So, with new life comes a new image and even a new name!

My play, previously called Dance Beast Voice Monster – Mooing for the Soul is now called, (drumroll…)


Obviously my simplification brain-lobe has recently been activated.

You can see the previous posters here and earlier versions here.  I was really happy with the posters I made first time around, but when I arrived at the venue last February they didn’t stand out at all.  I thought all the colour would make them pop out, but instead they made a beautiful blended backdrop for all the other posters.  On top of that I needed to make the artwork look less like children’s theatre.  Although I love childishness, and I use a child’s persona in the show (amongst others), it is definitely a show for adults, with a darker edge. 

Would you like to see how my poster has evolved over the past three weeks of blood sweat and tears?

I started with one idea – a close up of my face with costume from a scene I’m using in the trailer, to be surrounded by painted artwork… somehow.

outdoor idea with crown

(Here I am using my mum’s solar cooker as a light reflector.)

The problem was, having seen my artwork on the walls of the theatre not working, it had shifted my confidence in my own artistic judgement, this made it quite hard to follow my own ideas, as I didn’t know if I could trust them.  Instead I listened to other people.  Which is good too of course.  I’m sure there’s an ideal balance to be found between listening to other people and to yourself.  I spent a week brainstorming and sketching pages of poster ideas.  I studied great cinema posters and National Theatre posters (they have a fantastic archive).  I realised that in no way am I a graphic designer. 

Deciding on one idea whilst not listening enough to my own judgement was… interesting.  But decide I did. 

Something a bit like this:

Wild pencil sketch

or this:

Wild pastel sketch

We did a photo shoot and I chose this photo:photo1

(second choice would have been this, in which I have somehow managed to capture the jaunty angle of ‘being on a ship’  -photo on a ship

inexplicable, but true.)

Next came painting the artwork, learning a bit more about typography by copying fonts I like:Wild typography crop

(this was the most fun thing to do).  After that came scanning everything and assembling all the pieces.  There followed two gruelling days of sitting in front of a computer for 12 hour stretches trying to make the material work together in time for my deadline.  And here are all the fun things we made!

The beginning:
Postcard 1

the wrong proportions version:
Postcard 2

the version that was closest to what I was aiming for but in real life looked hmmmm:Postcard 3

the ‘My Little Pony’ version:
Postcard My Little Pony

I may point out that after many hours of staring at your own face it starts to lose all meaning – like saying the same word over and over again.

The Polar Bear version (brilliant, not my idea, also no Polar Bears in the show (yet…)),
Postcard Bear

the wings version (I like it – but snow angel isn’t really the look I’m going for),Postcard Wings

and finally the one I ended the night in despair on:Postcard Blob on the I

Overnight I racked my dreaming brains for a better idea.  I like the red theatre curtain poking out in the original photo, so I bounded to the computer the next morning to try this:Postcard Curtains

A crude first attempt, but it didn’t inspire me to continue with the idea.  Undeterred I started listening more to myself about what the play is really about, what the nature of the play is.  ‘Theatre’ as a theme started to make sense, and I wanted something more fun and less pastel purple.

Two more days of painting and research produced these ideas:Wild ribbon banner resized

proscenium arch line drawing

which I liked on paper but just didn’t fit together with the photo. 

I felt so frustrated at this point.  I wanted something that would genuinely reflect the show, be strong, eye-catching and adult as well as fun.  Finally I decided to go back to the colour scheme of my previous posters, but even that was all wrong.  I needed a black background, not a white one. 
Aha!  Then, as if by magic, everything slotted into place.  I made some more artwork on black paper (in an hour, not two days).  Oh yes, this was also the day I began learning how to use the graphic design software (Xara if you’re interested).  Learning curve set to steep.

I assembled this, entitled “finally something that might work”:
finally something that might work 1

I then spent far too long handwriting the copy for the back only to find it was unreadable.  So I stayed up late making my own handwriting font with Scanahand (I recommend).  More interminable hours in front of a screen tweaking ridiculous minute detail has finally brought this version, now winging it’s way to me from the printer (another drumroll, if you please)…WiLD Front Final small

So there you have it. 

And if any of you dare to suggest that one of the previous versions is actually ‘your favourite’ then someone may have to play me the grumpy song, because I will need it.

(I’m actually really pleased!)


February 7th, 2011 Comments 1

finished invite

You may have received one of these in the post this morning, if so, welcome and thanks for visiting this site – you are on a top secret list of VIPs and it’s highly likely that you have the keys to making my career sky-rocket into space.

My show is happening on Thursday 17th February in Aberystwyth.

If you can’t make it this time, I will keep you informed about future dates.

If you haven’t received an invite, yet you know you are a Very Important Someone, this is an invitation to your lovely self as well.

For everybody else, I’d love to see you there too!


Fashion Parade no 2

December 7th, 2010 Comments 0

Continuing my ethical fashion parade! 
I bought the ridiculous blue housecoat thing in a charity shop, mostly for the fabric to turn into a dress.  The hat is also from a charity shop.  The velvet ribbon I found in my boyfriends flat (and have worn nearly every day since).  The furry black jumper I found in a bin bag in the garage, the blue t-shirt (underneath) is a fairtrade gift from a friend, the socks I plundered from the parental sock drawer (thank you!).  

 blue outfit me blue outfit 3blue outfit 1 

The necklace I MADE IT!!!!! From vintage buttons (but unvintage wire – will have to work on that but at least it’s not plastic), 

red necklace 

and this most marvellous venetian glass curtain tassel from the 1920’s, from an antique shop in Haverfordwest.  It has copper leaves and the most amazing colours. 

venetian glass tassle

blue outfit close

It’s fun getting all dressed up!  I highly recommend it.

Photos by the inimitable Puffalicious

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