The Botanical Collection - from sketchbook to rubber stamp

We're often asked where we get our inspiration, so here's a little insight into our new Botanical Collection which originated in the greenhouses of Kew Gardens. I spent a fabulous day there back in July gathering ideas about shapes and form.

Here I am looking slightly gormless (but really I'm just deep in concentration).

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As you can see from my sketchbook pages I recordered a lot of colour. This is partly to the benefit of my other illustration projects, but also, the act of looking that is necessary for a long colour drawing really imprints the shapes I'm looking at on my memory. Once I was back in the studio I barely need to look back at my sketchbooks to get ideas for making personalised rubber stamp designs....

... although the sketches do crop up when it came to taking photographs of the sample stamps.

You can see the whole Botanical Collection and order your own personalised stamps by clicking here.

Jenny has been doing a drawing a day since 1st September 2014. You can see them all at www.instagram.com/jennybloomfield/ or follow @jennybloomfield

DIY Wedding Projects using new Calligraphy Stamps

We love our new Calligraphy Collection which includes everything you need for a wedding – Address Stamp, Wedding stamp, Initials and even a Hashtag stamp to keep all your guests on the same social media page.

Each design starts with traditional dip-pen and ink, before being turned into a rubber stamp – we don't use fonts, everything is handwritten to order!

While we think the flowing script looks fabulous on it's own, the text can also form the basis of some creative contemporary DIY projects. Here are some of our favourite ideas:

NEON NEON

Weddings don't have to mean pastels and florals. Channel your inner raver and go day-glo with flourenscent paper, inks, envelopes and labels.

WATERCOLOUR WHIMSY

You don't have to be Picasso. Some simple floral shapes laid down underneath your text add real pop to cards (just make sure the paint is dry before you stamp). This is a great way of quickly making a set of invites which are all unique.

SPLATTER!

This is easy-peasy and we think really effective. Use spray paint, or alternatively we discovered 'Blo-Pens' which are meant as a child's toy but do the job cheaply and fume-free.

CHALKBOARD

Don't restrict yourself to white paper. Here we mimicked a chalkboard by stamping with white VersaMagic chalk ink on Colorplan Racing Green card.

(We added some WOW with a simple watercolour wash on the envelope – just spodge on wait to dry for some beautifully random results.)

RAID THE STATIONERY CUPBOARD

Think outside the box a bit and don't restrict yourself to 'wedding' supplies. The geometric grid of bog standard graph paper looks fab with calligraphic flourishes; or bring utilitarian office labels into the limelight.

AND FINALLY.... 

It doesn't have to be serious, or grown up – crack open the googly eyes and have fun!

 

 

Case Study: BLING! Deco inspired wedding suite with a B&R twist.

Robi and Daniel came to us with a gold foiled Art Deco design they'd seen elsewhere on the web. They liked it, but also liked the idea of creating something personal to them. Working with the Art Deco theme, the distictive square shape of Robi's engagement ring, and peacocks we got down to work designing their hand-drawn invite.

When they asked us to include their beloved 'baby', Juanita, it caused us to pause, but we think, with the addition of a smart bow tie, she fits in rather well with the design and their request for black tie attire.

The couple wanted some 'bling' on their invitations and by foil blocking the design on heavyweight 700gsm Colorplan Imperial Blue card, we think the results are rather spectacular!

To complement the invitiation we designed and digitally printed RSVPs and cards with additional information, and made an initials and 'Juanita' stamp for personalising envelopes and all those other wedding extras.

As the wedding day drew closer, we helped to provide finishing touches for their wedding reception with menus and hand-made table numbers.

The table numbers had hand-applied gold leaf on the front, and movie quotations on the back and look rather stunning en masse - ripe to be framed after the big day.

If you're interested in commissioning Bloomfield & Rolfe to create your wedding stationery, or for any other occasion, just get in touch at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com and we'll be happy to help.

How will you use yours? Get creative with a Personalised Christmas Jumper!

Having your own personalised stamp means making things unique and having lots of fun in the process.

We love making our own cards and decorations and the months leading up to Christmas are, of course, the peak season for  DIY card making creativity.

This year we’ve been having fun already with our new ‘Christmas Jumper’ design...“So much potential..!” as Bloomfield put it.

Order yours, which can be personalised with names of up to 25 characters, and start your Christmas crafting early...

Design your own Christmas Jumper Christmas cards - get the kids involved with colour pencils and paints...see who can create the craziest jumper!

One size fits all...try drawing a cartoon of the kids wearing the jumper. Don’t be daunted, keep it simple! People love the personal touch, even stick men are acceptable...

Bloomfield and Rolfe Christmas Jumper stamp

Use the stamp to make tags and decorations...think about witty ways to use the stamp. Do show us how you got on via twitter and instagram!  #BRxmasfun

7 things to do with our new Tiles Label Stamp

We love our new Azulejo* inspired designs and so thought we'd share a few ways to use the personalised 'Tiles Label Stamp' (£25 - can be customised with any message of your choice - we've focused on the kitchen, but you don't have to!).

The rubber stamp is obviously great for labelling precious hand-created gifts, but we think you can bring a bit of joy into the everyday by using it for things more ordinary as well.

We also have a matching 'Magnetic Menu Pad' (£4.50), perfect for planning meals and cutting down on food waste. Looks pretty good on the fridge too! 

*Azulejos are the beautiful tiles found in Lisbon - we were inspired by a Bloomfield & Rolfe trip there earlier in 2015.

1. Label your Jams and Chutneys

2. Show Off - you made it, tell the world!

3. Go Pro at bake-sales

4. Pimp your packed lunch

5. Organise your Fridge-Freezer

6. Get Festive

7. Leave a note!


Out and about: Children's Book Illustration Summer School at Anglia Ruskin

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a week long Children's Book Illustration summer school in Cambridge. A week away all by myself to be nothing but creative! 

The aim of the week wasn't to perfect illustration technique, but to create a dummy picture book that we presented to tutors and peers at the final crit (the ultimate 'storytime').  This would be a starting point for us to go away and create a finished book. 

It was an international affair with fellow students travelling from as far as Japan and Brazil just for the course (made my trip down the A1 seem a bit tame).

The week was a whirlwind as we were guided at speed through the process of creating a character, storyboarding and creating final roughs of our own story. This is something that would usually take months and was intensely challenging at times. Tutition was via one-to-one tutorials and created confidence-shattering lows when (inextricable) problems were exposed, and yippee-inducing highs as I found visual and narrative solutions and things fell into place.  The pace of progress was at times breathtaking and all 58 of us who attended came away with a very different story to the one we arrived with, and a totally new understanding of what makes a picturebook work.

Storyboarding and character developement - all at no-time-to-stop-and-procrastinate speed

Storyboarding and character developement - all at no-time-to-stop-and-procrastinate speed

The course was run by Pam Smy of Anglia Ruskin, who was ably assisted by Marta Altes (Author/illustrator of 'The King Cat', 'No!', 'My New Home' and 'My Grandpa'), Birgitta Sif ('Oliver' and 'Frances Dean'), Ness Wood (book designer who has worked with the greats) plus Dave Barrow and Natalie Eldred who are current MA students.  Their feedback was always insightful (and often cut deep!) and usually contradictory, leaving us, ultimately, to choose our own path. 

In addition to studio time, we were treated to lectures on different aspects of picture book production by the tutors and also a guest speech by Chris Haughton ('Oh No! George', 'A Bit Lost' and 'Shh! We Have a Plan').  

Chris Haughton delivering a lecture about his work

Chris Haughton delivering a lecture about his work

Some (!) of the books I brought home with me as souvenirs and inspiration.

Some (!) of the books I brought home with me as souvenirs and inspiration.

Did I see much of Cambridge? Nope - barely left the campus! 

All in all the week was intellectually exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. The range of stories (from the silly to incredibly profound) was fascinating and the inspiration from fellow students can't be underestimated. 

And I shall never look at a 'simple' picture book in the same way again!

(Wondering what my book was about? Ha ha, watch this space! One of the things we learned was not to give away our stories on social media ;))

Bloomfield takes the drawing a day challenge....

I love the fact that my job involves drawing, but between my black and white stamp designs, looking after two small kids and all the other 'running a home' nonsense, there isn't much time for drawing for fun. But it's a catch 22 because drawing for fun is where all the ideas and dare I say it, skill, come from.

For years I've been touting the idea of 'a drawing a day' to myself. But it's very easy to find excuses when you've only told yourself. So I've made it public and for the last 28 days I've done a (fun) drawing a day (usually late and in front of the telly). I intend to continue indefinitely.

There aren't really any rules. Any format, any medium, just, if at all possible, it shouldn't be 'work' related: my children feature heavily, as do birds and collective nouns - or they do so far, who knows how it will all change and develop.

I am publishing my efforts (some laudible, others less so) on Instagram every day so can follow me there if you're interested (Instagram.com/jennybloomfield). I'll doubtless share my favourites on this blog from time to time as my self-discipline makes me increasingly smug...

Here are some from my first 4 weeks

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A Tale Of Three Cities

When a new baby is born an Ex Libris stamp is the perfect gift (and a somewhat predictable one if you're friends with me), something to mark their arrival which they'll be able to use into adulthood. We're strong believers in personalising designs, not just with a name, but with something about the recipient. It's difficult with babies though -  yet to develop interests and personalities themselves - but geography and family heritage can be a fruitful source.... 

Here are three playful world-city designs done as gifts: a black cab for London-boy Carsten; a New York taxi for half-American Ezra; and the Manley ferry for Sydney-born Lara, complete with Kookaburra.

Not sure a dodgy Skoda Octavia from Leeds would have the same impact... but we can't all hail from iconic centres of world culture!!!

An Arts & Crafts Wedding: how a commission works in practice

Here I am pleased to show off one of my favourite commissions and have included information about the process to show how we work on a project like this.

Sophie sent me an email last year which began: "You made a book stamp for me to give to my boyfriend for Christmas last year. It must have impressed him, as we're now engaged and are getting married...."

While we can't seriously take responsibility for initiating their happy day, it was lovely to hear that Tim liked the stamp and that they would like us to create their wedding stationery.  They wanted a Save the Date to start with, and then invites and extra bits and bobs further down the line.

They provided some great images as inspiration (see below) - they liked the Arts and Crafts reference to William de Morgan in the Birds in Branches Ex Libris design, and also wanted to use the work of Henry Wilson (a remarkably under-appreciated Arts and Crafts architect, metalworker and jeweller) on whom Sophie happened to be writing her Masters thesis, and who was the creator of her spectacular engagement ring and the other images below.

I then did some preliminary sketches to check we were thinking on the same lines and to provide a starting point. I'm playing with ideas and compositions here to see what will work (and what the customer likes).

A small stamp for all those extra wedding details

A small stamp for all those extra wedding details

Following feedback we created the following:

- a Save the Date stamp (large enough to fit nicely on a standard postcard),

- a small tree stamp for extra details

- the main wedding invites which were letterpress printed with a deep emboss

- RSVP cards which were digitally printed

- An address stamp (that will be used long after the wedding)  

The main invite (letterpress printed), envelope stamped with address stamp, RSVP card (digitally printed) and the  Save the Date design which was the first design we did.

The main invite (letterpress printed), envelope stamped with address stamp, RSVP card (digitally printed) and the  Save the Date design which was the first design we did.

Detail of the main invite showing the luxurious deep emboss

Detail of the main invite showing the luxurious deep emboss

Text inside the main invite

Text inside the main invite

The text style was taken from the Henry Wilson bronze plaque image provided by Sophie - if the lettering looks familiar it's because I liked it so much I have used a modified version on our Filigree range.

The very same bronze plaque is echoed in the magnesium plate used to create the invites and that wonderful deep emboss. As these plates are one-offs we lacquered them and Tim & Sophie now have them as a wonderfully tactile memento of their day.

This project was a two-way process with many many emails pinging back and forward, and was completed in stages over a period of months. Hopefully it shows how a single idea can be expanded and modified for a variety of purposes and to create something totally unique.

If you're inspired and would be interested in commissioning something for your own wedding, please don't hesitate to get in touch via orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com - we can help with anything from a single small stamp to a whole suite of stationery.

Case Study: A wedding at Bluebird, Chelsea - invites and stamps

The Art Deco elegance, infamous clientèle, gorgeous original details and super-smart dining room make Bluebird Chelsea one of the most sought-after spaces to get wed urban-style - and our lucky client Anne had all that to look forward to, but first....the invite!

Anne wanted the building to shine in the design so we created an original watercolour-wash sketch of the building and worked with the 1920s look she loved to design A6 postcards using an original deco font and border in a stunning deep bluebird blue.

Bluebird Chelsea Wedding Invite

The double-bluebird motif was added as a nod to the union of the two lovebirds (...sorry) and was repeated in a roundel stamp with date for use on the backs of envelopes and for serviettes and bunting on the day.

Bluebird Wedding Stamp

Even Ralph the dog (star of our personalised dog stamps) made an appearance on the front of the envelopes – the perfect finishing touch.

Personalised dog stamp

Case Study: A Foodie Wedding

Here's a delicious wedding commission for us to share with you.....

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Katherine and Ben were having a foodie wedding, and they came to us with a selection of images they liked as a starting point. The theme of cutlery emerged and after discussing their big day and getting to know them a bit, we came up with a design that incorporated a pig (hog roast), rabbit (for veggie Katherine, definitely not a bunny-roast), spring daffodils and a yurt (feature of their big day). The result is bold, yet subtly personal.

To make the stamp more versatile we decided to split the main design and the text into two separate stamps so the cutlery motif and the text could be used separately elsewhere on the big day.

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Following the theme we made them a little 'Mr & Mrs' salt and pepper stamp for the backs of envelopes and other wedding accents.

If you like the idea of creating something totally unique for your big day, don't hesitate to get in touch at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com.

Case Study: Cattapilla Designs logo and swing tags

Harriet from Cattapilla Designs in Ireland got in touch at the end of last year asking for us to create a logo for her hand-sewn creations. She also asked for some additional co-ordinating stamps that could be used to make swing tags for her cushions and bags to tell their unique story, and also a business card and address stamp.  As her products are made using vintage fabrics and embroidery, we used an old-fashioned sewing-room as inspiration - I'm pretty sure Harriet doesn't use a hand-cranked old Singer in real life though!!!

Cattapilla Designs
Cattapilla Designs stamps

"Just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for all the wonderful stamps.  I've just returned from trade fairs in London and Dublin where the reaction to the new logo was very positive - everyone loved it!"

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You can see (and buy!) Harriet's latest creations at her website, and follow what she's up to on Bere Island at her blog here.

If you'd like us to design a logo or similar for you, please get in touch at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com.

Bloomfield's Birds - a 2014 linocut letterpress calendar

2014: Bloomfield's Birds

It's been a while since either of us have had time to post anything 'fun' - we had a super-busy run up to Christmas with orders and special commissions aplenty. Having taken breath, we're now ready to tackle 2014....

First up, a little show off of the calendar I produced for my family and friends at Christmas, in an edition of 25. After seeing something similar Richard Lawrence (letterpress printer extraordinaire) had put together, I got in touch and he agreed to do the technical setting and printing, if I provided the linocuts.  This meant i got to do the 'creative' bit without worrying about dirty finger prints and all those other pesky details.

The theme was birds (isn't it always.....)

2014: Bloomfield's Birds (January)

I was really pleased with the final results and it's been nice to see my birds hanging in various kitchens over the last few weeks.

A big thank you to Richard too. If you're interested in his services you can find him here.

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A B&R London day out: swimming, sketching, eating

A balmy July day in the midst of a heatwave, we managed a rare cultural day together. First stop, after a proper tramp across Hampstead Heath where we met 'one of the infamous dog walkers' (her words) and a jogging Christopher Eccleston (who was very polite and provided directions even though we weren't actually shouting at him at the time, but each other), was the ladies pond. The enforced march by Rolfe meant we were suitably sticky and in need of a refreshing bathe. 

Straight in and what a delight! Fresh smells (and I'm not being euphamistic) beneath the willows and amongst the weeds. We were temporarily 'evacuated' as lightening lit up the distance  - there followed much confused attempts at understanding the 'science' behind such a policy - all present had clearly forgotton any secondary school science they ever had - mid-week outdoor swimming the preserve of arts graduates only?  We were much amused by the human instinct to get out of a pond (water!) to shelter from the rain (water!) under a tiny bit of awning. Personally I delighted in the rain (it was a HOT day) and was pleased to return to the water with the rain beating down around us, making tiny and evocative bubbles on the surface. You don't get that at the local leisure centre.

The idlyllic Ladies Pond in sunshine

The idlyllic Ladies Pond in sunshine

Evacuated swimmers, failing to see irony, huddle under awning to keep dry

Evacuated swimmers, failing to see irony, huddle under awning to keep dry

Pleased to see the geese followed the evacuation order too.

Pleased to see the geese followed the evacuation order too.

The skies brightened and were able to lunch on the banks and do a bit of sketching, trying to capture the lush surroundings of this little idyll. 

From Bloomfield's sketchbook

From Bloomfield's sketchbook

Sketch by Bloomfield
Bloomers sketching at the ponds

Bloomers sketching at the ponds

We had to drag ourselves from the banks as the day was slipping away.

 Next stop was the V&A Museum of Childhood, somewhere we've been meaning to visit for years. It's a shame it's such a nightmare to get to really as it's full of lovely stuff, more suited to nostalgic adults in our opinion than children wanting entertainment. I was rather enchanted by all the dolls houses, remembering how much I loved things with 'little bits' as a child, and there were lots of fabulous characters.

A 'hug of bears' from the Museum of Childhood. Very sweet!

A 'hug of bears' from the Museum of Childhood. Very sweet!

Look at the hams!

Look at the hams!

There's none of this modern nonsense about not terrifying the little ones.

There's none of this modern nonsense about not terrifying the little ones.

Royal memorabilia: love it, even if Di looks a little subdued.

Royal memorabilia: love it, even if Di looks a little subdued.

As ever we couldn't possibly bid farewell to each other without partaking in a big nosh-fest. We happily toasted our day at the wonderful Wahaca in Islington where there was much coo-ing about corn and slavering over cheese. 

Bloomers enjoying the spread

Bloomers enjoying the spread

Rolfe having a scoff

Rolfe having a scoff