A spotlight on Bespoke Bookplates

Our bespoke bookplates are designed by hand, especially for the recipient, incorporating details about their life - the ultimate personalised rubber stamp. They make a thoughtful and very special gift.

I thought I'd share some of the designs I've done over the years to show what is possible. Every design is unique so these are only examples but should give a good flavour.

For the first example I've included the information the customer gave me - he ordered it for himself with some accrued birthday money and was thrilled with the result.

I am a person that is not easily impressed but I was utterly overwhelmed and delighted by the bookplate I ordered. I am undergoing some long-term studies, so am frequently purchasing new books, and am proud to stamp the Ex Libris design into every volume. The quality of the design is first class and beyond what I imagined when I placed the order.
— David Beedon (Notts) - October 2015
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We don't offer a proofing service but if you want something specific to be included just say - providing us with pictures of pets or special places can help make the design even more personal.

We usually say to allow 3 weeks from ordering for a bookplate to be dispatched. If you need one quicker just drop us an email and we'll help wherever possible.
Before a bookplate is sent it is checked, test prints made and then carefully gift-boxed ready for the recipient. If you're ordering for someone else, we'll always include a test print with explantatory notes outside of the gift box so you can see what you're giving (and one inside too!).

 

If you have any queries at all about Bespoke Bookplates, just email jenny@bloomfieldandrolfe.com and I'll get back to you ASAP.

 

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!


7 great Alphabet books

To celebrate our new kids alphabet (available as Ex Libris book stamps or Birth Announcement stamps), I thought I'd share some of my favourite alphabet books.

I tried to get the list down to 5, but each of these has something special, so in the end there are 7...

 

1. Alphabet by Alison Jay
Large board book – Templar Publishing

Not only in this ABC packed with Alison Jay’s unique crackled illustrations, but it’s stuffed to the rafters with detail. On the surface ‘F is for Frog’, but the image reveals fish and flowers and a fence and a fishing rod and two kinds of fly and, if you look really closely, a fork. There are also references to images and characters on other pages and taken together the alphabet is a loose story (or journey). You and your child will get a lot out of this – highly recommended.

Jane Foster’s ABC
Board book – Templar Publishing

In terms of simple, eye-catching design that babies will love, you can’t beat Jane Foster’s alphabet. A satisfying object in itself. (And then you can buy the mugs and tea towels and everything else!)

Dahlov Ipcar’s Wild Animal Alphabet
Board book – Islandport Press 

I’ve recently discovered Ipcar’s books and am slightly besotted with her illustrations. I am usually a bit wary of alphabet books that just piece together images from the author’s existing work (lazy!), but I’ve made an exception in this case because the images are so appealing, and because she’s made a good effort at creating some interesting rhyming text that is good to read out loud. 

Lucy & Tom’s a.b.c. by Shirley Hughes
Puffin books (out of print)

I know I’m always harping on about Shirley Hughes books, but it’s only because they are so good. This one is out of print, but copies are available cheaply. (I notice some of the other Lucy and Tom titles have been reissued, so fingers crossed.)

What makes this alphabet book stand out is that it does what Hughes does so well, by relating back to real life. The book is full of little stories and vignettes from Lucy and Tom’s very normal life – exactly how children really learn their alphabet, by looking at the things around them. There is loads to look at and engage with for young children. This is a current favourite of my 3.5 year old and always results in lengthy conversations.

Quentin Blake’s ABC
Red Fox Picture Books

Quentin Blake’s alphabet is as anarchic, entertaining and poignant as his other work. The quality of the text and illustrations means I couldn’t miss it off.

Eating the Alphabet
Board Book - HMH Books for Young Readers (USA)

This one is from the USA and so despite the inevitable Aubergine/Eggplant problem I think it’s a great idea, executed well. Lovely bright illustrations and as it’s all fruit and vegetables, a subject that would make Jamie Oliver very happy indeed.

Beautiful Birds by J. Roussen & E. Walker
Flying Eye books   

This book showcases publisher Flying Eye’s production values to nth degree – it’s stunning! – Rich colours and amazing neon. No mention of an alphabet on the cover, but it’s a true ABC of avian delights inside. The text rhymes and so is great to read to little ones, but this book is so gorgeous, I doubt you’ll want to let them get their grubby little paws on it. This is an alphabet book for all ages, but mainly for you. Get and it and treasure it.

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 ;))

Case Study : Wedding Venue Portraits

Whether it’s letterpress or foiled, rubber-stamped or painted, from digitally designed to hand-written on hessian, there’s been a flurry of bespoke wedding projects running through the Bloomfield & Rolfe studios of late. 

We'll begin to share more of them here – including bigger pieces such as table plans, menus and other marvellous printed extras, many of which demonstrate our wedding venue portrait and bespoke wedding stamp options.

We’ve done all sorts of different designs and projects so if you see something you like, or have any other ideas you want to discuss with us please send us an email – we love new challenges as well as old favourites....

Here’s one of Holly’s from early summer....a table plan featuring a bespoke wedding venue portrait in black ink of Kenwood House. The swans at the top of each table were hand-drawn and based on swans from a vintage poster of Kenwood from the 1930s and the lettering was drawn by hand.

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   The drawing in progress...

 

The drawing in progress...

Bloomfield & Rolfe's Top 5 Kids Books

It's Children's Book Week this week (an initiative of wonderful BookTrust) and this got us thinking about our favourite books from our childhoods.

The young Bloomfields enjoying some book time (drawing from Jenny's 'Drawing a day challenge' - click the image to visit her instagram page)

The young Bloomfields enjoying some book time (drawing from Jenny's 'Drawing a day challenge' - click the image to visit her instagram page)

 

Because everyone loves a list, here are both of our top 5s (in no particular order) - both of us went for nostalgia rather than anything more academically critical.

Holly

“Sadly, I have extremely patchy memories of pre-school picture books but very strong emotional ties to those of later childhood, the classic tales of adventure and imagination: 'The Secret Garden', 'Tom's Midnight Garden' and Helen Cresswell’s 'The Moondial' (are you sensing a theme here?!). Aside from these more 'grown-up' stories here are my five favourite bookish memories from childhood."

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1. 'I Like This Poem' - edited by Kaye Webb
“I loved poetry as a child, both writing and reading it. I remember Kaye Webb’s classic ‘I like this poem’ always being near at hand, so soft and tattered now after years of use. Eleanor Farjeon’s ‘Cats sleep anywhere’ that I read aloud in assembly and Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic ‘From a railway carriage' with its incredible pace and rhythm. I also really liked progressing through the chapters, based on age and delineated by beautiful monochrome illustrations. 12 seemed so far away…..”

2. 'No Time To Be Bored: Exciting things to make and do' - Eve Harlow
“Spending a lot of time alone especially pre-digital distraction meant even for a child who enjoyed her own company I would fairly often by heard exclaiming "I'm bored!" – only to be presented with the below; another retro classic, resurrected from the 70s by the looks of those stripes…”

3. The Adventures of Olga da Polga (series) by Michael Bond
“Guinea pigs traditionally have a sacrosanct place in our family as my sisters had them as kids so I'm assuming one of them must have given me the classic 'Olga da Polga' - all about a boastful and tall-tale telling Guinea pig.”

4. 'The Worst Witch' by Jill Murphy
"Who doesn't love the adventures of Mildred Hubble and magical pals? They were stirring cauldrons and rocking spells before Hermione’s parents had performed their first root canal.”

5. 'ANT and BEE and the Rainbow' by Angela Banner
"The one where they paint the old tyre to look like a rainbow! Just too cool – and ahead of their time when it comes to upcycling."

 

Jenny

“In contrast to Holly, I have very strong memories of my picture books, perhaps because I have rediscovered many of them with my own kids. Some of the images are so etched into my subconscious they epitomise what they depict (see the Lucy & Tom book below).”

1. ‘Lucy & Tom at the Seaside’ by Shirley Hughes
“I could have picked any of the ‘Lucy & Tom’ series (sadly now out of print) as I know them all inside out, but I picked this because the illustrations are particularly beautiful. Apart from a dated reference to ‘going for a bathe’ it is still completely relevant and something of a guide of ‘what to do’ when you’re at the British seaside. My daughter loves it too.”
(see my review of ‘Lucy & Tom’s Christmas’ here)

2. ‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl
“Don’t need to say much about this. Roald Dahl (and Quentin Blake) dominated my childhood and I think this is my favourite (at least it is today).”

3. ‘White Boots’ by Noel Streatfeild
“I was a little obsessed with this, and ‘Ballet Shoes’ too. I was the least likely child to be able to figure skate (or ballet dance) so I guess it was pure escapism.”

4. ‘Johnny the Clockmaker’ by Edward Ardizzone
“I never actually owned this as a child, but repeatedly borrowed it from the library, and my mum then bought me a copy as an adult. It is such a gentle story about a boy who makes a grandfather clock, despite everyone laughing at the idea (I like someone who has an idea and follows through!). Ardizzone’s illustrations are brilliant too of course.”

5. ‘Mr Magnolia’ by Quentin Blake
“I reviewed this one this week! Nonsense at its best!” (see the review here)



 

 

 

 

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Case Study: A Lovebirds Wedding - from off the peg to totally bespoke

How we created a bespoke wedding stationery suite by adapting one of our bestselling wedding designs.

Back in October 2013 Martha ordered several of our personalised stamps, including a Lovebirds Wedding Stamp  to make save-the-date cards for her upcoming marriage to Nicolas.

Later, in early 2014, she emailed to ask whether we could create a personalised wedding invite design using the Lovebirds motif, but incorporating  things special to her and her fiance. We came up with the following bespoke design using their favourite place 'One Tree Hill' and the London skyline as inspiration.

The invites were letterpress printed on Colorplan Harvest 700gsm using a magnesium plate to create a deep impression, creating a beautifully tactile finish.

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As the wedding day approached we adapted the design to include the wedding venue, for the order of service, and the reception venue, Longford Hall, for the table numbers. For both of these we simply provided a JPEG image of the design so Martha and Nicolas could print out at home.

We're always happy to adapt our existing designs for your big day (or any other occasion!). If you'd like to discuss this, or commission something entirely unique, don't hesitate to contact us at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com.

 

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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Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'My Granny Went to Market' by Stella Blackstone & Christopher Corr

 'My Granny Went to Market' by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr

My Granny Went to Market   is the current favourite book in our house, it gets read at least 4 times a day (would be more, but I have limits...).  Purchased on the basis that (real) Grandma is a prollific long-haul traveller, it's actually a refreshing take on a counting book.

'My Granny Went to Market, to buy a flying carpet' and then she flies around the world collecting all sorts of interesting objects before handing over the flying carpet to the reader to carry on the journey (rather a nice idea about sharing experiences and opening up horizons).

'My Granny Went to Market' by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr

My toddler loves it because it rhymes and because of the pictures which are fabulous (Christopher Corr, I'm jealous you did them and I didn't). Childishly bright and naive they're deceptively simple, packed with detail. There are so many distinctive things to point out in each country - from animals to buildings and modes of transport, plus there are the two cats Granny picks up in Thailand which then appear on each page (complete with coats in snowy Russia) that garner excited yelps. 

 'My Granny Went to Market' by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr
 'My Granny Went to Market' by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr
 'My Granny Went to Market' by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr

There's something quite clever in Stella Blackstone's use of souvenirs in the counting rhyme. I remember as a child that the highlight of someone going on a journey was what they might bring you back - the place itself wasn't really within comprehension, but the souvenir very much was. This book highlights the amazing places that go along with the things.

I can see this would be a great book for teachers as it's a really engaging way to introduce the idea of different countries and cultures - I can think of many many classroom projects that would easily stem from it.

This book is published by Barefoot Books who do some lovely (and unusual) titles with some super illustrators and are worth checking out.