Paula Bailey

May 29, 2012

All sewn up

As if to remind me that I need to get a move on with my decorating (I’m going to make the spare room into a cat-free zone so I can make things in there), this May has had a bit of a sewing theme.

Earlier in the year I created a logo for Swinky Doo of County Kerry and this month I’ve been working on some leaflets to promote Karen’s beautiful handmade work.  She makes stunning personalised pictures and bunting for children, adults, babies, weddings – anything you like. She has also just launched her brand new website and I’ve been making banners for that too.

As with the logo, the leaflets and banners echo the style and the mood of the Swinky Doo brand. Karen says:

At Swinky Doo we love the idea of using up odds and ends of fabrics, old summer dresses, torn denim jeans and broken bead necklaces – transforming them into beautiful, unique and colourful gifts that will be treasured by their new owners.

Why not check her out. She ships to most places and you can be guaranteed a unique gift or keepsake. She’s on Facebook too.

Today I got some exciting news from fellow Southsea resident and maker of wonderful things, Georgina Giles.  Every month, Georgina picks the name of one of her subscribers out of a jar and the lucky person gets a present in the post. This month it was me! I am so looking forward to receiving these lovely hand stamped, fabric covered buttons.  Take a look at her blog – and why not subscribe? You might be next month’s winner.

I don’t know what I’ll do with them yet, but I’d better get on with sorting out that sewing room!

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Update: Georgina delivered the parcel to me today. So beautifully wrapped, and the buttons are gorgeous.


January 11, 2012

Typographically speaking

'Old Type..' by Marco Filinesi

If you make a quick search for the use of typewriters in graphic design you may be dismayed to find the returning results lean heavily towards compilations of typewriter fonts – whether to download or to recreate using Photoshop. This is not what I was looking for when I began research for this post, but maybe my search terms are to blame.

I suppose that in the vast majority of cases, paper-based items of graphic design are intended for multiple reproductions, and the use of a real typewriter would be prohibitive for all but the most limited of editions. Unless the hand-typed words were then scanned or photographed, we’re probably looking at other areas of design and art.

I’m going to have to do a lot more research for a future blog post it seems. I know the work is out there, I just need to find a way to get past the proliferation of sites whose owners have worked so hard to make the search engines work for them. In the meantime I would like to share with you some of the gorgeous photographs of old typewriters that I found during my search. If you like them, do click through to Flickr to tell their owners.

And watch this space for another post on the subject. Thanks for visiting.

'let's type' by |vvaldzen|

'Underwood Typewriter II' by Geof Wilson

'sQWERTY' by Troy Paiva

'writing...the old fashioned way' by Darwin Bell

'UPPERCASE Typewriter Event' by Janine Vangool

'Typographer' by Ed McGowan

'Underwood Typewriter' by RiaPereira

'Royal Quiet Deluxe' by Janine Vangool - click image to read her blog

'we regret to inform you' by Andre Govia

January 4, 2012

Book sniffing

I love books. I love the way they look on the shelf or on the table. I love the way they feel in my hand. I love the way they smell. Yes, smell. I confess I am a book sniffer – and I know many of you are too!

New books have the smell of paper and ink, and sometimes glue. Even mass-produced paperbacks have a ‘new book’ smell when you first open them. More expensive books have a smell of their own, but I think my favourite book smell is still the mustiness of old books. Really old ones.

The sensual experience doesn’t end there. Books feel wonderful too. Again, popular novels fit well in the hands – whether we fold them back around the spine, or whether we carefully hold them open to keep them pristine. The beautiful smoothness of the pages of a classy coffee-table book means I find myself running my hands over the pages as I devour the images. Old books, in turn, are fragile and precious, their papers often thin and brittle while their covers may be made from robust materials such as leather, yet weakened at the stitches. Textures abound.

You may have guessed that old books are my favourites. I hope you will enjoy this collection of some stunning photos of some very beautiful old books. And do click through to the originals on Flickr and tell the photographers if you like their photos.

Thanks for visiting, and enjoy.

‘a room without books is like a body without a soul’ by Kevin van der Leek

Libros by Antonio Luis Hernández

‘hotel register from another era’ by Nicholas Mitchell

‘Very old book – from 1752’ by soozika

‘Very old book from 1752 Satyrische Briefe B’ by soozika

Oldies… by M. Raj

‘Pages of Yesteryear’ by Karrie

‘….e le favole spiegate colla storia’ by Marta Ponari

‘Old Book’ by Geoff Powell

‘Old books’ by David Reneses

‘Old Jewish Book’ by (((The Space Between)))

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March 11, 2011

CMYK: The rainbow for geeks?

CMYK style

CMYK style by Mitra Mirshahidi

OK so it might not be a full rainbow, but it’s our rainbow and we love it.

As many of you will know, CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK (more properly known as Key) and these are the four colours used in the CMYK printing process.  You may have noticed them on the uncut edges of magazines or newspapers as a series of circles or squares.

On the other hand, the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colours are what happens on our computer screens. You can read more about all that here.

But who cares about all this? Well apart from printers, designers do. And these days that can extend to photographers and others interested in the visual arts.  Not because of the use of CMYK in the printing process, but because it’s cool.

You might be wondering what on earth could be cool about four colours that don’t seem to go together, that don’t flow from one to the other like a rainbow does, or that, on reflection are actually three colours and a tone (if we’re getting technical here).

This is where the print people sit

This is where the print people sit ... by vintagedept

It seems that CMYK has become a universal identifier for design and print geeks and their friends. Just take a look at some of the CMYK inspired logos that designers make for themselves, or the CMYK t-shirts that are out there to buy. It’s like a badge. It says “I am a designer” or “I work with print”. It’s a social signal for geek-to-geek coolness.

And then there’s the inevitable bandwagon. A couple of years ago, on the wave of renewed interest in lomography (essentially photography with cheap plastic film cameras) which extended, naturally, to the design world, the Diana F+ CMYK was launched. It was nicknamed the ‘Smeek’ because they thought CMYK was too cumbersome to say.  Basically it was another edition of the very popular Diana series but with extra cool. I still want one.


Unplanned coincidence - when we realised what we were all wearing, we just had to do a photo

I think the colours look great together. They don’t jar even though they are very bright. I’m not sure of the dynamics but my guess would be that they work together because between them, all colours can be made.   It’s not a rainbow but if you’re working in print, it’s where your rainbow comes from. Having said that, I wouldn’t want a room done out in CMYK, and if I wore it then I’d definitely restrict it to a small size (like many of the t-shirts shown in the link above).

What do you think? Do the CMYK colours all in one hit appeal to you? Or do you hate them? Feel free to share any links to CMYK images of your own when you comment.

And in case you were wondering what inspired today’s post, well it was my newly painted CMYK fingernails of course.


Are these the ultimate geek girl fingernails?

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February 4, 2011

Yellow Fever

It seems that everyone’s moaning about the winter at the moment.  The problem is, I think, that they started moaning about it in December when we were just getting over Autumn.  No wonder everyone’s so fed up.

So I thought I’d put out a cheerful and encouraging post today.  Spring is on its way! Yes I’ve seen the signs – little flowers are starting to pop their heads through the hard soil and buds and catkins are appearing on trees.

Yellow is a colour that is prevalent throughout the spring, summer and even autumn, and yet it is perhaps most closely associated with the onset of spring.  It may be because of the “host of golden daffodils” that appear in our woodlands, parks and gardens, and even on the high street outside florists, greengrocers and petrol stations.

Yellow is seen as a positive colour.  To me it lacks the warmth of orange, but it certainly does brighten things up.  On the other hand it can be a warning. We use it on our signs to bark instructions, warn of danger and send out signals at a distance. In nature it can mean poison, particularly when teamed with black.

Traditionally its ‘opposite’ (on the colour wheel) is purple or violet, but this pairing often jars the senses.  The orange/blue pairing works well, but yellow/purple and the red/green do not seem to share that harmonious relationship.  However yellow is complimented well by blue, as can be seen in the centre image of the yellow flower against a blue sky.  It’s all about light rather than colour wheels.

Yellow has a broad range of ‘types’ as with all the colours I’ve discussed so far.  It can veer towards orange or to green in hue. It can be a subdued ‘mustard’ yellow (supposedly the fashion colour this season) or scream at us with fluorescent versions.

Whichever way you perceive it, you really can’t miss it and I hope you find the collection below cheerful. Spring’s not far away.

Yellow Fever

I have curated a Flickr gallery to accompany this post.

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November 19, 2010

Oranges Poranges

I find orange a wonderfully warm and joyful colour.  I love red, but that sometimes can be a little cool or harsh.  Yellow is fabulously uplifting but for me it is a definite spring/summer colour and I am definitely not a spring/summer person.

Orange is rust and the beauty of fire; it is the colour of thousands of vibrant flowers; it is my favourite late afternoon autumn sunlight on a warm terracotta wall.  With its counterpart, blue, it really pops as part of the most successful pairing of complementary colours.

As mentioned in previous musings about colour, orange is no stranger to disagreement.  Is it yellow? Red? Brown?  That might depend on your mood or your outlook.  For some it is school dinner carrots, for others it’s golden syrup pudding.  I know which I prefer.

Native Americans associate orange with kinship and it is the preferred hue for Hindu swamis and Buddhist monks.  It has associations with Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving (is this because of the colour of pumpkins?), and is often regarded as a positive and optimistic colour.  There are some who would say it is merely the part of the spectrum that exists between 585 and 620 nanometres. #FFA500 to them!

Orange is also the favourite colour of fellow photographer and Flickr friend Jennifer König.  She is moving house and that’s why I’ve chosen orange today.  And if you’re wondering about the title, you may be too young to remember H R Pufnstuf!

I’ll let Wassily Kandinsky have the final word:

Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.


I have curated a Flickr gallery to accompany this post.

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October 25, 2010

Vintage Photo Wallets

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the summer sorting through the archive of the stained glass artist Lawrence Lee (1909 – present).  As you would imagine, there are a lot of photographs.  Luckily (for me) many of them were still kept in the original photo wallets from the various printers he used – and there are two quite different ones from the same printer.

They’re a bit tatty but I thought they were worth sharing.  I’ve also been having some fun (and some frustration) trying to find the fonts over at What the Font.

Gevaert Photo Wallet

This one has “Sandhurst 1956” written on it.  Simple three-colour printing with strong sans serif capitals and lower case (possibly Gill Sans – the printing has made it bleed a little), along with a serif font for italics. An odd hierarchy (if that is what it is meant to be) also using an underline.  To me it seems as though the listing on the back is competing with itself and no decisions have been made.  A handwriting font and a family group, complete with child attempting a Bruce Forsyth pose, add a ‘human touch’ to the front of the packet.

SELO Films

I like the strong black and red of this one and the border really has impact.  Within it we have mostly centred layout on the back, but the front design goes a bit haywire.  It sort of works, but I want to move that pile of films over to the left a little and so something with that red list.  I was disappointed not to be able to find the fonts used for this packet.

Ensign LukosI was also unable to pinpoint any of the typefaces used in this design. I like the one colour approach here and the use of gradient.  Even the form on the back doesn’t look terribly out of place.  If anyone has any thoughts about the fonts used for “Print Wallet” and “Have You Seen the”, please let me know.

The woman shown on the inside flap of the wallet is reminiscent of the Kodak Girl – depicted wearing a blue and white striped dress, through several fashion changes across decades, appealing to young women as the personification of photography for everyone.  In this instance it seems a compact camera is being marketed.

Davis 1

What the Font threw up a couple of typefaces for this wallet from Davis (Photographic) Ltd.  The serif font for the body text is quite likely to be ITC Clearface Regular, and the more ornate, ‘handwriting’ style font bears a remarkable resemblance to Forelle MN.  However, with the latter I did notice that the uppercase E was different in the example I found – though all other letters matched.  I am not sure whether this would indicate a change in the original font, if there were several variations, or if Forelle is a copy of this earlier typeface.

The apostrophe doesn’t come as close to the ‘t’ when I type “It’s Simple” either.  We have to bear in mind that this will probably have been printed using set type and that will differ from any digital version or way of reproducing lettering.  I think this will be a useful font for conveying a particular vintage feel (particularly within advertising) and I’m going to keep it on my favourites list.


Dispensing chemists were once the mainstay of photo processing for the domestic amateur.  Whilst Kodak offered a postal service, Boots (and other chemists) provided a shopfront and friendly service.  This wallet harks back to an era when black and white photography was still the norm, but when colour photography for everyone was becoming more popular and affordable.  This will have meant higher costs for printing these wallets and yet the overall design here is not that far away from the two or three coloured examples above, the only full colour section being the  main photograph on the front.  The Boots logo (unusually in red) doesn’t seem to fit the oval left out of the blue background.

It is difficult to date these wallets but this one has a 1950/60s style – the inner design is somewhat reminiscent of the shape of the old television screens.  Familiar fonts were forthcoming this time – Gill Sans for the main body text (including the italic, with its distinctive ‘p’); Rockwell Condensed for the main front heading; and the more quirky font used for “To keep your pictures” gives an excellent match to a font called Adams Regular.  Another for the list.

Finally my favourite of the lot.  Below is another from Davis (Photographic) Ltd and Lawrence Lee has written “1953 France” on the packet.  I do wish more people had (and would) put dates on things, especially photographs.  This wallet has it all – classy cream and sepia colours overpowered by as many fonts and devices as they could think up in an afternoon.  And yet it remains quite well balanced in composition.

The “Your Snaps” font was sadly untraceable but to me it appears very ‘seaside’ in its appeal and I’m sure I’ve seen it (and its variations) many times before.  It ought to be in bold oranges and blues – the whole wallet is screaming out for the excesses of tacky bomblasts and advertising slogans but it’s just too genteel to let itself go completely.

The ‘business card’ below the funky lettering seems rather plain and unfinished because of the busyness of the rest of the page.  On the back is a very unusual font where the letter ‘r’ is made with a stem and a detached stroke.  Again if you think you know what typeface this is, please let me know.  I’m also interested in the decorative font used on the inside of the wallet.  I think the main body text is Gill Sans again, with the first capitals borrowed from this other perhaps.

Davis 2

I have noticed, while peering intently at the letters, that older printing methods, inks and paper stock will affect the apparent shape of their form and I think that in some cases this might have confused the ‘font recognition’ capabilities of the (still wonderful) What the Font site.

Clicking any of the images will take you to Flickr where you can view them at a larger size.  I’d love to hear what you think of these and if you have any insights into the fonts used. Please feel free to share any links to any other examples of photo wallets.

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October 2, 2010

Photographer’s Blues

I’m working on a new blog post but in the meantime I thought I’d share another colour collection with you.

Several years ago, when I was still using film exclusively and before I’d even heard of Flickr (can you imagine a world without Flickr now?) I started to photograph things that were blue.  It was the beginning of a new relationship with the colour for me.  I never really liked blue.  It was my grandmother’s favourite colour (we lived with my grandparents) and there was a lot of it around the house.  It was her colour.   Not mine.  I never wore it, never chose it for furnishings, never sought it out.  This wasn’t a deliberate shunning of blue, but it just wasn’t ‘me’.

In some ways, my ‘blue’ project was all the more interesting for that reason.  It was brand new to me and I collected it fervently.  For a couple of months it became a bit of an obsession – I saw it everywhere.

Proper cobalt blue is described as a ‘cool’ blue and technically it is.  However, as is the case with all colour perception, we are rarely (as observers) all that ‘technical’ about it, and my collection below inevitably shows some ‘warmer’ (towards purple) variations on the theme.  As designers or printers, of course, we need to be more discerning in our descriptions, but we’re not going to get bogged down with that here.

It seems a little clinical on school books and ‘important’ signs, but jollies up dull things like doors and machines.

This blue is now my blue. How do you perceive it?

Cobalt Blue

Some images from my blue collection. One of these was taken on film - when it all began.

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September 6, 2010

Arsenic Green

‘Arsenic Green’ is not an easy colour to describe but for many years it was the very green which, according to John Lloyd and the late Douglas Adams was “supposed to make you feel comfortable in hospitals, industrious in schools and uneasy in police stations” (from The Meaning of Liff, 1983).  I’m not entirely sure it is even called arsenic green – but that is what I call it (and so do a company called Farrow & Ball it seems – actually check out their paint colour names, they have one called Dead Salmon too).

Pantone call it 557 U.

Many years ago, copper acetoarsenite was used to colour things green.  The resulting greens were variously called emerald green, Paris green or Scheele’s green (which is, in turn, also known as copper arsenite).  It was used to colour many things including wallpaper, clothing, paints, even children’s toys and as a face makeup to reduce redness. Of course it was very poisonous.  People died and often in quite alarming ways, frequently in green rooms, and usually by inhaling the toxic fumes that were emitted, particularly in damp conditions.  It has even been suggested that this green pigment was the cause of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte.

And we were worried about lead in paint?

For me, this colour (or more correctly range of colours) sums up dusty old school rooms and sensible books, soft furnishing materials and old biscuit tins at my grandmother’s house, and the thick layers of green paint peeling off my grandfather’s old zinc shed, showing the faded versions of the same colour below.  It’s a definite nostalgia colour – not only for my own childhood, but also for the earlier childhoods I read about in my story books. Faded summers.

In design work I would use it to convey a ‘classic’ feel, particularly in book cover design.

What does it mean to you?

Arsenic Green

I’ve curated a Flickr Gallery to accompany this post.

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June 13, 2010

Turquoise is all in the mind

Business Card

Is this turqouise?

My sister-in-law recently asked me to make her a business card.  I asked her what she would like and she replied “simple butterfly, turquoise shades”.  So I started to look at ways of designing her card.

After a while, and when I was ready to send some ideas to her, it occurred to me that what I thought of as turquoise might not be what she thought of as turquoise.

How many times have you discussed the colour of something, only to have one person state that a thing is blue, and another to argue that it is green?  Does that make it turquoise by default?  It seems not.

Turquoise is a recognised colour related to the turquoise mineral, Pantone has declared the colour of 2010 to be 15-5519 Turquoise, and yet I have heard people declare that colours as blue as cobalt are turquoise.  So do we wrongly call something turquoise because we cannot decide if it is blue or green?  We may never know.  As my friend and fellow designer Naomi Finn has discovered through her recent research into colour, visual perception is very personal.

We will all have to agree to differ from time to time.  Oh, and my sister-in-law loved the card design.

Turquoise is all in the mind

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