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

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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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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May 21, 2010

When it’s all over

Interview Day

Not miserable, just concentrating on getting the sign in the shot

Just over three years ago I went to the University of Portsmouth for an interview for a place on the Communication Design BA Hons (now Graphic Design) degree course.   I was delighted to be accepted on the day of my interview.  I don’t look very happy in the photograph, which I took just afterwards, but this was my third or fourth attempt at getting the sign and myself in the shot.

Three years later and I have just handed in my final project work and done my viva presentation.  That’s it.  It’s all over apart from our summer show which we will start working on in June.

I have had a brilliant time at university.  In some respects I wish I had done it years ago, but I know that I would not have had the same experience as I have done if I’d done a degree when I left school (in nineteen … I’m not telling you!).  I didn’t know what I wanted to do then and I would have ended up taking a subject because I was good at it or choosing a university because of the city it was in.  Nothing wrong with that, but I know I wouldn’t have got the best out of the experience.

As a mature student I have loved every minute – now that I have a vague idea that I might know what I want to be when I grow up.  I had always felt that making images was meant to be a ‘hobby’ and not something I could have as a career.  It’s a shame that people are sometimes made to feel that the creative path is not worthwhile.  It is.  And I’m so glad that I made the decision to take it, even though I waited a long time to do so.

Steep Climb

It's been a steep climb at times but I've not been on my own

That’s not to say it has all been plain sailing.  Not at all.  It’s been hard work and at times very stressful, but most definitely worth it.  And I’ve been lucky enough to make some great friends along the way.  In most cases I am old enough to be their mother but that doesn’t make any difference.  We’ve all been on the same journey together and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye when our summer show is all over and everyone goes back to wherever home is.  Hopefully we will keep in touch.  There is always Facebook these days and at least we will get to hear some news from time to time that way.  Some I imagine will go on to work together, and some of us will be back for more!

I’m not ready to give up being a student.  I have decided that I want to continue and do the Masters degree.  I have some ideas about what I would like to do after that but I am very aware that plans too far ahead are not always a good thing.  So they’ll stay as rough ideas for now.  I have some definite outside interest in some of my degree work so I’m hoping to develop that further, which is very exciting, and I have some personal projects on the go which I can now spend a bit more time on over the summer.

So it’s mixed feelings at the moment.  I’m glad all the end of year stress is out of the way and my work is in, but also I know I am going to miss being there.  I’m still trying to switch off, but find that I’m still on the lookout for anything related to my projects.  One minor annoyance was that after three weeks of almost daily visits to supermarkets on the lookout for early cherries to photograph, I drew a blank, only to find they arrived in the shop three days after hand-in.  They weren’t essential but I had hoped to include a real cherry with the variations that I had created for my logo cherry.  Such is life.


March 12, 2010

Coming soon …

Under Construction

Under Construction

I’ve finally completed the skeleton of my new website.  This means that the basic framework is in place and the ‘photography’ and ‘information’ sections are laid out with external links.  All I have to do next is complete the ‘design’ section of the site.  I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to tackle that part, and I really need to figure out what I want to put on there first!

What should go into an online portfolio and what is the best way to organise diverse styles of work?

It’s tempting to put everything I’m happy with onto the site (and into my physical portfolio), but according to adigitaldreamer, this would be a mistake.  In their article, Graphic Design Portfolio Creation, they suggest that quantity over quality is a bad idea.  This makes perfect sense of course, but sometimes when you’re up against a deadline (we graduate this summer) and eager to get everything sorted out, it is easy to forget these simple considerations.  So maybe I won’t include all the business cards, price list and posters I made for an aromatherapist, but just the logo I created which is the focus of the design.  Perhaps not every page of the calendar I produced for a florist needs to be on the website for visitors to wade through.  We are taught that ‘less is more’ when designing so I will keep that in mind when I put together the final section of my site.

The advice from Positive Space blog in their Students, nothing is perfect especially your portfolio post suggests that we can hold ourselves back from success by trying to make everything perfect from the outset.  This is good common sense advice.  They counsel that prospective employers realise you are ‘entry level’ designers – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to make your portfolio the best it can be, but don’t beat yourself up because it doesn’t look like something Neville Brody might carry around.  Another reason not to try to cram a site full of too much work.

Finally (for today’s musings at least) some technical information that I need to get my head around.  My first port of call is the aforementioned Positive Space blog whose post, 10 practical SEO tips for your portfolio is a good starting point (now that I know what SEO stands for – it’s Search Engine Optimisation, but you knew that already didn’t you?).  I can see I’ve got a lot of reading to do but I’m sure it’s not difficult – just new (to me).

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