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Katherine Caldwell

Illustrated Collections

Portraits by Zoe Photography

By Katherine, 14/04/2014 - 4:09pm

As Illustrated Collections grows I am increasingly shuffling around looking for acceptable images of me at work.

So, last week, I finally met up with the wonderful Zoe Richards of Zoe Photography and we shared in a fun morning of snapping me with my beautiful new watercolour pencils!

Zoe asked me to bring along items that were "me" and relevant to my business, so I brought my trusty 01 and 03 drawing pens, 2B graphite pencil, thin paintbrush, my gift boxes, an Illustrated Collections tee, watercolour pencils... and a hat. I love my hats! Below are just some of the photos that we shot. As you can see we had a great time. With thanks to Oh Me Oh My (Secret Space) Liverpool for allowing to use their stunning dockside premises. And for the most delicious french onion soup afterwards!

And I'm sorry, but the daft ones with my hat are just for me :-)

Have a lovely week everyone and enjoy your long Easter weekends too. X

KCPortrait3

KCPortrait4

KCPortrait5

On Safari!

By Katherine, 15/03/2014 - 2:28pm

So 2014 has so far been one great adventure here at Illustrated Collections HQ and the adventure continued this week...

I am currently working on a wonderful project (all will be revealed soon) where I am illustrating pheasants and other wildlife. Of course, with pheasants being so active at this time of year I saw it as a great opportunity to search out a local reserve and go along with my camera to capture these colourful birds for myself. But first of all, where do I find such a pheasant haven?... Knowsley Hall of course!

I was tipped off by a friend about the pheasants at Knowsley Hall but was unsure about how welcoming they'd be as it is a private, gated estate. However, they were absolutely brilliant and so accommodating, even putting me in touch with gamekeeper John to arrange a time that was convenient for me. I can not thank them enough for the opportunity that lay ahead.

Upon arriving at Knowsley Hall (I brought my mum along!) we were met by John the gamekeeper and his lovely black lab Kip. We quickly got started and set off with our guide in search of the brightest and most beautiful pheasants that we could find. We had been travelling for about 20 seconds when John spotted the first one just next to us at the side of the round. Thinking I could sneak out and creep along to get a close-up I, in my mind, quietly stalked it. Then I noticed that it was already 50 yards down the road! This was to be a lesson for the rest of the day. You can not sneak up on a pheasant so don't even try!

We could not believe how vast the estate of Knowsley Hall was and it took us close to an hour just to partly cover the grounds in John's 4x4. With the sun shining and an abundance of wildlife out and about we felt so privelidged to have our very own nature tour by a seasoned pro. John told us about all the breeds of the many animals that we came across - kestrels, herons, geese, oyster catchers, partridges, red squirrels, pregnant sheep, new-born calves. We were fascinated and could have gladly wandered around the grounds (the largest gated estate in Europe) all day. Little did we know that our biggest surprise was yet to come.

We went off the track slightly and drove across a field where we came face to face with no other than two rhinos! They were from the neighbouring Safari Park and while they had walked away from the public on the other side of the fence, they were right next to us, right on our level on the same patch of grass. We were seperated by a wire fence but I'm guessing that it was electric as it didn't look the strongest. I loved this though as it allowed me to look at them without there being an intrusive barrier between us and on a couple of occasions I looked right into the eyes of the papa rhino who seemed very interested in my presence. He walked between me and his baby but thankfully he remained calm and very, very content and realised that I wasn't a danger.

We took a few final snaps of some pheasants including a purple chested cockbird (male) then began our journey back to our car. I would never have guessed that this project would take me on such a great adventure but I'm so glad that it did. In seeing the pheasants environment and learning about their habits from John, I feel that I have really gotten to know the bird well and when I illustrate my character it will be from an informed and appreciative place. At one point I was also treated to a pheasant argument which we watched for a good 6 minutes as they bobbed up and down, to and fro, fanning their tales in a display of strength to their opponent. Seeing these birds in such glorious weather also gave me beautiful photographs to work from as their bold and plentiful colours could be spotted from far down the road. They seemed to glisten, and the glow of the sun managed to pick out some truly stunning bits of colour. I will look forward to drawing this character very, very, much. 

Pheasant1

Pheasant2 

KnowsleyGrounds

JohnAndKip

Rhino

PheasantsHeron

Pheasant3

Pheasant4

Competition Time!!

By Katherine, 10/02/2014 - 12:01pm

Head over to Twitter and find our competition post for the chance to WIN our special Valentine's bundle! You could be the lucky owner of our framed mini Love Birds print AND a matching personalised card! Winner announced Wed 12th February. Be quick! :-)

Valentine's Special!

By Katherine, 30/01/2014 - 2:47pm

Hi all!

So I have blinked and most of January has gone by in a blur. Anyone else feel like that?! Maybe its because I have had so many new ideas that I have been working on that I have hardly come up for breath. Maybe I'll learn to breathe in February. Or March.

For now, we have a little special Valentine's treat that is sure to show your loved one that you have thought outside of the (chocolates and flowers!!) box this year.

Our Love Birds (framed) mini print is ready to be displayed on a desk at home or in work as a lasting visual token of your appreciation and admiration. The love-birds are hand illustrated by myself from a photo that I took whilst on a visit to Tatton Park, Cheshire. These two birds were inseparable so I quickly decided that they would be my love bird characters, and a much loved addition to the Illustrated Collections.

The certificate of authenticity that accompanies the framed print also reads the following little poem:

"How wonderful it is to be with you,

Just standing here, yes this’ll do.

For there’s no other place I’d want to see,

If you were not standing next to me.

Nobody else’s shadow I’d rather share,

And proudly take it everywhere.

So for a while let us just stand here together,

For surely no place on Earth could ever be better."

Have a wonderful week everyone! Remember, we have extended our FREE postage offer too so you will get this, postage included, for a special price of £25! x

Thank you!!

By Katherine, 31/12/2013 - 10:10pm

This is one of those really boring posts without any pictures so, firstly, sorry about that!

Secondly, THANK YOU to ALL of our wonderful, fantastic customers for making this such a great year for Katherine Caldwell Illustrated Collections and for returning to us again and again to buy your special gifts for friends and family. We are now in the process of making some big plans for 2014 and want you all to come along for the journey, there is sure to be something for everyone and we will once again stick to our super strict environmental policy to bring you the finest, kindest products that this planet has to offer!
 
We will always be thinking what we can do in 2014 to keep this beautiful planet ticking along and thriving. Let us remember in adulthood what our parents taught us when we were small and stick up for what is right, help those who are unable to help themselves, and be the best person we can be at all times. Let us be compassionate and inquisitive, hopeful yet realistic, and above all, love those close to you with all your heart. No resolutions needed. 
 
All the best for a peaceful 2014. Thank you so very much X

Urban Winter Village- An Independent Celebration

By Katherine, 27/11/2013 - 4:55pm

Last weekend I closed up my four day pop-up shop at Liverpool's Urban Winter Village, ready for its next occupant. However, this is a Christmas market unlike those that you are probably used to seeing, for several reasons.

Firstly, and certainly the most obvious, is its appearance. In this Urban Winter Village, shops are made up of shipping containers, and the surrounding area is decorated with jaunty white twigs and a pleasing feeling of space.

There is something also very special about popping-up in a shipping container, especially as Liverpool has such a rich shipping heritage. It seems to fit in a kind of poetic way, and I love the fact that it is just a complete coincidence. It makes it feel as though it was our destiny to have a shipping container village here after all.

After putting all my bits and bobs in my shop it was dark and ready for us to turn on our lights. What emerged is probably my most magical pop-up...

Secondly, this is an unusual concept to the norm, in that the majority of sellers are local independents. And do you know what? They all made me feel so proud to be from Liverpool. Aside from their talent and ambition they are a genuinly great bunch of people. My mum (my wonderful little helper) commented on how "lovely everyone was" and she was right. We were like a little village family.

It was also great to see the guys from Independent Liverpool there, David and Oliver, who are founders of the Independent Liverpool Card. The Card is now hugely popular in Liverpool, with the aim of promoting and supporting our great local independent stores and eateries. We are currently working our way through all of the restaurants on The Card and I am glad to say that we managed to use it twice last week and get ourselves a nice 10% off food from Free State Kitchen and Lucha Libre. It was a first time visit to FSK, which certainly lived up to all of the great things that I'd heard about their authentic American classics menu. Lucha Libre has now become a favourite of mine and Mr. Illustrated Collections so a little discount on our regular visits is a great little incentive to keep returning. You can buy The Card for only £10 and it is valid for a year.

Independent Liverpool (The Card, and locally sourced food hampers)

So, here are the photos and your chance to meet the sellers. The sellers change on a weekly basis, some are staying for the entire event, some just a few days, so keep popping back to see what new things are in store at the Village. Open every day 10am- 8pm Mon-Sat, 11am- 5pm Sun, and continues until December 22nd at Williamson Square, Liverpool City Centre.

Landbaby & Lucy Wilson

 

  

Vintage Fairytale (returning to the village December 9th)

Christine's Cakes (including The Chocolate Cellar's famous hot chocolate!)

Belle & Blue

Cards4Scousers

  

Freida McKitrick (The Printmaker) no longer at the Village but you can catch her at The Winter Arts market St. George's Hall 7th & 8th December.

Craft Creative

Belissimo Boutique

Bliss

Kimmi Design

Tru Organics

The Cargo Lounge by IMIX Events (look out for their festive hot cocktails and naughty hot chocolates! DJ on-site)

 

 

 

Katherine Caldwell Illustrated Collections Popping up for Christmas!

By Katherine, 18/11/2013 - 12:19pm

This Christmas we have a couple of very exciting pop-ups to announce!

Firstly, we will be at the Urban Winter Village in Williamson Square, Liverpool city centre, from this Thurs 21st November.

This village will consist of the finest local designers and producers as well as some national favourites. We will each be in our own shipping container in a shopping environment that will feel cool and modern with the quality of pop-up shops reflecting this. It is free and you are SO welcome to come and browse. I'll be there this Thurs - Sun inclusive starting at 10am. Each night is late night shopping until 8pm and 5pm on Sundays!

Here are the containers arriving early this morning!

Also, we will be popping-up at St. George's Hall's grand Winter Arts Market on 7th & 8th December where you will see more than 200 designers, artists and makers selling their products. This is a hugely popular event with many people waiting to buy all of their Christmas gifts here as there is so much selection, and some real bargains out there for hand-made work. The quality of sellers is always brilliant with all price points catered for. 

So do come and say hi! There will be a few exclusive special offers too at both events so get them in your diary! x

The Making of The Flamingo

By Katherine, 05/09/2013 - 4:47pm

Every Illustrated Collections character goes on a long journey before we get to the final finished illustration that you see before you, so I thought that I'd share The Flamingo's journey with you.

The process began with finding just the right Flamingo. I am never set upon any characteristics before we set out, instead I just wait for that right personality to pop out and say hello to me, then I know that I have my character.

As I knew that I wanted to illustrate a flamingo, we headed to our local wetland nature reserve, Martin Mere in Burscough Lancashire, where I had last visited at 10 years of age. I can still remember that visit and how exciting the whole experience was for me. I have always loved animals and for me visiting the animals made for the best days out.

I also had a thing for gift shops. I just loved a good gift shop and their selection of affordable goodies; bouncy balls, rubbers, pencils, postcards, plastic animals. It was all in pocket money territory and meant that I could bring home a little souvenir of my day. In the case of my visit to Martin Mere it was a personalised badge in the shape of a bear. I've still got it. That was a good day.

Roll on 17 years and I return, this time with my husband and a packed picnic basket.

Our visit was every bit as exciting as visiting as a 10 year old. We rowed our own boat very leisurely along the winding lakes and streams while the sun streamed through the trees and rushes. We then ate our picnic while looking onto peaceful views of the birds gliding on the lake, before going otter spotting. 

As we reached the flamingos I knew that I'd find just the right bird. They all looked so impressive. So I just started taking photos and waiting for just the right bird to emerge.

Flamingo Flamboyance

     

On returning home I couldn't wait to check my photos to make sure that I had just the right photo to work with. I began to sketch out ideas for the design and quickly decided that I wanted to concentrate on the face and neck of the flamingo, any more than that and any detail in the face would be lost. I then found out that in only using the bust I could be more adventurous with the design, embellishing her with flowers in a concept that looked like an elaborate cameo. I decided to keep the flamingo colours muted and subtle, whilst her vibrancy would be represented in the flowers.

After drawing all of the components of the illustration I scanned them into the computer and set about carefully placing them together to create the ideal composition. I then darkened and refined the pen lines, before choosing the colour palette that I would work with throughout the illustration.

This is the longest part of the process and typically takes around a month to complete. At this point I celebrate with my favourite take-out and doing nothing for the next two days!

Now for the printing. I print out all of my designs onto cotton paper as it is the finest that I have come across. It is vital that the paper suits the illustration and this paper is perfect as it picks up every tiny bit of detail and makes it pop.

This time I wanted to do something a little different with the framing of the print and asked my framer to cut an oval mount to try. It went perfectly and instantly gave the look that I wanted. He then ordered an oval frame in bare wood which I painted just the right colour (unpainted white marble).

Then, before putting her in the frame I embossed the print with my little bird logo at the bottom right, and here she is!...

The finished Flamingo, resting quietly and looking beautiful. I hope that you've all enjoyed her story!

Available now in the shop.

Here she is... The Flamingo!

By Katherine, 24/08/2013 - 9:03am

Our new Illustrated Collections character is finally complete and ready to join in the fun! The Flamingo, like all of my characters, went through a very lengthly process to get to the completed version that you see here which incudes photographing just the right flamingo in person, illustrating the design from the photograph with a great deal of trial and error when tweaking features, then scanning in for the final stage of colouring. This final stage always takes far longer than I anticipate as I will underline in my next blog post which shows the whole process in photos and descriptions. You will get an idea for exactly how much of a perfectionist I have become too (which has its good and bad points!) as I have to get every tiny stroke just right. You will also get a look at how I choose my colour palette.

In the meantime I hope that you enjoy your first viewing of The Flamingo. She was a must design for me to do as Flamingos are one of my most favourite creatures in the world. Whose day is not brightened when you see those vibrant, elegant, curious birds. I just love them. And I was lucky enough to find just the right Flamingo for my all important next Illustrated Collections character when on a visit to my local wetlands. Here she is! My beautiful lady.

 

The Summer Arts Market, St. George’s Hall, Liverpool: An Illustrator’s story

By Katherine, 02/08/2013 - 4:58pm

So here it goes… my verdict on exhibiting in one of the most impressive settings in the world, Liverpool’s St. George’s Hall.

I had a great time, a ball you might say. As a seller I rarely get the chance to browse my fellow exhibitors stalls and purchase something from their array of arty loveliness but, with a little extra help on hand at this fair, I was able to. Thankfully.

I was like a bee buzzing around a tasty flowery treat; hand-stitched badger phone-case by Landbaby for only £11, hand-stitched strawberry brooch, £4.50, a ladybird lavender pouch, £2. Value for money doesn’t even cover it! I also purchased a beautiful print and cards by Louise Wright Illustration, and probably the most fascinating card I’ve ever bought from Nicola Taylor. I had a gift bought for me from the incredibly inventive Factory Floor Jewels and eyed-up some Christmas baubles from Freida McKitrick. I could have bought more and now regret not stocking up on more cards from Becka Griffin and The Red Button Press but hey it’s something to pick up at the next one along with my baubles.

      

I mention the above prices too because this is also what fascinated me about the Summer Arts Market. All of the above could be featured in the coolest, chicest urban design boutiques at least double the price that I paid.  This fair had a collection of designers, artists and makers that satisfied even my fussy tastes. Yes I am a sucker for branding, yes I am a designer label kind of girl, but that is because I love high quality materials, believe in ethical manufacture, ensuring that the original designer gets to see the profits, and, investing in pieces that are made to last. So guess what, that means I know quality when I see it. And it was here in abundance.

On this subject I have to mention Buttons & Twine, another seller at the show. This is your one stop-shop for the cutest handmade character toys such as elephants and mice, made from fabulous Italian or Cotswold wool and featuring finishing touches of liberty fabric amongst others.

Natalie Bosworth is another artisan who uses the best quality fabrics to create her wonderfully crafted designs, using mainly the iconic Liberty prints. The quality of finish to her products is exceptional and she also has that all-important branding spot-on with her delicate packing carrying the Bunny Bosworth logo. More products to go on my birthday list!

 

Let’s also not forget that by our artisans sourcing their materials locally (in Britain) they are also boosting our economy and keeping their carbon footprints low. Also, more independent artists are now using eco-friendly inks when using the screen-printing process in their work (such as myself and Louise Wright) and source earth friendly materials throughout other areas of the process. The majority of hand-made products also ensure an ethical chain of manufacture and this is never more obvious than if the maker is sat right in front of you selling the item in person. No sweatshops or short-cuts taken here.

Amy Lawrence Knitted Designs also made me stop for a second, and third look, and I am amazed that I haven’t already spotted her products on Liberty’s shelves.  Her finely knitted and finely structured necklaces were a revelation and I will be adding her products to my now extensive birthday list too!

 

Finally, I have to come back to Nicola Taylor, a self-portrait photographer from North Yorkshire who tells us stories in her photography and this is also where I round off my point about quality and value.

Nicola describes each piece of work as being, “… a labour of love, with up to a hundred images layered together to create a haunting and otherworldly scene that encourages the viewer to explore their own imagination.”

As a fellow artist, who spends an immense amount of my time perfecting every detail of each design and some taking months, I felt a kinship with Nicola in her dedication to her art. In layering up to 100 photographs for one single image you cannot put a price on her work, and this is what I want all visitors to art fairs to understand; the finished article, that tangible object, is not what you are paying for. There is a process, some greater and more complicated than others, but if you understand and respect the process then you will appreciate your purchase even more. It becomes even more precious and enjoyable and, in my case with my purchases from Nicola, you feel that you have incredible value for money as well as your piece having its very own story. A life of its own even. Priceless.

So how do I fit in amongst all of these makers?

As a producer of high-end, luxury, and environmentally friendly clothing and artwork, I have to be careful where I show my work. I keep shows to a minimum and tend to exhibit at the larger occasions such as flower shows, annual large-scale design shows and in venues that I see as fitting to the quality of my brand. This is why the fantastic Grade I listed St. George’s Hall, in my hometown, was a must.

After exhibiting at the Winter Arts Market back in December however, I quickly learned that it wasn’t the building that made the show but the exhibitors who were tucked under its roof and the truly lovely people who came to shop there. It was a celebration of quality and artistry and it felt good to be there with my work, as an artist.

It is sometimes easy for me to get caught up in the duty of orders, paperwork, legal stuff and having to get used to being organised beyond my wildest imagination. Illustrating is at the heart of what I do, it is the heart of my brand and being here I get to tell my customers all about it! I get to tell them about the time I met the Donkey that they see on my t-shirts, and how proud I am of my wonderful eco-friendly printers. They get to hear my passion for nature and my love for my characters. And, they get to see that I am a creative. Amongst lots of other wonderful creatives. And it feels so right.

Surely there is no greater profession on this earth.

Katherine x

My pop-up at the show:

      

Nicola Taylor:

Louise Wright Illustration:

Becka Griffin Illustration:

Bird House Press:

 Factory Floor Jewels:

 Kath Flaherty ceramics:

Red Button Press and Lyndsey Green Illustration:

      

Screenadelica:

St. George's Hall:

      

      

 

 

Summer Arts Market at St.George's Hall, Liverpool

By Katherine, 27/06/2013 - 10:07am

After the huge success of the Winter Arts Market, St. George's Hall, Liverpool, are now hosting the very first Summer Arts Market and we'll be there!

This time however, the two day event will not only be a shopping extravaganza but a fun festival of creative workshops also. Try your hand at screen-printing, crochet, sketching, lampshade making, digital photography classes, and even attend a photo-walk (one of my personal favourite activities). All are very reasonably priced.

There will also be live music and food, all within the surroundings of the magnificent St. George's Hall where you simply can not help but be inspired. 

This really is a celebration of all that is creative so do pop along and come and say hello at our little pop up shop! 

Only £2 entrance fee for adullts, under 16s free, free children's workshops.

27th and 28th July 2013

Illustrated Collections Cow's day at the park!

By Katherine, 02/05/2013 - 5:41pm

When the Illustrated Collections Cow woke up this morning he just couldn't wait to get down to the park and visit his many friends. With the sun shining, and an hour to spare, we made the most of the sun and headed to the park with our sandwiches in hand and change for a lolly ice. He had a wonderful time, and even got to chat with his squirrel friend who was happily munching on some breakfast cereal that a kind passer-by had left for him. The cow also got to do his favourite thing and climb some trees but was less impressed when he got stuck on a fence when jumping to get to the swans. Thankfully I was there to help him down. What a day!

 

 

 

Summer Arts Market at Liverpool ONE

By Katherine, 29/04/2013 - 11:07am

This Summer I will be selling all of the products from my collections at the Liverpool One Arts Market over 6 different days in my own little pop up boutique!

The market is unlike any other in that all of the products are made of the highest quality and showcase some of the finest talent from the Liverpool area. We are a city full of wonderful designers and artists who are coming together in one place over the Summer to allow people to shop in a lovely environment whilst knowing that their purchase is of the finest quality and truly unique. Many people are coming to stock up on gifts for loved ones for throughout the year and many are coming just for the experience!

You will find us next to the Hilton Liverpool on the walkway from The Albert Dock to the Liverpool ONE shopping area (starting near John Lewis). Therefore, if you are coming from outside of the city for the day you are perfectly placed to visit some of the most beatiful attractions that Liverpool has to offer, all within walking distance. Why not bring a picnic and sit on the grass next to the water features running along by the market? This really is going to be a wonderful event so do not miss out!

I will be there on the following dates:

Sat 11 May
Sun 12 May
Sat 8 June
Sun 9 June
Sat 14 September
Sun 15 September

Do pop by and say hi! And for those who haven't been to Liverpool before, maybe make your first visit on one of these dates. There really is so much to see.

Why Organic is always best

By Katherine, 22/04/2013 - 11:28am

I am becoming increasingly concerned with the amount of dangerous substances allowed into the production of clothing. This applies not only to adult's clothing but children's too who are more likely to be prone to irritation due to the delicate nature of their skin. Only this month has yet another retail giant recalled some children's t-shirts due to "a quantity of a 'restricted substance' which exceeds an 'acceptable level'". It is understood that this unknown substance is causing irritation leading me to wonder what on earth is going into our clothing and, furthermore, what these chemicals are doing to our planet. I phoned the store to find out more on the issue but was met with a wall of silence. This has certainly made me think about what I am buying and where I am buying it from even more so than ever before.

Thank goodness we know that there are no nasty chemicals in our Illustrated Collections clothing. Guaranteed. Just lovely organic cotton and environmentally friendly printing inks that care for not only your children but also our planet. Giving you all big hug!

Please note, if you have any concerns regarding product recalls then you can search categories on http://www.recalluk.com/ who also have a special section on recalls affecting children.

 

Our very first GIVEAWAY!!

By Katherine, 29/03/2013 - 8:57am

Over the Easter weekend you have the chance to enter our giveaway to win one of our brand new, fresh from the printers, long-sleeved Giraffe tees!!

Giraffe long sleeve t-shirt

The sumptuously soft Organic cotton t-shirt is made from the thickest, purest cotton that you can imagine; perfect for those days with a chill in the air just like today! Also, the material will breathe comfortably for warmer sunny days making this a perfect all-rounder!

Your gift will come in its very own gift box with Giraffe story inside and you can choose from sizes 6 months 12 months and 18 months.

To enter, go over to our Facebook page and follow the entry details. You also can enter via Twitter where you simply FOLLOW and RE-TWEET the post starting "GIVE-AWAY" to enter.

That's TWO chances to win!! 

Winners will be announced around 5pm on Tuesday 2nd April. 

Good luck!

New website celebrations giveaway!!

By Katherine, 16/03/2013 - 7:58pm

Hello everyone! If you are reading this then you have managed to find your way to our new-look website! We have a lovely shop here where you can buy lots of wonderful items whether you are looking for a really special gift for a really special new born or a unique art print that is guaranteed to never be forgotten.

Celebration calf

Our Illustrated Collections are here to bring a smile to the face of whoever has the pleasure of receiving one of our gifts. People love genuine. People love something that has come straight from the heart. That is what this is all about. You can give a gift that says, "This is how much I love you; more than you will ever know" or "naturally, only the best is good enough for you" and, "do you know what? I actually helped the planet too as this gift is ridiculously environmentally friendly- so I guess that makes me one of the good guys." Bet you didn't know a gift could say all that did you?

Have a look around and be as nosy as you like, you are very welcome.

Ooooh, did I mention, we are celebrating our new look website launch here so we have decided to invite you in on the celebrations. With any purchase (apart from greetings cards) you will receive a FREE Celebration Calf card as a "wahoo!!"

Katherine X

A Christmas wish to you all...

By Katherine, 21/12/2012 - 3:38pm

The Illustrated Collections sincerely want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and all the best for a magical 2013.

Thank you for your wonderful support in what has been a fantastic year. We look forward to what is ahead. Onwards my friends!! :-)

from The Giraffe, The Goat, The Kestrel, The Stag, The Baby Goat, The Donkey, The Liver Bird, The Two Birdies and The Calf (and me!) X

The Unofficial Illustrated Collections Christmas party!

By Katherine, 20/12/2012 - 3:38pm

Burger

Look at what we tucked into at the "Unofficial" Illustrated Collections Christmas Party!!

Thank you Delifonseca for saving us these mighty, mighty burgers so that there were plenty to go around when we arrived. And the addition of Pastrami; c'est magnifique!

After such a great year we felt that there was nothing more fitting than celebrating with the biggest burgers we could find.

Just one question was on everyone's lips afterwards... Dessert anyone? :-) X

St. George's Hall Winter Arts Market - Come on down!!

By Katherine, 08/12/2012 - 8:23pm

What an amazing day the The Winter Arts Market in St. George's Hall in Liverpool! I have so many new customers and old customers returning to see me, how lovely! You are brilliant Liverpool, I look forward to seeing you all again tomorrow. I am also loving exhibiting in such a beautiful setting. Come on down and join in the fun! Running until 5pm tomorrow. x

Katherine Caldwell stand at St. George's Hall

The simple things

By Katherine, 31/10/2012 - 3:26pm

I am itching to show you all my latest illustration that is to be available as a lovely festive art print and greetings card, but for my own copyright protection I have to wait a few days.

If my family's reaction is anything to go by then it is one of the best things that they've ever seen, like, ever ....don't you just love lovely family impartiality? ;-)

As you know I have been working on a greetings card range amongst other exciting things. We have now decided that rather than release The Stag Christmas card and Little Boy and Girl cards on the website, we would wait until the others are finished also then have a special release date for the entire range. This will be within the next couple of weeks but I will post about it as it goes up.

In the meantime, have a great Halloween everyone! The hubby and I have decided that we will be eating chips out of the paper, snuggled up on a bench somewhere, before catching a film at our lovely local independent cinema. Hmmmmm, the simple things. X

Featured in Il Mondo di Ingrid

By Katherine, 25/10/2012 - 10:48am

Today we discovered that we have been featured in Italian childrenswear and lifestyle blog Il Mondo di Ingrid.

The post features lots of photos taken by our lovely photographer Zoe Richards from our summer meadow photo-shoot when shooting "A Collection of Seasons".

It is a great point of reference for anyone wanting to to get a "look book" feel to our collections. So pop over and take a look!

Liverpool Fashion Week

By Katherine, 24/10/2012 - 12:03pm

We had a great finale to Liverpool Fashion Week by showcasing at The Hilton Hotel to a sell-out crowd.

We loved having a pop-up boutique right on our doorstep and were able to just enjoy the whole event from start to finish without worrying if we'd left anything behind or not brought enough stock with us. With the studio only being 10 minutes away, we knew that one of us could always run back. It was a great load off our minds.

The event started with the children's catwalk and finished with some beautifully elaborate couture designs. We were entertained throughout with acrobats, magicians and musicians, as well as munching on some pretty great fish and chips and steak pies! The event was a celebration that we were glad to be a part of and were so pleased to yet again find an audience that both appreciates and covets our collections in equal measure. Thank you Liverpool! 

Exciting updates and the launch of a new character

By Katherine, 16/10/2012 - 12:17pm

Wow, what a busy time it has been here over the past few weeks! Excitingly, we are in the process of expanding our Illustrated Collections brand and will be bringing you more fantastic products in the near future.

Due to popular demand we are also bringing out long-sleeved t-shirts in both existing character designs and new. If you keep checking back over the next few weeks you will probably notice lovely new things popping up.

I am also in the process of designing a greetings card range which will feature some of the animals that you already know and love, and some new characters designed especially for the card collection. We are also busily preparing for our pop-up shop at The Hilton Hotel on Saturday 20th October for the grand finale of Liverpool Fashion Week. Here I will be launching a brand new character, The Liverbird, and there will be chances to win some of your favourite Illustrated Collections Pieces. Purchase tickets for the full catwalk experience and boutique shopping.

About the Liverbird: Right in the heart of Liverpool are two majestic birds sat atop The Liver Buildings and have become one of the most recognisable symbols of the city. It was too wonderful an opportunity to pass, so I decided to create my own Liverbird character, a mixture of several bird species to create the powerful, yet kind and loveable bird that is known as the protector of the city. The design was far more challenging than I could have ever imagined, and I can honestly say that months of work went into the basic illustration outline alone. All of this preparation made it more rewarding somehow when I looked at the finished character for the first time as it rolled out bit by bit from the printer. I couldn't wait to pick it up and hold it up to the light, then suddenly, there it was... my very own Liverbird. I am delighted with the outcome and can not emphasise the amount of close up detail in this print.

Well I think that is everything for now! I am going to carry on designing and making up little stories (my favourite parts of the job) for new exciting characters, each with personalities that I'm sure you won't quickly forget :-) X

Our first ever Christmas card is here!

By Katherine, 02/10/2012 - 12:26pm

Here it is!! Our first ever Illustrated Collections Christmas card! It features our trusty Stag, wrapped up in his woolen scarf with help from his robin friends. He is surrounded by snowflakes in hues of blue that are dotted with genuine sparkling Swarovski elements. The design is Fine Art Giclée printed so is a mini piece of artwork in itself. 

My first batch has already gone out in pre-orders but the second is on its way and there are plenty for all! The card will be available on my website within the next few days and will be priced at £2.90.

So, I hope that you enjoy it! It has been lovely having the Stag around on the build up to the festive season, getting me in the Christmas mood already! And the sparkles are certainly bringing some Christmas cheer! Time for some Christmas shopping now I think... X

Visiting old friends

By Katherine, 16/09/2012 - 8:33pm

Last week I finally got around to doing what I have been meaning to do for quite a while; I re-visited The Baby Goat and The Donkey from my latest Collection that I first photographed a couple of years ago.

I decided that morning that come rain or shine I would make the short trip into Knutsford and see if I could track the two down on their home farm at Tatton Park. When I arrived at the farm I excitedly scoured the various stables looking for either one of my characters when I very quickly came across some young Goats, the same kind that I photographed as new borns a couple of years ago. I realised that it must be one of these three that later became my Baby Goat character but I couldn't quite decide which. However, it was more than enough though to know that each looked happy and healthy so I left feeling very satisfied from my first little friend find. Now, on to find The Donkey.

I went straight to his stable where he cheekily shoved his head toward me for a scratch when I last photographed him. This time though, he was nowhere to be seen. I became concerned as I stepped out and looked onto the grass outside then THERE HE WAS! Safe, and well, and now a proud father of one! Right on cue he spotted me as I approached and began to walk towards me. I must admit that this was quite an emotional moment as with several other visitors around him waiting, he seemed to pick me out of the crowd. After the hours, weeks and months spent developing my loveable character based on this guy, it was like an old friend had come over to say hi. I just wished I could tell him all about it.

The perils of floaty tops...

By Katherine, 07/09/2012 - 12:12pm

I had a little 'incident' today when a horse decided to nibble my floaty top as clearly it resembled something interesting and edible. In the process he managed to take some of my arm with him.

After the initial shock of thinking "That is my drawing arm! I'm screwed!" I soon realised that the injury was not as bad as I had originally mentally panicked about. Then, I looked at the horse and realised that he looked worse than I felt, and was clearly very sorry for his overly excited nibbling. So, all was instantly forgiven. Here is the photographic evidence of a horse feeling sorry for himself.

A hive of activity

By Katherine, 21/08/2012 - 11:49am

Hi everyone! Just thought I'd share some of my latest photos with you.

I went into our garden yesterday for a bite of lunch when I noticed that our wildflowers were a hive of activity! There were so many different varieties of bee buzzing busily around on them, pollenating away. It was great to see!

Also, our wildflower seeds sent to us from Friends of the Earth are now emerging as beautiful flowers. The poppies are beautiful!

I just had to grab my camera and take some photos of our happy little garden visitors. Look out for the cute bumble bee with pollen all over his nose! Have a great week.

Katherine X

Fun ways to use your Keepsake Box #3

By Katherine, 09/08/2012 - 6:04pm

After last week's post featuring our wonderful free parks and gardens, I decided to take my gift box back to my local park and go on a nature hunt!

It needs very little commentary as I'm sure you get the picture! What I will emphasise though is that nothing was picked, it was all found on the floor. No picking!! :-)

Also, a great tip for your nature box is to use it as a mood board for a room that needs decorating. When I posted my first "Fun ways to use your Keepsake Box" blog, I thought of it then as my box of items began to take on such a beautiful range of Summery pinks, balanced out nicely by the earthy stone colours and vibrant greens. However, it was when I made my second post that I truly took inspiration from my nature box into my work, referring to those colours as a great natural palette. The collection of seaside items already had some of my favourite stoney colours and sandy shell hues as individual items, but put them together and BANG!! You have yourself the coolest, most inspirational bit of colour swatching ever... 

How about today's natural colour finds for those looking to decorate with a fresh take on classic English Regency style? X

Visiting your local Parks and Gardens

By Katherine, 02/08/2012 - 1:48pm

On a recent visit to one of our favourite local parks, Calderstones Park in Liverpool, I decided to take some snaps to show you how much beautiful scenery can be found on your doorstep.

In this particular park there are ornamental gardens including an old English Garden, a Japanese Garden, fantastic grass tennis courts, a large playground, acres of grassland and a wonderful large duck pond. What's more, all of this is free.

This applies all throughout the country and you can go onto your local council's website to find your own local parks. If you are a member of The National Trust you may like to see what gardens and parks are available in your area with the organisation.

Exploring your own city's offerings can feel most rewarding. I always feel a sense of pride when I visit my local parks; that I have such wonderful scenery and views right here on my doorstep. They become part of your community and help you appreciate your environment so much more. It is sometimes easy to overlook the wonderful local flora and fauna in favour of an adventure further afield, but don't forget that there will be people travelling from much further distances to come and see your parks too!

I encourage you all to take one day a week out where instead of eating at the dining table, you take your food to the park. Again, you don't have to travel far, but just immersing yourself in that al fresco environment can really bring fun to what would otherwise have been another routine evening. For those with children, I believe that it is important to pass on appreciation for local parks as they serve so many great purposes. For dog walkers they offer fantastic scenery and ample running space for pets, for families they are a football or cricket pitch, for the elderly they are a change of scenery and, for everyone, they are just a lovely place to spend your time. Some of our parks are reportedly unused. I find this so sad as I truly believe that they will be missed when they are gone. Thankfully, we don't have that problem with our local parks as we are certainly a region of dog lovers!

It takes such dedication by local councils to maintain our green spaces. It also provides many much needed jobs for our local horticulturists who get to flex their muscles and bring us some breathtaking plant varieties! So let's show them our appreciation by making that visit just one day a week. And don't forget the camera! X

Butterflies and Dragonflies: The new Collection is here!!

By Katherine, 24/07/2012 - 12:28pm

The new collection in our Katherine Caldwell range will be available to buy later on today.

The Butterflies and Dragonflies collection consists of two new designs: The Baby Goat and The Donkey. As with all of our characters both have a unique story all of their own.

The stories in this collection centre around the Butterflies and Dragonflies and their friendship with the Baby Goat and The Donkey. All of our garments now come gift boxed with a character story inside the lid of the box so are ready to give as a complete gift. This also applies for the A Collection of Seasons range.

Our stories are vital to the illustrations so we thought we'd put them pride of place where they can be read at the same time as opening the box and seeing the character. Whoever receives the gift will get a very nice surprise indeed when opening for the first time!

There is only one garment available in Butterflies and Dragonflies and that is The Baby Goat on a sleep-suit. As he is our snuggly sleeping character we thought that a sleep suit would be highly appropriate! You can buy both donkey and baby goat as prints also and now all prints can be personalised. Just email me before ordering with your requirements.

So here they are...a family shot! Hope you enjoy them and remember all of your gift packaging is free! X

"Butterflies and Dragonflies" Collection to be launched at RHS Flower Show, Tatton park, next week!

By Katherine, 10/07/2012 - 4:22pm

Well folks it's a week until we finally unveil our new Collection "Butterflies and Dragonflies" at The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Cheshire, next week.

We will be there every day that the show is open which is 18th-22nd July and we will be selling all of our A Collection of Seasons range of baby tees as well as new additions. This includes greetings cards to accompany your Illustrated Collections gift and, of course, the new collection. You will find us in the infamous Country Living Pavilion where you are guaranteed to be blown away by the amazing sellers that are going to be there!

The new collection will consist of just two designs this time. I will also launch the new collection here on my website on Tuesday so no one will be missing out!

I just have to share this recent photograph from our travels in The Cotswolds of a beautiful dragonfly that was sitting amongst thousands of others at a lake-side dragonfly haven. It was a magical place and made me so glad that I have chosen these magnificent creatures to be part of my new collection. What a sight. X 

Fun ways to use your Keepsake Box #2

By Katherine, 07/07/2012 - 1:16pm

Hi everyone! As promised I am continuing the posts on how to get the most fun out of your box. I had great inspiration for blog post number 2 last week when we were in the beautiful St.Ives in Cornwall.

Ever since I was a child I have loved going on the beach and collecting pretty shells and interesting stones. I have a box here at home where I put my shell and stone finds from the different beaches that we've been to and it is such a lovely reminder of those special days.

While at St. Ives we went to some wonderful beaches, particularly Carbis Bay, where we attended a friend's wedding. There was something so special about us all going down to the beach on a wonderfully sunny day and taking a stroll in our best clothes, carrying our shoes. I will never forget the gentle sound of the waves as we walked along holding our glasses of champagne. 

A few days later my husband and I discovered the most wonderful little cove with thousands of rocks and stones that let down to a small sandy beach. I quickly went down and excitedly picked through the shells and stones, finding some beautifully unusual pieces to bring home. And, of course, I remembered my Illustrated Collections Keepsake Box! I have taken the smaller finds of the day and arranged them in my box and, if I say so myself, I think that it looks beautiful!

Here in lies idea number 2 for you all. I am sure that you will have wonderful beach memories with your family and will understand how the child-like wonder of finding a pretty shell just laying there in the sand never leaves you. Just think of the fun that could be had spending a day collecting at your local beach, or even on holiday. Those little treasures can be kept in your box for years to come, containing the lovely memory of your beach day, or, you could display the open box in your child's room where they can go back to and play with their treasures. You will never find more beautiful colours than in nature and I find the colours of the sea some of the most fascinating. Go on, go and explore! X

Fun ways to use your Keepsake Box #1

By Katherine, 22/06/2012 - 10:56am

Hi everyone! We have come up with a great idea here at Katherine Caldwell Illustrated Collections: to help give you fun and inventive ideas on how you can re-use your lovely gift box!

As you are aware, we always encourage you to recycle your gift packaging when it is no longer needed, but re-using it is just as great, if not better! I'd love to think that you have extended the life of this lovely box and doing so can be very rewarding...

Over the next few weeks we will post a new idea for what you can collect in your box. This week I am showing you what I managed to collect on a nature walk around my parents' back garden… yes even at my age! And do you know… it was so much fun!! Everyone got involved, helping me find nice bits from the garden floor (I didn’t pick anything, just collected what had already fallen) and then they left the pretty arranging to me. Taking the box to a relatives garden can add to the fun as everyone gets involved and can "ooooooh" and "ahhhhhh" at what your child has found.

This would be such a fun and inspiring activity for you to do with your little ones. See what you can find on a visit to a loved ones garden and help your little one/s arrange it beautifully in your special keepsake box. Just looking at the variety of colour is bound to fascinate children and it gives them the chance to discover nature for themselves. Any flowers can then be dried out and kept in the box along with all of the other finds… what a lovely memory.

Hana Fubuki and other musings...

By Katherine, 13/06/2012 - 10:51am

Well that's the new Collection off to the labellers! And I always like to drop them off myself. I package them up, and prepare for the one hour drive south. However this time, I went in circles for about another hour when I got there around what could be the most gigantic business park that I have ever seen!

It always feels like I'm dropping a member of the family off at a big blue warehouse and saying "Good luck, see you in a few days!" And when I collect them they are much happier than when I left, complete with new fancy labels and looking rather amazing. I actually had someone contact me wanting to place an order from the new collection without even seeing it yet! Nice to know we have some hardcore Illustrated Collections fans out there!

There is so much that I want to blog about this week so I thought that I'd just throw it all into one "weekly blog of bits 'n' bobs". I discovered a new phrase this week "Hana Fubuki" this means flowerstorm in Japanese, used for when there is that much blossom falling from the trees that it creates a snowstorm effect. Check out this picture from National Geographic for just how overwhelmingly beautiful this can look. Of course, the deer just add to the atmosphere wonderfully.

On a completely unrelated topic, if you are looking for a fun day out this Summer then I can thoroughly recommend a Swan Pedalo. Yes, my husband and I took to one this Sunday on a lovely lake in the sunshine. We waved at passers by and generally behaved like two large children. We were surrounded by many genuine ducks and one real swan who, gladly, seemed completely undeterred by the gigantic plastic versions of him. We concluded that it was probably the best £8 that we'd spent all year. XX

Beautiful bespoke gift boxes have arrived!

By Katherine, 04/06/2012 - 12:16pm

They're finally here! Your very own beautifully designed Illustrated Collections gift box. And you get one free with every clothing order! Every Katherine Caldwell garment will be beautifully wrapped in crisp white tissue paper, sourced from sustainable forests. Then, it will be gently placed in one of our new boxes and arrive on your doorstep as a ready made gift. Perfect.

Don't forget, we ensure that our boxes are made by a lovely company who only offer recycled and eco-friendly packaging. Also, every gift box is fully recyclable!

In the coming weeks we will be posting some great ideas on how to re-use your gift box and have fun with your little ones whilst doing so! How about a nature box? Have fun placing your child's nature finds in a safe and special place. A task that you can do together. Or why not use it as a keepsake box? Keeping those little precious momentos of your child's early years? The list goes on. Check back for more detailed and innovative ways to get the most out of your bespoke box.

We hope that you are all enjoying your Jubilee celebrations! Didn't The Queen look radiant at The Thames Pageant? XX

Exclusive Jubilee Colour-me-in pictures for Download!

By Katherine, 01/06/2012 - 10:35am

Here are my special Diamond Jubilee themed colouring-in images that can be downloaded. Just print them off and you've got yourself a treat for kids of all ages! I'll be colouring mine in, as will all of our guests at our Jubilee Party on Monday.

There is a Queen who is stood with the symbols of Scotland and Ireland, and a King who is stood with the symbols for England and Wales. The characters depicted are not historically accurate, just a bit of fun! Just incase your little boys don't quite fancy colouring in a Queen, there is a King as well. However, please don't leave one out, they were both made to be coloured in together so please do print both!

So enjoy! I hope you all have a great four day holiday and have a fantastic time celebrating with family and friends. If you are having a Jubilee party, why not arrange for a prize winning bake-off and colouring-in competition like us. Keep your fingers crossed for me and my Victoria sponge! 

Have a great Bank Holiday XX

Sneak preview!

By Katherine, 26/05/2012 - 10:36am

Well everyone, the time has come!

I had a wonderful surprise when I opened my delivery from the printers to find that we got everything right for the new design first time round. No changes necessary. Wahoo! I did celebrate after looking at the first garment through a half open eye!

So now, as promised, I will show you a little sneak preview of one of the new designs. The above design that I am talking about is part of a new mini collection that I am launching entitled "Butterflies and Dragonflies". It will be available as piece of artwork and as a garment which will be revealed when the collection is launched. The launch will coincide with the release of my new bespoke gift boxes which are available free with every purchase. The official public launch of "Butterflies and Dragonflies" will be at the RHS Flower Show, Tatton Park, Cheshire on 18th July and will run until 22nd July. It will also be available here on the website at this time.

So here it is ... ssssssshhhhhhhh he's sleeping ...

Getting snappy!

By Katherine, 18/05/2012 - 11:54pm

I just thought that I would share a few photos with you, taken recently on a couple of family days out at two beautiful locations near to where I live - Arley Hall and Gardens in Northwich, Cheshire, and Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire.

I always take my camera with me when going to lovely rural open spaces because you never know who or what is going to pop up for a visit! Also, I take a great deal of inspiration from these random moments when creating my artwork for my designs. Certain characters stick with me and I love to reflect their personalities in my illustrations and boy do some of them have HUUGE personalities! Just look at that well-fed squirrel posing for the camera from Dunham Massey! He may be an illustration of the future. And of course it was a pleasure to see the gentle deer there too. I nearly filled my memory card just with deer photos.

I've had a good run with squirrel photos as you can see from the close-ups that I managed to get of the baby squirrel at Arley Hall. He seemed perfectly content with me being there, even when I followed him to his secret stash of nuts! You will see more of my friends captured on days out particularly in my next collection and I can't wait to tell you all about it! Not long now peeps :-)

I love never knowing what photographs that I'm going to come back with and I encourage you all to take your cameras with you this weekend and see how creative you can get! Oh, and don't forget the Katherine Caldwell philosophy: Always take a picnic!

Katherine Caldwell in The Green Parent magazine

By Katherine, 12/05/2012 - 4:38pm

More great news for Katherine Caldwell Illustrated Collections today as I received my copy of The Green Parent through the door and found that we are featured in it!

We are in the Ethical Fashion section and have been kindly selected by the editor to feature as a business that goes "the extra mile". And that is also the title of our feature!

It is lovely be noticed for the fact that we do go that extra mile; from where the cotton is picked to using luxury FSC certified swing tags. I always stress that we never cut any corners here. When we say that we are a true ethical luxury brand we mean it sincerely. We want to spread the word and shout from the roof-tops about our amazing products and this article is certainly helping us to do that!

This feature is the June/July issue of the magazine so will be available to buy now. You will find The Green Parent stocked at Boots, Waitrose, Sainsbury, WH Smith, M&S, Organic Supermarkets, Health Food Stores and many Baby Shops throughout the UK. This month there is a special promotion at Boots where you will receive your FREE Family Festival Guide. I highly recommend this for all families out there with a great sense of adventure. It is amazing the variety of festivals that we have now and how they seem to offer something for everyone. Just keep your fingers crossed for the sunshine and you've got yourselves a perfect Summer adventure!

Exhibiting at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park!

By Katherine, 09/05/2012 - 11:44am

Great news this morning! We have been invited to exhibit in the Country Living Pavilion during this year's RHS Flower Show, Tatton Park, Cheshire!

You will be able to buy from our Collection of Seasons range and, excitingly, we will be launching our new collections there too! I will give a sneak peak on the website as to what is in store very soon so stay tuned and keep checking back.

The show will run from July 18th - 22nd and is set to be THE North West event of the year, so don't miss out. Don't forget ladies, it's Ladies Day on Thursday 19th July so get as dressed up as you like and don't forget your hat! I'll be wearing mine!

XX

A Collection of Seasons: photo-shoot with Zoe Photography

By Katherine, 03/05/2012 - 4:40pm

After posting about the importance of wildflowers to the bee population a few days ago, it reminded me of our wonderful wildflower meadow photo-shoot taken last Summer.

When it came to choosing the photographer we knew straight away who we wanted - the wonderful Zoe Richards at Zoe Photography who did such an amazing job of photographing our wedding. We have had many enquiries about our photo imagery and I am glad to pass on Zoe's info to you all because I know that you will love working with her. Zoe, like us, also has a very strong ethical policy which you can view on her website along with many examples of her work.

As for the location, well, we went back to our wedding there too! I remembered that there lay a wonderful meadow on the long drive up to Speke Hall so it was decided that that would be the ideal setting for our A Collection of Seasons range. I cannot describe how beautiful the gardens of Speke Hall are when the flowers are in full bloom. After taking our wedding vows in the Great Hall, we walked out to sunshine and the most amazing backdrop that we could have wished for. Just look how vibrant the colours are. And, of course, Zoe was on hand to capture the moment perfectly.

Roll on a couple of years and we went back, along with Zoe and our five wonderful babies (and their lovely mums), to shoot in the most naturally flowered meadow that we could find. It was truly beautiful. Furthermore, our baby models were AMAZING and stayed smiling all day, posing perfectly for the camera. Have a look at the wonderful images that Zoe captured below*, and meet our A Collection of Seasons stars.

*Please note that all images have been cropped for the web and do not reflect Zoe's original compositions.

Help our busy busy bees... for free!

By Katherine, 30/04/2012 - 5:52pm

Just spotted this great chance to help our dwindling bee numbers by planting your own bee-friendly flower seeds – available for FREE from the Friends of the Earth website. I am a huge bee lover and do all that I can to make my garden bee friendly (see above photo taken in my garden of bees enjoying the lavender). You will always see them in my illustrations too! There is something so special about seeing a variety of colourful creatures in our gardens at this time of year – bees, ladybirds and caterpillars amongst many, and I for one would like to do my bit to keep their numbers up.

We mustn’t underestimate the value of bees to us, and their place in our lives - they pollinate over 75% of our plants, allowing the fruit and vegetables that we eat to grow. Without pollination, plants will not set fruits or produce seeds and both our farms and our countryside will suffer greatly. Bumblebees collect nectar from a restricted range of plants so lots of general garden flowers will not do. Wildflowers are essential to their survival and sadly; wildflower meadows are now in decline. *

There is a common misconception about bees being dangerous. They should not sting you unless roughly handled*, so let them go about their business and you can enjoy their presence peacefully. My mum has told me stories of growing up opposite a farmer’s field and how she’d gently cup her hands around bees to hold them. Although I wouldn’t recommend this, as it is better for the bees to be left alone, it showed me how gentle they really are.

So go on – get your essential free bee-friendly wildflower seeds today. You don’t even need a garden; they will grow in pots and planters too. And don’t forget – always use peat free compost! You’ll be buzzzzzing with your find . . . okay, sorry!

*Information from Friends of the Earth and the Royal Horticultural Society.

A Giant Party

By Katherine, 25/04/2012 - 11:48pm

This weekend I witnessed what I am sure will be one of the greatest spectacles that I will ever see. For three days we followed three Giants around my home city of Liverpool in the grand event that was The Sea Odyssey Giant Spectacular. The Liverpool landscape has never looked so impressive as we followed them on their journey around Stanley Park, Goodison Park, Anfield, St. George’s Hall, The Liver Buildings and The River Mersey. Crowd numbers soared beyond all expectations and for those three days it felt as though the whole city was lifted into a fairytale that we didn't want to end.

I became enthralled by their journey – of one Uncle’s one hundred year long quest to find the lost letter that his brother wrote to his little girl before his death on the Titanic. As he searched the oceans, he finally found the wreckage and dragged back the lost crate of undelivered letters across the ocean floor. This story culminated in the journey through Liverpool, the final leg of his journey, to return the letter to her; the “Little Girl Giant”.

The surprise star of the show was undoubtedly the little girl’s dog, Xolo – drooling over and sniffing the half million people who turned out in awe to catch a glimpse. The interaction between all of the characters was just magical but it was the inclusion of the dog giant that made this so relatable. As the crowds lined the streets to guide the family back together again, Xolo the dog ran along with excitement, frequently remembering to stop and wait for the Little Girl. When he saw The Uncle again for the first time he greeted him with a wagging tail and puppy-like excitement, and when the reunited family slept he put on a gentle record to wake them up in the morning. It was this reunion of the characters that was to become the highlight of the event, with a touching moment between the little girl and her Uncle as they embrace after his one hundred years away.

The story was really a simple one; of reuniting the pieces of what is left of a family, but it was the inclusion of us the spectator that made this so poignant. As the Giant made his way to the Town Hall before being reunited with his family, the Lord Mayor and the leader of Liverpool City Council, Joe Anderson, greeted him on the balcony. The Giant bowed before them and Joe Anderson stated the following:

"The spirit of our people and city will guide you to find the Little Girl and when you do we will join you in celebration. We wish you well."

As the crowd cheered the Giant set on his way.

I salute you Royal de Luxe for a fantastic show and for bringing such beautiful innovative creativity to our city. The puppeteers, or “Lilliputians” as they like to be called, maneuvered The Giants with such precision that they could have been living breathing beings. It reminds me of one of my favourite ever scenes in a film – the closing scene in imaginative French film Micmacs. It centres on the quiet diminutive character of Petit Pierre as he comes to life through his mechanical creations. The final scene shows him sitting back and watching with a smile as a white dress dances in front of him (it's at the very end of the trailer below). She is not simply a dress on a hanger - but his true love – a graceful lady who he looks at with adoration as she twirls carefree. It is magical and beautiful.

 

Jean-Luc Courcoult (creator of The Giants and co-founder of Royal de Luxe) began his creating career in a similar way to Petit Pierre, making characters out of household objects. It makes me wonder what Petit Pierre would dream up if he could work on the scale of the Giants. Now that is a project that I would love to see! 

We will never forget the care and attention that was put into treating these Giants as equals – Lilliputians gently stroked their hair to fix it after a long nights sleep and changed the Little Girl into her night clothes after a busy day. For such huge characters (The Uncle measured 50 feet in height) they were treated so preciously with gentle affection. We could not help but become part of it. As they waved during their goodbyes along the River Mersey it was like saying goodbye to three friends.

This was as full and complete a performance of anything that I have ever seen. Hugely complicated manouvers such as the Giant 'leaping' the great arch in China Town and emerging from the River Mersey were not seen as unneccessary, nor was it seen as too difficult to pull off. These added bits of care and attention left you feeling that no stone was left unturned. This is something that I try to apply to my work and my brand every day - put everything you can into it, and don't cut any corners. Every piece has to be the best that you could possibly offer. And with every piece there is a little bit of me in it.

So thank you Royal de Luxe for sharing your vision with us and taking every one of us on the journey with you. You have left a giant sized footprint in our hearts, and life feels a little richer today.