Monday, March 30, 2020

Belkıs Aksu - Contemporary Illustrator & Artist

Happy Monday guys! Today I want to introduce Belkıs Aksu, an extraordinary artist and illustrator I got the pleasure of meeting in person in my hometown. 

Hello Belkıs and welcome to the blog!
1. Can you please introduce yourself?

I am an illustrator based in Skopje. I am a curious person about being creative, social identity of current age and philosophy of science. I love drawing daily life moments, riding my bike, playing video games, reading science fiction, sharing my creative process and teaching workshops. 
I studied Philosophy for my bachelors, Advertising for my Masters and went to a Graphic Design School.

I love drawing, so I have dozens of sketches and drawings even from my childhood. They really help me find my style and they inspire me. I check some of my old sketches from
time to time so that I can see my way of thinking and the journey of my technique.

2. You earned your bachelor's degree in Philosophy followed by a master’s in Advertising. How are these two things connected with your present work as a graphic designer and illustrator?
Studying philosophy was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It completely changed my way of thinking, it helped me become a better person and it is still helping me to stay motivated and creative.

I think the works of Wittgenstein and Plato affected my way of thinking and creating. There are a couple of periods where through their works they present new doctrines. This way of
thinking reminds me that I can alter my way of thinking and thus improve it. This also applies to my production style.

As advertising is concerned, I decided to study Advertising when I was working for an advertising agency. As I was already working in the field, I wanted to learn more from an academic perspective. I am glad I did it. I’ve learned how to communicate with my audience and now I am using illustration to do it and express and transfer my messages.

3. Can you describe an ordinary day working on your art?
My working process has so many layers. For commissioned illustrations, I talk with my clients, do research, draw sketches, prepare color schemes, prepare ad campaigns, etc. 
I make preparations for my workshops. I have an online shop where I sell my printed and printable goods. Twice a week I send my orders and spend most of my day packaging and going to the post office. I am running my own company so some days I just need to work on paperwork etc.

4. What part of the process is the most enjoyable?
Drawing sketches is my favorite part because it helps me find new ideas. If I draw for myself, I focus on the message I want to convey and develop it with the help of sketches. If I create for a client, after I get the brief, it is a perfect way for me to work on the brief and develop it.

5. What art supplies are the favorite to work with?
Watercolors, colored pencils, gouaches and a drawing tablet.

6. Is there a particular place where you like to work?

I love spending my time in our tiny apartment, so most of the time I am working from home. I also love to go to local coffee houses and city park with my sketchbook.

7. What are the perpetual, recurring motifs that you enjoy using in your work?
In my illustrations, I love using floral shapes, architectural details and traditional motifs but in  geometrical versions. I like to simplify objects and recreate them in my own style.

8. What do you do in your free time?
I am drawing for myself mostly, experimenting.

9. Your plans for the future? Any upcoming exhibitions?
I will create illustrations for children’s books in the near future. I am working on my own architectural illustration book project, too. I am also working on an exhibition about cultural habits as an expat.
10. Tips to share as an independent artist?
Use your own background to express yourself. It is the most fun and powerful way for me and I hope it will work for you, too. If you want to build your own illustration style, draw a lot, experiment a lot and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

Thank you Belkıs for joining us with our morning coffee today and for being an inspiration! All the best with your future endeavors! 

If you are interested in seeing more of Belkıs's amazing art and support her, visit her shop and instagram.

To help elevate quarantined spirits up, Belkıs has a couple of free downloadable coloring pages for you to enjoy and color.

Friday, March 27, 2020

How to Style Photos for Crochet Jewerly

Today I want to share some ideas and tips how you can make your crochet jewelry photos more attractive and appealing by using inexpensive props and creating a story behind it.

I mostly make romantic, vintage-inspired jewelry which greatly influences the background for my pictures. Thus, I follow the feel it dictates and work around it. 

Props I use
1) Cards, letters, envelopes, tags, print, music sheets
During the years I have collected an amazing number of cards, letters, tags and prints I love adding to tune in with the jewelry in question. There are lot of free printables on instagram. For instance, my vintage ladies cards, some sheet music and the vintage letters are from there.

2) Dried, fresh, artificial, fabric or paper flowers
Flowers of any kind do beautify and make a photo richer. As I am crazy about flowers, I do tend to include them constantly in my photos. 
3) Candles, tea lights, cute perfume bottles, colored glass cups or vases are also interesting props to be added. 


4) Laces, ribbons, doilies, buttons and beads add a lovely charm to the overall effect.
5) "Organic props" as I like to call them, include pine/fur cones, chestnuts, pebbles and stones, feathers and shells.  


6) Other pieces of jewelry, wooden (or other ) jewelry boxes, jewelry dishes and holders.

7) Books and magazines.

The background I almost exclusively work on is white and it is this heirloom crochet tablecloth I've inherited from my grandmother. It has become a kind of insignia for my work.  Styling photos in a certain way tends to become your signature you will be recognized by.

When styling a still photo, I suggest you gather materials / props that you think would match and emphasize the jewelry more, but not steal the focus for the jewelry piece in question.

Work around with different props, pile them up, scatter them around until you are satisfied with the look. 

For example, these are the props I used for the intro photo of this post: since this necklace is gentle and romantic, I chose to include a vintage letter, added a dried rose as a continuation of the story of the rose necklace. In that same line I added the metal caps and pearl beads - because they are also part of the necklace. To add more texture and spread more of the general color of the necklace (red/burgundy) I added the dried flowers bouquet over the vintage flower cardboard. And lastly, the lovely vintage card of a lady I love using over and over again. 

I hope you find these tips interesting and inspiring. I would love to read your ideas about styling still photos. What props do you use?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Crochet Flower Egg Holders - free pattern

Every year I love to create something unique for Easter - crochet-wise, and cozies being ones my heart is fast attached to, I designed these flower holders that are easy and so fun to make.

1. Sport yarn and a 1.9mm/2mm hook 
2. Tapestry needle for weaving in ends 

Stitches (American terminology): chain (ch), slip stitch (sl st), skip (sk), half double crochet (hdc), double crochet (dc), picot.

Foundation and round 1: ch6 and join to make a ring. Sc12 in ring (12).
Round 2: ch2, sk1, sk1 in next st. (6 chains) Sl st in first chain.
Round 3: in first chain-space, ch3 (counts as the 1st dc) then dc3 (all in the same chain - there should be 4 dcs). Dc4 in next chain. Repeat this pattern for all chains. Sl st with 1st dc at the beginning to finish round.
Round 4: ch3, sk1, sc1 in next stitch. Repeat this pattern around (12 chains)
Round 5: in first chain sc1,dc3,sc1 (later I will refer to this as a "fan"). In second chain hdc1. Repeat this pattern around. sl st into very first chain to end round.
Round 6: ch4 and hdc1 on the top of the "fan". ch 4 and hdc1 on the hdc st from the round below. Repeat this pattern around. Sl st into 1st ch to end round. (12 chains again)
Round 7: sc3 in all chains. We created little "fans" again.
Round 8: ch5, sk 2 fans, sc in next st. Repeat this pattern around (6 chains). Do not sl st in 1st ch.
Round 9: Ch 4 to make a picot and sc in next chain. Make another 4-ch picot and sc in the same chain. Repeat the pattern from the beginning until all chains are picotted. Sl st, pull tail and weave it. 

I hope you enjoy working on your flower cozies.
I wanted to add a video of myself making these, but couldn't find the thing that is attached on the camera to hold it on the tripod, although I turned the house upside-down, so I guess I will have to buy that thing. 

On that note, would you be interested in seeing the video about this pattern?

This pattern comes as a gift pattern with all my Easter Egg Cozies patterns on Etsy

Monday, March 23, 2020

Easy Easter DIY Ideas on Instagram


This year, Easter is going to be a lot different with people being isolated at home, but that should not stop us decorating and bringing a pinch of the Easter spirit to our homes. 
For this inspirational Monday, I selected some easy to do ideas from Instagram that can be used with things you have at home. 


 Via   Via

These are lovely ideas where you can draw faces and put real or artificial flowers as chaplets, then doodle and draw various shapes, or write simple, warm messages like: Hope, Risen, Blessed, Faith, Easter onto stark white eggs.

 Via Via

Use paper or cotton napkins to make bunnies as table decor.


Crocheters might use this idea for a unique Easter egg decor.

And lastly, turn an old and rusty watering can into an eye-catching door decor!

I hope you like my selection! Do drop by on Wednesday. I will be sharing a free Easter egg cozy crochet pattern.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Spring Flower Blanket - a crochet pattern

Happy spring all!

I am happy to finally being able to show you this little pretty that has been waiting to be finished for more than 2 years. So our self-isolation has prompt me to work more on my unfinished crochet projects. So I  fished it out and finished it, and boy, am I glad I did! It felt nice being productive in this grim time for all of us. 

For this blanket I used a variety of colors because I wanted it to provoke joy and happiness. Doesn't spring do that? 

I have the pattern for this one in my shops:  etsy and ravelry.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Crochet Roses Necklace


In my last post I shared a glimpse of the crochet roses and buds I've made recently and now I have them huddled up to make a beautiful, beaded romantic necklace.

What have you made lately? 
If you are in self-isolation and wondering what to do with your time, I share some creation boosting tips here
Take care and stay safe!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Creative Ideas: How to Fill Your Time in Self-Isolation

Schools have been locked down as of last Wednesday here and this is day 6 as we are all in self-isolation due to the Covid-19 or simply known as the corona virus. Following the prescribed measures of the government, only pharmacies and supermarkets work here with reduced operating hours. 

We are bound and united together by a grave global experience, which I hope will make us even stronger. I pray for a good outcome.

Staying isolated for longer periods has a negative effect on both mental and physical health. Social isolation impairs the  immune function and boosts inflammation which can lead to a number of diseases. But how do you deal with it when you must isolate yourself  faced with a virus outbreak? 

I have read so much on the topic, I feel my head is going to explode. I am sure you have too. Hence, today I am focusing on the brighter side of self-isolation and sharing ideas how to fill your time.
1) Start and / or finish crochet, knit, embroidery, craft projects. Plan and design new ones.
This past week I managed to sort out my UFOs and decide which one will be finished and which ones have to be abandoned as an idea altogether. Keeping the list ordered I even managed to finish my flower baby blanket that has been waiting half-finished for maybe 2-3 years and write the pattern for it. Also I started a new project I am not going to spill the beans about yet, but I can show you a glimpse of the flowers I made so far. 

You have the free pattern for the roses here

I recently purchased Alisa Burke's Paper Textiles tutorial and this week I am going to finally start with it. She has a ton of her tutorials marked down for the current situation, so do drop her a visit. Will update on that one. 
2)  Try a new recipe or make one yourself
I haven't been rather inventive when it comes to meals and I've mainly cooked my kids' favourite meals, but I am eager to try this red kidney beans salad. Do you have a fave recipe to share?
3 - 4) Read books and watch films
Reading books and watching films have always been an immense creative booster for me. A real spring-board for ideas. Thus my Little Women collection sparked re-watching the new release of the film. 
We re-watched Contagion again, with the kids this time so that they can try and comprehend the gravity and the seriousness of the current situation. Yesterday we saw 1917. A beautiful film. I recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.


During the past year, I enriched my library with tons of books. The top 2 shelves contain my new books and half of them are still not read. I am currently reading Do No Harm by Carol Toplski and because I cannot settle for anything less, I recently became more active on an online book club where I read and reviewed Hallowed Ground by Cindy Ziperman.

4) Spring-clean your closet
De-clutter and sort out clothes. I am slowly going through this one. I selected pieces I am going to use in textile projects and washed / prepared the others to be taken to the Red Cross, when the situation gets to normal.There's still a heap to be decided on. 
5) Re-arrange craft supplies
This will probably take me ages and more storage space that I can imagine. But I am working on new ideas for organizing my shelves and bringing under control my yarn and bead collection. 

6) Exercise and pamper yourself
Being stuck at home doesn't mean you have to abandon your exercising practices. There are a lot of youtube videos you can watch and exercise along with. Being humped over a crochet project I regularly do my stretching exercises, crunches and planks. This is the time to dedicate yourself to a little self-care. Maybe try on a new face wash or body butter? I have a board on pinterest where I pin organic homemade products you may want to check out.
7) Play card-board games - especially if you are with kids because of the enormous health benefits these games have. Read more here.

What is the current situation like in your corner of the world? How are you dealing with it? Any tips to add to my list? 

Trivia: Did you know the origin of the "Keep calm and..." posters? Well, I didn't. Learn more about it in this beautiful video here.

Disclaimer: none of the links I have in this post are affiliated. All opinions I have given are my personal ones.