Thursday 3 November 2016

Recharging my batteries - 2 day break in Cornwall

Yesterday morning I left the house at 8.30 am and drove all the way to Falmouth in Cornwall. It only takes two hours but I've not been back to Falmouth for years. I decided to go alone as I had a need to recharge my batteries after having spent what has seemed like months and months in my studio in solitude working on lots of new books. My partner and daughter were fine about me going away for 2 days and told me to enjoy myself. I occasionally go to London for meetings but haven't ever gone off like this alone on a mini adventure for years and years. I had a wonderful stimulating time and it was just what I needed. I walked around Falmouth, Penryn and Flushing, looking at new undiscovered streets, cafes, boats, art galleries etc...  It felt so good being somewhere new. I didn't take any work with me and I made a concerted effort not to check emails. I'm now back at home and have made a promise to myself to get away more! Here are some of my snapshots. Some of the coloured houses reminded me of when I lived in Hanover in Brighton - my first terraced house was pink with turquoise window boxes.

Friday 21 October 2016

Jane Foster's Screen Printed Toy Santas

I designed this toy Santa a few years ago now and although I've designed a few more Christmas toys since, I still love my first design so have launched it again for this Christmas over in my ETSY shop. It began life as a simple fine line drawing using black ink before being exposed onto a silk screen for me to screen print onto fabric in my studio. I hand print, make and stuff each one individually making sure each one is in perfect condition. These are great for popping into a child's stocking - my daughter still loved the one I made for her.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Becoming a minimalist - Jane Foster

I usually listen to TED talks whilst I'm working in the studio and for some reason, I've gone through a phase of listening to lots and lots of them recently, end on. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a TED talk about minimalism with Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus .It struck such a chord with me that I've not been the same since. I then went on to watch a documentary on minimalism that was shown all over the States. I suddenly realised that this was how I wanted my life to become and that for years and years now I've been going down the wrong path! (I'm very hard on myself and I'm saying this slightly tongue in cheek!). I believe that often in life there's a readiness to when we're ready for change so coming across this new way of living has coincided with me having found true happiness and contentment with my career at last.  - Let me go back twenty years or so ago  -  I studied for 6 years after my A levels (5 years at music college and then one year PGCE) before spending over 2 years abroad volunteering in Cambodia with VSO. I remember at the time my thoughts were to volunteer with VSO before I got into the possible trap of having a UK job and possessions etc.. - I thought it was perfect timing as I'd not been used to a wage and so therefore wouldn't miss not having one. I'm so glad I went abroad for those years and to some degree, they were two incredibly happy years as I was doing something that felt worthy, I was challenging myself in many areas, I was free, had exciting new experiences, made fabulous friendships and created my own entertainment as there wasn't any electricity (I had a generator that sometimes worked) I didn't have a phone or TV or not even any hot water. (and the cold water we did have had to be distilled every day). When I later returned to the UK and got stuck into various teaching jobs, I began to slowly (or perhaps sometimes quickly!) fill my life up with 'stuff'! I guess as I'd not been used to earning money, whenever I did have any extra salary, I bought things for my home and gradually accumulated various collections of anything I could find, ranging from old furniture from car boot sales, ceramics, vintage fabrics, records, books etc... I then became a home owner and had all the costs that owning a home incur such as renovating, painting, new bathroom etc.. ......... twenty years later and living in my fourth home at the age of 46, I now realise that very little of what I was spending my money on matters. I'd spent years defining myself through my belongings and now that I've somehow arrived at a place in my life where I'm happy in my everyday life and what I do (that is illustrating and screen printing for a living) I no longer need to spend money on filling my life with any more stuff but am now ready to do a lot of letting go and culling.
I've made a huge start with the long process of culling stuff in our house  - my partner is thrilled as he says he's always been a minimalist at heart (never buying possessions apart from the odd Grand Designs magazine as a treat!) and that I'm the one who has been the hoarder!
I've gone through each room, drawer, cupboard (and yes, have also read the Kon Mari method!) I've been ruthless, only keeping things that we use or love. I've felt lighter each day as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I can't wait to do the whole house and then tackle my studio.
I want to start living a more intentional life where I definitely buy less stuff and make better, more considered careful choices about what we choose to have in our home. Quality over quantity and making sure we buy things that will last years and not just one season.
I now have a fifth of the clothes I used to have on my clothes rail and all the rest have gone to charity, leaving items that I love and will definitely wear. I did the same exercise in the airing cupboard and couldn't believe how many sheets, duvet covers, towels etc... I'd purchased over the years. Again, I heavily culled to the extent that I actually enjoy opening the cupboard and seeing less! I can now find what I need!
We now have a minimalist space in the garden after having culled over 20 plant pots and containers (we invited friends to take them)  - we look out onto a calm deck, a few silver birch trees and grass. Believe it or not, I used to spend a lot of time in my day watering plants or not watering them and feeling guilty that they needed watering!
Becoming a minimalist is much more than just culling ones clutter and stuff and much more than the aesthetic minimalism you see in home magazines -  it's about leading a more intentional life in all areas - how we spend our time, what we eat, what commissions to say yes and no to etc.... I guess one reason I'm wanting to return to blog writing is that it's a platform for me to record my life without taking up any room. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms might vanish in the future but everything tied into my own personal website is a way for me to document parts of my life without keeping actual belongings.
I'm looking forward to seeing where this path takes me - it's already felt incredibly liberating and I'm enjoying being in a much calmer space. I spend a lot of time looking at images on various Instagram sites I follow so it's lovely to create a calm environment to switch off in. Also, as I'm not a huge fan of housework and cleaning, it's much easier with less stuff and takes half the time! Will show some photos soon and will keep you updated!

Thursday 15 September 2016

Mini trip to London - Top Drawer 2016 - Jane Foster

I've recently returned from a few days in London  - my reason for the trip was to attend London's Top Drawer at Olympia. I travelled by train a day earlier so I could have a wander around London. I went to Liberty and a few other stores, just window shopping but looking at different designs that I wouldn't normally see here in Devon. It felt very indulgent staying in a hotel on my own, eating out alone, reading my book in cafes and wandering at my own pace. I visited Make International's stand at Top Drawer to see my new range displayed for the first time. It was very exciting and I was a bit overwhelmed. It's been over eight years ago now since I gave up my music teaching career to follow my new path - in those earlier years I spent almost every day frenetically screen printing and sewing, making hundreds (or more realistically thousands!) of toys, cushions and prints to sell from my website from a spare bedroom at home. Although I still screen print and sew, most of my time is now spent illustrating for children's books and working on designs for Make International. I hope you like my snap shots. * The chocolate waffles for breakfast was a real treat - this is what happens when I eat alone!

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Mini break to Cornwall - all in a day! - Jane Foster

We aren't having a family holiday as such this summer (due to various work deadlines) however, I am making sure we have the odd family day out so a few days ago we had a spontaneous day trip to Cornwall. We got up early and drove all the way to Marazion. It felt like a true holiday and although we were back by 10 o'clock, it had felt like we'd been away for a few days and was just the real break we all needed. Here are some snap shots. We managed to spend some time at Marazion on the beach overlooking St Mounts's Bay. We wandered around the various little art galleries and streets with beautiful painted white cottages and had a cream tea overlooking the sea. We also went to one of my favourite all time places for lunch - Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens in Gulval which has the most beautiful views, lovely contemporary building, superb tropical gardens and happens to be next to my favourite garden nursery specialising in succulents.

Cottages in Marazion

Succulents in a Marazion garden

Tremenheere Sculpture Garden and cafe

Tremenheere Nursery

St Mount's Bay, Marazion

Cottage in Marazion

Cottage garden in Marazion

Thursday 4 August 2016

Colouring Book News! - Jane Foster

Am so excited to be able to announce that my adult colouring book that I've been working on for the past few months is going to be published next April by Pavilion books. This is going to be my third book published by Pavilion, the first one being Fun With Fabric and the second Creative Craft With Kids. It's been hard to keep this new book a secret the past 6 months  - I've been drawing every day in my garden studio and various cafes around South Devon  - here are a few snap shots of illustrations in progress from over the past few months.

Friday 17 June 2016

Walk along South Milton beach in Devon

One of the best things about living in Kingsbridge, Devon is that we're only ten minutes drive to one of my favourite ever beaches - South Milton Sands. The area is owned by the National trust and is stunningly beautiful. There is a tiny but superb wooden beach cafe offering award winning food with spectacular views. Here are a few snap shots from my walk this evening.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Make Your Own COLOURFUL Wooden Puzzle Bracelet - Jane Foster

I bought a cellophane bag of wooden puzzle pieces the other day in Oxfam for 49p and have been wondering what to do with them! I remember them as a child and still love the primary bold colours. I suddenly had the idea that I wanted to make a bracelet with the vintage pieces. This is how I did it!

I added small pen dots to the corners of each piece and then used a very small drill to drill the holes.

I then took two pieces of elastic and started threading them through the holes - initially just as two lines until I discovered crossing over looked quite good!

As I've got quite wide wrists, I figured I needed 4 square pieces to fit. I kept a pair of scissors handy as whenever the ends of the elastic frayed, I trimmed them a bit.


I got my partner Jim to tie the bracelet around my wrist and knot the ends before trimming.

I couldn't not let our eight year old daughter have a play too - she decided on a whole new style and without any help, did the following. All I need to do is find some more of the puzzle pieces to make more! Does anyone know the name of these?