illustrations

As promised, the "tea stories" zine

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As promised, I’ve made a little zine, celebrating “tea stories” from all over the world. A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who shared their stories on this blog post, as well as those of you who emailed me privately. And especially to Nanette via Instagram, who posted me a box of Dutch Tea and Lady Grey Tea all the way from The Netherlands, when I told her I didn’t know what Lady Grey Tea was.

I had seriously so much fun making this zine. I decided to embrace my inner-90s self, and made this thing completely old-school. I painted the pictures below then glued them in, drew others in by hand, cut old ads out of magazines, and hand-wrote most of the stories. So what you see here is something truly handmade, warts and spelling mistakes and stickytape-lines and all.

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What I learned as I hand-wrote all of your stories, was that our mutual love of tea, while it is undeniably delicious, isn’t really about the taste at all. Tea is about taking a moment: it’s about self-care, it’s about slowing down, it’s about comfort, it’s about mindfulness… and more than anything, tea is about the people we love. Whether shared with our loved-ones or sipped in their memories, tea connects us and comforts us.

(I suspect that if coffee is more your beverage of choice, or hot chocolate, the same could probably be said of these drinks, too. Maybe one day I’ll make a zine for you.)

So, here’s the zine I made you: simply click the arrows on the right to flip through the pages, and if you want to make it bigger, hover over the zine and you’ll see an option to view it in “fullscreen”. (If all the pages in the flip-book aren’t showing for you, you can download a readable PDF here). I really hope you enjoy reading Tea Stories as much as I loved making it.

Download and print this zine

If you want to download the PDF and print this zine for yourself or your friends, simply click the button below. The file has been laid out so that you can print it back-to-back. It will print this way onto 10 sheets of paper, which you can simply fold in half, together, to have the whole zine laid out in the correct order. (It’s designed to fit onto A4 paper so if you use US Letter or Foolscap, you may want to trim it slightly.)

Once you’ve made up the booklet, if you want to post it to friend (perhaps with some of your favourite teabags tucked inside), you can simply fold it in half again to fit a standard letter size (although it will be fat).

OK I’ve got to go, I think I hear the kettle singing.

Naomi xo


Mail art - prehistoric post

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We cut our way through a tangle of vines, each one thicker than a man's arm. Heat prickled our skin. The air was humid, tropical, and thick with floral perfume: something like frangipani, with a less-pleasant undertone of... what was that? Sulphur?

When at last we pushed aside the final curtain of vines, we could barely believe the evidence of our eyes. A volcano, forcing its way up out of the ocean, and, around it, a flock of pterodactyls carrying mail bags.

We had discovered it at last: the lost island of the Prehistoric Post Offie.

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Mid-century mail-art

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Maybe there was something in the pinot noir that week but I was really feeling a mid-century vibe when I painted up all these little packages. Polariods and UFOs. Weirdly-tinted poodles and monstera deliciosa. Vintage suitcases, 60s sitcom opening credits-style cartoons, and Liza Minnelli. I don't know. But I had a lot of fun, and I hope the recipients do, too!

I couldn't believe it when Eti (the plants and books) told me she had never received a personally-written piece of mail in her whole life. What even?!? I felt terrible for her, and so happy that I could rectify that situation. (Also embarrassed, because I felt like her first letter should be SO MUCH better than the one I had written).

The letter to Eduardo (the UFO) was for a snail-mail themed film project that is going right now. The filmmakers are collecting as many letters as they possibly can to be used in the film. If you want to add your mail to the mix, get in quick: it has to reach its UK destination by 21 March (that's one week!). All the details are here if this is up your alley.


ps. have you heard about my new letter-writing and mail-art e-course? 

Over four weeks, I will guide you through multiple methods of making beautiful mail-art and creative, handmade stationery; teach you the art of writing and storytelling; help you forge personal connections in your letters and find pen-pals if you want them; and share time-management tips so even the busiest people can enjoy sending and receiving letters. Register your place or find out more information right here

Creative project: Grandad stories

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I have some exciting news to share. I have been invited to illustrate a children's book! I'm collaborating with the incredibly talented Wendy Milner, a professional writer who has just completed her first piece of children's fiction.

It is a beautiful (and true!) story called "Grandad and the Baby Dolphin." The Grandad of the story, Wendy's father, was a cray-fisherman off the Western Australian coast. While out at sea one day, he came across a baby dolphin in trouble. The dolphin was tangled in ropes and was slowly sinking beneath the salt waves. Grandad and his fellow fishermen were determined to rescue the baby dolphin, but what happened next amazed them all…

These are some sneak peeks and close-ups of my work-in-progress on the illustrations. If you'd like to know more about this lovely story (and others to come), Wendy has built a website for us, which you can find at Grandad Stories. You can also read her personal blog at Blink Blackburn.

Have you been working on anything new? I'd love to hear about it!

Happy things

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This little project, a tiny zine. I’m writing a book about snail mail and, while I’m at it, I thought I’d make this as a kind of a sneak peek to help get people excited about the post and open their eyes to what’s out there for them.

The lemon tree is fruiting again. I like to run my hands along the branches when I walk past and then cup them to my nose, breathing deeply of the perfect combination of blossoms and zest. Last autumn, we were swimming in lemons. Get your orders in now, folks, if you’d like some.

Yesterday afternoon a storm rolled around and around for a couple of hours and the rain-drops were fat and full and fresh. Then the wind picked up and, finally, the seemingly-interminable heat washed away into the storm-water drains, and the world began to feel alive again.

Geometry + colour

geometry-1 I've been painting triangles. Scenes, events, glimpsed through thick-paned, antique windows. I'm not exactly sure what I'll make of them, yet. Perhaps I'll create prints: a set of postcards, maybe? Or some note cards? geometry-2

ΔΔ Wet autumn watercolour, gouache and pen-and-ink on paper

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ΔΔ Passing parade watercolour, gouache and pen-and-ink on paper

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ΔΔ School fete watercolour, gouache and pen-and-ink on paper

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ΔΔ Toy store watercolour, gouache and pen-and-ink on paper

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ΔΔ Brush-fire watercolour, gouache and pen-and-ink on paper

Beautiful art - A Hot Summer

monicaramos-eggs-webmonicaramos-lillies-web I thought Melbourne's rising mercury today would form an appropriate backdrop to showcase these seriously gorgeous works from Brooklyn (NY)-based illustrator Monica Ramos. They're part of a series that she calls "A Hot Summer," based on summer in the Philippines.

I've been wanting to show you Monica's work for ages. Take a look through her portfolio, it's fantastic! I'm especially in love with the "Comfort Foods" series. Cute, huh? And if you dream of making a living from your creative work, Monica will share some friendly advice, too.

 

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All images are from Monica's website, and used with her kind permission.

Handmade Halloween tea-treats

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On the spectrum from trick to treat, I'm hoping these friendly little handmade Halloween tea-spooks definitely fall on the treat side. Next year, maybe I'll get my act together and pair them with some skeleton gingerbread men. Or gingerbread cats. Or something. This year, I packaged them up with yellow craft paper and posted them off to these lovely blog readers.

If you need a last minute, slightly-more-grown-up treat to give to friends, a set of these little guys will take you about five minutes to make.

1. Download the template 2. Print or photocopy it onto thick paper or cardstock 3. Cut out each friend, then attach them to teabags with staples or tape

If you have a bit more time, get fancy with some lovely herbal blends, or even create a teabag of your own with a little ball of loose-leaf tea in a square of muslin, secured with string.

The friendly spooks will reach their arms around the edges of your tea cup while the tea steeps.

Happy Halloween friends!

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ps. Christmas tea-friends