Friday, 16 December 2011

Angie Lewin and oooh it makes me want to print!!

Yesterday was one of those days that come around once a year and you age a little more! I'm not sure I like the age I've become, but I'm sure I'll get used to it and besides I feel a lot younger than the years I've accumulated. Anyway I thought I would post some fabulous gifts I received as I found them so inspiring and beautiful. The images top and middle are from Angie Lewin's gorgeous book "Plants and Places", where really you can't fail to be inspired by her lovely woodblock, lino and screen prints. I love the way she translates seed heads and seaweed and how her prints have so much movement and form. After devouring the images in her book I want to get out my lino and cutting tools and create something lovely.

I also got a lovely set of woodblock letters. I have been wanting a set of these for I don't know long and my favourite person in the whole world found a set for me. I love the smoothness of the wood and the way the old dye has seeped into the wood and coloured it. Each letter is carved very carefully and the grain in evident in some and are just beautiful. I can't wait to print with them and work them into a design.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Camping with extra zing

The other day I opened my email and found the fantastic newsletter from the guys at The Cool Hunter, who are a collective that look out for cool design and like to share their findings. One of there news worthy items were these tents from Field Candy, who it seems decided to give the old tent a make-over. I think they're fab, especially the "Cheese Please" tent complete with mouse! For all those shed types out there, how about the "Men Only" tent. Or for fabric lovers how about the patchwork "Sung as a bug" tent. All priced from £400 upwards and limited editions.

Take a look at there website from the link above and maybe change your mind about camping holidays!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Graduation 2011!

It's all official now! On November 23rd 2011 I graduated with 1st class honours in Textiles and Surface design, and I now have my lovely certificate and photos in a gown and hat. It was a fab day and it was great to see all my friends dressed up in their finery nervously awaiting their moment on stage. There was a lovely atmosphere in Middlesbrough town hall where we all gathered and in the students union afterwards where everyone went back for refreshments. It was great to have my family there with me and a helping hand to get the hood to sit right and hat to stay on.

I would like to thank all my family for their support and encouragement throughout my degree, I couldn't have done it without them :-) I also wish all my fellow graduates of BA Hons Textiles and Surface Design a very happy and prosperous future, whatever they choose to do next or wherever life will take them. Well done everyone and I will miss you all loads!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Olympic 2012 posters

Sarah Morris

Rachel Whiteread

Chris Ofli

Reading through my tweets today I came across one that commented on the new posters for the 2012 Olympics and the feeling behind it was mixed so I thought "mmm I'll have a look and see what this is all about." There is a great mix of styles with artists such as Rachel Whiteread, Chris Ofli and Sarah Morris pictured above and others such as Tracey Emin and Howard Hodgkin. Not sure all of them pick up on the Olympic feel, but most are bright and bold and Hodgkin uses a lovely vivid blue in his abstract image.

My favourite by far is Sarah Morris' design, depicting Big Ben and shapes associated with track and field events in a graphic style full of colour and form. It has a graphic weight to it that I feel illustrates the enormous event this will be for both sports-people and the UK as a whole. To me Sarah has taken the idea of the Olympic rings and developed it into a really successful design. Have a look for yourself and see what you make of the other posters and drop me a comment with your thoughts London festival 2012

Over the next few months I think we will get flooded with more and more Olympic motifs and influenced art and fashion etc.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fab Mini Moderns!

Just doing some market research and love Mini Moderns new "Hold on tight" collection. Great look at travel with a mid-century twist. I also love their Festival of Britain collection to celebrate it's birthday a while back. I could be quite tempted to splash out on a cushion or two or even the funky festival plates! Take a look at their site you won't fail to be inspired.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

It's time to think about Christmas!

Paperchase - Japanese temple 8 for £4
Paperchase- Flock 16 cards for £7.50
Paperchase- Candy cane Christmas £3.00
Marks and Spencer - Glitter deer 20 for £4
John Lewis - Midnight sparkle 5 For £5
John Lewis - Wishes charity cards 28 for £5

It's that time of year again where I start to think about what Christmas cards to send to my family and friends. I go through the same train of thought every year do I make my own or buy some? So I've been having a look to see what's out there to help make up my mind.

I love Paperchase and they produce some fantastic cards and wrap, often they have something a bit different. I picked out the flock and the cut-out as although it's been done before Paperchase have done them tastefully. I love the pattern on the little fat robin. I also liked their Japanese inspired cards with typical architectural features of Japan.

M & S last year had some fantastic cards, but this year the designs seem paired down. I like the glitter deer, but they don't give me that christmassy feel. Perhaps it's the blue that puts me off?

John Lewis' collection seem to focus on vintage and simplicity either in colour palette or imagery. I like the use of pattern in the midnight sparkle card and the cute bunny. But £5 for 5 would mean they would be reserved for special people and again it's blue mmmm! The font used on the charity set drew my attention and also the sophisticated colour palette and the nod to eras past.

All in all still not sure, a bit more research maybe and some drawing to see what I can come up with.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Celia Birtwell Presents GoodWeave Prize at Decorex International 2011 | GoodWeave Manchester UK

Follow the link to see the full article on GoodWeave's blog Talking Rugs!
Celia Birtwell Presents GoodWeave Prize at Decorex International 2011 | GoodWeave Manchester UK. It was a fantastic day, if not a bit nerve racking. Meeting Celia was brilliant and if I'm still designing when I'm her age I'll be chuffed to bits!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

www.ballistic owl!!

After going to Decorex it became clear that I needed to set up a website and give people the opportunity to see my work and maybe purchase a rug or commission one. So with a lots of help was created, why not drop by and see what you think. Designs on the site will change as I develop more collections, but there's a few to give you a taster for now.

Friday, 30 September 2011

The show, the rug, Celia Birtwell and Chelsea pensioners.

Wow what a fantastic four days! Decorex is an amazing mix of interior fixtures, fittings, decoration and people. The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a lovely setting for the whole event, with gardens to wonder round if you fancy some fresh air. The Goodweave stand was fairly busy the whole time, so not much chance to admire the grounds, but plenty of time to meet lots of people and be introduced to new and exciting companies.

The entrance space with it's fantasy based underwater world was lovely to walk through each morning and was designed by NH Design. I particularly liked the shell head board and delicately frilled bedlinen. A lot of the stands had a theatrical edge to them whether it be the bedouin tent of the Rug Company or the seaside themed And So To Bed stand. Our stand was not so theatrical, but my rug was displayed to it's full potential and really stood out. I was quite taken aback when I walked round the corner and saw it there in all it's glory! It got quite a lot of attention and lots of lovely compliments.

Meeting Celia Birtwell was a treat, you could say it was the equivalent of meeting the Queen. She is followed by her entourage always ready to carry her bag. We had some photo's taken and hopefully at some point I'll be able to put one on the blog. I also got a signed copy of her book which I'm looking forward to reading.

The Chelsea pensioners would from time to time make an appearance and it was great to see them in all their regalia. They had a good look round and had chats with people on the stands and were even up for the odd photo. Here you can see them enjoying a nosey round the stands first thing while it was still quite. Their red coats look amazing, but I'm not sure how they manage in the heat as the temperature was 26'C this week in London and hotter in the marque!!

Altogether a fabulous opportunity and one to never forget, I felt very privileged to be there. Thank you to Jacaranda, Woven Ground and GoodWeave for giving me that opportunity.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Looking back in time

Just been having a look at some new collections by some of my favourite companies and there's an interesting feel to this new batch of collections. We've just had a trend for all things science related and inspired by the 1951 Festival of Britain and the remake of old favourites such as Lucienne Day's Clayx. Now we seemed to have moved on slightly, but still in the same vein, naive interpretations of flowers and objects. I love Harlequins Delphinia (top image), with the tall plumes of brightly coloured flowers that flow nicely across the pattern. I also like Sanderson's Fitzroy (bottom image) with the almost faded out colours and simple leaf forms. It certainly seems we are looking back in time when life was much slower and less complicated.

I'll watch out for some of these new collections at Decorex and I'm sure I'll come back inspired and desperate to get designing new repeats!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Decorex next week!!

Only a few days to go and I will be at the fabulous Decorex International trade show! I'm really looking forward to it and to seeing my rug all made up and on display. Also a bit nervous, as it's a big event and there will be lots of big names there and then just little old me. I will be in the capable hands of Sam from GoodWeave and I'm looking forward to meeting her and spending some time on the stand. The whole experience will be fantastic especially meeting Celia Birtwell on Monday at the prize giving, best frock on that day!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Winter's Moon

If you're looking for a blast from the past and re-live some childhood memories then take a look at Winter's Moon. It has collections of furniture, accessories and children's games and toys that have stood the test of time and ready to move on to new owners. I love these bright cushions with the stylised flowers, I also have my eye on a couple of vintage chairs that I might see if I can find a space for in the new house!

I'm starting to get my new room sorted out and will soon be back to drawing and creating new patterns and designs. I'm also getting ready for Decorex which is rapidly approaching.

Please note that if you look for Silvertabby Designs blog you will no longer find it. As mentioned in a previous post, I decided to have a revamp and you'll now find me here at Ballistic Owl, please keep popping by I enjoy your company.

Monday, 5 September 2011

New name, new look

After a busy few weeks moving house, I got thinking about my blog and my design identity. I decided that although I love Silvertabby it was time for a change and think of something more dramatic and punchy. So a rename was in order and after a glass of wine and some wondering thoughts "Ballistic Owl" was born. I hope you like it and I feel it reflects myself and my crazy love of colour and my love of all things natural. My designs often have a quirky twist to them and so I thought my design name and logo should too!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Whilst in the land of dragons

Just returned from a lovely break in Wales down on the Gower Peninsular. I had a lovely time and even though it was a long, long drive from Newcastle it was worth it. We found some gorgeous beaches and even learnt that the Torchwood series had filmed on the bay at Rhosili, which is a fantastic 3 mile long beach not far from the end of of the peninsular (above image).

We also visited the National Botanical Garden of Wales, which was a lovely place to relax and enjoy the flowers and plants. It's a huge place and one that we discovered can't really be done in a day. So maybe next time we're down that way, we'll go back and finish it off. In the gallery space there, they had an exhibition by KATIE ALLEN who paints gorgeous pictures of woods and flowers. We fell in love with the Cherry Blossom print and also liked the one above called "Crocus Woodland", all full of movement and interesting patterns. Might have to save some money and buy a print! Take a look at her website, link above.

Monday, 8 August 2011

I'm still here!

It's been a short while since my last post, but I am still here. I've been enjoying pottering around and visiting some lovely places (well at least before all the rain started). This image was taken at Cherryburn the home of Thomas Bewick a wood engraver and print maker. It's a small place but interesting to see the small blocks he worked on.

I have also been looking through some of my old images and working on some ideas for pattern designs. There are a couple of competitions coming up, so I have been busy finding inspiration for those too. Generally doing research and a few rough sketches.Over the next few weeks I will be preparing some new work to add to my portfolio to take to Decorex. We are also moving house, so I will be busy packing boxes and clearing out junk. I'm really looking forward to being in the new house and having a new place to decorate and a new study to design in!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Great ideas for finding a colour palette.

Design seeds is a great website/blog that forecasts colour palettes and just loves exploring colour ideas. It reminded me that to gain inspiration for colour use all I need to do is look at some of the photos I've taken and extract some of the colours from them. Brilliant feel inspired now and will organise my own palette file.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pinterest is fab!

Pinterest is a rather additive site where you can look up or add images and where you found them on to a virtual pin board. So if you're looking for inspiration for a project or ideas for your room or house have a look at But I'll warn you it's distracting and you'll be wondering what else you can find amongst it's pages! It covers anything from interiors to food recipe ideas. I think you can upload your own images too of work you may have done, but I've not worked that one out yet.

Image is a sample screen shot from the site.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

First practice prints at Northern Print.

Now I have the bug for screen printing I wanted to to find somewhere I could do it now I don't have the college facilities. Northern Print is not far from where I live and I had been a member in the past for lino printing. So yesterday I rejoined and shown how to use some of the equipment by the very nice and very helpful Helen.

Once settled in I printed some practice pieces off, I must say I'm quite pleased with them! I used kodas from past projects and came home with a buzz and now I want to get my head down and do some new designs and print some samples off.

The screen printing area is small but perfectly formed and has everything you should need. I think I'll be down there quite alot over the summer!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Strike off in production

When I got back from New Designers and checked my emails for the last week, I found this sent to me from Jacaranda, who are producing the rug I designed for the GoodWeave competition. It's so exciting to see, this will be my strike off sample to keep! I can't wait to see the full thing now.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Goodbye Hartlepool

It's time to say a fond and sad farewell to sunny Hartlepool and the college :-(. This week we took down the degree show and said our goodbyes. There were lots of hugs and tears, but lots of best wishes said. Cleveland college has been a brilliant place to spend the last 3 years and the staff have been very supportive and the family like atmosphere has certainly been in abundance.

My VERY last day there was yesterday, where the 14 students chosen for New Designers got together to organise work for the stand and sort out portfolios. It was a bit weird as it seemed that we were the only people in the building and the rest of the place felt like a ghost town. We had great fun though in our portfolio session, with Britain's got talent style selection process that was taken in good humour! I'll never be able to hear a buzzer again without thinking of Claire and Lyndon and their great delight at pressing the button! Next week on the stand is going to be hard-work and exhausting at times, but I'm sure there will be lots of fun too.

Monday, 20 June 2011


ARTS THREAD - Tracy Bidwell - Textiles & Surface Design BA (Hons)

This is an online portfolio, that can be searched by people in the industry. It's great to have the opportunity to have my work on this as you never know what may come from it.

Today we took the degree show down, which was a little sad as that is it now, all finished and lots of sad goodbyes were said. Hopefully we'll all keep in touch via facebook and blogs and the odd reunion or two! Best of luck to everyone and hope some fab jobs are coming your way :-)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Degree Show - Twenty Eleven

After a frantic two days getting the show ready and a busy preview night the Twenty Eleven Degree show is open!The preview evening went well and lots of people came and everyone looked fabulous, although I still can't work out how some of you girls stay upright in those high heels!! Well done Tanya for wining first prize for your dissertation :-) I won second dissertation prize and now have a beautiful orchid sitting proudly in my window.

I would like to say a big thank you to my family and friends for coming to see the show (Susan & Lionel, Alan, Claire & Peter, Dad & Carolyn and Jane), it has been lovely to see you and I do really appreciate you travelling from far and wide to see what I've been up to for the last 3 years xxxx. I know some of you are still to come up and I hope you enjoy it too and thank you.

The images show my display, so you can have a sneak peek or a refresher or just a look. It's not all my project, but hopefully a good snapshot of what I've been working on for my Final Major Project. It's based on seeds, pollen and cells some through the microscope others just as you see them, but concentrating on the detail.

I will keep you up to date on my London trips and the exhibitions and any more information on the rug as I get it.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

It's this week!

As in the words of my favourite programme as a child......"It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights. It's time to meet the people on the DEGREE SHOW tonight! It's time to put on make-up, it's time to dress up right. It's time to raise the curtain on the DEGREE SHOW tonight!"Ah just a few words altered there, but any guesses for which show it's from? Well it's not quite tonight, but it will be on Thursday the 9th, from 6-7 for VIP and 7-9pm for friends and family.

I hope people who come enjoy looking at all the work myself and fellow students have done this year and have a bit of fun too. So it's posh frocks, new shoes, hair done and best lippy at the ready, for the show we've been gearing up for, over the last year.

Fingers crossed that over the next few days that we have left for preparing the space and putting the work up go well. Although nerves maybe frayed I'm sure we will pull together and show the people out there what great new designers we all are!

See you there :-)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Tracy Bidwell Wins 2011 Natural Origins Student Rug Design Competition - GoodWeave UK

Tracy Bidwell Wins 2011 Natural Origins Student Rug Design Competition - GoodWeave UK I've had lots of people asking what my design looked like, so here it is. It was inspired by the cell structure in a clematis stem and I was influenced by designers such as Lucienne Day, Mary White and Angie Lewin. Also the fantastic research and inspiration at the John Lewis/Stead McAlpin design archive played a big role in my project. I think I've mentioned before that I loved the designs and optimistic flavour of the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Decorex International 2011

Decorex International 2011 - ABOUT DECOREX. This is where I'll be in September along with GoodWeave who will be exhibiting my rug. The rug is being made up now as we speak, in Nepal and I'm really looking forward to seeing it when it's finished.

Decorex looks like a fantastic place and I'm sure I will be inspired by all the interior products on show. Only one thing needed now and that's to go and find a posh frock and make sure I look presentable and have my lippy at the ready! If photos are allowed I'll make sure I take plenty so I can show you it when I get back.

Image: Decorex International 2011/Fromental

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

2011 Natural Origins Student Rug Design Competition Launched - GoodWeave UK

2011 Natural Origins Student Rug Design Competition Launched - GoodWeave UK
This week for me has been a mind blowing experience! I have had the news of going to New Designers and Textprint which are both fantastic opportunities for a graduating student and I'm really excited about both of those. I got a great mark for one of my college projects and to top it all off with a big cherry.......I won the GoodWeave rug competition! Lots of dancing and smiles all round.

If you want to know more about GoodWeave and their work please follow the link above.

Friday, 20 May 2011

New Designers 2011

New Designers 2011 - Exhibitors

This is a fantastic place for seeing newly graduating students representing universities and colleges from all over the country. I went a few years ago and loved it and what really influenced my decision to do textiles and surface design. Guess what this year I'll be there on the college stand! I never thought that little me would be doing that, brilliant.

Image: New Designers exhibition hall.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Weston Scarves by Richard Weston available now at Liberty

Weston Scarves by Richard Weston available now at Liberty

The production of these scarves was fascinating to watch and looked stunning. I don't think this particular image does it/them justice though. Richard Western was one of the candidates on the Britain's Next Big Thing on the BBC. His inspiration came from the formations and sometimes vivid colours found in slices of minerals, fabulous!

They're not cheap prices range from £125-£210. Made and hand finished in Italy must mean they're top quality.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - Britain's Next Big Thing, Episode 6

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - Britain's Next Big Thing, Episode 6

We watched this episode last night and found it very interesting, especially as just finishing my degree and thinking on what to do next!

Monday, 16 May 2011

That's all folks!

Well today was THE day! Yes, handed in my Final Major Project at 10am this morning. I can't quite believe that 6 months of work is over and so is my degree!

Of course there are a few things still to happen such as the degree show, which starts on the 9th of June. We will need to get that all up and sorted. Then where the summer will take me, I'm not sure, but lets hope it's exciting :-)

At the moment I feel a little odd that this is it, but I will enjoy having a bit of time putting the house straight and giving it some much needed TLC. I will keep you posted on my activities over the coming summer.