Friday, 7 December 2018

Cause and Effect piece

Hello my lovely loves!

I've been sitting on this one for a while so it's amazing that I finally get to show it to you! My piece for Cause and Effect magazine.
Amnah, the editor, is also a sufferer of ME and contacted me about doing a comic to illustrate how it feels to have it.
I'd had a little idea in the back of my head for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity to realise it.

You can buy Cause and Effect here. It's a limited edition hardcover book, and you get to choose your own cover design from a selection of three, which is awesome. (I went for the pink vintage ladies - it reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie!)

Without further ado, here's my piece.

For more of my illustration work head to my other blog,


Friday, 2 November 2018

Halloween costume 2018: Poirot

Hello my lovely loves!

I think a lot of you have probably seen the Poirot costume I made for this year's Halloween, but I thought I'd share with you the behind the scenes work that went into it, and how I made the different components.

It took me several months to create the whole costume bit by bit, and I started planning it pretty much straight after the Halloween before.

Pince Nez

I bent some wire I had left over from making Tiny Hannah 
into the correct shape using reference photos.

I then cut a shorter length to go across the top of the glasses, 
and created a loop to attach the cord with a thinner wire by 
twisting around several times and bending the end into a loop.

I secured the wire together and added nose cushions and other details 
with Sugru - a plasticine-like glue substance that dries like rubber.

I spray painted the whole lot gold with some spray 
paint I had left over from another project.

I added some spare thin ribbon from my trimmings stash for the cord.


Poirot has a couple of cane options but I thought the silver swan swan was the most iconic.

My parents had to take an old broken clothing rail to the tip, 
but I saved one of the short black poles from it as it was a good 
width and length for a cane.

I created a disc of Sugru and stuck it on the bottom to stop the cane 
scratching the floor and to act as the grip.

Using tin foil, I crumpled it into the basic swan shape, 
and stuck it to the top of the pole with a glue gun.

I covered the whole thing in air dry clay that I had in my art stores 
from a different project, and, using reference photos, shaped 
and carved the clay as close as I could to the original.

(I realised halfway through that doing it with old clay was a 
mistake because it was quite difficult to work with, but... ah well.)

When the clay was partway dry I rubbed over the 
whole surface with a plastic tool to smooth it out.

I covered the bottom of the pole with masking 
tape, and spray painted the swan silver.


The moustache is something that I really wanted to get as realistic as possible, so I watched a few YouTube tutorials on wig making to learn how to make lace front wigs.

I bought lace, and a wig making needle from eBay, 
and pinned it to the mannequin head I'd bought to work on the wig.
I used left over hair from the wig to lace the moustache.

(Lacing wigs is weirdly soothing, but extremely frustrating 
to do with very cheap synthetic hair in poor lighting. 
If you do it I'd recommend better quality hair, and a good lamp.)

Once it was laced, I parted the tash in the middle, held it with bobby pins 
and gently heated the strands with my heat embossing tool 
to reset them into the direction I wanted.

(If you do this be very, very careful. Synthetic hair can burn 
or melt completely into an unusable mess, so go slowly.)

I coated the moustache in a layer of pomade, and pinned it into the shape I wanted.
I then used the heat tool to reset the fibres into the new shape.

I finished off by giving the ends and any fly-aways with a layer 
of clear PVA glue to smooth it, and trimmed the excess lace 
away so it was ready to be worn.


The wig was by far the most time consuming and difficult part of the costume.
Balding wigs are really difficult to come by, and the decent ones 
are very, very expensive, so I started off with a black crazy professor 
wig from eBay that cost about £3. 
It did not look good.

Look at this mess.

Using a tangle teezer I attempted to brush 
through it to get rid of any knots.

I then modelled it like the badass I am.

Section by section I straightened the entire wig 
using my hair straighteners. And praying.

It was still a bit terrifying but no longer quite so awful.

I cut it using my hair dressing scissors and thinning scissors I use for my own hair.

I sewed extra hair in layers onto the wig net,
 as the cheap wig didn't have lower layers.

Starting from the back, I worked section by section and slicked the hair back into an approximation of Poirot's hairstyle using PVA, hair gel, and heat.

It took aaaaaaaages.

But looked so much better than when I started.

Unfortunately at this point I realised that a. the head I was using is 
much smaller than mine, and b. I have a truly ridiculous amount of hair.

The wig went on my head, but not over the entirety of it, 
leaving a line all the way around the back uncovered, 
and the lower part of the hair at the front visible as well.

I had a short swearing session.

Then I ordered an extra cheap hair weft from eBay, and cut a black 
felt shape from my felt stash that would hook over my ears to create 
sideburns and carry on round the back of my neck to cover the rest 
of my hair as much as possible.

Using the sewing machine and a zig zag stitch I sewed layers of 
hair to cover the felt, with larger section at the 
sides to slick back over my ears.

I applied leftover lace to the very front and 
created a more natural edge with lacing.

This hair piece then got the same PVA/gel/heat treatment as the other wig.

As I had spare hair left over from the wig alterations I decided to root some 
baby hairs into the vinyl to make the balding look more realistic.

This is achieved by using a felt needle (yes, I also have those laying 
about), and stabbing it to the vinyl through a lock of hair 
to push it through to the other side.

Thanks again to the University of YouTube for showing me how.

Below you can see the harsh original edge on the left, 
and the feathered edge on the right.

I added more and more hair, using reference photos to get 
it as close as I could to David Suchet's Poirot.

I then secured the hair in place by gluing it with a hot glue gun.

I added lace along the front to help anchor it in place whilst it was being worn. 
In hindsight this was probably a mistake because it made the 
edge messier, but I was concerned about my hair proving 
too much for it, even with the added hair piece.


I'd never made makeup prosthetics before but I knew I'd
struggle to mimic David Suchet's nose with makeup, because mine 
is such a different shape to his.

After researching online (YouTube and Reddit both get a mention here)
I decided to make a hollow liquid latex application.
The other options were too time consuming and/or expensive.

Using plasticine I first started building onto the mannequin head.

I create a new nose that was as close to my own as I could get it.

Most people would just make a cast of their face to skip this 
step but I couldn't afford it, and it seemed quite energy draining.

I then made a practice nose to try with the liquid latex I'd ordered.

It worked! But I also realised from this not to use heat in 
between coats, and to sponge on the latex rather than using a 
brush or spatula.

Once I was happy it was going to work I started building 
on the nose I had made to make Poirot's nose.

I then sponged on layers of latex, let it dry, 
powdered it and peeled it off.

It was then coloured with a mix of acrylic paint
mixed with liquid latex and face paint.

Special mention: Spats

Technically I didn't make these, but I'm bringing them up because Mum found me original 1920's spats at a flea market for £4, and that's worth mentioning.

The final application:

In the morning I started by changing my eyebrow shape and colour with makeup.
I then tried to make my eyes look more hooded and added crow's feet.
Then it was nap time.

After lunch Mum helped me apply the wig. 
First we stuck the lower piece on using spirit gum, and then we pinned 
(and stuck) the upper piece.
I started adding foundation and contouring my face to match Suchet's,
leaving the nose and upper lip blank.

I also stippled a wash of grey eyeshadow to my jaw to simulate a shaved face.

I stuck the nose on and sponged a layer of latex along the edges 
of the nose and front lace, and across the bald patch of the wig to make 
the texture more like skin.
I followed with a layer of the acrylic/latex mix I saved in an airtight 
container to blend the colours and cover the latex I'd applied.
(This also made the colour of the bald patch more realistic.)

Finally, I applied the moustache with more spirit gum.

I had another rest before suiting up and was joined by 
Captain Hastings and Miss Lemon.

After about five minutes of photos I was knackered
so I took it all off an went to bed!

Mum had to help get all the makeup off while I lay down!

I'm still pretty exhausted, but it was totally worth it.


Friday, 12 October 2018

The Gatsby Party

Hello my lovely loves!

It's been a little while now since the Gatsby fundraiser, but I've finally found the time and energy to get all the photos together and put them online!

It was such a success, so thank you to everyone who helped out or donated money, especially my most wonderful Mum, Karen.
We raised a whopping £1,547.30 for the ME Association, which is pretty good for people who've never organised a fundraiser before!
Mum, bless her, has said Never Again, but I feel like I've learned a lot should I ever be involved with any other events, so that's good.

I had such fun making the decorations, although it's taken me a little while to a. get over it, and b. stop feeling bereft without another big project on.
Fortunately, Halloween costume planning, Christmas card making and present buying/making has taken over.

Without further ado, here are the photos from the event, and some from my concurrent celebration that took place at home, with a little surprise from Mum...

Tiny Hannah readies herself for the celebration...

 ... The bunting is up...

... The feather fans are fluffed...

... The microphone is in place...

... Mum and George practice their moves...

... And Tim prepares the music.

People start to arrive! 

"What excellent sandwiches", they say.

"I could eat at least four more cakes", they admit.

Alicia is chuffed with her shortbread haul. 

Delicious cakes!

People find the flapper board.

Including Auntie Tina.

And Tim!

But soon it's back to work. 
And TH joins him to lounge on the piano.

Work it, Tiny Hannah.

The party's in full swing.

Mum really gets into it!

Even TH has a go at the mic!

Mum and David have a bop in the kitchen.

The sign of a good party is an undone bow tie.

Alicia provides reinforcements with David in the kitchen!

The press comes to interview our lovely helpers!
Minus Charlie who is allergic to cameras. 
And Mum who is probably feeding someone, as is her wont.

 Meanwhile at home...

I try to do my best screen siren impression.

... and then find that I can't hold a serious expression for that long.

Particularly as...


She has spoken to the makers of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
about our fundraiser, and that I can't go,
and they have sent me some goodies!

A signed photo, some Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears hand cream...

And a limited edition silk scarf!