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Bonbi Fruits of the Forest Blog

It’s those horses again…

horse ears copyIt’s not really a secret that I like horses. They’ve been a big part of my life since I was very small and even now, when riding time is at it’s most precious and not very often, they are on my mind a great deal so it’s inevitable that they find their way into my drawings a lot…

I am working on some new drawings and paintings for a range of new prints, cards and screen printed goodies at the moment and there is lots of experimenting with mediums, colours and ideas going on. It’s some fun! I’ve been sharing peeks over on Instagram, here’s a few…Horse in woods Horse in progress Horse gathering Horse BW Horse bubble

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Got me some new pens…

Got me some new pens, broke out the gouache and got some things down on paper…

I like using mixed media: Biro, gouache, sharpie marker, felt tip and a touch of pencil are my tools of choice for drawing at present…not the most conventional combo but it seems to be working for me right now.

Lots of flowers are happening, new things are one the way!

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Part of my heart is made of printing ink…

Lee PrintingThis week has been a busy week of scarf printing…Lots of moons, stars and tiny hearts have been squeegeed (yeah, squeegee is actual word and one of my favourite things about screen printing!) on the printing bench. I even found myself wearing stars while printing stars at one point. I’m surrounded by them! Not that I mind, I like stars.

Scarf Stack

Star PrintingI am a self taught screen printer, one of my biggest regrets when I left art school was never to have ventured into the printing rooms and tried it out. When I started to learn it at home, a few people told me I wouldn’t be able to do it without all of the proper equipment…I’d need hinges and clamps and a big sink, a pressure washer and an exposure unit etc and I almost didn’t try it, but I thought ‘what’s wrong with strong arms, a shower head and a tin foil lined lampshade with a 100 watt bulb?’ It turned out, absolutely nothing! All it took was a call to a screen print supplies company to ask exactly what I needed and quite a bit of trial and error (and inky finger prints where they shouldn’t be) to get me started.

In a way I am glad I leaned to print like that, that my shyness stopped me from using all the equipment at art school. It meant I could start at home on the dining room table without feeling like I needed to be doing it ‘properly’ because I knew no other way.

I still use a similar rustic set up, I hold the screens down by hand and I still use a foil lined lampshade with a 100 watt bulb to burn my screens. These days though I do have the luxury of a studio with a big Belfast sink and long, deep printing bench and I did treat myself to a proper fabric ink heat setter several years ago but the premise is still the same.

Printing Printing Hands Printing 2I LOVE screen printing. I love the possibilities and the limitations. I love working out designs based around what I know about it and what I have yet to learn. I love the trial and error and mixing of inks, the messy sink, ink under my fingernails, the total hands on, hand printed nature of it.

Who knew that years ago when I said out loud to someone that I regretted not trying screen printing at art school that one day it would form a huge part of how I make my living? Man, I’m so glad I learned how to do it, sometimes you’ve just got to take a leap and give something a go…You never know where it might take you!

Printing 1

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New jewellery packaging alert!

If you have ever bought any Bonbi Forest jewellery you will know that several years ago I developed some packaging based on the Victorian Puzzle purse.

I watched the Jane Campion film ‘Bright Star’ when it came out in 2009 and had an epiphany. In it, a love letter is given which is folded into a little square and the message is on the inside. I thought it was so beautiful I decided I wanted to base my packaging on it and my puzzle purse wrapper was born!

The Bonbi puzzle purse has assumed many colours in the past (why just stick to one when you can use them all?! A branding nightmare…) but it has been well over due a revamp and if you order something now it will come in the new, very leafy 2016 version!

Here’s a peek:


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Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 14.56.36It’s been a leafy, botanical sort of week…

I finally found time to redesign the little origami pouches that Bonbi Forest jewellery is sent out in (more pics soon) and play with colours for a new scarf design for Spring…I say new, I started it last summer before Ellis was born but was never happy with the placement and colours and I found wielding and washing a 60x60cm screen with a 8 1/2 month preggy belly a bit too much like hard work, so I gave up on it.

But Spring is just around the corner and it’s going to be perfect so colour experiments are underway!

In other news the new ‘Forever’ Necklace and Bracelet had a feature in the Guardian Valentines gift guide, so I’ll be hand stamping lots of personalised initials for lots of loved up people this afternoon!

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No Star to me…

Forever-Necklaces-StudioThey are in the shop! The new jewellery pieces I have been working on went live in the shop last week, a little treat for that person who’ll be with you forever and a day or someone who is the brightest star in your sky…

I mentioned before that these new pieces were inspired by the inscriptions on 15th Century Poesy Rings, of which I picked two of my favourites and had them printed onto Maple veneered wooden charms with fronds of leaves and tiny stars. Each phrase is available as a necklace or a bracelet and you can choose to have two personalised hand stamped initial charms added to the chains too, cute eh?

It’s kind of timed to be for Valentines (I like a bit of romance) but as always I don’t like the idea of limiting the appeal of love tokens to just that of romantic love, so think of these as gifts for other special women in your life too, maybe a sister, mother, daughter, aunt, grandmother or your bestest friend in the world too perhaps?

Have a lookie in the shop and see what you think!

Forever-Bracelet Forever-Necklaces No-Star-Bracelet No-Star-Necklaces

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starryStars are never far from my mind it seems, stars, flowers, horses and trees tend to be my go-to when I am not sure what to draw next. It’s a good job these are my favourite things to draw and look at (caveat: aside from my family of course!) and once again little stars have found their way into my work…

I came across a very cute phrase while researching my latest Valentines designs last year: “No Star to me as Bright as Thee” which comes from the tradition of the Poesy Ring. I’d never heard of these before but stumbled across them while researching traditional love tokens and I absolutely adore the idea of them. They were popular in the 15th – 17th centuries in England and France and are finger rings given to show love and regard with a short inscription inside the band.

Some of the phrases are very sweet and some of them that were probably very sincere 500 years ago are pretty funny now: ” I am your lot refuse me not” and “I like my choyse”

I’ve repurposed a couple of my favourite of these phrases in my new Valentines jewellery which will be available soon…here’s a little taster!

No Star

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New years resolution…

Happy 2016! Last year got rather busy after our little boy Ellis was born on the 6th August hence the lack of posts here…

So my new years resolution is to post more here, I’m afraid it gets a little overlooked in favour of the instant easiness of Instagram but I know not everyone is an IGer so I’ll be sharing those posts here as well as other musings, probably art inspiration, work in progress etc.

Lets see if I can do this!

To start off, here is my first sketchbook scribble of the year…Christmas was SO BUSY I just didn’t get the time to draw for a several weeks so my hand is a little out and the horse is a bit wonky and ill looking but the creative impulses are back to firing, hurrah!wonky horse

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Black friday…


It wouldn’t be the end of November these days without a bit of a sale:Black15

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Sharpie Sketchbook!

Some recent sketches from my sketchbook. I recently found a massive box of Sharpies on a half price offer while shopping for boring things in the chaos of WHSmith and it turns out that I really love sketching with them. They are easy graphic colour and mixed with biro and pencil, their unforgiving permanence have made me think differently about layering and planning images. I like it!

Of course, hands and flowers feature a lot…

Bouquet 1 - Lee May Foster-Wilson Bouquet 2 - Lee May Foster-Wilson cats Cupid - Lee May Foster-Wilson Gardening - Lee May Foster-Wilson Hands - Lee May Foster-Wilson Koi Carp - Lee May Foster-Wilson Pink Pattern Flowers - Lee May Foster-Wilson Waterers - Lee May Foster-Wilson Wild Flowers - Lee May Foster-Wilson Woodland House - Lee May Foster-Wilson

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