Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year... and love to all!

There are only a few hours left until the new year begins and I want to send all my SPD friends and my family lots of best wishes for a very Happy and Peaceful 2015
I was so busy in the 'posh gift shop' that I didn't have time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas here on my blog. Below you see a stary image which I have designed, it could be considered 'christmasy or fireworky' whichever is your mood and that will do for all of the festive season.

The Christmas sales went very well but we are very tired and a little relieved that it is all over. I was determined to record more of the action in the 'posh gift shop' this year but it is impossible to take photographs or indeed write blog posts when the big rush is on. I looked at our storeroom this afternoon and it is completely empty, every single present that was wrapped and stored has been retrieved or delivered to it's rightful owners, and, hopefully every gift was appreciated and enjoyed to the full.
Now I just want to have a quiet New Year and contemplate what 2015 might bring, I wish everyone a lovely evening and hope that next year brings exactly what you wish for whatever that may be! 
Love to all. Dawn x

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Posh Gift Shop

Do you remember the 'posh gift shop'? I used to talk about it quite a lot here on my blog. Throughout the year I help out there on a regular basis, however, when the festive season begins it becomes a full-time job! 
Back in June the 'posh gift shop' had it's sixtieth Birthday and we celebrated in style. Two generations of the same Italian family have sustained and nurtured this business through thick and thin. It is not a secret anymore that it's days are numbered. The gloomy Italian economic climate is the last straw and I think that 2015 will see the end of the road for this local institution. Many clients and customers will miss it greatly when it finally disappears.

For the last month we have been unpacking new stock and pricing and shelving everything from glowing nativity scenes through to truffle slicers, you name it and we have it! Over the last two weeks one by one the windows have been decorated, the fifth and last one is shiny and new, filled with tantalizing gifts for all the family. 
So Monday 1st December is the big day... from then on we will open everyday until Christmas... our official Christmas marathon will be underway. It's not always enjoyable, it is sometimes funny, sometimes annoying, and you have to hope that you don't get any colds or flu halfway, it's not easy to communicate when you have lost your voice!

So will this be our last Christmas? I have a feeling it will be, and after 20 years of 'helping out' through the Christmas marathon I am going to make the best of this year and try and remember all the good bits. As a rare treat you can see a photo of me in one of the windows, but of course, I'm not for sale!  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Spoonflower - 2015 Tea Towel Calendar contest

The Spoonflower 2015 Calendar Tea Towel contest is underway and I have entered again this year. I have noticed that over the last four years I have always adapted a recent design into a tea towel for this particular Spoonflower contest. If I'm honest, as my design time is always limited, I think this trend comes from the necessity to come up with something at the last minute! However I like to enter this contest, it is becoming a bit of a tradition, even if only have a tea towel printed up with my design on it for my Mum! 
It is also nice (and very useful of course!) to look back on old work and take stock of things, how my style may be changing and improving. So I have grouped together my four tea towels and the patterns which inspired them. It is interesting to see how they were adapted for the contests.

1. Owls in the Kitchen. This design was created for Spoonflower and then adapted to become the 2012 tea towel calendar.

2. Laughing Owls. This design was created for Spoonflower's Extinct Animals contest. The design was then adapted to create the 2013 Tea Towel Calendar.

3. Buon Appetito. This design was created for Spoonflower's Retro Kitchen contest which was colour palette restricted. I therefore changed the colours along with the design to create my 2014 Tea Towel Calendar design.

4. Cut Me Up. This design is a weekly planner and was recently created for a freebie designer download, available here. I changed the colours (as I didn't feel that black was suitable for the kitchen) and the layout to incorporate a 2015 Calendar Tea Towel.

Voting closes on Tuesday 4th November and the winners will be announced on Thursday 6th November!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Autumn colours!

It's that time of year again where nature explodes in one final crazed colour party before winter sets in. We enjoyed one last trip to the mountains on Sunday and we were expecting to see the first signs of snow on the highest peaks. However, much to our surprise, a warm day with lots of sun just extended our hope of a prolonged summer... not a trace of snow to be seen even over 2500 metres!

Whilst someone cycled to Colle del Nivolet 2602 m I strolled through gorgeous woods and listened to the mountain river pounding down the valley, a constant background sound which omitted everything else... problems and all.

These are just a few photographs of my walk in the woods, bright autumn colours and with a few patterns thrown in!

Shocked and a bit saddened not to have seen one animal just hundreds and hundreds of mushrooms! Definitley the last I will see of the mountains without snow this year and a most enjoyable end to our summer trips.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The 2014 Designer Calendar + Planners - October

Just as last year I have designed a 'piece' of MaJo's lovely freebie designer calendar. I along with many other of her designer friends were invited to participate and each create a different month for 2014. I am happy to announce that my design for October is already available for download HERE.
Luckily I was asked to create a weekly planner which could be printed up and then pinned directly on a wall or used as a desk planner. My design started out as an experiment with cut-outs and a bit of collage. I had no theme but just decided to enjoy myself.

Although the original brief requested I be inspired by the Spring and Summer 2014 Pantone colour palette I found that the design also looked great in black and white. So this means two versions were created for downloading. You can decide to doodle and colour my black and white design with your own personal colour scheme, or just download the original coloured version. So get colouring, and get planning, now!

I liked the finished design so much that I also changed my header to match :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pablo Picasso - a pleasant surprise!

If you visit a Picasso exhibition it is taken for granted that it will be exciting and inspirational in some way. On Wednesday I organised (quite nonchalantly I must say) to visit an exhibition called Pablo Picasso -  The Colour Etched showing 140 linocuts produced by the artist from 1939 onwards.
My first surprise was the location which deserves a blog post all of it's own. The Forte di Bard is a rock fortress positioned at the beginning of the narrow Aosta Valley an hour's drive away from Turin. In all these years I am almost embarrassed to say I had never visited this wonderful and dramatic setting, any visitors I may have in the future will definitely enjoy a trip to this medieval village and fort.
Forte di Bard - Valle d'Aosta
The second surprise was the exhibition itself. On entering I found that at least one third of the pieces featured Picasso's matador and bullfighting works, a theme close to my heart. Picasso began experimenting with linocuts in 1939, creating linocut posters for ceramic exhibitions and bullfighting events. So with the perfect subject matter there was no excuse not to have a fabulous time!
Pablo Picasso Linocut Toros detail
Pablo Picasso Linocut Matador detail
The unique sets of etchings on show contained not only the finished works, but also the progressive proofs showing the sequence by which Picasso developed the final images. Picasso developed a new method for creating prints which saved huge amounts of time, but also presented tremendous challenges. The artist needed to be able to visualise the completed image at an early stage, and made it impossible to reverse any mistakes made during the cutting process. Picasso created over 2,500 prints in his lifetime which is a significant part of his total artistic output.
Pablo Picasso Linocut detail
Pablo Picasso Linocut detail
The grand finale is a room full of wonderful photographs by David Douglas Duncan the photojournalist who became a close friend of Picasso. The photographs reflect this 'intimate relationship' and depict Picasso relaxed in his studio and at home with Jacqueline Rouge.
Pablo Picasso with ceramic plate - photograph David Douglas Duncan
I'm afraid my photographs may not do justice to the quality of the works but the subject matter makes me want to post them all here on my blog. I will also upload some of my favourites on my Pinterest board Toret.

I am still struggling with my blog, I don't have time to write and post all the news I would like to. However, I hope you will bear with me and visit every now and then just the same. My plan is that this trend will be reversed and my little blog will again become an interesting and jolly place to visit. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

No pattern, No party!

At this moment in time, due to a couple of unfortunate coincidences, my life has become a whirlwind, or as my mom says, like living in a washing machine and someone turned the cycle on to spin! Some things that are happening are enjoyable and others are a bit stressful, but all are things that I cannot control so I just have to sit them out.

I would love to turn this trend around, however, the spin cycle may not ease off until Christmas and as usual the one thing that gets thrown by the wayside first is my pattern making! So no serious designing is going on at the moment, just a lot of doodling and jotting down of ideas, keeping things on the boil until I have more time to dedicate to patterns again.

At first I thought 'No pattern, No party'... but I am now back to a bit of enjoyable cutting, sticking and doodling in front of the telly in the evenings, and it is not such a bad idea. This week I have been producing handcrafted envelopes known as 'Efuto' which I shall be posting off to some of my surface pattern friends.

It is always enjoyable to create 'little' patterns and projects just to keep my creative juices flowing until better times. Here are a few close-ups of my designs without showing the whole of the envelope. I like them to be a surprise when they arrive in the post!

If you leave a comment after this post I will be drawing out one name to find a winner for an Efuto that needs a new owner! I hope to hear from you :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

An interesting article!

Today I have a fun post about an interesting article which I came across in an Italian magazine called Verde Facile. The article featured the Canadian Surface Pattern Designer Elizabeth Olwen. Some of you may remember that Elizabeth was a guest on my blog in one of the Dream Designs features, you can read my post from far away September 2012 here

Verde Facile has written a lovely feature and dedicated six pages to Elizabeth and her work. They had the idea to make some seed envelopes to cut out and keep so her patterns are in full evidence with a half page for each design.

The article is also well written and very inviting, so inviting in fact that I cut out a couple of envelopes myself and made them up! Elizabeth's patterns are described by Verde Facile as delicate and beautiful, and we can't argue with that!

Read news of Elizabeth's successes and licensing deals, catch up with her portfolio, and, find out where you can buy her fabulous designs at

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Welcome back Milvia

For those of you who follow my blog regularly you will have noticed that I mention Milvia from time to time. Milvia is an Italian painter and artist who enjoyed fame in the late 50’s and 60’s. Her illustrations and patterns were produced on fabric in Italy and in the U.S., even Liberty London became one of her clients. There was never enough written about Milvia when her career was at it’s height and this fact has created a certain illusive atmosphere about her being. This lack of information has also created curiosity and regard towards her work. For quite some time I didn’t know anything about Milvia’s real identity but I was attracted to her quirky illustrations, her talent, and her style. Basically I was a great fan of the illusive Milvia.

Then about 8 months ago things changed, I was contacted by Milvia’s daughter. Just one meeting lead to the creation of the Milvia project. I have been working with Milvia and her daughter for more than 6 months. The project begins with cataloguing Milvia’s work from the 60’s onwards and ends with the work being digitalized and made available for licensing. I am responsible for the licensing and promotional side of the project and Milvia’s daughter in turn for the archives and restoration of the works. I can’t tell you all our plans but we are working on many aspects and markets, I hope very soon you will be seeing more and more of Milvia and her fabulous work.

The real news is that Milvia never really went away, I have been privileged to see her studio at her home in Florence. The studio has always been there for her work and as ‘real’ artists do she has continued to lead the life of a creative. After raising a family and following her husband all over the world in his career she has always found time to work and experiment. For those of you who have not read between the lines this means that there are many unpublished designs waiting to be discovered and I hope to lend a hand in making this happen.

So now it is time to really begin the Milvia adventure. Work has gone on for months behind the lines and it is now time to share some of it with the public. Milvia’s website will go live on 5th June 2014, which is of course today! Please visit us at I think you will all be interested in our unique proposals. Obviously there is limited information available on the website and for anyone with serious intentions just contact me at and I will be delighted to help.

In addition you will find Milvia on Pinterest,
and Twitter
More news of Milvia will be published regularly in press releases and obviously here on my little blog.

Thank you for reading.
Dawn Clarkson

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

World Lupus Day 2014 - Acknowledgments

The collection of butterfly designs to celebrate World Lupus Day was a great success this year. I received 99 beautiful butterflies from all over the world, from as far away as Chile, Canada and Australia and by people with ages ranging from 3 to 80! Personally I had to do a lot of work to prepare everything but it all went well, my blog received well over 650 hits in 3 days (300 on 10th May) and the event generated hundreds of Tweets related to World Lupus Day.

Some of the 99 butterfly designs received for World Lupus Day
Tweets mentioning the event and a personal Thank you from Lupus UK!
In general a big thank you goes to everyone who sent me a design, however just a few people need to be mentioned as they played a particular part in helping to make the event a success. 
Thomas Fummo who encouraged his adult English class to draw butterflies instead of perfecting their grammar.
The 4 and 5 year olds from the Scuola Materna dell'Istituto Calasanzio dei Padri Scolopi di Empoli, Florence.
The 7 and 8 year olds, class 2A, from the Scuola Alessandro Manzoni, Moncalieri, Turin.
SKI TEAM Jouvenceaux.
My mother Ann Clarkson who is not very good with paints but fabulous with a needle and thread.
All my professional surface pattern friends who found the time in their busy schedule to do a special design for this initiative.
My thanks also go to a very special lady called Milvia who was without doubt the most famous person to produce a design for the butterfly gallery.
We must not forget why I began this project, mainly to increase Lupus awareness, which is an illness close to my heart but also to make a small donation to LUPUS UK. By donating 1 euro for every design received I was able to give a total of 99 euros, or 80 UK pounds, or 135 U.S. dollars. 

Details of my donation
Although the event has now finished if anyone feels inspired to draw and send me a butterfly design I will continue to accept them throughout 2014. They will be added to the following Pinterest boards... Children, Adults and Designers
I think I have said enough for now, I just need to add that I enjoyed myself very much and it gave me great pleasure to receive so many fabulous creations. Next year is going to be bigger and better, I do hope you will take part. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

World Lupus Day 2014 - Butterfly Showcase 3

Welcome to the third and final showcase which includes designs from adults and professional designers. It is another long post so get yourself a nice cup of tea, relax and enjoy! Just a reminder that we are here to celebrate World Lupus Day and for every design that you see here today I will be making a small donation to LUPUS UK. Please take a moment to read about Lupus and increase your awareness of the disease. If you missed out on the children's showcases earlier just continue to scroll down after this post is finished... I can assure you it is well worth the effort.

© Dawn Clarkson 2014
© Thomas Fummo 2014
© Anneline Sophia 2014

© Sonal Nathwani 2014

© Shelly Penko 2014

© Jan Shepherd 2014

© Annette Plummer 2014

© Salvina Lo Monaco 2014
© Isabella Schirripa 2014

© Ann Clarkson 2014

© Tokzhan Ibragimora 2014
© Antonio Bosio 2014
© Frances Boyd 2014

© Bethania Lima 2014
© Camilla Torna 2014
Last but definitley not least... a special treat, a super 'original' design from Milvia!

© Milvia 2014
All the designs from this post can be seen HERE on Pinterest, and a reminder that the children's showcase can also be seen on Pinterest HERE. You can also just continue to scroll down and see the previous two posts below if you like.
I do hope that you have enjoyed the lovely butterfly designs on show today. I am amazed to say that I had a total of 99 designs sent to me. A big thank you to everyone who participated and helped to make the day so special for me. If you should feel inspired by these posts and you would like to send me a butterfly design I will include it on one of the Butterflies for Lupus boards on Pinterest.
Next week I will be posting news of today's showcases and of what the initiative has achieved, until then, xx