Header shot Pic 4 #9 a cyanotype during the development process, wildflowers and salt crystals and crazy colours

The One About the January Instagram Challenge – Part 1

Hey there! It’s good to see you here. My name is Lizzie, and I am the redhead who is always wondering! Wondering about life, about this beautiful world, about words and light and colour and form. And mostly about how I can be the best me that I can possibly be.

I am a creator of hand bound books and of art, in the form of cyanotypes and photographs. I am also an avid journal-keeper and I’d like to share some of my journal wonderings with you today ….

Consistency is Key

If you listen to all the business coaches and marketing gurus, they tell you that you have to be posting consistently on your chosen social media channels, if you want to make sure that your business, your products, and your face are out there for potential customers to see.

Now, I find that pretty easy. I love to write, I love to take photographs, so I have the raw ingredients of social media posts readily available. I’m also super-organised, so I get all my Facebook and Instagram posts scheduled in advanced (I’m a born administrator!!).

But I’m going to be honest with you, when we got close to Christmas 2021, I was feeling pretty exhausted. I was “doing all the things” social media-wise, promoting my business like billy-o; I was also working full-time. So, by the time I got to the week before Christmas, I was exhausted, and I was pretty ill. A really bad cold, not the dreaded C word, but jeez, it really took it out of me.

And all the ideas I’d had to spend the Christmas holidays doing my planning for 2022, and getting loads of posts scheduled for January, just fell by the wayside. I needed to just rest. Be still. Each chocolate (it’s required when you have a cold!).

I Am So Glad That I Joined The British Craft House!

I started to think that I was going to be so behind with all my social media, that I was going to drop off of the consistency routine, but then the lovely Dottie from The British Craft House announced that we were going to have a January Instagram Challenge. She gave us a month’s worth of tasks and subjects, to kick-start our social media year … and it did the trick for me!

Pic 1 #5 a photograph of my moodboard, showing magazine clippings that inspire me
my mood board

It galvanized me into action, and I had so much fun creating the words and images to go with each of the subjects.

And the great thing is, this wasn’t to be a challenge just for British Craft House members. It was open to all artists and makers on Instagram, and was, in Dottie’s words … “Designed to spark your creativity this January!”

And spark my creativity it has!! I’ve been so inspired by the posts shared by the other artisans taking part … hearing their backstories, seeing their creative processes, finding out about their inspiration and their love of what they do … it’s been such a pleasure to be part of it.

So, for this blog, I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights from the first week or so of my January Instagram Challenge … the parts that are about me and my creative process, and my own inspiration.

January 1st – Meet the Maker

If you follow my blog, then you know that my name is Lizzie and I’m the woman behind Redheadwondering Hand Bound Books. I create beautiful hand bound books, using original artwork on the covers, because I believe that our words are worth it!

I’ve been a journal keeper (and a stationery addict!) for many years, and when I learned how to create books using Coptic bookbinding, it was such a gift … here was a way that I could create my own journals! The Redheadwondering bookbinding business has grown out of that, and now, I create journals for other women.

I have so many ideas for my business going forward into 2022, and one of the most important parts is that I want to help women find their voice through journaling, through writing down their truths so that they may right their lives. Journaling quite literally saved my life, and I want to share that with other women.

A photo of me, with a camera in front of my face. I'm wearing pink fingerless mittens and you can see why I call myself redheadwondering
The Redhead Who’s Always Wondering

January 2nd – What I’m Working On

Christmas was over so, of course, my business-mind was on Valentine’s Day!! This was a great part of the Challenge for me, because I got to share the things that I was actually creating. It was so good to get my hands dirty, creating some cyanotype cards and sweet little ceramic heart-shaped trinket dishes!

Pic 2 #8 a heart-shaped trinket dish, with a daisy, part-way through the cyanotype development process
a heart-shaped trinket dish

I had so much fun, creating these cyanotype hearts … lots of love goes into everything I make 💙

Pic 2 #7 four cyanotype hearts with daisies and inks during the cyanotype developing process
four cyanotype hearts with daisies
Pic 2 #6 a cyanotype heart with two kinds of umbelliferae and inks during the cyanotype process
a cyanotype heart with two kinds of umbelliferae

January 3rd – Top Tip

My top tip … Keep It Simple and Keep it Organised! This is especially important when you are working in a small space. I do not (yet!) have the luxury of a studio to work in, so I have to keep my business simple (for now!).

Luckily, my raw materials are simple …. paper, flowers, sunshine! And a lot of the tools I use in my bookbinding are simple … needles and awls and scalpels.

I would love a professional book press (which could also double as a flower press 🌸🌻🌼, but that’s not possible in my small space … but Necessity is the Mother of Invention, so they say.

Well, I needed a book/flower press … ta dah!!!

Pic 3 #7 pink and orange osteospermums about to go into the flower-press
pink and orange Oteospermums about to go into the flower-press
Pic 5 #9 getting ready to make book covers, glue, scissors, bone folder, ruler, guillotine, cyanotype prints
glue, scissors, bone folder, ruler, guillotine
Pic 3 #9 my homemade book press, with some journals part way through being bound
some journals part way through being bound

January 4th – Colours

My brand colours are shades of turquoise and blue. Turquoise is my favourite colour … you can find it all over my home … in the furnishings, in my wardrobe, in my jewellery drawer!!

When I’m making a journal, my favourite part is creating the cyanotype prints that I use for the covers. Cyanotype is a very old photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. You might be most familiar with it as the process used to produce blueprints. It’s all about the blues!

My artwork is always mainly blue, so you can see why I chose turquoises and blues for my brand colours. I love the fact that I am now a part of TBCH … keeping it turquoise!!

January 5th – Where I Work/My Workspace

I dream of the day that I will have a dedicated studio/office space to run my business from (it’s on my Vision Board … it’s going to happen one of these days!).

For now, though, I do my creative work from a rather small house.

So, my workspace is my living room, my bathroom, my bedroom and my garden!!! Thank goodness that I’ve got such an understanding husband!! (And how lovely for me that he is also very creative … he writes books, takes photographs and makes music!)

Pic 5 #1 creating cyanotype prints in my living room, pressed flowers, inks and dyes and paintbrushes
creating cyanotype prints in my living room
Pic 5 #6 cyanotype prints developing out in the sunshine in my garden, with my rockery in the background
cyanotype prints developing in my garden
Pic 5 #4 washing off the chemicals in my bathroom, lots of cyanotype prints sticking to the tiles
washing off the chemicals in my bathroom
Pic 5 #5 setting up a photoshoot in my bedroom, camera on a tripod, lots of journals laid out on my bed
photoshoot in my bedroom

January 8th – Inspiration

My inspiration is all around me … There are so many wonderful aspects to my book making process, and one of the best is that I get to work with flowers.

The cyanotype process is an alternative photography technique that produces a negative image of whatever is placed on the paper. In my case, I use flowers, and that makes me very happy.

I love my garden, which may be small, but which is filled with as many flowers as I can possibly cram into it and I use quite a lot of them in my cyanotype prints … osteospermums, black-eyed susans, clematis and cosmos. These are my favourite cultivated flowers. But mainly I use wildflowers.

Wiltshire Summers are all about the Wildflowers

I am lucky enough to live in the most beautiful part of England (I may be a tad biased!). I live in Wiltshire, near Stonehenge, and in the summer months, this beautiful County becomes one big one wildflower garden.

The hedgerows teem with ox-eye daisies, which make fabulous subjects for prints with all their jolly petals. And everywhere you walk you see umbelliferae of every kind … wild carrot and wild parsnip, cow parsley, Burnet-saxifrage and ground elder and hemlock … don’t you just love those names?!

During the lush, long summers here in Wiltshire, wildflowers abound. Which is good news for me as a cyanotype print maker.

The Umbelliferae … wild carrot and parsnip, hogweed … make fantastic subjects for cyanotype prints … sometimes they look like starbursts, sometimes like snowflakes, or fireworks … always they look beautiful.

There are so many different kinds of umbelliferae … and they all make fabulous subjects for cyanotype prints.

My Happy Place

I guess you can probably tell from all of this stuff that when I am working on my biz … whether it’s creating the journals, or picking the flowers, whether it’s taking photographs or writing social media posts … I am in my happy place!

When I tell people that I love EVERYTHING about my business, I mean it! I mean, look at all this inspiration and beauty that I am surrounded by … what’s not to love?!

And if you head on over to Instagram and do a search on the hashtag #tbchjanchallenge then you will find your screen filled with so much wonderful work, not only from my fellow TBCHers, but from all the amazing artists and makers around the world who stepped up and joined in the challenge! I celebrate and admire each and every one of them!

I’ll see you next time, when I’ll share Part 2 of my take on the Instagram Challenge!

a cyanotype during the development process, wildflowers and salt crystals and crazy colours
wildflowers and salt crystals and crazy colours

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