Inspiration … is a giraffe!

Earlier today I received an email from a lovely lady called Penny. (Hi Penny if you’re reading this!!). She said some very nice things about my work, and then went on to talk about time and inspiration. This made me think … how do I get some of the ideas for my projects? My latest creation is an applique giraffe height chart. Well, that’s easy you might think – loads of giraffe height charts out there, and that’s true. So nul points for originality. BUT .. the ones I’ve come across are paper or wood, and feature a giraffe with an elongated neck. Whilst they are certainly attractive, (1) they weren’t what I had in mind and (2) they are most certainly copyrighted by someone else which is fine by me – I wanted to do something different.
So .. I collected lots of ideas – vintage cards, photos of giraffes, even a lovely image of a giraffe coat hanger I came across on Flickr. I also collected some scraps of fabric and floss in “giraffey” colours. And I doodled … quite a lot … until I came up with the design – you can see it on the right of the image at the top of this post. This might look very basic, but that really is all the pattern I used. Once I’d come up with this, the rest was easy – simply playing around with fabrics and other lovely bits and pieces from my stash until it all fell into place.
I always use ticking for my height charts – somehow it reminds me of a mathematical gauge, though I don’t use it vertically, that would be too obvious, horizontal is better I feel. I also always use my favourite vintage linen mangle cloth as the background for the design, it’s strong, neutral and has a lovely weave. I try to incorporate the red borders when possible, this one is particularly lovely.


These photos aren’t the best, but hopefully you can see how the giraffe and his little birdy friend came together. My colour palette was based on the colours in the fabric I used for the giraffe patches. I’m always very strict with myself about limiting the colours I use … at one of my very earliest water colour classes when we were being taught how to mix colours, our tutor explained that by limiting our colours our pictures would come together better – and if you used too many different unrelated colours then your picture would appear patchy and bitty. I think this principle applies to fabric too, and if you like the colours together in one fabric then they’re sure to work well in your design as a whole.

The colours in the bird and his wings echo those in the giraffe’s patches.

And that’s how inspiration happens for me anyway.

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