It was Blogtacular…..

A few weeks ago I hopped down to London for a few days to go to the Blogtacular conference. It was very inspirational and I returned home full of new ideas. I’d also expected that it would have got me back into a blogging routine again, but strangely , that didn’t happen. I think it was because there was so much going on behind the scenes, a lot of online study and a lot of work on the house.

Some people manage to blog right through these things and document changes as they happen. I don’t seem to have the knack for that so much and take time to process and move through things before I am ready to write again.

I won’t do a full review of the conference, because , frankly, so much has already been written, so instead I’ll point you in the direction of the pinterest round up.

Shot from the Styling workshop with Ellie Tennant
Actually, the quality of the presentations did exceed my expectations and there were none that were not interesting in some way. A few favourites were hearing the “Mini Modern” guys talking about branding, Yvonne from Yvestown giving her take on blogging , Anne Ditmeyer from PretaVoyager talking about how she has created a business combining design and travel and Joy Cho from OhJoy talking about how blogging has shaped her own career. As this has included having her own product range and then moving into licensing it was particularly useful. I also really enjoyed Ellie Tennant’s talk on styling and picked up a few tips to try out on the next photo shoot.

If you are a teeny bit sad that you didn’t make it then there is the next best thing – a virtual conference. You can find the info on that here. I have also subscribed so that I can rewatch the talks – it is hard to take it all in at the time, even if you take notes. The two Kats who set up the conference are all set to do it again next year so put that in your diary too.


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Seaside Treasures

Sea Glass

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for sea glass , but used to hunt high and low and find very little. Now I find myself living near some spots where I can find it easily and it is very hard to resist. I especially like all the pale aqua shades and this time also found a few pieces of broken porcelain. I am sure this colour palette is going to show up in a design or painting sometime soon.

rail bridge low tide

The bridges have also been looking wonderful during the last few days – mostly lovely summer weather and some very low tides which make for interesting images.

two bridges

rail bridge

If you are visiting Edinburgh this summer South Queensferry makes a very pleasant wee jaunt out of the city, especially during the crazy festival period. You can even take a boat to Inchcolm island and have a go at spotting seals or even a puffin if you are lucky. Get yourself an Orkney Ice cream and stroll along the prom to the High Street.

Happy Birthday Dr Edwin Land

Maison Bleue, Edinburgh, SX70 Polaroid PaintingMaison Bleue, Edinburgh, SX70 Polaroid Painting

Maison Bleue, Edinburgh,
SX70 Polaroid Painting

(This image was taken soon after I started using this technnique.)

As I was about to sit down and write a post this morning I happened to glance through my emails first – and promptly abandoned my previous subject. Today is Dr Edwin Land’s birthday ( Thank you, Impossible folks, for the reminder.) He is the inventor behind all things Polaroid, but most importantly in my book, created the SX70 camera and the film it used.

If I were to compile a top ten list of people who have influenced my creative life then he would have to be on it. From the day I discovered what could be achieved with his materials I was hooked. The person I have to thank for this introduction is a Hungarian photographer, Turi Geza who was working in Edinburgh at the time. Around 2002 He had an exhibition of his photographs,referred to as from a Polaroid Land camera. At the time I had no idea what the “Land” referred to and was rather mystified. As soon as I got home I set about finding out what I needed to try my hand at the technique.

An SX70 camera and TimeZero film was the answer. Ebay came up with the former , and in those days the film was still readily available in high street camema shops. There followed a steep learning curve, with lots of images falling by the wayside – but soon there were more hits than misses.

Why was this combination of film and camera so special ? The camera itself was such a lovely object to work with , transforming itself with a slight tug from a rectangular block into a recognisable camera. The magic of the film was that for a short period – perhaps an hour or so – the film emulsion remained fluid and could be manipulated. So the resulting images were not from computer manipulation , but rather created on the actual image.

This is a little video I made a few years ago showing how it works.

From that time until the film went out of production (sob ) this was my principal medium. Of course I bought up as much of the film as I could ( and I still have a tiny bit left – but probably it will not function properly after all this time.) but I hit a huge block. What had previously been quite a carefree process became rather gloomy. In an effort to move past this obstacle I launched into my “12 City Project” which saw me travel to a different city every month for a year , using my remaining film. In the end it turned into a wonderful adventure. ( As I searched through my archive for a post that neatly summed up the whole idea behind this project, I realised I hadn’t written one – so keep a look out for that in the next few days if you’d like to know more.)

There are two consolations for me – one – I have a huge archive of images shot with the film and I continue to work with them to this day ( for example in my cushion collection) and secondly The Impossible Project have worked hard to create new films ( completely new formulations of film) so that those amazing SX70 cameras still have a future.

So Happy Birthday Dr Edwin Land and Thank You !

Other resources – The Impossible Project’s Blog today.

The image at the top of the post is of Maison Bleue restaurant on Edinburgh’s Victoria Street – highly recommended.

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In the Garden

garden multi
The garden has burst into life so I thought I’d do a little picture post while it is looking so full of colour. This is my favourite time, when the tulips are fully out. We had one set of bulbs come up all blotchy and horrible – apparently this is some kind of tulip blight and it means you have to carefully remove all traces and then not plant tulips in the same place for three years. It seems likely that the culprits were bulbs that had remained there from last year. Are you an expert on such matters ?

I spotted there was still quite a lot of rhubarb growing so will need to make something with that – too lovely to let it go to waste. Another part of the garden is already looking quite wild and overgrown. It needs some attention to stop it turning into a complete jungle! One minute it was all bare branches and suddenly it has all sprouted.


The next things that are going to flower are the bluebells – another favourite even though, apparently some people feel you can have too much of them and pull them out. They are going to be in full bloom pretty soon . New arrivals in the garden are two little pots of yellow primrose that came from the island of Mull. I like plants that have some history to them before getting here. ( A lot of the bluebells came from a previous house and were carefully looked after in pots at my parent’s house for about 3 years until there was a new garden for them to go to ! )


The other much antipated plant this spring has been the row of pots with white grape hyacinth. I love the blue ones, but last year as we were leaving Holland I spotted the white ones and was keen to try growing some this year. They are such dainty little flowers.


The blossom tree at the top of the garden is doing a bit better than last year when storms blew the petals off very quickly. But at least once the blossom is past the clematis right next to it should be ready to flower.

As I work my way more and more into a world of pattern and textiles I spend a lot of time in the garden , checking on progress and taking photos or drawing things that will be popping up in work later on. It feels a little bit like coming full circle to my time as a textile designer years ago. But also that all kinds of different strands of past work is merging into something new. ( Too long to add that story to this post, so more of that another day.)

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Paper Nostalgia

The subject of a blog post about paper sent me wondering where I would find the roots of my interest in papery matters. And I find I can lay the blame fair and square on three books. The yellow, red and blue “Grabbleton” books- which translates as “Lucky Dip”.


These books ended up with me via my Great Aunt known to all as “Iekie”. She had been a primary school teacher with what seemed like an endless supply of things to read or make that might appeal to a little child. But once she retired these books were in my home and came into their own when I’d been off school sick and was recovering. I’d pore over them and choose something to make. The supplies were usually simple and close at hand, after all, these were intended for use in schools in the first half of the 20th Century. Wool, matchboxes, scraps of fabric and most of all paper.

I dug them out a year or so ago and made an updated version of something featured there – using a simple “fortune teller” paper fold to make a picture frame. To refresh my memory I had another go at it today -shown in the image at the top of this post. this time with pages torn from an “old but not precious” atlas. I tried a version with a map section and another part using the index which makes a nice black and white frame. Last time round I used brightly coloured origami paper and a lot more washi tape – so there are endless variations. It frames these little images perfectly and would be a nice lightweight item to post. One of these days I will size the original square so that a Polaroid image would slot straight in.

I like the thread of connectedness that looking at these books gives me, letting me tap into a family story. As an aside, Iekie was also an accomplished amateur photographer ,developing and printing her own work. Cropping was done with a guillotine that I now use myself- after 80 or so years it is still going strong.


There will soon be a new range of prints, including some of the mini sizes shown here, coming to my shop – if you’d like to be tipped off about new products and behind the scenes snippets I’d invite you to subscribe to my studio newsletter.

The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight. And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here.

Participant lista paperlovebloghop_200

Majo Bautista / Tona Bell / Louise Best / Cathy Bluteau / Jennifer Bomgardner / Giova Brusa / Lindsay Buck / Beka Buckley / Joanna Caskie / Jonathan Chapman (Mr Yen) / Halle Cisco / Sarah Clare / Cathryn Clarge / Dawn Clarkson / Rhiannon Connelly / Jenny D’Fuego / Molly Dhiman / Ian Dudley / Ayisatu Emore / Akmal Farid / Monika Forsberg / Claire Fritz-Domeney / Louise Gale / Chrissy Gaskell / Julie Hamilton / Emma Hawman / Rachel Hazell / Holly Helgeson / Claudine Hellmuth / Kim Henkel / Sarah Hoffman / Joanne Hus / Paula Joerling / Beth Kempton / Julie Kirk / Eos Koch / Katie LaClair / Kristy Lankford / Michelle Manolov / Doreen Marts / Rosie Martinez-Dekker / Tori Mears / Maria Mederios / Lise Meijer / Debbie Miller / MaryJane Mitchell / Suzy Naidoo / Grace Noel / Hannah Nunn / Camilla Olsson / Jo Packham / Rachelle Panagarry / Monette Pangan / Melanie Paul / Nicole Piar / Jen Pitta / Liz Plummer / Julie Reed / Michelle Reynolds / Lisa Rivas / Angee Robertson / Natalie Ryan / Aisling Ryan / Elisabet Sapena / Kyrrha Sevco / Jamie Sprague / Elizabeth Steele / Terri Stephens / Juniper Stokes / Mary Tanana / Maike Thoma / Linda Tieu / Gabrielle Treanor / Tammy Tutterow / Deborah Velasquez / Jordan Vinograd Kim / Cat Whipple / Brooke Witt / Katie Wood / Amelia Woodbridge

Early Flowers and an Update…

This winter has been so mild and today even has a bright blue sky hinting that spring might be on the way. But there is always the thought that there might be a cold snowy snap still lying in wait. The flowers in the garden are starting to peek through , and not just the snowdrops . Crocus are up and lots of the bulbs are starting to push through little green points.


As most of my flower phtography has been happening inside until now, and I thought I’d post a little round up of the most recent ones here. I am missing the Dutch flower markets at the moment – at this time of year the tulips are starting to be in full flow – but even more lovely are all the branches of different types of blossom. I only rarely find them in the florists here. Time for a trip perhaps ?

“Normal blogging” is a bit disrupted at the moment due to the upper floor being renovated. Sounds quite nice and contained , but in fact means that all the stuff from up there is filling every available space. Once the joinery has been done it will be time to spring into action with a paintbrush, so Starrybluesky matters are on a bit of a go slow. I do have a lot of plans bubbling so hope I will manage to keep on track with them all the same.

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Etsy shop – last day !

I’ve had a few questions about why I’m closing my Etsy shop so I thought I’d just expand on that a bit. It is something that has been brewing for a little while, in fact , ever since I opened the shop at my main site over at . It has just seemed a bit confusing to have two places selling work based on similar images. In order to make things a bit more streamlined I’ve decided to close my Etsy shop, review the range I was selling there, and add an edited collection to the Rhiannon Connelly site.
So a lot of the items currently available ( for one more day ! ) will be disappearing once I close the door.

I will admit to feeling a bit sad about the huge policy changes that Etsy have made in the last couple of months which has completely changed the feel of the site and it is no longer the resource for hand made products that it once was.

That said, I do still feel very attached to the Starrybluesky name, after all, I’ve been working under that name for quite a few years. So I may well revive it for another project in the next few months. I’ll need to wait and see how things evolve.

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