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Fabric design collections – Masala

This collection came about as I started doodling ideas for some fun and quirky fabric. I decided to inspire myself with recipes. I started by looking up curries, spice mixes (hence the name, ‘masala’), and chutneys, then moved on to look for ingredients in South-East Asian and Polynesian cooking.
I initially thought I was going to have several different designs, but the ingredients looked really good when they were all combined into one image.
From this original concept, I extrapolated a stripe, using the previous technique of a word in barcode font, and a polka-dot based on sliced rhizomes (ginger, turmeric, etc.)
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Rabbit Rescue Update

Well then, it’s only been a wee while since my last post, but so much has happened!
To help with my sanity, I will focus this post on the WRR fundraiser, and the next one on Copper Catkin itself.
So the first big news is that I have finished all three panels for the WRR fundraiser!
There will be three designs available – ‘Beyond the Kale’, Weasels in the Warren’, and ‘Carrot Cartel’. 
Over the last month, I have been running a survey to get an idea of what people would buy, and how much they would be likely to pay.
I’ve also been organising our Kickstarter team, so that we can get the video clip made, and get things underway. I’m very lucky to have some amazing friends on board, and I will update you about the Kickstarter once we have it up and running.
From the survey results, we know that people are interested in the products we plan to offer, which is really exciting – and it confirms that my instincts for product and pricepoint were also bang on the money, which is really comforting.
It looks like initially, we’re going to be offering tea towels, tote bags, postcards, limited edition signed colour prints, and if we make our initial goals, t-shirts and mugs, too – so if you’re interested, follow Copper Catkin on Facebook for updates!
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‘Stationery’ and moving

That’s right, we’ve got a logo, a nifty little tagline, and now, business cards! As the Geordie Shore lot like to say, GET IN!

The saga of the logo

The logo has been a bit of an adventure, actually.
I came up with the ‘Copper Catkin’ part of the name some time ago – the contradiction appealed to me – the fluffy catkin, made of shiny metal. I chose copper as a nod to my interest in all things Steampunk, and I have loved catkins since I was a wee kitling myself.  The combination plant and metal is also a quiet nod to NZ’s silver fern.
As I played with the name, I knew I was at risk of choosing another name that didn’t reflect my brand, which was something people commented about with Phersu Dancing.
I tried adding in a third word – ‘Copper Catkin Clothing’? ‘Copper Catkin Creations’? ‘Copper Catkin Compulsion’? ‘Clothing by Copper Catkin’?  I just couldn’t get the name to gel correctly.
As I always do these days, I talked it out with my husband – and he came back with a really clever suggestion.
There are 3 ‘C’s in Copper Catkin (even if there’s no third word in the name, there’s my name, Cat – and that’s what we eventually went with). As a man with a mathematical bent, George saw that as C cubed – or C to the power of 3. But he didn’t stop there – he knows that I love using emoticons, so he chose the heart (<3) to go with the ‘3’ . It was a particularly meaningful choice for me because we have a running, cutesy joke about sending each other little hearts, and making cheesy hearts with our fingers, like this:
So it was a short step from there to incorporating the heart emoticon in the logo. He scribbled a quick draft, and I loved it.
ts’s actually remarkably hard to design your own stuff, just like it’s hard to sort your own larder, choose your own paint colour scheme, or draw your own tattoo. I think sometimes, you can simply be too close to something, and it becomes both overwhelming, and too important to do yourself. I know that as soon as I have finished something, the first think my critical brain starts doing is picking it apart – so I knew that I needed to get someone else to do the logo design for me. I had great success asking Lisa Park to design my new look for Phersu Dancing Designs, and I will continue to use that brand for my jewellery, so I definitely wanted to use a professional designer for my Copper Catkin branding. This time, I’m really trying to source as much as possible locally, in NZ – and Lisa is in Australia. So, I approached a designer that I knew through a mutual friend, also called Cat, from Byte Design. Unfortunately for me, Cat was flat tack with some major projects, but she steered me to try out the Fiverr services. Given that I didn’t really know what I wanted, either, I decided to take a punt, and it was really useful – for a very small amount of money (a literal fiver – $5US) – you can have someone take your ideas and turn them into a logo!
The first person came back to me with figure 1, above. With the help of Cat from Byte Design, I identified what was bugging me about it, and sent it back. My favourite part was her quick mock-up, figure 2, which showed the superscript heart emoticon replacing the ball serif on the ‘C’. 
I sent it back for review, as per figure 3, and got these options:
I love them – they’re ornate, pretty, and they *almost* match my requirements. But the very fact that they’re ornate works against them for everyday use. I need something simple, most of the time. So, I tried again. This time, I knew something else – after a wander around the mall, I discovered that Copper Catkin, as a brand, really identifies with hexagons. I don’t know why. it just happened. So, I made this as a mock-up, and sent it to my second Fiverr designer to ‘polish up’.
Once again, it was worth the small outlay to help me further refine what I didn’t want. It was back to the drawing board, but this time, I had a much stronger sense of the logo – and a husband kind enough to help me extract that idea from my brain! We came up with these options.
It turns out that all I actually wanted was a thicker, rounded outline for my simple logo. *sigh*

The tagline

It turns out that the logo was acting like a sort of bottleneck for my creativity in relation to Copper Catkin. Once I had a logo, everything else kind of fell into place. I was thinking that I wanted something with its own, quirky character. Every time I brainstormed, ‘quirk’ came up. Then, it clicked – I’m talking about corporate clothes with a touch of fun, right? And I want my ladies to ‘work it’, right? Feel great, feel different, express who you are without getting fired? Perfect! #workyourquirk was born 🙂

The business cards

Suddenly, with the tagline, it all came tumbling out – and I was ready to design my business cards!
I decided to make one set for inclusion with the Wellington Rabbit Rescue fundraiser items, and another to go with my own pieces. I used designs from my Masala collection, inspired by Indian, South-East Asian, and Pacific recipes. 
And now, they have arrived! #winning #workyourquirk 
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Hashtag First

In which something-or-other starts, and there are rabbits*

*The bit with the rabbits is further down
​So here we are then, I have finally got a name and a concept to start working with. I’ve been playing with some ideas for a while now, waiting for the tanks to refill after the huge creative burst that was our wedding
One of my biggest drivers has been trying to get back into the workforce after a really short break, only to find that there just isn’t anything out there in my size that doesn’t evoke the term ‘sack’ and a sad, resigned expression. 
What happened to big girls being beautiful? But surely, I hear you Wellingtonians say, there is an entire street full of plus-sized clothing in Central Wellington from which to choose (Featherston Street has a veritable cornucopia of designer plus-size stores). You must be able to find something to suit? Well, you’d think so – but actually, almost everything has a ‘sameness’ to it. All the bright colours are the same kind of bright, and the same shades. All the fabric patterns, from K-Mart to the designer stores, look like rejects from a discount store – too bold, too bright, unpleasant and unflattering designs and colourways. 
There’s the cheap and cheerful stuff from the Warehouse and similar chains, where you can get good basics, and horrifyingly unflattering sack-like ‘feature pieces’. 
There’s the drapey-hidey-slightly-more-shaped stuff from Zebrano, at the top end.
In between, there’s a lot of not-quite-fitting stuff, targeted at late middle-aged women who work in HR, leaving most of us younger women baffled, with our shopping bags filled with sadness and disappointment. 
But we have to have something to wear for work, and we can’t show up in pyjamas, so we are forced to buy what these stores offer – and we make it work.
But WHAT IF! What if we could find cool stuff, like slim girls can? What if there were cute outfits in flattering cuts, made of fun fabrics, and IN OUR SIZES? What if life didn’t have to be an endless litany of hitching up ill-fitting pants, adjusting falling bra straps, adding another safety pin to keep blouses closed, and feeling like a second-rate citizen?

I know that many of my Phersu Dancing customers were pleasantly surprised when I was able to supply them with jewellery that actually suited a ‘larger canvas’. I’m simply expanding on that concept with Copper Catkin – I’m designing fun things that I would like to wear, and working hard at finding local talent to help me get it out there to the masses. 

So that’s how I got to where I am today, in terms of launching Copper Catkin. More about the individual designs in future posts.
I’m excited to be working through my first revision of my first logo right as we speak – I will look at this process in another post. 
Now, I said there would be rabbits.

So when I bought a house with my now-husband, I also became a step-mother – as well as my own two cats, Responsibility (Billie for short) and her daughter, Shasha, I am now Mum to a dog, Lizzie, another cat, Loki, several self-seeded chooks that came with the new house (and the occasional flock of wild turkeys!), and three rabbits – Winston, Usagi, and Probably Beatrice. The cats are easy – they do cat things. The dog is immensely hard work for me, and I have been focussing all my energy on learning how to be a good goggy parent.

I can’t remember which of my rabbity friends ended up getting me into the Facebook group for Wellington rabbitry, but in no time, we were helping foster an adorable young bunny called Lily for Wellington Rabbit Rescue. As a foster-parent, I naturally became more interested in helping Wellington Rabbit Rescue raise funds to help cope with the influx of rabbits needing new forever homes, and here we are. 
For more information about Wellington Rabbit Rescue, click here for their Facebook pagehere for their Givealittle, and here for a recent article.

Here’s a picture of Lily being an adorable little snuggler <3

Now, I’m a bit of a soft touch for fundraisers – I often end up donating more time and product than I really should – but it feels great to try and help.
I remember the awesome feeling of camaraderie being part of the FeltAid craft for Christchurch movement after the first earthquake, It was only a drop in the bucket, but my donated artwork helped contribute towards around $2,000 of funds raised and donated to the Red Cross, so it was a really good thing that we did.

So when they called for someone to help with fundraising, I knew this was something I could help with. I immediately started work on brainstorming some ideas around ‘rabbit rescue’. My husband pointed me towards an online comic, Three Panel Soul, that he remembered from several years ago, which I used as inspiration (you can clearly see a couple of the poses were strongly modelled on this artist’s work, as I came to grips with the medium, having never drawn ‘action rabbits’ before. i’ve posted the three relevant panels from his site below – this is not my work.


My original sketches


First finished Rabbit Rescue page

I’m now working on two more pages – humans love the rule of three, and they love having choices, We’re considering doing the fundraising following a Kickstarter model, possibly via Kickstarter itself (just trying to interpret the rules). 
Here are a couple of my storyboarding efforts for the next pieces. We have some kind of underwater lair, with a countdown going on, and a carrot rigged to explode (but we can’t get the story detail into 3-4 panels, so we’re rethinking it), and a band of robber-rabbits foiled by judicious application of hot sauce.
The hot sauce picture is probably my very favourite of all the pictures I have drawn for this project, particularly because I am now getting enough of an idea of dynamic rabbit poses to have composed it entirely myself, as well – the only inspiration was the Expendables 2, which really didn’t have all that much too do with hot sauce – or rabbits – but definitely had a lot of action poses. 
I’m also enjoying my underwater rabbits. I hope I can weave them into a narrative somehow.