Saturday 23 March 2013


A few weeks ago, I begged everyone to vote for me in the Rarely Wears Lipstick Awards; an event to mark the 10yr birthday of Lori Smith's blog.

Much to my surprise, you all listened AND I WON!!

It was a huge shock to me, as I was nominated for the Creativity Inspiration Award along with a group of OSSUM people! I didn't think people cared about mixing art and science that much!

All the other nominees and other categories can be found here on the RWL Awards page. Please do check out their work! They are all truely amazing and inspiring people, organisations and websites and it was wonderful to be in the same room as all of them last night!

Also, huge congrats and massive THANK YOU to Lori & co for putting on a brilliant evening! After getting in contact with Lori at FOTSN last year, she's played a big part in getting me to where I am and I have a lot to thank her for!

HUUUUGGGGEEEE THANKS to all who voted. It's lovely to know that my work is appreciated and I'll have some free time soon to talk about all my other projects I've been doing recently!

Stay nerdy X

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Final Major Project (FMP): Part 1

I probably should’ve done a post for my Final Major Project  at college a couple of months ago, so here it is now, if a little late. It's in several parts, as I'm having trouble cutting it down and don't want to cram too much into your brains at one time!

The way an Art & Design Foundation works is during the first term you do what’s known as the ‘pathway’ stage, which consists of work that covers four specific areas of art: 3D, fine art, graphic design and fashion and textiles. In the second term, based on the work you produce in the first term and feedback from tutors, you select one of these areas to study. Your work develops over the next term through a series of set projects and group crits with tutors and other students in your group. All this experience you gain from your work (research methods, analysis of successful work, improvements, etc) is then concentrated into the Final Major Project, or FMP. It can be based on anything and you have six weeks to research, design, develop and produce a final piece of work. It can be a single piece, or a series of final outcomes.
I specialised in fashion and textiles, as I’m useless at drawing, not brilliant with Photoshop and I don’t get on well with the machines in the 3D workshop. But I am pretty nifty with a sewing machine. Nobody in my group knew I had experience working part time in a tailors and that I own six (yes, really) sewing machines, apart from the people who had been at my previous school. So when I was asked to do some fashion illustrations for the first project we did, I felt really conscious about the quality of my drawings. But when I was (FINALLY) let loose with some fabric and a sewing machine a couple of weeks later, I ran up a prototype of a jacket within a couple of hours and had other fashion people from my group coming up to me and saying “I can’t do that.” I was secretly thinking “yes!” Ok so I couldn’t draw well (still can’t really) BUT I could sew and that gave me a confidence boost when I found out a lot of people couldn’t. 
The next few weeks I spent fixing sewing machines for other students and completing projects, making garments where I could. An aspect that I did find a bit annoying was that (bearing in mind we were fashion students) we weren’t actually asked to make any finished garments, only prototypes from calico or paper patterns. When I asked why, the response was that this was a foundation course and it was the ideas you were graded on, not the finished product. I actually found this out after I’d completed my one of my final pieces- a jacket which I’d lined and finished how I’d been taught to finish a jacket in the tailors. I was NOT happy. Especially when I was told that I could’ve “stapled the seams together” rather than sewn them, and I still would get the same grade. I see this as a fault with the course, as fashion students are then sent off to university with next to no prior experience of garment making.

Part two of the FMP post is about how I tackled my own FMP and the first mini topic.

Monday 3 September 2012

Still here!

Apologies for the lack of post lately. Since FOTSN and Heptagrin Girl, it's been all go with uni, designs and summer holidays. I'm currently working on a post showing the final pieces I produced at college last year, but I need to cut it down by quite a bit as it's FAR too long! Here's a a few clues as to what my final project was about:

Richard Feynmann

Check back soon!

Thursday 21 June 2012


Just got tumblr.

If I'm honest, I'm not too keen on it. It's awkward, you can't shift things around on the page like blogger and you can't track pageviews. So all the posts I post to tumblr, I will also post here. Why use both?  1. There are more arty people on tumblr  2. I like being awkward  3. Because I can.

So I will now be using this blogs to post lost of lovely fashion illustrations that I'm planning on doing over the summer. See you then!

Stay nerdy :)

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Heptagrin Girl

At the end of last year, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker tweeted this photo:

At the time, I was sat in a 'surface and colour' lesson (mainly weaving coloured paper/making origami swans) and I was incedibly bored. So I decided to abandon the work I was meant to be doing and proceeded to draw a series of these heptagrin spirals and colour them in.

Earlier on in the lesson I had coloured some sheets using inks and brusho, which is a fine powder that gives little bursts of colour when mixed with a water based solution. The rest of my day was then spent cutting out tiny heptagrins from the brusho paper and gluing them all down on paper. This is what I ended up with:

The shapes are made by drawing part of the way round a 50p piece, turning it and drawing around the same part again. This gives a circle which is about 6cm in diameter and cutting each haptagrin in half gives a kind of flower effect in the middle.

I was ridiculously proud of myself for making this- partly because a friend told me I couldn't... So to them: HA. But when my tutor came along to see how my work was going, she wasn't best pleased. For a couple of milliseconds, it looked like she was going to say "Oh Jess, that's a beautiful picture! Have a gold star." But instead out came the whole "Yes it's a pretty spiral, but is it what you're meant to be doing?" lecture.

As soon as I got home I posted it into the twittersphere to see if I could get a better response from that of my tutor. I think I put the caption "The only person on my course making art nerdy," or something along those lines. Anyway Matt picked up on it and gave it an RT.

Next thing I knew I was addicted to making these spirals. I made them out of block colours, patterned paper, changed the size of them, trying out different combinations each time. I even did a couple of prints at college which my print tutor HATED. She gave me the 'how to use your time wisely' lecture...

After a while, I got a bit bored of heptagrins on paper so I decided to think of something a bit more challenging. I wanted a 3D representation of a heptagrin spiral. Then I realised I could cut a hole in the centre of the spiral and that would act as the waistband of a skirt. I knew it'd work as I've made loads of circle skirts and I love the full effect they give. I had an idea of how I wanted the finished skirt to look: 50's shape, but with a colourful and intricate pattern within the skirt.

So I tweeted to design idea to Matt and the next day went to college, got the biggest piece of paper I could find (I was asked by several tutors whether this was an effective use of resources, to which I replied: YES) and drew the biggest heptagon I could. The only rulers in the art dept. at college are 30cm so naturally, I had to improvise and use a table leg with a tape measure taped to it. After drawing various lines and curves, I had my half a heptagrin and used it as a pattern piece to cut 28 half heptagrins out of a sheet (fashion student tip: don't buy cotton new off the role. Buy sheets as MUCH cheaper).

Now comes the part where I had LOADS of college stuff to do so the heptagrin skirt took a back seat but I did find time to travel to London with another nerd I found on my course, Sarah  and we went to see Festival of the Spoken Nerd at The Bloomsbury Theatre. Which, by the way, was a fantastic night of science and comedy and I thoroughly recommend you go and see! So I tweeted FOTSN after the show and said I was planning on booking tickets for their next show in May. Out of the blue, I received an email from Matt asking if I'd like to show off my heptagrin skirt on stage, at The Bloosbury Theatre, at the next show. When I first read the email, I nearly dropped my cup of tea onto my laptop. Nothing like this ever happens to me! The Bloomsbury Theatre. In London. A sell-out gig with over 500 people. How could I say no‽

So then came the fabric shopping (such fun) and the making and the photos which Sarah did for me. I'd decided to adapt the skirt into a dress and added a bodice to the top. Here are a few of the pics. This was just before I'd finished the hemming so excuse the odd strand of fabric!

So yesterday was the big night and as soon as I went through the door at the theatre one of the FOTSN team came up to me and said "You're the Heptagrin Girl. Go through that door and they'll give you a pass that gets you into the Green Room. You'll find everyone in there." I was thinking this must be what normal people feel like when the get to go backstage at Glastonbury :P So I went with my mathsy friend Em and was introduced to Matt Parker, Helen Arney and Steve Mould, the behind the scenes people and the other acts that were performing at the show. I had also been asked to make a heptagrin spiral on paper for Matt, so I made a HUGE one that he could put on his office wall.

On our way back down to take our seats, I met at least three people who all said "Hey, you're the Heptagrin Girl!" Not gonna lie, for a second I imagined I was a superhero, called Heptagrin Girl, who threw heptagrins at baddies.

I didn't go on stage until the end of the show and it was only for a couple of minutes, but I was on stage with Festival of the Spoken Nerd, at The Bloomsbury Theatre. How cool is that‽ :) I thought that was my 2 minutes of fame over, but when we walked out to the foyer, I had people coming and saying how much they loved the skirt and that it was so imaginative. I had a few tweets too with people saying they wanted one. My work does get praised at college but it can also get lost in everyone else's work. But because these people were nerds, and knew that the design was based on mathamatical shapes, they understood it and appreciated it not only because it looked good (yes, in my opinion), but also because it was a clever fusion of art and maths.

So a massive THANK YOU to Matt, Helen and Steve for being so welcoming at the show and letting me take part in Festival of the Spoken Nerd and yes, there I will be wearing a new creation at the next show 'Life, Oh Life' in January 2013.

And if anyone would like to be the owner of either a 2D heptagrin spiral picture or a 3D heptagrin spiral dress (there are currently only one of each in the world), let me know via this blog or twitter (@JessHawke92) and I will get back to you asap with further contact details.

Stay nerdy :)

Wednesday 17 August 2011

"Stressed" is "Desserts" Spelled Backwards.

And so the exam results period is upon us. Tomorrow (I can't quite believe it), at stupid o'clock in the morning, students around the country will be picking up AS and A level results. As I'm off to college next year, I need to gain 1 pass (E grade as I understand it). If I don't get that 1 measly pass, I have no idea what I'll do. Probs cry for a very long time.

Exam related stuff can stress me out, so I decided to busy myself the past couple of weeks, arranging to meet up with friends, sewing, craft work and the most dangerous of all these: cooking. Now my track record for cooking isn't brilliant and usually involves me setting fire to things. E.g. pasta, microwaves, etc. But I'm a determined sort of person, so I 'borrowed' my sister's cupcake book, and decided to make some coffee cakes.

Primrose Bakery cookbook and icing bowl

Surprisingly, the cakes turned out quite well!

Coffee icing complete with coffee bean decoration
Managed to find red and white spotty cake cases too
I made a batch of about 18 cakes, but when I came to ice them, there appeared to be less cakes than before... Note to self: NEVER leave cupcakes unattended when other family members are around. I therefore had quite a lot of icing left over and it would have been a shame to waste it. So naturally, I had to eat it. BIG mistake. Managed to stop myself halfway through the bowl though and have put the rest in the fridge. I'll use it to ice the large batch of cakes I'll be making tomorrow if my results aren't what I wanted...or they could be celebratory cakes. Let's hope for the latter.

Then something very strange happened: I washed up all the cookery things I'd used AND cleaned the kitchen. Am normally very reluctant to do this and leave it for a couple of days before I decide to tackle it. Then realised the amount of coffee I had put into the cake and icing mixtures, PLUS the numerous large mugs of coffee I had had today (to settle my nerves obv) was probs more than my normal daily intake...

So the conclusions of today's experiment are that a) I CAN COOK b) coffee makes all things possible and c) when stressed, desserts are always helpful. FACT

Saturday 30 July 2011

50s Pin Up Dress for Em #1

Have decided to do a range of 1950s inspired halterneck dresses to sell locally. To advertise them, I need a glamorous brunette model, who has the hourglass figure of the classic pin-up girls of the 50s. Enter my mate Em. She's kindly agreed to do a couple of shoots in return for a couple of dresses. These posts will show everything from the making of the dresses to the final shoots, for which I'll be borrowing a couple of classic cars from Dad's garage.

Here's the prototype of the first dress I'm making. (Sorry about the bin bags in the background- my room is my workshop at the moment and I'm in the middle of having a long overdue clearout). It's the classic cinched in at the waist with a voluminous skirt halterneck dress, adapted from a Simplicity pattern. Side zip on the left side seam. A lining hasn't been used in the prototype, but whether or not I include a lining in the finished dress will depend on the choice of fabric for the outer shell. This dress will be fitted to Em, but other versions will be available in standard UK sizes.

View of the halterneck. This has a loop-button fastening.
Tip for prototypes: you don't have to spend a lot of money on calico. Your local dry cleaners will have sheets and duvets from hotels that can't be taken back because of small holes. I picked up several from a dry cleaners in Bath for around a couple of pounds per sheet. They're usually double sheets which means you have plenty of fabric. I managed to make two blazer patterns and this prototype out of one sheet!

Next on the to do list is for Em to have the dress fitted properly, then it's off fabric shopping!! As I'm making several versions of the dress, I might get a mix of fabrics to experiment with: cottons and linens as well as more formal dress fabrics.

Fitting and fabric choices coming soon!