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Busy Country Bees – A French Homestead Life

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I adore bees, their characters, their hard work ethic and over the years I have studied beekeeping, imported raw honey from Germany and Transylvania and can tell a good honey from a false honey.. a sly mix of sugars added to many sourced honey’s.

Sketched.

Pure unadulterated, raw honey is amazing. You should be able to clearly identify the source…sunflower, meadow, heather, forest. There should be no sharp twang on your taste buds or an aftertaste of sugar burn.

The honey should be priced around £6.00 per jar and be limited in supply. Most supermarkets honey, isn’t honey. Bees take their short lifetime to produce a mere teaspoon if honey, so how can the shelves be full? The London Honey Company has limited stocks …but it’s genuine and taste delicious. Since a few years ago they have had to supplement their range by looking further afield in England. It stands to reason as honey has its limits on production. The endless bottles on the supermarket shelves are mixed with sugar syrup and you can taste it, or sourced from global supplies. That’s another story I will go into but not here today..its brutal, upsetting and unkind to bees.

Detail.

But on a lighter and happier note I was asked if I could supply some stoneware mugs for raising funds for a poultry rescue and bees were a great choice. After successfully designing the Pipi Pintade mugs and understanding how to contrast the colours for printing, the bees could be illustrated with some really nice colours. I have many bee books and spent a happy few hours analysing each bees trait and physical features. Six would be start and each would follow a slight colour scheme, for example Carpenter woukd use turquoise, Leafcutter green. I sketched and transferred to cartridge tinted papers and worked up in a mix of coloured, wax and chalky pencils. The Busy Country Bees became a collection.

A mug layout for printing.

The hardest part is expression. To me my bees look a little worried but ten their task us quite stressful. I decided better have honest faces than too jovial and probably untruthful ones. The finished six took me three weeks and needed a little adjusting on each to match one another; a little stronger colour here, stronger outline there. Once happy, they need to be processed in photoshop to enable printing. The DPI or pixels per inch shoukd be 300, or for cms 118.10 or the image will be blurry. The contrast has to go higher for sublimation as your transferring ink on a special paper via heat to the ceramic, binding the ink affectively into a hardwaring, resistant coating on the surface. Once cooled, the reveal…stressful as on first test this do not always go right. But I am mastering this technique and with deep breath, I whisk off the paper and voila! Yes it’s clear, bright and the bees look happy!

Fabrics.

The designs were a success and orders came in via my shop: http://www.judicastille.shop and requests for fabric designs too. I worked up around ten fabrics trying to give variety..stripes, toiles, richly coloured and these are now ready to sell. I spend about two months on a collection and try to co-ordinate the fabrics and mugs so they can be used together. It’s all a new venture, but I am learning so much and happy customers are loving the designs.

Pretty designs for children’s rooms.

In the pipeline will be insects, crustaceans and fishes and more poultry and other wild birds. As I start 2022, I am filled with inspiration, a little emotion from actually starting my new business and the normal worries of am I doing enough to make this work long term.

Enjoy my Busy Country Bees. Orders are shipped for free and fabrics can be made bespoke in other colourways..I am very flexible and just happy being creative.

Honey Bee…hard worker, her apropos to keep sticky honey free. Babies to feed, workers to clean and a queen to assist.
Solitary Bee…Happy on their own, but they do stay together to sleep and polinate as a community. No hives for honey, just managing the flowers.
Leafcutter Bee.
Mason Bee…watering can and mortar at the ready to fix any draughty gaps.
Carpenter Bee..hard working, careful to measure and cut to make his home.
Naughty, greedy honey stealing Bumble! His jacket is bursting from too much snacking.
Illustrations for the back of the mugs.
Solitary bees do have love in their lives.

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