Martha R. Ford : Illustration

A collection of works-in-progress, works-finished and 'things' I like.

Category: Uncategorized

Illustrated Lockets

At the beginning of June, I finished my first collection of illustrated lockets which went on sale in the pop-up shop ‘Paper Scissors Stone’. Luckily for me, they were very popular and I am now perfecting my process and working on some new designs!

Here is a lovely blog post written about my lockets on the Made in Bristol website:

Product Stories: Martha Ford’s Lockets

By now most of our readers will be familiar with the wonderful work of Martha Ford. As an illustrator and Drawn in Bristol member, she is known for her inky illustrations featuring eery scenes, characters and animals, in strikingly powerful compositions.
As if Martha hadn’t impressed us enough, she’s now unveiled a collection of illustrated lockets and pendants. They’re striking and unique, and we’re extremely excited to be able to stock them within the Paper • Scissors • Stone temporium. We caught up with the busy artist to ask her about her new venture, and find out more about her jewellery line.

We love these!

Hello Martha! How did the idea to start making jewellery first come about?

I had been selling prints for a while but wanted to branch out and put my illustrations onto other surfaces; the idea of people being able to wear my artwork really appealed to me. Lockets are lovely mysterious artefacts and I thought they tied in nicely with my occasionally off-key and surreal artwork so those instantly became my little canvases.

Tell us about your inspiration behind your new jewellery range?

It’s not really a cohesive collection at this point although that is something I would definitely like to create in the future. It’s more a small assortment of quirky designs inspired by the natural world. The whale, the fox and the jellyfish are all creatures that feature quite heavily in my sketchbooks but until now, I hadn’t really included them in my work. The blue tent locket is a little abstract but is actually directly inspired by one of my earlier illustrations, ‘Rest in the Dark Woods’. And my ‘space shuttle’ locket doesn’t really fit into the set at all but as I have such an interest in all things Space-related and a big Sci-fi reader to boot, I couldn’t resist creating something along those lines.

Do you see any links between the discipline of illustration, and of jewellery?

Well they are obviously both very creative disciplines. There is definitely a big crossover between the two when we are talking items such as illustrated lockets and badges/pins as these are direct little copies of your artwork. I think one of the main reasons illustrators branch out into disciplines like T-shirt or Jewellery design is because it allows them to reach a wider audience. Not everyone buys artwork and prints for their walls, some people prefer to wear their favourite images on their person.

Have you taken inspiration from any existing jewellers?

I have always loved old lockets so this jewellery format was an obvious choice for me. Being a mostly paper-based artist, when I first started exploring jewellery-making, I had no idea how I was going to transfer my images to metal, in this case brass. I didn’t even really know if it was possible so I had to do a lot of research.

I came across this wonderful artist, Lee May Foster-Wilson whilst reading Lionheart magazine (find our interview with editor Helen Martins here) and I actually despaired just a tiny bit as her little lockets are lovely and exactly what I was aspiring to; striking compositions, quirky dreamy designs and a professional finish. Her jewellery was definitely a big inspiration and her illustration work is stunning too.

Other illustrators-turned-jewellery-makers closer to home like Sally Haysom of MyBearHands were both an inspiration and a big help. Sally pointed me in the direction of shrink plastic (hopefully to be used in the future) and decal paper, which I am using to create the lockets at the moment. I also own a couple of her pieces and wear them religiously!

What’s the process of designing a new piece of jewellery from start to finish?

I wouldn’t call myself a jewellery designer as such as my specialism is image-making not jewellery-making and so my personal process for designing jewellery is very similar to my illustration process. It always begins with a mess of words and little drawings, quickly jotted down into a sketchbook. From this, I draw tiny rough sketches and work out which ones might work well in the small round format of the lockets.

When I started, I had a lot of drawings of cities and landscapes and some fairly detailed concepts but after a while I realised the simpler the design the better. I whittled all these ideas down until I had just 5 remaining and then turned these into my 5 illustrations to transfer onto the lockets. The finish on the lockets was something I experimented a lot with too. I really like the polished finish on other lockets but I felt for mine, I wanted a more textured, hand painted feel. I achieved this by playing around with different varnishes. Beads and charms were also carefully chosen to complement each design.

Where do you see your work progressing in the future?

More variety. I have been hunting down different brass lockets, different shapes and sizes, to transfer my images onto. As I said earlier, in future, I would definitely like to create a more cohesive collection. Creating a collection of quirky brooches really appeals to me too so I think that might be coming soon. I have a few designs ready, I am just experimenting with materials and production techniques. Aside from the jewellery, I am looking into further developing my illustrations for prints, cards and other paper goods. Although I will work to hone my craft skills further, for me it’s always about the image-making and these are all ways I can get my illustrations out to other people, to hopefully be enjoyed.


New image, fresh off the…computer.

Again, a mixture of traditional and digital techniques.

Paper, Scissors, Stone Vol.2 Launch

Busy busy busy.

New shop, Paper Scissors Stone Vol.2, has now opened at Cabot Circus and I am crazy happy to be a part of it. The launch went really well and during my shift the day after, I sold my first locket!

Here are a few images from the launch(photos all courtesy of Rosalind Howard and Matthew Whittle)-

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I particularly loved the StuffedNonsense products:

Myths & Legends Exhibition

As part of the inaugural Bristol Biennial, Drawn in Bristol will be presenting an exhibition celebrating myths and legends from around the world. I’m one of 22 illustrators who have created pieces for the exhibition and they can all be seen(and bought!) in the main hub of the festival, The Showroom, on College Green from June 10th-16th.

For those who cannot make the exhibition, here’s my finished piece. I chose Nixies, female water sprites/river mermaids from German mythology, as my subject. These creatures, like many water-based mythological humanoids, often tried to drown people by luring them into the depths using their beauty and their enchanting voices. Nixies could be malicious or friendly, depending on the tale.

Bristol Zombie Walk

Little bit of a personal post. Here I am as zombie alice for the Bristol Zombie Walk 2011 a little while back- great fun.

Sneaky Peeks-Upcoming Exhibitions

I have two group exhibitions coming up. One is called ‘Distance’, organised by Romina Berenice Canet, a very energetic and talented argentinian artist and fellow member of ‘Drawn in Bristol’. 11 artists from England and 11 artists from Argentina (plus Romina) will be taking part in this two-part show- first exhibiting in argentina in the Casa Carnacini from the 6th-23rd January and then the show will be brought back to the UK for a second exhibition. It should be good! Here’s a sneaky peek of my piece titled ’10 Steps Away’:

Very sneaky- honestly I’m not really sure about how much you can show before the exhibition opening, anyone?:)
And secondly, a friend of mine, Tanya J Scott, a talented animator, designer and illustrator, bid for and won funding from Ideastap to create a group exhibition and short animation around the theme of sustainability. The title of the exhibition is ‘Bottoms Up’ and I believe it will be happening at the Tobacco Factory(Bristol) in January.
Here’s a slightly less sneaky peek of this piece:

Drawn in Bristol Pop-up Shop

During November I was lucky enough to be a part of the Drawn in Bristol pop-up shop in Cabot Circus. As part of the Pop-up Bristol project, 15 illustrators (inc myself) were able to set up a lovely shop for just over three weeks which allowed us to present our work to the general public in an accessible and very friendly environment.

It was a massive success. On a personal level, I not only sold quite a few prints and cards but I had a crash course in retail. It was definitely a steep learning curve. It was all pretty new for me: ordering bits and bobs from suppliers, handling printing orders, packaging suitably for sale, pricing work, inventories and even little things like reordering stock on the shop floor.

Here are some photos from our wonderful launch party:)

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And here’s a short article!: 

It’s been even longer than last time!

When I last posted, I was working for Beryl, building an illustration portfolio and had just signed up to volunteer on the decor team for Brisfest.

Since then, I’ve finished my freelance work at Beryl and have been completely absorbed in illustration since(although I am missing animating so much right now and may have to create something new soon). More about my illustration goings on in a minute.

Brisfest 2011 came and went. I spent many a good evening designing and painting in the few months leading up to the festival. We were situated in a warehouse about a 10minute walk from where I live which was perfect. We got free wristbands for the festival as a thank you for helping but unfortunately, after setting up all day thursday and friday, I got ill and was off for the whole weekend, in bed instead of dancing away into the early hours!Nevermind, I do like sleeping…

Here is a work-in-progress(almost finished) photo of one of my pin-up efforts for one of the tents:

Its Been So Long

It’s been quite a time since I last posted. I finished working as an animator on this wonderful project at the end of April. A massive well done to director Sarah Cox and the rest of the team and of course an enormous well done to all the children who designed everything from the characters to the grass and came up with the mad storylines! These kids created amazing and beautiful work which ultimately created a wonderful and very charming short film.

It’s now up on bbc iplayer if you would like to take a peek:

In other news, I am now doing a bit of freelance work for Beryl Productions whilst working on my illustration portfolio. The plan is to work towards applying for an illustration masters next year. Also just gotten involved as a volunteer in the decor team for Brisfest 2011, a music festival situated in the city centre harbourside area of Bristol. Its a brilliant theme and I hope I can give enough time to it as this could be lots of fun!

Possible new character for something? Maybe

Created this lady during work the other day. As you may have seen in previous posts, I do create a lot of this sort of thing but she is my favourite so far. I see her in a darwinian-esque study full of macabre butterfly collections and animal skeletons-might give her a dinosaur as well.