The Story of Sunray Sister

I have always been an artist. I love to draw what I see and draw from my imagination. I love to keep notebooks, sketchbooks, journals… I have a box stuffed full of magazine clippings and inspirational ephemera. I love to sew, by hand and by machine. I love beads, buttons, lace, ribbons… I love painting, both beautiful images, and crazy abstract patterns. I adore cute stickers and washi tape, stamps and linocutting. I enjoy making gifts for others and receiving anything handmade and unique. I love to buy handmade items (anything from pins to soap) and awesome artwork (prints, postcards, zines). All together I just love being able to create physical things with my own hands, and be part of such an incredible movement of makers.

If you connect with any of these things then you are in the right place, and through this blog I hope to share some insight into my creative process, the things I love, the people I admire, the places I escape to and my dreams for the future.

First let me give you the exclusive story of how Sunray Sister came about…

{some observational small sketches}

At school I always loved art and textiles. My sketchbooks were places to experiment and explore, for layers and perfect arrangements of images; although sometimes a little constrained by what the examiner was looking for. My personal sketchbooks were much smaller and simply recorded the views and things around me in honest pencil lines. In textiles class I always went that bit further. One term we were asked to create a cushion, but for some reason I decided to make a structured bag with piping and appliqué and a transferred image. But I never finished it! It still sits in my wardrobe at home with pins in. My wall hanging the next year displayed every textile technique under the sun. At least it felt that way. I just loved being able to make all these things, and then show them off to everyone!

{large life-drawing examples from art college}

{drawings in my final project sketchbook at art college}

Then I went to art college to study a foundation diploma, in preparation for an art degree. I had already been accepted onto university courses after A levels, but decided art college would give me more time to develop. And it did. I was shown so many techniques and it was great to have a special desk space to decorate and create work in. I spent most of my time drawing in my sketchbook and creating ceramics. I think the main thing I learned was persistence: with an idea, a technique, anything… just keep trying. When the course finished I was offered places for art degrees again. Instead of accepting I started writing my own songs and went to a music university!

{posters and EP artwork I designed whilst studying music}

I have always loved music. I taught myself piano, had clarinet lessons up to grade 8, had singing lessons for a year and completed a grade 7 exam, taught myself guitar, sang in front of friends, family and strangers. In recent years I put a lot of effort into my music path, even completing a degree in music, but my artist-self was constantly nagging at me, (just like when I was at art college, my music-self was ready to be released). During my degree I wanted to quit music so many times. I know that quitting either one will never work out, so both art and music will always be a part of me. Right now I am giving art a chance to shine through. Maybe one day soon I will find a way for both to get along in harmony.

{Sunray Sister unique dolls}

Sunray Sister came about quite suddenly this year, when I decided to just do something, after so much thinking and wondering and considering which way is the right way. I just forgot all of that and just started making. I drew my ideas endlessly. I made 5 unique dolls using fabric which I hand dyed using shibori and tie-dye techniques. I created 4 motivational brooches using the same fabric with embroidered messages. I opened an Etsy shop, set-up social media accounts, joined like-minded online groups. It felt really positive: I was achieving something new!

{Sunray Sister embroidered brooches}

After just one month I have even more belief in this path than ever before. Of course it has been really tough, and my Etsy shop may say ‘0 sales’, but I am not disheartened. I am here and I am sharing my story. I have ideas upon ideas: Next I will be finishing some hand painted wooden brooches, due to go into the shop tomorrow. Then I will be releasing some christmas cards. After that I will be creating a new line of handmade dolls, incorporating embroidered motivational messages, as well as some smaller ‘baby dolls‘. Later I plan to launch my own YouTube channel sharing videos of crafting and drawing and sketchbooks, plus adventures to inspirational places from the woods to the library. I also want to offer prints of my drawings and paintings. I get so motivated by having all of these projects and plans in motion all at once. It may look a little messy to others, and this may sound a little selfish, but all these branches have grown out of me, and that is what connects them.

{mini art books which I made for my Dad}

What has nurtured those branches is something separate. The people around me are the most loving and encouraging, and I am forever grateful for them. Their love, as well as the love of strangers who stumble upon my work, feeds me. At times it can also make me stumble, since I am so sensitive, and take everything personally! I am very introverted and one thing I am discovering right now is that I do not see enough real people in my day-to-day life! I am itching to get out into the physical crafting community, but I find it hard to push myself out. I can’t wait until I have my first craft fair stall; that will be a big milestone I will be sure to tell you about.

Still I am never short of ideas and plans. I get inspired by anything and everything. I absorb all kinds of media. I get fascinated by the tiniest shell on a beach, the hugest building in a new city, the fact that we are mere specks of dust in the great complexities of the universes, and so many things in between. I follow so many current creative people online, and admire so many more off line via museums and books dedicated to their incredible work. Obviously this not only includes visual artists, but also musicians, writers, dancers; anyone who lives a creative and beautiful life. And of course this will be another subject to explore on this blog.

{some recent sketchbook drawings}

Thank you for being here, and reading my story! I hope I can inspire you to create and to dream big, to keep going, and to not be afraid to change your path…

Tomorrow I will be launching a new product in my Etsy shop, so be sure to check my social media pages (via the ‘Links‘ tab). Then on Sunday I will be back here with a slightly lighter post sharing my favourite songs from the last few weeks in a special illustrated playlist.


Peace and love

Rachel x


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