Category: making of

October’s zine in progress


October marks the seventh month-versary of our move back to Lisbon. It’s hard to think back objectively on the time that has passed: was it long ago? Or yesterday? It feels like it was yesterday, on the one hand; but, then again, so many things happened.

We traveled in March, received our sea-shipped furniture in May, felt at home in August. It’s October, Autumn is here; I’m now feeling the desire to cozy up indoors with my knitting needles – or pencil and paper! – and just enjoy work with a cup of tea.

Last week I showed you my studio and today I’m sharing a bit of the process of working on my zine.

I usually start by folding a sheet of paper in four, just like the zine. I jot down some ideas and start to write and distribute copy on the different “pages” to set pace and tone. Then I imagine what I’d like to use as illustration and start sketching!

When I’m happy with the sketch, I grab my favorite pen – or brush – and start inking.

This is where I am today as I’m writing to you. I’m documenting the process over on Instagram. You can check out my feedair_billy is my username – or search the hashtag #airingfromlisbon.

One of the changes I implemented over the summer was to change the accessibility of the zine. Although it is still free, current issues are only available to email subscribers.  It is thanks to you and your help spreading the word that I can keep illustrating, embroidering and knitting.

Speaking of which, tomorrow we will be meeting here in the studio for the first knitting workshop. I’m planning to add a new date for November. Want to join us? Let me know!

Have a great weekend!


Outubro marca o sétimo mesiversário da nossa mudança para Lisboa. É difícil pensar de forma objectiva sobre o tempo que passou: passou rápido? Depressa? Por um lado, parece que chegámos ontem mesmo; por outro, aconteceram tantas coisas entretanto…

Chegámos em Março, recebemos a mudança, que veio por mar, em Maio. Em Agosto sentimo-nos finalmente em casa. Agora que o Outono chegou a Lisboa, sinto vontade de voltar para o interior, beber um chá e sentar-me a desenhar, bordar ou tricotar.

Há dias mostrei-vos um pouco do meu atelier; hoje mostro-vos um pouco do meu trabalho. De momento, estou a trabalhar na edição de Outubro da minha zine, “airing from Lisbon”. Normalmente começo por dobrar uma folha em quatro, tal como a zine se apresenta, e anoto ideias. Vou mudando o texto de umas “páginas” para as outras até chegar à versão que mais me agrada, e depois passo aos esboços.

O passo seguinte é fazer a ilustração numa folha nova, primeiro a lápis e depois – como vêem acima – a caneta.

E é neste ponto que me encontro actualmente. Se quiserem acompanhar o processo, estou a documentá-lo com mais detalhe no Instagram: air_billy é o meu nome e estas imagens estão todas identificadas com a hashtag #airingfromlisbon.

Uma das mudanças implementadas durante o Verão foi no que diz respeito à acessibilidade da zine. Apesar de ser ainda gratuita, só está acessível aos leitores da newsletter. Se ainda não assina, basta clicar aqui! É graças ao vosso apoio que eu posso continuar a fazer o que gosto: ilustrações, bordado e tricot.

Por falar em tricot, amanhã é o nosso workshop! Em breve haverá nova data para Novembro – quem quer vir?

Bom fim-de-semana!


The third anniversary issue of “airing from Lisbon” will be embroidered…

Some progress on my embroidered illustration. #airingfromlisbon (actually in #bcn)

…and I have been posting regular photographic updates of the progress done on instagram and on the facebook page.

This is a very detailed and slow project but I feel that it works like therapy for me.

Make sure to follow @air_billy (on instagram and twitter) and “airing from Lisbon” (on facebook) and sign up for my newsletter, which will show you exclusive, behind the scenes images.

How about you? Are you working on any project that feels therapeutic?

Lotaria à Portuguesa: making of


I love reading about other artists’ creative processes and thought it might be fun to share mine with you.

The project at hand was a call for entries organized by Santa Casa, the entity responsible for the portuguese lottery. They currently have a very specific public – male, over 55 – and one of the goals of this competition is to broaden their target audience, with a strong focus on the female public.

The theme was “Portugalidade”, which would translate as “Portugality”, and my idea was to focus on embroidery, an important art form throughout Portugal, with many specific regional techniques. Because Portugal is such a small country, this diversity is an important part of local identities, making embroidery even more special. I also wanted to focus on other icons of our identity, steering away from the usual themes of the sea and the maritime discoveries. I looked into embroidered icons and symbols of our natural and cultural heritage to create this illustration.


After brainstorming, I came up with the concept and some first rough sketches.


Four hours later, I had my tight sketch, ready to be transferred onto fabric.


03_transfering sketch to fabric
My low-tech approach to transferring a design involves a window and some scotch tape. I am so lucky to have been shown this wonderful blue fabric marker before starting this project: it is easy to use and easier to remove than what I used before (a pencil). Thank you, J!


04_embroidery in progress
Embroidery started!
I like to stand up and embroider near the window and, at this point, my legs and my right thumb were already a bit sore. It was excellent exercise, though!


05_embroidery in progress
Good progress here! We are a bit over halfway, which means about ten hours embroidering.
Next: the incredibly detailed bird…


07_almost done

09_last stitch close up
Mission “Bird”: accomplished! The very last stitch completes the red carnation and marks twenty hours of embroidery work.



Here is the final piece!


Lotaria à Portuguesa
My finished lottery ticket!


This is the completed piece and, by the way, did you notice the choice of colors? Darker and lighter shades of blue are the tones more often used in azulejos, a traditional technique and artistic heritage left by the Arabic presence in the Iberian Peninsula, many centuries ago. Azulejos are very close to our national identity, too. The only color exception in this illustration is the red carnation, the main symbol of our democracy.

On December 15th I will find out if my entry was chosen as one of the twenty finalists. Help me gain visibility by clicking on this link and liking it on facebook, sharing it on twitter, google+ and pinterest.

I’m crossing my fingers until the date the finalists are announced. I hope to make that list, but if I don’t, I had a wonderful time coming up with this illustration and embroidering it.

Challenges and struggles

Best start to my day #painting #acryliconcanvas

Best start to my day II #painting #acryliconcanvas

I´ve mentioned here (too many times?) that my main challenge for 2012 is to paint everyday. I´ve been painting portraits, so far (I, II, III, IV), and I´ve felt different and mixed feelings about the process. Because of their nature – being a portrait, the portrayed should be recognizable – there´s an inherent lack of spontaneity in the initial steps, when faces and features are laid on the canvas. This has made me feel – more than once, I´m afraid – that I don´t want to “mess it up” in later stages… and there goes spontaneity again.

This has been a latent struggle in the work, so today I decided to tackle it by using larger brushes instead of fine ones and by putting more colours at once. It was a small step, I think, but a good one. The joy of painting is here again.

My first quilt

[flickrgallery setid=”72157629045866395″ limit=”10″]
Is this Thursday, already? Oh, wonderful, it means tomorrow is Making Friday (Skinny Laminx style). I have been dedicating it to my first quilt, and outstanding goal for 2011.

The top is sewn, so are the two back pieces, and the sandwich is made. Quilting is in progress, but being a beginner quilter, I prefer to take it easy and go slowly.

There were some challenges concerning the alignment (or lack thereof) – I realize, being a first-time quilter, I didn´t make my life any easier by choosing a pattern with two directions of alignment (horizontal and vertical).

Still, with all its quirks, this is a quilt I´m proud of, most specially for being my first one, yes, but also because it makes me happy to look at it, its colours and the way front and back match.

I´ll show again once finished, can´t wait!

Quilt top

Quilt top

The back


Embroidering the view from the top of the rock, in NYC

Easier to find the right colour like this

This is a long term personal project I´m working on. It involves embroidering sketches from trips… and then we´ll see if it goes where I think it is going.

So far I´m enjoying the feeling of using needle, floss and fabric as couloured pens and paper.

Whole flickr set, here.

“We´re in Panama!”, behind the scenes

It was time for a nice behind the scenes, “making of” post about issue 11 of my e-zine. Embroidery is a time consuming, very relaxing (albeit obsessive) job, and I love it more every time I use it as a technique. I´ve used it in January´s e-zine and in baby blankets. I find that the slight serendipity of the stitches provides a beautiful character to the technique, making it very expressive.

So, to show you around a bit, it all starts with sketches:

01. sketching

I scan them and make the layout in the computer, enlarge it and print it. It´s time for transfering the page onto the cloth to be embroidered. I use a very sophisticated lightbox – the window:

02. transfering

Then it´s time to take my needle and embroidery floss out of the box and start stitching, without fear:

03. embroidering

And go on stitching…

04. embroidering continues...

… and stitching.

05. ...and continues...

All text is embroidered too. I check three times and just hope for no typos:

06. letters are embroidered too

Then on to the reverse side:

07. on to the reverse side

And a good wash in the end to remove all graphite stains:

08. washing

You can see the whole flickr set here. Just don´t miss the zine itself!

Making of IF_Breeze

Making of IF Breeze_05

I´ve just uploaded a new series of images with the process of making IF_Breeze´s papercut. To check it out, click here. Hope you enjoy it!


Uma nova série de fotografias com o processo de trabalho para a ilustração IF_Breeze, de ontem, foi colocada aqui. Espero que gostem!