Ever since I was a child, our family have had parrots as pets. When I was a toddler we had a pet cockatiel called Toohey. As teenager we got a Senegal parrot called Mango, he was unwanted by his last owners so we took him on. My mum still has him now, he's about 20 years old now! Not to mention the countless bird centres and zoos I visited and loved as a kid...
Two years ago, my mum found a little blue budgie in her garden, on her bird feeder! We live in the UK so it definitely wasn't native (and actually blue budgies are not native anywhere, as their colour is bred specifically for the pet market) so she was a bit worried it might not survive - particularly as she has a sparrow hawk which regularly visits her garden and would have eaten the budgie for dessert! So after a couple of days she managed to catch the budgie in a net and bring it indoors, popping it into a spare cage. The budgie was young, no-one local was missing a budgie and so we believe it escaped from a pet shop nearby. My mum raised the budgie, saving it from the claws of the sparrow hawk! However, my mum already has her parrot and the two didn't get on very well so eventually budgie came to live with me and got her new name - Bean! She likes to help out with my business, particularly when I have boxes of shredded paper to play in!
Last year I also managed to visit Australia (just before Covid-19 took over all of our lives and plans). The wildlife in Australia is incredible and I was surrounded by exotic birds the whole time!
On our first night in Manly (North Sydney), we heard the sound of a creature crawling and scratching in the loft - terrified as I had never been to Australia before, I believed it must some sort of dangerous poisonous creature that might scratch its way down into the bedroom in the middle of the night! The next morning, after little sleep, I heard it scratching towards the edge of the roof so quickly jumped out of bed to the balcony only to see two rainbow lorikeets emerging from a hole in the loft and flying out into the incredible sunrise.
These two lorikeets were a total highlight of the trip - although they did keep us up most nights whilst they chewed the loft to pieces making their nest! Further into the trip we also got to see kookaburras, cockatoos, king parrots, galahs and rosellas! The birds were amazing and were everywhere you went - even in the city centre! Quite an incredible sight to see just in the local park or outside the Opera House!
I was completely inspired by the wildlife I had seen in Australia and the parrots I had grown up with, as well as the new budgie addition to my family. I decided to create my new range of illustrations inspired by these birds. I was lucky enough to have taken lots of photos of these birds whilst in Australia so had lots of reference photos to use!
I was also lucky to receive an updated version of my illustration tablet around the same time - upgrading from ISKN's The Slate 2+ to their newer Repaper Studio which is pressure sensitive, allowing me to add even more detail to this new range of illustrations than previously possible with my old tablet - and so the parrot illustrations were born. Bean was very entertained by my growing parrot range and flew over to the computer screen to admire my work many times! One time she even posed as a live model in the studio!
So far, my parrot illustrations are available as aprons, cushion covers, coasters, tea towels and greetings cards - if you would like to see these parrots on anything else, or a different parrot which I haven't illustrated yet - please get in touch! All of my illustrations were drawn by hand, using my illustrations tablet which allows them to become instantly digitised. My textile products are made from 100% cotton and all designed and made in the UK. My greetings cards are made from 100% recycled paper fibres and come with home-compostable wrappers and a recycled kraft envelope. Every order is packaged in plastic-free packaging and one tree is planted for every 10 orders, in collaboration with the charity One Tree Planted! Many of these trees are planted in Australia, particularly following the widespread bush fires they had last January, just before I visited and saw some of the destruction for myself. I aim to give back to the natural environment as much as possible, as it provides me with most of my inspiration and a home for the animals I love and draw.
You can shop the new parrot collection in my online shop here: https://www.silverpasta.co.uk/shop
You can follow more of my wildlife adventures here: https://www.instagram.com/crazy_dormouse_lady/
Jess from Silverpasta Crafts is a digital illustrator who is inspired by wildlife and the natural world. In her other job she works as an ecologist and sees British wildlife on a daily basis. She creates digital illustrations of wildlife which are then printed onto homeware and gifts, such as tea towels, aprons, coasters and greetings cards. These are all made in the UK and are sent in plastic-free packaging, as well as one tree being planted for every 10 items sold. You can view her entire range by visiting her shop: https://www.silverpasta.co.uk/shop