Yessica's Journey Blog

Welcome to the Yessica's Journey Blog Site, a Journey through Mental Health, Wellbeing and Creativity.


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Experimenting with Dyes for material

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Here are some pictures of experiments I have done with dyeing material. This is mainly for Yessica’s clothing. I experimented with Dylon dyes which work well with cotton. I wanted to mix the colours to get a certain shade which takes quite a long time and a lot of experimenting. I managed to get the right colour which was great  but unfortunately discovered that the dye I had does not dye nylon and polyester. You have to get different dye for that called Polydye, which you heat up on a cooker to dye nylon. This will be more difficult to mix the colours up so back to the drawing board.

I also experimented with more natural dyes from coffee, tea, juice and spices

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Extra padding for Yessica’s Body

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Decided after making Yessica’s dress that I need to pad out her body more with foam. You can add and take away as you want which is the great thing about using foam. I felt she needed more on her bottom and bust.


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Second day of recording Voiceover Artists at Epic Studios

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Well I woke up this morning and decided I must find the rhymes that Yessica speaks from the first version of the script we did in 2010. First thing in the morning I had to quickly hunt through loads of copies of scripts and just found a couple and went with that, I don’t even know if it was the right version or not. I think it is fate that I decided this, a gut feeling, instinct, as it was a last minute decision that I slept on. In the first script which we wrote before November 2010 we had Yessica rhyming at the end. I had taken this out of the final second version of the script as it would take too long to animate to and so I decided to put a shorter narration in. The rhymes were mainly written by Jane, myself and Oz also contributed.  I think even my dad helped to write a couple of them. Jane was much more involved in the first version of the script especially with the rhyming and did a fantastic job of putting them together and turning what I wanted to say into something which rhymes.  The problem is it takes ages to say them and if you are animating to it you can imagine how long that would take. Sometimes I think this film would work well as live action as you can say much more and have less restrictions. It’s funny as I had almost lost site of why I choose to do rhyming in the first place. I had watched ‘Vincent’ by Tim Burton on YouTube some years ago and loved the rhyming by Vincent Price. I knew when I heard it that rhyming is a very effective and powerful way of getting a message across to an audience, making it memorable and something which people will enjoy listening to and remember.

The day began with Orna saying these rhymes from the first script which I intended using on the website and not in the animation. As we all listened, Matt and Will and myself there was complete silence. Again this was a really magical moment. As I listened to her voice and the words I realised that I just had to use it, it was too good not to. As she was speaking I said to Matt, I have to use this and decided that I could use it in the end scene, get rid of the narration which was more or less saying the same thing, and continue it into the credits, that way I could use a lot of it. Matt, Orna and Will all agreed and it was great to have the confidence to make a decision like that, I think it’s fate. If this had happened earlier in the year or indeed last year I would never have been capable of making a decision like that, I had no confidence at all in my own abilities or decisions. Its great when things work out in the end. Orna, Matt and Will also offered a lot of feedback, advice and suggestions throughout the process and we changed the odd word or two as we recorded it.

We tended to record several versions of everything so I have a choice and lots to choose from when I do the editing. We also asked Orna and Matt to do different versions, softer, harder, louder, whispering etc. Will did an amazing sample to show us how effective sound can be. He layered several different voices together and the effects were amazing. I am looking forward to doing the sound as I enjoy it. I am also recording spot sounds myself later on. I am using Sound Track Pro which I used at University.

I filmed some of the days activities and took pictures which I hope to eventually put on the website once the film is launched. It was great as I had invited several people to pop in to see the recording. Peter Edge from the NHS arrived first and then Oz Osborne from Yarmouth Mind and Jane Finch who is a freelance writer. It was great to see everyone and they all agreed that Orna and Matt were fantastic for the roles of the Magician and Yessica. It was nice as well for myself, Oz and Jane to be together after all the hard work we had put in with writing the script. The words coming to life through the power of the human voice is truely a magical and remarkable moment to be part of.  I loved everyone being there together, it was a really lovely moment and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oz, myself, Orna and Matt all went for lunch and Oz kindly paid for a really lovely lunch at the King of Hearts, thank you Oz. We then did some filming in another studio and I asked Orna and Matt to play out the parts of Yessica and the Magician for real. I wanted some ideas for movement especially for the Magician. They were both great and I hope to eventually put the footage on the website and possibly YouTube. It even gave me an idea that it would make a great play.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me to get this far. Thanks especially to Matt, Orna, Will, Jane, Oz and Peter Edge for a perfect day.

I was sad to see Orna and Matt go and sad that it was over. I feel like I have made two new friends and I wish them both well in their careers and for the future. I really enjoyed doing this, and loved every minute of it. At last I feel like I am starting to enjoy this whole project more, its not been easy but I have learnt so much and I am very grateful to so many people for all their help and support. Thank you to both of you, you were perfect and you are both very talented and skilled artists.


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First day of recording Voiceover Artists at Epic Studios

Today is the first day of recording at Epic Studios. I had booked the studio some time ago and had to cancel and reschedule it as the script was not ready. Epic is a huge place and it was very reasonably priced and very professional.

It went so well and we managed to record a lot of the script. We worked all day form 9am-6pm and it was really good fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Orna and Matt were both so professional that we got through most of it very quickly. They are absolutely perfect for the roles of Yessica and the Magician and I am so pleased as I feel that I made a good decision in finally selecting them both, it’s great when things finally start to go well after so many things have gone wrong. Their voices are incredible and it was a magical moment when I heard them both speaking the parts. When you have worked on something for so long over a long period of time and you just keeping reading words, to finally hear them come to life through a voice is really an amazing and special moment.

William Taitt is a sound engineer at Epic Studios and he helped us with the recording of the voices. He used a computer to connect to the sound booths and recorded the sound. He had to make sure the sound levels were correct and appropriate. He was a huge help and offered really good advice throughout. He was great to work with and we all had a lot of fun. I was sitting with him and was able to talk to the artists through a microphone. Will and myself had to go through the script sections at times to make sure and check that the artists were talking at the right speed and not going over the time specified for each section of speech. This was quite hard to do but Will was great and really helpful. We had to re-record several times to get the right pace. I think at times we were one or two seconds out so this might make the animation slightly longer.

A really special moment for me was when Orna was speaking a particular part in the script which was just random muttering. It was a piece that I had worked on myself a few nights before and just had randomly put down thoughts and words in no particular order. It was my feelings about what happened to me. I had written it one line after another with the intent that I would have a library of words and sentences which I could pick from and not necessarily use all of. When she started to speak it, I got quite emotional and I actually realised it worked quite well as a whole piece. I can’t put all of this in the animation but I intend putting extracts from it on the website as when the words are spoken, Orna’s voice is just so perfect, I love it. She has a voice you want to listen to. I think its because she was saying my feelings that made me so emotional. It’s funny as I spent the least amount of time on these words and yet because it’s so raw and not over processed it feels more real to me.

We had a lot of laughs with Matt, he has a great sense of humor and his voice was so perfect for the role of the Magician. He stood out right from the start when we were listening to the auditions and he was Oz’s favourite and also mine. He has an amazing range in his voice and he really got into the character. He can do so many different accents. His voice was so perfect for the role. He stood out as I wanted someone who could sound quite evil and menancing at times, quite persuasive. At the same time I wanted to find someone with a voice which did not sound pantomime but real.

The role of Yessica I found much harder to decide on as there were about 3 or 4 really good auditions. I took a longer time over the final decision for this. Again Orna’s voice stood out for me and she was also our favourite. I was looking for an innocent, naive and young voice and hers was perfect for the role. She has a lot of emotion in her voice.

After the first day we all went out for a meal in Norwich and I showed Orna and Matt around some parts of Norwich including the Cathedral and Elm Hill. When we got home I showed them their voiceover auditions and some of the other voiceover auditions which I was impressed with. I think it was fate as when I played Orna’s audition, Matt commented that the rhymes that Orna was speaking was not in the script. This was a set of rhymes from the very first script which Jane, Oz and I worked on. In the end I took this out as it would have made the animation too long so I had put a shorter narration piece in.


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Orna and Matt arrive to record characters voices

Well today is an important day. Orna Salinger and Matt Oliver are the voiceover artists for Yessica’s Journey. They have come down to record the voices of the characters over two days at Epic Studios in Norwich. They drove down in Matt’s car from London and arrived late on Sunday. It was lovely to meet them at long last, it seems ages that we have been waiting to record. They are both staying at my parents house. We all got on really well and they both seem really nice. I gave them a new copy of the script as it had changed and I showed them some of the visuals for the project. They were very kind and bought me a bottle of wine which we were all happy to consume.


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Last minute changes to Script

I am still tweaking the script as we are recording the voices for the characters in a few days. I seem to work on it every day, tweaking little words here and there. This script has taken a long time to get right and a lot of my time has gone into it as well as other people’s time. I am glad it is nearly finished and relieved.


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Making Clothes for Yessica at Makeplace

Makeplace Website (specialist workspace)

Sally and Anastacia at Makeplace in Norwich

© Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images/text. Image of Yessica puppet has been blanked out as I want the outfit to be a surprise and won’t come out until the film is launched.

I have been making Yessica’s clothes for a while now and have not found it easy as I am not really a dressmaker and my skills are limited. I have already made one dress and did not like it and ended up making a little dress from one of the belts from my skirt. I am really pleased with it. I have also made a separate skirt to go under the dress/tunic. I have spent quite a considerable amount of time choosing material for her frills and for the rest of her outfit. Attention to detail is very important.

I decided to get help with making the main construction of the sleeves/top which goes under the dress and her trousers. I wanted to learn how to do this and also do as much of it myself as possible rather than hire someone to make her outfit completely. I discovered this great place on Magdalen Street called Makeplace. They run many different courses on how to make things. They also offer one to one tutor sessions and they have a lovely bright and spacious work space. It has a lovely atmosphere and I would recommend it as a great place to learn and be creative.

I booked two 3 hour sessions to make some clothing for Yessica and the coat of the Magician later on in a few weeks time. The tutor Sally Hepple, was really nice and very skilled in dressmaking. We spent a long time talking and trying out different methods for the sleeves. Unfortunately I had bought material which was not suitable for the puppet as it was too thick. I had to go next door to their shop and purchase some new material. I could not get the exact material I wanted but settled on a mustard coloured satin type material. You have to be careful with colours and with material that has a shine when making puppets for stop motion animation.

Sally made a pattern for the top with sleeves and she used the sewing machine to make it. I hand sewed part of the top and applied some fray liquid to the fabric to stop it fraying.

The time went very quickly but we managed to make the top with sleeves. I just have to finish it off at home by adding frills to the sleeves and putting a clasp on the back.

Sally made the little trousers for Yessica. They were quite hard and fiddly to do as they are so small. We had to keep adjusting the width of the legs to make them tighter so it was quite hard to turn them inside out to work on them. I just have to finish off at home, add frills, hems and clasps.

I would like to thank Sally for her help, she was really nice to work with and I enjoyed chatting to her.


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Wellbeing Networking Event

Catalyst East Anglia Website

I went to Beckie’s Wellbeing Networking Event this evening with my sister. I had been invited to give a talk about my work as an artist including Yessica’s Journey and the work I did recently for Oz – Antony and the Five Ways to Wellbeing Diary, and the Human Library Leaflet. My Apple Mac Laptop had broke down earlier in the day so I was worried it would not start up. I took along some of my animation showreel for the Yessica’s Journey project and some prints. I also took the armature of the Magician puppet to show people. I also took along the diary and some prints.

The presentation went really well. There were around 10 people so I was relieved there was not more as I was quite nervous. This is the first time I have done this in a while, stand up and talk in front of a group of people. I was dreading it but once I had started I was fine and I was pleased I managed to do it. It has given me confidence so that is a good thing. Oz Osborne was also there and he also talked about the projects at the end.

There was also a lady there who talked to us about NLP and demonstrated how it worked. The event went really well and we all enjoyed it.


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Experimenting with dyeing foil and ribbon

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I have been experimenting with colouring foil and ribbon for Yessica’s clothes. Used various paints, to see what would work best. I also have to be careful that the colours are not shiny for stop motion which is quite hard.


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Norwich Castle Tour

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Today I met up with my friends Silvia and Ann. We went on a guided tour with Colin Howey who works at the Norwich Community Learning Champions. The Community Learning Champions are a group of volunteers committed to promoting informal learning and wellbeing within the communities of Norwich. The tour was really interesting and we learnt a lot about the history of the Castle and about the people. Please check out Colin’s blogsite as it is very informative and a good blog to subscribe to.


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Time To Change Event at Chapelfield

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Time to Change Website

On Saturday I volunteered to help the Time to Change campaign which was located outside Chapelfield Big Screen Shopping Mall. My friends Silvia and Ann both volunteered as well and Oz was there to help and support the event. I was nervous to start with but I thoroughly enjoyed the event and enjoyed meeting and talking to so many interesting people from the public. I met some lovely volunteers and staff from the Time to Change campaign.

We gave out postcards about the campaign and scratchcards, we offered cups of tea in exchange for chats on the sofa and goodie bags. We also encouraged people to watch the TV advert campaign on You Tube which is absolutely brilliant. The interactive Time to Talk video is also on You Tube. The video uses humor which is something I believe is a really powerful tool in trying to get across the message. There was also some actors who played out a play about someone having Bipolar, again they used humor and it was brilliant and a very effective way of getting the message out to the public in a quick and entertaining way.

My animations ‘Undine’ and ‘Lola and the Petrol Pump’ were playing on the Big Screen whilst we were volunteering. Becky Betts from the BBC asked me if she could play them for the Lord Mayors Procession and I was absolutely thrilled. ‘Undine’ looked great on the screen, the colours looked amazing. It was quite strange for me to be doing the campaign and seeing the film at the same time, it was whilst I was making ‘Undine’ at University that I became ill. I have no idea how I did it but I remember I did not enjoy it and couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was on medication at the time. I think its probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but my determination and strong will power and support from others helped me through.

The Time to Change campaign is about trying to help educate people about the discrimination and stigma associated towards people with mental illness. It is hoped that by talking to people, talking openly about mental health, we can start to break down the barriers, help to educate people and end Mental Health discrimination. 1 in 4 people have a mental health illness and it can effect anyone, we all have mental health.

Never in a million years did I ever think I would have a mental health breakdown and initially I felt very ashamed and embarrassed and I kept it a secret for several years. I found it very hard to accept what had happened to me and to talk about it. Through the volunteering with the Time to Change campaign last year, I have slowly come out about it and now can talk quite openly. Also my project and working with Oz Osborne has helped me a great deal to accept it and to not feel ashamed about it. Hopefully through talking it can help to educate people and help them to understand. I do still find it hard to talk to people about it, especially people who I knew before I was ill. Some people find it hard to talk to me or even acknowledge that I have been ill. I find the ignorance and lack of empathy and interest from people quite upsetting at times. I am glad that I have come out about it, its very hard keeping secrets and its not always good for your wellbeing. It’s much better to not live in fear and to sometimes take a few risks in life. Talking has helped me to grow in strength and confidence and I hope I can help others to do the same. At the same time I appreciate not everyone wants to or is ready to talk about it, we are all different and what will work for one person will not necessarily work with everyone. It’s about doing what you feel is right for you and what helps your own mental health and wellbeing.

I would like to thank the Time to Change Team for a great event and especially to Sarah James, Regional Co-ordinator for the region, who made us all feel really valued and welcome. She gave us a really good training session at Hellesdon Hospital. I would also like to thank all the people who kindly stopped to talk to me on Saturday, it was great having a chat and I met some really interesting people. Thanks to Ann and Silvia for volunteering as well, they were great.


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Finished the Human Library Flyer

© Copyright 2011 illustration character design Anastacia Tohill. Written and Designed by Oz Osborne. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images/text.

For more information and images of flyer designs visit Behance Portfolio Site.

Finished the Human Library Flyer which Oz and I created. The illustrations are of little book people who are talking to each other. The Human Library enncourages people who do not usually talk to one another to have a conversation with each other. This is a great learning opportunity and a chance to find out first hand about a choosen subject. Oz came up with the idea of book people and wanted 4 characters who represented different types of people.

I created the Illustrations using Adobe Illustrator, which is a vector based software program. Lines are clean and crisp and are mathmatically worked out rather than pixel based like in Photoshop.

Logo – Human Library.org has been supplied (not including background box).

I really enjoyed creating this leaflet as it is very different to what I usually do, so I learnt a lot.

The event takes place on Saturday 30th July from 1-4pm at Gorleston-on-Sea. For more information and links, please see the previous blog post in June or my Behance Portfolio Site.


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Applying to Volunteer at Hellesdon Hospital

I have decided to apply to volunteer at Hellesdon Hospital. Pene Kenrick-Ward is the new Voluntary Service Manager. I would like to work in the Art area or Wellbeing area within the hospital. You have to have a CRB check, fill in an application form and health form and give references. I am looking forward to hopefully working at the hospital should a suitable post come up.


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Last visit to my Doctor

Well today is a very special day. I saw my doctor today and I no longer need to see him on a regular basis, no more booked appointments. Basically I am well so there is no need. This is the first time in over 3 years. I have been seeing my doctor on a regular basis, usually monthly but occasionally I had to see him every 2 weeks.

My doctor has been a tremendous help to me, very supportive and I am very grateful that he helped me so much.


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Meeting with Peter Edge and Oz Osborne

Peter Edge, Mental Health Nurse and Case Manager at NHS Trust

© Copyright 2011 images Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images/text.

I met up with Peter and Oz at 80 St Stephens in Norwich which is where Peter works as a Mental Health Nurse and Case Manager. He works in the Early Intervention in Psychosis Team (NHS). We met up to get Peter’s opinion on the script and to discuss the feedback from other organisations. We also discussed in depth Frank’s suggestions.

It was nice to talk to Peter and Oz, and this was the first time we had all met together as a group. The meeting was successful and we were mainly all in agreement with the changes. I need to now make the changes to the script and try and work out the narration at the end.