Friday, 29 June 2007


For my friend Helen's birthday... kind of following this pattern and kind of making it up as I go along (sometimes I mean to follow the instructions but end up thinking I know better, I invariably don't!)

Anyway, I'm pleased with the shape and size of it (the last tote I made ended up just about big enough to hold a small paperback and not much else, but it's the thought that counts isn't it...) I quite enjoyed pressing the seams, learnt something new there, but the sewing is a bit (ok, a lot) wobbly. More practice is definitely in order on the sewing machine, I get a bit carried away with my foot on the pedal... Weeeeeeeee!

And now I want to sew more sprouters...

Thursday, 28 June 2007

school trip #2

I'm really enjoying my new job. (Shame it ends in two weeks, hope they ask me back after summer!! fingers crossed!!) It's so rewarding to be able to help the students with their drawings, and their understanding of art. Today we went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to see the Goldsworthy exhibition (and it didn't rain, hurray!).

Although there were a few complaints of 'I'm not walking on poo' (the country park is the home of many sheep and a few geese...) and 'this drawing board is too heavy, will you carry it for me' (my answer: no, carry it yourself. Am I mean?!) it was a successful trip.

We began by doing some sketches of Barbara Hepworth's 'Family of Man', bronze sculptures placed on the hill side amongst the trees. A good opportunity to think about form and shape and size, and how these effect our perception of an object.

It's also good to be able to walk amongst the sculptures and touch them, something we are so often forbidden to do in a gallery. And the colours of the copper and bronze are beautiful.

Some great sketches were done (especially when I could convince them to draw the backgrounds or use a bit of colour or tone) I think the drawing lessons of the last few weeks are starting to pay off, you can see them actually looking, which is brilliant! It makes a real difference.

So after visiting the Goldsworthy stuff (a treat for me and the students seemed to like it too!) with aching feet it was back on the bus, then home for a nice cup of tea. Happy days.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


Some new material...

for a bag for my friend's birthday. My project for tonight. Oh, and check out these monsters!

The binding I used in the book yesterday is, as riverlark suggested, Coptic. This is one of my favourite bindings, so simple and versatile. It can be extended to any length (or at least any length I've tried so far, as long as the thread's strong enough!) without collapsing, and the spine it creates is very flexible, opening to almost 360 degrees. The book below is Coptic bound too, from heavy paper (about 300gsm) and I love the way it curls around in one direction but is solid when held the other way. It reminds me of a snake.

I have got a video of this moving and twirling about, but I've been trying to upload it for nearly an hour now, without success, and my brain is starting to hurt... perhaps another day!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


I made a dolls house when I was little, about 8 years old. I used a big old cardboard box (cardboard boxes have always been my favourite toys!)

This house I made didn't have any dolls in it, just lots and lots of miniature things I made from bits and bobs I had collected. Like empty film canisters, pen lids, bits of pottery and stones from outside, old note paper and magazines...

The room I worked on the most was the bedroom. I think it was my ideal bedroom, I made a canopy over the bed, chests of draws made from matchboxes with paper fastener handles, filled them full of tiny treasures, plant pots made from toothpaste lids with tiny tissue flowers. I embroidered miniature cushions, fitted a carpet, wove a small rug...

But my favourite part was a bookcase made of an old perfume box, and I spent hours lining the shelves with tiny books I made, each one complete with its own story or pictures.

The house doesn't exist any more, it fell to bits along the way, but I still have a few of the tiny books... somewhere.

A tiny book to remind myself of hours spent making tiny things for no reason other than to entertain myself.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

little books

I like little books. Little books to fit in the palm of my hand. That hold surprises, and open into stars (or flowers)

A happy rainy sunday

Friday, 22 June 2007

party in the peas

Live and let live I say. I don’t believe humans really own the planet, that they should have special privilege over any other species. In fact I try to tell myself often, as I’m thinking about these things, that really we're no different at all. Everything has a specialism, bats have echolocation, we just happen to have really big brains... I’m vegetarian. I don’t kill flies...

So, I don’t mind one snail having a little nibble on my plants every now and again, after all its only trying to make a living isn’t it. I'd never use chemicals to kill them (just anthropormorphise them a bit...). When I find them on my plants I just carefully move them to the other side of the garden, and that seems to work fine. Until now. I think the snails have been talking; they’ve realised they’re onto a good thing…

Yesterday morning, whilst leaving for work I noticed my pea plants looking strange. They had been almost entirely stripped of leaves and there in front of my eyes were 5 big snails munching away, finishing off the job. Normally they come at night, not anymore. Broad daylight, little circular mouths chomping away. It would have actually been really interesting to watch, the sort of thing you don’t normally get to see up close, except it was my pea plants. And now there's nothing left!

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to get my peas from Kenya this year…

Thursday, 21 June 2007

raindrops on roses...

Packaging up my 'favourite things' for the swap hosted by the wonderful Kelly...

I went shopping in the sunshine and got caught in the rain, good old British summer time...

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


Yesterday Rag and Bone Blog featured some of my books, which was a lovely surprise!

They have a bindery (jealous, I want a bindery!) to make and sell lovely blank books, and also a blog with lots of interesting book related stuff, like this and this. So what a compliment to be mentioned on there!

Anyway, today I have been busy making some new tree cards...

The front opens out for a little walk through the trees, the last bit is a card to write what you will. And the whole lot folds flat, a forest in an envelope...

Sunday, 17 June 2007


One of my favourite designers is Tord Boontje, his designs are so elegant and delicate. My boyfriend gave me this plate, part of his table stories series for my birthday, but I don't think I will ever use it for food, it's far too beautiful!

Anyway, today I went to Habitat and bought something I've had my eye on for a while... a garland light shade.

Except I can't bring my self to use it as a light shade! It's so detailed and perfectly cut out that I've put it in a frame on my wall, perhaps I'll have to get another for the light...

Saturday, 16 June 2007


Much to my surprise, I sold one of my pictures! So off I went to the charity shop and bought some new books...

Five for £5!

Thursday, 14 June 2007


Observational drawing today at work, still life of bottles and stones and fruit. 2B pencils.

And it's so inspiring to see these people who have never done anything like this before to start to really look. I could almost see the lights going on in their heads as the teacher talked about line and tone and texture, measuring distances with thumbs and pointing out areas of light and shade. And their drawings have improved so much just in the last few days. It's great to see.

Some find it hard (which it is!) to concentrate, and need lots of support 'how do the tones change from here to here' 'what shape could you use as a guide to draw this' and its really rewarding to be able to help, to explain a little thing something to someone that makes them think 'I understand'. Today a student (after an hour of struggling to draw a shiny, oddly shaped jelly mould, but really persevering and ending up with a really good, well observed drawing) turned around to me and said 'You know, I'm really proud of myself today'. And that felt so good!

(And it inspired me to get my sketch book out, drawings of my hand, click on them to see full size... maybe I'll try tone tomorrow... )

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

ginger marmalade

Rain all day.

And a little tree card to say 'thank you for the marmalade!' (Received in the post from Matt's Auntie. Perfect on toast.)

Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Drawing in a empty house. Window open to bird song and the brewing of a storm at the end of a hot airless day. The light turns yellow. Calm before the storm I suppose.

Monday, 11 June 2007

apron for laura

Yep, another one. This time for my lovely friend Laura, who I haven't seen for nearly a year, and although we haven't spoken for almost all that time the conversation always picks up right where we left off. I love friends like that.

So this is going off in the post to arrive on her door matt. And perhaps a third apron will be for me...

Friday, 8 June 2007

through the viewfinder

In the garden after work, taking advantage of the lovely sunny sun, playing with my kodak duoflex and digital camera and trying to take pictures in focus... hmmm, not quite there yet! Happy weekend!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

school trip

Yesterday I spent a lovely day with the students at Harewood House. Next week they're starting a portraiture project so we went on a tour of the house to look at and learn about their large collection of family portraits. It was great to see them all enthusiastic about the busts and paintings and symbolism, can't wait to see what they come up with when they make their own versions!

I've been reading this book, about architecture and how what we like says about who we are. It was interesting to think about that whilst looking around the house; Chippendale furniture, luxurious fabric covering the walls and 3 libraries! The house is set in beautiful grounds, rolling hills, lake and woods, and it amazed me to learn that as far as the eye can see the landscape is completely man made. Man made by a man called Capability Brown, and it's funny to think that a lot of the landscape that I think of as traditionally English is in fact designed by him!

And I need to visit again, because I didn't get chance to visit the bird garden (although I did see a massive emu feeding its emu chick which was bigger than me!) I missed the Victorian walled vegetable garden, the 'below stairs' section of the house where the servants would've lived (perhaps the most interesting part to me!), the exhibition of contemporary African art and the night sky show where you get to lay on your back in a giant geodesic dome and watch a light show of stars whilst listening to poems by Roger McGough! Yes, a definite re-visit is in order!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

self portrait with apron

Pattern from this book. I've never followed a sewing pattern before, at least not without the help of my mum (!) so I thought it was time to give it a go... and I'm so proud of the result! I had the house to myself for the night, and after a few hours of concentration, a bit of stitch ripping (tiny pleats? agh!) and lots of bits of cotton all over the carpet, much to my surprise, an apron emerged! I can hardly bare to give it away, but as I made it as a present for my friend's birthday I suppose I better package it up...

Monday, 4 June 2007

monday again?


Saturday, 2 June 2007

one year on

Do you know what? I feel ok today. I didn't think I would, it's been the weekend of degree shows. The weekend of 'can it really be a year since that was me?' I visited Leeds University show on Thursday night, the Leeds Met show and Leeds College of Art Foundation show last night, and I thought it would make me feel awful. Becase it's a year since I was part of that, I thought I would feel sad, nostalgic, envious and like I hadn't achieved anything; in my life or my work, like those graduating had it all ahead of them and I was last years news. Like I wanted to be back there. (I'm positive you know...)

But it didn't feel any of those things!

Perhaps I hadn't realised how much I have actually changed in the year since I left my degree show behind me... I actually felt good walking round those studios. Not because my work was any better than the work I saw (some was, some wasn't, who knows) but just because I'm not caught up in all that anymore. All that pressure and competition and the vague notion that even if you're making what you want, its also to please someone else, or at least your idea of what they expect of you, surrounded by others doing the same. And now, without even realising, I don't feel like that any more!

I think sometimes change happens so slowly that you don't notice at all. A gradual shift. And it's only when you find a marker of where you used to be that you realise the difference. Like last night.

And hopefully one day this little flower will be a purple chilli for my tea!