Wednesday, 23 September 2009

secret book

A book for my friend for her birthday...

With grey book cloth and multiple endpapers (one graph paper and two grey). I could try and pretend this was me being fancy, but in reality I kept sticking the book together wrong which meant cutting it out and adding new endpapers each time. Oh well, it looks nice anyway!

All the pages fold out from the center. Useful for hidden drawings, for making people think your sketch book is empty when secretly its full...

I'm back to long days at work now. I fell asleep whilst eating my tea after a twelve hour shift yesterday, I just need to get used to it again. But I least I get Fridays off to compensate! I'm trying to make the most of that, and this weekend we're off to Brighton for a family wedding. Should be lovely :) (and I'll show you the present I made them when I get back)

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Today I got up and started cleaning. That's a turn up for the books (and long may it continue!)

Anyway. I've been playing around with some new soft ground etching medium at work this week. We can't use the traditional method of soft wax as the hot plate needed to melt and apply the wax is deemed too dangerous, and the turps needed to remove it is pretty bad too. I've written before about the safe methods we use to produce etchings, but there doesn't seem to be a satisfactory way to reproduce the soft ground effect that happens to be my favourite (I sometimes use my cooker at home to melt the wax, but this isn't really ideal either!)

This new medium is painted on with a brush (or can be screen printed on to the plate for an extra smooth finish) then left to dry for the correct amount of time, a sheet of paper can then be layed over it and used to make a drawing, just like the soft wax. The tricky thing is knowing how long to leave it for... I tried it every 5 minutes and at first the paper just absorbed the medium (no good) and then it didn't work at all. 5 minute windows are obviously too long... next time.

So then I tried drawing directly onto the plate with a sharp pencil, which displaces the medium and exposes the copper below to be etched. This seemed more successful, but still, as the surface dried the pencil began to rip off larger bits of medium (you can see the on the picture below. Click if you want to see it really close :) ) There were a couple of minutes where drawing was smooth. I suppose it's not totally a bad thing; speedy drawing can free me up :)

I let the medium dry completely, then backed the plates with parcel tape (so the backs didn't etch). Then into the ferric chloride for 20 minutes...

The flowers I've been drawing are crocosmia, from my garden. I'm planning on aquatinting the plates next week, with some orange chine colle (that's tissue paper to you and me) for the flowers. Got to have the orange :)

Friday, 18 September 2009


Ahh Friday, its been a long week.

This weekend will hopefully include finishing off the last of the wall papering upstairs, and some cleaning of dust and some sorting out of things. I've been trying to do a box a night this week, and opening up and looking through the boxes of stuff that have been closed up these last 6 months is asking me feel like I don't want a lot of it anymore. I don't want to take it out and put it on a nice clean shelf in a freshly clean, decorated and empty room.

I'm questioning why I have a lot of the things I do. A lot of it is stuff that really I shouldn't have packed and moved here in the first place, things I have just because they're there, bits and bobs, junk, sentimental things and potentially useful things, bits of paper, elastic bands. I know I have a problem with hoarding stuff, but recognising that doesn't seem to make it any easier to get rid of! Its not easy to throw it in the bin; I can't stand the guilt, the waste, that's often why I keep things... (and the bin men are on strike and the rubbish is piling up in the street and I can't add another bag to taunt me every time I walk out of the door). Most things are ending up in the charity shop box, which is good I think. I'm trying to put things in there when I'm feeling strict and then not look in it again (more than once I've had to stop myself looking through it and getting things back out... I'm now sliding things in through the top flap without opening the box!) I really don't want so much stuff in my life anymore. It can drag you down can't it.

Sometimes I wonder if I can face the many boxes in the attic... but it's good to go through this I think. I hope it will make me think twice before keeping things in the future; before acquiring things, buying things, making things and any other way that I find myself with things. I've got enough for now.

And some pictures of empty corners in my house. Some more finished than others :)

Thursday, 17 September 2009


Things have been on my mind recently, slow thoughts and I think I've been feeling sorry for myself. But today I have decided that there's no use in that. I don't want to be someone who complains and looks inwards and blames everyone and everything else. Who only sees the bad. I hope I'm not like that but I want to make sure. There are so many good things around me, I'm trying to pull myself up, wake myself up. And look, some things are out of boxes...

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


There are some exciting things in the very early planning stages in my life at the moment... I can't say much because I don't know much yet, but hopefully (hopefully) it's going to involve a brand new space where I can set up tables and chairs and cutting mats and book presses and perhaps run some book binding classes! It's something I've been wanting to do for ages, but I sometimes lack the guts to stick my neck out, it's scary, but I know it would be worth it, and I've got so many ideas about what the workshops could involve. Concertinas and exploring folding and traditional techniques and box making...

Do you reckon you'd want to come? There would be cake.

P.s. I've added a new button on my side bar... its an option to sign up to a mailing list, and as soon as I have any more information about this exciting (to me at least!) venture you'll be the first to know. And I don't do spam, I promise.

Monday, 7 September 2009


We haven't had much chance to use the telescope recently. Evenings have been taken up with sanding and painting and gluing and sweeping. But now the nights are getting darker and the house is getting cleaner and tidier (and almost finished!) we're hoping to get back out there...

It's great looking at things that are so far away. A few stars become millions of stars, and some of them turn out to be planets. I saw Saturn's rings and a globular cluster and once a shooting star, but my favorite thing to look at is the moon. I think it's because looking at the moon this close makes me feel like I'm there, looking across mountain ranges, at craters in glowing 3D.

It's really up there.

This screen print is made from some of my drawings of the moon. You can get one here if you like...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

chicks move out

My mum sent me two pictures today, look how the chicks have grown...

I love them when they're all half fluffy half feathery, all scruffy. That one at the front has to be a silkie, check out his tuft! Today they moved outside into the chicken shed (in a special fenced off bit) with the other hens. I hope they all get along :)

And this is a picture of two new arrivals, bought last week at two weeks old from a lady up the road. They're lavender araucanas, and when they start to lay the eggs will be blue!

I like chickens

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

more books

The last lot of stuff from the small making spree I had last week is up in the shop. I didn't like it looking so bare and empty for so long, it was sad, and I feel like putting some things back in is a step towards getting my life back into some kind of normality (a bit melodramatic I know. Oh well!)

I must admit though, that spending more time on etsy again has awoken that self doubt that I'm sure we all get when looking at lots and lots of beautiful things and reading about the clever people that make them and that seem to be able to successfully run their businesses and their lives. I know it's silly to think this. I know I just need to get on with what I'm doing... because there's a fine line between being inspired by other people's work and the feeling of 'I might as well just go home then, whats the point'. I know it's just because I'm not really satisfied with the amount of time I get to spend at the moment on developing my work, my ideas, on making things. I know I just need to be patient and stop complaining.

So I will.
The light between these rain storms is lovely; grey and soft and changing as the clouds blow past... Yesterday on my way home it rained so suddenly and so heavily that all the drains filled up and the street was like a river and my feet got wet. Ten minutes later the streets were dry again.

And today I'm getting that every-so-often feeling of not being good enough again. But I'm trying to ignore it. There's nothing to be sad about after all (except the dead wasps on my windowsill from the nest in the roof, coming in through the attic. I should shut the trap door but I'm too lazy) Anyway.

The succulent by my bedroom window has flowered, perhaps it's all the rain outside :)