Friday, 29 January 2010


When it was snowing I made a sock anteater. Long squishy stripey legs and arms and nose. He was for a friend but I secretly wanted to keep him...

I'm off to Manchester this weekend to catch up with some friends, eat lots of cake and hopefully squeeze in a visit to the massive paperchase to ogle the paper. Have a good weekend!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

on boxes

I've been making more boxes; to go along with the wedding albums I've been making to store the extra photos, and with students at work. I really like the challenges box making poses; getting the measurements just right, the edges all square, all lined up and glued. I like the puzzle of wrapping the box with cloth; where to hide the raw edges and where to cut to get the fit exactly right. I like choosing the lining paper, cutting it to fit and gluing it down, smoothing, avoiding glue finger prints... And the satisfaction when the finished box closes, not too tight not too loose, just right.

Of course it doesn't always go smoothly. Angles not quite ninety degrees, half a millimeter here half a millimeter there. torn paper, forgotten steps, glue splodge. But I think what I like is trying to keep on top of all that, keep it under my control, like juggling lots of balls. At first it seems impossible and you drop one and then another but suddenly one day your brain clicks and your hands just do it (and it took me a good year of practice to learn to juggle so I know what I'm talking about!)

I guess what I'm trying to remind myself is practice makes perfect, or at least better. Practice makes improvement at least, practice leads to that marvelous state where you do something and one day without thinking one thing follows another and its a pleasure...

Anyway. All this box making leaves me with spare boxes. So this ones in my shop.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Rainy Friday

Out the window everything is a different shade of grey, a brownish grey. Its raining.

And I'm practicing my handwriting

Saturday, 16 January 2010

another sampler

I never seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done. I procrastinate too much I know. Today started off well but petered out after dinner when the dishwasher flooded half the kitchen, and the book binding didn't seem to go so well after that, gluey finger prints all over... I have all these ideas in my head but I seem to take so long to start. And the list keeps growing...

Anyway, this sampler, a gift for a friend, took me nearly 2 years to make (with lots of procrastination breaks of course) but I got there in the end...

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule,

he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,

he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security,

he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,

he learns to find love in the world

Dorothy Law Nolte

It's harder than it looks designing a sampler; the last two I've done I've spent ages on the computer colouring in pixels on photoshop, moving about the design elements in their separate layers until the whole thing looks right, and then started to sew, having to check back at the computer and count pixels on the screen to follow the pattern.

This time I thought I'd take a more organic approach and just started sewing in the middle of the cloth... I really admire old samplers, done by women and girls to practice their embroidery, learn stitches and sayings and record their family history. I love to visit Bankfield Museum near my parents house and look at the samplers they have on display. I found an old one in an antique shop but it was too much money (I'll just have to make my own...) I think sometimes the design of then looks quite random. Sometimes they don't look like they've followed a pattern but rather just copied elements from other samplers or made shapes up to fit the space they had. So that's what I tried to do...

It was quite liberating when I managed to stop worrying about what should go where. Just picking a motif I liked and making a start. Looking back I wish I had planned it slightly more as it was very hard to find a frame that fit the proportions, and I think maybe I should've centered the text to make it more symmetrical, but all in all I'm happy with how it turned out. And Abbie liked it which is the main thing after all!

Friday, 15 January 2010

sunshine please

The day light goes so quickly at the moment. I've had some books I've wanted to list in my shop for ages now and even my usual south-facing-white-walled-fairly-large-windowed hall way only does the trick lighting wise for a short time each day, usually whilst I'm at work... The last few books I tried to photograph today came out very poorly, all washed out. My camera tries it's best, but without the sunshine its so hard to get that detail. Anyway. I think these ones came out ok, good enough for now anyway...

This one is called 'lost property'. Screen prints from drawings from feathers I collected on a new years day walk. Picking them up and putting them in my pocket I wondered who they belonged to... you can see more here

And another tree one. This ones been around a while. But I still really like it, and I feel its a shame for it to be wrapped in tissue in a storage box. So out it comes... have a look

I've not listed artists books in my shop before, I'm not sure how well they will do, I think its quite a small market... but you've got to be in it to win it I suppose, and they're something I like to make so I thought I'd give it a try. And if the sun shows its face tomorrow then there will be more to come :)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


It's still snowing. Half melted and turned to ice and then snowing again.

And I've been doing some more moon prints. I printed the colours on the first print from dark to light and technically this is the wrong way round. The inks I'm using are water based and not opaque so lighter colours fade when printed over darker ones, which isn't great, it can make the colours look really weak. I actually like the way this looks in the moon print, nice and subtle, but decided I wanted to push myself to work it out the correct way too...

I wanted to use the white of the paper for the white in the moon, then print progressively darker shades of grey over the top. Because a darker shades covers the lighter one before it completely it makes it slightly easier to register the layers (or at least it covers up small registration mistakes!) and I think the colours definitely look more vibrant and true.

I'm not sure if I like it though... it looks flatter, the areas of tone look more separated out. Almost cartoony. I know that screen prints are flat; that that's kind of the point of them, but still. I think it's partly my colour choices too though, not subtle enough, the tones need to be closer together...

Better, but now I feel like I want to print about five shades of grey to get the detail right. I wish I had more time for experimentation. Perhaps an aquatint moon?? Oo yes.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


College closed at lunch time because of all the snow. What a good birthday present; an afternoon to myself, snow falling past the window whilst I'm cozy inside. Black and white and shades of grey.

Monday, 4 January 2010


First day back at work after a peaceful week away. I think I needed that. Time to think and to do all the little things I never seem to have time to do. I still don't find it easy working long days, especially in winter, there's only time to take my shoes off and cook tea before it's bed time it seems. Anyway.

Time away is good isn't it, a fresh start of sorts. And a new year. This year new years eve was the best I've ever had I think, home made pizza and watching far off fire works stood outside in the snow. Back inside to a roaring stove. And it's my birthday tomorrow, I'm 27. I think its the first year I've felt older. Not in a bad way, just in a life won't last forever kind of way, a what should I do with the rest of it kind of way. The first year I've felt I no longer have time to do everything. I should start making some choices.

And I've been working on some screen prints today. A bird one and the moon one again. Printing white onto a darker background is not really technically correct, and although I like the way this one looks, I wanted to see if I could wrap my head round doing it the other way round...

Lots of ideas floating round my head, I hope I can stop procrastinating long enough to see them through. I want to.