Saturday, 31 December 2011


Today is quiet. I've cleaned the house from bottom to top, swept the cobwebs off the ceiling (then got mud on the carpet, oh well) and now I'm sat with an hour to spare. Peace.

And I'm going to go upstairs and carry on the clear out upstairs in the soon to be babies room. Yesterday I got rid of all my cardboard stash (what, you don't have a cardboard stash? Lovely large pristine bits of corrugated cardboard, no stickers or dints or print or writing, just waiting to be turned into packaging or storage boxes or who knows what... but also taking up about half of the wardrobe...) Its gone in the garden to be used to cover the veg beds in spring, the half built veg beds, oh well. Perhaps I'm starting to accept I won't use these things I keep just in case; that its better to use them now or to pass them on rather than to keep them there and have to keep track of them in my mind. Maybe my priorities are going to change, I want life to be simple.

 2012 is going to be interesting...

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Coco is home and looking much better (apart from a shaved patch, oh dear!) I think she'd kept the rest of the patients awake all night miaowing (she's a noisy one) but hopefully she'll be ok, back for a check on Friday (sorry Coco, cat box again). If only I could explain to her whats going on... oh well.

Photos from a walk across the park to the midwife today, muddy and very windy. Baby has jiggled himself head down, so all is well, and only a month and a bit to go of feet wedged between my ribs (hurray!)

On the way home there were hundreds of these birds, all picking at the moss and sitting in the trees and wandering about. They took no notice as I walked through them, then a few minutes later they all took off at once, filling the sky. I like birds.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


What a day. My little cat Coco is in the cat hospital tonight. She's been having kind of coughing fits for the last few days and I thought she perhaps had a hairball. She then started having trouble breathing so I took her to the emergency vets where she's had x-rays and scans and all sorts and been diagnosed with asthma. So I'm grateful it wasn't her heart or anything terminal, but it means medication for the rest of her life :(

She is a bit of a stress head anyway, and I feel so sad thinking about her in a cage at the vets all alone, can't wait until tomorrow when she's back home with me. Hope you're ok Coco.

Friday, 23 December 2011


Well, the shortest day is over, and what a beautiful one. Sunshine, blue skies, unusual clouds... 

Today it's raining, but the mood lifting effects of the sunshine linger on. That combined with time off work, spending time with lovely friends and family and feeling my little baby swizzle around in my belly (trying and nearly succeeding to spill my cup of tea). More and more daylight now until I meet him...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


All the invitations are printed, and all that remains is to decorate them with tiny paper bunting, a task I'm actually looking forward to. I like fiddly repetitive activities and it's a good excuse to use up some of the contents of my 'white paper' draw (perhaps my favourite draw, who knows?)

These are just a few of the variations I printed as test pieces; three different card stocks, 4 background alternatives, three colours of ink. I'm terrible at making decisions about this kind of thing and usually just go for trying to do all the options, but I managed to narrow it down. It's really worth making test pieces like this (for me at least) as often things turn out very differently to how I expect. Even though it took me all morning I think it's time well spent as the final one I chose is definitely the right one. Although I didn't narrow down the backgrounds really, and ended up using 3 of them, oh well!

The actual screen printing went surprisingly smoothly. In the past when I've printed wedding invitations for others or large print runs there has always been a blocked bit of screen, or a break down, or botched prints with faint bits, bled bits, blurry bits. But today out of nearly 400 prints (two colours on the front, one on the back) only one went wrong and had to be binned. Very unusual. I'd made double of every screen in anticipation of problems, but really this ended up being a luxury as I didn't have to wait for screens to dry between layers, and instead of being stressful (like printing in a limited amount of time usually is) it's was actually quite enjoyable. Could've been because I had the workshop to myself and could sing as loudly as I wanted...

Monday, 19 December 2011


Started work on printing my wedding invitations today...

It's hard to draw neatly when someone is kicking the table from inside your belly...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

wintry workshop

Lovely workshop at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery today, pop up Christmas cards inspired by some of the paintings and prints of wintry scenes in their current exhibition. A real mix of people, both adults and children (and even a 2 month old baby who was very cute indeed), and some fantastic cards made. I'm always so excited to see the results at the end of these workshops, they're always so imaginative and carefully done and individual, they put my examples to shame!

My shocking quality photos don't do them justice by the way. My camera has broken and phone pics in a subtly lit room are never going to come out very well :( Oh well, still a good day. Now I'm off to thread fuzzy balls on a string as my house is looking distinctly un-christmassy.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Last day of teaching before maternity leave. I still have a week or so to go but there'll be no students around, so it felt like a last day, that strange feeling as I walked out the door. And apart from a late start due to a fall on the ice this morning (baby's ok, I'm ok) it's been a good day. A reminder-of-what-I enjoy-about-my-job day. I hope when I go back in a year I can remember how to do it!

Anyway,  I've got thoughts of how I want to spend the next month before the baby arrives. Thoughts of tidying and organising; so many unfinished jobs around the house, so many brown stalks in the garden, a room full of books and paper and cloth and whoknowswhat that needs turning into a room full space for a new person. I'm a massive hoarder but I can feel a purge coming on, and that feeling doesn't come very often so I want to take advantage of it. I'm feeling inspired by the fact that the total worldly possessions of this small person inside me can currently fit into one medium box, and whilst I'm fully aware that these things change drastically it's made me wonder how I've accumulated so much stuff in my life. Its too easy isn't it. So off it goes.

I'm on a precipice.

ps spot the chicken

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Today I will take a walk through the woods, to look at the leaves and to breathe the air. In February you will be born, and before then the leaves will turn yellow and orange and brown, and fall to the floor, and maybe snow will come and cover everything. But it will melt and you will be here. Here to see the leaves return, little green buds on bare branches.

Through the darkness into the light. I can't wait to meet you.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

soft ground experiments

With time to spare in the workshop today I decided to try some experiments in soft ground etching. Soft ground has always been my favourite way to create etched images but as we are a 'non toxic' workshop the traditional method of melting wax onto the plate is out. I read that Graphic Chemical relief ink can be used as a ground; soft when it's wet and then also as a hard ground when it's dry, and thought it might be worth a try...

I tried various thicknesses of ink, applied with a roller, and various different tools to draw both through paper (which lifts off ground) and directly (which displaces it). I tried drawing on the plate as soon as it was coated, then at 10 minute intervals as the ink dried. Unlike my previous attempts with a different acrylic soft ground, this ink seems to dry quite slowly giving a large window of opportunity for drawing... top image drawn through paper after 5 mins, bottom drawn after 35 mins...

I also tried painting with various consistencies of the ink directly on the un-coated plate, and used water to dissolve parts creating the opposite effect...

I didn't get chance to etch the plates as the ink takes up to 24 hours to dry depending on thickness, but I can't wait to see what they all turn out like as it feels quite promising. Now I've just got to work out the etching times...

P.S. I like the little mono prints made with the removed ink too :)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

5 trees

A new book...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

on bags

A bag for my lovely friend Emily.

I seem to make her a bag every year (2007 2008 2009...) and as I had this upholstry weight floral Cath Kidson fabric I thought why should this year be any different. A girl can never have too many bags right. And the more I sew the more I learn and the more I think I can do better than the bag I made before. So, sorry Emily, you are the recipient of the evidnece of my learning curve ;)

The design for this bag just seemed to come together one day, as these things sometimes do. I saw a bag with a woven strap (on the street, on the internet, who knows where) and when I was thinking about a present for Emily that image popped into my head, and it seemed to suggest a curved bag, to follow the line of the strap. So I cut out some shapes, a front and a back and a flap and a gusset, and sewed them together with thinking about it all too much. Kind of like having an image of a finished thing in my head, then closing my eyes and moving towards it without worrying about going of the track. A kind of intuition? Of having had enough sewing go wrong to get a certain feel for the right direction? Certainly a feeling of freedom that could perhaps get quite addictive.

I just looked back through my archives, looking for a bag I'd made in the past to compare this one to and realised I've actually made quite a few... Perhaps all this bag making practice is starting to sink in...

Friday, 13 May 2011


At work I am lucky to be surrounded by lots of talented people; artists, designers, print makers and all sorts. My manager (after a bit of persuasion, he's a modest type) has decided to offer some of the beautiful books he makes at PapercutBindery on Etsy. His books are even better in the flesh, his attention to detail is something I aspire to (I'm definitely up for a bit of 'if no one will see it then maybe it doesn't matter and I can get away with not doing it', where as Roger's spines are lined to perfection..) Anyway, he's taught me a lot about binding in the years I've worked with him and I thought you might like to have a look at his work...

This sketch book is my favourite so far I think, but he's got more on the go in his little cellar bindery, including some gold edge gilding, so I can't wait to see those. The traditionally bound Japanese books (paper stitches and everything) are beautiful too, real craftsmanship...

Next I'm going to get him to start a blog...

All images copyright of Roger Grech 2011

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


I've been really enjoying sewing recently. I've put a new table in my workroom (the old table from the kitchen, which has been replaced by an even older, more appropriately sized, table) and its great to be able to sit to the machine. Previously I had it propped up on a box and I sat on a cushion to sew pressing the presser with my knee. Worked great but bad for the back. Anyway, sitting to a table and having the iron to hand has been good.

Every night for a few weeks I cut a little bit, sewed a little bit and it was quite relaxing. I miss it now I'm working lates again (although summer is nearly hear, 6 more weeks I think). I made my third attempt at a tree quit, and this time I think I've cracked it. Cream linen background instead of white cotton, more limited colour pallet (perhaps this is my downfall; colours look nice in a rainbow so I try to use them all...) and slightly more ordered layout. More space between the trees.

A quilt for Samuel, my newest cousin, with lots of love ♥

Saturday, 7 May 2011


Gardening today after the rain, surrounded by trees and earth and promise...

Peonies and peas and forget-me-nots, and a soon-to-be lawn (if it grows...)

And the cats are out, free! They love it too :)

Friday, 6 May 2011


As part of the Meadowsweet exhibition I've been doing book binding workshops in some of the primary schools which are local to the venues the tour will visit; making carousel books and flutter books and generally having a fun time. The children so far have all been a pleasure to work with, enthusiastic and friendly and inquisitive, and so creative. Makes me want to become a primary school teacher (until I realise what an exhausting job it must be really... all those questions!) Anyway, some details of the lovely books from Pegswood today:

A selection of pages from Dent School, and their work on display at the exhibition last weekend...

Looked very good indeed, I was so proud of them :)