Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Yet another lovely dry day, and I'm thinking that I shall have to do some watering in the garden.  Meanwhile, today's task is proofing.  I have carved several linocuts, and want now to proof them in black just to see how happy I am with the design and the cutting. 
I have used newsprint for the proofs at this stage - with one exception.  I was curious as to how a print would look on scrunched cartridge paper.  This was a scrap from a previous experiment where I had scrunched paper onto which I had digitally printed some colour. (In my usual way I had scrunched and opened, scrunched and opened many many times, then ironed the paper flat.)
As expected, the lino print was broken up, as can be seen in contrast with the proof on newsprint - but I think it is an interesting effect nonetheless, and may find occasion to use scrunched paper in future.
By the way - my printing setup consists of underlayers of newspaper and newsprint, on top of which I put a piece I've cut from a sheet of Variera drawer mat from IKEA to stop any slipping of the top work layer which is a sheet of Perspex on which I ink.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Good to curl up with

I have recently received my marvellous copy of Random Spectacular 2
just in time to help me through a mild head cold.  (pic from here)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Studio still life scan

I was looking at a piece of wood I found in the garden and wondering which way up to keep it.  The flattest edge, on which it most obviously should sit, is so interesting.  This got me wondering about the bottoms of other bits and bobs that are around my work spaces. 
And I decided to sit them all on the scanner, as they would sit on my shelves, and photograph their normally hidden side.
1 is a piece of flint from the garden, which is full of them,
2 is the inside of a small shell from the beach in Nice, France,
3 is a tassle with beads which I made years ago on a machine embroidery course at the Embroiderers' Guild in Hampton Court (I have never had the need to make another one),
4 is a basket I was given in Indonesia when I was working there,
5 is a dried thistle flower head from Corinth, Greece,
6 is a stone from the Northumbrian coast, NE England,
7 is a ball of fibre, a present from a young friend,
8 is a basket made by a friend in New Hampshire, USA,
9 is the piece of wood which spurred this exercise,
10 is a twist of bark from a tree in Zimbabwe, picked up in the botanic gardens, but I did not find the name of the tree
11 is a silver and enamelled pill box from my Greek grandmother
12 is a bone ornament from Zimbabwe,
13 is a piece of coral which I found on Vigie beach in St Lucia, East Caribbean when I was teaching a workshop in a hotel right there.
14 is a shell from Oxwich Bay, Gower, Wales

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beautiful objects

I wonder, will our postcards and letters be treasured as the tablets found at the Roman fort of Vindolanda are?  And what will the future archaeologists think when written communication on paper stops in the 21st century?  Although I greatly appreciate and use email, I do regret the passing of paper communication.  I still write epistles by hand, choosing cards which I hope will please the recipient, but receive very few in return now. 
Vindolanda tablet TVII-120 © Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and Trustees of The British Museum
On my course today I was delighted to be provided with this link to the Vindolanda tablets excavated at Hadrian's Wall, and their translations.  How beautiful they are as objects as well as a fascinating glimpse into how like us the folks who wrote them were.  And handmade marks of communication are rather like faces: they pull our attention and our curiosity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Something new

I very much enjoy the process of learning, of following my curiosity, and uncovering new questions to ask.  My previous career in publishing gave me constant opportunities to pursue such activity, but now for some time I have been relying on my reading - mostly, though not exclusively of art books.  I do miss that more general input, and so I decided to try an online course.
I heard about FutureLearn courses on the radio during a programme which was describing a collaboration between the BBC and FutureLearn.  I was not particularly interested in that particular course, but the idea of such courses intrigued me.  So I have signed up for courses on archaeology: the first, on Hadrian's Wall begins today.  The courses are free, and there is no pressure on how much or how little the participant does - that suits me fine.
Image above from here, where you can see more photos of the wall
I have also signed up for three other archaeology courses, all under water.  I shall see how I progress through the first course before I get too enthusiastic.
This does not mean that I am giving up the stitching nor the printing - I am simply exploring more divers inputs.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A fertile period

I do so love this time of year.  It is always true that there are changes around in plants from day to day, but these days now - and somehow I feel it more than in Spring - the changes are quite beautiful.  The decaying too is beautiful, perhaps because the demise is a precursor to new birth.
It demands visual immersion and sparks so many ideas.  Just now I am trying to think only about my own experiences, but there is so much else going on that is disturbing between humans.  Helplessly, selfishly, I am trying to focus on my own tiny environment.
  - a design in progress which has come out of it all.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Seasonal overlap

We are enjoying a sunny period between seasons.  And it is real warmth developing as we look out at breakfast time.
The annuals still blossoming away while the trees are laden with ripening berries.
Meanwhile, indoors, I have been busy preparing lino plates. These are a few of those piling up ready for several days of printing to come.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

On a roll

Ready for the back burner.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

mid September gleanings

We have had a period of dry warmish weather, and all the plants are ageing gracefully without any downpours to knock them over.  Strolling round the garden is a delight, interrupted only by waving the spiders' webs out of the way.  In the early morning sunlight I see long lines of silk attached from the tall oaks and poplar down to the table, pergola, or even to tall stems.  What acrobats - what industrious acrobats these spiders are!

I gathered a few leaves and seed heads (macleaya, geranium, nigella, clematis, fennel, and acanthus) for a mid September scan pressing,
and out of this image isolated a couple of Autumn bookmarks.
I have been entranced by the structure of the acanthus flowers as they grew, blossomed, and are now forming seeds.  From one fallen stem I removed some outer protective elements with which to play - starting with another bookmark.  Ouch! mind those spikes!


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Late Summer

This design has been puddling about in my pending files for a while, but I just had to get it done finally before launching into Autumn.
The blue chair

Friday, September 05, 2014


(image from here)
I often follow threads which lead me to great illumination.  Yesterday was such a day when I found this YouTube film
It was so exciting to see the artist Angela Cavalieri working on her huge lino print - the content, the techniques, and the final unveiling were superb.  All images of her work that I found have attracted me a great deal.  I love the concept of storytelling, love the link to old books, scripts, and printing, and I love that robustness of image and form.  I have been wowed - and fired  with enthusiasm, especially because I am due to begin some lino cutting (on a much much smaller scale!) next week.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Thinking follows instinct?

So often - well, indeed largely my designs are led by instinct.  When I pre-think too much it all gangs agley (goes wrong).  I'm happy with where my instinct takes me; but I should not rush it.  If I get going too quickly, or do not allow for enough back burner time, it turns out not quite right.
I did this with Shaping Autumn, and it has been bothering me ever since.  I concentrated too much on the cutting and the leaf and the background.  I rushed at what the figure was wearing.  There had been no illuminating instinct on that: thinking had to be brought in.  So, while stitching and doing various other stuff, I have been thinking about her and how she has been put in a position to shape Autumn. 
It then came to me: she is Summer. Obvious really when I'd thought about it! So I have chosen a range of summery colours that lead to the turning of Autumn, and I really like it now.

Monday, September 01, 2014


Shaping Autumn (design in progress)