4/01/2014

Woodcut Printing.



For the last four Wednesdays I have been taking part in a Woodcut Printing Class at The Hotbed Press in Salford/Manchester. Our lovely course tutor was Oliver Flude who has a website here-

Oliver inspired us by his skill and enthusiasm for his craft and showed us some of his own prints together with the blocks he had used.

Previously I have tried my hand at wood engraving where the image is engraved onto the end grain of a piece of hardwood. In woodcut printing the long-grain is used, this is very different and has a charm all of its own. Unlike wood engraving, this method of printing is capable of showing some of the character of the wood. The wood is softer and the grain more a feature in the final print.

Over the course we had four three-hour sessions, to learn the basics. All our efforts had to be concentrated into creating an image in a short space of time. This meant that a bold, energetic and free style took over from my usual tightly controlled style. This was both liberating and scary in equal measures.

We had the luxury of printing on a beautiful old Columbian Press, the hours flew by and everyone had an enjoyable and productive time.



In the first week we got to try out various tools and learn the kind of marks they made. The wood we used was a Japanese plywood which was easy to cut into along the grain, not so easy cross grain. We all managed to produce a one colour print- here is my first effort.



In week two we introduced colour, using a reduction technique. My print was a disaster and went into the bin. However, they say you learn by your mistakes.

On the third week we used a combination of techniques including paper stencils.



On the final week we pulled everything together and produced our final images.
My penguin was a reduction print using a gradation of blue into white and then a second printing of black on top.(see top).

At the end of four weeks we were all sad to say farewell, everyone enjoyed taking part and I think we will all use our newfound skills in the future.

If anyone is interested I have put some of my prints in my Etsy shop- https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/acornmoon

3/16/2014

Sugar and Spice and all things nice.



At last, we have a little girl! Our grand-daughter Edie Rose was safely delivered three weeks ago, sorry I have not had time to update my blog.
After two sons and one grand-son, it is an extra special delight to have a little girl in our lives and..... I get to do pink!



Over the last four months I have been illustrating a Christmas gift book. Apart from one or two things it is almost finished, as soon as I get the go ahead from the publisher I will share it with you.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed a lovely bookbinding workshop with Midori Kunikata-Cockram. We tried our hands at Japanese stab binding, we made a Fukuro Tojo - a small notebook with a four hole sewn binding. We also made a Tsbakuro, which is a simple protective case for the book. Midori is a great teacher and has a wealth of knowledge on the art of bookbinding, in particular Japanese bookbinding. You can see more of her work here on her blog.

We used beautiful Japanese papers for the project and learned how to make a "Thread" out of paper using one long strip of tissue paper tightly rolled into a strand. This is used to secure the interior pages before the final binding. The paper "Thread" has to be rolled tightly enough to fit through a small hole made with a bradawl.You can see one of these in the last picture below. This kind of Japanese tissue is incredibly strong and durable and can last hundreds of years, much longer than a linen thread, in fact a good quality Japanese paper thread can last a thousand years! The pages of the book are folded at the fore-edge and are made of a very fine paper and are beautiful to write on, having said that, I have never actually written on mine. The joy being in the creating rather than the using but maybe one day. The book is bound by sewing through pre-prepared holes with a silk thread. There are many decorative stitch patterns to choose from, we did a basic four hole stitch but Midori demonstrated many more. If you click on the picture you will see in more detail, but don't look too closely at my stitching! I made the book with the little blue pattern and red stitching, also a red cover (not shown).



In my next post I shall show you what I have been up to in my latest course, a set of four lessons in woodcut/block printing.

So, 'till then, enjoy the spring.

2/02/2014

National Storytelling Week.



This week is National Storytelling Week here in the UK. To celebrate my book “Down the Lane” has been made one of the featured stories of the week within StoriesAlive. This is a free to download app, which enables you to try out several free stories for children. If you and your children like this way of reading and sharing you can choose to subscribe. I am told that “Down the Lane” will be available free for the month of February.



I wrote and illustrated this book many years ago. Happy Cat Books first published it as a hardback and a paperback here in the UK and I have plans to add it to my Acornmoon book list. Speaking of which, the files for “White is the Moon” have just gone off to the printers so we should be able to offer both print and digital forms of the book in the next couple of months.



The weather here in Cheshire has been very wet and windy but not nearly as bad as other parts of the country. Today has been bright and breezy; I decided to see if I could find any celandines in flower. My February illustration in “Down the Lane” features these delightful shiny yellow wild flowers with blackbirds and a sleeping dormouse. There are blackbirds a plenty in the fields and here in my garden, no flowers yet on the celandines but plenty of glossy green leaves. I also found a beautiful skeleton leaf, which has survived the winter intact.



I have spent the long winter evenings finishing my crochet baby blanket. The photograph makes it look very out of shape; I don’t think it was so out of kilter in reality. By the way, I found out how to make these crochet squares on Little Tin Bird.



My hyacinth finally flowered and its perfume is a welcome reminder of spring days to come.



Ted has been feeling the cold and has taken to wearing his coat on long wet and windy walks. Now he is getting older (fourteen this July) he enjoys finding a sunny spot, preferably with a view. Isn’t it strange the way Jack Russell’s like a window seat. I wonder what tales he would tell?



1/22/2014

Good intentions.



Hi, it has been a while! I have had good intentions to update my blog but time has been against me. I hope there is somebody still out there?

Christmas was a very busy time for us, we had lots of visitors and with all the extra domestic duties I also had a very heavy workload, anyway, enough of my excuses, I hope this year has been good to you so far.

Earlier this month I had a watercolour painting exhibited in Mayfair, London by “Art of the Imagination”. The painting was a new work, inspired by “The Night before Christmas”. As you can see I got a little carried away with the border.





I have been experimenting printing onto canvas; so far I have tried out some images for stretched canvases and handmade books. I plan to do some more when time allows. The little origami book was made with a printed canvas cover and the insides where decorative marbled papers.



The book below was a special find in my local Oxfam shop, it was published by The Golden Cockerel Press in 1937 with original wood engravings by Gwenda Morgan, isn’t it a treasure? I thought you might like it too.



When I have not been at my desk I have been walking Ted, who is in the doghouse yet again. This time for chasing and cornering a squirrel who promptly bit him on the nose. He was so humiliated, in front to his girlfriend too! As you can see from my photograph, the weather has been mild, very wet and windy but so far no extreme cold spells. Some of the leaves remain on the trees; the birds are singing and nesting as if it were spring. I wonder if they are right to be so optimistic, I do hope so.

12/23/2013

Christmas Blessings.



I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog, or supported my shop or work throughout the year.

Your comments are very much appreciated, thank you so much!

May you all have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

I hope to catch up with all of you in 2014.

xoxoxoxo.

12/05/2013

All hot and bothered.



We are in the grip of winter now and my garden has been visited with many different species of birds, feasting on windfall apples and berries. With Christmas looming ever closer, despite my love for this season, it has the habit of filling me with mild panic. I have done hardly any shopping, have no tree or decoration in place and have been stricken with a horrible allergic skin condition which is driving me slowly crazy.



So instead of focusing on the negative I thought I would share with you some things that I have noticed and that you might enjoy. In my last few posts I have told you about my plans to publish my children’s books and over on the website of Martin West, my former publisher and now my mentor, I came across this charming book. You know how it is when you see something so simple and yet so clever and you say to yourself “I wish I had thought of that”? Here is a lovely picture book about a pair of socks; it is the brainchild of Japanese artist Noriko Matsubara. Bocchi and Pocchi are no ordinary pair of socks. They are the best of friends; then one night Pocchi disappears!

Now I know that many of my friends in the blogosphere are keen knitters, Noriko has a free pattern to knit these charming character socks. Would that not make a very special Christmas gift, a book and sock combo?



Whilst on the subject of gifts and knitting, my friend Frances has opened her Etsy shop. I am the proud owner of a pair of her wrist warmers, shown on a previous post. I also looked on as she knit the most beautiful scarf whilst in her stay in the UK.

Meanwhile, I have been busy with my granny squares, to date 30 pink and 30 white, for me something of a record. I hope to update you all on that soon.

We enjoyed a little break in a country cottage in Cumbria, taking the dog for some long and invigorating lakeshore walks and taking lots of photographs for future reference. Whilst taking a little R and R I bought myself a copy of Country Living December issue, and who should be featured there but none other than Celia Hart who came to a virtual tea party not so long ago!

The cottage had an Aga cooker in a rather small kitchen; the effect was a little overpowering. Anybody who has tried to cook a full English breakfast on an Aga will understand the phrase “slaving over a hot stove”, so when life gets you all hot and bothered, what better image than an expanse of tranquil water. And now, I shall take my leave, bye for now. x