My Spoonflower Shop

My Spoonflower Shop
Newly opened!


Winter Skies

The New Year got off to a busy start with the arrival of my niece, husband and their delightful daughter. It was touch and go if the visit would take place at all on account of their recent acquisition; a retired greyhound also named Ted. We were all very unsure as to how our little Ted would react to suddenly having another strange dog in the house. Oddly enough, he did not mind a bit and life took on a new dimension, especially walks where big Ted was let loose to gallop across the fields. It is one of life’s great pleasures to see dogs playing; their “Joie de vie” is infectious. It was also very amusing to see how amiable they became, lying side by side in front of the fire in the evening.

The winter skies have been most inspiring, I love the way the stark tree branches appear like black lines engraved upon the heavens. Earlier this year I attended a workshop taught by Emily Martin of The Naughty Dog Press, where I learnt to make a magic book. I am not sure of its proper name but to me it appears to work like magic. Even though my brain understands the principle behind its construction my eyes tell me a different story. It is very difficult to explain but if you look at the photographs you will see that the book appears to be like a very simple concertina book. When it is opened it has inside covers decorated with trees. The first and last spreads have trees and the middle has snowflakes and a fox. When you hold the cover pages and pull, the book becomes flat and the fox disappears. When you turn the book over there is no sign of the trees or the fox. Now if that isn’t magic I’ll eat my hat. Whilst out walking today I noticed animal tracks in the snow, which has given me the idea of decorating the empty back page with fox prints. You may have worked out that the woven design has something to do with the magical transformation.

Since I wrote this post I have found out that the name of the structure is a woven flexagon.

The weather then took a turn for the worse; cold grey skies brought sleet and then snow.
My elderly mum had a very nasty fall and just as she was getting over that, I hurt my right hand trying to unscrew the top from a jar of marmalade! I was feeling extremely glum when a parcel arrived containing the most wonderful creation in the shape of a winter hare called Mademoiselle Ciel d'Hiver made by Stephanie, known to you and me as Millefeuilles
This little work of art has been most lovingly stitched, using perfectly chosen materials and is full of little details, tiny glass beads, hand made lace, silk ears, I am still discovering and marveling at her artistry.You can see more of these wondrous hares here in her Etsy shop. As you can see she has already made herself at home with my collection of hand made bears; acquired over the years for drawing reference material- (Some of the bears have featured on my china mugs).

With a painful hand there was nothing to be done except rest; painting, sewing, book making, housework were all out of the question. On days like that there was only one thing to be done and that was shop! Below are some of my more recent findings in various charity shops and second hand bookshops, all bought for inspiration.
The opened book with the goose engraving is ‘Footnotes on Nature” illustrated by Nora Unwin. The other opened book is “Nature and Ornament” by Lewis F Day and that beautiful tree drawing is by Mary Newill.


softearthart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
softearthart said...

Love the little fox book. cheers Marie

Merisi said...

I am so sorry to heat that you hurt your hand! (Only moments ago did I have to use some force to open a honey jar - luckily, the lid came off before I got hurt.)

I cannot image what's behind the magic of your beautiful book! And the books you found are a true delight.

Wishing you to get well soon and keep warm,

steven said...

what a treasure trove of a post! doggy friends, a magic book (make one pleeeeeease!!!), and the teddy bears!!! let that hand heal up and have a wonderful year! steven

Julie Clay Illustration said...

The dogs are marvellous, so sweet that they got on ok! It must have been great to watch the greyhound go, we have a beautiful blue/grey whippet that suddenly appears on our walks, he runs rings round my old dog, comes in for a quick hello to me and is off like the wind, a joy to watch The magic book is wonderful. Hope your hand heals quickly, it's not easy being out of action with a hand!! :)

acornmoon said...

Thanks everyone, my hand is almost back to normal.
Steven, the book structure is very simple to make and your kids would love making them.

Jules said...

Dogs, foxes, teddies, fab hare and books. A perfect post! (I see our Dorset Feather Stitches got in there too!:))

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Happy New Year Valerie! I am so intrigued by your magic book...will you be making them for your shop? The greyhound is lovely. We almost rescued one but it wasn't the right time, now we just have a big Labradoodle. I love winter skies as well as your description of the branches engraved on the heavens...funny you mention the gorgeous books you found because I was planning my post for tomorrow to be about a few 'new', old books I found recently! Kindred spirits again. I'm so happy every day to see my january owl in my kitchen painted by your hands...thankyou again.
p.s I suppose some of Toronto does look quite English...Must be the types of things that I find beauty in...the old classics!

Kerry O'Gorman said...

P.S Hope your hand heals quickly!

Clare Wassermann said...

What a magical post. I was drawn in by every bit of it so Thankyou. Hoping your hand improves very quickly xxx

Rowan said...

Lovely photo of the two dogs:) What a great collection of books you've found. I have the Alison Uttley one and shall be searching Abebooks for a couple of the others!

Valerianna said...

Lots going on! The magic book is quite beautiful, as is winter skies. Too bad about both your Mom and your hand! I was just thinking today how sometimes the stupidist, seemingly small action can have dire consequences! But the shopping looks fruitful, so all was not lost?

Rosie said...

What a lovely post, Valerie! I love big ted and little ted together and your wonderful stiched hare sittting with your bears. I love the magic book, too. Hope your hand is healed soon:)

sarah said...

I'm glad your hand is better. Your art is so very charming.

Tammie Lee said...


your life sounds full of the many facets that life can hold. your painting is lovely as is your magic book! how fun.

the other day i almost hurt my hand opening a jar as well, then i remembered a simply way to open a new jar.... take a butter knife, not a sharp knife and choose a spot under the rim to slide the tip of the knife, then gently turn the knife and it releases the seal making the lid easy to open.

lovely to see and read about your life.

Michelle Palmer said...

Do hope your mom is recovering well and that your hand will be 100% soon!

Your painting is dear, your shopping finds~ treasures!! You book is wonderful... magic indeed :)

Wishing you joy!

Ciara said...

Gorgeous post, Valerie, as always. Hope you are on the mend, though sometimes being forced to rest is a good thing. Hope you got to enjoy the snow too!

Clare Wassermann said...

Just read about your visit to Gretel Parker - have you heard about her partner Andy?

Michala Gyetvai (Kayla coo) said...

Beautiful book!
I hope your hand will be feeling better soon, I can imagine how frustrating it is when you need to be creative!
M x