Tudor Houses

Illustration for "Can it be true?"
written by Susan Hill for Long Barn Books.

I thought you might be interested to see some of the thought processes and inspiration behind my recent illustration project for "Can it be true?” for Long Barn Books.

It was decided from the beginning that this book would have either black and white illustrations or restricted colour, we wanted to give a more simplified “printmaker” feel to this new edition in contrast to the very detailed water colours used previously.

When I had to think of an image to use to illustrate the towns page I immediately thought of Tudor style houses. This very decorative style of building lends itself to black pen and ink drawing and so was a natural choice. There are very many wonderful examples around our home and county town of Chester. Some date from as far back as Henry VII.

The illustration started as a black and white pen drawing, which I scanned into the computer. I then added colour and a lino print texture on Photoshop. The original idea was to have gold on some of the pages but to do this would have added considerably to the costs. We decided to add a gold effect instead, this was also done on Photoshop by scanning a piece of gold leaf and then “pasting” the effect in the windows and onto the stars. (see top)

The illustration suggested a repeat pattern so when the book was finished I turned the page into a textile design. To see how this would look on fabric I decided to try out the Spoonflower site. This is a place where you can upload your own designs and have them printed for your own use or for sale in an online shop.

The problem for me was choosing the right fabric, in the end I opted for Kona cotton, thinking it might be nice to quilt. The obligatory sample arrived in due course and when I saw it my mind turned back to books again. I thought it might be good to try out the fabric as a book cloth;- here is my very old and tatty address book sporting its new cover. It seemed an appropriate choice.

If you feel so inclined you can try out the fabric yourself, you will find it here-


"Can it be True?" BBC Competition.

August came and went in the blink of an eye and now it seems we are almost into autumn. A new term for those returning to school and great excitement for a certain little boy who starts school tomorrow. How I wish I could be a fly on the wall!

I seem to have been very busy with one thing and another. I have redesigned my website in order to make changes and updates easily without having to ask for help. I made it on blogger, better the devil you know, it will be a work in progress.

A box full of ‘Can it be True?” book samples arrived followed by some rather exciting news. Those of you who listen to BBC Radio 3 Breakfast might have heard about a new Christmas Carol Competition. Listeners are being asked to set the words of a new version of “Can it be True?” by Susan Hill to create a new Christmas carol. If you are musically inclined you might like to enter, details are available here-

I took this photograph to give you some idea of the scale of the book. As you can see it is Christmas stocking size.

I hope to have some of the Christmas books for sale soon in my bookshop, maybe in the next few days. It seems a bit too soon to think about the festive season so maybe I will leave it for a while, not wanting to wish away the last of the summer.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary by a trip to Bodnant garden, which is probably the most beautiful garden I have ever visited. With panoramic views of Snowdonia, wooded glades, waterfalls, lily ponds, terraces and rose gardens all combine to create an earthly paradise. We have seen the garden before but not for some years now and noticed many improvements, we hope to return soon.

 Are you looking forward to the next series of Downton Abbey when it returns to our television screens soon? I love cosy Sunday nights with a new craft project, a glass of wine and good old Downton. I am hoping for lots lavish interiors and posh frocks and people looking wistfully in the mid distance whilst opining that "times are a-changing".

You may have noticed that I have been playing around on the Spoonflower site. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this website, it is a print on demand site for textiles, wallpapers and wraps. I thought I might try out some new ideas and make available again some designs that have been retired. Like my website this is another work in progress activity. At the moment I am waiting for some samples before deciding what to do next.

Sometimes it seems that I have so many projects on the go and hardly any finished but I am pleased to report that I finally managed to complete the miniature painting I started in the summer. Now what shall I paint next?