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.


A Blessing for the New Year.

"May the roof above us never fall in and may the friends gathered below it never fall out."

I came across this lovely Irish blessing and thought it would be appropriate to share it with you. The new year makes us reflect on what is important in our lives and friendship, family and home have to be at the top of the list.

The designs featured here are part of a group of four which I created this time last year for a major high street retailer. They are part actual cross stitch and part digital and were great fun to do.

We have had a very busy Christmas and have enjoyed having our family and friends around. Many of them are in the process of moving house, through a variety of reasons including work, downsizing etc. So many of us find ourselves putting down roots in places which are unfamiliar, it has made me reflect on the meaning of home. I suppose I agree with the old saying "Home is where the heart is" and for the moment at least my heart is right here, in the misty, moisty and oh so muddy part of the North West of England. This year I have not made any resolutions, last year I wanted to spend more time outside and then it rained for nine months! I would like to try to spend more time painting and making artist books instead of fiddling around on this computer. Speaking of which, I have finally worked out how to add a page. Can you see it above? "Artist Books" is a work in progress. Happy Days.