Lighting The Darkness

Illustration from "Can it be true?"
published by Oxfam as a charity Christmas card.

Much as I love Christmas I do dislike the dark and gloomy days of winter and am always cheered by the notion that once we have passed the winter solstice the days will begin to lengthen.

One of the best things about Christmas is that we get time to spend with our loved ones. This year we visited our son and his partner in London. Whilst there we had a multitude of wonderful things to see; as we arrived at Euston station we decided to walk to the British Library. On route we passed St Pancras church and noticed that The Crypt Gallery had an exhibition of paper-cuts, paintings and calligraphy called Lighting the Darkness. There we met the jeweller, engraver and silversmith Alan Craxford who took time out to talk to us about his paper-cuts.

Alan Craxford Paper-cuts

Alan uses various layers to create shadows which change with the light, thus incorporating the dark and the light into each piece.  His paper-cuts are very beautiful, each one delicately cut with an expert hand, if you have time do visit his website, his work is extraordinary.

Fabric of India Exhibition
The next day we had pre-booked tickets to see The Fabric of India exhibition at the V and A.
I was familiar with many of the printed textiles, having encountered some during my studies. I was less familiar with the embroidered and woven pieces. As with all major exhibitions at the V and A, I always feel rather dazzled and overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of the exhibits. I wish I could have made multiple visits over several weeks in order to absorb the artistry of those exquisite fabrics.

The Royal Albert Hall
The grand finale of our visit was a night at the Albert Hall to see and hear the Kings College Choir
which was amazing! We even joined in singing Hark the Herald Angles Sing at the top of our voices, safe in the knowledge that nobody would notice when I sang off key.

The Dream Quilt by Adele Geras illustrated by Valerie Greeley

When we arrived home we found my first sample book had arrived which called for a celebratory glass of wine. Somewhere in the back of a delivery van is a box of books though I know not where.

Wherever you may be I would like to thank you for visiting my blog and wish you a Blessed Christmas and a Bright and Shining New Year.
                                                   CHEERS EVERYONE  X X X


The Dream Quilt

Some of you may remember last year I illustrated a small format, hard cover book called "Can it be True?" for Long Barn Books. Earlier this year I was thrilled to be invited to work on another title for the same publisher. This time for a book entitled The Dream Quilt by Adele Geras.

Perhaps just once in a lifetime a dream job comes along. For a textile designer who also illustrates books this was my dream commission. Each illustration represents one square of a patchwork quilt. Adele Geras's enchanting writing begins:

"I threaded silk through a silver needle to make a cover for your bed.
Rest your head, close your eyes. I’ll stitch you dreams and lullabies."

We start with a house, where everyone sleeps except for a child.....

This is the house, from The Dream Quilt. Illustration by Valerie Greeley

Although the book would sit happily in a Christmas stocking it is not specifically a Christmas title; some of the imagery is summertime, we have shells and beaches, fish and flowers. There are tigers and trains, bears and dolls. Each illustration makes up a part of the final quilt as the characters dream their own dreams.

The illustrations begin as black ink pen drawings; these are then scanned and made into a digital file. I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create the final images, layering textures and embroidered effects to complete the job.
This is the doll, from The Dream Quilt. Illustration by Valerie Greeley.
The publication date is December 12th, in the meantime I hope you enjoy a glimpse into the creative process. I hope to put some copies in my shop as soon as they arrive. I am also waiting to see some fabric samples, more about that later!

This is the ship from The Dream Quilt. Illustration by Valerie Greeley
Adele has written her own account of how she came to write the book, you can read all about it here-

For more information about Adele Geras visit her website, there you will find details of Adele's other works. I can recommend "Cover Your Eyes"- a story about a fashion designer haunted by her past. You may also be interested to know that Adele's daughter is an accomplished writer too, her name is Sophie Hannah. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this commission was that I got to know Adele a little as we discussed the book as it progressed. I have a feeling you will like her too.

To visit Long Barn Books please follow the link.