Friday, 23 December 2011

Festive spirit...... part 2

The best part of this Christmas is having my son Will with us, even if it meant leaving here at 4.25am yesterday to meet him at Heathrow!! Great time to go of course and we were home by 6.30. It's good to see him again and I'm glad he's ' boomeranging' back here before some more travelling.....maybe....we shall see.
I made this tree from the tutorial on Lesley's blog...

It worked out well and I would make another if I'd kept all those Boden catalogues but I have been seriously clearing 'stuff' out over the last year or so... very therapeutic for god daughter who now deals in vintage clothes can't get over me sending my Laura Ashley dresses to the charity shop!!
Anyway, I digress! The John Lewis catalogue looks good so no need to add paint or glitter.... thanks Lesley!
My present to myself is a beautiful, old, very heavy....

book binding press. It's a long story but briefly I bought it a few months ago and recently a friend kindly took me up to Shropshire to collect it and my strong young builder has now added putting a book binding press together to his CV!
The postman brought parcels containing inks, barens and brayers and yesterday I made a start.

My cardboard cut blackbird inked up and ready to print... and the first print...

Not bad but I can see that using different inks and press I will need to experiment with inking up and the amount of packing sheets. I took a few lighter prints to hand colour later...

I then tried one or two lino blocks...

 and with a bit more experimenting got a good guinea fowl feather print...

You don't get the same 'touch' as with the presses at the Curwen but no doubt I will develop a feel with this press - and some good muscles!! It's going to be fun being able to work at home when I feel like it, and maybe hold classes here next year? The long term wish list is a baby Albion press and an etching press (small one!) but this is a great start!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Festive spirit....part 1

It's been a few years since I spent Christmas at my own house but this year both my children are here, as Will visits from Oz and will be staying a while for hospital visits. It has been a challenging year and we hope for healing and love in my family throughout 2012. Of course, having an 18 month old grandson living round the corner is reason enough to celebrate; Louise, Mark and his parents will be here on Christmas day and Barney of course!
Earlier today Barney came to help me decorate the tree, he was fascinated with putting the decorations on. It's a great shape, having a fat, wide bottom! I had to move furniture to get it in but certainly worth it. Seeing the decorations after some years brought memories back... the nativity figures were bought in Maryland in 1994, my first holiday abroad on my own after some difficult years. They're made from corn husks and the animals date from my children's farm collection.

 I'd forgotten the box of fabric decorations I made, I used to sell these in a previous life...

Memories.... decorations given to me by children I've taught ...a glass boot...

a funky Father Christmas....or is it a Mother Christmas?

a relic from my corn dolly period....

...a peg doll is our 'fairy' at the top of the tree....

...decorations from my travels, a ship in a bottle from Annapolis in Maryland...

a doll from Hong Kong......

and a joey from Oz...

and these 'walnut babies' a friend used to make in the 70's - they're so cute!

a baby in half of a walnut shell, appropriate as I live at The Walnut House...

My 2011 tree, looking forward to a happy family time...


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Christmas Open Studio

I had a lovely weekend welcoming people to my Open Studio event. The mulled wine went down well, especially the non-alcoholic version, made from red grape juice, orange juice, brown sugar, grated ginger and cloves and a cinnamon stick. It had oranges and lemons cut up and thrown in as well; I was sipping away most of the day, with no ill effects afterwards!! I thoroughly enjoyed talking about my work -much of the time us artists are working on our own; it's great to share with other people.

I've never had a picture of me at my OS, Gina took this one and below we have Gina and her Mum.

On Saturday December 3rd I will be at Ashwell Christmas Fair, held in the beautiful church. There's always a lovely Christmassy feel to this fair and being local you see lots of people you know, so a warm, friendly atmosphere.
I am currently working on a lino cut to commemorate my grandson's birth. He is now 18 months old so a little late but I recently took a commission to create a lino cut for a child's christening, on their 1st birthday and thought I must create a print for Barney.

Here's the start of the design and work in progress.....

I've a printing day booked at the Curwen in December, at present I'm having withdrawal symptoms .. no printing for weeks!!
Alison Hullyer, a Cambridge artist, printmaker and illustrator now has a blog as well as her website - do take a look at her lovely, distinctive work. I first met Alison at her Open Studio in 2010, when I had just started my printmaking journey. When I try to add a link to Alison's blog, my post won't save, so do look her up!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Wimpole Hall Fair

What a tiring weekend but also a successful one; another step to get known by a wider audience. Sales on all cards, my birds and gift tags were steady and I sold both prints and some botanical work. Luckily a friend helped me set up on the Friday; the photo shows the start!

We ended up looking like this....

and this....

My print birds proved popular, they have either sheet music or map wings - so migratory or song birds!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Busy times!

This weekend I have a stand at a large, prestigious craft fair at our local national trust property, Wimpole Hall. A friend is helping me set up on Friday afternoon and then it's open from 10.30am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. It's been a hectic time of mounting and framing prints, packing cards, making my print birds and gift tags. I think it will be hard work but good fun!! The photos show my studio in chaos!

The following weekend I hold my own Christmas Open Studio at my house, I've been putting up posters and delivering my fliers.

I also have work in an exhibition at a new gallery, The Art Nest in Hitchin and there's another exhibition coming up to take work to. When I retired I wondered how it would evolve .... now I know! I'd sum it up as interesting, fun, busy, a learning curve. One of the steepest learning curves has been building my website, which has been live for 3 weeks now! Take a look at

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Day 4 and 5 of the walk.....

This was another long day, 18 miles to get to Hay on Wye. It was great weather and a lot of the walk was along a 10 miles ridge with beautiful views all around, We saw wild Welsh ponies, a lovely sight and lots of sheep and caterpillars!!

Not sure what I was doing! My knee survived the track down into Hay and we were pleased to find our B and B, Rest for the Tired!!

We wished we had organised a rest day in Hay to explore the book shops, but no rest for us so the next day we set off for Kington (only 15 miles) in bright sunshine. It was a fabulous walk with lovely views of the Wye as we climbed upwards.

Inspiring stained glass window in the church at Newchurch, where a notice said you could have a drink in the church; so we went in to have our lunch. Sadly, a notice inside informed us that the kettle was broken!!

 BUT, a little further on in Gladwestry there was a pub - hooray! A welcome break. Later Sue went to help a sheep with it's head stuck in the fence.... of course, as she got near, it struggled free!!

Interesting fungi....

and some more ponies amongst a group of monkey puzzle trees.

 The way down from Hertgest Ridge into Kington was uncomfortable and lengthy, but a night in a super B and B, De Lacey House and a meal at a crummy pub made everything OK!!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Cambridge exhibition and more walking....

On Friday evening I went to the preview of Angie Lewin and Rob Ryan's exhibition at Cambridge Contemporary Art. It was a fun evening with lots of people viewing the fabulous work. In my head I spent a lot of money!!
 I met Angie Lewin, it was interesting to talk to her -  I know Kate Sullivan who works with Angie and Simon, Kate is the daughter of friends of mine. Also had a chat with Rob Ryan, an interesting character - meticulous cutting.

Day 3 of Offa's Dyke
This was a long day - 17 miles to our B and B beyond Pandy.

We walked through this Bulmer's cider orchard, lots of apples but they would taste awful of course!!

We had our picnic lunch at White Castle, an impressive ruin.

Stunning scenery all around and inspiration.
 Our B and B didn't do evening meals and would drive you to a pub 1 or 2 miles away but you would have to walk back (in the dark, rural Welsh countryside) - surprisingly, another 1 or 2 miles didn't appeal so we had bought a salad that morning - not quite what you needed but tasty!! Also our room (up 39 steps!)! was designed for midgets. Beams everywhere, as you stepped over them in the floor you hit your head on the one in the ceiling! BUT there WAS a bath and the breakfast was good.

Day 4 will follow!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A morning in Saffron Walden and good news.

On Friday I spent some time with Helen at the Church Street Gallery in Saffron Walden showing her some of my prints. I'm glad to say she liked my work and chose several prints to sell at the gallery. I've always loved Saffron Walden and visited the gallery a few times, so it's exciting to have my work there. Thankyou for the coffee Helen and the tweet on Twitter!!

 I then went to the Fry Gallery to view Chloe Cheese's exhibition, I love the spontaneous nature of her work. I'm taking a course with her at the Curwen next week.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Oops!! My last post I didn't preview and check and left it mid sentence asI suddenly realised an item I was watching on ebay was about to end!! (I won it!!).
So this is to continue the last blog....
On the outskirts of Tintern there's an old railway station, made into a cafe where we bought our packed lunch (no shop in Tintern!).

In the grounds there were some examples of chain saw art, I liked thisWelsh knight and his faithful dog - it was a really sad legend, no wonder he looks so unhappy.

Fabulous scenery all around and lots of ups and downs!! It was on the way down to Monmouth that I discovered I'd hurt my knee when I slipped in the rain the day before - it was really painful going down, but OK going up or on the level. What a very long High Street Monmouth has!! I was limping badly by now, luckily we found a chemist open and I bought a knee support and pain killers. Our B and B turned out to be clean and basic, I wouldn't stay there again, we were the only guests!! but at the end of a day walking (13 miles) almost anywhere will do!! A huge plus was the BATH - HOORAY!!! We had a lovely meal at a pub nearby and the cooked breakfast was delicious.

Photo shoot oportunity - this is Sue at the bridge over the Monnow before setting off for Pandy; 17 miles ahead!!