4/22/2014

The next chapter.



I should start this post by saying how deeply touched I was by all your lovely messages of support and kind comments following the death of our beloved dog.
I had not prepared myself for the feeling of loss and desolation his departure has caused. Those of you who have formed a bond with a pet will know how different life is without them.

Enough, or we shall all be in tears!

There is much to celebrate, Easter brought family visits made extra special this year by the addition of our darling grand-daughter Edie Rose.

Spring has sprung here in Cheshire and the garden is bursting with life and colour.



My journey into the world of hand made books continues, this time Secret Belgian Binding was the subject of our latest workshop with Alan Fitch from The Farthing Press. Alan also runs courses from his bindery in Powys with accommodation provided, a lovely way to combine a holiday with learning.



Last but not least, my book samples for “White is the Moon” finally arrived. I was so anxious about them but I am happy to say that they have surpassed my expectations. This is a title that I originally illustrated when our boys were little. It was published by Blackie and Son Ltd in the UK and by Macmillan in the USA. Gradually it went out of print and we decided to publish it ourselves as an Acornmoon Books edition. This may prove to be foolhardy given the lack of bookshops and the increased demand for e-books but we are being cautiously optimistic. I have been busy making an on-line shop, which you can see in my sidebar.

In addition to my latest book, I have found a few boxes of older out of print titles. All of these are in an unread, untouched condition. Some have become collectable and can be seen on other book sites for a vast array of prices, I am pleased to say that I have kept to their original price and can offer some real bargains until my stocks run out.

If anyone is interested in these children’s picture books or babies board books I am happy to sign them and add a dedication. You can see what is on offer by following this link. All of the books will be posted from the UK by Royal Airmail, and I am happy to post to any far-flung corner of the globe!

4/18/2014

The Lamb



The Lamb
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

May you all have a Blessed Easter.

4/01/2014

Woodcut Printing.



For the last four Wednesdays I have been taking part in a Woodcut Printing Class at The Hotbed Press in Salford/Manchester. Our lovely course tutor was Oliver Flude who has a website here-

Oliver inspired us by his skill and enthusiasm for his craft and showed us some of his own prints together with the blocks he had used.

Previously I have tried my hand at wood engraving where the image is engraved onto the end grain of a piece of hardwood. In woodcut printing the long-grain is used, this is very different and has a charm all of its own. Unlike wood engraving, this method of printing is capable of showing some of the character of the wood. The wood is softer and the grain more a feature in the final print.

Over the course we had four three-hour sessions, to learn the basics. All our efforts had to be concentrated into creating an image in a short space of time. This meant that a bold, energetic and free style took over from my usual tightly controlled style. This was both liberating and scary in equal measures.

We had the luxury of printing on a beautiful old Columbian Press, the hours flew by and everyone had an enjoyable and productive time.



In the first week we got to try out various tools and learn the kind of marks they made. The wood we used was a Japanese plywood which was easy to cut into along the grain, not so easy cross grain. We all managed to produce a one colour print- here is my first effort.



In week two we introduced colour, using a reduction technique. My print was a disaster and went into the bin. However, they say you learn by your mistakes.

On the third week we used a combination of techniques including paper stencils.



On the final week we pulled everything together and produced our final images.
My penguin was a reduction print using a gradation of blue into white and then a second printing of black on top.(see top).

At the end of four weeks we were all sad to say farewell, everyone enjoyed taking part and I think we will all use our newfound skills in the future.

If anyone is interested I have put some of my prints in my Etsy shop- https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/acornmoon

3/16/2014

Sugar and Spice and all things nice.



At last, we have a little girl! Our grand-daughter Edie Rose was safely delivered three weeks ago, sorry I have not had time to update my blog.
After two sons and one grand-son, it is an extra special delight to have a little girl in our lives and..... I get to do pink!



Over the last four months I have been illustrating a Christmas gift book. Apart from one or two things it is almost finished, as soon as I get the go ahead from the publisher I will share it with you.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed a lovely bookbinding workshop with Midori Kunikata-Cockram. We tried our hands at Japanese stab binding, we made a Fukuro Tojo - a small notebook with a four hole sewn binding. We also made a Tsbakuro, which is a simple protective case for the book. Midori is a great teacher and has a wealth of knowledge on the art of bookbinding, in particular Japanese bookbinding. You can see more of her work here on her blog.

We used beautiful Japanese papers for the project and learned how to make a "Thread" out of paper using one long strip of tissue paper tightly rolled into a strand. This is used to secure the interior pages before the final binding. The paper "Thread" has to be rolled tightly enough to fit through a small hole made with a bradawl.You can see one of these in the last picture below. This kind of Japanese tissue is incredibly strong and durable and can last hundreds of years, much longer than a linen thread, in fact a good quality Japanese paper thread can last a thousand years! The pages of the book are folded at the fore-edge and are made of a very fine paper and are beautiful to write on, having said that, I have never actually written on mine. The joy being in the creating rather than the using but maybe one day. The book is bound by sewing through pre-prepared holes with a silk thread. There are many decorative stitch patterns to choose from, we did a basic four hole stitch but Midori demonstrated many more. If you click on the picture you will see in more detail, but don't look too closely at my stitching! I made the book with the little blue pattern and red stitching, also a red cover (not shown).



In my next post I shall show you what I have been up to in my latest course, a set of four lessons in woodcut/block printing.

So, 'till then, enjoy the spring.

2/02/2014

National Storytelling Week.



This week is National Storytelling Week here in the UK. To celebrate my book “Down the Lane” has been made one of the featured stories of the week within StoriesAlive. This is a free to download app, which enables you to try out several free stories for children. If you and your children like this way of reading and sharing you can choose to subscribe. I am told that “Down the Lane” will be available free for the month of February.



I wrote and illustrated this book many years ago. Happy Cat Books first published it as a hardback and a paperback here in the UK and I have plans to add it to my Acornmoon book list. Speaking of which, the files for “White is the Moon” have just gone off to the printers so we should be able to offer both print and digital forms of the book in the next couple of months.



The weather here in Cheshire has been very wet and windy but not nearly as bad as other parts of the country. Today has been bright and breezy; I decided to see if I could find any celandines in flower. My February illustration in “Down the Lane” features these delightful shiny yellow wild flowers with blackbirds and a sleeping dormouse. There are blackbirds a plenty in the fields and here in my garden, no flowers yet on the celandines but plenty of glossy green leaves. I also found a beautiful skeleton leaf, which has survived the winter intact.



I have spent the long winter evenings finishing my crochet baby blanket. The photograph makes it look very out of shape; I don’t think it was so out of kilter in reality. By the way, I found out how to make these crochet squares on Little Tin Bird.



My hyacinth finally flowered and its perfume is a welcome reminder of spring days to come.



Ted has been feeling the cold and has taken to wearing his coat on long wet and windy walks. Now he is getting older (fourteen this July) he enjoys finding a sunny spot, preferably with a view. Isn’t it strange the way Jack Russell’s like a window seat. I wonder what tales he would tell?



1/22/2014

Good intentions.



Hi, it has been a while! I have had good intentions to update my blog but time has been against me. I hope there is somebody still out there?

Christmas was a very busy time for us, we had lots of visitors and with all the extra domestic duties I also had a very heavy workload, anyway, enough of my excuses, I hope this year has been good to you so far.

Earlier this month I had a watercolour painting exhibited in Mayfair, London by “Art of the Imagination”. The painting was a new work, inspired by “The Night before Christmas”. As you can see I got a little carried away with the border.





I have been experimenting printing onto canvas; so far I have tried out some images for stretched canvases and handmade books. I plan to do some more when time allows. The little origami book was made with a printed canvas cover and the insides where decorative marbled papers.



The book below was a special find in my local Oxfam shop, it was published by The Golden Cockerel Press in 1937 with original wood engravings by Gwenda Morgan, isn’t it a treasure? I thought you might like it too.



When I have not been at my desk I have been walking Ted, who is in the doghouse yet again. This time for chasing and cornering a squirrel who promptly bit him on the nose. He was so humiliated, in front to his girlfriend too! As you can see from my photograph, the weather has been mild, very wet and windy but so far no extreme cold spells. Some of the leaves remain on the trees; the birds are singing and nesting as if it were spring. I wonder if they are right to be so optimistic, I do hope so.