Thursday 30 May 2013

Mapping it

Thanks for all the good feedback. I have chosen Pat and Annie (closed the eyes and pointed at the screen) for the give-away and will be in touch with them. I'll soon be able to tell you who will be in the next d4daisy book - just tying up loose ends.

We were supposed to be having a half term family gathering today but the weather has been so awful that we decided to cancel and reconvene on a future Saturday instead. So Clive and I went to an exhibition based on maps and mapping. It was Clive's idea and he thought it was going to be 'proper' map making but, to my delight, it was mostly textile interpretations of maps. As I hadn't expected to be so absorbed I didn't take the camera so these are just iphone pics.

This is a detail from Wendy Dolan's large piece. Doesn't show up well here but it was a delightful study of Welsh landscape cleverly interspersed with soft fabric maps. Understated but most effective with good changes of scale.

Below is a lovely bag made by Lois Walpole - the basket maker. Made from woven maps it was intricate and classy. She had wonderful paper shoes, also maps but my phone wasn't up to the task.

We had an interesting experience this morning when we were interviewed by the people who installed our solar panels and wood burner for a promotional web video they are making. We have been so pleased with both that it was easy to say yes when they asked us. 

The guy making it was really interesting and was here for ages. His main interest was in Workshop on the Web, as he has set up something similar as a forum for women suffering from poly cystic ovary syndrome. His wife is a sufferer and, as she is a dietician, has made great progress in using diet to overcome it. I had a friend with this horrid condition so was very interested.

Find them on  They are expecting their second child (this condition affects fertility) so they must be doing something right. Apart from the obvious!

Thursday 23 May 2013

Home Again

Many thanks for all the feedback from the last blog. Glad you enjoyed the spiral book making.

I am back from Ireland, where we had the most fantastic time. Everyone was so friendly and very keen and I gave a half day workshop on dissolvables. I am not really geared up to teaching these days but it was a long way to go just for a talk so I did a special for them. Here are some pics from the trip. Hang on in there as I have a give-away at the end of the blog. Going to make you see my ‘holiday photos’ first.

Having arrived early we went to the Ulster Museum and had a nosey round. Some wonderful John Piper paintings - he is a favourite of ours. Then on to the Tropical Ravine in the Botanical Gardens - the photos above don't give any idea of the size of the huge plants or the steep drop to the ravine below. Our thanks to Aylerie for running us around and taking care of our multiple luggage so we could do this.

Then on to Bangor, where we were staying in a cute hotel, full of character. You can tell this by the way they have folded the towels.

The food was excellent and we needed a walk after dinner. Through the clouds came a rectangular rainbow. We have seen a square one before but this was a definite strip. Much brighter in real life than the photo.

Good mosaics on the pier - loved this colourful D Day memorial.

Lots of guillemots around. Don't see many of them where we are so this was a bonus.

I meant to take photos of the class but the time whizzed by and was over before I realised.

I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

The give-away: with my ‘d4daisy books’ hat on I am planning to produce a multiple artist book. It will have six to eight contributors and I am looking for really interesting people to feature. Who would you choose from the stitch, mixed media, journalling and book making crowd?

Let me know and I will give away a copy of the Paper and Beyond CDROM to two lucky people. I have already asked the Facebook gang, so don’t comment here if you have left a message on FB.

The book should be out for Christmas. I shall write a section on paper and metal  as I have some new ideas that I want to explore.

I am going to a workshop with Sandra Meech on Saturday - really looking forward to that. It is on using digital prints and I am using my photos from our Scandinavian theme. Lots of printouts to do in preparation, as you can see. I will hopefully be able to show you the finished result soon.

Monday 13 May 2013

Making Spiral Books

It has occurred to me that it is ages since I gave any kind of tutorial on the blog so here is one on making spiral books. Well, sort of books. It is from the Paper and Beyond CD that Jane Wild and I made some time ago, so you may have seen it.

I am giving away the last ten copies of the CD soon – watch out for a blog next week. Can’t do it this week as I am about to go to Northern Ireland for a talk and mini workshop. Looking forward very much to that.

Spiral Books.

Consider the following when making books. A book doesn't have to be flat, it need not have 'normal' pages and, most of all, it doesn't have to be rectangular. A book is a means of recording or passing on information and this can be achieved in many ways, shapes and forms.

My spiral books are long triangles of firm paper glued to a batten of wood. It is an interesting concept because the inside as well as the outside is on show. Consideration needs to be given to the design and to the means of linking the outer and inner surfaces.


The basic method is very simple. Just cut a long tapering shape from firm paper or card.
I use Bockingford water-colour paper, weight 140 lbs/300 gsm. The diagram shows the
shape I used for the book shown. This was cut from a sheet of paper measuring roughly 56 x 76 cm (22 x 30 in). Don't worry about being too precise. Wavy lines are to be encouraged. Books can, of course, be cut to any size but the angle needs to be as shown for the shape illustrated.


Both the inside and outside surfaces will need to be coloured. Never one to paint on a flat surface when a more interesting one is available, I add texture using a Texture Gel and gesso before painting. These can be found in art shops - Liquitex or Golden brands are very good. In the piece shown below. Blended Fibres Gel was used, together with gesso which had salt sprinkled into it.

You can see below the process of applying the gesso with a palette knife. It is scraped into lines and textures with the flat of the knife. Gesso can be hard to paint if used in its pure white form so I always mix a little black gesso or black acrylic paint with it – see left pic, below. The blended fibres were also applied with a palette knife – see right pic, below. In this case, the fibres were worked around into swirls with the flat of the knife.

As the work was inspired by the Philip Pullman trilogy 'His Dark Materials', I wanted this piece to represent the abyss and the folds of the paper met to form it. This design was, to some extent, worked out beforehand and you can see my texture sketch below, right.

The piece did however take on a life of its own when the folding took place.

Allow the work to dry and then paint with water-colours, inks or acrylics. If you want to achieve a blended effect, use no more than three colours and first wet the surface of the entire piece. Just spray it with water before you paint. If you are using water-colour, you may find that a little acrylic paint is also needed to work into the textured gel area. Finish any further work on the front of the scroll. This could mean working into the textured areas with coloured pencils or soft pastels – see below, left. If the subject is suitable, use metallic waxes or a dry brush of gold, silver or copper acrylic paint.

Painting The Inside

Don't forget the inside. Paint this too with a suitable toning colour or perhaps with walnut ink, tea or coffee. This area of the book could be used to contain messages.

Don't forget that some of the inside will be viewed from the outside. In the book shown below, the inner surface is painted with walnut ink. Strips of lettering with suitable phrases, some hand-written and some using torn strips of computer printed hand-made paper, were attached. The strips were stitched roughly together before the bottom layer was glued to the inside area of the scroll.

Finally, the book is attached to a piece of painted doweling which my local DIY shop obligingly cut to size for me. Alternatives to the doweling could be the decorative beading sold in DIY or framing shops. A selection of these is shown, below, bottom left. You can also see details of the 'pages'.

To stick the doweling to the inside of the book, use contact adhesive such as UHU or Bostick. Place the adhesive on the edge of the book and on the doweling. Leave for a minute or two and then press the two together. Cover with baking paper and put under a weight, such as heavy books, for an hour. Then spread more adhesive over the next inch of paper and roll around the stick to cover it.

Hope you have enjoyed this and will experiment with gesso and texture gels.

Thursday 2 May 2013

A Big Day Out

Yesterday we went with my cousin Sue to Greenwich. Clive and I were going to see the Alice Kettle pieces at The Queen's House, Sue was going to re-live the Olympics (the equestrian events were held there).

We took the car to Richmond and hopped on the underground to Tower Hill. Then we introduced Sue to the Docklands Light Railway, which I love as I have a thing about monorails and this is pretty close. It was a brilliant day for it - warn and sunny- and they had extended the line since last we went, so we enjoyed seeing all the ponced-up dock areas. It took us right into Greenwich and we soon found ourselves looking at the Cutty Sark.

A quick bite at Pizza Express (I can never review an exhibition on an empty stomach) and we were soon walking to the Queen's House. I  love this view of the river with Canary Wharf viewed through the old buildings.

I am not going to go into detail about the Alice pieces as I have reviewed it for Workshop on the Web (the review part of WoW has unrestricted access so you can all see it in the June issue). I will just show this amazing piece (right) - my favourite.

Plus the flowers that a lot of Facebookers helped Alice to create.

Then we were on the next stage of our 'How many forms of transport can we do in a day' quest. A boat trip back to Westminter, where we could pick up our tube again. Here we are, the cousins, basking in the sun. It was a really hot day.

I amused myself by seeing how many shots of the Gherkin I could get, all with different foregrounds. It does seem to travel with you as you go along.

Disembarkation at Westminster, below.

We were soon on our tube train, heading back to the car. This should have taken us all the way back to Richmond but there was a Reggie Perrin moment - signal failure at Turnham Green (it really is called that!).

This lead to another, unexpected,  form of transport, surface trains to Clapham Junction and then again to Richmond. Something of an adventure but everyone was very helpful, producing iphones with apps to suggest diversions and check trains. Think I will get that app when we next travel to London.

So, home: rather late and tired but it was a brilliant day..

Thank you so much for all the comments on the last blog, especially the Newport girls. We are booked in for next year and I already have an exciting idea for you all to try. I have had such good feedback from that day that it is now firmly in my repertoire.