Monday, 12 December 2016

A Blackthorn winter on May Hill

Yesterday we walked on May Hill.   

All around us was winter.  I can no longer live in denial. I can no longer pretend that this is Autumn, the tail ends of the summer or that the year is gently waning. 
The trees are bare, save for a few apples hanging as baubles on a pauper's thread-bare christmas tree. The Bracken is rust brown, dank, wet and bowed down.  All delicate growth, all blossom, all of natures fragility is gone.  

I find this time of year so hard to endure.  My soul coils within.  I need to find a way to hibernate, a way to survive, some ritual that I can keep as a force of habit to make these days go by but to mark them so that something continues to grow deep within.

I find myself searching for any sign of life and of the new spring to come and it is there. There are buds; the Horse-chestnut tightly wrapped beneath a sticky, hard veneer like shellac, or in the garden the Magnolia buds furled in their soft downy sheath, like some cold and austere ice maiden dressed in ermine, waiting on her own timing to grace the world. 

These are signs which say that life is just dormant and that spring will come again.

And so I wait for the Blackthorn blossom.  This is my harbinger of spring, for once the Blackthorn has burst into white clouds of shimmering confetti then spring will be following close behind.  I'll know that it won't be long before the hedgerows will acquire just the lightest dusting of brilliant sap green and then, as if from nowhere, they will be swathed and bursting in every shade of the freshest greens that Adam ever saw.

So til then, I will write and find some other ways to tend my tender, dormant soul.

Blackthorn - Prunus spinosa
(photograph Sheila Simms)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

"we dance around in a ring and suppose,
while the secret sits in the middle and knows"

robert frost

t.s. eliot once wrote.....

"at the end of all our exploring, will arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time"

Monday, 25 January 2016

images for Luci

I'm pulling together some images for a logo/artwork design for a friend who runs her own gardening business 'Damselfly Garden Design' (website soon to follow - I'll add the link!)... ..

Thursday, 30 April 2015

April Auriculas at Crescent Plants

Today I visited the wonderful collection of Auriculas that are tended by June Poole at Crescent Plants.  I first learned about these plants some years ago and have always wanted to bring them into my work somehow.  Today I went and spent a glorious day drawing in greenhouses full of these beautiful delicate plants.  Every colour and shade you could think of... and to find their correct names and classifications please visit June's site.
It is possible to order direct from the Crescent Plants website or call and arrange a visit... although April is the best month to see them at their best!  Crescent Plants is located in Marden, North Herefordshire and June also has a stand at the RHS Malvern Spring Garden Show each year.

I couldn't resist buying a few to start my own small collection...  over the weekend we'll be making some kind of a 'auricula theatre' to display them in.

Below is an image of some curtains which June photographed at Berrington Hall near Leominster, a National Trust property.  They are of particular interest as the design contains an image of an Auricula.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

How to 'double-cut' wallpaper...

Just 'one' of this weeks learning steps for me has been into the world of 'splicing' or 'double-cutting' wallpaper.  

The papers that I am hand printing comes with an untrimmed margin.  I have chosen to produce it this way for technical reasons and because this is what appears to be the market norm with hand printed wallpapers. I had no idea how this paper would be trimmed and then hung, until this week!  In my own experiments with hanging the paper, I have hand cut the margins before pasting and then hanging. 
It might have been advantageous for me to research into the technique of hanging untrimmed paper earlier in my business venture, but with so many other things to discover and problems to solve, it is something that I just pushed to the back of my mind.

This week, with my first paper being hung by a professional decorator at The Alma Inn in Linton, Herefordshire, I discovered the techniques which are employed when hanging an untrimmed paper. 

The video below, published by Cliff Hayes at Sutton Innovations, clearly illustrates the process. 

So the work has progressed at The Alma and here are a few pictures from my week in hand printed wallpaper.

The Master Decorator in action doing his magic.  Taking my dream of hand-printed wallpaper and making it a reality!

Decorator's Tool Box .... holding the tools of his trade, the gorgeous wooden box relating the patina of work and time!

....and earlier in the week... a photo from the studio floor of the roller with the inky image offset!  It looked so beautiful that I couldn't resist stopping to capture the fleeting moment, before it disappeared under more layers of ink.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lino Print onto Birch Bark

my growing collection of Ginko Leaves with mono prints of 'honesty' seed pods

            A few weeks ago, at the end of a busy printing day, I had a bit of a play printing onto bark from a tree in the garden.  It's Betula utilis 'Fastigiata' or the Himalayan Birch which loses a layer of bark every now and then.  It peels away like paper and I thought it was time to try printing onto it.  It was a little tricky and messy rolling it through the offset press but I like the effect as a printing surface.

monoprint text with Lino print bee... with too few legs!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Perry Orchard

The next wallpaper design is called Perry Orchard and is based on a morning drawing in an old orchard full of cider and perry trees.  James Marsden was kind enough to allow me to draw in their orchard at Gregg's Pit, Much Marcle, Herefordshire... it came with a lovely lunch of homemade soup!

The tree that I chose to draw is a variety called 'The Winter Burgundy' and it is a majestic old tree in the hedge at the far left corner of the orchard.

From here I planned the design and laid it out onto the lino, it is now nearly cut and will be ready for me to take it to the studio to pull a proof on the Offset Litho Proofing Press.  I'm looking forward to printing it in a fresh rosy Perry Pear colour.
I've included a couple of birds that are partly inspired by William Morris' 'Strawberry Thief'.