Here I am again, at the new location! Welcome to Pencil and Leaf’s new home.
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I should get more time to blog now, as it will be easier … I hope… on this platform.
But let’s get on with Spring, which despite the weather is definitely on its way. In the garden, snowdrops, aconites, winter honeysuckle and the sweet little crocus are blooming. The yellow ones have a dark red stripe on the back of their petals before they open. Lovely!
I made a bunch of quick prints to celebrate their arrival.
A nice little experimental piece to try some new papers and a few new inks.
A4 lino reduction print.
……and not only are the flowers in bloom but the frogs have arrived… 🙂 happy happy days!!
This is the first post of my relocated blog.
Welcome if you have just found me here rather than my old home at Blogger!!
I think all the old posts going back to 2008 are still intact. You can find them by scrolling down this page or via that nifty dropdown in the sidebar on the right “Lots of lovely posts from the past”. Even I think there is some very interesting stuff there!
So to start this new phase of blogging, I am celebrating my modest success in making some lovely book boxes, which I did mention in the my last post on Blogger.
I wish I could take all the credit but all I did was follow some very precise instructions from master box maker Clare Bryan on her excellent Box Making course at City Lit.
The boxes are delightful. A slipcase, a clamshell, a japanese box and a card folder.
They all fit into each other.. how nice is that! Then I made some inserts for the slip case and experimented with making a box with compartments. Much more to learn and improve but a wonderful spring board for so many ideas!
The cutting is very very precise, but the result is well worth the care.
This excellent course brightened up the darkening days of November and made me address my glue problems. I will get tidier… I will work cleaner… I will not get glue all over everything!
See Clare’s beautiful work here: https://cargocollective.com/clarebryan/Clare-Bryan
And of course more excellent bookbinding courses ( and many other things ) at City Lit here: https://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses/art-and-design/contemporary-crafts/bookbinding
As is usual these days, the year has rushed by too fast. This autumn I have been busy learning some new skills and researching in preparation for a couple of new projects for next year.
There is also an exhibition to be planned for in spring 2021 which seems an age away and yet, in terms of work time is so very close.
In October I was lucky to attend a short course with master model maker David Neat. I am interested in incorporating some models into next years projects and wanted to understand more about basic modelling methods and modern materials and of course it was totally fascinating. I have made rough models before, sometimes to help with illustration work but nothing which might be considered finished or accurate. But the addition of a third dimensions in my work and the simulation of life in the round is very appealing.
…texture samples, a model and casts of a hand and a tiny chair.
David has a huge amount of experience in all kinds of modelmaking and is fantastically generous with his knowledge.
He makes accurate scale models for all sorts of clients and has particular interest in theatrical set design It was a whole new world for me. We worked mainly to 1:25 scale… hmmm… tiny!
We experimented with plastics, foams, wire, card resin and I came away with a huge admiration for set designers and in fact anyone who has to work accurately to scale.
My results were not brilliant but my understanding of materials has increased 100%.
I’m not quite sure how I will utilise this new found knowledge.. but I surely will….
It’s only a few days now before the Autumn Country Market At Easton this Sunday, where we will be showing our completed “Salute the Pig” book.
I have spent the last few months getting just 10 of the 25 books bound, prints made, some accompanying ceramics prepared and all the bits of faffing around that go along with having a stall.
It has been very, very time consuming.. But we will be ready for Sunday!!!
I am not a bookbinder as such, so the most nerve racking aspect of all this has been trying to bind the main letterpress printed books. There are only so many beautifully printed sheets to work with, and I cannot afford to make any serious mistakes.
Covers and endpapers were handprinted. Books sewn and glued then all assembled and the original lino print plates tipped in and stamped. Phew..It’s adhering the endpapers to the covers that I have found most difficult… but it is good to try and get things right. All I can say is, I have made them the very best I can at this stage of my bookbinding ability!
Chris’s accompanying recipe booklet was digitally printed and so we designed it in InDesign echoing the type style of the main book. I converted my piggy sketches to monchrome red and dropped them into the text. The books are finished with a binding of … what else but… stripy butcher’s string!
The Well Fed Pig:
We are selling a few prints from the book seperately and I worked on a large two colour combined lino/woodcut of the Well Fed Pig. I had already explored this theme of the pig tattooed with its favourite food in some earlier experimental ceramics and it has developed nicely into the print. The original image is A3 and I am selling these, plus a smaller digital A3 version.
Three Little Pigs
I liked some of the sketches from the recipe book so much that I decided to have some cards printed of the piglets. More may follow!
I like to make ceramics occasionally but I could never say I am a ceramicist. However over the last year I have played with some ideas which I thought might work for the pigs. My ceramics are a bit like my bookbinding.. rather experimental, so sometimes ideas worked, but very often not, due to my own inexperience and/or firing issues, which rather dampened my initial enthusiasm.
But eventually I have enough good ones to be able to add them to the Pig Box and offer a small number for sale….and for me to consider continuing….many thanks to Gay and Julie for dragging me out of the slough of despond!
I am making a page on the blog about this project… I wonder if it will ever be finished 🙂
The year is rushing by just toooo fast but with lots of interesting print experiments, more
bookbinding and some great workshops and now I’m very busy planning for
the “launch” of our Pig Book in September. Hurahh!
I also have a series of posts to come about my labour of love in
getting my book project The Colour Of Birds together and there will be updates on Salute the Pig progress.
Meanwhile a few simple little hoverflies seen in the Botanical Garden in Cambridge
This was my first ever screenprinting on fabric experience at a fab workshop
taken by Ricki Outis.
OOh I rather like this!
Last week on a beautiful Spring afternoon we had the private view for the “Plants and Pollinators” show at Easton Walled Gardens. This week has been snowdrop week and the Gardens have brimmed over with sunshine and visitors. There are 19 of the bees on show with their explanatory labels, notes about bees, my technique and prints and postcards for sale.
The gorgeous black form of the Large Garden Bumblebee.. one of my all time favourites especially as I had first seen it in my father’s garden.
It has been a while since I have shown the bees and it was so SO lovely to see them back on the walls of the Coach House which was our Easton painting workshop home. It was also particularly lovely to see some of the old painting group! Thank you all for coming along.
The show will continue into March and I shall be there on some of those days, talking about my lovely bees, what to grow to encourage them and how I go about painting and drawing them.
The new bee, the Tree Bumblebee was finished and framed in time and I now feel I want to continue filling in the gaps of my set of British bee paintings. I had seen a couple of bees in my garden last year that I have not yet painted..only about 230 species to go Val!
I am sharing the space with botanical artist Dawn Wright whose beautiful painting of lilac was featured on the private view invite.
Big thanks to Ursula Cholmeley and her team of gardeners and organisers who have made it all possible!
The show continues until 17th March and I will be there on Thursday 7th. Thursday 14th and Sunday 21st.
Do come along to say hello if you are in the area.
Prints of the Buzz Paintings and sets of cards are available to buy from me. You can see the selection here at
https://buzzbooknprints.blogspot.com/ you can see more about each bee by clicking on the image.
Snowdrops at Easton taken yesterday morning… beautiful!
The bee is coming along. I decided to break out a bit and paint this one slightly larger than the Buzz set. It’s been a couple of years since I painted a bee but, as I still have a habit of collecting dead bees I found I had 6 very good little Tree Bumblebees in a pot. It is very helpful to have a specimen to work with.
The tree bumblebee is by nature quite feisty and will sting when it thinks its nest is under threat. I first saw one of these very attractive ginger black and white bees at Easton Walled Gardens back in 2011. It was foraging amongst the glorious blossom of a cherry tree. A few years later,again at Easton, they had made a nest in one of the lovely old stone walls which surround the Gardens. Most recently, apart from seeing them every year in my garden, a colony has set up home in a tree stump in the Spinney. Unfortunately the stump was also the home to a geocache box, so whoever wanted to record their presence would have to contend with some rather angry bumblebees. They have a reputation for taking over old birdboxes and are definitely a bee that likes to site its home up and off the ground.
The rough tracing of the cherry, which I changed in the end to simplify the pencil work.
About 3/4 finished… and on the right preparing to paint the wings… always a bit tricky!
Am I pleased so far??? Hmmm, normally I have to put things away for a year at least to be able to answer that. 🙂
There is so much going on right now, but in between the prints and drawings and learning a bit more bookbinding, I am working on the pigs. More 3D ceramics ones this time. I had experimented with some 3D shapes over a year ago and have been wondering how to decorate them. On my recent trips to the Fitzwilliam Museum I had looked at the wonderful old English decorated and sprigged saltware, which at last sparked some ideas.
My skills don’t quite run to sprigging yet, so my first pigs ( of what will hopefully be a series, called “The Well-Fed Pigs”) are just black and white scraffito. I thought it would be rather nice to pattern them with all their favourite foods, “well fed”, in both quality and volume. More, many more perhaps, to come!
Sketches and notes for “The Well Fed Pigs” and a couple of trial pieces. I like them!
This autumn I decided to try to bring more ideas and experiments to some sort of resolution. I find it impossible to say “finished” but at least something other than files and folders of random sheets.So I made a small folder (good bookbinding practise) for the Florence prints and mounted them on folded sheets. It is a much nicer way of storing these colour woodcut experiments and they looked much improved for a bit of care and attention