Oak … Book 1

Back in December I made some woodcuts of the Oak trees in the spinney.
This is a collection of the woodcuts, very simply printed and bound into a wordless book.
Yes, there are mistakes but it is a bit of an advance.
The plates are hand printed, the cover is printed from hand cut type and it’s bound by hand. There are two 6 page sections, 10 images printed on Fabriano 300gsm with red endpapers and it is a satisfying 24cm square.
The biggest book I have attempted so far.

“Oak…Book 1”  24 x 24cms



Oak, spread.

Early proofs.

I am calling it “Book 1” as I am hoping that “Oak ..Book 2”  will have some text and be bound a little better!

The Hopeful Scrapbook

Printmaking and many other creative processes generate huge amounts of not-quite-right trials and experiments. I just cant quite manage to throw them out so they get shoved into bags and boxes and put out of the way somewhere. Every now and then I get them out and think about them and put them back.

Scrapbook Book 300 x 150 mm, 60 pages.

It can’t go on.. So  I made this rather lovely scrapbook which will hopefully encourage me to corral the bits and pieces together and save the most interesting things. I wanted to use a piece of the experimental paper from the paper decorating course I attended with Nesta Davies at City Lit to practise a bit more binding and it seemed appropriate for this book of experiments.
I found some beautiful two tone shimmering pink bookcloth, some dark red paper for the ends and made three ten page sections of cartridge paper .. approx 60 sides to fill.

This all seemed fine and dandy. I made the book with many (but fewer) mistakes and now am faced with the almost insurmountable decision of WHICH of the bits to put in it. Best to just start…


I will post some of the more interesting spreads.It will be great when it’s full I am sure!

Branch Book 2 and some Goldfinch sketches

I am continuing to teach myself basic bookbinding and for this trial I printed all the Branch Book plates in a line and made a concertina book. It would work really well this way if I had actually made the original plates follow on a little better.. but for a quick trial it was fine and it was the binding I was most interested in. That, at least, is getting better.


branch       branch-2

branch-3         branch-cover

The Branch title is slightly inset which was a small new success. Small new successes sustain me over the many mistakes…slow learning. Outside my workroom window is a small magnolia tree whose furry buds are getting ready to open. Yesterday a couple of goldfinches settled there for a while. Small flocks can always be seen by the waterside where the teasels grow and they love the seeds of knapweed which I (rather reluctantly) have in the garden for the bees. I keep meaning to make a print of these pretty birds so, at last, a few sketches. A print might follow in a couple of years … 🙂

gf-1       GF2

Goldfinch and Magnolia buds

Seven More Feb Sketches & some Good News!

I am putting together a few sample “books’” to show on Sunday at Barnesdale for the Illustrated Garden Workshops. They are a bit rough and ready but more about ideas than anything else. Here are more of of my sketches for the  “What I saw in February”  book. They are also my daily drawing practice. They are fun to do.

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Old chard leaves gives some colour in the snowy garden. Birds are tossed on the sleety cold wind.

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Vincas are flowering by the front door and fieldfares paid us a visit in the snow.

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The wood pigeon pecks about under the birdfeeder, it sometimes rains seed from above and there was a slender waning moon the other night


And snowdrops, not mine but from Easton last year.. I will be there next week for the first time this year, for the snowdrop celebration and to meet up with the group.  I can’t wait to get started again.



The full set, 14 pages, and made into a swatch book.



Good News! Artist in Residence, Grafham Water

It’s always very nice to announce something on an auspicious day and what better day then Valentine’s Day. Starting officially in April, I will be “Artist in Residence” at Grafham Water for a year.
A wonderful chance to do a body of work about this lovely area, hold painting and drawing workshops and get to know much more of the ins and outs of the reservoir and its surroundings. I will be keeping another blog to record progress…and… Ta da!… resurrecting Leaf of the Day”.

I had decorated this paper today as cover paper for one of the books and decided to add a lino cut of 2 willow leaves in celebration and in eager anticipation of more leafy images. I loved doing the Leaf of the Day posts back in 2008. I look back and can’t quite believe I drew and researched so many plants.

This time they will be a variety of techniques as I learn to become a hopefully competent printmaker and instead of the steamy paths of Leu Gardens in Florida, will be a record of cool leafy woodlands of middle England. I may not find anything as exotic as the dancing Telegraph Plant or the Midnight Horror Tree but it will be just as fascinating. So here as a prelude are two leaves of the lovely willows which line the water of the reservoir.


Willow, #1 Leaf, Grafham 14th Feb 2013   More about the project next week…:)

First February Garden Sketches

This week I have been thinking about my up and coming Workshops and preparing some ideas and samples. I will be at Barnesdale Gardens on Sunday 17th Feb to advertise the Illustrated Garden workshops and I am putting together some materials, (while still getting in the daily practice). Sometimes a plan is nice to start with. There are a million different ways of doing it.  I quite like to play with perspective so here is a rough sketch of the back garden as it was in January. I am thinking I should have made it snowy.


And  some small  images for a  series of “What I saw in the Garden in Feb” booklets which will have some text and some sort of cover.

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Trees, sometimes dark sometimes light and flocks of chaffinches

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Hellebores with spiky leaves and magnolia buds

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The thrush eating a snail outside my window and aconites in a dark border


In the pond, signs of life. The curious backswimmers


They are only 3 x 8.25 inches and are a nice size to work on quite quickly. The next 7 will be about simpler recording techniques.


I made a couple of rough zigzag books which are another possibility and fun to do. More of these when they are finished.

Meanwhile today I noticed that despite some frost and snow flurries, things in the Garden are really beginning to grow! Vinca, first snowdrops, hydrangea shoots and of course many weeds.

How lovely! Next week is dedicated to prints..Yea!

Deborah’s Bee Book.

It’s Christmas Eve and I know now that my bees have safely reached their destination and my client is happy.
As a small gift for her I had decided to “just” make a little hand made book, containing prints of all the bees and a little info about them all.

I, like any other artist and designer should know better. “Just” as a creative concept does not exist.
So being pushed for time, dealing with an uncooperative computer and printer and rising panic, it was a bit of a rush.

Book making, near death by a thousand cuts.

One of the trickiest things is working out the pagination to make sure everything prints properly on double sided paper. I printed the pictures separately which was nice as I cut them out and “tipped” them in, like the old fashioned picture books that always had the colour plates separately printed.

I seemed to cut and trim a million bits of paper and the odd fingernail… and then another million for the mistakes I made..sigh…more haste etc…yes, I know.

desk 1

I found some paper with little gold cicadas to cover the boards,  as close as I could get to bees in the time, and some honeycomb paper for the inside.
Each page had to be creased 3 times to fold properly and finally, Japanese stab binding is easy, if you punch the holes big enough which I failed to do first time round.


I made a quick “spare” everyday book because the blue book is fragile and, of course, the second one was a breeze!! Labels too for the back of the pictures.

Just before final packing I took a snap of the book, with the original painting of the Blue Banded Bee, the labels for the back of the pictures, brushes and paint tubes etc to give things a bit of scale.  The little book is 4 x 5.25 inches with 36 pages.

At the end of this 4 month project I am definitely feeling bee-reft (sorry) without my little winged companions, but there will be more soon and I could always make another book… maybe.
By the way, “Deborah” in Hebrew means “bee”… 🙂