Friday, 26 December 2014

I’m late, I’m late....

Two of my kids work in the NHS. This means that the date of our family Christmas Day tends to be a bit flexible. Today is our Christmas Eve.

Over the past few years instead of buying crackers we pick names out of a hat and each have to make one (with joke) and a suitable hat for whoever we’ve drawn. Our theme this year is ‘books and stories’.

I decided this year it would be easiest to make the artwork then scan and print it to the right size.
For the last post (probably) of 2014 I leave you with The Mad Hatter’s Christmas Tea Party'

 Hope you have all had/or are having a good holiday and I wish you all a peaceful, healthy and creative New Year.

Friday, 5 December 2014


After deciding that the bookworm book was the wrong size for the parameters of the ‘Holes’ swop (Artist Books 3.0) I decided to revisit family photographs again.

When looking through old photos we usually can recognise Aunty Jean or Cousin Fred but often in a group there is someone who nobody can identify. I decided to use this idea of missing identity and take it further by taking the anonymous person out of the image altogether leaving a hole where they had been.

The images are all presented in scans of different sized photoframes.
This frame theme continues on the front and the back of the book

Thursday, 27 November 2014

A little egg lay on a leaf

Earlier this year I signed up to take part in Pay it Forward. It took a while but my books are now safely with Jack and Alison. (I haven't heard from Ersi and her blog has been quiet for a few months. If you are reading this Ersi I hope you are OK).

It started life as a response to the theme of Holes on Artists Books 3.0 but I decided it worked better on a smaller scale than the prescribed dimensions for that swop.

I think it is best described as the Hungry Caterpillar (apologies to Eric Carle) meets the Bard.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Or alternatively sponge print it...
It’s that time of year again. This year the drama club Christmas production is Wizard of Oz. 
Because of the effect that the final episodes for  TV shows such as the X Factor have had on audience numbers we are now putting our Christmas show on in the last weekend of November to avoid a clash.

This means that on Saturday we have the dress rehearsal. Which means all spare moments are spent making scenery, costume and props (why did I think it would be a good idea to machine quilt the tin man).

This means all other creative work has to be parked for the time being.

I leave you with the head of Oz (nearly five feet high for the back of the stage)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Patience is a virtue...

And one I don’t possess in great quantity.

I did cut and fold the risograph print to make a zine. Although this particular piece is rather garish, and there are mistakes in the separation/layering, as an exercise in learning about the machine I think it was worth it and I would like to investigate locating one that I can get access to push this further. 

Now back to patience. I have already posted the images of eight pieces of plate with a peel n blue resist applied ready to produce two different four colour etchings. To save time I decided it would be a good idea to bite them all at the same time and then do a major printing session.

When I came to print I realised that the plates weren’t properly degreased. The copper sulphate had bitten into the exposed aluminium at random just giving deep spots across the plate. Any detail I managed to get was coming from the resist which I’d left on the plate (it’s really difficult to remove  but does seem to print OK – usually!) but it is so shallow that I cannot get any depth of colour from it.
 The red plate printed best and you can see some detail (and the red spots from the deeper etch)

The two coloured version gives a vague idea of what I’m trying to do but it is too pale and looses a lot of the detail. (The light I'm taking these photos in isn't helping either)
With eight ruined plates and no way to rescue them I think I’ll go back to gum arabic again for this image.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Risograph Prints

The Manchester Artists Book Fair was well worth a visit. This year I went not only to see what was for sale but also with the idea of sussing it out with a view to trying to have a table myself next year.

I came away with more idea of how to display work and sensible pricing. As well as several books to add to my slowly growing collection. I’m not sure that I’ll manage to produce enough work to stock a table on my own but it gives me something with a concrete deadline to aim at.

Hot Bed Press (who organise the Book Fair in conjunction with MMU) were giving a series of book related workshops. I had booked myself onto the risograph/zine  morning. I spent the week before scanning , photoshopping and tying myself in knots with colour separation. I finally produced a three colour print which, when it dries, will form a beak book. The colours are a bit garish but I wanted to be able to see the separation of layers clearly for this first experiment.
Because the risograph uses soy ink the prints will take a while to dry. So I finally made a drying rack so that I’m not covering every available surface with drying prints 
 Though I do have to find two bits of furniture to hang the bar from when it’s being used.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Colour Separation Continues

I've been trying more gum arabic transfer printing but am having problems producing an edition of predictable uniform prints with three or four different coloured layers. I will persevere because I think it will come with practice but I have decided to also try making 4 colour etchings using the same digital images as the gum arabic prints. (I've only posted one of the images because blogger refuses to accept that the other one is a jpeg and won't use it)
 I've produced a set of CMYK separations and used peel n blue to transfer them onto aluminium plate.Before I bite them I need to work into them to stop out any bits where the resist hasn't stuck.
Further progress will probably have to wait until later next week as I'm off the the Manchester Artists Book fair tomorrow.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Finished Edition

The bard meets the hungry caterpillar!
 A finished edition of 5, plus a handling copy. 

Books are on their way to Jack, Ersi and Alison for 'Pay It Forward'


Tuesday, 30 September 2014


I’ve been working on a book swop for Artists Books 3.0. The theme for this swop is 'holes'. I was inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
Because of the way the book has developed, using pages from a recycled book, it won’t fit the size parameters for this swop but I'm going to finish the edition and use it for 'pay it forward' instead. 

This image is from the working proof. I’ll post more of the whole book when the finished versions have been sent out.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

CMYK Almost

I’ve been trying overlaying transfer printing using CMYK separations.
 I don’t have process colours in litho ink so I’m going with the red, blue and yellow that I’ve got.
 I used about 50% extender to try and make the ink more transparent but I think with these colours I need to use more.
I like the effect of just the red, yellow and blue. I want to make a few more prints like these before I try overlaying the final black

Thursday, 18 September 2014


I’ve started to explore overlapping colour. I’ve used the whole image on both layers of some and only parts of the image on the second layer of others.
I like these prints where the same image has been repeated in both colours of ink

The others I'm not as happy with. Being selective with the second layer has possibilities although the areas that have only got one colour of ink look thin in comparison to the rest. I think I would like to try three colours making sure that all areas have at least two colours of ink.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Gum Arabic Again

I can’t seem to leave the photo album alone. I think I’ve done all I want to for the time being on transparent  images...
 but I still keep playing with layering in photoshop. 

I’ve decided to explore gum arabic transfer printing with these images (I’ve done bits in the past but they are a bit hit and miss).
I wanted to persevere with my old mono laser printer to generate the paper image. In the past I’ve not had much success and have had to keep going round to the corner shop to use their very old photocopier –it can end up being very expensive and in winter you can get very wet!
Eventually I’ve managed some reasonable monochromatic prints. The next step is to start exploring layering different colours and transparencies of ink

Thursday, 11 September 2014


I seem to have been having one of those dry spells that we all seem to have from time to time, there’s no particular reason but ideas just haven’t been flowing.

I decided that it was time to just choose one project and get to grips with it. I’m way behind with ALAW  so that seemed to be the logical choice

I had been trying to explore a fictional place through narrative but after a while I came to the conclusion that such a small format was just too difficult to fit the words in without them looking clumsy and badly spaced. I will develop the narrative idea further but not for this project.

So I started looking at old maps and started to play with black and white.
I finally chose one from 1845 when the town was starting to develop as an industrial area. There are streets and buildings on here that I recognise.

This is what I’ve posted so far

Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Fantastic Break

We’ve just got back from a family holiday with staying with friends in France (brave and generous taking in all 9 of us at once).

Big skies and beautiful views.

Markets (Bricolage for books!)

Textures of old wood and stone

Not much drawing this year but Mary, who is a sculptor and glass artist, got me a rock and I’ve been doodling in 3D. Its mostly carved, now I need to file and refine it 

We had a fantastic time. It was fun having time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
Then when I got back I found this waiting for me from Alison (My pen, brush and pencil) as part of ‘pay it forward’. 
A handmade sketchbook with a cover using her own marbled papers and containing her own screen prints. I can’t wait to start using it. I’m still dithering over what to produce for this swop but getting this book through the post has made me think that I need to focus

Friday, 1 August 2014

Finally finished

I now have an edition of 4 and an Artists Proof copy of "Was she the one who...?".
It needs photographing properly but today it is grey and dull. I’ll wait for sunshine.

I’ve also been working on the next set of letters for ALAW. These have to give a sense of  ‘place’.

When I was small I had several books that had fancy capital letters. They fascinated me. I want to draw on this and create a book that will have the feel of a fairy tale both in the text (creating a fantasy place) and in the presentation. Something unashamedly pretty I think, with gold (or at least gold paint).

So far I've only got experiments and an outline text. I'll need to do 2 letters a week to catch up
I’m not a writer but I’ve found that the constraint of having to use the letters of the alphabet in order and having to produce text that fits into the space has helped.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


I’ve printed, laminated, cut and drilled enough images to create an edition of 5 for Personal Histories. Now I need to bind them.

I thought I’d worked it out earlier using coptic stitch across the spine but when I made the first one I decided I didn’t like seeing the linking thread that joined the two rows of stitching. I also didn’t like the way that you could see the loose ends of the threads when they were cut off
I have been experimenting and have come up with this solution. 
I’ve also been experimenting with different threads (different colours and transparent) and have decided to use waxed linen. I like the way the star pattern appears up the spine and I can use the thread to link to the wrap around cover I’m thinking of using.
Unfortunately I’ve not got enough of the thread to do the five books so this will have to go on hold briefly while I source more

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Ruin

The Ruin, for Artists Books 3.0 ready to be posted out.

I thought it was finished a couple of weeks ago but just as I was about to put it in envelopes I decided it needed more of a cover.