Monday, 21 December 2009


It's the season to be jolly and this time of year is marked by the annual fairy swap that takes place between me and my friend Caroline.
This year our theme was Found Object Fairy. In the past we have done Scary Fairy, Furry Fairy, Foreign Fairy, Fat Fairy, Flat Fairy...I think I've made the point. This was my offering.
But as usual, I got the better end of the deal receiving this beautifully made, imaginative piece from Caroline, thankyou I am thrilled!! This tradition is now I believe 8 years old and I really feel Christmas is around the corner when I have managed to put together my fairy.

The festive season has effected my sketch book work and why not? Thankyou to everyone who has been reading my ramblings and a Happy Christmas to you all, here's to a creative 2010.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Exploring a new process, starting from scratch, feeling like a beginner!!
All these feelings come at once and is frustrating and exhilarating in equal measure.
There is an excellent exhibition of enamelling on at Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery called Playing with Fire and is well worth a visit.
In the mean time I will keep plugging away at the hit and miss experiments and thoroughly enjoying myself.

Friday, 11 December 2009


The end of term at Christmas is a good excuse for a get together, so I hoovered round, put up some fairy lights and invited my printmaking class round for tea and mince pies.
But they did not get off lightly, to earn their tea I set them the task of making a 'Christmas Fairy Cake'. Nothing competitive you understand. So out came the edible gold, glitter and silver balls, together with a few calorie conscious offerings which were crochet and felt.
I love that these busy, talented people indulge my cake based whims and rise to these
culinary challenges with such gusto.
Except for these delicious chocolate buns and my mince pies, we could not bring ourselves to
eat these festive sculptures. But the young people in my household did not have the same

scruples and most were gone by the next day. A good time was had by all, gallons of tea was drunk...I love starting my festivities in this way...thankyou for a great term everyone.

Friday, 27 November 2009


What to do with all those samples and prints that have not quite done what you want at the
end of the term? Well I suggested to my printmaking group...fold it up into an attractive
pamphlet. It turns an unloved piece into a thing of beauty. All these booklets are made from
a single piece of paper. Each page throws up a surprise as the print is looked at in a completely
different way. As the collagraphs are printed on 300gm Somerset the booklets take on a board like quality. A very nice way to end our term.
And here is my latest enamelling experiment, mucking about on an etched piece of copper.
So much to little time!!


You can't teach old dogs new tricks? Well never too old to learn!! Just when I thought I was settled into a way of working two new techniques come my way, a bit like waiting for a bus really.

First, screen printing. It has changed beyond recognition from when I was first a student, it was smelly toxic and a pain to clear up. Now it is quick and washable with wonderful results.

I have screen printed blue and then print a collagraph plate over the top. It has allowed me to add text simply and the lovely soft splashy marks.

I can also achieve that lovely blue sheen that these birds have.

The biggest revelation for me this week has been enamelling. These are a couple of experimental examples on copper. The cross overs with etching and screen printing are interesting.

I can not explain how it feels to be trying something really new. Thrilled only just covers it!!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


From drawing to collagraph, I always enjoy the development of an image. I am very relieved
that this plate printed so reliably. I have had a few very public failures recently.
I am still working on the plate, adding glue to lighten the areas around the brush and putting
more highlights on the bird and moths. I now feel confident about making a start on the second
drawing. I am always surprised at what can be achieved with such simple DIY materials, PVA glue, poly filla, grey board and carborundum. The secret ingredient that binds them all together? Textured wall paper of course!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


It is liberating to create images for different reasons. While working on the fish commission I am also working up some images in my sketch book for a series of Corvid collagraphs, just to experiment really.
I have used The Raven as a starting point, or should I say an excuse. The use of everyday objects in the work of the artist Jim Dine fascinates me, so with the two influences colliding and lots of textured wall paper I have made these two drawings. The next stage is to make the collagraph plates.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


I found this piece of deeply etched zinc, a left over workshop example and thought it would be
fun to experiment with viscosity inking and some copper chine collee. Only 3 inches by 3 inches,
with lovely ragged edges. A close up shows how the ink is reacting with the edges and the copper leaf.
Is it my imagination or do the spare bits and pieces that we just muck about with often work better and are more interesting than the pieces we spend days working on?

Monday, 26 October 2009


This is the first of a set of four images I have been asked to make.
The collagraph plate is made from grey board and wood glue with the details cut and carved. I very rarely work to commission, so this is an interesting experience for me and I am enjoying making fish again.

Monday, 19 October 2009


So... I come back from participating in a one day etching workshop a bit frustrated. As you can imagine there is little one can achieve in a day using a very traditional wax hard ground and a slow biting ferric chloride on copper plate when the weather is cool. I manage a very unsatisfying, thinly drawn paint brush, which although it was in the ferric for 2hours did not achieve the richness I am use to with quick biting zinc and aluminum in copper sulphate.
I brought the plate home and was inspired to get my ferric chloride tank going again so that I could rework the brush. My tank has an outer tank of water which is heated, this speeds up the biting process, I also have citric acid added to my ferric, it gives a cleaner bite. I made an extra piece from deeply bitten aluminum and re printed using viscosity inking for the aluminum plate.
Happier than I was but not completely satisfied! But it is this bit that really interests me, I can see myself dispensing with the this space.
I apologise for this post, it has been a bit technical, it has been aimed at my fellow non toxic etching enthusiasts. Let me know what you think?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Woman's Hour, a Radio 4 show for all those who do not listen to British radio, are asking for women who have rooms of their own to work in, to send in photographs to put on their web sight.

They are running a feature based around Virginia Woolf's premise that creative women need a room of their own or perhaps a sanctuary away from the mundane domesticity of their daily lives.
I tend to agree, but then as a printmaker I have rather a lot of kit which would be just awkward in the middle of the dinning room.

But the room of ones own is only part of what Woolf was trying to get across, the whole message is , 'money and a room of ones own', the two are obviously linked.

I would love to see everyones working spaces, it says so much about us, the green chair is where I have the odd nap as the sun streams in through the window in the afternoon...that might change your image of my working practice?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


I have been spending a few weeks making work for my galleries as earlier postings have shown, chickenless heads and little birds. This stock of work has meant that I can give myself some experimental time, hence these images.
I spent Sunday morning locked in the shed with gum arabic transfer, ink and acrylic paint. Deep down I long to do abstract images, but I am constantly drawn to the figurative, this is why
all these paint brushes have appeared. I quite like the idea of the printed wall paper texture
appearing from an implement we associate with a more spontaneous mark...sorry that sounded a bit arty!!!
The celebration of tools, check out Bridbird's latest posting.
I am not sure where these will go if anywhere, but it is useful to look at them dispassionately through a screen.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


I have just spent a very pleasant weekend teaching an etching workshop in the studio at Hampen Factory.

The process I passed on was the use of a gun arabic transfer as a resist to the biting effects of copper sulphate on aluminum.
It all sounds technical, but once mastered it is an easier way of creating a photographic style etched image without the fuss of light boxes and expensive photo sensitive plate. It creates an image that is one step removed from the photographic original. The technique also leaves room for hand drawing, the crow and washing line I drew in after applying the transfered image.
After only 2 days and with very little previous experience of etching these are some of the
images produce on the course. I am delighted with the results, there is alot to get your
head round on this workshop, but everyone stuck with me and they all went away with a
print they were pleased with. I am so lucky to have such lovely creative people coming on my courses.
The next weekend at Hampen Factory is October 17-18, Mixed media techniques and gum arabic transfer.