Beowulf and The Pied Piper

Craft Day 1/365
Hubby’s just made me a prop for school where I will be teaching Beowulf along with other myths and legends. He drew out the shape on some ply after a bit of research on the shape, then cut it out. He left the decorating for me to do!
I have painted the Viking broadsword using metallic paint for the font to add a bit of shine to it in the light and outlined some of the lettering with ink. I particularly like celtic patterns or those which interlock. One day I hope to have a go at silver jewellery making. The first piece of jewellery I designed was when my first baby was born and I wanted her to have a keepsake for when she grew up. Although I designed it, I commissioned a jewellery maker from famous Glastonbury in the UK to make it.
Regarding my class, all about the age of 12/13, they were thrilled that we were going to create a wall display of our work on myths and legends. After the focus on Beowulf, we moved onto The Pied Piper and the children’s task was to then write their own epic poem. My youngest daughter is always inspired by the ideas I plan for my lessons and wanted to take part even though she’s younger and attends a different school. She drew me a picture for a slide on The Pied Piper, having already studied it at school!

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One Drawing a Day #2 and #3

What better place to go to do some drawing than at some lovely old ruins in the Midlands?
We found a ruin called Haughmond Abbey by taking a recce trip ‘after hours’ last night. My husband, a keen blacksmith and wood machinist enthused my kids with the wooden swords, catapult and outdoor games such as skittles, giant pick-up-sticks and hoopla. We almost had the Abbey grounds to ourselves as we arrived early and while the children skipped around with their wooden swords and armory (seriously), battling against their dad, I managed to do some quick sketches according to the prompt from ‘One Drawing a Day.’
Day 2 states that we should draw with a calligraphy pen and a play around with thick and thin lines using different sized nibs. As you know from my earlier post, I bought some nibs yesterday for 10p! I usually use a micron pen and I often draw straight onto the page without sketching outlines in pencil.
The seahorse I drew yesterday, however, was in pencil

I selected a thickish nib for my calligraphy pen and it took a while to adjust to it.

As the prompt mentioned flowers, I had a go at this and hurried to sketch the bee that landed on one of them! The intention of this exercise was not to draw a perfect picture representation, but to experiment with different nibs and line.


and one of the Abbey using micron pen and a photograph to give you an idea of what I saw:


Tomorrow’s prompt (I wasn’t going to look, but today’s was to make a pen out of bamboo and I don’t have access to any!) is to draw a portrait of someone you can view on the television. This could be tricky – if it’s done in real-time. We can’t pause the screen, so unless the presenter/actor or whoever I draw can keep still, I could end up with something that resembles a few scribbled lines making up a face. There are always my kids though, who may sit still for longer lol! :)

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Catapulted into Calligraphy!

Ever been in a situation where everywhere you look, you see a word, a phrase, a piece of music which echoes something you should be doing?  A little voice in your ear urging you to do something?  If you don’t do it immediately, you hear that little voice repeat it?  Before I set off my holiday adventure, I jotted down in my journal the tasks for this week as described in the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  One of these tasks was to calligraph a quote which becomes your mantra for the week.  A few weeks earlier, I’d noted down some things that I wanted to learn or try out – one of these things was to be able to calligraph.  

Last night, I did some searching to find out what is on in the area we’re staying – Shropshire, Darwin’s birthplace.  I discovered that during our stay, The Shropshire Scribes were holding a calligraphy exhibition in Shrewsbury at St Mary’s Church, so apart from paying a visit to Shrewsbury Museum to try our hand at Roman catapults to knock down a wall, build an aqueduct and an archway plus test out various other ancient technology, we planned to view the calligraphy exhibition.

The catapult was pretty cool, but you couldn’t try the giant one out(only a smaller version allowed for children!)


Today has been unusually warm and the museum was stifling.  However, we came across some quills and had the chance to write like the monks – using guess what?  Calligraphy!


The heat had thickened the ink to gloop, so this art of dipping a quill in the ink produced globules of inkiness that would have left a monk covering his eyes.

We headed over to the exhibition in the church in later in the day and realised what a beautiful church this was.  The stained glass looked glorious and rather incredible, making the church a stunning place to sit and be creative.  I sat, tranquil and enjoying the quietness as my daughter coloured in lettering plates and I viewed a large collection of nibs.  There were also nibs to buy for 10p each – what a bargain – and one of the names of the pen nibs was my son’s first and middle name, but reversed!


Interestingly, the book I brought away with me is called One Drawing a Day, which I started yesterday with a prompt to draw using a continuous line.  I opened the book this morning to find the prompt was all about calligraphy.  Honestly, I didn’t plan this!  There is the suggestion to draw and change the thickness of the line with a calligraphy pen and draw directly onto the page in ink (avoiding the temptation to sketch outlines in pencil first).  The idea is also not to make the picture as realistic as possible, but to consider the abstract nature of the lines from drawing a study of a flower such as a rose and butterfly.  I’ve thought about this prompt all day while we’ve been out, and although I managed to sketch a seahorse in the museum, there wasn’t time to just sit and draw hanging flowers.


I’ll share with you the ‘abstract’ drawing tomorrow as I have heard it’s going to be slightly cooler outside and we’re going out for a picnic near some ruins.








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One Drawing a Day



The next few posts are going to showcase my responses to prompts found in the book, One Drawing a Day by Veronica Lawlor.  I hope you enjoy these brief posts while I’m out on a mini adventure and have minimal access to the internet :-)

task one:

set up a still life and using a pen, draw continuously, only lifting the pen when absolutely necessary!

Here is my first efforts at this:


This was more tricky than it probably looks as there is the temptation to keep taking the pen off the paper. I resisted as much as possible, but I quite like the wonky look of the sunglasses and distorted fan in the wine glass :-)

task two: now use the same technique and draw someone

I enjoyed this challenge, with my daughter as model.  I only took the pen off the paper twice – once because my bracelet got caught on the corner of my sketchbook and the second time to complete the left eye.  It was liberating to draw this way as there are elements you have to miss out.  She propped open a book on my foot and because of the task suggesting a continuous drawing and my daughter not wanting to sit still for very long, the open book is only half drawn!



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Nikon loves shoes and handbags :-)







I thought you’d love to see what a cute kitty, Nikon is… and see my first Gelli plate sketchbook cover using grasses and acrylic paint. I was a bit skeptical about using a Gelli plate as I’ve only ever done monoprinting on glass and using black block paint many years ago. But just by playing around with leaves and flower heads as well as various layers of colour, I am pleased. The cover has come out textured and in places the paint has a metallic look about it.
You can read more about my printing endeavours on my other blog:

I’m going to take the sketch book away with me with the aim of doing a sketch a day. We plan to visit a deer park, so my son will be armed with his
Canon 60D and I’ll be sketching. Maybe he’ll let me show you one of his photographs of the deer.

Take care everyone and most importantly, have fun :-)

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‘What are you reading?’ summer journal illustration

There is a discussion going on at the moment reflecting Myfanwy’s prompt for the summer journal project.

‘Light or heavy! What are you reading? What do you like to read? What is the most interesting thing you have ever read?’

To answer this question, I will first show you an illustration from my sketchbook that I painted today…


Do you recognise this flower? I became inspired to read a book when I visited the Story Museum in Oxford. The flower is a clue to which book I ended up buying.

The Story Museum was a great experience, which I have blogged about before.

There were several installations that I really liked and one of these was on the book, The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I found out was a flower.
So, what do I like reading? I steer towards historical fiction, life writing such as The Boy at the Hogarth Press, factual guide books to improve my skills and books which I can pick up, read a bit, and put down (but still can find my place when I go back to it). In the past, I’ve worked for a newspaper as an editorial assistant and had the privilege of writing book reviews plus also been able to do this for a monthly magazine. It’s been fun as they send you books that you wouldn’t necessarily have picked yourself and even if you’re not keen on a particular book, you push yourself to read it because of writing about it!
One such book that I reviewed (which I am not going to name on here!) was a great read until I noticed the main protagonist changed their name half way through the book. Obviously the writer was skilled enough for me to recognise that it was the same character. I discovered that the writer had changed the character’s name during the editing process, but once the book was proofread, this was missed.
I’ve also enjoyed reading books prior to publication, which have temporary covers on them. It’s always interesting to see whether they’ve kept or changed the cover design by the time it’s published.
One of my favourite books of all time has to be The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I’m not going to write a review on here, but I will say the main character, a shepherd sets off to Egypt with the belief that he will find treasure there. It reads like a fairy tale, is memorable and great if you like some ‘easy uplifting reading’ before bedtime. :)

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Wall hanging progress

Remember I shared a picture of Nikon lying on a wall hanging I was marking out with a fabric pen?

I’ve started stitching the outlines and will be filling in the sections later. So, for now, here is a snap shot of one part, which I enjoyed sewing today. It’s a bit warm for sewing, but as this is a commission, I do need to press on with it!



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Out of the mouths of babes

There are many entries I’ve collected since my three children were small of amusing utterances escaping their innocent mouths. I realised that if I still laughed about it several months later, it must be funny and other people will find it funny too. I began adding them to a book we aptly name The Happy Book. There are even ones my kids have written in there that I’ve said, more often than not when I’m tired, or occasionally when someone in the house is annoyed, but everything comes out ‘wrong’. We all have creative licence. We’re all creative with our own language. It’s difficult therefore to pick the most amusing (as Myfanwy has suggested in her Summer Journal Prompt for today –, so I thought I’d share with you a few that hopefully will have you chuckling right up to bedtime and beyond! Maybe you can pick your favourites from this list of mine or even add some of your own?

1. One day, my then three-year-old son came outside of the house to see what was going on. The bonnet was up on my car and a mechanic had turned up. Beneath the car was a pool of green (anti-freeze). He frowned, as if I hadn’t noticed what he’d seen, pointed urgently at the floor and exclaiming, ‘Ooh look, Mummy. The car’s been sick.’

2. My husband was doing a spot of DIY (October 2010) when he ranted in frustration at not finding the exact tool he wanted, ‘If it was impossible it would be easier.’

3. My daughter queried, ‘Why don’t they have any cows?’ when we went to Build A Bear for her younger sister’s birthday. I replied, ‘Well they could have – they’ve got a monkey, and owl, a banana …’. Never seen a Build a Bear banana …


(Cow print)

4. My daughter via Skype while at university (October 2011): ‘I had a really healthy dinner. I had potatoes with their skins on and rubber beans.’

5. My son: ‘Mum can you buy me some smaller size clothes so that when I lose weight I can fit in them?’ My son isn’t on a diet…

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A pirate box inspired wall hanging

Evening everyone. Just a brief post today as the heat got to me … I fell asleep. However, I did manage to draw out the outline for a wall hanging in air-vanishing fabric marker when I returned from a city trip.
Frustrating. Why is it that half the shops are shut today and it’s not even a Bank Holiday? I ended up sketching a cardboard lunchbox, which had a skull and crossbones on it while I drank a cup of coffee!
I realise it’s Monday, but even the shops that we open were run by grumpy people. I approached one guy to have a look around his gallery and he had a huge pile of adverts on display about changing exhibitions. I enquired about his rates and he said they’d stopped doing that and to try another gallery. When I asked where the gallery was, he replied ‘next to the sweet shop’. I gave him a blank look. I don’t come here often enough to know where a sweet shop is and it is a city! He then referred to Subway. Majority of cities have more than one. I shrugged again. He mentioned another place I’d never heard of and offered no directions. I went for a walk and eventually found it next to a huge church (obviously not a pub man or a religious man). Guess what? It was closed!
The wall hanging (a commission) was a challenge as Nikon thought it was a great game to chase the nib of the pen across the fabric. Fortunately there are no claw marks! I checked.
I stitched the top and bottom tunnels on my machine for two long pieces of dowel to slide through. This is to make the hanging easier and give the fabric a bit of weight.
I’ve made a start on the stitching around each shape, which I’m trying to finish before the pen marks vanish, and will show you the next stage later.


Nikon, even at one point, launched herself at my legs as she saw a loose thread while I was sat at the sewing machine. When I moved her, she found my notebook and began playing wiith the attached ribbon!

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illustrating a story from a photograph

I recently purchased a book called ‘Illustrating Children’s Books’ and there are a series of projects to follow. The first one involves taking a photograph and trying to imagine what happens next once the people have left. Where did they go and what did they get up to? Who did they meet?

Rather than choose a family photograph, I selected one of a derelict house on top of a hill. This is the first draft at this: a quick fifteen minute sketch which I hope illustrates a bit more about what happens.

The photograph just contained a house and a wooded area behind it and some blooms of wild flowers.

Obviously there is scope to develop this further and I only spent around fifteen minutes on it.

The doodle on the right hand page is a series of overlapping cats prowling around a mouse, who bravely stands up to all of them. Just having a bit of fun today while waiting for the ink to dry ;)


The tale would be very different had I used a different starting point – perhaps a scene at a fair or the harbour festival which has taken place this weekend (we didn’t go due to the stormy weather). My son took a picture of the bolt lightning in the early hours of Saturday morning, which lit up the entire street as if it were daylight.

I’ll have a go at project two tomorrow :)

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DIY: The Butterfly


Check this out! A wonderful tutorial on book binding :-). I love it!

Originally posted on THE WORLD OF A DINOSAUR:

Today I’ll let you in on a little secret. ;) I will show you how I make my butterfly notebooks. This is my first tutorial so I will ask you to be patient with me and hopefully all this will make sense. :D

The idea of this tutorial was sparked by Juni, my beautiful Australian fan. Juni is writing a book about writing and my tutorial will be part of it together with several other pictures from my already finished notebooks. I would like to take advantage of this occasion and thank Juni for the beautiful opportunity of being part of her book.

So let’s get started.


Paper: I like to use a lot of recycled materials, old notebooks, old books, paper for letters, basically anything that I find nice. I do of course also use regular print paper for the classic look so do not feel stressed if you can’t…

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