Concertina books … Have fun with squares, rectangles, circles!

Ever wondered what to do with oddments of wrapping paper, patterned envelopes, prints and paper?
How about having a go at making one of these? They’re easier than they look.

The mini one requires 8 squares measured at about 8cm across; the spiral book requires three A3 sheets cut in half lengthwise.

If anyone is interested in a pictorial tutorial, please comment below and I’ll put one together :โ€“). Simples!
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The last image, showing the spiral book closed, is part of a pack of happy mail going off to Spain.

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Random Craft Swap

How much do you love receiving gifts in the mail? Do you clutch the unopened envelope for ages and try and guess what’s inside? What about receiving something handcrafted? The person sending has taken a lot of thought into creating something special and unique. They’ve considered what the other person might like. When I started on a craft to swap I went over to Gladeridercrafts blogger’s page – check it out as there’s some gorgeous stitching on there! We did a random craft swap this week and I was so excited when my craft packet arrived.

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Isn’t it lovely? Thank you so much Gladeridercrafts ๐Ÿ™‚

Also this week, I opened the post at work to find my OH had sent me a large padded envelope with the word fragile written on it! I would never have guessed what was inside…a box of Matchmakers – I love these chocolates!

It made me giggle just like a few years ago when I had a postie calling card to collect a packet from the depot. When I arrived with my ID, the postman looked at me apologetically as he handed over the mail.
‘Should it feel like that?’ He asked.
I admit it did feel as though the contents had smashed. Also, as I hadn’t ordered or been expecting anything, I had no idea what it was. The contents shifted and chinked beneath the padded envelope. I gulped.
Finally, As I sat in the car, I opened the packet to find 200 buttons of all different colours (nothing broken or smashed) inside. Lovely!

So, what have I posted out this week? Well two lucky people received handprinted fabric goodies: an ATC

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and an expanding notebook

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That was fun ๐Ÿ˜€

Happenstance

This past week has been difficult and a mix of both excitement and sadness.
I’ll start with the sad part and end on the happy part.

On Wednesday evening my youngest child and I snuggled down to watch an episode of ‘six Puppies and Us’. We don’t own a dog, but my eldest has taken up drawing them … lots of dogs. She recently ran a competition called the twelve dogs of Christmas where people posted photos of their dogs and then others voted which should be the top thirteen (twelve dogs – one for each month + one for the cover of a calender). The dogs were voted for and the close of the competition was 6th January.
The programme, as the title suggests is about owners and their puppies. We hadn’t watched the first two programmes and just happened to come across one … The adolescent episode. What transpired was a lot of giggling from my daughter as each dog reached adolescence. However, there was one comment made by one owner that riled me. She said that she decided to buy a dog so that her children could understand death through a dog before having to cope with a person dying. I felt that that was a rather strange reason to take on the responsibility of bringing up a puppy. Anyway, it made my daughter and I have an interesting conversation about the validity of the woman’s comment and whether or not she was doing the right thing for her children.
Later, I went on to watch a film and death seemed to feature in this too. This time, a lad’s pet turtle passed away and was found by his step mother. Urgently, she ran out of the house to find a replacement – one that looked as identical as possible so the child wouldn’t discover the turtle’s sad demise.
It was nearing 11pm and I switched the movie off before it finished. Jobs beckoned me: the dishwasher needed to be filled and I had to go to work the next morning.
With the washing up sorted, I went to say goodnight, as I usually do, to our house rabbit Pom Pom. At that time of night I’m normally greeted with an excited bouncing rabbit eager to say hello and have her head smoothed and her ears rubbed. Not this time. I knew something was up. She was still. She was, well you know. I cried of course. Maybe the film and the programme were preparing me. Happenstance, coincidence. Whatever. Grief struck and I didn’t know how to tell my kid. We all were extremely fond of her. I will say though that despite how difficult this week has been, I have been moved by the outpouring of kind comments and thoughts from friends and family but also people I have met in creative groups and not actually met face-to-face. It’s certainly been appreciated and I know I am among some wonderful, thoughtful people who care very much and hurt too when they know you’re hurting or sad.
The rabbit’s life flashed before me: we went to see her as a tiny bundle of fluff and brought her back as a surprise on Christmas Eve seven years ago. My husband and I were like excited school kids as we hid the hutch in the boot of the car and then presented three squealing children with the bunny who looked like a pom pom ball. She was the most placid and delightful pet and now she’s gone … But Pom Pom won’t be forgotten.

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Now to some fun news … My first printed book arrived on Wednesday: I’d spent ages planning out the pages and checked out various outlets for the best offers. I wanted something that would showcase my printmaking – the best prints from lino cuts and using the Gelli. Of course, when choosing the style and shape, I had to go for a square book. My portfolio of prints, now contained in a printed book, fit perfectly in my handbag and has arrived in time for workshops I’m starting to run in February. People taking part in my tutorials will now be able to flick through the glossy pages and find something that will hopefully inspire them in their own journey of creating ๐Ÿ™‚
Best wishes everyone … And apologies for being away.

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Hand printed felt and an update

It wasn’t my intention to stay away from blogging for long, if at all, but illness meant I had no choice but to stay away from the computer. Sadly, that meant also not being able to showcase what I’ve been working on in secret as it’s not quite dry yet. Watch this space for a special Christmas giveaway coming up shortly; I do hope you lovely people will like it and want to take part. In the meantime I managed to do a bit of handprinted felt this afternoon and catch up on my novel writing – I had to even miss two days of writing because of a migraine :-(. But, I’m back on track with my characters jumping off a freight train and my word count is almost up to what it should be for this weekend.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my daughter is also writing a novel … She’s up to chapter 34 now and over lunch we discussed the excitement of knowing other people have been reading her story-in-progress as she writes each chapter. I haven’t read any of her book yet but she tells me that if you type the title in Google it comes at the top of the list. She gets a buzz out of that. I hope her enthusiasm continues and who knows, maybe next year she’ll join in National Novel Writing Month or even win a creative writing contest ๐Ÿ™‚
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My printed felt which will be turned into a journal cover.
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Also, an update on the craft fair I took part in recently. I received a letter yesterday informing me on how much was raised for
Children’s Hospice. Thanks to everyone who braved the thick fog and either participated in running a stall or bought from the stalls, we raised a respectable ยฃ635 ๐Ÿ™‚

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Envelope book

This evening I had a go at making an envelope book using standard envelopes which interlock (you stick the tab at the top of one envelope inside another and build up your pages). Over the weekend I’ll show you more explicitly what I mean – as I need to practise. The first time I did it I used PVA glue and the envelopes stuck together where they shouldn’t and the smaller version also had issues with glue. I’ll share with you the link to where I saw how to do it originally when I share my attempt at it. As it’s late, I’m just going to show you the prints I did this evening in the book, including a go at printing on felt using the gelli and some silver lino paint.

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The white felt reacted quite well with the process – it picked up the impressions I made with a lid (for the circles) and the layers of silver and red. I only used a small piece of felt to try out the material, but was pleased with the results.

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The book used eight small envelopes, so a double page spread is about A5 in size.

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Then I returned to my drying leaves and did a couple of postcard prints ready for a postcard swap – these just need some embellishing before I post them off ๐Ÿ™‚

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As you can see, my leaf collection is becoming multicoloured and rather fragile!

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A daisy book

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9 squares of watercolour paper later and decorated with one of my poems

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A little daisy book

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Here is my daisy poem

On the banks of the Seine
Daisies dance and squabble
Swaying in the breeze;
Praying for some sun.
Prim faces cloaked up at night:
Several sun bleached white-creased clothes
Interlocked one by one
Unfold as rays shine down
So bees and butterflies can perch
And rest, singing their summer song.

To make one yourself:
Cut out nine equal sized squares

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Fold diagonally

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Then fold in half straight across

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Fold in half in the other direction then open out

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Open out each square. Shape each petal using a card template
You can colour in the centre of the square yellow, if you just want to make it a flower

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Fold each square like this

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Glue the petals together on the quarters of the square which have no creases

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If the world was all made of chocolate, what would you miss?

Day 2 Summer Journal
Prompt – if the world was all made of chocolate, what would you miss?

I made a little book in response to the above, set by Myfanwy’s Summer Journal project. https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/28205377/
I had lots of ideas buzzing around my head this morning and began to think about all the items that would be extremely volatile if they were made of chocolate. It would make them brittle and easily breakable in winter (if it got cold enough) or liable to melt and distort in the heat of the summer. I thought about my typewriter. I can touch type, so I wouldn’t worry about the letters losing their definition, but the machine wouldn’t be able to withstand too much punching and tapping! If my sewing machine was made out of chocolate, well, what can I say? It wouldn’t be able to stitch a thing!

. I started to doodle in my notebook and of course, Lego had to feature in there somewhere because, ‘Everything is awesome, when you work as a team’!
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So, what did I write in my little book?
‘chocolate rain would douse the whitest whites.
Peach complexions now shine “ochre”, “bronze”, “golden”: all cappuccino delights.
The end of white as we know it – chocolate snow and sodden mud blend –
The end of Glastonbury iconic wellies and fading Weston-Super-Mud.
Footwear made of fudgy velvet sauce melt in the summer sun, as rays of succulent streaky edible laces head to Earth.
Brown clothes – another skin which cracks and ages until the heat beats down,
Or a deluge from frothy caramel milkshake clouds smooths out crow’s feet creases and expressive laughter lines,
While overused toys dissolve in the hand.
Cuddled night bears disappear, lost forever, camouflaged in mocha sheets.
A mint choc-chip typewriter evades the fingers. Each tap and punch removes the definition, leaves
Just a fingerprint or two.
Identity now fifty shades of brown to break up the seasons.
It may as well be a world built in black and white.

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Summer Journal project

Yay! The grass has been cut and out come the animals and birds. While turning on my computer, I caught sight of a green woodpecker and two squirrels playing tag across the lawn, spiralling up the trunks and sidewinding while I watched. One stood on its hind legs as if to say ‘draw me!’ I took notice … real notice of how small their ears are and now thin and wirey their tails actually are. They danced and skittered, too far away to hear against the whirr of my computer cooling fan, but their twitches and jerky movements corresponded with the ticking clock above my desk and reminded me of the awkward gestures of a robot.

The window to the right of my desk was ajar. Wide enough to let in adequate breeze and enabled me to listen to the squawks of gulls overhead; cooing of wood pigeons and chugging diggers from a nearby building site.

A discussion with staff ensued. Everyone passing by wanted to comment on the different types of wildlife they’ve seen on site: a partridge, jays, pigeons, squirrels, green woodpeckers and of course the usual starlings and blackbirds. Once a month a hawk is brought onto the site and flies overhead to banish the gulls who like to nest in the huge grey mountain warehouses. The gulls make a racket, arguing for their right to be there and it quietens down for a bit … until the next day, when they seem to read that the hawk has gone away.

Journalling has begun. I filled a page and a bit in my summer journal as a participant in Myfanwy’s facebook group and on WordPress. http://myfanwyhart.com/2014/06/29/just-two-more-sleeps/

I added rapid sketches of the pirouetting squirrels and the odd bird or two happening to make an appearance then fly off at the sound a lorry.
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The plan for this journal is to discover suitable illustrations for a children’s picture book and to become more accustomed to sketching quickly, from memory, direct observation – at speed, in order to capture that essence of freedom and movement. Life itself ๐Ÿ™‚

Biro drawing

I’ve been a little distracted today with the arrival of our new kitten, however, I’ve been sifting through my journals and preparing a new one solely for illustration preliminary sketches and gathering of images and ideas. I’m writing a children’s picture book and using the tips found in a book I’ve bought called ‘Illustrating Children’s Books’ by Martin Ursell. Some of the first pieces of advice he gives is how to make mock-up books, dividing the pages and sketching out ideas without relying on observation. I’ve been doing this recently … doodling or drawing objects, animals, items from memory. It’s amazing how focused you become as you begin to ask yourself silly things such as which way does the pupil go – is it a slit or a dot? How many ‘toes’ does a frog have? How big is the head in contrast to the body? Does an octopus even have a visible mouth? How big are an elephant’s ears? These questions enable us as artists to experiment with charicatures and stylised cartoons. Pictures become simplified and even comic, yet the idea is to get the idea down as a point of reference.

I’ve just joined a Summer Journal group via Myfanwy Hart’s Be Creative Facebook Group – she’s also mentioned this on her blog. She will be issuing a series of journal prompts over the summer, which I’m really looking forward to – there’s a buzz in the group already!
There is still time to join in. Visit the blog to find out more about this exciting opportunity! http://myfanwyhart.com/2014/06/29/just-two-more-sleeps/

Today, I came across a drawing by one of my children from when they were at nursery. My 21 year old drew a cat where the head was separate to its body and it had enormous claws. Another of my children drew a striped tabby with a tiny head and large claws. I’m glad I kept them.

For now, here is another of my illustrations … All done in biro
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As a source of reference, the little boy in the drawing is my son (who turns 18 next week) ๐Ÿ™‚

Small keepsake photograph album

As I’ve shared a few of my photographs lately, it felt right to make a miniature photograph album. ย These can be resized and made a lot larger to accommodate the bigger pictures, but as I like making small things (as they’re cute) I created an album that when opened, forms the shape of a star. ย Quite lovely, if you are keeping photos of your loved ones in your handbag, pocket or backpack don’t you agree?

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When folded as a book.

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For the front and back covers, I used mirror card stock.

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I used 16 squares 4 inch squares which were folded and glued to make each photo space and corners which hold the pictures in place.

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Just need to finish adding some family photos and pics of my two guinea pigs and rabbit.

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