It is here! It took me so me time to complete this latest addition to my Etsy range of my handmade books, and it has been a lovely project to do. I showed some of my thinking in my last post, but now I can share some of the finished design. What was most difficult was deciding what to leave out! Having spent a lot of my time with my nose buried in a book, this was a wonderful request.
So there is a taster! I love to hear from you – are there any quotations you would like to see in a copy of this one? I can include your personal favourites if requested.
I also designed some cards as spin offs from this book and even created three designs for my products at Society6 so there are mugs and totes too!
I have another prompt from a lovely returning customer who wants a book created around the theme of a word – abibliophobia – and thus my work is cut out. The term of course, is somewhat contentious since there appears to be very little possibility of ever running out of reading material since the arrival of the brave new world of the internet. The proliferation of reading material rather creates a different anxiety in me but the world was ever thus – full of contradiction and paradox.
The content of the new book is not going to cause me a problem – I have decided to approach the subject from the point of view of stuff I want to read – a sort of prompt to readers to possibly have their curiosity piqued by an author previously unknown to them. Or just forgotten.
When I am without something new to read – and since I have avoided the public library for over a year now that is alot – I retire to my existing bookshelves . This is an occupation wherein I can lose hours – falling back into books once read and forgotten, or lured into the pages of books I remember finding captivating. Then there are the volumes that I find impossible to overlook despite having read them on numerous occasions. There is a deep satisfaction in poring over a book that continues to deliver surprises whilst remaining familiar – Sarah Bakewell’s book about Montaigne and his essays is one such treasure as are the novels of William Golding. I currently have five books on the go, all of which I have previously read, and all which continue to satisfy something in the reader.
So whilst the content is a joy – it will be choosing what to leave out rather than what to add, I have yet to decide how to present the content – how to add interest from the illustration. So thinking cap on , watch this space1 and I will update with my progress!
Here is my first page I think – I had wanted it as the cover but I think I have to make that include my customer’s prompt word – let me know any ideas you have!! I hope I have piqued your interest to go and find my handmade books in my corner at Etsy where I always welcome visitors – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/modestly
Today is the day Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘To The Lighthouse’ was published in 1927 – a truly remarkable feat. No one has nailed the writing about the experience of being human quite as luminously as Virginia Woolf. I think about her as a person, and not simply as writer on a regular basis. She appears beside me as I fall headlong into a depression and she is there as I reappear.
To the LIghthouse is a book that helps the reader to confront the transience of life, to reflect on how impossible it is to pin down how we feel at any given moment. The complexity of being conscious in the world is a theme that Woolf plunders time and time again… with brilliance.
I chose to produce one of my tributes to her because she is simply a friend. I have searched for illumination all my life and as she explains , there is no revelation to which one could steady oneself ‘Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one’.
If, like me you are a fan of the literary genius that Virginia Woolf indubitably was, you may like the handmade tribute that I make and sell in my store at Etsy. I wanted to create something to say thank you to a woman who has meant more than she could possibly have anticipated in her lifetime. An extraordinary miracle of a life.
It has been hard to turn away from making more card designs lately since there is little else going on! But Spring is always a Season that renews my spirit – I want to create – to bring something into the world that helps raise the spirits. I love to browse through historical artworks – it is where I find my inspiration – it came to my attention that I have some weird brain wiring that is called Aphantasia. It is an inability to conjure images – so I don’t see pictures in my head, not even of my loved ones. I think it is the drive behind me wanting to create pictures myself – and I rely on nature, and the images that have been created by others to create something new of my own. It also means I have a terrible recall so if I don’t recognise you on meeting again, please don’t be offended! My husband had to get used to the irritating fact that I find it difficult to recall those special shared moments – but he knows me well enough to know its not because the moment is not important! I live in the present – it is one of the advantages I think!
.and to mix it up I have been commissioned with some lovely work to illustrate customer’s own poetry, so that has been a delight too. A challenge too – I have to dig deep to interpret the work visually – but so far my customers have been delighted so that has been a great joy!
I hope you too are looking forward to a new season of renewed hope for the future. Let’s Spring forward together !
It is business as usual here in my little workshop at the back of my house in Nottingham – since last March I have been limited to walking the dog as my only outing, as my husband is fairly vulnerable to the dreaded virus. I have nevertheless managed to retain a degree of sanity by keeping up with my handmade products which I love to create, and which I sell on the Etsy platform. Making my handmade forges close relationships with some customers as I collaborate on work for commissions and have the pleasure of creating some wonderful unique gifts from customers poems.
If you don’t have that impulse, then there are always the books that I make as tributes to the things in life that have made my life meaningful – there are books celebrating the companionship of our canine companions, a book delighting in trees, the joy of parenthood, the curiosities of ancient manuscripts and a number of books which are literary tributes. I am including some pictures as tasters to provoke your interest! Why not pop along to my corner at Etsy for an in depth view!
and then of course I don’t want anyone to forget that I print bespoke greeting cards too, and art prints. I want you to come and bookmark me so that when you need a special gift or card, I am there to fulfil your need! Why not order your Mother’s Day card right now! I print inside the card too if you would like a special message.
In the meantime I would love you to have a browse over in the shop – all that clicking helps my algorithm! And thank you for all those supporting me in my creative endeavours – it has been a blessing to have something fun to do in these days of lockdown! Stay safe – we are surely on the way to finding some sort of normality again, just a few more short weeks and Spring to look forward to again!
You would think nothing would be easier wouldn’t you than to be able to create connection – but it isn’t always. So when something comes along in your week to lift you up , something that prompts you into that exalted state of thrilling to create, its a big bonus.
I was in a slump, but keeping going, as lots of us are in this limbo existence of Covid lockdown. Nothing really bringing savour to the day, when a message arrives in my Etsy mail asking me to produce a book to present a poem. That made me sit up , and as I dug deeper into the project, it sat perfectly with my own sensibilities. Tom Pickard established the Morden Tower reading series in Newcastle in the 1960s and ‘70s with his first wife Connie, hosting readings by international and British poets, including Basil Bunting, Allen Ginsberg, Heaney, Hughes and his poetry is published by Carcanet Books as well as being available at the Poetry Foundation. I was awe struck by that history! I have included a few pictures of the book gift that his wife commissioned for Tom from me to show the finished project. It does not show the complete poem.
Tom’s poem took me to the places I go when I scout the beaches in Scotland, and find myself nourished by the invigorating sense of belonging in nature, and existing as part of a much greater consciousness outside my own.
The poem is protected by copyright belonging to Tom, and is available from Carcanet Books ‘Winter Migrants’ and my thanks to Gill Pickard for letting me share this here.
Please let me know if you have any project you would like me to make a book from – I am happy to discuss any ideas! If you want to see the sort of books I have created to date, please pop to my etsy store https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/modestly
Happy New Year! I haven’t shared some of my new card designs on here for some time, so here we go! This is a tiny selection – there are lots of different designs that I make to order with personalised greetings printed inside. To see the full range please come and browse https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/modestly
What a week of loveliness – I have invested some time in finally getting around to researching, designing, printing and binding my homage to John Keats. It has been a splendid time of learning and remembering – I listened to the fabulous Jacke Wilson on The History of Literature podcast to deep me in the mood of ‘negative capability’ and was pretty pleased with the end result. Thanks have to go to my lovely customer who prodded me into creating it as I had forgotten that it was on my to do list. ( To do lists live in my head and rarely see the light of day). Years ago I was in Rome with my husband, enjoying the vibe and drinking in the sights and sounds that saturate, when we came across the tiny museum that houses Keats memorabilia, and which were the rooms where he had removed himself when his tuberculosis was at a stage he understood as life threatening. He spent some happy moments there before the disease totally incapacitated him, and spent the final days and weeks with his friend and companion Joseph Severn. One of the remarkable insights you get into Keats by reading his letters is the intensity of the connections that he made – his friends were incredible at giving him care and celebrating him. Whilst I was moving from room to room in that museum, I was struck by a very powerful sense of the poet – an almost uncanny sense. I was entranced really, and extremely moved by the experience. I later wrote a poem about it, and that has made it’s way into my homage too. It can’t be called poetry in the same sense that John Keats wrote poetry – but it does record my moment of transcendent delight and sadness that day.
The facts that surround Keat’s young life are themselves a fascinating insight into a young man of genius – his early life of losing a father at 8 years old, a mother at 14 , then going on to nurse and subsequently lose his beloved brother Tom to the same disease that killed him – form a character that goes on to dedicate himself to the power of the imagination . He trained as a medical practitioner, but changed his choice of career to become a writer – although financially he was always on a back foot, having been swindled out of his inheritance (another Dickensian sub plot.
And so he goes on to write some of the most memorable lines in English poetry ever written . Thank goodness. Please check out the podcast I mentioned if you are interested – it is such easy listening. http://historyofliterature.com/208-john-keats/
Making it matter – it’s always the little things isn’t it? and acorns encapsulate that idea with perfect clarity – because I love spending time amongst the trees. I have a majestic oak just beyond our window – and it is the same tree that my eldest son would sight from his bedroom when he lived here, and he loved that view. Somehow a tree manages to connect me with something I can’t quite name, but it is a feeling I treasure, and I think I share that with him. Autumn is so glorious and a treat I look forward to every year and I am preparing for a trip to discover the grandeur that Scotland offers at this time of year. It never fails to take the breath away. So I am going into the archives to find some of the Autumn pictures my husband has shot over the years. I really shouldn’t keep them all to myself!
Please do not use the photographs without permission. Any interest in the photographs please DM me.
And before I sign off a very big thank you to Annie Mason for spending time getting to know me in a virtual interview – we live at opposite ends of the globe but share a common sensibility for plants, painting and all things lovely. If you are interested please investigate the blog
So now I am venturing into the space of creating design for fabric which you can make into whatever you want to! After spending the past few years creating surface pattern design for products at Society6, Redbubble and Curioos, I had a lightbulb moment! Why wasn’t I designing the fabric that ends up on lots of those products, so that an end user can make their own amazing creation – whether that be for dresses or upholstery or making jackets for dogs. So I am introducing my little corner at Spoonflower in the hope you want to get creative too with one of my fabrics!
If you click on the Shop icon above magic happens! I hope you have a foray into my latest venture, even if only to see what I am up to there! It’s exciting to be learning again – and creating new opportunities! Keep staying safe everyone – lots of handwashing and mask donning!