Sorted!

Art, books, etsy, illustration
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1024278074/handmade-artist-book-of-quotation-and

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.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1024278074/handmade-artist-book-of-quotation-and
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1024278074/handmade-artist-book-of-quotation-and
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1024278074/handmade-artist-book-of-quotation-and
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1024278074/handmade-artist-book-of-quotation-and

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!

https://society6.com/product/book-quote-cicero_bag

How to survive Abibliophobia

books, craft, etsy, illustration

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

In memory of Virginia Woolf

books, craft, literature

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’. 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/449832278/virginia-woolf-handmade-book
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/449832278/virginia-woolf-handmade-book
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/449832278/virginia-woolf-handmade-book

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.

Only Connect

Art, books, craft, illustration, poetry, wellbeing

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

Keats et al

books, etsy, poetry, poets, writers

Beauty is truth, truth beauty

John Keats ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’

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/

Homage to John Keats

If you want to see more from my book, you can find it at Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/891592042/john-keats-handmade-artist-book-of

…. and then there is that poem about finding Keats in Rome…. here it is!

Booking now!

Art, books, craft, etsy, Life

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This is a shout out to all my existing customers of my hand made books – thank you for your continued support over the year, and a gentle reminder to put your orders in for any you want me to make for Christmas as my order book gets a little busy and there’s only so many hours in a day and days in a week! I make all my handmade books myself so that’s why I am shouting out now!

For a reminder of the books available  – and remember I collaborate too, and can personalise any of the existing titles with a dedication – please go to my book section at Etsy   – My Handmade books at Etsy    

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If a book doesn’t appeal, how about one of my watercolour paper prints from Etsy, which are printed on a heavy watercolour paper to retain the character of the original artwork.

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Janeites unite!

books, craft, etsy, illustration, writers

etsy promo1

Slip cover to Jane – a tribute to Jane Austen

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Just a few pictures of the work I have been doing this week – I loved designing and making this handmade tribute to the well loved novelist Jane Austen – quite rightly she continues to be enjoyed across the globe – Pride and Prejudice has sold more than 20 million copies world wide!  I like her because of her wit – and her recognition that self worth is more valuable than external validation albeit knowing that money also makes life far more comfortable!  If you like what you see, head across to my pages at Etsy – you may find something you want me to make for you!

My shop at Etsy of handmade books, cards, and prints

Spring fever

Art, books, craft, poetry

maywmaywemaywee

Sharing a few images of my work in progress – I am making a new title to sell in my Etsy store – handmade coptic stitched books that connect you to the beauty already in the world – I have found amazing solace and inspiration from writers down the ages – and this little volume focuses on work by Emily Dickinson and Thoreau – both loved observers of the natural world. I have found inspiration for illustration from historical botanical painting, and found the natural complement to the written word. A celebration of new life, from old – Spring always follows Winter. I was recently very moved by a dedication requested by a customer  for my Mindfulness book – and it reminded me why I love making my keepsake books – sometimes we all need a time for reflection and consideration of what is really important – the connection I make with my customers is special.

Etsy store of Handmade books

‘Was I a man or a jerk?’

Art, books, literature

 

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Saul Bellow’s own words on his impending death…and who to judge? But the man was a tour de force in his own lifetime and this is a portion of his speech when he received the Nobel prize for Literature.  He says it best.

 

‘What is at the center now? At the moment, neither art nor science but mankind determining, in confusion and obscurity, whether it will endure or go under. The whole species – everybody – has gotten into the act. At such a time it is essential to lighten ourselves, to dump encumbrances, including the encumbrances of education and all organized platitudes, to make judgments of our own, to perform acts of our own. Conrad was right to appeal to that part of our being which is a gift. We must hunt for that under the wreckage of many systems. The failure of those systems may bring a blessed and necessary release from formulations, from an over-defined and misleading consciousness. With increasing frequency I dismiss as merely respectable opinions I have long held – or thought I held – and try to discern what I have really lived by, and what others live by. As for Hegel’s art freed from “seriousness” and glowing on the margins, raising the soul above painful involvement in the limitations of reality through the serenity of form, that can exist nowhere now, during this struggle for survival. However, it is not as though the people who engaged in this struggle had only a rudimentary humanity, without culture, and knew nothing of art. Our very vices, our mutilations, show how rich we are in thought and culture. How much we know. How much we even feel. The struggle that convulses us makes us want to simplify, to reconsider, to eliminate the tragic weakness which prevented writers – and readers – from being at once simple and true.

Writers are greatly respected. The intelligent public is wonderfully patient with them, continues to read them and endures disappointment after disappointment, waiting to hear from art what it does not hear from theology, philosophy, social theory, and what it cannot hear from pure science. Out of the struggle at the center has come an immense, painful longing for a broader, more flexible, fuller, more coherent, more comprehensive account of what we human beings are, who we are, and what this life is for. At the center humankind struggles with collective powers for its freedom, the individual struggles with dehumanization for the possession of his soul. If writers do not come again into the center it will not be because the center is pre-empted. It is not. They are free to enter. If they so wish….

The essence of our real condition, the complexity, the confusion, the pain of it is shown to us in glimpses, in what Proust and Tolstoy thought of as “true impressions”. This essence reveals, and then conceals itself. When it goes away it leaves us again in doubt. But we never seem to lose our connection with the depths from which these glimpses come. The sense of our real powers, powers we seem to derive from the universe itself, also comes and goes. We are reluctant to talk about this because there is nothing we can prove, because our language is inadequate and because few people are willing to risk talking about it. They would have to say, “There is a spirit” and that is taboo. So almost everyone keeps quiet about it, although almost everyone is aware of it.

 for every human being there is a diversity of existences, that the single existence is itself an illusion in part, that these many existences signify something, tend to something, fulfill something; it promises us meaning, harmony and even justice. What Conrad said was true, art attempts to find in the universe, in matter as well as in the facts of life, what is fundamental, enduring, essential.”’

 

Saul Bellow acceptance speech

 

 

Finished!

blogging, books, literature, poetry, poets

A Tribute to W.B.Yeats

yeats

Every now and again I manage to complete one of my ongoing projects!  This one has been on the back burner for some time – I already have a title that includes three of this poet’s work , but I wanted to investigate the poet a little further.

I was an early fan of his poetry – the musicality within it is magical – and I really do know how much my life has been influenced by listening to the power of the written word by a genius.  I count my poet influencers amongst my friends – they have informed my thinking and feeling for the majority of my life.  I truly believe they are life savers.

What I really find out when I dig deeper about any of my literary heroes, is how human they are – how full of paradox and confusion – and that endears me more. They above all others have shown me how truly miraculous it is to be human and alive and suffering as well as exalting. I lead a secular existence – and I am no apologist about that – but the spiritual exists within and poets help me to embrace that side of my nature.

 

A deep gratitude to artists everywhere, for the attempt to connect.  And to Mr W. B Yeats – the everlasting love of the listener and the reader.

 

‘Like along-legged fly upon the stream

His mind moves upon the silence’

 

If you are interested in seeing more of my finished tribute, it is going to be available here    Tribute hand made book at Etsy