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
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!
I haven’t been resting on my laurels – now there’s an interesting phrase – this lockdown has put me in a creating frenzy and I have been adding new artworks to my handmade creations at Etsy and to my print on demand stores , Society6, Redbubble et al. And of course now we are all wearing face coverings it has to be derigeur to make them as creative as possible. The new fashion accessory of the decade was the result of a global pandemic – we live in interesting times. My partner and I are, like many, shielding from the possiblity of catching this deadly virus. The daily round looks a little different – click and collect shopping and socially distanced dog walking, but much of my routine is still the same. The worst aspect of the whole lockdown is not being able to mix with my sons and stepsons, and extended family – so as long as they remain safe I content myself with that thought. I cannot imagine how frightening it must be to have family affected.
But somewhere along the line, we will be accommodating living with this new peril – there really will be no alternative, so daily living will be changed forever to some degree. The more at risk will necessarily be more restricted until a vaccine comes along – let’s hope at least for a vaccine.
But to more cheery considerations, the reason I commit my time to creating art is really down to its therapeutic value. It helps me to distance myself from all the real world anxieties – global warming, social injustice, the growing disturbances in the world. And turning to making something real is truly liberating – the necessity to focus on practical considerations of making something as well as is possible results in losing a sense of self – I am lost in that feeling of ‘flow’.
So here are some pics from the last few lockdown weeks – some of the new work I am offering and some showing the processes of getting there!
I had a lovely bulk order from America of my card ‘In the Library’ – an illustration based on detail taken from a wonderful painting by Barthélémy d’ Eyck 1442 – 1445 Still life with books. I popped a little slip around them to help protect each card , (I don’t use cello).
..and I added a lovely fold out to my book at Etsy which is a tribute to an ancient manuscript The Voynich.
..and my illustrated Prufrock got some bespoke wrapping paper and a postcard sent with it!
..and this is where the magic happens! My easel is an aide- memoir – it carries messages and reminders of what I need to do next!
This has been such a joy to create – I have been meaning to create a handmade book based on some of the epic poem by the American poet Walt Whitman for some years, so this lockdown crisis created the perfect opportunity. Whitman wrote to a friend that the poet Emerson had brought him to a boil – ‘I was simmering, simmering, simmering’..On completion of Song of Myself, he sent his hero a copy of Leaves of Grass, to which Emerson wrote the reply, “It has the best merits,namely, of fortifying and encouraging.” That it does, and continues to do so. ‘Leaves of Grass’ is the ultimate expression of a large man – an expansive, modern man. There are lots of very good essays available on the biography of Whitman, and a host of work on his work. The best thing of all is to get straight into the poems, and rest there.
I have chosen some of my favourite pieces – no doubt those choices will change over time, and illustrated them , then printed and sewn into a small book to add to a collection somewhere!
O.K. then…not always happy exactly, but that’s what you get when you have the temperament of Eeyore – the melancholic donkey in A.A Milnes Christopher Robin. One way to lift my spirits is to turn to my handmade endeavours – the cards, the prints and the handmade books. I have been doing this for a few years now, and the pace is probably just about right for me, I have enough orders to keep my interest, but not too many to make me anxious. The books are very time consuming as you can imagine, so if I get a spurt of orders on those then I have to extend my lead times. But so far it has worked for me. Recently my contact at a local gallery has taken my prints to display, and just before lockdown had asked me to do some cards to sell there. I generally do as I am asked, but before I could get them to him, the world had to shut down.
So I am sharing them here, in the hope that they may excite you enough to visit my store at Etsy, or if you like any of the artwork here and would like it as a print on A4 rather than printed as a card, which I have shown here, please message me! All my cards at Etsy are available here etsy.me/1PgIKTD and can also include a printed greeting inside.