lesbury picture

A local friend told me about a small exhibition that was planned in our village,  around the theme of what the village means to us. I found a photograph that I had taken recently on a walk to the river, and it was such a beautiful day and a peaceful time watching and listening to the water.  I realised that to me living here means being able to be immersed in nature and the peace and calm that it can provide. The other important aspect for me is feeling part of the community and  meeting such friendly people when I go out. It is the kind of place where everybody says hello, smiles and comments on the weather or something else. I have lived here for three years and it is such a different feeling to where I lived before, when people would rarely say hello and it was a more urban situation.  As my arms are very weak at the moment and I am doing a lot of other things, I kept my submission as simple as possible and was proud of myself that I managed to complete it in two short work sessions.

(The Brief for CJT8 is here and what Rachael did is here)

Here is what I sent to Rach.

First a little about my process…

I studied some Barnacles from photos I had taken at the beach. I also have some stuck to a mussel shell that my Mum found on the beach and gave to me. I drew some and then carved the shapes out of a lovely soft printing block. I was given this block by a good friend and have fallen in love with it. Unfortunately it is no longer made! It was very easy to carve (once I had doubled my original drawing size, as the way I started was just impossible to carve. It was far too small and detailed. I am a complete print-making amateur so it has all been trial and error). I tested the print with green ink and this helped me to see where the ink was catching and where I needed to carve a bit more.

work in progress

I also created a pattern based on a photo I took of gentle waves coming into shore. I printed this with silver ink.


Once it was dry I added the barnacle shapes.

This was my initial intention for the finished project. I wanted to do something to mark (celebrate!) the fact that I now live on the coast, and just found the two patterns (waves and barnacles) and combined them. However, I recently attended a book-making workshop and thought that I could present this print in the form of a book. I flipped through my new book-making book (Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden) and really liked the concertina design with pockets. I realised I could put two prints together and make four pockets. So then I needed to think of something to put IN the pockets. I know that Rachael likes poetry so I googled for “barnacle poem” not thinking that anyone would have written about barnacles. How wrong I was!

I found this beautiful poem by Sydney Lanier:


My soul is sailing through the sea,

But the Past is heavy and hindereth me.

The Past hath crusted cumbrous shells

That hold the flesh of cold sea-mells

About my soul.

The huge waves wash, the high waves roll,

Each barnacle clingeth and worketh dole

And hindereth me from sailing!

Old Past let go, and drop i’ the sea

Till fathomless waters cover thee!

For I am living but thou art dead;

Thou drawest back, I strive ahead

The Day to find.

Thy shells unbind! Night comes behind,

I needs must hurry with the wind

And trim me best for sailing.

Sidney Lanier – Macon, Georgia, 1867.

Here is how it looks ready to be folded into the book pocket:
Barnacles poem page

I also found a Haiku:

Single barnacle.
What have you ever achieved?
But never lonely.


and a quote from Marina Tsvetaeva from her essay: Poets with History and Poets without History:

The wave always returns,

and always returns as a different wave

haiku page

And lastly I found a reference to barnacles in a book I have called “Longshore Drift” by Katrina Porteous (with fantatic images by James Dodds, a print-maker and painter):

Dog Whelk,



and shipworm,

Sea cabbage,

spotty dog,

brittle star

and keelworm,







deadmen’s fingers.

Katrina Porteous  – Longshore Drift

Deadmen’s Finger – a type of sea anemone

Spotty Dog – dog fish

Stingers – sting ray

Peelers – soft green crabs

Weever – a stinging fish

Longshore drift page

So along with the CJT8 brief, I had all four pockets filled.

I made a cover, and called the book “Littoral” which is a word I learned in French, it means “coastal” generally, but can also mean the area between the high and low tide marks that is undefined as land or sea. I like that there is a word for this space.


I cut this cover in half to make the front and back. It is made of a textured white card. The cut intentionally goes through one of the barnacle prints, so that even though the back spine is open, the design joins up when the two halves sit side-by-side.

The print-making process was very long and involved a lot of experimentation. As I made four books, and each included two of the silver prints, as well as a cover and each of the poems, there were a lot of prints to be made. I also had to plan how they would be made into the book pages and position the printing in preparation for that. There were some mistakes and some splodges but I had a limited amount of time, energy, paper and space! Some of the mistakes were carried over into the finished books. I had help from my partner with the print-making. She was absolutley invaluable as she fetched and carried the paper before and after printing so that I did not have to keep getting up, as well as cleaning and tidying up for me. It still took us hours!

Here is a picture of some of the prints drying (this took at least three days, as the ink is oil-based)

all prints on table

Here is what the finished product looks like. These pictures are of two books, showing what each side looks like.

both sides open

This is the front cover and the book when open, showing the front and back covers, and the two silver prints inside.

Ifront and open

Here is the front cover with the reverse side open, showing the pockets with the poems in them.

front and reverse open

(The brief for CJT8 is here, and what I sent to Rachael is here)

Here is what Rachael sent to me: First a little book about the process. I re-lived her thoughts and experiences with every flip of the page.





step 4









appx 2

Then the actual prints! She labelled them for me…

First attempt:


Second (more careful) attempt:


Happy accident:


Variation on a theme:



My fave (disco remix):


They are cards. Inside each one was a message about our project and what it means to her. I love the messages and the prints too. Getting each printed card out of it’s envelope was like following the print-making journey. Fabulous presentation!


Creative Joyful Thing No.8


*Make a pattern inspired by nature*

It could be repetitive and orderly or a random cluster of forms. If very abstract, please state/show your inspiration!

  • You could use printing of some kind to make the repeat images, or not.


See The Results here and here!

In the spring I went to visit a lovely friend called Amy. She gave me a beautiful hand painted pebble. I thought I would see what adventures the pebble might have. In the spring it went to my Mum’s garden:
pebble sempervivums

pebble stones

pebble stump

Then the pebble had a rest for many months (apart from moving house)

And today the pebble explored the beach:

pebble clouds

I post this one mainly for the clouds, but it also shows where I sat for most of the time – on a bench on the small sand dunes. It shows the concrete blocks which were put there to stop tanks in the war. Pebble visits these below.

pebble boot print

pebble friends

Making pebble friends…

pebble hand

Yearning for the sea

pebble seaweed 1

The seaweed also looks inviting…

pebble seaweed 2

Yep, feels good!

pebble shell

pebble texture

pebble yellow


It has been an inspiring time for me lately, though i have been very busy and have not actually done much creative work. I have been getting out and about quite a bit more than usual as i have been feeling stronger and have had visitors, so have been making little trips out to shops and an art gallery.

The first thing that happened was a few weeks ago, when my good friend RachelCreative sent me a book: Nature’s Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick by Jenny Uglow. Here is an article describing the book. I think she saw the connection to my bird project and my love of nature as well as the fact that he was from Newcastle, where i currently live. I am only half way through the book so far, it is a very well written and absorbing read. I have learnt a lot about Newcastle’s history and the second half of the Eighteenth Century seems to have been a time of great change with some of Newcastle’s most important buildings and streets having been built. I feel more connected to the city now, as i have been feeling as if i am not really a resident of Newcastle: I rarely get to go to town and even when i do i cannot wander the streets, only get out of the taxi then back in again on the same street a bit later… each time i go in so much has changed and feels unfamiliar. I feel that in learning more about it’s history, I saw it differently when i went into town recently, which was so nice to experience. I was also feeling well and managed to go to four different places/buildings in town, which added to my feeling of being in the town properly!

So a couple of weeks ago i went to an art and craft shop as i have a few birthdays etc coming up and i wanted to get some special things. I do most of my shopping online, but it is so nice to be able to go into a shop, especially when looking for something handmade and unique, and to actually see it and touch it before choosing.

I did not get something for all the occasions i needed to buy for, but i did find a beautiful card of a wood engraving by Caroline Coode. Unfortunately she does not have a website for me to link to, and i think it does breach copyright to post a picture of the card here, but take it from me it is exquisite – i noticed it as it has a feel of Bewick’s woodcuts – small and detailed. It is called “Lindisfarne Castle – early morning” and shows the castle and it’s reflection in the sea, with vegetation in the foreground and a tiny person walking their dog, as well as a sprinkling of birds above. As we went to Lindisfarne in February it reminded me of the special holiday we had and i fell in love with it! I found a few references to her online and she turned 70 last year (see here for flyer (half way down page) for her retrospective) and is a Quaker. There are a few of her images here on Flickr. It is so interesting to discover a local artist carrying on making woodcuts in Newcastle after learning about Bewick…

It made me think and look at my photos from that holiday and wonder how i would go about reducing those images down to simple lines and silhouettes…

During that recent trip into town I went to the Laing Art Gallery to see the Bewick exhibition they are currently showing and it was absolutely fascinating. Photo809

Amazing  to see the actual boxwood blocks that he had engraved and how tiny and detailed they were. Also showing was part of the Northern Print Biennale which was showing contemporary work and also very interesting to see how simple some of the most effective images were. I went to the gift shop and found some more inspiration there – printmaking and simple sillhoutte designs are everywhere when you start to look! From wrapping paper to cards, to the teapot i now own as my partner bought it as my anniversary present (ECP design):


(note the bird-theme!)

And also this leather brooch, which i love, and bought for myself. Photo819

See next post for a card i have made, inspired by Caroline Coode and all this lovely stuff – hoping i have the energy to do lots more soon!

In early 2007 i took this picture of bullrushes:


In September 2008 i took this one:


I was really pleased with them both. I don’t know why but i really like these dramatic plants! A couple of weeks ago i went out and took some more pictures of bullrushes… i really enjoyed it – a short burst of activity in the sunshine!

bullrush sky



top pond bullrushes



bullrush sky1

bullrush sky2

bullrush sky3

bullrush sky4