(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


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!

This was an inpromptu addition to the CJT project. I was having trouble finding the time/energy to do my part of CJT2 and didn’t want to change to something easier than what I had in my head, so to keep a sense of momentum with the project, I sent my friend No.3 to do in the meantime. It was nice and quick and we both enjoyed it!


Creative Joyful Thing No.3

*Write a Haiku*

This is my favourite Haiku at the moment:

O snail

Climb Mount Fuji,

But slowly, slowly!

~ Kobayashi Issa

A definition:

Haiku is an unrhymed, syllabic form adapted from the Japanese: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Because it is so brief, a haiku is necessarily imagistic, concrete and pithy, capturing a single moment in a very few words.

Because the form has been brought into English from a language written in characters, in which a haiku appears on a single line, many poets writing haiku in English are flexible about the syllable and line counts, focusing more on the brevity, condensed form and “Zen” attitude of haiku. The traditional Japanese haiku requires some reference to nature or the season.


Here is my Haiku:

Raggle-taggle bunch

Picked on December 15th

You are beautiful

It was about a bunch of misshapen and partially formed flowers that I had found still struggling to bloom, despite the fact that they should be dead at this time of year. It was a pink rose and some blue anemones. In actual fact I could have picked them a few days ago, almost the same, a month later! We have had a mild winter so far, though it is very frosty today.

And here are the TWO Haiku Rachael sent to me (I am spoilt!)

The cover of the first (they were sent inside little cards)

And the Haiku:

Apricot, turquoise,

Charcoal and dark amethyst

Sky promises storm

And here is the second one:

She particularly liked the structure of the words in this one, being 3, 5, 3:

O wing-ed brethren

Help me! With unfeathered wings

Earthbound I remain

I can now share with you my poem “TEN”, because the book people do not want to publish it. I don’t mind, i can’t expect my first effort to be successful and i am still happy with it, even if it’s no masterpiece! Maybe it being about M.E. is a bit predictable but they do say write about what you know, don’t they? I enjoyed writing it and working on it/editing it, which took some time. I have never really changed a poem or worked on it much before, or written anything with a particular title or theme and that was a learning process which i think will help me next time.




A decade, I say, though I try not to count;

But every time I do go out:

Hello, so nice to meet you!

What do you do?

I don’t. I’m unwell.

Oh, but you really can’t tell…


How long has it been for you?

Since I turned twenty two.

You were so young! Just making a start –

It must have really broken your heart?


Yes. And now it breaks again:

I never thought then

That I’d look back now and count to ten.



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Although it may seem like nothing creative is happening, as i have not posted anything for a while, i am gently ticking over…

I have written a poem called “Ten” for a local competition – there is no prize except to be included in a collection of poetry called Ten, for publication. I consider that a prize in itself as it is an ambition of mine to be published somewhere!

As it has to be previously unpublished i will not share it with you yet… but if it is not chosen i will share it with you then, the deadline is the end of the month so i am not sure when that will be. 

I am quite pleased with it (and have worked on it and edited it much more than I ever have before when writing, a process which i have really enjoyed and learnt from) but i am no poetry expert so we will see what they think!

Cross your fingers (or whatever you can) for me!