A very few of my experiments are for sale on my website very cheaply if you're interested, as I hate to throw things away. However, selling is not what this blog is about - I'd have starved to death years ago if it was - it would make me happy if you just enjoy the processes.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A bit more Waste Land

I had an email from someone about my changing the blog url; it appears that they liked the old "blogs I like" bit on the sidebar as it was a good way with keeping up with others.  Give me a few days, and I'll put the same blogs on here!

Friday, 25 July 2014

The first book in a tin.


I'm not a great one for satin bows and stick on gemstones, buttons and fol de rols, but there wasn't a lot to hand this lunch time so just went with the flow, because I wanted to decorate the inside of one of my boxes.

I wanted the box to be untouched on the outside but a bit more fun on the inside. The stuff on the left hand side of the lid is part of a sheet of shell, that you can cut to size if you're careful - it's very brittle.

The little vase is a photocopy of the piece I made last week for the Quilters Guild sale of unfinished items.  They're trying to raise funds, and although not a member myself for various reasons, I do think the Quilt Museum is an excellent thing, so was happy to support the cause.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


I was recently sent a small sketchbook in a tin which was rather lovely.  Today, A new shop had opened in Leamington - Blighty Bazaar - so I nipped in and came away with these. Altered books in tins.  Maybe.  I have rather a lot of things on the go at the moment, but I do get ridiculously excited at the prospect of something new!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

First page

The words at the top of the page say: "You have the scene arrange itself - as it will seem to do....."

It's a snippet from one of the poems in the book, and seemed appropriate as this was the inside of the book cover and I had no idea what I was doing.  I think Laura has a perfume bottle like this one so there's an unintentional similarity - apologies!

I worked on a second one as well which I'd stated a while back.  It's my guerrilla gardening notebook, and I'm trying to keep a record of what we've done, but in a relaxed fun way.

 I have a collection of papers and bits which I raided.  This is anaglypa wallpaper used as a table protector when I was spraying some labels last year.

Below: inks through a stencil, and a monoprint of a perfume bottle.

Then it was just a matter of collage and fiddling about with paint and oil sticks.

More to do on this yet, but I'll let it dry for a while!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Gesso-ing altered book pages

I've had a busy day in the studio, beginning to paint Life 13 - The unProfessional Wife, but the light faded at about 5ish, so I stopped and watched the latest DMTV video and was inspired to do some altered book preparations instead. (Who needs to stop for dinner anyway?)

When I looked I have about 7 books at various stages, and another 5 waiting in the wings.  This is really useful as you can do several at the same time. Waiting for pages to dry is a pain if you're just sitting there, but if you can pick up another book and work on it, then it's much more fun and very productive.

This was a secret special page (or will be I hope) which now has opening doors/flaps all sewn on the machine for speed.  Thank you Laura/DMTV - I hadn't thought of doing this before!

I decided to take that idea and make a wobbly edge to this frame.  I love the illustrations in this book, and would like to keep one or two.  I can't keep them all or there wouldn't be a book to alter!!

Tearing pages in a graduated way to map flaps.

Folding over a page to make a pocket.

All the pages in these photos have now been gesso'd.  I like the strength it adds to torn pages, and I love just glimpses of text underneath.

When it's all dry, and I have another half an hour to spare, I'll crack on to the next stage. Hope you'll join me.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Kiftsgate - a photo tour in July

Tucked away in the Cotswolds, are the National Trust gardens at Hidcote.  Thousands and thousands of visitors pour in to see this quintessential English cottage garden each year, and I have blogged about them before, here.

Exactly opposite the entrance to Hidcote are Kiftsgate Court Gardens , a private house with a very beautiful garden that is a rival to Hidcote and in some respects much better.  True they don't have quite the visitor facilities of the National Trust, but there is a small delightful tea room, a toilet in the stable block, (!) and some cracking plant sales.  Because it doesn't get a fraction of the visitors, it's a wonderful place to visit; peaceful, serene, and with wonderful views.  A real plant persons delight.

Here's some photos of it in mid-July 2014

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

First page and the tragedy of the choccy frosting

Well, you know how it is; you start with great enthusiasm determined this is going to be the best work you've ever done, then it all goes a bit pear-shaped and you have to start a rescue job.

Perhaps there ought to be a breakdown recovery service for Altered Books!

There now follows a description of what I did in case anyone is interested.  If you're not, perhaps just skip to the chocolate frosting recipe?

 The map I was sent obviously got me thinking about travel. The newspaper from the 1800's got me thinking about travel, but through time and space. The poetry book got me thinking about travel, but through emotions.  So in essence, all three items were about journeys of some sort.

I sewed three pages together at the sides but didn't stick the pages together - they are held by the stitching.  I covered these resulting thicker page on the left side with acrylic modelling paste and sculpted so that it would have a bleak rainy feel when covered with watery grey, blue and yellow paint. The circled text on the top of the page says "The Waste Land", a poem by TS Elliot.

The other side of this page had a map of Alaska covered with acrylic gel.  After I'd painted the left hand side and blended in the right hand side to match, I thought, Yuck. How dismal.  Very waste land but very boring. So I covered it all with gesso to start again.

However, the gesso skimmed the deep indentations on the left hand side and left it looking rather nice.  I began scraping the right hand side back but could only uncover some black ink at the top of the page.

We'll leave it there for now, whilst I carry on with the textile work - blog on the website.

And the frosting?  Well, I had visitors at the weekend, and a birthday cake was a necessary addition to the celebrations. These days, my cooking, along with my waistline, is quite alarming. We never quite know what we're going to be eating and in what state it will be.

However this wasn't bad!!!  I'm not sure about printing the whole recipe from the book but thought I'd share the frosting which was the best I'd ever made and folk seemed to like it.

The cake itself is dense, chocolately and moist. It's a Great British Bake Off recipe, I think.


I used 60% cocoa solids milk chocolate and dark chocolate mixed, as I find the very dark chocolate a bit bitter on it's own.

It's a complex recipe, but do-able!  I dare you not to use your fingers to scrape the bowl when you've finished.  Don't give a thought, not even one tiny one, to the horrendous amounts of fat, sugar, and lardyness.  Oh no, definitely not,  that way lies madness.

So why tragedy???

Well, when the cake had been be-candled, blown out and cut up, and the visitors had left, I had a good half of cake left.

So, I threw it in the bin.

The thought of troughing all the remains on my own was just too much. Tragedy.