Friday, 30 December 2016

Making useful things

I often say that I never make anything useful and, in the main, that is true. However, before Christmas, I added a fourth stocking to the family collection for the youngest member of the family. He is in fact almost three but for various reasons I'd failed to complete his stocking in time for last Christmas and, as is the way of things, once Christmas was over, I hadn't given stocking-making a thought. Fortunately, my conscience nagged at me this time and I got down to making his version of the family pattern quite early this year.


They are easy to make and for obvious reasons, all slightly different. Each has the child's initial sewn on in felt to ease identification in the ceremonial hanging up ready for Father Christmas' arrival on Christmas Eve and in the frantic rush of excitement on Christmas morning. 


It is a lovely time which is photographed each year to record the children's growing up. This year, the occasion was not in the slightest bit diminished by the fact that the oldest grandchild had (no surprise) worked out the prosaic truth. She, fortunately, did not spill the beans and the younger ones were able to enjoy the myth in all its glory!


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A print and good wishes!


This print (completed during the last session of the course I've followed last term at theYard: Artspace) comes to thank you all for visiting my blog in such amazing numbers over the past year. I feel enormous surprise each time I realise how far away so many of you are as you read what I've written. Your comments, encouragement and, especially, your hints and advice are always valued and they enrich and bring context to what I do.

Thank you and good wishes and a Happy New Year to you all. May 2017 be peaceful and gentle wherever you are and may you find your lives deepened by your making and your art.



Monday, 5 December 2016

Printing Cards together

We've been hand making our Christmas cards in one way or another for almost twenty years and it's a task I really enjoy. Generally I've made them mostly without my husband's help because I was using textiles and he doesn't stitch. However, from time to time printing on paper has been the medium of choice and we've worked together. One year early on, we screen printed which was very successful and on a couple of other occasions we hand printed from a simple wood cut which also worked well. I've been wondering this year why we hadn't repeated the fun as it's a lovely thing to do together. This year seemed a good moment.

However, because of still on-going moth treatment, access to my workroom (and indeed much of the rest of the house) has been limited so we had to think of a simple printing method that could be done at the kitchen table without many resources. We decided on relief prints to be printed in only one colour for ease and speed of production.


I drew up a couple of designs, dug in the resources I could reach for appropriate printing medium and card stock (A5 folded) and cut up the paper to take the print. Meanwhile, my husband made up two print blocks to give a choice. For this, he used Fab Foam (which cuts with scissors and prints really easily) and MDF which he cut to size, and a register plate jig the same size as the paper. This was well worth doing even though we were only using one colour as it ensured that the images were always correctly placed on the paper and margins were the right size. To keep mess to a minimum, we avoided oil based printing ink and printed using silver or gold acrylic paint which is water-based and washes off easily.

The acrylic paint seemed to work surprisingly well despite its rapid drying qualities which meant that we had to get organised before we began printing, work quickly with short print runs and clean off all equipment straight after each print run. We found that the Galeria range by Windsor and Newton worked best, even though it was slightly transparent especially in the silver. This suited the images we were printing. It may well be that their Extender Medium would have improved this if it had troubled us as it claims to increase the volume of the paint and to maintain opacity.

Some useful tips on all types of print making can be found here and here-  and on a wealth of other websites!