Please do not bend

Interesting typography in the “Please do not bend” notice on the front of a recycled brown paper envelope

Just parcelling up the latest orders and loving the typography on my latest batch of recycled envelopes!

Shame they smell like ripening cheese, though.

I think the odour must be something to do with the recycling process and not using bleach to re-whiten the pulp.

Avoiding bleach = good, smelling like the fridge at Christmas = not so much.

An epic rescue

Magnolia tree in full bloom with water sun catching the edges of a few of the petals and lighting them up like lamps.

Much excitement here today. The male* wood pigeon which had been stuck behind the fire for a few days is freeeeee!

Once the engineer had turned off the gas and prized the fire out of the grate, I suggested I get under a sheet in case the bird flew, and the engineer (who was scared of birds, bless him) was on sheet duty. He held the sheet over the fireplace to contain it like a champ! I suspect because the bird was used to the sound of my voice it walked out of the chimney towards me and the light.

I grabbed it before it had a chance to flap, checked it over, took it outside and gently put it down on the grass. It wobbled off towards the end of the lawn then flew up into the neighbours’ magnolia and started to preen and sing, *hence I know it is a male woodie!

Maybe not the most orthodox rescue but a happy result in the end.

PS Pic at the top of the post is from the other day, I was too busy rescuing the pigeon to grab my phone and document it, so you’ll have to imagine him singing and preening!

‘Alert’ – Limited Edition Relief Print

A black and white relief print of a male starling. He’s standing on some old, weathered wood. His wings are tucked but he is alert, and his head feathers are raised. Whatever he is looking at is out of the image and he is facing right to look at it. Perhaps he’s spotted a chunk of fat ball another bird has missed, or another starling has decided to join his feast.

Inspiration

I’ve spent a long time this spring watching the starlings picking through the lawn looking for invertebrates. They’re so gregarious and gently quarrelsome.

I love the iridescent colours of their feathers and the tawny coloured arrowheads at the tips.

It’s sad that although still relatively common in gardens, these glorious little birds have declined so much elsewhere that they are Red Listed.

The UK Red List for birds keeps track of how different species are doing, and any birds that are rated red are in need of urgent action. Shockingly, one in four of our birds is now on that list, 67 species in total.

Source: RSPB website

Design

Here’s the drawing transferred to the block (in reverse), ready for me to start cutting.

The drawing transferred (in reverse) to the linoleum block, ready to start cutting

Here’s the block inked up for the first time, ready for me to pull a proof and see what more I need to do to the block to make it print just so.

A black and white relief printing block which has been inked up for the first time. The block is of a male starling. He’s standing on some old, weathered wood. His wings are tucked but he is alert, and his head feathers are raised.

I’m not sure if the paper I use will take any kind of water based colour but once the prints are dry I might have a bit of a play with the test prints to see whether I can get away with it!

A black and white relief print of a male starling. He’s standing on some old, weathered wood. His wings are tucked but he is alert, and his head feathers are raised. Whatever he is looking at is out of the image and he is facing right to look at it. Perhaps he’s spotted a chunk of fat ball another bird has missed, or another starling has decided to join his feast.

If you would like to buy one of these prints, be quick as there are only 30 in the edition!

Happy Easter!

A human-made nest constructed of birch and alder twigs, scraps of material, and yarn. Seven tiny, palest blue, crocheted eggs sit in the cup.

Happy Easter! And if you’re really not feeling it this year, at least you can console yourself with chocolate for breakfast.

A couple of years ago I developed a pattern for a simple crocheted little round bird.

Every time I wanted to make another one, I’d pop into the local haberdashery to grab another ball of yarn and show them the latest addition to the brood.

One day they asked if I would let them put my flock of Little Round Birds in the window for Easter.

As I was saying, “Yes, please, that would be lovely,” without even thinking I added, “... and my friend Rob could make some nests and we could add in some bits of fabric and yarn from the shop, and I can crochet some eggs to put in them.”

Just like that, quick as a flash the idea popped into my head and a spring collaboration was born!

A human-made nest constructed of birch twigs, scraps of material, and yarn. Five small pale brown crocheted eggs sit in the cup.

So, here are the teeny eggs in the beautiful nests Rob made. It took a little while to come up with a pattern for the three different sizes of eggs because I wanted them to be as close to life-size as I could get them.

A human-made nest constructed of birch and alder twigs, scraps of material, and yarn. Five tiny, bright blue, crocheted eggs sit in the cup.

It turns out that the plural noun for Little Round Birds is a Rainbow! 🌈

Sixteen little ground crocheted birds arranged in a bow shape and arranged in rainbow colour order from darkest blue to palest pink. Beneath the arc are five “special edition” little round crocheted birds, a blackbird, a ring-necked parakeet, a hyacinth macaw, a robin, and a ptarmigan in winter plumage

A close-up look at the texture of a relief printing block

The texture created in the surface of a relief printing block. The cut away parts are stained dark grey while the surface has become almost the colours of brass.

Would you look at that texture!

Usually a plate looks pretty bad once it’s been cleaned a few times but the plate for ‘The Listening Post’ looks like oxidised metal on a bronze sculpture.

This zoomed in photo of the block gives you a good idea of the marks I used to make the barn owl’s feathers in this print. Most of them are tiny and this close up they look pretty abstract but zoom out a bit and you have an owl!

The Listening Post (close up view two)

‘The Listening Post’ is available to purchase, but it is an edition of just 40, so when they’re gone, they’re gone!

The Listening Post

Jazz Hands! (Or how I keep your prints oil-free)

These are my print handling gloves. They’re simple white cotton gloves and they stop any oil from my hands transferring to the prints while I’m handling them.

This post is brought to you through the medium of expressive mime...

These are my print handling gloves. They’re simple white cotton gloves and they stop any oil from my hands transferring to the prints while I’m handling them.

It’s all part of making my work as archival and lasting as possible; give it a few years and your investment still won’t have any sticky paw prints on it.

And yes, once they are donned it is almost impossible to resist doing a fake tap dance and making “jazz hands”! 😂

Do you ever use colour?

A very small pastel painting of bluebells carpeting the ground beneath three copper beech trees sporting their dark red new leaves. In the back ground are flowering shrubs and trees.

‘Bluebells, Coles’
2.5 x 3.5in (ACEO size)
Soft pastel on UArt paper

The weather is cold and grey today but it won’t be long before the bluebells are carpeting the beech woods with wave after floral wave of delicately scented colour.

This is a teeny, tiny pastel painting I did on UArt paper with the most delicious soft pastel set made by Sennelier.

You thought there was no colour in my art, right?! Well, part of the joy of linocutting my way is the challenge of representing a world filled with colour and tone using just one colour and making a variety of marks to suggest tone. When colour is removed the viewer focuses on the textures, shapes and subject matter instead.

The measure of productivity

A black and white photo of a small shallow ceramic dish full of lino cuttings. These are like carrot or potato peelings, but on a much smaller scale since many were made with tools under 1mm across

A day’s productivity pile before /\
.
.
.
... and after \/

A black and white photo of a small shallow ceramic dish that is now emptied and contains no lino cuttings so the rake fired pattern on the inside is now satisfyingly visible

I must confess that I don’t always manage to corral my lino cuttings into a small shallow ceramic dish.

Usually, I’m so focussed on cutting that bits can be found all over the bench (and me... and the floor... several rooms away)!

But stopping to put them into a dish means less mess, and I get to empty it at the end of the day and enjoy the raku fired pattern on the inside of the now satisfyingly empty dish.

Buy me a Ko-fi

A black and white close-up photo of the surface of a mug of hot beverage. On the top, bubbles formed when the hot water was added have collected into a heart shape.

I’ve just got myself a Ko-fi page!

If you haven’t heard of it, Ko-fi helps people who make things get support from the people who like those things.

ko-fi.com/lbprintmaker

If you like my prints and cards, please consider buying me a “coffee” to keep me in ink & paper, although you can set up a campaign, so I am currently working towards getting the ‘Instruments of Hope’ series framed.

Thank you! *raises mug in a toast to lovely followers*

Best Ever Testimonial

Handwritten note from my youngest collector that reads, "Thank you for the lovely otter picter [sic]. It is so adorable I also really [pen colour changes] liked the card it was so funny (I have changed pen) do you like my — [drawing of a cetacean with "whale" written inside it] or dolphin [nineteen X for kisses] Loads of love frome [sic]"

There was a thread over on Twitter about best ever feedback or testimonial.

For me, it has to be this one, which is from my youngest collector who is nine years old and had just received an otter print.

You, too, can own an otter print that I hope will bring you as much joy as it for a budding art collector!