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Snow art... sand art.... sand calligraphy

Friday, 27 December 2013

Someone shared a link to this fabulous 'snow art' created by Simon Beck>> here
& here's his facebook page. Aren't they fabulous?

They are huge, and so intricate...

Looking at these made me think of sand calligraphy by Andrew van der Merwe which had me gazing open mouthed when I first saw them. 

he says "The work is usually very temporal, often lasting no more than an hour before it is taken by the wind or the tide. I carve the letters in the sand using various instruments and then photograph them with my Nikon D700. I leave no footprints and the tide leaves me with a clean slate.
"Most of the forms used here draw their inspiration from African writing systems, but in some instances, I have moved on from there and found myself playing with variations of a particular movement - pretty much like a musician might play with variations on a theme.
"I have 20 years experience as a calligrapher but the most difficult aspect of the work remains the calligraphy. Any calligrapher worth his or her salt will understand this. Even wordless writing must have a logic, a system of movement, a poetry."

Actually I still gaze open mouthed....

and so, I was led to Tony Plant's sand drawings>> here

To create each drawing, Plant spends hours on the coastline, using a rake to form lines and circles in the sand. The geometric designs do not last long, very quickly getting washed away by the waves or walked across by surfers and beach-goers. Each fleeting artwork is a site-specific project that the artist has no control over and he says, "I just think of them as non-precious things. Some people get confused about why I do it, when there's nothing left after the tide has washed everything away, but I just see it as a new blank canvas for me to work with."



Words not necessary....

Monday, 16 December 2013

Don't worry about not being able to read this, it doesn't say anything! 
Gestural marks made with draughtsman's ruling pen... just 'pretend' squiggly lettering with free ascenders & descenders... such great fun to do & you don't have to worry about spelling mistakes either.

This canvas was to match some quite heavily patterned wallpaper, and I thought my usual 'splashy' backgrounds would be over the top for the room. Instead I tried this idea with blocks of colour to match the decor & quite subtle calligraphic marks.

I loved the subtlety of just the white 'lettering', but was torn over whether to add a layer of black. Some black thread served to give me an idea of the effect.

The smudged paint wasn't deliberate to begin with, but I really liked the effect so added a few more!

canvas size approx 90 x 35 cm / 36 x 14


For my moongazy friends.... it's rather cloudy out there this full moon.
This month (& next) the full moon appears at it's smallest. But as we are almost upon the Solstice it is visible for the longest time as we near the longest night of the year.

{S~ are you going on your travels shortly?}


Thoreau quote

Thursday, 12 December 2013

We are all sculptors or painters, 
and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones…


Brush your teeth!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Some colour is needed, I think.... I seem to have been very neutral of late.
Some lively splashes of cerise, aqua & lime.... such fun... 

Designed with a child's or teenagers room in mind...
how many times have we heard or said these words or something similar?

Brush your teeth
Hang up your coat
Wipe your feet
Clean your room
Do your homework
Turn off the light
And remember
Mum & Dad love you x

The set of 3 is available here, but you can have a version made to suit...
with any colours or with your personal most used admonishments!

overall size 100 x 40 cm ( 40.25 x 15.75 inches)
2 canvasses 30 x 40 cm (11.75 x 15.75 inches)
1 canvas  40 x 40 cm (15.75 x 15.75 inches)

I'm trying to think what I said most to my two.... probably something about stamping up the stairs & washing up would be in there... & turning off the tv if they're not watching it! I'll have to ask them & see what they remember! We'll probably remember totally different things, I know me & my mum often used to talk about the same incidents in very different ways. 
My dad was definitely one for telling us to turn lights off... 
& to get our elbows off the table was high on the list!

The last photo isn't particularly clear, but it gives an idea of how the idea can be adapted.



Monday, 9 December 2013

Sometimes you just stumble across something that really resonates, don't you? One of my photographs shared a treasury with the image below recently....

Flying Dreams

The name of this artist is Flora McLachlan & she has a shop on etsy called 'Foxnest'
~I loved it even before I looked any further!


It just keeps getting better... look closely at that central seed-head below....

Shelter from Grey Weather

Flora says,

"In my prints, wild creatures are guarded by thorns and nestled in undergrowth;
 the forest is cage and sanctuary. The moon shines silver between the dark trees, 
and the scent of leaf-mould contains life and death."

The White Hart

"I have been printing, mostly etching, for thirteen years. 
I make pictures of visions I would like to see, using memories and sketchbook studies of familiar woodlands. I'm on a quest for the white hart..."

Winter Moon
All photographs © Flora McLachlan 

You can find Flora's fabulous etchings at 


A Christmas Proposal

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

I get a steady stream of marriage proposals these days.... not for me personally (perish the thought!)... but from romantic young, & not so young, men enlisting my help to gain the "yes" that they want to hear. In this last few weeks there have been quite a few aiming for a Christmas Proposal. 

Let's start another chapter.... proposal of marriage

Some, bless them, have written poems or songs to their beloved, others have chosen more well known poems or passages on the subject of love to calligraphed into a scroll or onto canvas. I find myself taking an almost maternal interest as these hopeful fellas tell me about how they met or why those words mean so much... and I'm often left waiting with bated breath, hoping that they remember to let me know the outcome! 

By the way.... 'bated' breath was first coined as a phrase by Shakespeare in 'The Merchant of Venice'. Shylock says to Antonio, 

"Shall I bend low and, in a bondman's key,
With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness,
Say this..."

Bated here is a contraction of abated through loss of the unstressed vowel (a process called aphesis); it means "reduced, lessened, lowered in force". So bated breath refers to a state in which you almost stop breathing as a result of some strong emotion such as terror or awe
[Thank you to Michael Quinion at World Wide Words for these snippets of information]

Let's turn another page.... with presentation wallet

The book pages with either "Let's start another chapter..." or "Lets turn another page..."
have proved to be a popular way to 'pop the question'. They've been framed, collaged into another piece of work & bound into a book amongst other things!

I've only just got as far as making this simple little envelope style wallet to present them in. Kraft paper & brown ribbon set the scene.... then the inside flaps are lined with vintage book pages. A tiny little tag of the same, just finishes it off nicely, I think.

will you marry me? with presentation wallet

Romance is far from dead... and some men do still ask permission from the father of their intended! So far though, I've had no ladies proposing to their men.... surely it's just a matter of time?

Does anyone have any 'Proposal Stories' to share?


Christmas Rubber Stamps

Monday, 2 December 2013

A selection of designs with calligraphy by yours truly,
available from Crafty Individuals... the first two are in the "special offers" section at a nicely 
reduced price!

As well as the 'Calligraphy' section, the 'Elements' section has
quite a few designs that include quotations I have written.


Little things that make me smile....

Sunday, 1 December 2013

I came across these bamboo pens on etsy, made by Kate Moby, from bamboo grown in her own garden > here

They really look quite gorgeous... such lovely little details! It's a long while since I made a bamboo pen, & I seem to remember I enjoyed using it, but have no idea where it went. Kate says she uses hers regularly... hmm, I have a hankering to try some again now! I could make some.... but I'm tempted to treat myself to these beauties sometime. {if any of my family are reading this, take it as a hint :-) }

Anyway, from her shop I skipped to her blog, as you do, and came a cross a post that pointed me to the Digital Colour Meter hidden on my Mac. Hehehee, what a great little tool.... I had no idea it was there!
Go to Applications> Utilities> Digital Colour Meter
Thanks Kate x

Wherever your mouse hovers, the meter shows how the colour is made up... in various formats... how cool is that?! There's a write up about it <here> if you need one.


Brush Lettering on Mulberry... free to a good home!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Following on from that brush stroke that felt so good in the last post, I tried some lettering with a Chinese brush onto Khadi Mulberry. I set off with the "I do not sleep", intending to create a neater sample page with various tools & mediums, but after writing the next small line I was enjoying myself & just carried on writing!

You can see the transparency of the paper from the ruler & sheet of absorbent paper underneath. The lettering is all done with the same brush... varying from laying it on it's side to using the very tip.

 On the whole, I can write pretty straight without guide lines, but right at the end I lifted up on the right of the page. I do it so often it's maddening.... especially as I'm aware that I do it & watch for it, yet it still happens unless I mark that last line in. I actually positioned the paper straight underneath to act as a guide line but still.... Thinking about it now, I'm wondering if it happens when I don't move the piece of work up as I work down the page, so rather than viewing straight on, I'm looking at my writing at a slight angle, so I "see" that I'm going straight even when I'm not. *sigh* I've been doing this on & off for years & it's only writing about it now that it seems so obvious... I'll check my writing position next time!

Even so, it is possible to rescue a piece that suffers from a drifting bottom line. Adding some form of decoration to fill the space & balance it out often saves a re-write. The heavy line would have been sufficient, but there were a couple of  mistakes I wanted to cover, so added the splash. It was a bit heavy & missed the mistake altogether, so I lifted some of the ink out with tissue... then added a few more watery splashes, lifting some out to echo the look of the first one....

I like the effect... even though some letters aren't legible, the sense of the words is there. It also conveys a sense of the words.... of spirit slipping from one world to another, here but not here...

In the previous 2 & the next pic, the tissue is hung at a window... lovely textures from front & back... floating....

Would anyone like this?

If I had somewhere to hang it, it's one I'd keep... but it does need to hang somewhere. Perhaps pinned to a board or pegged from a string line...  or maybe another strip of paper or fabric stitched across the top to give enough strength to attach to a branch or pole of some sort.... or collage it into another piece of work... add a layer of your own creativity.... could look good with a layer of something else floating behind... ??

If you want it just leave a comment....& share what you might do with it. If more than one person puts their hand up, we'll have a draw next week :-)


Writing on Khadi Mulberry Tissue

Thursday, 28 November 2013

I sort of knew that a broad edged nib wouldn't be the best of tools to write with on this Mulberry tissue. Sure enough, even with a light touch the corner of the nib tore the tissue.... possibly the thin consistency of ink allowed the paper to get over wet, thus tearing.

But... a finer nib was ok (just ok, not great!), & slightly better with larger letters. This was using walnut ink. The brush stroke felt wonderful, but this was just a little sample of paper so 1 mark was all I gave myself. 

Fine liner pens surprised me... they were excellent. I expected pastels to take well, but they 'took' much more strongly than anticipated... the tissue seems to hold the particles of chalk pastel, resulting in strong colour from a small amount.

Gouache (purple) & watercolour (pink) both worked better with a 'dryer' consistency... anything too wet just soaked away... the watercolour faded  even more as it dried. These were applied with a brush... I haven't tried them yet with a nib of any description. I was working with absorbent kitchen paper underneath, but perhaps felt would be a better option to soak away excess moisture.

Ballpoint pen was wonderful! Hard pencils not visible at all, but 3B starts to show.... charcoal pencils worked great.

So.... that's my preliminary tests done, straight onto plain mulberry. Every surface is 'writable' to some extent... we just have to tweak things until something works. The variables are; the tools, the medium & surface treatments. Adjusting these & trying different combinations can lead to really sharp writing on quite hostile surfaces. I'm not finished with this stuff yet!


Printing on Khadi Mulberry Tissue

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

 I was asked,  "Can you print on Khadi Mulberry Tissue?"  & to be honest I didn't know.

Khadi's Mulberry tissue is very soft & lightweight, with a fairly open weave. It also feels absorbent & tears easily too, so getting it through an inkjet printer would be one thing, never mind whether it accepted the ink.

I used a low-tack tape to tape the tissue onto normal copier paper to act as a carrier. On the first attempt the mechanism that pulls the paper into the printer, tore the tissue away from the backing & couldn't feed it through. For the second go I left some space at the leading edge....

... and this worked fine. I had a couple more trials... an inch wasn't enough space.... 2 inches worked fine. Don't forget to allow a deeper space at the top of your word (or whatever) document for this tho'! 

Also, one side of the mulberry tissue feels ever so slightly smoother... I tried printing on both sides & there was no perceptible difference.

I couldn't get the tape off without tearing the tissue... not a problem as I would tear the edges anyway, but it is a factor to be aware of in terms of the size of the finished piece. You can tear much straighter edges than these, against a ruler, or even cut them, if that is the look you want.

The bottom sheet of carrier paper picked up some great textures too.... so worth considering a "better" paper for this task to use as a background for something else later...

...or just to layer underneath the mulberry. Mulberry tissue is neither fully transparent nor opaque... it really depends how close to the background it is. The background colour makes a difference to the overall look too, so there are certainly many avenues to explore with this!

So, is it possible to print on Khadi Mulberry Tissue? Definitely, yes... but it does take some care. It's not hard to do but you do need a bit of experimenting to get the set-up working for you. 

I went on to try various writing tools & mediums, but will follow that up in a separate post :-)



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