Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Calligraphy

Where there’s a Will….

I’ve just returned from Stratford on Avon. It was my sister’s birthday. A BIG birthday made all the more disconcerting because she is my younger sister and the less reminders I have the of how old I am, the better! I made her an album for her birthday, which involved the inevitable trawl through old family photographs. The bad hair do’s, the shocking clothes, Memory Lane can be quite a terrifying place to walk down. I also dug out some old home movie footage which was originally Super 8 film which I had transferred onto DVD. Quite hilarious. Memories of so many family outings –  I can only think that every time my dad said ‘Do something for the camera’, we flung ourselves off whatever rock or wall we were standing on onto a beach or we did a cartwheel. In Scotland, in Wales, in Cornwall, in our garden – always the same. Here is a photograph of me and two of my three sisters (presumably just before we threw ourselves off the sea wall at Blackpool). I’m the tallest and birthday girl is the cutie in the middle.

This is the album I made for her.

We had a lovely family party at a hotel just outside Stratford on Avon. Yesterday, we had a very quick trip into Stratford to see the sights. It always astonishes me that William Shakespeare’s birthplace is still standing there on a busy shopping street.

We had a very quick walk along the River Avon by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It is undergoing a huge renovation project so it is currently covered in scaffolding and camouflage. It normally looks like this

but at the moment looks like this

Here are a few more shots of the visit.

This last guy was one of those performance artists who stood as still as a statue until someone approached him to take his photograph and then he leaped off his box and frightened the life out of them. I’m not sure Will would have approved.

To round off, (tenuous link alert) this is a calligram I did a few years ago. I repeated the phrase ‘As You Like It’ to make this image of the great man himself. Click on it to enlarge.

Paper arts


I would hazard a guess that if I had asked to to guess what my next book would look like you would have come up with this one. You may recognize the image from my last post. It’s a view of the mountains on the other side of the Rhone valley, taken from the piste during one of our walks at Crans Montana. I remember taking this shot very well, as we had stopped to catch our breaths after walking up a particularly steep bit of piste. Nick had marched ahead and stopped for the rest of the party to catch up, I was second and had time to take some photographs before the others arrived. The trouble with being last to arrive was that Nick set off again as soon as the stragglers caught up, so I worked out that it paid to be at the front – harder work but longer rests :-)

I have always been interested in paper art. When I was studying calligraphy, I was always keen to find other ways of using paper to enhance the lettering – playing with the paper by cutting and mixing different types of paper. I’ve already posted some of my efforts last year but I’ll show you some examples again to show you what I mean.


I have a fantastic book called ‘The Elements of Pop-Up’ by David A. Carter and James Diaz which is a wonderful book for aspiring paper engineers which not only demonstrates the different effects but explains how to achieve them.


I was reminded of this book by several things I found on the web yesterday. The first was a web site called Centripetal Notion featuring work by Brian Dettmer who produces amazing art by sculpting old books with quite astonishing results.


This reminded me of the work of Peter Callesen which is intricate and elegant but with an underlying humour.


My other favorite paper artist is Jen Stark. Her use of colour and the precision involved in producing her art is spectacular.


Next the work of Annie Vought, who painstakingly cuts around text to create art works which are ethereal and create a wonderful interplay between the text and the shadows. These are based on ‘to do’ lists and a page from an exercise book.


And finally, a wonderful pop-up book called ABC3D by Marion Bataille. It will be available to buy on Amazon in October.

I stand back in awe, at these paper artists’ skill. Amazing.

Thoughts on parenthood


I love this paper! I bought it the other day in Exeter from Paperchase. On the outside this paper makes a very sophisticated book. The flowers are Agapanthus – I have some white ones in my garden and they are very tall, stately plants. The black and cream colour scheme adds to the elegance of the cover. Inside is a different story. I couldn’t resist putting these two together. The inside paper is a black and cream design of skulls and crossbones. Maybe it’s the sort of book a pirate would give his mother for Mothers’ Day :-)

Mothers’ Day today, I went searching for suitable quotes for the occasion and the one which really struck home was this one

Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever, to have your heart go walking around outside of your body” – Elizabeth Stone

I did a piece of calligraphy based around a quotation about children some years ago. I have no idea who wrote this but it struck a chord with me. I ended up doing 3 copies of this as a friend saw it and wanted a copy and then a friend of hers wanted a copy. It’s quite large (about 22″ x 30″) so it took me ages to do them all and I must confess I was heartily sick of it by the time I had done them all, but looking back at it, it still sums up all that’s wonderful about being a parent – not just a mum! If you click on the image you should get a larger version of it. If you still can’t read it I have written it out at the bottom of this post.


I think the reason that I liked the Mothers’ Day video yesterday so much was that it featured two brothers and I realised (or rather some of you picked up on the fact) that I have two boys and that was why it resonated with me so much. Well, just to reinforce this here’s another video by the same pair. They are very funny indeed

They have their own channel on You Tube, BaratsAndBereta and there is loads more of their stuff there.

Children are like kites…you spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you are breathless, they crash, you add a longer tail, they hit the ground, you pick them up, you patch, comfort and adjust then watch as they are lifted by the wind and reassure them that one day they will fly. Finally, they are airborne but need more string, you keep letting it out and with each twist of the twine there is sadness and joy because as the kite becomes more distant, you know it won’t be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that bound you together and soar as it was meant to be…free and alone.

A very sunny day


I ran a little workshop last Friday and a few of my old calligraphy group came over and I showed them how to make a ribbon book. It all went very well and they went home clutching their own book that they had made – and one of them bought one of my books (the blue ‘Wave’ book) as well to give as a gift to some friends, so a successful day all round. This is the book I made to demonstrate the process.

Today, the sun is still shining. It’s chilly but such a treat to see these clear blue skies. I went for a walk on the beach with the intention of taking some photographs to use as book covers. I quickly realised that I had left the memory card in the card reader when I was taking the photographs of the book (above). I managed to take a couple of shots which saved onto the in-built camera memory and then in desperation, I used my phone camera. I have to report that I got some really good shots using my phone, which was very surprising!

Here is a gallery of some of the shots I took. If you click on each thumbnail you can see a larger version of each photograph.


The cliffs along the beach are eroding at an alarming rate. The severe winter weather has caused numerous landslides which must be very disconcerting for the caravans parked near to the cliffs and which are now looking scarily close to the edge. Even the big white houses which have stunning sea views and which I used to lust after, are looking at risk. One is a hotel and one, I believe, belongs to the singer Billy Bragg. It makes my flooding worries look rather minor. At least my house isn’t going to end up falling off a cliff….

Work in progress


This book is a work in progress. It is covered with a gorgeous Japanese tangerine silk bookcloth which matches the end paper perfectly. I have a very soft spot for this end paper, I used it in a very special green leather book I made as a gift for someone last year and it always looks classy.

I say this is a work in progress, as it is a binding I have not tried before, only two sections sewn so that the stitching forms the design on the spine. I’m not sure if this type f binding has a name or not. I wanted the stitching to highlight the end paper so instead of the usual cream linen thread I used this lime green embroidery silk which worked quite well. Now even though the book is almost finished, I am going to continue with it and for the first time, I am going to fill it with calligraphy and other goodies, so you may be seeing this one again when it is finished. I started making books to do this very thing but was completely sidetracked by the process of making the books, which became an end in itself instead of a means to an end, if you see what I mean. So we shall see how this goes….


Now, I’m not saying that vegans are annoying, but there is no doubt that life would be a whole lot easier if my Number 1 son was a vegetarian. I took him shopping this morning for smart shoes to wear with a suit. He has some job interviews looming and needs to look sharp. Easy task you might think. Not if your son is a vegan and refuses to wear leather, it isn’t. We came to an impasse when I refused to buy cheap and nasty plastic shoes (I notice people’s shoes and plastic one’s are just plain nasty and won’t last 5 minutes) and he refused to wear anything leather (although there are lots of leather shoes out there that looked like plastic!). We may just reach a compromise if we can find some leather looking but not so ‘training shoe’ looking shoes which I think is his only hope. There must be something suitable out there, I can’t believe all vegans only wear jeans and casual shoes. Or maybe I should let him wear casual shoes with his suit to assert his individuality? Who can say?

I have also been working on my web site (not my Etsy store though unfortunately). I am determined to finish my web site as I do enjoy coding the html and css. I find it strangely therapeutic. It definitely appeals to my inner Maths teacher :-) I was stuck for ages this afternoon with a problem which turned out to be a simple coding error but talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees, it took me forever to spot it. It’s times like this when I miss my ex, who was my encyclopedia and guru for all things Mac and technological. It was great having someone at the end of the phone or an email away who could always tell me what to do or where to find out what I needed to know. This just about sums up my afternoon…click to enlarge.