Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: web design

Inspiration…and a little perspiration

I’m sorry, I’m sorry – been neglecting my blog, I know. My excuse is that I have been working on a very complicated web site (well, for me anyway) and after spending every waking moment toiling away at my computer, the last thing I felt like doing when I stopped to relax was blogging. Anyway, it’s all finished now , I even found time to make a book for a friend. I made her a web site a few months ago for her new bed and breakfast business, and she asked me if I would make her a visitors book for her guests to sign. Here it is.


I used an image I took of her house and printed it onto Belgian linen bookcloth. I made the striped back cover in Photoshop and it was tricky working out where to place the stripes and image so that they were in the right place when I bound the book. It worked even better than I hoped. I hope she likes it.

One of the things that tempted me back to my blog (apart from my friend Carol telling me how much she enjoyed reading it – all bloggers should have a friend like Carol!) was finding that the lovely writing gb had given me this award. The award was originated by Montessori Mama – isn’t it pretty? Very cheering on these cold winter days.


The rules are these:
– List six things that inspire my creativity
– Pass the award on to 6 more kreativ bloggers
– Link back to the person who gave you the award
– Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.

Six things that inspire my creativity. Hmmm…

1 Reading. Once I am interested in something, I have to read as much as I can about it. The down side of this is my ever expanding library which threatens to take over my house. My latest inspiration is a book called ‘500 Handmade Books – Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form‘ published by Lark Books.

2 Other bookbinders. One particular thing that has caught my fancy (which is in ‘500 Handmade Books’) is a wonderful ‘bustrophedon variation’ by Cathryn Miller, which is a sort of book which folds up into a small cube. I think it’s delicious and especially as I think this was created by the same Cathryn Miller who also comments here and is a member of the Book Arts Forum, a wonderfully inspiring place to visit.

3 Blogs. I was inspired to try bookbinding by reading the blog written by Dennis Yuen. He also has a beautiful book featured in  ‘500 Handmade Books’. His blog features lots of tutorials and images of the gorgeous work he does.

4 Curiosity. I see something, I have to try and work out how it was done and reproduce it. Expect to see a ‘bustrophedon variation’ attempt gracing (or otherwise) these pages sometime soon…

5 A slightly obsessive nature. I have been designing and writing this web site I have been working on for over a week. I sit down to work as soon as I get up and often find myself sitting working until late at night. I even dream about solutions to problems I am having. I realised on Monday, I had not been out of the house for a week, apart from taking Milo into the garden for a run around. (No wonder I am not having much luck meeting a new chap). I am also obsessive about finding lovely materials to work with, nice paper, leather, fabric and so on. Oh and kit. I love the tools and gadgets and equipment that go with bookbinding.

6  I love it when people appreciate something I have made. It gives me such satisfaction. When I was younger, I was always lacking in self confidence so when people praise my work it gives me such a buzz.

So there you have it.

I pass this on to  the following people who all create such wonderful things and who all seem to inhabit a parallel universe where days are 48 hours long. How else do you explain how much they achieve? Or is it that I am rubbish at time management….?

Teresa – home schooling , soap making, homesteading, cooking wonderful food, writing and so much more

Amy H – she knits, she makes books and brings up two small children – they are all gorgeous.

Kylee – making polymer clay jewellery, running language and jewellery making workshops, bringing up a baby, President of her local Arts and Culture Association….

Kim – the friendliest, most supportive blogger who encouraged me when I was first starting out and who is a wonderful artist. She also founded the  Top Artists Directory which must take so much time to keep updated and also writes the poetry blog PoeArtica

Astrid – a bookbinder from Germany who has never failed to inspire with the quality and the variety of the books she produces. Not to mention the quantity….

Claire – my friend in the real world, who has written a really funny book ‘Plus One: A Year in the Life of a Hollywood Nobody‘ and whose persistance and hard work in getting this book into print and then used as the inspiration for a movie ‘The Making of Plus One‘ is truly inspirational. She even appears in the movie – how cool is that?

Now to close, this is so creative it deserves a Kreativ award of its own. Great music and a superb video by Oren Lavie. Enjoy.

Happy New Year!

Well, I’m back. Christmas and New Year passed off very smoothly and enjoyably – ate too much, drank too much, watched too many movies but I am actually facing the New Year (despite the downbeat news) with optimism and equanimity, I am going to make it a good one. It was great to spend time with my boys and my lovely friends. Santa must have thought I had been a good girl last year, as he was extraordinarily generous and somehow managed to get a new 24″  iMac down my chimney. 

The dog loved having the boys home as much as I did, and he adored having two large creatures willing to roll about on the floor with him and brave the arctic conditions to chase around the garden and take him to the beach. Boy toys as opposed to toy boys, I guess. Now they have returned home, Milo sits looking at me with a tragic look on his face whimpering quietly, wondering why I am such a boring replacement ( answer – because I am playing with my iMac…..)

 I haven’t been blogging (what do you mean you hadn’t noticed?!) but I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook. Yesterday I decided to delete all the outstanding ‘notifications’ (almost 60), so apologies if you sent me ‘Karma’ , a plant for my Lil’ green patch, an invitation to play poker, scrabble or a war game, or just wanted to poke, hug or throw a sheep at me, but there were so many I decided to start afresh. New Year and all that….sorry.

The new year has begun on a very good note. I was very gratified to read that it is a really bad idea to go on a diet at the moment, what with the flu epidemic and the horrid sickness (and worse) lurgy doing the rounds, apparently if you are on a diet,  your body’s ability to fight off the viruses is reduced. Read more here. So that’s one less resolution to have to worry about breaking. 


More good news is that Andy Murray has just won an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi defeating both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the way. And the BBC are announcing who the new Doctor Who will be in 30 minutes in a special program on BBC 1 – all very exciting.

I’ve also been asked to do several web design projects and a big bookbinding project which I will tell you about in a  few weeks time. Who knows? Maybe my ‘hobbies’ will start to earn me some money – which would be a fine thing indeed.

I found a really funny image which keeps making me laugh…


So it’s been a really good start to the year. I hope yours has begun as well and I wish you lots of wonderfulness for 2009. The best New Year wishes I read were two both by the great Neil Gaiman

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” 

“…I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be,  be wise, and that you will always be kind.” 

Wonderful. You can’t put it better than that, can you? 

Happy New Year everyone.

Later : Ooh, couldn’t wait so I have seen who new Doctor Who is and thought I would tell you all…it’s ……..Matt Smith. Matt Smith? Who?


Ooh I’m not sure about this at all. My year might have just gone pear-shaped already…

A bit of a whinge….

I’ve been busy. Yes, me. Holiday Queen. I designed a website for a friend and she mentioned this to her friend who happened to need a website and her brother, who happened to need a website and Lo! and Behold! I have been working. All a bit of a shock to the system really especially to poor Milo who can’t understand why I won’t play with him every minute of the day.


The other down side is that it has dramatically curtailed my blog visits – sorry! But after a day of coding html and css and wrestling with the vagaries of Internet Explorer (Please, World – buy a Mac!) I haven’t had time to visit or post here either.

I have come up against a very thorny, perennial problem working for friends – and friends of friends – how much to charge for my services. I’m obviously not a professional but I would like to think that I do a good professional job – basic with few ‘bells and whistles’ and that is what a lot of people seem to want. ( Check out Duck House) However, given the time it takes to code a website ‘properly’, if I charged a reasonable amount an hour, the costs would be huge, so I charge a fairly low fixed fee. Compared to a ‘professional’ web designer, I am cheap as chips. So my dilemma is, do I pretend to be a ‘professional’ or admit I am a beginner. I would like to make some money doing this. My #2 son who is a newly graduated graphic designer is going to send me a ‘rate card’ which he has taken to using, having suffered the problem of agreeing a fixed fee and then ending up with the job taking much longer than anticipated. It’s a minefield!


I am rubbish at negotiating. Or standing up for myself. I have been attempting to sell my books at an art sale in the town where I live. I don’t want to undervalue them yet I don’t want to over charge for them and I would like to sell some. I put them at a lowish price (bearing in mind I’m not in the West End of London) and haven’t sold one. Do I lower my prices even more and almost give them away? They are getting lots of positive comments so I think that it’s just not the right marketplace for them but it is disheartening. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on all this. Sorry this has been such a serious post but it has been bothering me.

So to cheer things up, here is a clip from ‘Outnumbered’ which is quite my favourite thing on TV. The second series is fabulous. Last week Karen, the little girl held a funeral for a mouse caught in a trap in their kitchen. It was priceless.

Her teddy bear stood in for the Pope and she said ‘ Dust to dust. For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health. May the force be with you. Because you’re worth it. Amen and out’.

She also asked why Gordon Ramsey swore so much. ‘Shouldn’t it be people like doctors and soldiers and artists that swear? Not cooks. All they are doing is making salad.’ I love her.

And finally, that time of year which I prefer to ignore is looming fast. It’s a minefield and now the boys are grown up and I’m single, I dread it. I don’t want the boys to feel they have to come home but of course, I hope they do! The first time they both had other plans, I went to stay with friends in Vancouver. I had a great time but it was so weird not being with my boys. Last year they both came home and as I had just broken up with my partner and was not in the best of moods, my ex joined us – which was weird but OK. At least he was a welcome distraction! This year, one son has said he is home, the other is negotiating where to spend Christmas, with his girlfriend and I am waiting to hear his plans. Thankfully, a dear friend has invited us to spend Christmas day with them. #2 son is thrilled as she does cook THE BEST Christmas dinner. Yes, even better than mine….

I’m determined to be organized this year. I’ve already ordered my Christmas tree from Crocus, I am going to buy my cards soon so I don’t end up with the horrible leftovers and if I write and post them early, I won’t be stuck in the horrendous queue in the Post Office for hours on end on the last day of posting and maybe the cards I send overseas might actually arrive before Christmas this year.


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.


All about me…

I think I prefer making these fresh, bright summery books now that the weather is so autumnal, they cheer me up :-)

I played tennis this morning and it was freezing. I woke up to face the first heavy frost of the autumn so far and I wrapped up in many, many layers of clothing but as the game progressed, the sun came up and the layers came off and we had a terrific game – especially as we won – hurrah! At this time of the year, the sun being so low in the sky can be a bit of a problem but never mind! We are hardy English girls who play in rain, hail or shine and we do have a great time :-)



It’s time to catch up with some tagging that has been going on. Ange from Buzzing with Ange and Go! Smell the Flowers has tagged me in a meme which asks me to tell you about why I am blogging. As I have not really asked myself this question I thought it would be an interesting exercise so here goes….

1 How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for 9 months.

2 What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?

I had been designing a few web sites for friends and one of them asked me to set up a blog for him. I had no idea how to do that so I decided that the best way to learn about blogging was to actually start one, and so here we are!

My mentors are anybody who has ever blogged – I learn what I would like to do with my blog and how to interact with the blogging community by following the example of all the lovely blogging friends I have encountered these last months. My technical ‘guru’ is my lovely friend L, who is a fount of all knowledge on just about everything – a true new-renaissance man.

3 Are you trying to make money online or are you doing it for fun?

It is really just for fun but as my blog has metamorphosed into a blog about handmade books, the interest that people have expressed in my books has encouraged me to consider selling them online and I am exploring this at the moment. I’ll keep you posted…

4 What three things do you love about being online?

1 I love the contacts I have made – the friendliness and support that bloggers offer each other is a wonderful thing. It’s like having pen friends all over the world.

2 I love being able to get help, advice and inspiration almost instantly from a wide range of bloggers working in the same areas of interest as me.

3 I love reading blogs about subjects I know nothing about. The range of people’s interests is so rich, varied and fascinating.

4 What three things do you struggle with online?

1 Time. Keeping up with my favourite blogs is so time consuming. I want to read everything everyone writes but if I did that I would have no time for anything else, least of all making books! I get around them all eventually but I often feel bad that I have missed something crucial or I only remember to visit when someone comments on my blog. I visit networking sites and join as many communities/neighbourhoods as possible and I participate as much as I can and answer every comment on my blog and try to post regularly. I also write very occasionally for Go! Smell the Flowers but often have no time to find things to say over there. It can be exhausting – but it is still always fun!

2 I have a weakness for widgets and get frustrated that doesn’t allow me to have any that use Javascript. I am going to have to move to a self-hosted blog soon I think but I am very sentimental about this little blog as I like the way it looks and it has done me proud for the past 9 months! I’m also a bit scared about the process of changing over, so I keep putting it off.

3 I read some of the more technical, pro-blogging sites talking about SEO, AdSense, PR and the like and I have no idea what they are talking about…

So there you have it. Me in a nutshell.

As is usual with these things, I am going to pass this on to some blogs that I enjoy and would like to get to know better.

Kelly the Culinarian

The Laid.back Buddhist

Lady Banana


Asheville Bookgirl

Hope you have fun doing this…