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Walks in the woods

April 21, 2018

Betty Daw’s Wood in Gloucestershire is famous for its carpet of wild daffodils. We visited on the second Sunday in April. No one else was there, just us and the birds.

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Yesterday we were in our local wood, where violets and primroses are succeeded by celandines and wood-anemones before the bluebells take over. Cherry and blackthorn were in flower at the edge of the wood. Sadly there was evidence that humans as well as wildlife inhabit this wood. As one emerges onto Palace Fields there is one of the best views of Wells Cathedral.

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Message to the Universe

April 5, 2018

This heart-warming post caught my eye this morning: Thank you, Margaret Cooter!

ABCD: Frozen

April 4, 2018

We could hardly have picked a more appropriate topic for this month. Some of us made more than one book inspired by the weather.

Clare brought a book “Rough Ground” incorporating paste-papers and a tiny poignant poem-fragment.

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She re-made her “Loose Ends” with a quilted cover, a book-cloth frontispiece and blown-ink illustrations to her poem about a friendship that started with quilting.

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Janine folded some photographs of frost on window-panes into a map-folded star-book.

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Pauline finished her book of prints “Over the Edge”, with a cut-through cover.

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She made two books for this month’s theme. “Frozen in Time” is a stab-bound book of little artefacts from museums printed on pages from a 1980s magazine. The pages are folded at the fore-edge. “Frozen” is a zigzag of Mokuhanga prints mounted on heavy paper, with the words of the title cut from a collograph and pasted onto the cover.

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Jane’s hanging book is her response to being trapped indoors by snowy weather. She splashed white paint onto brown wrapping-paper, folded it ingeniously and added a frame-like cover and a stick from which to suspend it. It is quite a large book, perhaps a foot wide and upwards of 4 feet long.


Judy brought two “Over the Edge” books: one is a fan-like folded accordion with mini-books  hanging from the lower edge, and the other is a Secret Belgian binding with geometrical shapes taken over the edges of the cover and pages. Her “Frozen” is a recycled painting in acrylic on canvas. When opened or closed it makes creaking noises reminiscent of cracking ice.

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Caroline made a book of “Frozen Dove-droppings” (my monthly found-poems composed from the day’s eavesdroppings). She has been in Lisbon recently, and told us about a company there that collects and cleans and re-uses waste plastic to make beautiful and useful items. Their range of hand-made products can be seen here.


You may remember Nina’s use of old letters found in a discarded box for her contribution to “Letters”, our exhibit in Bridport Art Centre. This time she made a flag-book and a cover for it from a 1918 Inland Revenue statement from the same source. For the theme of Bridges, she  made a delightful “Severn Sandwich”, inspired by meals eaten during journeys across the Severn Bridge to and from Wales. Naturally, it is bilingual. Unfortunately I did not get any photos of these books.

I made three books. “Thaw” is a nested accordion pop-up containing a poem written during a recent thaw. I found this structure here. “Frozen” is a double-accordion structure  based on something I saw  on Peter and Donna Thomas’s website. It contains a series of photos of frozen cobwebs, and a tiny poem. “Roost” is a tunnel-book using a photo of a neighbour’s hens sitting on a snowy branch during a recent blizzard. I  added a short extract from Dave Bonta’s Morning Porch blog. Due to my worsening eyesight, none of these books is entirely satisfactory. It’s hard to measure accurately when you’re seeing double with one eye and a fuzzy blur with the other!

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Judith brought some examples of a sewn-board binding that she learnt recently. The one illustrated is a book of Mokuhanga prints inspired by a visit to Iceland. The spine is covered with a piece of Icelandic fish-leather.

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Bron found that a book she had made during the last time we had prolonged snow fitted the theme admirably! “Ten” is a stab-bound A4 journal of ten days of being snowed-in at The Dove in January 2010. Another book “Caves of Ice” was made from Coleridge-inspired etchings. The structure is based on one of Keith Smith’s in “Books without Paste or Glue”, a textbook from which we learnt much in the early years of the book group at the Dove. Instead of glossy colour illustrations it has clear and detailed diagrams.


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Karen could not be with us but she has sent me some photos. She writes: “The first two are from my workshop at ACE with Angela Morley. I made a small hanging from prunings. . I then photocopied it and made it into a book-cover. The other threee are for Frozen.  I based my book on the poremise that each snowflake is unique. I made a case for the book from some indigo-dyed fabric. The book is an accordion with two double map-folds with snowflake patterns on one side and on the reverse is the scientific explanation of why snowflakes are unique.

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Thalia was unable to come to the meeting but has sent me a couple of photos of her book “Frozen”.

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After lunch Judy gave us a brief but exciting workshop on stick calligraphy. We wrote with two widths of balsa-wood strip and learned about cola pens, writing through water and the different properties of Indian ink and acrylic ink. All of us were keen to go and try it at home!

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We talked so much about the plastic problem that we decided to make “Plastic” the theme for next month. The meeting will be on Saturday May 12th.

Finally, here are the latest eavesdroppings.

March Dove-droppings

Jack Frost in map-folds
cut with a scalpel
frozen in time

little artefacts
trapped indoors
with a circle in a square

secret Belgian
random rhomboids
with sound-effects

I like dangly things
all that plastic for one dog
good for Lisbon!

my old man actually was a dustman
more paper from the skip
it’s all about paper

in hibernation mode
the shop ran out of chocolate and wine
not bread and milk

empty book syndrome
feels like the real thing
with fish-skin leather

a man in shorts out there
it felt quite odd really
just the three of us

Flyer for email



A reading on International Women’s Day

March 12, 2018

via #MeToo in Glastonbury

A reading in Bristol, UK

March 12, 2018

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here bookmark project

I had the privilege of participating in a lunch-time reading at the University of the West of England on Thursday 8th March. This included a tabletop exhibition of books, broadsides and prints made for the project. It was good to see old friends (both people and printed works), and to meet new ones. Julie Bruck’s poem always makes me shed a tear.

Julie Bruck poemBooks on the table

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Readings next week, March 8th

March 1, 2018

I’ll be taking part in an evening of readings on International Women’s Day next week:


Earlier the same day I’ll be at this reading in Bristol:


ABCD: Over the Edge

February 11, 2018

It was a day of dreich and dismal weather, but the February meeting of Artists’ Book Club Dove sparkled and glowed with brilliant books and ideas. And the food was hearty and warming.

Jane was inspired by Cliffs of Fall, a poem from Helen Dunmore‘s last book of poems, and made a performing book of photos of the unstable cliffs at Burton Bradstock on the Dorset coast. It teeters on the edge and a nudge will send it cascading down from its plinth.

Jane Over the Edge

Jane also made a Secret Belgian bound notebook …

Jane Secret Belgian

… and a “fishbone” and other folded structures.

Jane folds

Continuing with the theme, I showed my cascading book What the Birds Said. I learned this structure from “Woven and Interlocking Book Structures” by Claire van Vliet (Janus Press, Vermont USA 2002.) Each line of a poem of five couplets is wrapped over the edge of a page. The connecting spine-strip is cut from an outdated hydrographic chart that includes Rockall and St Kilda.

Ama 3

Karen showed her stab-bound book about Guillemots, who breed on cliffs in colonies called loomaries, from the sound the birds make. The book includes her husband Ross’s lovely poem A Leap of Faith.

Karen Over the ledge

Karen first opening

Janine brought three versions of her book Bridges, which combines photos of bridges with maps showing their location. She brought the beginnings of a book illustrated with hand-cut rubber stamps of sliding teapots …

Janine Bridges

Clare brought a journal of her recent stay at Halsway Manor in the Quantocks.

Clare holiday book

Bron showed two versions of a small square zigzag book of six etchings from Lauzerte, and some much larger recent etchings of trees at the Dove, a quince and a weeping ash.

Bron Lauzerte 1

Bron Lauzerte 2

On the theme Connected, Nina made a tiny zigzag book of images of walnuts and brains, connecting the two halves of a walnut-shell.

Nina Connected

Thalia’s book is a layered accordion (layered paper and layered themes) that can be read in many different ways.

Thalia Over the Edge

Thalia other side

Pauline brought a maquette for Over the Edge. I hope to include a photo of the finished work when it’s ready (when the ink is dry!) It will contain monoprints inspired by industrial buildings with fire-escapes and other high viewpoints standing out from the edges of the pages.

Caroline showed us a maquette for Going to the Wire. which represents a trap or refuge for crayfish, with scrolled messages held in the crannies.

Caroline Wire book

After lunch Pauline guided us through the folding of one kind of map-fold.

Pauline map-fold

Our next meeting will be on March 17th. The theme drawn out of the pot is “Frozen”, and Judy will show us how to do stick-calligraphy. Lastly here are the

February dove-droppings

I’m only here for the flapjacks
the little ones are called jumplings
they swim to Norway and come back in April

I tried again
and then I tried again
did you try it the other way round

first I thought of lemmings
and then I went with teapots
hanging dangerously from a futtock

I have to come out at night
I discovered only by drawing it
this one even had an Excel spreadsheet

it came full of chestnuts
I started with a walnut
and a glass of red wine actually

the Magnet shop doesn’t sell magnets
just waiting for the ink to dry
is it a fly or is it a spy

they don’t know what we have for lunch
the last of my winter apples
gunpowder tea and hibiscus

that feeling of falling
a mutterance
have we finished