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ABCD: January 2020

January 19, 2020

Eleven of us met yesterday, just as thick fog was dispersing and the sun was beginning to show through.

Caroline showed us some ideas for her hedge book. One uses stick-calligraphy, the other, collage. She mentioned Vintage Papers of Stromness, Orkney, as a source of papers and tools, a gorgeous horn bone-folder in particular.

Caroline hedge 1
Caroline hedge 2

Judy has taken the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem Inversnaid as her text and is using overlapping calligraphy on different scales. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo.

Jane brought two books, one a large Japanese-style binding of lightweight rust-dyed Nepalese papers, and a sort of flag-book from an example in Art of the Fold.

Jane rust 3

Jane rust 1

Jane rust 2

Jane flag 1

Jane flag 2

Kate is deep into a long project about local trades, and has made a story-book (for the Fifty Bees exhibition at the Black Swan in Frome, opening on 8th February) about the habitat  and rather nasty habits of the Black-thighed Cuckoo Bee.

Carol has an ambitious plan to make a book every week this year. The first is a long, colourful fold-book with fifty-two pockets to contain a library-catalogue card for each book. The second is called The naming of Cats.


Nina has used paper from the late Brian Dix’s studio for a book about her hedge, using Chinese ink and oak-gall ink from Feral Inks in an abstract calligraphic style.

Thalia is working on material for a book inspired by the local birdwatching hides, to be illustrated with Mokuhanga prints.

Bron has been planting trees, 500 of them, with help from 60 volunteers. Here are some photos of her large-scale album documenting the project. More pages will be added as the plantation progresses.

Bron 1

Bron 2

Bron 3

Judith was back with us for the first time after an accident in which she broke a wrist. In spite of which she managed to make some paper swatches in time for the deadline for inclusion in the 2019 Handmade Paper Swatch Yearbook – a remarkable publication with spiral binding and a wrap-around handmade paper cover.
She told us of an exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen:

Curated by Nick Hand and The Letterpress Collective, this exhibition brings together a collection of photography, film, letterpress prints, and the words of makers who dedicate their life to a particular craft or passion. All gathered by one man on an epic 6,500 mile bicycle journey from Land’s End to John O’ Groats, and around the coast of Britain and Ireland with a printing press on the back of his bike.

Nick trained as typographer and now works as a designer, photographer and letterpress printer. He is Director at The Department of Small Works. At The Letterpress Collective, Nick works with printer Ellen Bills to keep the art of letterpress printing alive by running workshops, collaborating with artists and writers as well as printing their own work.

Journeyman-Nick-Hand-and-his-bicycle-by-Jonathan-Cherry(photo by Jonathan Cherry from the Devon Guild website)

Pauline has been busy with a bee book. She brought a little fold book she’d made from instructions in Art of the Fold. She recommended allowing more paper than prescribed for attaching the cover securely. The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram is her text for inspiration.



I (Ama) brought a couple of new books – one is this blog-post in book form, and the other is my third collaboration with my grandson Leonard, now aged 6, a fluent reader and story-teller. The book I’ve chosen as inspiration for this year is Underland by the wonderful Robert Macfarlane. With a little prompting I succeeded in being given a copy for Christmas.


Ama BtG

January Dove-droppings

hedge-talk full of birds
blackbirds in the fog
rustling and doodling

poem for a bird-hide
think of it as a shape
a dance of words and images

a grid-reference
and a plan of the land
what three words

a bee-revival kit
fleeting emblems
vintage paper

who is it for?
ah! a man!
and a long Japanese

it sinks to the bottom
I’ve parked the hedgerow
where the bees might be

can’t find the way into my book
I don’t know where it will take me
it’s quite fugitive

oak-gall ink
copper pomegranate and avocado
I’ve never wanted to do this

the Red Dress is coming next weekend
a kitten is arriving on March 1st
I can’t stop drawing trees

I’ve had a few obstacles
still in rehab
another visit to Japan

wristories of broken wrists
the black-thighed cuckoo-bee
on a bicycle with an Adana press

ABCD: December 2019

January 19, 2020

I couldn’t be at this meeting, but here is an extract from Bron’s and Clare’s messages to us afterwards.

Seven of us met on 7th December: Caroline, Jane, Clare, Carol, Kate, Nina and Bron. So we had quite a free form discussion and show & tell. I didn’t take notes, but will try to report back faithfully!
It was lovely to welcome Kate – for me it was as though she had never left; for her she has been on a very long journey since she left. Whatever the perception, it was good to have a new, fresh voice in the mix.
There was a strong feeling in the group that we need new making ideas and  techniques, and also to revisit of some of our more familiar book forms.
The conversation then veered towards the texts/books that some people had chosen, so we went round the room: as I remember it, Caroline had brought Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and Time of Gifts (and AN other); Nina had a lovely piece of writing she had found; and Carol had T S Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’. Jane thinks she will use Gerald Manley Hopkins’ ‘Glory be to God for dappled things…’ as the inspiration for a series of woodcuts and letterpress, doing this for Robin’s course as well.

(Clare: My text was my own note-taking on the hedge and fields. 


Nina’s was from the beginning of The Wind in the Willows: … ‘he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.’  


Carol’s hedge is the edge of a wood.)


Getting quite ‘abstract’ when reacting to the text was mentioned several times.
Then, during the ’round the room’ , we got onto Hedges. Clare was inspired by a hedge near where she lives, on one of her favourite walks. She has started a detailed sketchbook with writing and illustrations including watercolour, of her trips to the hedge, and also sounds and sights that accompanied that. Caroline had photographed the various hedges round her property, most of them planted by them, one for the birds, one a traditional beech hedge. Carol, did you have a hedge? All I can remember is your description of holding bolt cutters under your long skirt and between your thighs to aid the Greenham women to break into the base!! That gave us the biggest laugh at lunch.
So then we discussed how to proceed, with all these ideas flying around. Kate suggested that we should bring pages, perhaps to do with the hedges or our texts, and sit and sew them next time together. Bron suggested single coptic as there was a general feeling this would be useful to revisit. The following meeting it may be the Blizzard Book from Hedi Kyle’s book. and so on.
So we have a plan. To get on with our individual projects and bring pages to the meeting to sew or fold together. So next time is Single Coptic.

And Clare picked up the
December Dove Droppings

I’ve been a slug
I’ve been a slug too
hedges are pottering along

I’ve been going out
with some tradespeople
hedgerows as a side thing

good pee hedges
now there’s a project!
The Beautiful Oops

I’ve got a pie in a basket
it ended up as a fold-y thing
you stick things into

insects on the endpapers
you can tell they’re book artists
they were banging the trees

the creatures affected
everything in my life
a big journey

I picked up a strange insect
I shall be an expert after that
whatever it is

it cannot be something simple
those kettle stitches
are the start of a French link

save your envelopes
snippets of writing
the book we want to make

draw the sound of toffee
an abstract cat
a big bowl of mercury

wouldn’t it be lovely to be in May?
red white and blue ribbons
tied round my bed

they’ve moved May Day
I can see it in my head
the slug will hatch then

A brief visit to the Stroud Wassail

January 19, 2020

What a marvellous and joyous event! Stroud Wassail.


ABCD in November

January 19, 2020

Artists’ Book Club Dove met early in November. Last year! I have been busy panicking about not having done my tax return (now completed) and have only just now got round to writing about our meeting.

Bron reminded us that 2020 will be the 20th year of making books at the Dove. It is my 18th year. We decided that in the coming year we will extend our bookbinding skills, with workshop sessions based on Keith Smith’s manuals and The Art of the Fold, by Hedi Kyle. We may invite local-ish bookbinders to come and teach us new skills. We will share information about sources of beautiful and useful papers and tools. What we will not do is work towards an exhibition (though perhaps there may be a small one in the Tree-house Library.)

Some of us will be working on Pat’s year-long hedge project; the April meeting will address this. Some books were recommended: Linescapes by Hugh Warwick, Ecology of Hedgerows by John Dover, Robin Tanner’s Woodland Plants (Impact Books, out of print) and A Natural History of the Hedgerow by John Wright.

Some of us are participating in Lydia Needle’s “50 Bees” project.

We agreed that we would all look for a book or other text as a personal source of inspiration for next year’s work.

Due to a commitment to attend a tea-dance in Melksham, I was present for the morning only,  hence the rather sparse
November Dove-droppings

oh here we go
nitrogen in the Himalayas
she is weaving a hedge

in March I’ll be in Delhi
we take the stick insect to Pembrokeshire
we had a praying mantis called Jezebel

the only book-artist in Clevedon
mine’s in a basket in the kitchen
in Paradise Lane

I have made, for the Tree-house Library, a book of the script for A Conference of Trees, using a lovely photo from Bron’s blog for the cover. I have a few extra copies available at £10 – all proceeds will go to the tree-planting fund.


Planting trees

November 26, 2019

Monday of last week we planted 14 birch trees at the Lorax Patch. The black membrane is to suppress the grass while the trees are getting established.

Birch 1Birch 2Birch 3Birch 4Birch 5

And at the weekend, the younger members of the family made a start on planting an orchard.

Apple 1Apple 2Apple 3Apple 4


November 14, 2019

Beach 3

South Lookout

Beach 1

Beach 2

During a few days’ visit to Suffolk last week to connect with cousins and friends, I was lucky enough to do a brief reading at Aldeburgh at the launch of Coast to Coast to Coast’s special Aldeburgh issue, in which I have a poem. Big thanks to the lovely and energetic Maria Isakova Bennett for this wonderful project, an ongoing hymn to the coast. I’m only sorry I wasn’t able to get to her workshop in the South Lookout on the Friday morning.


Special Aldeburgh Issue

Bath Writers and Artists, Saturday 16 Dec

November 14, 2019

Nov 16 poster

Do join us for a snacky lunch followed by some cracking presentations.