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ABCD January meeting

January 18, 2019

Eight of us met last Saturday at Jane’s house to report on progress with our tree-circle books. Jane had been given some damaged books from an old library and generously shared them with us; mine was a 1783 edition of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, three volumes bound together but coming apart, in which a bookbinder is defined as “A man whose profession is to bind books”, whereas a boot-catcher is “The person whose business at an inn is to pull off the boots of passengers.”  Mere woman that I am, I can neither read nor write, kind sir, but pray permit me to remove your muddy boots!

I have bought a lovely book, recommended by Karen: The Glorious Life of the Oak. I also found a slender and rather mysterious volume on my own shelves – Trees; an Alphabet, very short poems by Philip Sharpe and prints by Andrew Judd, published by MKB Editions in 2007. I think I bought it at the Oxford Book Fair in 2008. I have been collecting oak-related English place-names and locating them on a map.

Karen brought Treelines, a book of poems about trees, and an exquisite little folded Christmas card/book decorated with prints made with Blu-tack (“a synthetic rubber compound without hazardous properties under normal conditions.”)  Karen’s own book, My Willow, a hard-cover accordion with pamphlets inserted, is shown below. All the photos in this post are by Bron Bradshaw.


Caroline has been researching Brambles for her book, which may or may not take the form of a triangular collection of triangular book-lets, and she has designed some Ogham logos for us to use in this project.

Nina has been dyeing paper with ivy leaves, stalks and berries.

Janine has made a maquette of a tunnel-book she intends to make – a walk through a hazel grove. Photo below.


Judy found a Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) at Mottisfont Abbey. She brought a few  models for her book, and we discussed possibilities for the development of this idea.


Clare has been drawing ash-trees and making rubber-stamps of their leaves, twigs and buds. She brought one of her sketch-books.


Jane’s tree is the holly, a winter tree. She lives close to, and has been communing with, a grove of ancient holly trees on Chalice Hill. Her book-model is in the form of a double concertina, folded up at the foot to give pockets.


Bron has been at work on the elder, looking at light and darkness. It blooms white and bright in mid-summer, and its berries are black and have been used for ink and for dyeing. Its month in the tree-calendar goes right up to the darkest time of year.

Jane made a lovely warming soup. We discussed making a joint book – one double-page each – to serve as a sort of catalogue for the project. Our next meeting will be on 9th February, when we will bring our individual means of reproducing Caroline’s Ogham designs.

Finally, here are the eavesdroppings:

January Dove-droppings

not window but willow
add in more pamphlets
to get the brambly feeling

dyeing with ivy berries
Black Heg is the European
triangular library

fiery fungus in the leaf-litter
strange ghostly growths
parasitic on the roots

a voice said why don’t you
walk through the hazels
and gallop up the motorway

thirteen triangular leaves
they overlap with elder
summer is two seasons

it was hard ground
and you skated over
printing with Blu-tack

trying and getting nowhere
looking through ash trees
at the turn of the year

a winter tree in a moonlit landscape
they burn fierce and hot
a fire festival on twelfth night

they were here before us
pollinated by flies
and you hear the owl

the hollow stems
blow fire and also music
but they have been demonised

dreaming in Ogham
in a leather kilt

it’s cables and rain
and I don’t want to be
doing that stuff in the dark

two lovely young men
music and dance
we have some planting to do

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2019 9:39 am

    Lovely post! Inspiring.

  2. Karen permalink
    January 20, 2019 6:35 pm

    Thanks so much – love the window dropping !! X

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