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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

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