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ABCD December 2020

December 6, 2020

Thirteen of a possible 14 of us met via Zoom (thanks to Thalia for hosting) yesterday afternoon. The only one missing was Nina, who was busy with Christmas shoppers in the gallery she manages in Somerton. Some of us were feeling more festive than others! We started with a short demonstration by Carol of folding five-pointed stars from a standard origami sheet 15cm square. I got a bit lost along the way, but was able to catch up thanks to Cambridge Imprint.

Carol’s stars (above) and Thalia’s (below)

Jane is currently our star member. Her indigo book The Blue Whale, sold to Robert Bolick some years ago, came up on his marvellous “Books on Books” site. Follow the link for full details.

A couple of Jane’s recent mokuhanga prints are shown below. I do love her use of colour and repeated shapes.

It was good to see Pat again. Last time, having just moved house, she had no internet connection. She has been busy teaching an online field course in lichenology, and is still trying to unpack boxes, so she didn’t find anything to show.

Both Judy and I (Ama) have been participating in a 5-day course with the amazing Laurie Doctor. If we were a little yawny it was because our last session was on Friday at midnight, 7pm Kentucky time. Well worth staying up for! Judy’s work below, then mine. It was great to be liberated from legibility. We used a wide variety of writing tools, including found objects, pens, brushes and white chinagraph pencil over-painted with watercolour.

Judy Warbey: I Miss the Sea

Caroline enjoyed the Hay Festival weekend, especially Robert Macfarlane’s The Lost Spells. She has been reading her travel diaries from the 60s and 70s. Like her, I travelled in India in the 70s and 80s, and can relate to these collage-and-oil paintings. For me too, smells are most evocative! And the memory of heat so intense one seemed to be walking out of an aeroplane into an oven. The talk of smells led us to discuss ways of preserving smells.

Caroline Mornement Jodhpur
Caroline Mornement Jaipur
Caroline Mornement Jaisalmer
Caroline Mornement start of bird/Blake drawing

Thalia has been studying Mantra Science and the Devanagari alphabet, and making mysterious misty mokuhanga prints.

Bron has been sourcing 450 trees in order to plant an entire new wood at the Dove. We shall have a chance to join in with the planting. The wood will include a circle of hawthorns and another Celtic tree circle.

Some of us had watched a BBC documentary made to celebrate John Berger’s 90th birthday. Judith tracked down Berger’s notes after having cataracts removed. Recommended viewing/reading. Judith also told us about short, affordable online workshops at Dartington College, and a Japanese olfactory artist.

Judith does a daily walk near Totnes and is using it as her focus for Alice Fox’s online course Place-making. I too am doing this course, which is spread over several months. I’m foraging for materials in the local wood. Both our walks are seriously muddy.

Judith Staines, from left to right: seaweed, oak gall, acorn cap with iron, spindle fruit, avocado, pink flowers, seaweed. Black lines drawn with foraged charcoal
Judith Staines, ink made from acorn cups, found charcoal. Below: eco-prints from liquidambar and ginkgo leaves.

Carol, inspired by elephant hawk-moths in her garden, has made three coptic-sewn books.

Carol Wood, Elephants in my Garden

Clare is filling up her swimming journal with drawings and observations. She swims every morning in the brook, and the local kingfisher now ignores her and happily shares the pool with her. Wild swimming, she told us, makes everything seem more manageable. We could all do with some of that! Clare has a new wool-holding pot, and has knitted a pair of mittens.

Janine has made another box, and a series of little books from last year’s cyanotypes: big sheets cut into small pages. They look delicious but I long to hold them.

Janine Barchard, machine-embroidered box
Janine Barchard, cyanotype books

Pauline has been making colourful books without words, using up bits from the studio.

Pauline Pearce, woodcuts

Kate writes:  I have been rather consumed with delving into my ancestors back in London in the 19th century with coachmen, grooms, farriers and dressmakers. Honest working class roots.  Research took me to old 1890s film of astonishlingly mad horse drawn traffic in London … working lives of coachmen  and farriers … harsh lives of Victorian seamstresses working from home, and sizes of families. Generally as I looked at not  just my ancestors on censuses but those all living in same street with so many children, many over 20 still at home and working at low paid jobs…… then I got distracted by sanitation and The Great Stink. Having been to Curry’s today for something and noticed the gargantuan  televisions I rather thought I was in a dystopian nightmare coming from the Victorian lives I have been reimagining. 

I am happy to report that we have been mentioned in Matthew Stewart’s Rogue Strands blog. Thank you, Matthew.

Our next meeting will be on 2nd January 2021. Happy Christmas everyone! And special love to those who will be spending it alone and would prefer to have company.

Finally, here are the random quotes from my notebook.

December Dove-droppings

it’s not a proper hat
I wouldn’t go out in it
I feel like the Ice Queen

still got the fat one to do
fold it underneath
it can be done

it spins beautifully
a shadow scatters the stars
after the second pentagon

I’ve lost everybody
everything is a problem
there’s writing everywhere

a museum of smells
making scents/making sense
of light and water

I’m a butterfly
walking through smells
in the Blue City

plant a hawthorn circle
in your heart
maybe the singing bird

farriers and bell-rope makers
a cat born in a bordello
in Covent Garden

keeping my head out of the mire
I’m becoming otter
I’ll sit on the router

making do with
Christmas on my own
as if I had a dog

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