Skip to content

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 The connecting spine-strip is cut from an outdated hydrographic chart that includes Rockall and St Kilda.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

A day of coppicing

January 28, 2018

Clearing brambles. coppicing Hazel in the hedge to let more light into the hidden acre, and replenishing the wood store. Heavy work, but satisfying! This is the Lorax Patch, our son and daughter-in-law’s five-acre permaculture project.





ABCD: Bridges

January 15, 2018

Jane kindly hosted our meeting on Saturday.

Judy had finished her Loose Ends book, “Silks from my Grandmother’s Embroidery Selection”, using her own book-cloth to cover the book.

Caroline used her own book-cloth and Janine’s photo transfer method to make a small flutter-book called “Bridges”.

Caroline 2

Her second book on this month’s topic was a sculptural re-use of books to make a bridge.

Pauline has been catching up! First, she showed us the finished version of “Nostalgia”, a sturdy board-book bound in a faded denim book-cloth cover.

Pauline 1

Then “Connection” a collection in a miniature writing-desk.

Next, “Loose Ends” a year#’s accumulation of proofs, mostly lino-prints, arranged in a folding triptych.

Pauline 2

And lastly “Bridges”, constructed from Japanese-style prints on very thin paper, pasted on a long strip of heavy paper, folded and cut to form bridges. The photo does not adequately represent this lovely book.

Pauline 4

Nina had not yet made anything, but she brought one of the wonderful Tara publications to show us.

Tara Waterlife

Clare’s book was inspired by Lemn Sissay’s words “All of our stories are bridges to others”. It features a pop-up bridge that is also a letter.

I had realised that I live on a street of seven bridges, so I went out and photographed them. My book was no more than loose sheets that I’d printed that morning. I finished it at home. Here it is. Probably not the final version.

I also brought “Wild Swan”, a precious little meander-book by Sarah Hymas. I have several of Sarah’s books. I love them.

Thalia’s yoga-inspired french-doors structure centres on a quotation about the Bridge of Serenity.

Thalia 1

Carol’s book contains a poem and lino-prints inspired by a microscopic organism, Euglena, that bridges the divide between plant and animal.

Judith showed us her biography of a Swedish sea-captain with strong Japanese connections, and told us a little about the extraordinary story of him and his descendants. The book is a bridge between different people, places and times.


Judith’s other book was influenced by a Paul Klee exhibition she went to recently, and makes use of her photos of asemic marks created by snow beginning to melt on a mountain, alongside her own painted marks.

Judith 2

Jane’s work-in-progress “Build bridges, not walls” will be a construction kit with instructions in many languages!

Karen made a tunnel-book inspired by a lovely set of bridges in Surrey.


As usual, the bring-and-share lunch was spectacularly good! After lunch, Karen demonstrated the making of a winged accordion structure and we all got rather carried away with excitement …

Next month the topic is “Over the edge” (how odd that we were talking earlier about fore-edge painting) and we’ll be meeting at the Dove on Saturday 10th February. Pauline will lead the afternoon mini-workshop.

January Dove-droppings

I’m bored with my fastenings
deliciously fat
I wish I could photosynthesise

it’s that rusty brown colour
if you speed it up
you get squishy squashy books

you become the bridge
a pond-dweller
a year of proofs

I was stuck on bridges but then
he left me in charge of the sheep
and I visited his grave in Yokohama

any hammer will do
just give it a bang
in three directions on scrap paper

the lost words
were written through water
on a street of seven bridges


ABCD: Loose Ends

December 10, 2017

We welcomed Thalia back to the Dove yesterday. She used to come to the book class some years ago, and has now moved back to the area. It was cold outside – we had a little snow the night before – but cosy inside with the wood-stove.

Here is Carol’s flag-book on the theme of loose ends left unresolved in the ongoing Brexit fiasco.


Judith made an abstract interpretation of loose-endedness, a case-bound book with little head-bands and book-cloth pages tied at the fore-edge with strips of fraying fabric.


Pauline brought a maquette for “Nostalgia”, using the printing technique demonstrated by Janine last month to combine snapshots of somewhere she lived as a teenager with drawings of how it looks now. In the finished book she plans to put the complete poem – one that meant a lot to her at the time – at the end of the book instead of on the individual pages.


Caroline deconstructed and re-used a copy of John Galsworthy’s The End of the Line to make a box of unfinished lines.


By coincidence I too re-used pages from an old book, a badly damaged teach-yourself manual published in 1909. No Loose Ends is coptic-sewn at the spine and stab-bound at the fore-edge with all the thread-ends tucked out of sight.


I also brought a copy of The Unseen Web, my one-poem micro-pamphlet about mycorrhizal associations, as it fits last month’s “Connection” theme so well.

Judy inherited a collection of coloured embroidery silks from her great-grandmother. She has started making a sample-book . I hope to get a photo next time.

Jane looked in her box of bits left over from books she’s made in the past, and composed some of them into a sturdy zigzag book hinged with indigo and rust tie-dyed cotton and backed with hemp paper. My rather dull photos do not do justice to the striking black, red and neutral colour-scheme.


Janine brought a book of intriguing juxtaposed images.



Thalia’s tiny concertina packed a lot into a small space, using both sides of the concertina and the space between the two layers.


Clare’s cloth-book includes samples of gorgeous exotic fabrics and memories of an important friendship.


On the theme “Connection”, Bron is making a concertina of 10x10cm plates, made in a place where pilgrim routes converge, printed contiguously. She directed us to the website of Karen Kunc, an inspirational colour-woodcut printmaker who makes fold-books.

Karen could not be with us yesterday, but she sent me photos of her book for “Loose Ends”

After the lunch-break, Judith gave us a demonstration of making book-cloth by pasting fabric (or a delicate paper or print) onto paper. She made use of instructions from the textbook Japanese Book-binding that some of us worked through for a whole term back in the day when we were a weekly class. I think this excellent manual by a Japanese master-bookbinder is now out of print, but copies are still obtainable from some suppliers. Judith also directed us to the helpful and entertaining tutorial on Sarah Bryant’s Big Jump Press,

Here is my book-cloth, made from linen that I waxed and dyed in an indigo vat. I have always used a thin Chinese paper of similar weight to the Kozo paper from Intaglio Printmakers, but Judith’s demo showed me that thicker paper would make the job a lot easier, especially for backing heavier fabrics. This piece dried overnight in an unheated room and peeled off the Perspex with no fuss.


Next month we’ll be meeting on Saturday January 13th, and the word is Bridges.

Meanwhile, in Bron’s words, “have a good midwinter break with all that that entails!!!”

December Dove-droppings

there were equations still on the blackboards
and of course I can’t resist
the perfect English metaphor

nice to have all your loose ends in one place
I should have done it before
it begins and ends with an ampersand

I’ve tidied up and I can’t find my loose ends
in that space in between the old and the new
I went in two directions at once

she made me a nest
what have I done with it
the alcohol is kept under the floor-boards

and there is no translation for fudge
so let’s make a start before we get terrified
— Mornington Crescent

And finally, for Judy and anyone else who may be interested, here is my recipe for
WATER KEFIR, with thanks to Hilda Sheehan.



2 tablespoons Kefir culture

75g organic unrefined sugar – around 3 heaped tablespoons

2 dried figs, sulphur-free

Half a lemon (or lime), washed

3 or more peeled slices of ginger-root



Heat-proof glass or plastic jug

Plastic sieve

Wooden or plastic spoon

2-litre glass jar

Muslin cloth or coffee filter and elastic band

Plastic funnel

Air-tight bottles for second fermentation


Short Method

Day 1, bottle a batch of kefir and make the next batch. Day 2, put the bottles in the fridge.

Detailed Method

Dissolve sugar in boiling water in a heatproof jug.

Add figs, ginger and lemon juice plus the rest of the half lemon except the pips.

When cool, pour into glass jar and make up to 2 litres with cold water.

Add kefir culture.

Cover jar with muslin or coffee filter secured with a rubber band, or leave glass top on loosely.

Leave to ferment for 48 hours. Stir occasionally.

Sieve into large jug. Pick out and discard figs, lemon and ginger.

Using a funnel, pour the liquid into air-tight bottles.

Make a new batch of kefir with the “grains” in the sieve. When they have doubled, in about a week, you can give half away. Or put in the compost.

Leave your bottled kefir for 24 hours. Then refrigerate. It will develop a champagne-like sparkle so don’t leave it more than a few days before drinking it.

Keep in the fridge and drink before breakfast and throughout the day. It can be served in a jug with slices of lemon, marigold petals or whatever.

The culture will be damaged by heat, by contact with metal, by the presence of sulphur and by chlorine. I use tap-water but if your water is highly chlorinated, use filtered or bottled water. When you are away from home, keep the culture, with a little sugared water, covered in the fridge.

(Judy, I will bring the culture for you on Jan 13th)

ABCD “Connection”

November 18, 2017

Ten of us met in the Print Room today. A damp and chilly morning but there was hot coffee, there were stollen and flapjacks and good company and lots of books.

Carol had made a stab-bound book of connections (and one disconnection) illustrated with rubber stamps and connected with black threads. The cover was a lovely bit of marbling.

Caroline, a seasoned sailor of tall ships, decorated a box with knots and photos of ropes, and filled it with rigging and sails

Clare’s book of connections in Pentire Wood was illustrated with rubber stamps and joined with red threads.

Janine brought three books. The one below uses ribbons, buckles, hooks-and-eyes, press-studs and buttons to express the theme of connection

Janine’s book on last month’s theme draws on her memories of making cushions from gorgeous fabrics at Nice Irma’s in sunny Goodge Street in the 1970s.

Janine’s third book was a loose zigzag connected by a strip of hessian sacking and footpath-like lines of stitches. It had a wonderful smell.

Both Judy’s books were rather flower-like. One was made from interconnecting zigzag strips of map, which can be arranged in a variety of shapes, and the other combines folds and curves in a book-form that seems to ask to be rotated.

Judy 1

Karen made a very neat construction of four connected books that fold into a box shape. Each one is about one of the festivals in Wells, and they open up into a cruciform  that suggests the floor-plan of Wells Cathedral.

When I got home I discovered that unfortunately I don’t have any photos of Pauline’s work. She brought a book in which collaged fragments of woodcuts connected from page to page, and spoke of a project based on the history of letter-forms, and handwriting-related connections within her family history.

Jane too has an idea in mind. We all thought it was a good idea!

I have been busy with other things but I did bring a work in progress, a collaboration with my grandson, who suggested this week that we should make a book together. Though still at pre-school, he knows how to use an awl and is quicker than I am to thread a needle.

Bron has been busy preparing for exhibitions (see below) but offered us a useful new word: discontached.

Dove Artists e -flyer


After lunch Janine demonstrated the use of Lesley Riley’s Transfer Artist Paper, a versatile means of transferring images to fabric or difficult paper.

Next month we meet on Saturday 9th and the theme is “loose ends”.

November Dove-droppings

Irma la Douce
meandering from A to B
I wish I could get my life like that

it sort of does things
a collapsing star
holes at each bend

how to make a human
with plastic buckles
nicked from a skip

joined-up writing
my blue-stocking grandmother
was an ink-monitor

nostalgia is on the drawing board
books are about protecting and revealing
Ovid’s poetry of exile

I got carried away this time
the smell of hessian
won’t go through the printer


Dove Artists at the Red Brick Building

November 17, 2017

Dove Artists e -flyer