Book Art at Lumb Bank

Last night I dreamt I went to Lumb Bank again... no actually, I really did.

I was trying to photograph the sunset before it got too dark, then chatting in the kitchen with the others in the group. We were doing the dishes together, leaning over the sink, and then I looked out of the window and it had started snowing. The roads were flat instead of steep. The leaves were gone. Everything was slightly altered and different, but also the same...

Sunset at the Ted Hughes house, Lumb Bank, October 16

It's only two weeks since I returned and it feels like a dream, like the dream I just had, but also so close and vivid in my head, like I'm squeezing it tighter and tighter for more inspiration.

Creativity in action on the Book Art course, Lumb Bank, October 16

The course I took was a mix of book art and poetry, both tutors (Rachel Hazell, travelling book-binder and Stevie Ronnie, poet and artist) working hard to ensure the two disciplines meshed perfectly.

We had been tasked with writing a short poem on our first night, inspired by the 'poetry fortune teller' that Stevie came up with (my 'poetry prescription' was to write a 7-line poem featuring the word 'spinning top' and the colour silver).

Poetry Fortune Teller, Book Art & Poetry, Lumb Bank, Oct16

The next morning was about making miniature books from a single piece of A4 paper, and filling them quickly with words or just the repetition of the word 'word' or 'text'. I used my simple 7-line poem for some of mine:

She spun/ silver in the night,/ her hair splayed/out; skate-blades/chiseling ice/ faster than rain off a/ spinning top

Next we got our scalpels out to cut windows, doors, mouths, secret compartments and pop-ups in our paper books (best viewed from above I think). It was starting to feel a bit magical!

Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

On our second day of book art-ing, we got to use 'the good paper', and make bigger books with more detailed covers.

We spent some time using different methods of lettering and typography to decorate our paper, techniques like: stenciling, calligraphy, letraset, cut-out words or phrases from books and magazines, handwriting, painting and stamping.

It was my first time using a calligraphy pen (real name: pilot parallel pen) and it was A-MA-ZING.

Word-art for a book cover, Book Art course, Lumb Bank, Oct16

We were working quickly and I used words that had popped up in our conversations and our poetry workshop on the second morning, as well as words connected with guest speaker Amy Shelton's work highlighting the plight of honey bees. (It was a revelation to find out that pollen comes in so many different colours - red, blue, green, yellow - many more than I had imagined.)

Placing the words at random created new phrases based on each word's proximity to another. I loved these new 'concepts' that I feel will definitely need to be exploited further:

Pollen Rabbit

Sleep Stanza

Porcelain Squirrel

Geisha Moon

Xerox Love

Kestrel Stitch

Star Geometry

Wow. So interesting. I would never have thought of these myself.

Later that afternoon I spent some time making a mini-book of my own imagining, to help reinforce the binding technique.

I used scraps of paper and cut-out shapes I'd saved in a tin from hole punches I used to have: stars, flowers, hearts and birds - I wish I still had them.

Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

I also experienced a big revelation while on the course: that I need to use textiles much more in my art. All my art as well as any book art!

I didn't want to leave without incorporating some textile detail into a book I'd made, so I stitched up some tea-steam that became the 'tea ghosts' of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath on the reverse. (I also wrote about visiting Sylvia Plath's grave in nearby Heptonstall.)

Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

At first I wasn't going to invest in the tools of the book-making trade, because I wasn't sure if making books was going to be a big thing for me, or much more than an occasional hobby. As the course progressed though I found there was something quite magical about being in that space, with that group of people, and having the opportunity to buy the tools I was using to learn with.

Book Art tools, Lumb Bank, October 16

When I saw Rachel's stash of supplies laid out in the barn for sale, I knew I would be making more books and that I needed these tools: the bone-folder, the awl, the paper knife.

And then I had to make another book - from scratch, by myself (OK, with a little help from Rachel).

I hand-stitched 'Wabi-Sabi' on the front, some of it in low light on our last night so I missed a stitch, but hey, wabi-sabi.

The wool I used cost £1 from Standard Goods at Hebble End Studios in Hebden Bridge (creative capital of West Yorkshire?!)

I love the texture and the colour which matches the grey tinge of the paper. I might tie beads onto the ends of the strands I've used to bind the book.


Finally, part of the tradition on an Arvon retreat is to contribute to an anthology of work that everyone on the course gets a copy of to take home.

Playing to the themes of the course - and the time of year - we were tasked instead with creating a 'leaf anthology' between us - our individual artistic interpretation of a leaf with words or poetry - x 17 copies!

Paper Leaves in the making of a 'Leafology', Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

It seemed fitting for me to use pages from my aged copy of Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca', and make art on the leaf: BOOK + ART.

I cut out my leaf shapes then used watercolour pencils to draw an autumn leaf.

I was surprised when everyone commented on and wanted the green one, because I thought it turned out looking more like a pineapple or a palm than a leaf

Paper Leaves in the making of a 'Leafology', Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

On the back of each I wrote the Japanese word KOMOREBI in gold pen, from Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders (one of my favourite books):

'Leafology' inspiration, Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees

I cut out little triangles to reinforce the idea of light slipping through each leaf and it felt like the perfect statement from me to my fellow book artists.

Let the sunlight filter through you. Find your unique path of light.

When we piled our leaves together, a length of gold wire at the ready so we could each construct our leaf -anthology garland when we got home, I was blown away (sorry) by how individual and intricate each leaf was. I've never had a leaf-anthology before and none will be as perfect as the one I've got.

What lovely memories I have from my week of Book Art and poetry at Lumb Bank.

Book Art, Lumb Bank, October 16

More about the poetry in another post, meanwhile check out Rachel's post to see the garland gifted to Arvon, hanging by the fireplace.

New York City Photo Diary: Streetscenes, Sights & Signs

Exactly one month ago I was in New York City. Exactly one month ago I was walking across the Williamsburg Bridge (give or take the 5-hour time difference...)

Exactly one month ago I was feeling the ferocious cold of the wind-chill factor right up there on the bridge, #fresh.

New York City: A Photo DiaryBelow I'm sharing some of my favourite photographs snapped hurriedly on my (android) phone as I traversed the sidewalks of Manhattan, Long Island City, Roosevelt Island, and all the NYC districts in-between.

New York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo Diary

New York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryThe window displays were awesome. I felt ahead of the curve on the UK just by being in NYC. Not sure why?

New York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryThe 'real' diner experience experience. I've never been exposed to so many pancakes, crêpes and waffles in my life. And no-one likes a tea-drinker in a diner...

New York City: A Photo DiaryFire escapes on the sides of buildings felt so iconically 'New York'. Every street sidewalk felt like a film set.

New York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryIt was pretty special to be stood within breathing distance of original Jackson Pollock paintings.

I give thanks to Peggy Guggenheim as his sponsor, supporter, champion and patron, and saviour of his work during the war years. And for 'storing all her paintings in her Uncle's garage', aka the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

New York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York City: A Photo DiaryNew York Photo Diary New York Photo Diary New York City: A Photo DiaryNew York Photo DiaryThe Statue of Liberty was much smaller than I thought she would be, but serene, graceful and majestic.

This was particularly true as the sun set and we passed by aboard the Staten Island Ferry, heading back to Manhattan as the city turned on its lights for cocktail hour...

New York City: A Photo DiaryI took many more photos than this, including at least 1000 on my 'proper' camera. It was just a snippet, a tiny insight. You just can't cover all that New York has to offer in one trip or one blog post.

Check out my New York City Art Journal post for more NY inspiration!

New York City Art Journal

I've just returned from my first visit to New York City and as my head explodes with ideas, plans and words as I try to express and capitalise on all the inspiration I've been exposed to, I thought I'd share my attempt to art journal my day-to-day experiences while I was away. New York City/Manhattan Skyline in a fish bowlI'm part of the Get Messy Art Journal collective and my trip meant missing half of the Season of Happy.

Luckily I found my own 'happy', channeling an 'Empire State of Mind'.

New York City Travel & Art JournalIt started with this cute Sukie Travel Journal that has a mix of lined and blank pages with little envelopes (some brown, some transparent) to keep tiny, delicate things in.

I glued in my trawl of papers, receipts and flyers every few days and wrote down some of the things I'd seen/visited - when I had a spare moment.

New York City Travel & Art JournalI visited both MOMA and MOMA PS1 and loved the little stickers they give out as entry tickets at PS1.

New York City Travel & Art JournalThere was a visit to one of the many speakeasies - Beauty & Essex.

The entrance is disguised as a pawn shop with all sorts of treasures to browse and a vintage cash register. It was a bit busy when we went and the smuck of maître d' were snippy and confusing so it wasn't quite the full experience, but the interior looked suitably expensive and fabulous...

Meanwhile, I wanted a Kate Spade New York bag, but managed to resist. (It's still a lot cheaper than a Chanel 2.55.)

New York City Travel & Art JournalI knew that Victoria had a secret because everyone had a shopping bag bearing her name. I was lucky enough to receive a surprise birthday gift from there though which made my day.I wasn't disappointed on the tea-drinking front as is often the case when away from home.

On our first day of wandering I chanced upon T2 Tea and bought the coveted bamboo matcha whisk I've wanted for years and two kinds of matcha. I was served by a fellow 'Rebecca'. It was fate.

Now I'm part of the T2 'tea society' and coveting the beautiful teapots, milk jugs and handmade matcha bowls (yes, that's a thing!).

New York City Travel & Art JournalDrinking Argo's bubble tea and hot vanilla matcha were other tea highlights. I wish there was an Argo tea in Glasgow.

Luckily there is Tempo Tea Bar.

New York City Travel & Art JournalThis is a primitive little page featuring the circular remnants from postage stamps I bought at the Rockefeller Centre - you've got to work with the materials at hand in a travel situation. The Rockefeller wasn't far from our hotel (which had an amazing pool and sauna - the perfect way to start the day).

Room Mate is a Spanish chain so I had a chance to practice my language skills. In the lift. To myself...

New York City Travel & Art JournalI was a bit unlucky with some places I wanted to visit being closed.

The Brooklyn Art Library was the biggest disappointment because I took part in the Sketchbook Project a few years ago and my sketchbook is archived there. It would have been so cool to see my little book again, but also check out some of the others. Note to self: a reason to return!

I did manage to visit Greenwich Letterpress (on the second try) and bought a wooden stamp set featuring this cute little taxi and a rendition of the Chrysler Building.

New York City Travel & Art JournalSince I got back I made a full page of 'Happy Taxis' using different coloured inkpads.

The idea popped into my jetlagged-head the other night when I couldn't get to sleep and I wanted to get up straight away and start creating.

New York City Travel & Art JournalAnd the 'Chrysler Tower Flower' (my favourite page!):

New York City Travel & Art JournalEvery day in New York City felt like being on a filmset or in a book.

The street names and the sights. The buzz. The Empire State Building and Chrysler Building lit up at night acting as guiding stars through the city.

It was a lifetime of cultural references finally visited and captured in my heart (and travel/art journal).

Next: the photographs!


Industrial Glasgow - a view from The Waverley

A view of a crane from aboard the Waverley; the world's last sea-going paddle-steamer. I love this image; am drawn to it again and again.

Grey and dark, powerful, hard-working and a little bit iconic.

Industrial Glasgow viewed from the Clyde

It's the skyline of anytime, but the bleak scurry of clouds is particularly suited to the whims of January.