My word of 2018 was the word ‘magic’. I said that I would live by the phases of the moon and learn to be more connected to the energy of nature. Over the course of the year I did this, but I found that I was easily knocked off course.
Life has a way of taking over and often I would find myself searching to find my way back to where I wanted to be.
For one thing it was easy to lose track of which phase the moon was in. Cloudy skies, an unrisen moon and early nights often meant that I had to turn to Google for this information rather than looking up at the sky.
Even if I did know the phase of the moon, it didn’t always mean that I would synchronise my actions with the prevailing energy. However it did provide me with a previously unknown structure by which to perceive the world. The passage of time travelled differently.
There are moments in my life when I call upon the universe to show me things and I look for signs as to what I should be doing or simply as a way to feel in communication with a power that is beyond my day to day life.
I had forgotten that I had asked this when I was driving home at twilight and I found myself staring at a bird, wondering what it was. As it came closer and closer into focus I saw that it was a barn owl and my pleasure at seeing it was cut short as flew into my windshield and glanced off.
I watched it out of my rear view mirror flying away, wondering whether I should try to find it and make sure that it was okay. It wasn’t safe for me to turn round though and my forehead ached as though I had hit my windscreen too. Tears came and I wondered what that sign meant.
It didn’t take too long to find out, but that is not my story to tell. Needless to say it wasn’t a good omen and the following week made me dig deep in terms of resilience and faith.
Not long after the owl incident, I came across a slow worm in the road. It was by a piece of rubber and it was only because I felt nudged to look closer that I realised what it was. Barely alive it seemed. It lifted its head as I picked it up and put it in the grass.
I have no idea whether it would survive but curious again to the meaning of such an encounter I looked up the symbolism of snakes. The word ‘transformation’ struck a chord with me and events seemed to be leading me in that direction.
On Christmas morning, while everyone was still asleep, I heard an owl hooting so clearly that I nearly got out of bed to go and find it. In the 17 years that I have lived here I have never heard an owl before and it felt reassuring, as though the owl was letting me know that things would be okay.
When writing blogs and updating social media there is always the temptation to put a happy spin on things. The same is true in real life too, the standard response of ‘I’m fine’ is so much easier than explaining why things aren’t . At a time when the cultural emphasis is on light and joy I have felt the darkness keenly.
I found myself casting a spell. I used ivy for resilience, Rosemary for health, rose quartz for love and some sea shells to anchor me to the ocean - a part of myself that knows peace and joy. I carry the energy around with me like a secret and it keeps me strong.
The ‘magic’ that I was searching for in this year showed up in a way that was far deeper than I expected and I think that this is a sign of what’s to come.
I’m pretty sure that this will manifest itself in my art too. I want to find strength and resilience and a smooth path into the next phase of my life. I feel transformation ahead.....
It is that time of year when I get particularly reflective and more than anything I tend to look at my art and wonder what will come next.
Unexpectedly my time at the Endless Spiral will not be for much longer despite really enjoying my time in the shop. The owner has decided to move on and so I will be there until 9th January.
It’s been a fun time and it’s pretty educational seeing my work in a retail setting. I now understand the need for consistency and collections!
I had no idea how satisfying it would be to play around with window displays, not to mention do lots of glass painting.
As a bit of a solitary artist it was also lovely to have a more social side to my work and maybe this is something that I will come back to again in the future.
I am really grateful to Dasa Filipova for giving me this opportunity and lots of creative freedom. She has been amazing - letting me move and change things around!
Although I am pretty sad about this, I am excited about starting an online class ‘Winter School’ by Make it in Design in the beginning of the New Year. This will provide inspiration and prompts to generate work by. It will provide a bit of focus and distraction from the grey days of January.
I shall fill my days with colourful art!
I have also signed up to Editorial Illustration by Make art that Sells which will start in May. I really like the idea of editorial illustration as it could provide some interesting briefs to work to.
I’m pretty happy generating my own work, but there is something special about working with a client on a project and even better when it gets used in the real world. I love that feeling!
I have had some great projects this year.
I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love. I hope this continues for me in 2019. Thank you for sharing this with me.
The Arcade is a collection of inspiring shops which range from antiques, to vintage clothing, to all sort of collectibles and vinyl. It’s a really interesting space and I wanted to take some photos to show people what is there. It’s a hidden gem down Chapel Street which even some locals don’t realise exists. So come on a little tour with me....
The Endless Spiral is where I have my artwork, but it is also home to reworked steampunk jackets and old books. It’s a lovely space.
At the back you will find Betwixt and Between which has the amazing work of Adrian Turner and you can also have your palm/tarot read. How cool is that?
Upstairs is a rabbit warren of collectibles. You could seriously lose all sense of time up there as you wander around looks at things from different eras. If you look beyond the glass work you also get a fantastic view of the Egyptian House.
There is plenty to inspire!
Downstairs to the right you will find antique jewelery as well as some pretty eye opening things!
There is also Alcove to the left which has vinyl, clothes and fabulous furniture.
The Vampire Diaries.
Okay, so I know it’s not particularly high brow but I needed to watch something after Shadow Hunters and this seemed a like a good thing to try. It took me a little while to get into properly as I felt it was a little too teenage with a lot of brooding meaningful looks that just seemed a little cliched.
However I got sucked in. As the season progresses, so does the intrigue and what seemed like an overly simplistic plot gets increasingly interesting.
There is something about vampires that I have always loved. I think it is partly to do with the moral dilemmas vampires face as well as the concept of immortality. If you had all the time in the world - what would you do?
The Lively Show
I have been listening to The Lively Show podcast for a while now and have been enjoying Jessica’s conversations about the the Law of Attraction and Abraham Hicks. The new season of the show is in a different format which has Jessica talking to a client and getting them to deep dive into their inner self.
The conversations are fascinating as they reveal how we all have this inner wisdom and it simply a matter of tapping into it in order to find out what we truly need to know in order to live our fullest lives.
I have been finding the sessions therapeutic as you cannot help but ask yourself some of the same questions and start tapping into your own intuition more. To be honest I think it’s pretty amazing.
Of course my little puppy is a big obsession right now. She is bringing a lot of joy into our lives and I have been enjoying going for walks in the crazy wind as well as the bright autumnal sunshine.
She is four and a bit months now and just adorable.
I’d love to know what your current obsessions are!
I originally thought I was going to be writing a blog post about screen printing with a really minimal set up. About how simple it is and that you really don’t need loads of fancy equipment to get a decent screen.
Well, that still kind of stands, but it wasn’t as straightforward as I hoped and so I am writing this to potentially save you from making the same mistakes.
This of course was not my first rodeo. I’d done this before and so I went into things pretty confident and very excited to get my screen and start printing. I loved my design and had visions of it in different colours and couldn’t wait to get it out there.
The first variable from my previous screens was the photo emulsion. You can buy photo emulsion pre sensitised or with a sensitiser to mix in and the pre mixed version I had used before was unavailable, so I bought the Jacquard with Diazo sensitiser.
I mixed it up according to the instructions, coated my screen and left it in a large cardboard box to dry. At the time I thought that was quite genius. Who needed a dark room when you had a cardboard box?
It’s a funny process as you have to coat the screen in a pretty dark room and it’s not easy to see how evenly you are doing things. There is this sense of urgency to work quickly and also not get the stuff on your hands.
You are supposed to wear gloves, but I didn’t. I always think ‘I won’t get any on me’ but I do and it’s pretty yucky. My hands are very dry now, despite LOTS of hand cream. If you care about such things then wear gloves.
Anyway. I left the screen drying in the dark for two days. I kept it dark as dark could be and when I looked at the screen it was full of drip marks where the emulsion had got heavy on the screen and dried. It didn’t look good but I tried to expose the screen anyway.
20 minutes under a lamp I washed it in the shower and all the emulsion started coming away in an irregular way due to all the drips. The emulsion washed off pretty easy so I just started again.
I coated the screen again, but this time I thought I would use the hair dryer on it to give it a head start on drying. That way I wouldn’t have the drips, right?
Well, yes! That worked. It dried pretty smooth. I exposed the screen again for 20 minutes (which is what I had successfully done before) but this time the emulsion went yuk (technical term) and so I abandoned ship. I cut the screen out and re-silked it.
I did a bit of research into Jacquard emulsion then and worked out that I had an underexposed screen. I did the same thing again - hairdryer with warm air - in a cardboard box. I exposed the screen for 40 minutes, but it was still underexposed. Aaaahhhhh!
I did some more research. I found that hot air might have been part of the problem. Ventilation/air circulation another part. I had to make some changes to my set up.
This time I used a hairdryer - only on cool and only for a little while. I put the screen away, but kept checking on it at intervals and scraped off any excess emulsion that threatened to pool in drips again. It took about 24 hours to dry sufficiently.
So the next question was how long to expose? There was a good list of exposure times on the Jacquard site, but I didn’t know what strength my bulb was. It had worked before, so why was it taking so long now? Would I have to expose it for an hour?
There was one time that looked very appealing though. Direct sunlight - 30 seconds.
It was very sunny and a 30 second result sounded a lot more tempting than waiting an hour for it under a lamp. So that’s what I did. I had my suspicions about the emulsion - I wondered if I had a dodgy batch and was ready to buy another pot. This was my last attempt with this one.
I exposed it for a minute under the bright September sunshine. It looked good when I got it to the bathroom. I used the jet part of the shower and covered some holes to get extra power. I was a little worried that I’d over exposed it this time, but it was good. The design came through really well and I finally had my screen.
I learned a lot through the process. I got better at stretching my own screens and also learned about how much light is okay in a ‘dark room’. Working with photo emulsion is a bit tricky, but it was great to get used to it and demystify the process.
Next time - I’m hoping it will be a lot smoother!
Wear gloves - the photo emulsion gets everywhere.
Make sure the room is well ventilated as you start to feel a little ‘heady’ otherwise.
Put your drying screen somewhere where the air can get to it.
Check back on it regularly to see how it’s drying.
Go to the manufacturers website and read all the info - there is a lot more on the website than on the pot!
Don’t use heat settings on hairdryers or when washing the emulsion off!
The summer holidays have ended and the transition into cooler, orangey times has begun.
It has been a good but challenging summer in some ways. I said goodbye to my characterful tortoiseshell cat much sooner than I expected and said hello to Luna, a springer/collie puppy a couple of days later.
Of course we had been expecting to get Luna since the beginning of the holidays and her presence has helped soak up our grief and distract us like nothing else. I am looking forwards to her injections being finished and then I can start taking her out for walks.
It’s going to be wonderful to be outside in nature more. My Ridgeback died earlier this year and I have found that I have stayed indoors more and more, not having the excuse to get out for walk. Having a dog just seems to have more purpose.
This time of year reminds me of going back to college, excited and ready to learn, collecting magic mushrooms in the fields in Worcester, weaving on a loom and time well spent with friends.
I’ve always loved learning and experimentation. Nowadays my art ticks these boxes for me, but my mind sometimes wanders back to my more reckless youth... My mind also wanders into my future and wonders what it will find there.
For the past few years I have had an incredibly creative time and have followed every creative itch. I’ve published a book, learned how to screenprint, lino print and create a myriad of products that now compete with Tabitha’s toys on the shelves in her bedroom.
Recently I have felt the need for more reflection. I have been so busy creating that I have more stuff than I really know what to do with. I think it’s time to slow down and take longer to finish things instead of racing to the finish line. I am having fun in the Endless Spiral though - it is a lot of fun having a space to create things for and I am rethinking who I am as a brand. When you see your work out in the wild you realise how things need to work together.
I keep listening to podcasts to help inspire me and give me guidance through a complicated creative path. At the moment I am listening to lots of Cathy Heller ‘Don’t Keep Your Day Job’. She interviews lots of creative people and her conversations really help to shift your perspective and give you new hope.
The internet is pretty awesome in that it has opened up hundreds of new ways to interact, be inspired, sell and show your work, but it is a noisy space with lots of people shouting.
I’ve never been very good at shouting, but here I am anyway, waving in my part of the world and hoping that you will understand a little more about me. Everyone needs connection and the thought of sharing my work and my life as authentically as possible is something that gives me this sense of connection
If you are reading this, then I think you are amazing! Thank you for caring and being curious enough to want to know what’s going on in my head. It means a lot to me.
Waves, flow and badassery
I had a great surf today and while I was out there contemplating life and stuff, I had a few realisations. Surfing is really great for that. You are in a different environment and able to let your mind wander while you are in an element that represents every living particle of existence - waves. It is no wonder that you can have some ‘aha’ moments.
Now, this is a bit of a tangent, but it will link up, I promise. Whilst waiting for the plane back from Vancouver to Gatwick I needed a book to read. After a quick look this one ‘how to make money like a badass’ by Jen Sincero jumped out at me. I am very hesitant with parting with cash, but after putting it down for the third time I decided I really did want it.
So how does this link with surfing? Well the book taught me that to be a badass at making money, I had to get really uncomfortable. I needed to start doing things differently to make the shifts that I needed to create more abundance in my life. (The book is complete therapy btw and I would recommend it to everyone!)
I like to take this sort of information and apply to different things and I thought if I tried to do things differently in the water then I might get more confident doing them out of the water.
When it comes to surfing I’m a little out of the loop. Being busy with my art and having a five year old, keeps me out of the water and so when I do get in I feel a little awed and out of practice. Anyway, I have been trying to surf a little further ‘in’ than usual which means I’m a little out of my comfort zone.
The temptation to surf out to a more usual position is quite strong, but I tell myself that this is good for me and I need to practice feeling uncomfortable. It’s been working pretty well.
Today I really felt in flow. I felt the waves were totally on my side and we were rocking this thing together. I was having this conversation in my head with Jessica Lively (The Lively Show and the founder of Consciousness school) about how she should start surfing because it’s such a great teacher.
I was thinking about law of attraction and the way that things don’t need to be so full of effort. Instead it’s all about getting in alignment and then acting. I really felt that today. You can paddle like crazy for a wave, but if you are not in the right position then all sorts of crazy crap can happen.
(I’ve had a board hit me in the jaw before, which made me unable to open my mouth more than the size of a grape - all because I wasn’t really paying attention to my alignment)
There were lots of people in the water today and I thought that even though not everyone was catching waves, they were certainly in the right place and that if they stuck with it for long enough then they would learn what they needed to learn. They were in the right arena and that was a good step.
So I was pretty happy after a lot of gorgeous sunny waves that were oh so blue that they were enough to make you turn into a mermaid. And then I got home and opened my email to see a rejection from an agency that I’d really like to work with and my stoke took a nose dive into feeling unworthy and not good enough ness.
It’s never easy taking knocks, but my good vibes didn’t not want to go and so I thought I better reframe my thoughts to keep me on track. So, this is where I am now. I was in the arena by applying to the agency (and this is good - you don’t get any waves if you are not in the ocean) maybe the wave was to big and I’m just not ready for it yet, in which case I just have to keep on improving and trying again.
I’m putting the work in and I’m also tackling the things that make me uncomfortable which I believe will lead to some breakthroughs eventually. In the meantime, nothing really has actually changed. My life is pretty awesome. I love what I do and I have a fabulous husband and daughter (and soon to have a puppy.)
Yep, sure that rejection stung, but I’ve been knocked down by some pretty big waves before and it hasn’t stopped me surfing yet.
The temptation to draw on the shop windows where I have my work was pretty big and after browsing Pinterest for a mere 3 minutes I was pretty sold on the idea. I got the thumbs up from Dasa, the owner of the Endless Spiral and that started a quick blast of research into what I could use on glass. It was pretty important that it would come off again and that it could be updated to suit the seasons (and my scratch whatever art itch I might have)
It turned out that most chalk pens are totally compatible with glass, which was beyond exciting as I already had some chalk pens. My fantasy was about to come real a lot quicker than I had anticipated. Seeing as I had the pens in my grasp already I knew that I would have to get started the next day and so I did!
I was actually ridiculously excited about this. The only preperation i did before hand was to draw the shape of the hare which I then stuck to the inside of the window as a template and then I just freestyled. I had some images and shapes in my head and I knew that I wanted to create something that flowed from one window to the next.
It was interesting to work on something that actually used the reach of my body. I’m used to working pretty small on my iPad and so working on a window meant I had to big arking moves and stand up on tip toes, all the while trying to maintain a steady line.
The window is actually under cover and so it was fine to draw on the outside, however if the window was outside and exposed to rain, etc, I would have had to draw on the inside.
The whole thing took me three hours and was a blast. I’m already thinking about what I can do next......
I am really enjoying my time in The Endless Spiral. It’s a quirky shop in the Chapel St, Arcade, Penzance, selling fifties dresses, vintage steampunk jackets and of course my art work!
I am there on Wednesdays and Thursdays and since I have started the sun has been shining and it feels like summer has officially started.
I feel pretty lucky as I get to listen to some pretty awesome music on Mixcloud all day. One of my favourite people to follow is Jazzcat who reposts consistently good mixes. It’s so great not having to think about what to play. I can also draw on my iPad or work on some jewellery... It’s really great to have some time and space to work on the business side of things too.
One of my favourite things about being here is getting to meet some lovely people. Everyone who works in the arcade is really helpful and friendly - not to mention the customers who are totally awesome!
There have been some people that have totally made my day by being so enthusiastic about my work and if that was you then THANK YOU. You are amazing for supporting an independent retailer and artist.
I’m really loving having a space that I can play with. It’s exciting looking on Pinterest for retail display ideas and every time I go in I’m trying to think how I can do things better.
It’s fun watching people walk up and down Chapel Street too - it’s such a beautiful part of town and so full of quirky, original shops. Penzance is a really beautiful town and I love the energy of the place. It feels good to be part of it.
I was invited to take part in this project by artist Sara Bevan, who will be exhibiting the finished books this summer. The project excited me from the start. The potential of the blank pages and the manageable size was very attractive to me.
I had a holiday to Vancouver Island booked and I thought I would look for inspiration there. The scenery was breath taking. The ocean was decorated with islands full of trees that looked like giant bonsai gardens. It was wild.
On returning home I had to piece together the fragments and create something cohesive. I knew that I wanted to lino print the book and so I carved some new blocks that were inspired by my getaway. Conceptually I was thinking a lot about memories. Memories from my holiday, memories of my old art now being recreated. How memories change as you think about them.
Memories are made of layers. They are not always clear and crisp, but often faded around the edges like a dream when you awake. Some parts we embellish. Some we dust with glitter. Others are just like a little book that we take out to read again and again.