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jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

I’ve been drawing jellyfish lately… and I realised pretty early on in my attempts that, despite the plethora of photographic reference material to be found in books and online, without access to a real live model I had no idea how to articulate the twisting, undulating, entwining, knurly oral arms of these compelling creatures.

What’s the next best thing to observing a live model (without leaving your desk)? A highly scientifically-inaccurate dummy hastily constructed from scrap paper, pipe cleaners, tape and bits of yarn, of course!

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

jellyfish stand-in

Fun to make… and it really did help me to figure out how I might draw those tricky, twisty oral arms!

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

Taped to a window, the overlapping paper ‘arms’ coupled with the play of light and shadow create some interesting abstract shapes too…

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

My trusty assistant has been on hand to offer advice on the best brush for inking…

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

… and to engage in a bit of virtual interspecies arm-wrestling.

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

More jellyfish WIP to come…

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i love handmade books, by charlotte rivers

“i ♥ handmade books: timeless techniques and fresh ideas
for beautiful handmade books” by charlotte rivers

This very pleasing little tome was published in September last year, and I was excited to receive a copy as a gift from friends at Christmas time. It’s full of beautiful & inspiring handmade books by book binders, artists and designers from around the world, and I am delighted to have a little accordion fold book I made featured in it.

i love handmade books, by charlotte rivers

sakurasnow, accordion fold book

"13 wonders from a cabinet of curiosities"handmade accordion fold book by sakurasnow

The projects shown in the first four chapters of the book are wonderfully eclectic and beautifully illustrate the unlimited creative possibilities of book-making. Book ‘types’ covered include folded bindings (such as accordion, flag and carousel books) and many sewn bindings (including pamphlet, long, coptic, japanese stab and french link stitching techniques). There is also a section on interesting page and cover treatments (e.g. suminagashi paper marbling, natural plant dyeing, woven covers etc.) and a chapter entitled “Experimental Packaging” which shows some innovative and fun book cover / packaging projects.

Below are just a handful of the many inspired and inspiring makers featured in the book…

i love handmade books, by charlotte rivers

leah buckareff of coldsnap bindery incorporates printing, painting and embroidery to beautiful & atmospheric effect on her books’ (linen) cloth covers
(incidentally, she also produces beautiful, darkly atmospheric music as one half of the band nadja, which you can check out here)

i love handmade books, by charlotte rivers

i love these wonderfully structural, experimental stitched (and even knitted!) bindings by luisa gomes cardoso of canteiro de alfaces

i love handmade books, by charlotte rivers

lotta helleberg‘s indigo-dyed book covers are quite exquisite!

The fifth and final chapter “Book-Making in Practice” features very practical and comprehensive step-by-step tutorials for a range of different binding / book-making techniques used in the projects featured.

i love handmade books, by charlotte rivers

These are complemented by simple, clear illustrations that are completely unintimidating and make even very complex looking methods seem perfectly achievable…

i love handmade books, by charlotte rivers

… I’m definitely inspired (and now also better equipped!) to try my hand at some more book-making.

gokstad viking longship, vikingskiphuset, oslo, norway

golden tree, akershus slott, oslo | gokstad viking longship, vikingskipshuset, oslo

Anyone who has seen the harmoniously rhythmic curves of a Viking longship (as I have now learnt) knows that Nordic craftsmen know a thing or two about working wood! I was very smitten with the elegantly curved Gokstad & Oseberg longships (housed in Oslo’s purpose-built Vikingskipshuset), the handsome 13th Century Gol stave church (at the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo), and the many other fine examples of woody craftsmanship we encountered while in Norway earlier this year. Some of these marvels are pictured here…

gol stave church, from gol, hallingdal, 13th century

gol stave church, dendrochronologically dated to 1212 [originally from gol in hallingdal, now located in the norsk folkemuseum at bygdøy in oslo]

gol stave church, from gol, hallingdal, 13th century

stave church details

oseberg viking longship, vikingskiphuset, oslo, norway

oseberg viking longship, built c. 824 AD, excavated from the
oseberg burial mound (where it was interred in 834 AD) in 1904-1905

gokstad viking longship, vikingskiphuset, oslo, norway

gokstad viking longship, built c. 850 AD, excavated from a
burial mound on gokstad farm in sandefjord in 1880

'loft' storehouse, from rofshus, telemark, built 1754

goose… very much at home on the comfy turf roof of a beautifully
carved ‘loft’ storehouse from rofshus in telemark, built 1754

sami turf hut, lyngen alps, norway

weathered wood, sami turf hut, lyngen alps area

top: cupboard, painted spruce, dragon-style, c. 1899 ; bottom: cart, oseberg longship grave goods

fantastic felines!
[painted spruce cupboard, detail, made in the ‘dragon-style’ by lars kinsarvik, hardanger, c.1899  |  saluting cat (?!), carved details on the side of a cart found amongst the oseberg & gokstad burial mound grave goods]

'loft' storehouse, from vinje, telemark, c.1750-60

carved pattern details on a ‘loft’ storehouse from vinje in telemark, built 1750-60

gol stave church details

gol stave church – looking out from within, and more wonderful carved details

looking out from gol stave church ; chibi totoro

chibi totoro contemplates the wonders of wood

sunday market, westergasfabriek, amsterdam

I’ll be at Amsterdam’s Sunday Market at the Westergasfabriek this coming Sunday (3 Nov). It will be my first market experience as a ‘shop keeper’ rather than a ‘shopper/browser’, and I will be sharing the stand with my talented friend, Carmen – the designer and maker behind the unique carhusa range of bags, purses, phone & tablet cases. In addition to some of my ‘Curiosity Cabinet‘ and ‘Specimen‘ prints I will also have lots of new work available – such as this print, as well as the hand-coloured ‘huisje’ (‘little house’) screenprints and various hand-printed & hand-coloured cards shown here…

'dragon' cards - screenprinted and hand-coloured

screenprinted and hand-coloured ‘dragon’ cards in blue…

'dragon' cards - screenprinted and hand-coloured

… and orange

'huisjes' - hand-coloured (watercolour) screenprints

hand-coloured (watercolour) ‘huisje’ screenprints

'sprig'cards - screenprinted by hand in two colours with envelope detailing

‘sprig’ cards, hand-printed in two colours with envelope detailing

'huisjes' cards - screenprinted by hand

hand-printed ‘huisje’ cards in a restrained range of colours…

'huisjes' cards - screenprinted by hand

… and some eye-popping colour combinations too

If you’re in the area on Sunday pop by and say hello. The market is open 12 – 6pm, and I have it on good authority that in addition to the art and design that will be available to peruse and purchase there will also be lots of good things to eat and drink, and plenty of reasons to be merry :) Hope to see you Sunday!

the sleeping city, limited edition screenprint

‘The Sleeping City’ is the silkscreen print I completed recently (and for which the drawings in an earlier post were made). It was inspired by a slightly disquieting, though strangely invigorating, dream I had in which a ghostly, glowing thylacine-headed dragon-creature twisted and turned its sinuous body across the dark night sky above a silent, sleeping Amsterdam. I have long wanted to make drawings of Amsterdam’s iconic canal houses and this perplexing dream gave me the nudge I needed. Of course I couldn’t draw the beautiful step, neck and bell gables as they actually are – I wanted them to appear slightly ‘other’, to give them a dreamlike quality… gables for an alternative-reality Amsterdam. The octopus gable and the dragon were particularly fun to draw – I love making drawings that allow me to lose myself in their intricate twists and turns… so much so that I’m sometimes reluctant to resurface!

the sleeping city, limited edition screenprint, detail

In the dream the city’s slumbering inhabitants were oblivious to the creature’s presence (which, although not malignant, was also not entirely benign). But not everyone slept through this anomaly… Amsterdam’s cats – shape-shifters and dimension-skippers one-and-all – were awake to commune with the strange apparition in the sky.

the sleeping city, limited edition screenprint, details

I have no idea what this dream meant, if indeed it meant anything at all, but it did provide me with some fun material to work with!

the sleeping city, pots of ink

As I generally favour working in black & white, colour-mixing the inks for this print was quite a challenge – I really wanted to capture the harmonious, almost monochromatic midnight-blues, purples and ghostly-glow qualities of the dream, but also wanted enough contrast for the individual elements to have the graphic impact I was after. So I worked with tints and shades of a single colour (that ‘midnight-blue’ I’ve mentioned) – and for the colour layers that called for a more translucent quality, I added lashings of transparent base to the ink.

the sleeping city, limited edition screenprint, details

I chose to print on a coloured paper (Fabriano Tiziano 160gsm pastel paper in ‘Danubio’) as I wanted the elements to emerge from a darker ground, to appear out of ‘the night’ as it were. Printing such a relatively complex (seven-screen, five-colour) print on coloured paper was a first for me and doubtless increased the colour mixing challenges, but generated some very interesting effects. The image disappears almost completely in very dim light, but in brighter light elements positively *pop* off the page – it therefore seems to shift & change in the fluctuating light and as a result replicates a certain surreal quality of the dream that inspired it. I’m fascinated by these temporal effects of colour, light and darkness and will definitely be experimenting further, in future projects, with printing on different coloured papers.

Here’s a little animated GIF showing random snippets of the process, including some of the film transparencies created (from the drawings featured in my earlier post) for the seven separate print layers, exposure (of these transparencies) onto screens, ink/colour mixing, test prints, the print at various stages of completion and finally cleaning/reclaiming the screens at the end of the process.

the sleeping city, limited edition screenprint, process pics

And here is the print, temporarily framed and hanging on my studio wall, to give a sense of scale (those are standard sized postcards on the pinboard to the right). It’s available now, in a limited edition of 45 pieces, in my Etsy shop.

the sleeping city, limited edition screenprint

Now to put Kronk‘s yeti back where he belongs, before his temporary displacement angers him…

yeti screenprint by kronk

… oops, too late!

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation


Elegant step-gables and spring sunshine in Amsterdam #gable #step_gable #trapgevel #canal_house #singel #grachtenpand #spring #sunshine #new_growth #green #pattern #symmetry At the Melkweg last night for some RTJ music and mayhem... #melkweg #runthejewels #RTJ #ElP #KillerMike #livemusic #neon #typography #stars #milkyway I ❤ tree skeletons… soon to be bursting into new leaf, so I’m enjoying these graphic lines while I still can #dawn #silhouette #treeskeleton #graphic #filigree #pattern #colour #gradation This magic has just started to unfold in the ‘garden’ on our little roof terrace. Methinks spring has most definitely sprung! #spring #lente #blossoms #plum (?) #pink #petals #stamens #delicate #growth #seasons #cycle_of_life #roof_garden #haarlem Dawn colours #dawn #silhouette #dome #cathedral #kathedralebasilieksintbavo #studio_view #rooftops #haarlem Dressing W-A-Y out of my comfort zone for the “glitter and glamour” themed wedding party of friends tonight. Gulp… they say it’s good to step outside one’s comfort zone now and then, right?! #shimmery #sequins #glitter #festive #ottodame #not_black #colour #pattern #texture


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