Tag Archives: ink

Raffle Prizes

I was asked a while back if I’d donate something to a raffle in aid of Special Effect, who specialise in adapting console and computer controls for physically disabled children and adults – that’s everything from making a 360 controller a bit easier to use, all the way to tailoring eye-tracking software for the otherwise utterly paralysed.

I’d been planning to experiment with masks in any case, so here’s the results! Done using Fabriano pastel paper and Robeson metallic ink.

Black & silver mask

Also, this pendant, made using laser-cut pieces and ceramic wash.

Flower pendant

Blodeuwedd mask


Lleu Llaw Gyffes was cursed by his reluctant mother – he could never have weapons & armour, a bride, or even a name until she gave them to him. His foster-father, Gwydion ap Dôn, tricked her into bestowing the first and the last, but there’s nothing she could do about the second, and frankly that family was screwed up enough already.

So Gwydion and his uncle, Math ap Mathonwy, made a bride for him out of flowers. This branch of the Mabinogion is usually told as Gwydion’s story, and to an extent Lleu’s, but I’m not the only one with a lot of sympathy for Blodeuwedd. She didn’t ask to be made, or to be married to Lleu. When she falls in love with Gronw Bebyr, she tricks Lleu into revealing the arcane way he can be killed (it involves taking a bath with a goat) and then murdering him. It’s a bit extreme, but then so is everything else in that drama-laden family.

And she really didn’t ask to be turned into an owl by Gwydion.

I had a lot of fun making this. It started out by working out what kind of owl she was (I decided on the secretive and nocturnal long-eared owl, widely hated in the avian world) and as you’ll see took a lot of liberties with the design. The text panels are from the portions of the Fourth Branch that deal with her directly, in both English and modern Welsh. I’d originally intended them to show up more clearly, but this dense green works well with the brown – which I’d planned to be lighter, but the technique I’d been envisaging didn’t work out the way I’d thought it would! The rose is adapted from a jewellery design I’ve been playing with, using hand-assembled lasercut petals.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Tristram Shandy jewellery, all finished

This is the latest permutation of my text jewellery – it’s made not from an existing book, but from a handwritten copy of the first page, covered with a layer of washi, cut into jewellery blanks, and then edged & varnished as normal. I love the combined effect of the fountain pen ink, the glue (just watery enough to affect the ink but not to smear it, it turns out) and the transparent paper.

I’m definitely going to be doing more of these – the next text will be Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, and after that I may start on some Wells or Verne. In the meantime, here’s a photo of the original text panel for comparison. I love the way that cutting it decontextualises so many of the phrases or words, highlighting a particular word or even a piece of punctuation.

Handwritten panel for text jewellery


New sketchbook - back cover I always keep an A4 hardback sketchbook with me for ideas, brainstorming, notes on events, and general Everything purposes. They’ve been getting more & more ornate with each one, partly so I can see how new designs stand up to daily wear & tear, but mostly just because. The nori-collage one flaked off badly enough that I had to retire it halfway through, but the one after that had a spraypainted stencil made from one of my relief prints, and that’s lasted perfectly. Next time, though, I’m either going to try something less ornate than this, or start much earlier, because I’ve been scraping up space in the last one ever since the empty shop conference.

It’s basically done being painted now, though, and just waiting for a few coats of varnish.

Shakespearean jewellery

Midsummer Night's Dream pendant I’ve been making quite a few of these lately, from an old copy of Midsummer Night’s Dream rescued from the recycling. It’s the same technique I’ve been using for pendants, layered artists’ mountboard sealed with acrylic & varnish; the colours are Talens Ecoline watercolour inks, which I’m really falling in love with. The cheap paper (it’s a Wordsworth Classics edition) takes the ink really nicely, it turns out. Bare trees echo the play’s message that time is out of joint, and each one tries to respond to the partial quotation highlighted on it. Most have been going to friends, or as auction pieces for good causes (speaking of which: if you have a good cause, and are holding an auction, drop me a line) but I may be selling a few as well.

Not all of these are pendants – I’m experimenting with a new design of choker as well, with page fragments laminated onto ribbon. Still haven’t had them properly tested yet, though, so I won’t be putting them into proper production for a while. Always need more testers…

MSND choker, version 1

Destruct testing, tool making, and jewellery

Damaged pendant

I’d been wondering where this was for a month or so, and it turned out it had been in an inner pocket of my belt pouch all along, with the leather cord wrapped around it. The continual pressure (and probably the warmth) has pulled off a little of the paint, but that’s all. I’m fairly encouraged, overall!

Knife handle

This is seasoned holly, cut from a tree in my garden a few months back when a branch was threatening the elder across the way. I need a new short-bladed carving knife with a full-sized handle, so this is the first step towards that. For the blade, I’m going to use a dismounted Opinel No. 2.

Black & silver chokers

These are always popular, but painting curves on the satin ribbon is awkward enough that I have terrible trouble getting around to finishing them off. One’s spoken for already, but the other will be up for sale when it’s done.

Midsummer Night's Dream jewellery blanks

Like the Twelfth Night jewellery I made, these are cut from an old and much-used play script. They’re going to be quite a lot more ornate, though, using the text more as a background than a main feature, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

Slate exhibition

For the next six weeks, my work is on display at Slate in Leytonstone—you can walk along Leytonstone High Road and see it in the dedicated street-facing exhibition space on the corner with Church Lane. As usual, you can click through to Flickr for the full-sized versions – they’re not the best of photos, but for December light, street reflections, and (frankly) a hurry to get to the pub they’re not too bad.

Prints on display at Slate

Collages & paintings on display at Slate

Jewellery on display at Slate

London Rowan

London Rowan - Arches 1

There are half a dozen rowan trees along my road; they’re something I used to see a lot back in Wales, and not a tree you’d expect to find here. I’ve been taking photographs of them over the last year or so, and recently I took one of them—from last February or so—and commenced some messing around, snipping out a small portion of the branches and using GIMP to clean it up and convert it to black & white. The image-manipulation took about an hour overall, including using Inkscape to convert it to SVG (which in itself smooths out some awkward corners) and then to the DXF format the laser cutter can import.

Design for a stencil (Rowan tree) 1 Here’s the cleaned-up image, with a frame added. (As always, click through to Flickr for full-sized versions of all these images.) I was originally planning on using it for stencilling, but the initial tests showed I’d have to scale it up to about A3 if much of the detail was going to survive, and I’ve no real use for anything that size.

IMAG0837 Here, it’s laser-engraved onto birch plywood at around A4 size. That’s vector engraving, because with a design this complex the laser cutter software just couldn’t handle the necessary calculations to reduce the white areas and make a printmaking block right out of the box.

With that test done, I could choose a suitable piece of reclaimed hardwood (I think it used to be part of a floorboard) and burn the design onto that. (Just for completeness & my own records: 50% laser power, speed 150, worked perfectly and had the job done in 15 minutes.) That gave me the design transferred to the surface, and since the lines were a millimetre or two deep I could go straight to the komasuki (U-section gouge, more or less) rather than starting with the outlining tools.

IMAG1003 Here I’ve already carved out some of the larger areas, but you can see most of the original surface. This method of transferring the design feels like cheating, but it’s Traditional to use a transfer method (laser paper and peppermint oil, or just pasting the original design down to cut through – that’s how they did it back in the Floating World) so I try to convince myself I’m just taking advantage of modern technology.

Rowan tree printmaking block Here’s the finished block. I was worried I hadn’t carved it out deeply enough, but then I usually am, and the depth you need depends a lot on the width of the open area, the size of your brayer, and the stiffness of the paper. The carving took around eight hours’ worth of work in total, spread over three or four proper sessions and a lot of five-minutes-as-I’m-passing work. IMAG1224 Here’s the block inked up and ready to print. This isn’t the nerve-wracking stage, because once the ink’s on there’s nothing to do except drop a sheet of paper on it and start rubbing; the nerve-wracking stage was deciding it was Done and I should start pulling prints. So this is the first proof, done on some random hard white paper I had in the pile. The one at the top is the 5th from this set, on Arches Velin. They’re all still drying, and will be for a few days, so you’ll have to make do with my cameraphone pictures till then, I’m afraid!

London Rowan - first proof

2010 Christmas (and Hanukkah) cards

It’s September, and therefore high time for are-people-talking-about-Christmas-already?-bah-humbug season.

I make & sell Christmas cards, and can happily supply you with some to send to your friends, relatives, coworkers, archenemies, or complete strangers, at the bargain rate of £1 per card, or 20 for £18 plus p&p (from the UK, if you’re not) if I need to mail them. These are digitally printed on high-quality matte stock (Fabriano Ecologica: acid-free, 100% recycled, very white, and made in Italy using hydroelectric power) with pigment inks. The back has my logo on, and the insides are blank for your own message. They’re A6 when folded, so they fit perfectly into standard C6 envelopes.

I’m happy to do versions with custom text on, and I’ll probably be posting at least one more design over the next month or so, and a downloadable PDF for those of you who have your own printer and very little disposable income.

There’s no minimum order, and I’m happy to mix designs in any way you like. If any of you are interested in hand-printed woodblock or linocut cards instead, let me know in the comments and I’ll try and work up a design; they’re likely to work out between two and four times the price of the digital ones.