Tag Archives: Giveaway

A year can fly…

Derwent water after the floods

This past weekend marked a year since the first night in our new home in Newlands Valley; the anniversary has so many emotions attached to it that it was a roller coaster of feelings and memories . The snow had given way to warm rain and greyness so Sunday’s walk was along the shores of Derwent Water, where this storm damaged jetty appealed to my introspective mood… a metaphor for life with its wild ups and downs, rakish camber and, well … the obvious question where is it heading and where do you go when you reach the end? I lay awake for hours the other night with so much I wanted to say about this year and how I got here but the rapid approach of BCTF and the fact that for the moment this blog serves as my website, not just a confessional, means I’m more aware than ever of the need to keep a stiff upper lip, appear positive and not get on my soap box too often. However, just for today let me remind you of what I had to leave behind…

Moorside House Snilesworth Moor in happier times - owned by the evil Hortons of Snilesworth Lodge

…not just a house but a home, a garden, a history, a way of life, family, friends and belonging to a landscape. Congratulations to all those involved for living with your consciences for a year and especially Mr Toby Horton who is currently adding to his community spirited portfolio by failing to supply residents of Ingleby Greenhow with reliable running water from the private water supply he owns; some things never change.

And so the only thing to do is keep on looking forwards, treating others with the kindness and compassion you’d hope for yourself and trying to negotiate the slippery pier without falling in too soon.

House drawing by Kim Tillyer

Last week I received the not unexpected news that the gallery in Keswick were having to make staff cuts following the floods,  and so my year in the Lake District ends as it began, with a search for work and security whilst also throwing myself more wholeheartedly than ever into a more professional approach to my artwork. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Northern Lights Gallery and I’m so sad it’s had to end, not to mention a little worried. I think it is important that people realise just how seriously affected many people have been, and will continue to be, by the floods, not just businesses that actually flooded but also those who are suffering from the road closures and drop in visitor numbers. It’s an ongoing thing and sadly so many small galleries and creative businesses  in particular seem to have been hit over the important Christmas period. Independent galleries are vital in supporting many other small businesses, providing a shop window for all those artists and makers slaving away in leaky studios and cluttered kitchen tables; they also make our towns more attractive and uplifting. So here is my appeal… if you can, please support small galleries and independent businesses, don’t go in and ask for the artist’s website address so you can try and get it cheaper, don’t pick up a greetings card to jot down a name and then walk out without even having the grace to part with the £3 for the card ( it happens ) and if you have a moment have a look at this from Snug Gallery in Hebbden Bridge.

Magic tent by Kim Tilyer vases by Kim Tillyer

Well, the kettle on the stove is about to boil so I really need to be brave, make a pot of tea and make a start on cobbling together my stand design; it will involve cutting and measuring and is bound to end in tears which is why I’ve spent all day avoiding it!

Oh my goodness! I nearly deleted this whole post by accident just then, what a fright. Just time to say THANK YOU yet again for reading, commenting and being generally lovely. To celebrate my first year in the Lake District I’m going to do a long overdue giveaway. If you’d like to be entered in the draw to win a pair of  mugs, embroidered lavender sachet, bear pincushion and various other design samples,  just leave a comment – and share this post on Facebook or Twitter if you can. I’ll pick a winner on February 6th… the last day I spent in North Yorkshire and my parent’s wedding anniversary. Good luck x

witchmountain anniversary giveaway

Listening to:  Kaleidophonica by Spiro ( perfect soundtrack for driving around the mountains )




Did  the army mobilise their forces last week to save me from despair?  No of course not, not really, they just flew round and round the house in circles while we surveyed the wreckage of an outbuilding and the empty tortoise house through a haze of disbelief and insultingly glorious sunshine. It’s hard not to wallow in self pity, it truly was an awful week but tragicomic in places which kind of made it worse! So first, a big thank you for all the kind words after Mr Tortoise went missing… and all the sympathy when he was found. I was so upset that Rupert decided to whisk me away to the Lakes to find solace in the mountains in the camper van…unfortunately the bikes came too.


I’m not an easy person when filled with sorrow and the unfairness of life.  Even the beauty of the hills and the stillness of the lakes made me cry and really nothing but time or whiskey was going to snap me out of it…least of all a bike ride. I’m not sure why we did it but we ended up setting off on a “gentle” mountain bike ride on the hottest Sunday for a million years. I won’t go in to details, but I basically went for a very long WALK with a lump of black and green metal that was too exhausting to ride uphill and too terrifying to ride downhill. Eyes blurry with hot tears of resentment I cursed that bike and every cyclist or smiling hiker that passed me by; eventually hurling it to the ground with foul obscenities, I sat in a stream and sulked like a toddler, the bruises already showing up purple and green like the hill sides.


Well, guess what… after getting home that evening we woke in the morning  to discover that all my dreams had come true, the bike was gone, stolen ( almost as if I has arranged it) along with Jake’s motorbike and all my garden power tools. The robbers had pulled the entire window frame and stone lintel out of the building and carefully removed rolls of barbed wire, plant pots and old speaker boxes ( an attempt to foil them after the last break in which the landlord hadn’t repaired)  to nick our stuff…we were too tired from “cycling” to be disturbed. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or just go back to bed in disgust. So, yes, the past two weeks have been pretty crappy, we’ve all missed precious days at work and spent a lot of time talking to policemen about security measures  and enduring the smirks of people who find it hard to keep a straight face when you tell them your tortoise ran away …but with the help of some flying bears, a few good friends and all the lovely people in the virtual world ( that means you) , I think we might be through the worst ( fingers crossed, touch wood). I’ve planted wild flowers on the little Tortoise’s grave and am contemplating a commemorative tattoo ( sorry Daddy!).


Meanwhile I’m hooked on needle felting , thanks to Susie, and since Jake is worried that I will fill the house with tiny bears I hereby announce a Giveaway!!!


To celebrate the almost reaching of 1,000 likes on Facebook and to thank you for reading this blog I will be giving away the little brown Celestial Bear as soon as the magic number is reached. To enter just leave a comment below ( you don’t have to be on Facebook but if you are, please do that like and share thing ) and I will announce the winner shortly.


The polar bears will be in my Etsy shop soon and until next we meet, take care and be nice to each other. x

New Beginnings


Here we are in February once again and I have been so busy that I forgot to celebrate the February festival of Imbolc (pretty neglectful for someone who goes by the name Witchmountain)however, since all the light bulbs in the house seem to have popped at the same time I did light lots of candles by default…

“It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honour of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.” (TheWhiteGoddess.co.uk)

Already the drive home from work is almost completed in daylight and I passed fields that in a certain light were slowly changing from brown, bare earth to green. A good time then to be taking part in an exhibition called New Beginnings.


I drove over to Nidderdale yesterday afternoon and with the “help” of my phone sat.nav. (“GPS signal is lost” was all it could tell me)  I found the studio gallery of Frances Payne exactly where I would have found it earlier, had I just looked at a map made of paper.Once the village shop in Dacre Banks, the gallery has 4 panels of beautiful, delicate stained glass with hand painted birds and it’s the perfect setting for this tiny gallery where Frances also paints and holds workshops. In fact, its tininess gave a renewed spark to the smoldering embers of my own shed dream.


I’m hoping to make the preview evening if I have the energy and enough petrol, after work on Friday, so that I can see everybody else’s work and met the other artists; it’s been good to do something with my own work again and I’m very grateful to have been asked to take part.


And so here is a story that warms my heart and makes me happy in so many ways.Remember the photo competition that Temporary Measure held to celebrate joining Facebook? Well Emma has now made some of the entries in to a new range of Short Story Cards , including this one of little me! I feel like a supermodel ( well, not right now, or in fact ever but if I could time travel…)and the caption is perfect…although the others are very,very funny and this is much more wistful.It’s a bit uncanny because I think that is exactly what I was like as a child, probably humming the theme tune to Black Beauty annoyingly and being incredibly serious about my imaginary horse. We happened to be in Keswick on the very day they were announced so it was a perfect excuse to call by for tea and a bit of chat about the weather, infectious diseases, dealing with “the public” and the joys of self employment. The cards aren’t on the website yet but you can see them on the Facebook page… look out for Womble Girl, my favorite, and be sure to get your order in!


Sadly no mountain pictures as we were stuck down by a mystery fever that left us looking forlornly at the snow dusted,sunlit peaks, too weak to walk further than from one coffee shop to the next and contemplating a future filled with park benches,tartan rugs and thermos flasks ( get well soon Rupert! x).

Now, I promised to giveaway a print when I reached 600 followers on Facebook and suddenly there even more than that! So in honour of all those lovely supporters, my daughter’s 21st birthday and my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary I will pick a winner at random next Saturday.Just leave a comment here or on the Facebook post and I’ll be making up some surprize,prize parcels.


In To The West









This post is dedicated to all the new students who have just moved to cities far away and to their parents who had to act like grown-ups and not burst into tears and demand to go home immediately.I was never the kind of mother who wept at the school gates on the first day of primary school, so, abandoning my daughter in a tower block in Bristol ( where she is studying Illustration), it was a bit of a surprise to find myself sobbing and getting beeped at by other drivers as I went round and round the same round-a-bout, trying, with blurry vision to find my way back out of the city. Luckily I was staying with my lovely “sister-in-law” not far away, so the next day we were able to have a wonderful time exploring and recovering from the ordeal of moving into a tenth floor room with views of the motorway!

Clifton, on the other side of the city couldn’t have been more different…elegant Georgian terraces with delicate wrought iron balconies, lovely independent shops like Jemima Rose and amazing, terrifying views from the Clifton Suspension Bridge. We wandered about choosing imaginary,million pound houses and eventually found the lovely Cordial and Grace cafe where the delicious savory scones and velvety chocolate brownie were the perfect cure for our damaged nerves.Thank you Maria! The cafe also hires sewing machines by the hour and runs knitting evenings;more fuel for my fantasy cafe dream…

We walked the whole way back to the halls with achy feet, managing to take in a bit of culture by visiting the “Raw Materials” exhibition featuring Ed Ruscha who I’ve always liked since my dad sent me one of his postcards. So, hopefully as I write, my daughter is out re-discovering her inner student after 3 months living at home with only her old mum for company.Bristol looks like it might be a great place to be.

Meanwhile, I returned to Witchmountain. As I approached the house there was a rainbow emerging from the chimney and the air was damp and green.I wanted to roll in the grass and wriggle my toes in the earth.The sunflowers are just coming out and everything is lush and overgrown; on the edge of Autumn.

So today I was up early, full of ideas and too many things I wanted to do.Flinging open the window and resisting the urge to shout “Kim of Witchmountain” like Anne of Green Gables. Bags have been listed on Etsy, new things on From the Wilde and the man at the Post Office thought he might order a bag for his grand-daughter! I’ve been making some lavender eye pillows for people at yoga as well as working on another little shoulder bag.

Anyway, remember a while ago I was moaning on about Facebook? Well on my return I discovered that my original goal of 500 followers had been reached without begging or blackmail.Hurray ,can you all give me a pound?… only kidding! To celebrate and say THANK YOU  I am going to giveaway a lavender pillow and a signed original lino print to someone who leaves a comment on this post before September 21st or if you’re on Facebook “like” the post. 

Thank you… and good luck new students! x













Trade Secrets

Its a grim day today and I’ve finished the piece I’ve been working on so even though I’ve written loads this week I thought I’d go all school marmy and give you an insight into some of the ways I make my work. Look away now if you only stop by to laugh at my attempts at being an “outdoor type”.

So, in the previous post I showed you the kodatrace I’d drawn; I still have a bit more to do to it before screen printing but I thought I’d test it by doing some Cyanotype printing.First I had to prepare the paper and fabric by painting it with a special light sensitive coating (Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate). This goes on a yellowy green colour and needed to dry in a dark place before I could quickly arrange my drawing under a sheet of glass ( you can also use plants, feathers or even photographic negatives ).

Left in the sun ( this is the main problem for me , what happened to all that March sun?) the paper/fabric changes to a dark, dusty blue and then it is the moment of truth! Quickly run to the sink and rinse until the water runs clear…and as if by magic…

The rich cyan blue continues to develop as it dries and part of the fascination of this process is that it can be very variable and a bit hit and miss. Some of my experimental prints went a bit blurry because I’d put them on the table outside , on a cushion, under a sheet of glass, and they jumped off, blown away because the weather has been so wild.Anyway, you can get loads more information and instruction from this website if you want to give it a go. I’ve also seen this product which gives the same effect but in other colours… it sounds great but will have to wait until I’ve made my fortune and can do shopping again!

I’ve been using the printed fabric to do some hand embroidery which has made me realise how bad my poor old eyesight is getting. I’d really never noticed  until this year as I’ve always been massively shortsighted but now I’m having to peer over the top of my glasses to thread my needle and its impossible with contact lenses. Goodness what a depressing birthday treat… an optician appointment to get bi-focals, it’ll be a new set of gnashers next! There was an exhibition of wood engraving by June Crisfield Chapman when we visited The Bowes Museum last week , which was beautiful but it made me wonder how strong her glasses were and if years of reading ( and working at the pub) by candlelight have caused my downfall?

Now I just have to finish off this new cushion before putting the kettle on again. I’ve really enjoyed making this one and it will probably be listed on From the Wilde where Helen is doing a fantastic job promoting Witchmountain.Have a fabulous weekend everyone; I’ve been told I’m being taken somewhere for my birthday on Monday …perhaps its Specsavers!!

Don’t forget the giveaway competition, I’ll announce the winner when I get back so do leave a comment, you still have time.

“In spring, when woods are getting green, I’ll try and tell you what I mean”

Normal service has resumed to Witchmountain after more power cuts at the end of last week. Sara and I spent an interesting(*) evening eating tinned soup and realising we didn’t know how to play dominos.There was a shortage of candles and light seemed like such a luxury … until morning when it revealed the mess; dominos soaked in Amaretto ( a mystery) , half drunk cups of tea lost in the dark, a mountain of washing up and candle stubs in jars all over the place. Today has been a celebration of electricity with a big baking session;cakes and scones and bread ( this yellow chick was one that I found during the Faceby Forest Foray, I made him wash his feet) . The kitchen smells of warm chocolate and hot coffee.

I mentioned on my Facebook page that I have been writing this blog now for nearly four years! I hope this is a cause for celebration because it seems like an awful long time to me and means its now EIGHT years since I started my degree at CCAD. The blog has changed over the years and ,I hope, improved. Perhaps the type of people who read has changed as well, since it started out as a student thing, part of our course work, rambled on through my early freelance days after graduation and now I’m hoping to maybe make it pay by offering advertising and sponsored links. Mostly I just love writing though and sharing the highs and lows of Witchmountain with you. So… a big  THANK YOU for reading and commenting and being generally so wonderful and supportive. I’m offering a big parcel of things in this “4th Birthday Giveaway”, including the Blurb notebook I made last year, an original canvass,owl brooch, bear hair-slide and whatever else I can fit in the package.

I’ve noticed that other people run giveaways by asking people to help them reach a certain number of followers on Facebook etc, a kind of mercenary, self promotion I’ve always shied away from. However, I’ve decided that being a shrinking violet isn’t getting me anywhere, so this time I will draw the winner when I reach 500 Facebook followers and 100 Twitterers. A modest request I hope and it is my birthday too, so it would be a nice present don’t you think? Don’t worry if you don’t use either ( I admire you for it) just leave a comment here and you’ll still be in with a chance.

Well, I hope you’ve all been enjoying Easter or Ēostre, here is an Easter bunny for you. Easter means everything starts to open again after Winter and I’m happy to be back at the lovely Helmsley Walled Garden Cafe ,where there were home made Hot Cross Buns on Friday. I’m looking forward to watching the garden burst into life and colour over the next few months and  thinking I might have to combine a walk around the garden with this wonderful idea by The Curiosity Project

Now its time for a slice of that cake I think.Have you been treating yourselves?

A New Broom…

This weekend was one of thinking, planning and evaluating. My lovely daughter turned 20 on Sunday and it was important for me to think about where I was and how I got here ( * bursts into a rendition of “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads) . Its such a cliché to keep going on about how time flies but when your children reach an age that you actually still feel , despite the wrinkles, it obviously prompts a bit of soul searching, not to mention panic,…just when will I feel “grown up” ? Here she is…

…and yes it seems like yesterday!

So,part of my “thinking and planning” has resulted in me booking a business mentoring session with the lovely Vicky Trainor  as I intend to get my besum broom out and give Witchmountain a good shake up and spring clean. Already, doing my homework in a brand new sketchbook, I have started to feel a lot more focused.It really does help to write things down and I do love making books.

As part of my homework I was asked to come up with 10 words to describe Witchmountain… I wondered if it might not be more useful to ask you, dear readers? I would be most grateful and to thank you for you valued opinions I will offer one of my little prints as a bribe…I mean prize…to the writer of a comment chosen at random (be honest though, you don’t have to use 10 words and they don’t even have to be nice words… no x rated ones though please!Just think about how you would describe this blog or my work to a stranger) I’ll pick a winner on March 1st.

Well, I think it’s time for a bit more cutting and sticking and market researching and I also have a batch of biscuit dough ready to bake so its time to dive back into the real world. I’ve spent most of the day finishing a lot of purses ready for the Vintage Fair in March, listening to Poirot on the radio and daydreaming about Bernina sewing machines!

These purses are made using vintage materials including some gorgeous green floral fabric that was my grandma’s,beautiful cotton lace and my own printed wool. I found the wonderful , half finished linen table cloth in Oxfam at the weekend. I love it and want to use it in my work…but will the blue print wash out? Have a great week where ever you are.

Reading : “The Cat’s Table” Michael Ondaatje  Listening To: “Odelay” Beck, “Leaders of the Free World” Elbow and ” Letter to Hermione” David Bowie.