Tag Archives: Printing

Lost in the Fog with Monsters

Needle felted polar bear

A bear with a jar full of stars, a valley full of chiffon mist, celestial blue skies; if only life could always be filled with such magic and beauty. I feet like retreating into my inner land of make believe this week and potentially that may be the safest place.

Mist in the Lake District

It’s been the most unbelievably atmospheric Autumn here in the Lake District so far. Clouds and mists rise and fall, flowing down the valleys and draping themselves over the tops like gossamer bridal veils – forgive the flowery language but you can see why all those poets got carried away with it around here. Sunday’s walk was a perfect example … beginning in sun dappled forests smelling of pine and mushrooms and earth (Shinrin-yoku), enduring a slog up a boggy hillside in thick fog (navigation practice, hmmm) to emerge on an eerily lit summit where an almost biblical revelation occurred as the mist slid away in stages to reveal layer upon layer of heartbreakingly gorgeous landscape.

Towards Causey Pike in the mist

I hear it’s been like that above a certain height all week but for one reason or another I have been unable to reach up to the sunlight through the fog.

Skiddaw in the mist

I had been due to start my new job at the Museum yesterday. As I said in my last post it had meant that at last I would be earning enough to justify my existence on the planet but not only that; I was hoping it would mean meeting more people over here, drawing me out of what has become an increasingly hermit like existence. I also really liked the Museum. I got an email on Saturday asking me to “pop in on Monday for a chat”.

mug designs by Kim Tillyer

I had been offered the job on the merit of my interview and the carefully prepared presentation on ” The Benefits of Working with Volunteers”, the gallery in Keswick provided a good reference and I had all the dates on the calendar and my shoes polished for day one. Only I did a stupid thing. I trusted in honesty and good intentions.

mug designs by Kim Tillyer

I’d given Joe Cornish ( the photographer not the comedian ) as a referee, believing in my naivety that, despite all the difficulties in the cafe towards the end of my time there, I’d loved my work organising the creative workshops and that I had done a good job, been a dedicated and effective member of staff and that Joe himself was a man of integrity and an artistic soul (as his website claims). I was very wrong. Joe was too busy packing for a trip to write anything so his partner suggested they ask the gallery. Joni (who had cried when I left and apologised for her mismanagement of the situation) wrote a reference that made me sound like a lovable village idiot who could just about make a cappuccino but was unlikely to manage anything too taxing involving any “attention to detail”, numeracy, organisation or reliability… and thus I was sent away humiliated and shell shocked, the job offer withdrawn. I am indeed an idiot, I expect people to act fairly and compassionately and they don’t. The past is a hole thinly covered with branches on a sunlit path and inside the hole there are spikes and mud and monsters.

I also found out that Joe is again running his exclusive residential workshops from the lovely North York Moors surroundings of ….wait for it…. Snilesworth Lodge, shooting estate and home of the delightful and kind Toby Horton, UKIP landowner. I felt like I’d been beaten up.

mug designs by Kim Tillyer

I’ve moaned at you and it’s a massive turn off but sometimes things need saying and the cat wasn’t really being very responsive. In other news I’ve been printing mugs and lurking about in my pyjamas in next door’s porch trying to photograph them ( the mugs not the pyjamas) in the morning light, I’ve been listening to Elbow and trying to play my mandolin and getting trapped in corners by spitting alpacas… not all at the same time though. I won’t always be moaning so please come back soon, thank you for listening. x

Reading :-“Nature Cure” – Richard Mabey  Listening To:- Real Life (Angel) –  Elbow




The Wide Blue Yonder


Last week saw me feeling small in a big landscape, carrying my faithful Millican bag and eating a lot of chocolate (you have an excuse when it’s Easter and you need to keep your strength up). Visiting the The Lake District on Easter bank holiday weekend may seem crazy unless you like traffic jams but it was amazing to walk away from the crowds into the mountains and feel a real sense of solitude and remoteness. There was even a slight sense of panic as we reached our camping spot and I looked back at the way we’d come, to see quite how far I’d have to walk back the next day! Waking up to a bowl of porridge in the wilderness on a sunny morning is pretty unbeatable.


Easter Sunday didn’t involve chicks and eggs or bunnies in any way; instead I was treated to nearly 3,000′ of almost vertical rock ( a path apparently!) which made my legs itchy with fear and my head dizzy, followed by reaching the summit of Grasmoor bent double against the wind while my oversized “outdoor gear” inflated like a balloon and threatened to throw me back down. We looked down on Buzzards and ate a lot more chocolate and it was beautiful


Days of sunshine have meant some lovely results with cyanotype printing and the garden is full of bees, new shoots and over excited chicks who race about like little girls in tutus. And it is little girls mostly … because the naughty, unfaithful cockerel disappeared while I was out one night. The circumstances are highly suspicious… there are no foxes here ( too many gamekeepers), no body has been found and he is not with my neighbour’s hens. Ah well, he has only himself to blame for venturing out of the garden and imagining that the grass was greener …


Last week I finally got around to delivering some work to the lovely Lockton Tea Rooms and Gallery.Last time we visited Janilaine and Kevin were frantically decorating and building so it was amazing to see the results of all their hard work. A little gem in the middle of the North York Moors and I’m proud to have my work there along with some other very talented artists and craftspeople.


So, another weekend is almost upon us and I’m way behind in my blog writing, festival stock preparing and gardening. I’m about to write a post for Festival of Thrift about the cheese I’ve been making but first I need to test it …maybe sitting in the greenhouse with a pot of tea! Festival of Thrift recently won a big award at the Journal Culture Awards in Newcastle so congratulations…I can’t wait for this year’s event. I’m also looking forward to visiting Rounton Coffee Roasters in their newly refurbished Granary next week so watch this space ..and if I go quiet, give me a kick, I’m probably just sleeping off all that chocolate! x

Reading:- “The Little Sister” Raymond Chandler Listening To:- “The Take Off and Landing of Everything” elbow


Faithless the Cockerel and Festival Fever


The spring sunshine has given me a massive energy boost which means I have been doing too many things at once and forgetting that I should be trying to make a living. The whole garden is now dug over and ready for another attempt at producing food for free…well, the price of a packet of seeds. My back is aching but it has been wonderful to spend days outside, coming in with a dirty face and moss in my hair (visitors are so polite and I usually only notice the earthy moustache when I look at the mad woman in the mirror at bathtime). Being outside has also given me the chance to observe the strange goings on in the bantam family and I have to confess I was more upset than I should have been to see the cockerel flirting with the neighbours and eventually disappearing one night; faithless creature. His two girlfriends went to bed alone, muttering and sobbing a little, while I had to march down the road in  search of the heartless philanderer. In my neighbour’s hen hut I found him, cuddled up like Pimp Daddy, with the Amazonian, Rhode Island Reds and looking smug (but silly as he is half their size). Pah! I gave him a good talking to and trudged back home with him under my arm wondering yet again what my down to earth Yorkshire neighbours make of me.


Last week, after joking about the good old days of selling painted tins on a blanket at Glastonbury, I decided it might not be such a bad idea to have another go at the festival thing. Willowman Festival in a nearby village,is organised by an old friend and has been going from strength to strength so I have taken a stall for the weekend, along with friends and family so we can hopefully combine a bit of wild, embarrassing dancing with selling our wares. It’s certainly motivated me to make some different things, including this screen printed and dip dyed bunting. I’m also making head dresses and painted boxes  and enjoying using up lots of left over dyes, fabrics and odd bits and pieces. I think a trip to CCAD’s print club will be needed soon.


This week also brought two exciting bits of news…the first is that I will be blogging for this year’s Festival of Thrift in Darlington in September. I’m hoping to include some tutorials and tips on frugal living(!) although I may be living in the car by September if I don’t find some part time work soon! The second reason to be excited is that I have been getting a really good response to the card designs produced by Natural Partners Ltd. A gallery in York (The Blossom Street Gallery)  is interested in showing some framed pieces as they are stocking my cards and there will soon be a distributor in Australia apparently! Reasons to be cheerful parts 1,2 and …. hopefully 3 will be along soon.


Meanwhile I’m making plant pots out of last weekend’s paper and hoping for a bumper crop of everything. Three eggs are struggling to hatch as I write and it’s time to stoke up the stove and get on with some work. There are commissions to finish and feathery hats to be made.


Reading:- “The North Child” Edith Pattou ( spotted on the school bookshelf while in a yoga class!) Listening to:- Howling wind, peeping chicks trapped in eggs and Bjork “Cover Me”


Suddenly the world outside the window is a big green explosion with everything bursting into life and singing its heart out.It feels like being part of that speeded up nature film, with leaves unfolding before your very eyes and seasonal flowers urgently rushing from bud to bloom in a day, to make up for their late arrival. Unfortunately I’m also part of this, feeling that time is passing so quickly that there isn’t a moment left to get everything done…after work one can either write or draw or garden but not all three (and these more often give way to cooking and trying to hold back the tsunami of neglected housework ). This is my apology for neglecting Witchmountain and allowing the gallery to steal my life. I miss my days of hermitage.

blueowlStill,I guess most of us are discontented and frustrated by the day job and I’m lucky that at least mine has some perks… I was recently able to use my “Wren” design on some bags printed to promote the gallery’s creative workshops and now that the cafe is almost complete, the shiny new coffee machine is helping to feed my addiction, while my own stove top “Mooka”pot sits lonely and cold on the shelf at home.                                                                                                                At the moment I’m making some digital prints ready for Art in the Shed in Osmotherley on Bank Holiday Weekend which is now in its third year, raising money for Street Child Africa and celebrating a wide variety of talent from the village. The same weekend sees the opening of the cafe at the Joe Cornish Gallery with a talk by Joe, so I imagine I’ll be living on cake and coffee. And meanwhile, whenever the sun shines in the evenings I’m flitting in and out making cyanotype prints and getting carried away digging the garden and dreaming of new planting schemes.


So you see I have been wanting to write and share Spring thoughts from the Moors for weeks but always ended up doing gallery stuff and wasting hours looking at other people’s lives on Facebook instead of living my own. It may sound selfish or arrogant or even lazy but from now on I’m promising to be nice to myself and I will leave work behind at 5pm, take a deep breath and head for the hills…after all my heart and soul belong to Witchmountain not my weekly wage cheque.


I wanted to tell you all about the wonderful birthday trip to the Lakes, of scrambling about in icy cold becks wearing unflattering wetsuits, of eating flapjack in a hailstorm on the top of Rannerdale Knotts with my daughter, of the swallows return and the arrival of buzzards, of Lomography experiments and cake accidents… but already the windows are dark-as-night-blue and the heating has clicked off. I think I can hear a curlew outside but it must be flying home to bed.


Thank you for reading where ever you are.

Reading:- “The Hobbit” J.R.R.Tolkein  Listening To:- “Kaleidophonica” Spiro

A Trip to Owl Island

The days are speeding past so quickly in their grey and murky ways that the possibility of Winter and the need to stock up the wood pile has started to prickle at the back of my mind.I’m thinking of investing in a sunbed so that I can continue cyanotype printing despite the low light levels, while achieving a healthy glow and keeping warm all at the same time.                                              Anyway,here I am to tell you about one of my recent “blogging perks”. Hello Canvas UK wrote to me to offer a free canvas print in return for a review on Witchmountain.I’m always a bit suspicious about random, strangely worded e-mails but I hastily chose an image and was more than pleasantly surprised when it arrived yesterday.

The canvas was HUGE ( 50x69cms) compared to the original drawing and finished to a really high standard with a backing board to stop it going baggy. As I said, I was hasty in my choice of image and hadn’t even looked to see how big the canvas would be, or how big the file should be so I have to say that although the image appears very slightly pixelated up close, at a normal viewing distance it’s amazingly crisp and looks great (the original drawing was so tiny 18x25cms that its surprising that it reproduced this big at all). So “Thank You” to the people at Hello Canvas, I would like to get some more done but I’ll have to sell this one first (hint). I’m debating whether to add some hand stitching …

A special thing happened at the weekend; we took my lovely daughter to the Lakes for a trip up her first Lakeland fell( Latrigg) and a canoeing adventure on Derwent Water. It was lovely to share some of the places that have become so precious to me over the past two years or so. Our adventure on the lake was hilarious, part “Three men in a Boat”, part “Swallows and Amazons”; once we had got over the long walk down to the water,carrying the boat (are they made of lead or concrete?). We paddled from High Brandelhow, armed with a big picnic of olives,sandwiches and apricots and clad in rather fetching life jackets. Otterbield Island proved to be mostly populated by midgees and bird-poo so we had lunch on St Herbert’s Island and managed to escape without upsetting Old Brown (or seeing any Squirrels ). It was a perfect day; even when Sara and I had to sit in a monsoon at Friar’s Crag, still in our life jackets, for over an hour while Rupert got the Keswick Launch back to retrieve the van (to save carrying the boat uphill). We shivered and laughed and worried the groups of foreign tourists and wondered if the lovely Emma at Temporary Measure would give us shelter, as by this time we were wetter than if we’d jumped in.

So, my love affair with the Lake District continues and I even dug out my Derwent Inktense pencils for a bit of late night doodling last night. Next time I will find a grassy knoll to sit on, with an umbrella and a flask of coffee and work on my rusty landscape drawing techniques.

Now for a splash of colour – with obligatory raindrops…

And a little more colour to brighten up your day.This cushion is on From the Wilde now and if they don’t sell soon I will run out of space here in my little moorland cottage; it’s turning into a nest of cushions and fabric and odd bits of haberdashery.The Bernina saga continues but more of that next time; just now I need to put the kettle on, it must be time for another cup of something.

Listening to:- “Jack Leaves and Black Spring” Blue Aeroplanes, “Ode to Sad Disco” Mark Lanegan  Reading:- “Art in Nature” Tove Jansson.

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.

“Lift me Higher”

Today, while the chickens sunbathed outside the window, I recovered from the weekend by drawing kodatrace designs with Lindsey. We drank coffee, ate sponge fingers and tried to whistle the national anthem while laughing. I can’t wait to do some printing and I do need to plan my time well as you only get 3 hours; my usual scatter gun approach will have to be tamed ; especially as I really can’t waste any fabric ( not at £22 a meter!). Once printed I will be able to add embroidery, hopefully while lying on a chaise longue in the garden, under a parasol.

The critical phrase in that last paragraph was ” recovered from the weekend”…once that would have meant in a darkened room with a bucket of painkillers and a lavender compress; not any more my friends …

No, I love dark sweaty clubs, thumping bass,unsuitable footwear and all the vices that go with them but I have to admit you can’t beat looking out at the world from the top of a very tall hill to lift you higher…as it were. The heat of my MacBook is soothing my tired legs and I have absolutely no guilt about the chocolate bar I’m about to eat when I finish writing.Just somebody please smack me if I ever buy a pair of beige “ladies walking trousers” .

Yesterday’s adventure was truly beautiful, once the evil uphill bit had ended and I could breath again. The ridge from Hopegill Head to Whiteside was lovely, despite the snow which fell from a clear sky and seemed to float upwards in a most dizzying way. On the way down ( known as the descent to fell walking types with beige trousers… ) I bounced over hummocks of springy moss and felt as though I could walk for ever.We cooled our feet in the icy beck with banks full of tiny violets (only visible to people who were starting to want to lie down)  and within moments of getting back in the car I was nearly asleep; so much for walking forever.

I have yet to spot a red squirrel but I did see and hear a wild raven for the first time, initially assuming it was Rupert making rude noises! I had only ever seen those at the Tower of London; poor city birds who must stay confined or, it is said, the Tower will fall.

Huge and enormously grateful and shy THANK YOUs to all the  people who have stopped by lately and been so kind and encouraging. In the spirit of random sharing here are some lovely people and places I’ve discovered recently… Bruce Hardy ( stunning pictures of the Lakes), Maricor/Maricar ( embroidery ), Les Ours d’Uzes ( in French so I’m luckily not able to buy everything on these pages and run about pretending to be in Wuthering Heights. French textiles and fashion …and les Ours means bears doesn’t it?)

Reading “Wild Olives” William Graves