Tag Archives: Witchmountain

A Reunion With The Well Travelled Sketchbook

The wanderer returns to Witchmountain.Yes, I have returned to my kitchen bench and wood-burning stove with the kind of nostalgic, jet-lag I always feel when returning from London.Visiting the city I am almost physically assaulted by memories, in sights, sounds and smells. It used to be home a long time ago, but Witchmountain is too magical to leave for long…

So, on Friday,I packed my bag ( not this battered old thing but my trusty Milican backpack) and got up before it was light, to get the early train.By 8am I was propped up in my seat like a zombie,reading Paul Theroux’s “Kingdom by the Sea” and wondering how the group of loud,overexcited women further down the carriage could be so awake at such an un-godly hour. I am becoming so used to quiet and solitude that my tolerance levels are low. I read about Mr Theroux’s train journey to Cape Wrath as we sped South.

The Sketchbook Project was happening in the Canada Water Library. We met friends there and it was exciting to be re-united , briefly, with my well traveled book. I wish I had taken more photographs but I felt flustered, having forgotten the list of other artists who’s books I’d wanted to see. The process of getting a library card and then searching and checking out the books was a little clunky  and there was only one computer which slowed things down…luckily ( or not) there were not many people there and while I enjoyed myself and saw some lovely books I felt it was all a bit anti-climactic.The lovely people from the Art House Co-op had come such a long way and the participants had put in so much effort that it seemed there should have been more publicity, more atmosphere and more people!

I read this account by Jane Housham and thought I’d share the link as she took some great photos and had a similar experience. Don’t be put off though, its on until the 19th of October so if you’re in London go and take a look…and don’t forget to say hello to my book.There is still a chance you could win a print if you take a picture of yourself with it, like my mug shot here! There is still a month left to sign up for next year’s tour as well.

Anyway, I have returned to the North, having filled my eyes with a feast of visual delights, from the stunning jewellery room in the V&A to the RED things in the Conran Shop, the seedy joys of Brick lane and Columbia Road and the bohemian Chelsea Arts Club where I would love to spend my days drinking Absinthe, smoking cigars in the garden and meeting unusual people.

Before I went to London I had a bit of a nightmare with my website; it needed some updating and the consensus seemed to be that people didn’t know how, or where, to buy my work. I hope the links and information are more clear now…let me know what you think. www.witchmountain.co.uk

Its been a hectic morning ,with logs delivered in a howling gale and a kitchen full of neighbours drinking tea and discussing mice after re-routing my water supply in the pouring rain. I can’t wait to press the publish button and get on with some work!

Here is Toast with some information….

Reading:- ” Me Talk Pretty One Day” David Sedaris
Listening To:- The howling wind and the logs crackling on the stove. On Thursday I’ll be listening to “Reverend and the Makers” in Leeds.


“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.

Its All About Me

This is just a very quick post to point you in the direction of my fabulous interview with  the inspirational Katy over on kt40s blog ( including a very sensible self portrait/mug shot and talk of imaginary shops)  Always one of my favorite reads and so colourful, just what is needed in Yorkshire in November…

Really I do need to do some making and preparing for Fridays fair, so I won’t waffle on …oh,except, I should mention my desperate attempt to drum up some sales on Folksy. I’ve been offering a FREE GIFT worth around £10 to the first person to buy something from my little shop and plugging it mercilessly on Facebook… I can hear the tumbleweeds rolling past and the broken shutters banging in the wind…but this means the winner could still be YOU

Now, its definitely time to do some sewing and get the christmas cakes in the oven; the fruit’s been soaking in Brandy all night next to the vat of Sloe Gin so its smelling pretty good in here!(hic)

Tumbleweed and Too Much Coffee

A blustery Autumnal day on Witchmountain and I find myself in my usual position, mug in hand, stove ablaze, deep in thought. Today I have good intentions to turn over a new leaf regarding butter, caffeine, exercise and positive thinking. Ok, so the mug is full of coffee and I only walked a hundred yards down the road before I realised I’d forgotten the egg money and had to turn back, but I will go later ( honestly) and on the positive side no butter has been consumed!

The garden still has some delicate late colour to cheer me up as I wonder how the “lawn” became a jungle and why the strawberries have decided to flower again just as the first real frosts meant I needed to de-ice the car on Saturday morning…
Saturday morning was the day of Designer’s Marketplace in Newcastle, and also a day of glorious sunshine , the most perfect an October day can get. We managed to get to the Holy Biscuit in plenty of time to set up and the drive only slightly terrified me ( multi- lane roundabouts are a shock after the moors where you only have to avoid aggressive 4×4 drivers,over excited sheep and panic stricken pheasants) .

Now I’m torn between bigging the whole thing up or telling it as it is because I think its more useful and honest? I mean, I think it is easy to be mislead by what you see on the internet, we are all  trying to sell ourselves as best we can and while I do write this blog in order to promote what I do and hopefully get work from it, I also write because I want to be open about the pitfalls, struggles, highs and lows of trying to make a living out of creativity. So, the truth is … it was deadly quiet and if I’d been a politician I’d have lost my deposit, even my “Bargain Box” in aid of Shelterbox  wasn’t going to save the day.Was it the weather, the entrance fee, the location? At least everyone was quiet , not just me, but that makes it even harder to judge myself objectively.On the plus side it was fantastic to meet the other stall holders, talk shop and eat cake. I was particularly impressed with Vicky Trainor’s work; she was one of my tutors at college and her vintage inspired cards and beautiful wedding favours must take her hours to put together, prompting me to question yet again how handmade work is valued and priced…

Have a look at this stunning set of wedding photos from Vicky’s blog. They look like stills from a film and I think I may have to make more of an effort with my personal grooming!!

Here are some of my newest offerings; a small wooden box with canvass lid and some new wallet designs derived from it. I’ll be listing them on Etsy and Folksy later and I’m thinking of making up some as sewing kits too. What do you think?

Now, I really must put this computer down as its burning my knees,I’ve already dropped butternut squash pate on it and I must try to run about a bit before darkness falls.



“Jam Tomorrow…”

My kitchen windowsill reflects the changing seasons like a school nature table (do they still have these random collections of pebbles, conkers and bird’s nests?) and last month’s pastel, summer scented sweet peas have been replaced by the rich colours of autumn; butternut squash,the last sunflower and a collection of jewel coloured jam jars full of damson and apple jelly.The kitchen is also covered in jewel coloured splatters and I haven’t dealt with the jelly bag yet which looks like the heart of a large animal…

At the weekend I had possibly the prettiest setting for a market stall ever, as I took part in Helmsley Walled Garden’s Autumn Fair. Since I was a late booking and work in the cafe anyway, I was allowed to display my wares in the Vine House rather than the marquee and so spent a pleasant day under the grape vines, drinking a lot of coffee and chatting with interested passers by on their way to enjoy a fabulous vegetarian lunch.

The day was a success ,mostly because I sold a small painting, but I also learnt a useful lesson too because I realised that my displays did not make it clear enough that the necklaces were actually necklaces and not just small pieces of art or cards. More labels needed for my next outing then, which will be Designer’sMarketplace at Newcastle’s Holy Biscuit on October 14th. This event is part of Newcastle’s Design Festival , there’s loads going on so if you’re planning a trip to the Toon this could be the week to do it!

I’ll be giving a 15% discount to readers of Witchmountain so just say hello and mutter “the owls are not what they seem” under your breath to qualify!!

Well, I have some dull housework to do now and a bit of garden tidying before I can continue with a commission I’m doing for a couple who are getting married in October. I’m wishing my garden looked more like Helmsley and thinking yellow and purple must be the colours of the moment ; not a combination I would normally choose. Soon it will be getting chilly and I’m hoping some babies with chilly toes will be asking for some Witchmountain elf shoes for Christmas!

Reading : “One Day” David Nicholls and planning to take part in the Guardian’s Book Swap


I seem to have caught a cold, which has been a perfect excuse to light the stove and bake comfort food, while messing about on Photoshop with a doodle I did in Wiltshire. Actually, on Sunday I was taken on a magical mystery trip which involved driving over the Yorkshire Wolds, which are quite foreign to me. The landscape there is similar to Wiltshire in many ways, big and yellow and so different to the North York Moors only a few miles away. The Moors here are just starting to turn purple while the grey sky throws buckets of rain over everything and the garden is starting to look a bit mad and overblown.

It’s lovely to fill the house with flowers ,still wet from the garden ,and cobble together meals from the vegetable patch. But today I made a sad discovery when I found Lola ( previously Nameless Chicken) stone cold dead on the chicken house floor, she was quite an old lady so I don’t suspect fowl play (oh dear !) . Now there is only  Evil Penguin left so I suppose I’d better start looking for some friends for her,anyone have any Buff Pekins for sale?

I’ve just driven back from the village through big puddles, dodging the toads and hedgehogs who seem to be holding some sort of street party. I was going to spend the evening drawing the owl, who I still have after the gallery day , but I think I’m going to retire to my nest with a book and some hot lemon and honey.

I managed to track down the photographs taken by the Northern Echo and thought I’d be very naughty and share them with you. I’m not sure if I will get done for breach of copyright; obviously as a designer/artist this is an important issue so If I’ve done wrong could somebody please let me know so I can remove them…

The next event “Art in the Shed”, is planned for August Bank Holiday in Osmotherley and will be in aid of Street Child Africa.Hopefully I will have got some more work framed by then and there’s bound to be some lovely cakes on offer too since Jane is organizing it!

Goodnight and Thank you for all the votes!  x

Reading: “Cloud Atlas” David Mitchel   ” Griffin And Sabine Trilogy” Nick Bantock.   Listening to : JuJu “In Trance” and news of riots in London on Radio4.