The World Turns To Ice

Friday, 21 December 2012

Winter Solstice

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!
by Susan Cooper

Saturday, 3 November 2012

November 5th

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.

Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow.

By God's mercy he was catch'd
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

Friday, 28 September 2012

A New Direction

I have been spending the Summer adding a new branch to my tree. I have found a wonderful family company in the Midlands that supplies ethically sourced genuine gemstones and precious metals.  After receiving my first delivery I am completely hooked. I have worked in silver before as I have been on several silversmithing courses and produced many items of jewellery but there is something about working with real gemstones, that have come from the earth, that adds an extensive new dimension.  As you hold a real gemstone in your hand you can feel the weight of it, it is cold but soon warms to your own body temperature as if it is reconfiguring itself to your own tuning.

When you work with glass , acrylic or plastic beads they are what they are. They may look beautiful but there is no story connected to them. When you work with a gemstone you think of its history, geology, possible healing qualities and folklore. Who can resist a gemstone named by an ancient Greek philosopher or reputedly given by mermaids to protect sailors at sea.  You think of the places in the world where they have been mined and the efforts made to discover and collect them from the ground.  I am heartened to think that the supplier is a company that cares about the conditions and welfare of the miners.  Schools are set up in many of the local villages and  earth stoves are fitted within the homes: these replace the open fires used for cooking  and benefit the health of the whole family.

I am passionate about the materials that I use. I recycle where I can and have become quite adept at making something out of nothing. However, I am prepared to invest in these wonderful gemstones as they are providing me with a new found interest that I can become completely absorbed in.  My first pieces are quite simple in design as the stones are so beautiful in themselves that you do not need to be too elaborate to show them off at their best.  As I learn new techniques I am beginning to be a little more confident and ambitious with my designs and I am thinking more about how the light affects the surface and how different colours next to them can make them glow.

I have recently taken part in Herefordshire Art week and have had lots of lovely feedback from the large audience that came to visit.  I have to thank Katie at Trumpet Corner Tea Rooms ( for hosting the week long event and my fellow exhibitors: Ed Elliott, Elaine Mason, Douby Evans, Kevin Kimber, Bronte Woodruff, Victoria Harrison and Clare Hooper for their company and their wonderful art work.

Photos of many new creations will follow shortly.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Re-designing, re-inventing

I think its time to resurrect some unfinished pieces and see what I can do with them.

 These are just some of many.  Its good to go back and re-think designs, reinvent them.

It can often produce new ideas which then become designs for new pieces of work.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

It rained and it rained and it rained........

A day for pottering and keeping warm and dry whilst the wind howls and the rain just keeps on coming. It is as if a river is flowing down the lane from the woods, sweeping and splashing past my door.  Hamish and Ozzy are curled up in their cat baskets and showing no interest in venturing outside at all. Only Jasper the Wonder Dog is being intrepid enough to wander around the garden and is oblivious to the rain and oozing wet ground.  He is happy to be warmed by the hair dryer though when he comes back inside. A little sleep is now needed to recover from his ordeal.

                                                     Even Wonder Dogs need their rest.

Now I did say that I would post a picture of  the results from the workshop that I went to on Friday and, as you have been very, very good here is a photograph of Seraphina the Owl. She, and she is a fine female, is now finished and has been turned into a beautiful brooch. I give all credit to the lovely Kathleen who has been so generous with her ideas. If you trot along to the Murgatroyd Hoots blog you can catch the next workshop that comes along.


Bustle and Sew

I have to share this with my fellow stitchers.  If you love hand embroidery and you haven't yet discovered this, then take a look at  It has a lovely vintagey ( I know that is not a proper word Blogger but it fits the feel of this wonderful website. You don't have to tell me!). I am busy downloading transfers as I type.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Murgatroyd & Bean

The Lady has been on an adventure with the Owl and the Hare and has made, or almost made, a lovely itty bitty brooch.  It is just waiting for stitches and jewels and a little pin at the back and then it will all be done.  I might show you when its finished, if you're good.  If you can't wait, take a look at the website:

Thank you to Kathleen for sharing her secrets and to Cafe Salvation ( for the space and the goodies. What a perfect way to spend a morning.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A Strange Practice

This day, in ancient Rome, was the Feast Day of Cerialia, the feast of Ceres who was much loved by the people.  White robes were worn by all and hospitality was exchanged. Offerings of spelt, salt and incense were made.

Now, I want you to close your eyes and imagine this as it is the strangest of the strange, a habit that is almost beyond imagining, they let loose foxes with burning torches tied to their tails. How very bizarre.  I am constantly amazed at the cruelty that mankind inflicts upon poor creatures.  This practice would seem to belong more to the land of storybooks where perhaps a bold race of foxes would emerge from forests with fire issuing from their tails and a dramatic battle of good against evil would ensue. Well, there's one for my notebook.

The Feast Day of St Expiditus

The authenticity of this saint is debatable but a saint that expedites matters that you have been procrastinating about might be worth a prayer or two.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Feeling Weary

If the days were getting shorter and the dark nights were getting colder then The Lady would retreat into the Greenwood and build a little house of sticks, a bed of feathers and moss and hang a curtain of gossamer and dewdrops at the door.  She would lay herself down under a blanket of fleece and leaves and go to sleep for the season. But Spring is rising and the days are lengthening and amidst the April showers the earth is warming. No time for resting, birds are nesting and grass is growing, trees are blossoming and its time for creating. A short sleep with a prayer for technicolour dreams and visions in the dark to bring inspiration when the morning comes.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Springtime in The Greenwood

The woods have burst into life. Betty Daws Wood is carpeted with daffodils. snowdrops, primroses, violets and anemones.

Happy Days!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Travelling from East to West

I realised today how fortunate I am travelling from east to west to my studio each day.  This morning I watched the clear blue light rise above the Malvern Hills in the east. This evening I followed a bright orange sun as it was setting over the Black Mountains and coloured the sky with gold.  Both were equally stunning.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Winter Turns to Summer all in One Day

Our green Winter has turned to white. We have had snow this week and last night was the coldest recorded this season, -16C in places. I was supposed to be travelling today but cancellations were threatened, roads are icy and trains are delayed so I have decided to work from home. This year I am studying 'Shakespeare' with the Open University and I shall spend this frozen day imagining Summer as I disappear into the world of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.

Coincidently, I have been asked to enter work into an exhibition based upon a theme of  'We are such stuff as dreams are made on...', from 'The Tempest', for showing during the Ledbury Poetry Festival in June. I shall, therefore, proclaim this as my year of the Bard and visit the theatre as often as possible for inspiration.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

February 2nd

A fine Candlemas will bring about a prolongation of Winter and a rainy Candlemas means that we will have an early Spring. A fine but very cold day here. Perhaps this means that our long awaited Winter will at last arrive - not that I am relishing the thought of ice and snow but this long green Winter seems very strange.

On the Snowdrop

Already now the snowdrop dares appear,
The first pale blossom of the unripened year:
As Flora's breath, by some transforming power,
Had changed an icicle into a flower:
Its name and hue the scentless plant retains
And Winter lingers in its icy veins.

Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825)

Monday, 30 January 2012

A little bit of history

A cold January day with flurries of snow. I have been priming canvas and painting. Everything is slow to dry because of the cold so I have been spending some time researching a little bit to get a feel of the area where my studio is based. I live where rivers run, between the Severn and The Wye, where hills rise and forests cover the land. When I come down from the hillsides as I drive some 18 miles to my studio I see a more pastoral landscape with rolling slopes and green meadows. My studio is at the village of Trumpet on the Trumpet Crossroads. I found this today on Wikipedia:

Trumpet, Herefordshire
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Trumpet Inn
Trumpet or The Trumpet is a village in Herefordshire, England. The village is named after the timber-framed Trumpet Inn.
The inn is located at a major crossroads of the A438 and A417/A4172 from where:
  • the City of Hereford is 18 km (11 mi) to the west on the A438
  • Ledbury is 7 km (4.3 mi) to the east on the A438
  • Leominster is 28 km (17 mi) to the northwest initially on the A417
  • Gloucester is 32 km (20 mi) to the southeast initially on the A4172
The half-timbered inn is said to be some 800 years old and so named from the obligation of coaches that passed by to blow their coach horns.
The crossing must have been an important intersection of the Gloucester to Leominster and Tewkesbury to Hereford roads.
Local agriculture includes the growing of hops and cider apples.

  This Inn stands across the road from the studio. Reading this has summoned up images in my imagination of coaches and horses and a slower pace of travel than the cars and lorries that rush passed my window. Knowing a little more about the history of a place can change the way you view it and give a broader understanding of its place in the landscape.

Monday, 9 January 2012

One Little Word

As we enter 2012 I am going to keep one little word and carry it in my mind and try to keep it ever present throughout the year.  That word is 'ACTION'.  As I sit and day dream and make plans there is always something that holds me back from bringing those dreams to fruition. One day I'll do that I think, one day when I am more skilled, have more resources or opportunities, one day when the time is right.

In the summers of 2010 and 2011 I did an online course with an American artist, Kelly-Rae Roberts (it was so good that repeated it last summer) called 'Flying Lessons'.  Kelly-Rae describes herself as a 'possibilitarian' and she instills in her students a belief that anything is possible if you put your dreams into action.

So, this year I will be putting things into action, I won't wait.  I may never be quite good enough and the time might never be right but if I try then who knows what might happen.  

This blogpost is part of a group bloghop which is being carried out by myself and my fellow 'Flyers'. I do hope that you will be able to link into their posts too and see which little words are inspiring them this year:

Monday, 2 January 2012

Now that's a pie!

On this date in 1770 a Christmas pie was made in London town. The ingredients included:

4 bushels of flour
20 pounds of butter
4 geese
2 turkeys
2 rabbits
4 wild ducks
2 woodcock
6 snipe
4 partridges
2 neats' tongues
2 curlews
7 blackbirds
6 pigeons

It was apparently 9 feet in circumference at the bottom and weighed about 12 stone (168 pounds).  It took two men to bring it to the table and it was manouvered at the table by four wheels which were attached to a case underneath it.  If the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was around at the time I doubt whether a representative would have been invited.