Friday, 31 October 2014

Nearly November ...

.. and this fact is hard to believe with all this mild and sunny weather we are experiencing here. The only nod to the seasons has been the clocks going back an hour and the evenings drawing in at around 4.30pm.

So it's Friday again and that can only mean one thing, it's...

 .. Fabulous Folksy Friday Finds!

'X' -  such a difficult letter, so much so we decided to bend the rules a little this week and cheat! So for this week X stands for Xtra special, or in other words a Xmas wish hope Santa takes the time to read this blog.

Do pop by the shops, their url's are under their photo's.

  'X' is for...

Simple elegance
X is for - Xtra Special necklace. This natural Pearl and white Topaz necklace has just the right amount of simplicity in its design to really let the beauty of the pearl shine through. Karen has been designing jewellery for a number of years and has sold to Liberty, a quick mooch around her Folksy shop and you can understand why they would love her work as much as I do!

Soft tones and beautiful stitching
X is for - Xtra Special blanket. It's both the detailed patterns and the thoughtful colour choices that makes this blanket so special. It took Claire over a year to make it, what a labour of love:

A wonderful addition to any front door
X is for - Xtra Special door knocker. Hayley's wonderful ironwork is a great example of how a feminine touch in a usually masculine medium can produce such beautiful, strong and yet delicate pieces of work. This stylish knocker would welcome all visitors into the heart of your home:

A long stretch from a twiggy feline
X is for Xtra Special cat. Twisted and turned out of willow wands this slinky cat is suitable for both indoors and outdoors. Sarah's Folksy shop also includes a rather handsome willow hound and a stately stags head for all your baronial halls:

Back here we 
have been getting inky this week. Both replenishing stocks and also printing one of Gary's new creations so consequently our drying rack is groaning under the weight of paper.

More Black Labradors ready for their new owners

The new print isn't quite ready for our online shops but we'll let you be the first to see the reveal... what could it be?

Is that a tree branch?

Lastly as it is Halloween tonight one of our black cats decided to make an entrance...

Happy Halloween!

'To err is human, to purr is feline'.
Robert Byrne

Friday, 24 October 2014

Blustery week ...

Hearing the weather forecast earlier in the week we did question how well our temporary cover on our half finished log store roof would hold up to gale force winds. We did have to make some adjustments to it on Monday morning which entailed Gary going up unto the roof while I passed up heavy concrete blocks to add to the many bricks already up there. Happy to report that even though the wind blew gusts of alarming strength the blue tarpaulin stayed put. All we need now is a couple of fine days to finish it off. 

So it's Friday again and that can only mean one thing, it's...

 .. Fabulous Folksy Friday Finds!

'W' -  is the letter helping us this week. We are nearly at the end of this alphabet adventure through the many shops on Folksy, but we are still finding wonderful wares to showcase here. Do pop by the shops, their url's are under their photo's.

  'W' is for...

Would look great perched on a lapel
W is for Wren - and what a sweet little bird he is. Sarah re-cycles second hand finds into little wonders of textile art. There is a whole flock of little birds awaiting discovery in her Folksy shop: 

Save your pennies here
W is for Welly boots - This pretty purse is just right for keeping your small change safe. Especially like the brooch birthday cards back in Kirstie's Folksy shop, a card and a gift combined, what a clever idea!

A stylish swirl of copper wire
W is for Wire - This copper wire pendant is rich with autumn tones and would brighten up even the dullest day. Emily works wonders with her range of wire jewellery with earrings, bracelets and rings tempting you in her Folksy shop:

Pass me the knitting needles now!
W is for Wool - Jo's Folksy shop should come with a warning. If your crafty pleasure is knitting or crochet work then brace yourself and be prepared to not leave empty handed. Her fibre work and hand dying makes for a glorious riot of woolly loveliness:

Here we have been busy getting Gary's new abstract mono print series ready for our online shops. Two more have been released this week and are getting lots of attention. The 'Winter Vineyard' Abstract Print transports me back to our time living deep in rural south west France. The area of Gascony we called home is where Armagnac is made and the rolling hillsides are filled with the vineyards that grow the grapes that are distilled into the honeyed wonder that is Armagnac. In winter the stems of the vines can be seen, twisted branches which look like dark scribbles against the bare earth. I may be slightly biased but I think Gary has captured the fields perfectly.

Winter Vineyard

The first February after we had moved into our French fermette we decide to plant our own vineyard. We visited an agricultural fair, the biggest in the region and spent time picking the brains of a viticulture expert on the type of vine we should plant. We came away with 100 vines for red wine production and a dozen mixed red and white eating grape varieties. We then set about planting them on the south facing slope of our little hillside. It was very hard, arduous work, done in the worst of the winter weather. We hired a 2 wheeled tractor to try and ease the workload, it didn't help. It was such a steep slope we reverted back to digging by hand. We did see some grapes whilst we lived there and I do sometimes wonder if it is all still there...

Our winter vineyard in it's infancy

Enjoy your weekend.

'Drawing is putting a line round an idea.'
Henri Matisse.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

The idea behind this is for the creative community of bloggers to write a blog based around a couple of set questions. Their answers offer an incite into their creative thoughts and processes. The blog 'baton' is then passed on to a fellow artisan and so the trip around the Globe gathers pace.

We were invited to participate in the 'Hop' by Julia at Fire Horse Textiles. Her fabulous textile work has been featured in our Friday Folksy Finds blog. To see her work and read about her creative process visit her blog at -

So here we go with the first question - and as we both work here in our home Studio we'll both chip in with our answers...

1 - What are we working on?

Gary - Just now I am in the very early stages of working up pencil sketches for a couple of bird linocut prints. They will be printed in single colour, probably black, and follow the style of 'Dawn Flight' - a print which features black crows, (inspired by the large tree just outside our front door).

I am also busy photographing my new collection of mono prints. The first two in the series are already in our online shops and there is a further 6 soon to be added. I'm really excited by this freeform method of creating prints and working with abstract images.

Dawn Flight - a 'Murder' of Crows
'Gorge' - Mono print

Heather - I have a poppy print that needs a couple more cuts before it get's it's next inking. I'm also working up ideas for my next project and have been working up sketches, it might just be a bird too, still thinking it out.

Poppy heads - inspiration found in our garden

2 - How does our work differ from others in it's genre?

Gary - Having a background in Graphic Design I think my print work does have a graphic edge to it. I am guilty of trying to make lino do what it really shouldn't, pushing it, literally, to breaking point. My reduction prints especially have very fine cuts in them and I have resorted to surgical scalpels to help with the detailing.

Fine detailing in - Winter sunset on Lake Windermere

Heather - Even though my background is also in Graphic Design I have always been inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and impressionism of the early 20th century. In itself this isn't an easy style to try and capture in lino printing, especially the muted, shapes and colours of impressionism. I too ask rather a lot of lino, requiring it to capture soft outlines.

Muted tones and soft contours

3 - Why do we create what we do?

Gary - I've always been creative and studied art, design and photography at college to be able to pursue it as a career. Having worked on design briefs for clients and being bound by what they required I longed for the day when I could do my own thing, create what I wanted and feel great satisfaction in the knowledge that people like my work enough to buy it and hang it in their homes. The thought that my art is spread across the globe from Tasmania to British Columbia makes me happy, very happy,

Heather - ditto the thoughts above!

This Cocker Spaniel has lots of air miles under his collar!
Well traveled Black Cat

4 - How does our creating process work?

Gary and Heather - we work together when it comes to this. A germ of an idea will be discussed. Whoever has been inspired by something will then research more into whatever has grabbed their attention. Lots of sketches then follow and more discussions. The sketches then get marked down onto the lino plate and the cutting commences. A single colour image is worked on the one plate and then inked up, taken to the hand press where the image is reverse printed onto the hand decaled paper. A reduction linocut print entails a great deal more work. The plate is slowly cut away after each colour is printed and so by the final visit to the hand press there is very little of the plate actually left, which means the prints are limited edition pieces of art.

A reduction print having it's final colour added

So that's a glimpse into our Studio and it's now back to work for us. The next 'Hop' will be with Tracy at Cinnamon Jewellery. She works with enamel and copper and her Etsy shop is a true box of delights. Take a look at her shop - - and then enjoy learning more about her creative process in next week's Around the World Blog Hop at

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Busy tidying the Studio ...

At long last we can find our way around our desks, the shelves have order and the cats have boxes to lounge upon. So now we can get back to what we love most, getting inky fingers and creating little pieces of art. But before we get lost in our imaginations we better get on with..

 .. Fabulous Folksy Friday Finds!

'V' -  is the letter which helped us unearth some lovely items this week, we thought it might prove difficult so were delighted to find such pretty things to brighten up our blog. All the shops mentioned are worth a stop over, their url's are under their photo's.

  'V' is for...

Wear pretty flowers in your hair
V is for Violas - Such pretty little bobby pins to add a dash of colour to your hair. Paula's Folksy shop is simply charming, filled with a nostalgic dolly mixture mix of dainty things for your sewing box:

A lovely mix of fabrics
V is for Vintage - This one of a kind little cushion is made up from fabric pieces found in an old sample book. Beautifully crafted it deserves a home on a chair of it's own. Alison's Folksy shop is filled with fabric delights including cushions, door stops and some very jolly peg bags:

A real piece of ceramic art
V is for Vase - Just love everything about this wonderful vase. Jenny took inspiration from her local surroundings to create this swirling, rippling piece of ceramic gorgeousness. The rolling sea around Epple bay on the Kent coast captured forever in porcelain:

Perfect for every pocket
V is for Vintage - Couldn't resist adding another vintage item in this weeks collection. Especially like the ethos behind the creation of this cute little pocket mirror. 'Daisy Florence' likes to take long forgotten pieces of hand embroidery found decorating old table linens and breathes new life into them by using those skillfully made stitches to adorn new items. Her Folksy shop is a riot of flowery loveliness:

Here the week has not only been taken up with tidying up but also getting Gary's new Mono Print collection ready for release in our online shops. These one of a kind abstract prints capture memories of forgotten views from our travels around France and also some of our favourite places here in UK. 

Gary uses glass plates to mix the inks and then hand presses paper onto the plate to make a truly unique image. I find it hard to pick a favourite as they all capture a moment in time that means so much to me, but just at present I am especially attracted to the fabulous depth captured in 'After the Storm' - an abstract seascape capturing the still calm of the sea just after a turbulent storm has passed over.

'After the Storm' Original Mono Print
'After the Storm' Close up 

The garden is now looking rather battered by the recent rain, sadly the last of the summer flowers have all but faded and the Cosmos, Cornflowers and Nicotiana plants will soon be consigned to the compost bins. Surprisingly the Larkspur which was sown back in May has only just decided to flower, a welcome splash of colour even if it will be very short lived.

Larkspur and rain dashed Cosmos

...the on going story of Howard's Fig.

You might remember earlier in the year the story of our little French fig tree and how it has accompanied us on our numerous travels. Well finally, and after 12 years, at least 9 moves and a couple of re-pots we have finally plucked our very first - and only - fig from it's branches. Even though it was of Lilliputian proportions we halved it and took our time to savour every morsel of it's delicate flesh, a little moment of sheer pleasure... and sun drenched memories.


..and simple pleasures.

By the way, after much debate I left my wobbly tooth behind in the market town of Beverley. Even though it was perfect in every way it was a tooth in miniature and was serving no purpose - other than wobbling - so with the deftness of a Fairy my lovely lady Dentist gently tugged it out. Sans teeth...still have the eyes.

Enjoy your weekend.

'Wild is the music of autumnal winds, amongst the faded woods'.
William Wordsworth.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Behind the times...

It's that time of year when time just seems to slip through our fingers. Things are getting busy in the Studio, the garden needs it's Autumn tidy up and we have outside jobs on the house that need completing before the weather halts any plans. Also I've been nursing a wobbly tooth for the last couple of weeks. Seems I didn't know my own strength, bit down on some lunch and loosened a tooth! It has a stay of execution to see if it re-fixes itself before the next visit to the dentist. So many things to do that we sadly missed out on writing last week's Friday blog. We are just about back on track, so here is this week's....

 .. Fabulous Folksy Friday Finds!

'U' -  what a tough letter to try and find items, however with some searching we have managed to find some fab items to grace this blog. All the shops mentioned are worth a stop over, their url's are under their photo's.

  'U' is for...

Flying the flag...

U is for - Union Jack Flag wall hanging. This is to be found in one of our favourite shops on Folksy. Julia is a textile artist with a great eye for colour and textures and her flair for incorporating recycled materials in her work makes for truly one of a kind items:

What to hang - Pots, Pans or bunches of herbs?

U is for - Utensil rack, and what a handsome kitchen addition this would make. Colin's shop is a showcase of fabulous curving iron work. There's even a cowboy dinner triangle to summon your hordes to the dinner table, (that would have to be baked beans for tea!) Find them all back in Colin's Folksy shop:

Give your herb garden some style

U is for - Upcycled herb markers. Fiona takes old unloved cutlery and breathes new life into them. Here she has made some very original plant markers which would look great in a herb pot. You'll also find cheese board markers, key rings and tags all back in Fiona's Folksy shop:

Rain, rain go away...

U is for - Umbrella Brooch. A sweet, nostalgic little brooch made out of a jigsaw piece. Louise takes vintage children's books and jigsaws and upcycles them into a jolly assortment of notebooks, bunting and jewellery. A visit to her Folksy shop is guaranteed to make you smile.

Back here we have been dodging the raindrops trying to get outdoor tasks finished. Alas the seasons have caught us out yet again. Our rather elderly log store is in need of a new roof, a job that kept getting postponed all summer long for other garden jobs. Now that we have finally started it the weather has changed. We managed to get the old, rotten roof off before running out of time - and good weather. So for now we can look up to the stars in our log store and all the wood is stacked outside getting wet! Hopefully it will get finished in the next couple of weeks, here's hoping.

Girly log chopping efforts - quite a workout!

This week we lit the log burner for the first time this season and our cats rejoiced in the glow. Our tortie loves to drape herself, at full stretch, on the rug in front of it whilst our little tabbie likes to leap up onto the top of the bookcase to enjoy all the rising hot air. It would seem we all love a real fire here.

In the studio we are getting geared up for the festive season. It needs a good tidy up and we also need to stock check and order in packing materials, there's an air of glittery excitement already! We are still working on prints, I've a floral which needs two more visits to the press and Gary is about to start work on another bird print. While it is great to have a tidy work space it's even better to get back to creating art.

This chap scampered off to a new home this week

Enjoy your weekend.

'Don't let yesterday take up too much of today'.
Cherokee Proverb.