Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The best present

I have been visiting a Primary school recently to give mindfulness lessons to 2 classes and wanted to make them a special Christmas card as a thank you. Here is what I made for them. Aside from this it has been all books, books, books recently for the 50 books in a year of being 50 project, which is rapidly coming to a conclusion at the end of the year. You can view the books here -

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Leaf print cards

It's been a while since my last post, mainly because of the 50 books project I set myself. Here is the latest - leaf print cards. I was inspired by this floor tile
which I saw in Cape Town, South Africa.
And here is my version, turned into a whole host of square cards.
I had to do the print in 3 sections as I use ink pads which are a limited size. So I started with the leaf in the middle, then did 2 prints each of the lines edging and the dotty edging. I'm really happy with the results and the range of colours.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Creativity & Mindfulness - a great combination!

Two day retreats coming up.
Saturday September 19th in Helmsley Walled Garden -
Sunday October 11th at SNAPArts in Wakefield -

We offer a day’s retreat - 9.30am to 4.30pm -  to encourage and support your creativity through playful drawing and writing, with mindful practice as our foundation.

Mindfulness is simply being aware of our attention in the present moment, with acceptance and without judgement of what we find there.

Practising the qualities of mindfulness - patience, trust, openness - we will enable you to explore your own creativity playfully, but without looking for an end result at this stage.

Our professional guidance in drawing, poetry writing and mindfulness will be offered throughout our day together, and will include a mindful approach to eating a delightful lunch.

Our retreat is devoted to anyone who wishes to explore mindfulness as a fresh approach to creativity, which can be expanded to all areas of life.  We especially encourage those terrified and afraid of drawing or writing as mindfulness offers a gentle and non-judgemental approach to these creative aspects.  Our tuition will include a full range of craft skills and technique so that beginners and more experienced practitioners alike can enjoy the retreat.

Lauri Bower - poet and mindfulness teacher. Clare Belbin - artist.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

More die cut cards

I  have been lucky enough to borrow my niece's die cutting machine again, and so I purchased a trio of new die cuts to use, spring, summer and autumn borders.
Here are the cards that have been produced so far! (more to come!)

 spring silhouette.

 summer birds. 
The paper here is photocopied fabric over-copied with text.

 summer orange.

 autumn birds.

  autumn music.

 a kaleidoscope of butterflies. 
I had to look up what a group of butterflies was called, I thought this was very appropriate!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Die cut cards

I have had LOTS of fun playing with my niece's die cutting machine, and cut out lots of beautiful shapes and panels before I, sadly, had to hand it back! Here is a selection of the first 25 cards I have made, and there will be many more on the way!
I have envelopes full of the shapes just waiting to be applied to cards, and some will be turned into books as well.

And at some point I might get to claim the table back for things other than card-making!

Monday, 6 April 2015


I have been busy with book-making and binding ( which is why there haven't been any posts on here recently. And then my niece got a die cutting machine (like a mangle) and some dies and I had a go, and then started to play this weekend with some of my own, including some beautiful feathers which my sister and I bought today.
Here are the results so far -
These beautiful feathers are ready to adorn books and cards, but they do look lovely in their own right.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


This may not look very creative but it has occupied much of my time over the last 6 years. and whilst I didn't bind the book I did write every single word inside it. Finally, my Ph.D. thesis is complete and I have my own hard-bound copy! Next step is to try and get it published. The title is 'In the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh: the Theory and Practice of his Key Teachings'. Very relieved to have got it to this stage.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Kusadama flowers and candle logs

 Here are the Kusadama flowers displayed on my hearth. I was very pleased to have the inspiration to put them in here, a little pot of extra long matches for fire-lighting. And they sit beautifully next to log candle holders that my husband has made. 

 On our window sill are more candle holders, this time from driftwood. These were collected last May and have been sitting by the front door waiting for inspiration to strike. A friend of mine paints messages on pieces she collects and I thought I might do something similar but I love the way these work with tealights. 

Handmade cards

This is a card for my brother-in-law's 60th birthday. Hope he appreciates the effort it took to punch out and glue down 60 buttons!

This is another birthday card following the theme of cut outs with a picture or motif inserted into the space, which I've used previously.

And here is a valentine's card for my darling husband. I found a website which will calculate the numbers of days from any two given dates. It also helped me work out when we have been together for 10,000 days - October this year! 
This card is influenced by Rob Ryan and Sarah Morpeth, both of whom produce beautiful paper cuts. Have a look at their work.
Rob Ryan -
Sarah Morpeth -

6 & 7 of 50 books

Here are the next 2 books I have made, working up to 50.

This is a tiny concertina book inside a handmade origami box. You can see the size of it, just under 4cm.

This is it open, springing out of its box.

And here it is displayed. The words say
in - out - deep - slow - clam - ease - smile - release - present moment - wonderful moment.
This is a well known meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh.

The next book is a printed booklet of one of my poems, called Two Birds. You can see the whole poem here

Here are the inside pages, with cutouts for the two birds. The book is printed with each letter done individually. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

50 books for a 50 year

I have decided that in this, my 50th year, I am going to make 50 handmade books. All different kinds. Some will be plain notebooks and others will have content in them. I don't yet know what they will all be but I'm hoping that in making one there will be another idea for the next one.
This is the plan, let's see if it happens!
My intention is to make 50 books throughout this year and then hold an auction of them all. The proceeds will go to Plum Village, the monastic community in France where Thich Nhat Hanh lives - This seems to me a rather exciting and pertinent way of celebrating being 50.
I have already begun, although when I made the first 5 books this year I didn't realise this is what they were for. You can see the first 5 books on a previous post called 'A library of handmade books'. All I'm doing is extending the library.
I intend to have an exhibition of them somewhere (ideas and thoughts gratefully received) when I have finished so people can view them and then bid for them.
Here's a photo of some I have previously made (if I run out of time these may end up in the auction as well).

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Kusadama origami flowers

I started browsing a lovely book called "Playing with books" by Jason Thompson with the idea of making a book but got intrigued by these Kusadama origami flowers. I have made a few which I will use as part of an altar decoration for a Sangha meeting tomorrow evening (will post a photo of that after tomorrow). The largest one made from pages of a book is the size suggested originally, 6x6" but I felt that was a bit big so played around with making smaller and smaller ones. The smallest (blue & white) is 6x6 cm.
I also experimented with the thickness and weight of paper. I love the idea of using decorated papers but the ones here (blue & pink and blue & white) were too heavy to hold together (using double-sided tape) and I had to sew them together! It's quite hard sewing through thick paper and I ended up bending the needle!
So the lighter paper the better! The last ones I made were from newspaper and they have worked really well.

Here's a collection of all of them.
And a couple of close-ups.

Book pages


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A library of handmade books

Still having some time on my hands I have been very lucky to play around with making more handmade books. And here are the results.

Firstly here they all are. Five beautiful books mostly with ribbon closures. The one with feather prints is 8x8 cm, the next two down are both 12x16 cm and the square one on the bottom is 14x14 cm.

Next is the tiny little one I made just for fun. It has 2 very cute wooden birds adorning the front cover
and inside the pages are made from an old poetry book (sorry Wordsworth!) It has taken me a while to get used to chopping up old books and recycling them. Inside some of the bigger books are quirky pages including graph paper squares and old dictionary pages.

 Here is an inside view of the little bird book, a mere 3x4 cm.

 Next we have the paisley book, covered in gorgeous wrapping paper that I bought from a recent website find, Namaste
Beautiful paper imported from Thailand. Below is the paper on the inside covers (also on the spine outside).

 Here is a close up of the patchwork book. A friend recently gave me a stash of little marbled squares of fabric (3x3 cm) and I have been pondering for a while what to do with them. Another friend had the idea of using them in a book cover and here is my version. A bit fiddly as you have to cut out each window separately but well worth the end result I think!

 And the button book! Buttons are a particular favourite of mine and I only recently discovered you can get paper punches that cut out buttons! (why did I not know this before?) So the buttons on the front cover are paper and the buttons down the spine a real, sewn-on buttons, one of which is used to wrap the thread around to close the book. I also added a page marker with this book and it has the heart button on the end of it.

 Here is a shot of the inside pages, some plain, some coloured, some graph paper and some and old dictionary. It all adds to the fun. 
 And finally the printed feather book, shown here with a printed leaf book with a bird button closure. This was a Christmas present. The printing is a bit experimental as I'm not sure how well it is going to stand up to wear and tear but I guess most things are experimental to begin with! Enjoy!