Over the last few months I have been working on ideas which would enable me to earn a bit of side income from my art and interests in creativity. I have been looking at different options and have been particularly inspired by the prolific Sableyes and his Little Fears project.
Having looked through various options I’ve decided to follow his example and dip my toe in the water with a Threadless Artist Shop. I’m a bit excited about this as it feels like I have been able to come to the end of a project with an actual product out there in the ‘real world’. I have picked a small selection of products including high quality prints and a few bags – please go over and have a look if you are inclined to do so.
So, drum roll…. here is the Magpie at Midnight artist shop, where you can buy my stuff.
I’ve been working with some new materials recently with I’ve been enjoying. Alongside working with cut paper I have been experimenting with cutting cotton. The problem I had was that cutting cotton was that the edges fray, and I particularly like the strong lines and silhouettes produced by paper cut.
I have managed to fix this problem! I have been coating the cloth with a PVA style glue (I am using this Modge Podge but I don’t think it matters which brand you pick). Apply with a paint brush and make sure you use a plastic sheet to protect your furniture. This then needs to dry for a good 24 hours before you can cut with scissors. It’s rather satisfying to peel the cloth from the plastic. One side will be shiny while the other will retain the cloth texture. I’ve been using a paper stencil and pencil on the shiny side to trace out the shape I wanted. Then I can cut using scissors as I do with paper.
I like the effect produced – I think the combination of textures works really well.
A limited collection of prints of my are are now available here at threadless.
We are taking a few days down time at the moment, staying in the New Forest. It is a very beautiful, wild place. We have taken several long walks through the woods and I have certainly felt better for it. The air is lighter and fresher here. At times I feel I walk a little taller, the muscles in my back are not so tense.
When I manage to get out of the city and into the countryside I am frequently shocked into remembering how vividly beautiful the UK countryside is. It is spring at the moment and we have encountered blubell carpets and the fresh green shoots of new growth all around us. I often feel, when out and about in our vibrant green spaces, that many people from the UK who travel long distances to find exotic wild locations are missing out on the wild places that are much closer to home.
But we have also encountered patches of land where the trees are dying. The forest is undergoing wetter winters and dryer summers, and the natural soil microcosm is becoming unbalanced, leading to the roots of many trees rotting in the soil. The change in soil conditions is probably an consequence of climate change.
Here is another reason I am so disappointed with the moral leadership of our current generation of politicians. We have known for quite some time there is much work to be done to protect our beautiful wild places, from cleaning up polution, and carefully assessing the impact of various pesticides on the soil, through to the Enormous task of planning and taking action over climate change. But while there are many organisations working hard to tackle these problems, our politicians appear to take a ‘profit now, some one else can clean up the mess later’ attitude. This is a peculiarly selfish and short sighted approach, which burdens generations to come with a vastly depleted natural environment, and the loss of those wonderful British wild places.
It is Easter in the UK. I am away from home for the weekend and will be walking on the South Downs later. At the moment I am sipping coffee and nursing a hangover. I really love the spring in Britain. Our countryside is green, and lush, and full of delicate blossom and the tender petals of bulbs that flourish early in the year.
I am not religious, but I guess I have been reflecting this Easter on the state of things here in the UK. I went to a Church of England school when I was young, and learned many of the stories that form the basis of the Christian teachings. I was particularly struck by many of these stories, and as an adult am still taken with the elegance with which some of these stories convey quiet but clear messages about compassion, and empathy, and understanding. In the Good Samaritan it is not the men with the status of religious authority who come to the aid of a man who has been robbed and left beaten by the road, but a relatively modest outsider, the Samaritan who is from a different, despised tribe and a different place. I do not remember the story in which Jesus spent his time enjoying the pleasures of schmoozing with rich bankers, but I do remember the stories in which he tended to the sick, and gave comfort to those in need, or those who society would have cast aside.
I bring this up because last week our prime minister found time to make a fuss about the packaging on some chocolate eggs, which did not have the word Easter on them, and she felt it important to speak out as a ‘vicar’s daughter’. Yet she presides over a government that seems very comfortable with directly attacking the living standards of people living with long term illness and disability, and with pushing families with young children over the poverty line. Food banks have become commonplace in this country once more. I bring this up because in the last 12 months every time I have heard someone use the phrase ‘this is a Christian country’ it has some how been linked to a statement about turning away refugees from war torn countries. It has been used to justify some in saying that there is simply no room in this inn for 3000 children who have been separated from their parents during the trauma of their flight from war and termoil. I bring this up because we seem to think that protecting wellbeing of the corporate businesses and banks is more important than protecting the workplace rights of ordinary working people. We have become intensely relaxed about giving the money lenders the keys to the temple.
Now my recollections of many of the Christian teachings of my childhood is a bit hazy, so maybe I don’t remember those bits where Jesus spoke of how fine it was to take money from disabled people, or deny shelter to people in need of it. Maybe it’s just my own personal biases that draw me to focus on the bits where he spoke about compassion and about treating others as we may wish to be treated ourselves.
At this time of rebirth and renewal maybe it is a good idea to re-visit what we mean when we say ‘this is a Christian country’. Jesus was a champion of the poor, and the sick, and the different. Perhaps this would be a good time to have a think about what a ‘Christian country’ that took his vision seriously would look like.