So, one of my new year’s goals was to learn a new bookbinding technique. This new journal is made using the Secret Belgian Binding method, which looks like Japanese stab binding but opens flat. The stitching was a bit tricky but I got there in the end. I’m not sure making such a large journal with this technique was a good idea but it’s all a learning curve. I love the fact that this journal opens completely flat, but the spine feels a bit loose compared with hardback binding. Of course, that could just be my first go at this type of stitching being a bit looser than it could be. I think I’ll give it another go but in a smaller format.

(This method is in Alisa Golden’s book Making Handmade Books. published by Lark Crafts)

Pass on life

Pass on life. Make sure what you do and say builds up and aids growth.

All the green circles joined together made me think of how we are all connected and all touch one another’s lives. Each circle is joined to the next with two lines – there are two ways we can affect someone else: for good or for ill. Green made me think of life and growth, and that is what we’re aiming for.

Behind you

This page was a big hot mess for such a long time! I painted a face on it with the thought that at least it couldn’t make it worse. And immediately it calmed the page. The face makes a focal point, pushing all the noise into the background where it somehow becomes less noisy.

Don’t we need that sometimes, to push all the noise into the background?

This last year has been ‘noisy’ in so many ways. Thankfully we are closing in on a point when we’ll be able to put it behind us and move forward.

In the frame

What’s in the frame?

I’ve just done a free ‘creative elements’ workshop with Laura Horn. One of the exercises was to do some backgrounds, but Laura tapes off her page first, so I thought I’d give it a go. It means you end up with a frame on your page. As you can see from mine, even though I used tape, I still managed to daub paint outside of it. Plus working at an easel (better for my neck) means when the paint was a bit thin, the drips went beyond the tape. Oh, well. It’s just my art journal.

Standing back and looking at the page made me think of when you stand and mask off a view with your fingers, framing the bit that you want to paint or photograph. What’s in the frame? What are you focusing on? And maybe more importantly, what are you blocking out?

Quiet moments

There is a lot going on on this page, a lot of ‘noise’ (and I love all those marks), but there are ‘quiet’ patches where the eye can rest.

I was chatting on Zoom with some people the other day and we had a time of quiet contemplation for about ten minutes. At the end one of them said that they would never do that normally, just sitting in silence, and they found it really refreshing. As an introvert, I can’t imagine not having quiet time. I embrace the moments of quiet in the day. They give me space to breathe, reflect, and refresh, before plunging back into the activity of the day.

Close to home

Up until now, although we’ve been well aware of the high levels of infection and transmission in our area, it has been a little removed from us. Even so, we have, of course, been following all the guidelines and behaving as if we may be infected so as to protect those around us. This has mainly meant staying in the house unless shopping for food, the latter being done fully masked and gloved up, and in as short a time as possible at a time that is quiet.

In the last couple of weeks, though, many in our congregations have asked for prayer for family members, themselves, and neighbours who are isolating because of Covid 19, or are in hospital, or, sadly, have had deaths in the family. On Sunday we heard about deaths of both parents of a young child who has now had to go into care. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming and close to home.

Just so tired

Just so tired.

I’m sure you can all relate. We’ve been pushing on through for about a year now. We can take a break, but there’s nowhere we can go, nothing much we can do. There’s a break, but no change. Lots of things we might do for leisure are off the cards at the moment. We can’t visit friends or have them round for food. Everything is done at a distance, and it’s wearing.

Still reaching

Still reaching for the light.

This is one of those pages where the artwork suggested the wording. As I looked, I could see that the leaves that stretch up the whole page go through a dark patch in the middle of two lighter parts. Even when a plant is in a dim room, it will move towards the slightest bit of light. Isn’t that how our last year has felt? Holding on to hope, seeking all the light you can in a dark situation. Now, with the roll-out of the vaccine there is a little more light shining in the dimness.

Give or take?

To give up or to take up?

I’ve been busy with prepping a massive church mail-out for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It’s not for a couple of weeks, but we like to be organised and having everything ready means we can start prepping for Easter. With all the uncertainty of whether we’ll be out of lockdown, having something ready helps.

Anyway, having Ash Wednesday on my mind makes me think about whether to give something up, or take something up for the season of Lent. Lots of people give something up – chocolate, sweet things, alcohol etc. – and that’s all good. But why not take up something useful and develop a new habit? I shall be giving up fiction, but at the same time I will work my way through a pile of books that I hope will help me to understand new perspectives and give me an idea of what it is like to live without the white privilege that I have moved in all my life.

What, if anything, are you giving up or taking up?