Mud and Fire

I am living in Cape Town by the sea again, temporarily (I know I’m so fortunate) and I’m working hard on my new day job which I love.

Working remotely for a company as a project and partnerships manager means a lot of screen time.

Numerous projects all held in teetering piles on the edge of my brain.

After spending a lot of time on screens, I can feel my brain’s hardwiring being rewritten.

We are rewiring human brains and a huge shift in our evolution is happening right now.

In 500 years they will make more sense of it than I can right now;

I do know that all of this code – you reading this – me writing this – this screen displaying this – is going to be a pinprick of history in 1,000 oceans. Absolutely insignificant and meaningless.

A depressing thought that inspires me to hand make even more.

To create things that will outlive me, books, images, handwriting on paper, letters, notes.

I finally joined a pottery class and I am kicking myself for leaving it so long.

I’m a teacher of creativity, so going to a class to learn something from scratch, that I know very little about, has been a major revelation for me in the areas of teaching, learning, skills and techniques.

This is all very good for my personal development and for those of you that I teach in the future.

I am smitten with all things clay.

My first finished item was this tiny little pestle and mortar.

Big enough to grind 5 cumin seeds in which is perfect for my needs living on my own in Africa!

It started as a teeny pinch pot that I made in two minutes but then spent two hours just tweaking and sculpting and perfecting.

Holding the clay in my hand made me as old as the mountains and as curious as a child.

Sheer happy sparkles popped in my brain and I realised it was the perfect antidote for my screen life.


Here’s what I have been making so far. Everything is being fired again and might be ready by tomorrow morning.

It’s so exciting. It’s also a slow process which I am really enjoying. There’s lovely ladies, tea, bread and jam and I am complete.

Here’s my vase before firing, it’s a coil pot that has been painted with underglaze.


This is my personal brainwave of genius proportions. I use plastic paint trays for my glue in the studio and I’m fed up with flimsy plastic trays. I’m really excited how this turns out. It will be so much nicer to use. I’m going to go into production if it works out.


Side by side comparison. Everything shrinks 10-15% so I may have to make another if my roller doesn’t fit. Fingers crossed.



A soap dish, rinsing cup and toothbrush holder made in porcelain. I think the holes may fill up with glaze. I am a newbie!


When I leave Cape Town and head back to Essex, I need to find a ceramics studio or buy a kiln or something.

I never want to stop.

Here’s the link to my Pinterest board for Ceramics. Totally. Obsessed. I want to make everything.

See you soon!


December. A creative month.

I love December. Bright, cold mornings with pale blue skies.

I feel so lucky to be working in the warm sunny studio on seasonal gifts and ideas.

I’m printing as much as I can between classes, work and chores. I’ve got a whole lot of new inks arriving at the end of this week for upping my block printing on fabric game. The inks we use in class are brilliant, have good stamina and are perfect for learning new techniques but I’m longing to mix my own colours and build my own palettes. I want to build my own jelly like pads of ink that I used when I did block printing in India. They were used for printing over 6 metres of fabric for saris. I’d love to make limited editions of fabric. I’ve been sketching out a multitude of ‘collections’ and I can’t wait to get going with all of my ideas in the new year. My sketch book is packed with some odd looking doodles but I understand my visual notes! It’s interesting how a simple line can remind me of exactly how or what I was looking at, more than a photograph.



Of course I will be sharing my journey on this blog but if it’s regular content you are after my most regular updates are on Instagram.

I try to post something every day.

You can find me here.




Autumn Leaves Too Soon

Treetop Flyers

I looked at this old oak tree and couldn’t remember the last time I climbed a tree so I did. It felt good despite my fear of heights.

See me, in the tree at 53. Try it. Hold on tight.

The tree felt solid, it made me feel safe. It made me feel younger.

Autumn is all around us, it’s mild here in England. We’ve had no rain so the leaves are staying on the trees whilst they turn glorious shades.

I always pick up stunning specimens and lament that they never look as pretty once you get them home.

The light in the landscape has a special quality especially at certain times of the day.

The Purkinje Effect is something I experienced whilst in India and as I can’t say Purkinje, I renamed it the Punjab Effect.

Light glows and colours harmonise, the world tilts on it’s visual axis and we are lucky to catch it.

Have a look outside around dusk. That old plastic cup? I bet it’s singing like a treasure trove.

I never wanted to set the world on fire
I never wanted to set the world on fire

And while the leaves are on fire and I’m at my peak (insert relevant emoji here) I always want to capture the moment.

The point at which a wave breaks or a flower blooms, ethereal and other worldly, I want to capture it. I want to own it.

Hello is that the leaf emporium?

Yes please, may I purchase 362 orange leaves, 234 scarlet ones and 123 green turning lime?

Would you like them wrapped ma'am?
Would you like them wrapped ma’am?

In order to halt the ageing process, to circumnavigate the Order of Things and step into a time machine I decided to preserve the moment of nature that is there shining briefly like The Punjab Effect. I’ve bottled it and now I own nature itself. You can too if you follow my instructions.

Buy some Paraffin Wax

Craftovator delivers for free and I received it the very next day.

Or you could melt some old candles but you are on your own with that. I suppose it’s a good use of those 500 tea lights you bought in Ikea.

Paraffin Wax

I melted mine in an old metal bowl, I wouldn’t think of using it again for food stuffs so I sacrificed it to the Gods of Craft. I placed my wax in a dry clean bowl and placed that snugly into a pan of water to melt.

Double boiler wax melting machine
Double boiler wax melting machine

Remember your health and safety badges here. It’s hot enough to hurt and if you spill it on your clothes it’s a pain. Ahem.

Meanwhile, you’ve collected your leaves and ooohed and ahhed over them and pressed them overnight in between the pages of your old cookery book that you never particularly liked. You can place them between paper, newsprint or whatever you have but it’s not essential.




Then you are ready to wax and dip them into preservation for the gloomy winter nights.

When your wax has melted, take a leaf and post it into the wax holding the stem.


After dipping each leaf for 10 seconds or so, hold it over the melted wax to drip off any excess and then hold it somewhere cooler to set for about 10 seconds. Then you can lay it on some greaseproof paper to set.



Find a stick or pole, I sprayed mine with copper Valspar.


Attach your set leaves to some thread or fishing line and Autumn is yours for as long as they last. They are delicate, it’s not a project for little fingers as the leaves can tear or the wax can crease but you could miss out the wax and just press the leaves for a junior project.


If I did it again, I would thread the leaves before dipping as it would make them super secure and save a bit of fiddling.

The wax preserves and even strengthens the colour.


If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

And if you do this project then #autumnleavestoosoon is a great hashtag to share your results.


Vital Research


All week the couriers have been delivering boxes of supplies for the classes at Out of Bounds.

I’m going to prepare little print packs for class participants.

These are fabulous ink pads from Japan. Long lasting (I’ve had some for 15 years and they still work) and with dense colour application.

I’ve got them for paper printing and fabric printing and this week I’m going to have to try some of the colours out.

Essential Research I call it.

Bone Folders



They can be either made of bone, bamboo or plastic.

As a vegetarian, I hate to say that the bone ones are the best.

I like to think at least the bones haven’t gone to waste and they are a by product but it still ails me.

Here’s a thing:

Rub a bonefolder on your forehead to give it a little slip, it burnishes beautifully with a tiny spot of grease.

No, I didn’t say you had greasy skin.