Studio Diaries 03

(This entry starts in June and ends in July, as I didn’t finish it at the time and picked it up where I left)

23 June

The virtual extension of my part of The Written Word exhibit closed a couple of days ago. I have orders for illuminated prints that I was really hoping to print, gild and ship before I vanish for a few days in early July. My giclée printer, who’s local to me, rose up to the task in under 24 hours so I could bring them to the studio today and get to work.

I’m still making boxes and have collected some more lovely objects to include. One great thing about living here is the number of mudlarks who comb the banks of the Thames and sell their finds. Look at these Victorian ink and perfume bottles, they make me squee!

For an experiment, I prepared a very saturated salt solution and left it to dry in a cup. I wanted to see what crystals form but instead I got this…

I think I can see what happened: the shape of the cup led the water to ascend the sides as it evaporated, dropping salt along the way. I need to try this again in a different shape container to see if it makes a difference!

When it rains, the studio’s tin roof magnifies a drizzle into a downpour, and a serious rainstorm with thunderclaps sounds like the apocalypse – I love it! It’s one of my greatest pleasures to create quietly indoors while it’s pouring outside, but British rains are as mild-mannered as the culture and there’s rarely the over-the-top slightly terrifying drama I remember from home. Less enjoyable is that the damn tin roof leaks, and I have to make sure never to leave anything unprotected in the 3 or 4 drip zones.

25 June

I’ve been home with a head cold for two days and I’d have been climbing the walls if I wasn’t too exhausted to move. On the plus side, I nearly finished a long-suffering knitting project.

I had launched an AMA (“ask me anything”) on instagram when I got sick so I had plenty of space to answer. It brought about some lively drama from very strange “dude bros”, of which these are only two examples:

Putting them in their place not only resulted in solidarity from many women artists who have to put up with the same kind of aggressive inferiority complex, and quite good discussions, it also brought me an offer so exciting I’m screaming in a pillow, but can only share in due time. It would make the would-be bullies quite green, except they’re blocked so they won’t find out from my feed.


14 July

The rain above is but a distant memory as we brace for 2-3 days of dangerous heat. I’m putting in as much time as I can at the studio to catch up while I can. I even buckled and bought a fan, one that can also emit heat in winter. I named it Bestie and so far it’s doing a sterling job keeping me from sticking to the paper I’m working on.

I had another indigo-dyeing session at home, not very satisfactory as I had less dye left than I thought, but it produced just what I needed for an idea that came during my trip. I am trying to document this as I make it to make a reel (they’re all the rage right now but I’m still considering whather that’s a bandwagon I want to jump on). We shall see.

I’ve been chomping at the bit to walk back along the canal and harvest nettle seeds, as they’re now in full season, but that’s very dependent on my not lugging anything with me – and I’m always lugging things to and from the studio. Finally I made it, and on my way home had a nice walk catching up with the state of the vegetation. It’s thirsty but incredibly lush right now…

These dried thistle tops stopped me in my tracks because they were positively glinting in the sun as if they were metal. I gathered them up, potentially for a box…

I could have filled a bucket with nettle seeds, but I’ll just harvest a few jars’ worth, so that once dried and separated they make one good jar. I add a teaspoon to my breakfast and it lasts me a long time.

When I got off the bus and took my usual route home, I was stopped in my tracks once again by the sight of all this goldenrod! OH REALLY. It was so much trouble to find goldenrod last year and all the while there it was growing up the street. I may just sneakily cut a few stalks and dry them. They do make a lovely yellow…

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