Edward Teasdale

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I’m very excited this week to show work and thoughts from UK furniture designer and maker Edward Teasdale.

Edward Teasdale appeared on the UK Crafts scene in the 1980’s. He worked as a furniture designer in industry, a maker and later a teacher, before once again establishing his own workshop in the Lake District, from which he now works, creating pieces for exhibit in selected galleries and for individual clients and collectors.

Elemental and enigmatic, with the intense energy of a rising wave, something alive hums from the pieces below.

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“Like every other maker my choices of material and process are not arbitrary but conditional on careful thought and experience, subject to practical and value judgements. So too with stylistic preferences where my personal aesthetic is probably more immediately connected to local conditions and a long term bond with the natural landscape, particularly the history and characteristics of the Lakes area of Cumbria. Here, the objects of my surroundings; mountains, moors, estuaries and lakes have a pervading and affecting elemental presence, particularly when experienced in what some call inclement weather. Everywhere in the landscape there are indicators of life; in natural light, wind, water and woodlands, in the mellowing influence of time and weather, in the simple disciplined human interventions to contain and control and in the value in striking a balance between the natural and man-made.”

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“Salvaged painted wood is a waste product of urban renewal and unlike the natural unfinished wood varies a great deal in visual character. Collecting and responding to this material is a new situation every time and involves a more conscious image building process, making each coloured piece of furniture more unexpected and unrepeatable.”

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From the beginning, Edward made “small consciously modest crafted objects comprising a basic utility and somewhat rough hewn appearance”, using found woods.

“I was determined to adopt a light touch approach in terms of production (small, basic, ethical) and make modest things that communicated my thoughts, values and visual ideas, but were also very practical.”

His relationship with wood began much earlier than this, he remembers:

“I loved climbing into trees when I was young and with school friends built shelters every summer out of natural materials in the woods around my home in the Lake District.

“I progressed from whittling bows, arrows and fishing rods (out of Hazel and Yew) to making sledges, bogies and rafts out of reclaimed materials using my fathers hand tools.

“Without noticing I must have developed a real interest in wood, as well as some skills in designing and making things. Now I appreciate that it’s the cleanness, and the visual and tactile warmth of wood, coupled with its versatility as a practical and aesthetic medium that appeals to me.

“I love the smell of wood, its density, its bulk, its texture, and the variety of types and surfaces available. I do however like to think of it, and work it, as a non-precious material.”

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“In construction terms my objects have the same economy as country fences, gates and stiles (not self consciously detailed or elaborated in design or craft terms). I use locally available found materials; especially those that already have worn and naturally aged surfaces. I stick to basic furniture requirements (storage box, seating bench, table surface)”

“I have tried to break with certain practices in my field choosing not to use exotic, plundered and endangered woods and not to use complex high consumption production processes. The finishes created do not aim for the perfectly controlled appearance of machined materials and production but retain much of the rawness and weathering of the reclaimed material used.”

“It is the quality of what I can achieve rather than the quality of what I use that matters most to me.”

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“Interacting with the physical world has always been central to my life. The natural landscape and built environment inspire me equally but consideration of such things as Art, Sculpture, Architecture and Environmentalism have all played their part in forming my work.

One of my original motivations was to capture something of the qualities of traditional rural buildings that (very naturally) meet essential needs through building by hand with local materials.

The character of my work is now well established, new ideas are inspired by the materials I find or client needs and from sketches and scaled drawings I make the work entirely myself in a small garden workshop.”

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All finished pieces are marked (usually centrally on the underside of the bottom) with a 2 digit date stamp e.g. 93 and a separate stamp in the form of a leaf. Most pieces are in private homes and collections in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand but examples are also in the possession of the British Council, Arts Council of Great Britain, Usher Gallery Lincoln, UK.

You can read more about Edward on his site here.

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Sandra Crisp

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 Sandra Crisp was born in Cheshire, UK and studied at Chester College of Art.  She earned a BA (Hons) Graphic Design from Leeds Polytechnic graduating in 1989 and received her MA Fine art printmaking from Wimbledon School of Art in 1993.  She has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, and taught printmaking and digital media in various London colleges.

Through Sandra’s work, you are taken on an almost breathtaking ride of memory, information, design, print and line, captured in fantastic layered detail. Exciting, fresh and invigorating, with a beguiling dark edge..

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Cloudseeders (The Bigger Picture) 2007, etching and chine colle, 56 cm x 72 cm

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In Sandra’s words..

 “The printmaking techniques I use include photo etching, chine colle (collage) and aquatint with some hard ground drawing in some of the prints. In order to make a photo etching, the artwork has to be transferred onto clear film or acetate (images on paper can also be made transparent using ordinary vegetable oil)  I use a photocopier to do this and increase the darkness of the copies so that the dark areas will block out the light effectively, ready for when the image is later transferred to etching plate using light sensitive emulsion and an ultra violet (UV) exposure unit or light box. The artwork is designed using collage techniques and drawing (using just a mouse) within graphics software before transferring the images to zinc plate.

By making the black and mid-tones of an image darker with the copier a lot of the detail is intentionally lost thus creating a version of the image that automatically appears aged or archival. This is further developed by fairly random biting techniques such as open biting when the plate is left in the acid to bite textures into the image. Also, I think the process of etching is very seductive and a bit retro-looking as it is historically a pretty old technique dating back several centuries. There is something very human about the way this technique can record traces or decisions made over time, permanently etched into the surface of the metal plate. My intention for the Cloudseeder and Zipper series being that the prints appear to be eroded found fragments or historic records, but really the imagery is entirely contemporary in terms of subject matter; connecting it to the ‘here and now’

It is really not my idea to create a sense of nostalgia in terms of yearning for the past in the prints, I am far too fascinated by the present tense for that. But the image of the crowd moving around in Xerocodes (‘Xero’ refers to ‘Xerox’ in terms of the photocopy process described above) has a slightly nostalgic feel, like an old movie. I chose to use it because it sets up an odd narrative: Where are the people going/have just arrived from, and why?

I always have quite specific reasons for selecting images, I hope to raise a questioning within this but don’t expect the viewer to decipher all my clues in order to understand the image! For example, a ‘Cloudseeder’ is a futuristic prototype from a BBC TV documentary Five Ways to Save the World’ . The film examines engineering design prototypes designed to deal with climate change, such as Cloudseeders; ocean-going craft spraying fine water particles into the atmosphere –  creating artificial clouds to protect the Earth from the fierce heat of the Sun’s rays.  Recycled and redrawn visuals from the film have resurfaced repeatedly across several series of work including a large format digital print entitled 5Ways to Save…,  and Diagram of an Artificial Tree 2009-11. Also previous etching series Cloudseeder and Zipper Series 2006. Most of the other imagery is based upon an article about a zip factory in China…

The multi-plate prints in the Cloudseeder and Zipper series are loosely based on the look of a newspaper page, or webpage where different images or text appear close to one another, lined up in sequences to give the look of an organic page layout- but they do not really make any sense, like disjointed stories, columns and paragraphs  broken away.”

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Cloudseeders (5 Ways to Save the World) 2007, etching and chine colle, 28 cm x 28 cm

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Xerocodes iiv, 2001, 56 cm x 76 cm

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 “Today, information continually bombards us – we spend a lot of time in an ‘information cloud’ via the Internet, smart phones, social networking, blogs etc. Everything is digital and fast, demanding equal attention but most of the time all we can really do is scan all this detail briefly and hope that nothing important gets missed: So much information scrolling by, but which to choose?

“I find, collect, redraw and archive visuals from different sources such as the Internet and scanned media cuttings then recycle and combine these with my own materials such as photos and drawings. Visuals elements from both sources are layered together often over long periods of time. This contemplative process intends to slow down the rapid stream of information – to discover what is meaningful; I sift, collate and edit until new connections between different materials emerge. Visuals are captured from the information deluge ‘out there’ which are then processed subjectively through my own thought process, transforming them into something new.  I suppose I am questioning in what ways we are unavoidably affected by this sea of information and how such complexity may be represented or processed in order to create something meaningful or even personal from all this….”

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Soft Terrain3

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“The digital piece ‘ SoftTerrain3’ continues the digital work started around 2001; this became a natural progression as I was already processing a lot of my printmaking visuals through digital techniques; I now found that I could concentrate purely on the digital work to develop my ideas in entirely new directions. Soft Terrain 3 is created using many layers which were recombined repeatedly until I arrived at the look I wanted. It is a very large image file: 110 cm x 100 cm at 300 dpi resolution so a lot of embedded detail only really appears when the piece finally emerges from the large format printer (This detail is not really visible on a webpage unfortunately). The density and saturation of complex detail contained within the image is also determined by this huge file size. The idea being to create a subtle sense of visual overload using many layers which appear to be in a constant state of flux; a map that is constantly transforming over time.”

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Diagram of an Artifical Tree 2009-2011

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Slowboat with Lines

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Cutout Map

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“pile-up, thumbnail images & map fragments

(thinking about) cascading / compression of information, transient

one reading rapidly obscured by the next…

disrupted

becoming like noise, but urban visuals still there (just)”

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There is a wealth of further work and ideas, including Sandra’s recent project which creates a 3d map elevation of the city of London, set to an audio track – for this and more visit her website and blog here.
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Colour Bright

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Well, if your weather has been anything like it has been here for the past two weeks, you might be growing a little sick of the colour Grey..I certainly am, and so have been comforting myself with a search for something brighter.

Here are some of my visual cures for the “Supposed to be Summer but Feels like Winter” Blues..and if you’re having a beautiful hot sunny day where you are, enjoy!

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The creation of textile designer Lorna Syson, these fabric wall flowers would add interest and colour to any room. Lorna says that her inspiration comes from the British countryside, particularly in the Springtime. Her original flowers were based on Dahlia’s that she saw growing at the Eden project in Cornwall, and all of the designs since have their roots in countryside walks and being outside. These flowers can be bought ready made, or bespoke from 20cm upwards in a huge variety of colours, and are easily nailed to the wall using the back petals. Add a little Spring to your wall!

The cushions are fabulous too, and made from a really interesting fabric, being 75% wool and 25% stinging nettles, all sourced and manufactured organically. Huggable, bright, and cheerily good.

Visit Lorna’s site here.

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I found it really difficult to pick which pieces to feature from the work of Ceramic artist Myung Nam An (above). I find these, from her “Eyes” collection, completely unique and fascinating. I like the fact that they reference certain forms, but still remain totally open to individual interpretation. Some are a little like alien life forms, or strange wonders found in the deep seas, giving you a peep before crawling away on suckered feet..some are fun, like childhood sweets, or quirky ladies hats at the races. Working individually or as a group, it would be hard to choose.

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Hello! Such a cute little owl print from Peris & Corr – an organic textile printing company from North Wales.

Peris & Corr offer a water-based screen-printing service and can print onto t-Shirts, tote bags, babies clothes and more. They also design and make their own range of handmade textile products and greeting cards. You can read a little more about their printing processes and see the prints being made on their blog too.

I also particularly liked these Welsh blanket lampshade designs. Bright and lovely.

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Lastly, but by no means leastly, these fantastic coat hooks, made from vintage 1930s wooden shoe lasts really brought a smile to my face..

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I found these at White Dove & Wonder, a company run by art and antiques dealer Susan Gaston and her husband Jimmy.

Grown from an impulse purchase of a collection of vintage Northamptonshire made shoe lasts, Susan and Jimmy began to see many interesting and attractive uses for these discarded items.

They both come up with the designs together, and then Jimmy painstakingly restores each shoe last before hand-making each piece using natural wood.

(I don’t think the doggy comes with the coat hook, but I’d take him home happily too 🙂 )

That’s it for now, I hope you have a bright and sunny day, wherever you are.

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Joseph Cornell

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Assemblage boxes by American artist, collagist, and filmmaker Joseph Cornell.

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Tilly Losch
c. 1935

 Construction, 10 x 9 1/4 x 2 1/8 in; Collection Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Bergman, Chicago

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Object (Roses des Vents)
1942-53

 Construction, 2 5/8 x 21 1/4 x 10 3/8 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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Untitled (The Hotel Eden)
c. 1945

 Construction, 15 1/8 x 15 3/4 x 4 3/4 in; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

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Untitled (Medici Prince)
c. 1952

Construction, 15 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 5 in; Collection Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Shapiro, Oak Park, IL

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Toward the Blue Peninsula
1951-52

Construction, 10 5/8 x 14 15/16 x 3 15/16 in; Collection Daniel Varenne, Geneva

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I find Joseph Cornell such an intriguing character.  Self taught, he was one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage. I am in love with his sense of symmetry, both in design and colour. There is something very calming about the exactness of these boxes. Everything just fits, it works. Each square is where it is born to be, each shape leads you to the next, creating a great journey for the eye to dream upon. There are stories and surprises in every box, offering small places of contemplation and inspiration that celebrate the unique in the commonplace.

I have always been fascinated by miniature worlds, looking into something and finding a million other little scenes and universes. These give me that feeling, like gazing into a deep rockpool and imagining yourself grown tiny and swimming inside. You cannot help but try to formulate connections between the objects here, to uncover meaning and create stories.

Cornell was a passionate collector – books, prints, postcards, and printed and three-dimensional ephemera all found their way into his life and work. He was also continually keeping notes and diaries, exploring ideas and carrying out “explorations” where he would conduct research, collect material and compile extensive files on individuals or topics of interest to him. These became thought of as artworks in themselves.

There is a fascinating collection of his papers, correspondance and diaries, along with a biography, at the Archives of American Art website here. See some more of his works here.

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Alison Britton

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Alison Britton, ‘Influx’ (2012)

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Tall Scrawl’ (2009) ceramic

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Cave’ (2012)

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Runnell’ (2012)

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Standing and Running’, installation shot 2012

© Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton is part of the generation of innovative British ceramicists that emerged during the 1970s, whose work laid the foundations for what became known as ‘The New Ceramics’. She studied at the Central School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, and is highly regarded as a writer, curator and lecturer, as well as a ceramicist. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and can be seen in major public and private collections worldwide,including the V&A, London, Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. She was awarded an OBE in 1990 for her services to the applied arts, and is a senior tutor at the RCA.

Confidently standing as part sculpture, part painting, part domestic vessel, this work states its presence in a firm tone in Alison’s most recent show, “Standing and Running”, at The Marsden Woo Gallery in London.

Alison works in an interesting way, by rolling out the clay and working on it as if it were a painting, applying various slip colours and designs, before using that design to suggest a final form. To me this helps to lend an unrestrained energy  – they are freed from the wheel. There’s an almost jazz-like sense of an improvised, “lets see what happens” spirit, within the framework of something structured and considered, and slightly hard to get inside of.

On reading some of the many words that have been written about Alison Britton’s work, the constantly returning theme is the vain attempt to be able to classify it. This is perhaps the mark of a true original, authoritatively embracing both art and craft, function and form, the abstract and the actual.

The Frank Lloyd Gallery leaves its final words on Alison’s work to Quentin Blake, who says, “the work may begin as a jug, but it becomes a free-standing story, a poem, a situation. Put in the position of reader, the viewer comes back again and again, each time finding a new word, line, or verse to fall in love with.”

Perfect.

There are some interesting discussions on a piece of Alison’s work in the V&A video archives, here

Find out about new exhibitions and other artists represented at the Marsden Woo Gallery site here.

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Illustrated Life

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For something a bit different this week, I thought I would share with you some fascinating illustrations that I came across a few weeks ago.

I found “The Complete Encyclopedia of Illustration” by J.G. Heck, in a local cafe – they have a whole wall of books to dive into there and this one caught my eye.

First published in 1851, as “The Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art”, the work was based on one of the finest encyclopedias of its day, the “Bilderatlas” by Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus. It contains over 12,000 black and white engravings, illustrating just about everything a Victorian reader could have possibly imagined. It is separated into ten major sections – Mathematics and Astronomy, Natural Sciences, Geography and Planography, History and Ethnology, Military and Naval Sciences, Naval Sciences, Architecture, Mythology and Religious Rites, Fine Arts, and Technology.

Each single item is painstakingly captured – some fall into dreamlike representations of clouds, birds, and creatures, some show the fascinations and inventions of scientific fervour, and the quest for discovery. As well as finding each illustration totally fascinating, I love the language used to describe each one – the beautiful Latin names that roll off your tongue, and the intriguing descriptions which transport you back to a time of mysterious, yet to be discovered worlds.

As well as providing me with a great moment of tea and inspiration, this book has reminded me to always keep looking and noticing – in times where we feel that all is discovered, it is warming and uplifting to be reminded of the curious beauties, oddities and fascinations in the world, and the depth of human endeavour it has taken, and still takes, to discover and record them.

I hope you enjoy my selections! Click the images to see larger representations.

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Plate 26: Phenomena of clouds and light.

1-9. Phenomena in clouds

10-12. Rainbows

13. Aurora borealis

14. Midnight sun in the polar regions

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Plate 16: Theories of force and gravity; demonstrations of these and other physical laws

Including:

4. Parallelopipedon (yep) of forces

14. Illustrating Varignon’s funicular machine

17, 18. Atwood’s machine for demonstrating the freely falling of bodies

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Plate 92: Members of the orders Anseriformes, Pelecaniformes, Charadiiformes, and Sphenisciformes

Including:

1. Carbo cormoranus, cormorant

7. Anser segetum, bean goose

10. Merges cucullatus, hooded merganser

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Plate 228: Gymnasium and acrobatics

Upper division

1-12. The German gymnasium

Lower division

1-8. Acrobatic feats

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Cut Art

There are some amazing papercut artists around at the moment… here are some of my favourites…

Papercut by Hina Aoyama

I have only just discovered Hina Aoyama, a Japanese artist living in France, and am just amazed at her work. The cuts are so fine and delicate, all cut with a tiny pair of scissors. They exude a certain stillness around them when you look at them – a similar example of what I was talking about last week, how somehow, the energy present in the making of something seems to be retained in the thing itself once made. Here are a couple more..

"La Femme" Hina Aoyama

"Binpapi" by Hina Aoyama

"Avion" by Hina Aoyama

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Another artist that I particularly admire is Beatrice Coron. Beatrice is a French artist, living and working in New York. Much of her work is made from Tyvek, a synthetic material, but she also makes site specific work in other materials such as aluminium. Her work is very different, almost storytelling, picture book like. Dive in here.

Beatrice Coron

Dont you just love these little scenes? They are so lively and energetic.

Beatrice Coron

Beatrice was recently involved in an interesting project, to create a series of decorative arts in metal, rubber, acrylic, papercutting and paints commissioned by Blue Sea Development Company for “The Melody”, a cooperative development of apartments in the South Bronx. The works aim to celebrate the areas musical legacy.

The Melody, stairs decoration, Beatrice Coron

The Melody, 2011, metal decorative works by Beatrice Coron, 853 Macy Place, The Bronx, commissioned by Blue Sea Development.

"The Melody" 2011, metal work for fences and balconies, Beatrice Coron

Rubber Mats, "The Melody" Beatrice Coron

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My brother and his wife are due to have their second baby this month, and so I thought I might use these inspirations and try to make a gift for them. When their first little girl was born, I made a papercut for her, and so I thought I’d do the same again.

I made a papercut for my partners birthday last year, using the lyrics from the song “Forever Young”, which I think was originally written by Bob Dylan. I love the line “May your heart always be joyful, may your song always be sung” and thought the words were a nice wish for a newborn baby..anyway so here is my effort – Please remember that I am just a beginner at this, and will never be as good as these people above…but I love experimenting! I’ve taken some photos along the way so you can see the stages. (You can see the pictures more clearly if you  click on them)

Stage one - drawing the template in reverse

Stage 2 - beginning to cut - I did the small feather details first before cutting out the bird, to keep the paper stable.

Stage 3 - getting there (shown here right way round) - the tension mounts, will I ruin it?!

The final picture!

Done! I may actually add her name and date of birth on the bottom when she is born..I hope that she will like it and be able to keep it throughout her life..

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