You can’t hold back Spring.

Spring has arrived and there’s so much to do. I haven’t been making much for the past few months because of the house renovations ( will it ever be finished?) but I have had to make time to do some clay work as the Spring flowers are in bloom and they won’t wait. So be it when you work with the seasons.

The snowdrops have gone over now but I got these made a couple of weeks ago. I’m waiting until I have a kiln load to bisque fire them.

I made these ceramic hearts yesterday with daffodils, catkins, prunus blossom, brunnera and pulmonaria.

Also some trinket dishes.

Art tiles, I love seeing these all together, they look great in a group on the wall.

The days are getting lighter and the weather has improved so I have been out walking more. I’m doing a virtual Lands End to John O’Groats walk, a total of 874 miles. This is one of my favourite places, I’m going to have to paint this scene one day.

While I’m out I find lots of inspiration, also pocket finds, I can’t resist picking things up. This treasure trove was found on a walk up the lane. You don’t have to go far to find something inspirational.

It’s almost time for my next ecoprinting endeavour, April’s post will be about old and new foliage.

High Pike and Carrock Fell Walk

The weather has been so good that we had to get out and head for the Northern Lake District fells for a walk. These are some of our favourite fells mainly because they are not as popular as the more well known fells so you can almost have the place to yourself.

While I’m out I’m always searching for painting subjects.

The walk up High Pike is fairly easy. This area was a mining area mainly for tungsten and magnetic iron, it’s an area of geological interest, the gabbro found here is only found on the Isle of Skye.

Once up the views are spectacular.

Frome here we set off up Carrock Fell, which is about 2 miles away in this photo below. Carrock is derived from carreg meaning stony, I think there should be a mention of the peat bogs in the name too, it was quite wet in a few places.

Looking towards Carrock Fell from High Pike.
The summit is in sight.

Once reaching the summit I was surprised at the size of the Neolithic hillfort, it was destroyed by the Romans but the boundary walls are still visible.

What a vantage point, not forgetting it was a lot warmer in Neolithic times.

Once we started our decent and got out of the wind I stopped, there was total silence, a rare thing these days.

I read that Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins climbed Carrock Fell, they were not impressed. Collins sprained his ankle. Dickens used this as inspiration in his novella ‘The Lazy Tour Of Two Idle Apprentices’, the characters are Francis Goodchild, (Dickens) and Thomas Idle, (Collins).

On the way down we got onto the wrong path, we could see our path so we had to cut across country, we came to a stream which was too wide to leap across, there was nothing for it but to take off our boots and socks and paddle across, my feet went numb.

An added bonus on our 13 mile walk was a sighting of the fell ponies which are said to have originated from Roman ponies. A perfect day out on the fells.

Ecoprinting throughout the year – March

March is here, it’s time for more ecoprinting / botanical printing experiments.

If you want to see the rest of the year type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box.

In the future there will be posts comparing plants for example, and a beginners step by step guide to printing on paper my way.

March.

Pot – Rusty roasting tin

Water – Tap water with vinegar.

Paper – Windsor & Newton cartridge paper, watercolour paper

Mordant – alum acetate

Leaf dip – rust water, the cranesbill leaves were soaked for about 5 minutes rather than just dipped in rust water.

Plants – dried acer leaves, dried wild cranesbill , aquilegia, new rose leaves, hellebore, gerbera from a bouquet of flowers.

Cooking time – 40 minutes, turned, 40 minutes.

Blanket – hellebore and gerbera being thick flowers benefit from a thick blanket like felt or old blanket.

Images

The gerbera flower in this photo is just the stain coming through from the flower on the other side of the paper.

Conclusion – Aquilegia leaf printed rust , which was unexpected so was the print from the new rose leaf. The dried acer and cranesbill were as good as I expected. The cranesbill prints were dark due to the longer soak in iron water. The bright pink gerbera printed yellow.

As the leaf buds are starting to open next month I will be trying out ecoprinting on paper with new foliage.

Ecoprinting throughout the year – February

February has come around quickly, it’s time for another post about my ecoprinting / botanical printing journey throughout the year. During my journey I will share photos of my prints to see what works best at what time of year, and more.

If you want to see the rest of these “year posts” type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box. There will be other posts comparing plants for example, and a beginners step by step guide to printing on paper my way.

February.

Pot – Rusty roasting tin

Water – Tap with vinegar, I used the boiling water from the day before topped up.

Paper – Windsor & Newton cartridge paper

Mordant – alum acetate

Leaf dip – rust water

Plants -hellebore, cranesbill, aconite, herb Robert, daffodil, snowdrop, dried leaves.

Cooking time – 40 minutes, turned, 40 minutes.

Blanket -fabric dipped in iron water and rung out. Used on the snowdrops and dried sycamore leaf. (More about blankets later).

Observations – The wine coloured hellebores printed blue grey the prints are ok but some of the plant material damaged the paper as they are bulky flowers.

The daffodil printed better than I expected.

The dried leaves soaked in iron water printed well especially the sycamore leaf.

Snowdrops didn’t impart much colour (as expected) however ghost prints were achieved by using the iron blanket and the reused rusty water in the roasting tin helped in making darker prints.

Herb Robert printed black, probably because there was a lot of iron present in the pot.

The cranesbill didn’t print as well as expected. Maybe this was because the bulky flowers of the helebores prevented the cranesbill leaves having good contact with the paper.

The aconite leaves printed but the flower didn’t leave any colour at all.

Images

Conclusion – Bulky plant material like hellebores would probably be better with a thick fabric blanket between the papers acting like a cushion which gives better contact with the paper and less damage. Good contact with the paper is essential for detailed prints.

A Bit Of Sunshine In Lanzarote

January is quite a bleak month so some time ago we booked a holiday in Lanzarote for a friend’s special birthday thinking things might have settled down on the Covid front. When the time came I was a little apprehensive about going but there comes a time when you have to get on with life, and we are fully vaccinated.

Once we were at our hotel I wasn’t so concerned as it was only 20% occupied and masks and hand sanitising were everywhere.

The temperature was perfect at 20C as we don’t like it too hot but it was warm enough to sit by the pool and do some crafts. I took a needle felting and an embroidery kit with me. I found these just perfect for lazing around the pool.

There was some exercise too with a walk along the coast from Playa Blanca to Papagayo. Firstly along the promenade to the Rubicon marina then on towards Castillo Coloradas.

We continued walking past the hotels and along a beach until we reached a cliff which we had to climb, this was the most difficult part of the walk but not too bad holding onto the wall along the edge of the hotel grounds. Once you are up the cliff the walking is fairly easy over a volcanic landscape with little vegetation. You drop down to three beaches, Playa Mujeres being the first, then Playa Del Pozo before reaching Playa Papagayo with it’s little clifftop bars and eventually the Punta with views along the coast and towards Fuerteventura.

We experienced the Calima for a few days which gave us the chance to go out in a hire car and visit parts of the island we hadn’t seen before.

Mirador Del Rio with it’s breath taking view of La Graciosa, as well as the hair raising drive with many hairpin bends.

I loved Teguise, the oldest town on the island, some of the buildings date back to the 1400’s, I loved the old buildings and the peeling paint on the doors and shutters. Also the craft shops had a good selection of handmade glass, ceramics and jewellery, I couldn’t resist buying a few items.

Unfortunately no amount of mask wearing and hand sanitising has kept me from catching something while we were away. I am hoping it’s just a cold ( sore throat and fever) but I have a Covid test to do later today.
Update: I just got my test results and it’s not Covid. 😊

Making rust water for ecoprinting.

If you would like to join in and ecoprint later in the year now would be a good time to think about making some rusty iron water.

You need a bucket preferably with a lid (not essential), I use an empty container that fat ball bird food came in. You need some rusty metal items, or just iron items will do. I have nails, a bicycle chain, and pieces of rusty iron that I have picked up on my walks. An old horseshoe, pipe, washers, iron rods or door hinges would be great.

To get my bucket of rust water going quickly I added some wire wool which rusts away quite quickly. Water is then added to the bucket, I think I half filled my bucket but it depends how much iron you have, it’s not an exact science, this is left to sit somewhere where to rust.

Tip – Adding vinegar with the wire wool helps speed up the rusting process.

It takes a while for the iron water to develop but eventually it will look like this. I have tried not to disturb the sludge on the bottom so you can see my bits of metal more easily.

The bucket gets topped up with water now and then so I always have rust water to hand, and I might add more bits of rusty metal when I find them.

Ecoprinting throughout the year – January, part 2.

This is the second post about my ecoprinting / botanical printing journey throughout the year. During my journey I will share photos of my prints in order for you to see what works best at what time of year. Even in the depths of winter we can still achieve good results.

I will try different papers and mordants, dye blankets etc along the way.

If you want to see the results for the rest of the year ( I will post each month) then sign up to my blog to get email notification of new posts or type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box. There will be other posts comparing plants at different times of the year for example, and a beginners step by step guide to ecoprinting on paper, my way.

January – Boil 1. The Control – no mordant or leaf dip.

Pot – Rusty roasting tin

Water – Tap with vinegar, about 2 tablespoons to 2 litres of water.

Paper – Seawhites and Windsor & Newton cartridge paper, printer paper.

Mordant – none

Leaf dip – none

Plants – cranesbill geranium, rose, strawberry, bramble, fern, herb robert, spleenwort.

Cooking time – submerged and boiled 45 minutes , turned and boiled 45 minutes.

Observations -This is my control reference with no mordant or leaf dip.

Images

Boil 2 – as boil 1 except:-

Leaf dip– copper sulphate 2%

Images

Boil 3 – as boil 1 except :-

Mordant – Alum Acetate 2.5%

Leaf dip – copper sulphate 2%

Images

Conclusion – Copper leaf dip gives brighter colours, more gold/ yellow/ brown prints. The fern that printed a light blue green and was totally unexpected. Spleenwort printed rust.

Comparison photo

Top left no mordant or leaf dip, top right no mordant and copper leaf dip. Bottom AA mordant and copper leaf dip.

Ecoprinting throughout the year – January, part 1.

This is the first post of my ecoprinting / botanical printing journey throughout the year. During my journey I will share experiments and photos of my prints in order to see what works best and at what time of year.

Even in the depths of winter we can achieve good results. I will try out different papers and mordants, dye blankets, different foliage etc along the way.

If you want to see the results for the whole year ( I will post each month) then please sign up for my blog, you will get an email notification for new posts, or type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box. There will be posts comparing plants for example, and a beginners step by step guide to ecoprinting on paper my way.

Now lets start our journey. January doesn’t seem like the month to find great foliage for printing at first sight but there’s still plenty of plant material around. Plants that are good all year round and readily available (which makes them a good choice for experimenting and comparing results) are hardy geraniums ( cranesbill ), rose leaves, blackberry / bramble leaves, herb Robert, also strawberry leaves.

January – Boil 1. The Control

Pot – Rusty roasting tin

Water – Tap with vinegar, about 2 tablespoons to 2 litres of water.

Paper – Seawhites and Windsor & Newton cartridge paper.

Mordant – none

Leaf dip – none

Plants – cranesbill geranium, rose, strawberry, bramble, fern, herb robert, dry coreopsis stems.

Cooking time – submerged and boiled 45 minutes , turned and boiled 45 minutes.

Observations -This is my control reference with no mordant or leaf dip.

Images

Boil 2. – as boil 1 above except:-

Mordant – Alum Acetate 2.5%

Images

Boil 3 – as boil 1 except:-

Leaf dip– rust water.

Images

Boil 4 – as boil 1 except :-

Mordant – Alum Acetate 2.5%

Leaf dip – rust water

Images

Conclusion – In the comparison photo below you can see the ecoprints with no mordant or leaf dip are pale, any dark areas are probably from the iron in my rusty old roasting tin, and the tiles used to hold the bundles of paper, (more on this in the ‘how to’ PDF coming later in the year).

The prints with the A A mordant and no leaf dip have more colour, the leaf edges are darker too.

The prints with the leaves dipped in rust water ( no mordant) have good strong dark tonal prints with not a lot of colour.

The ecoprints with AA mordant and rust water dip have good colour and nice strong darks including the veins.

There is no right or wrong way to print as long as the end result is what you want to achieve. There could be a time when you want pale prints as in boil 2, an album for example where the prints are not the star of the show. Or if I want something bold and graphic looking I would choose boil 3.

Comparison photo

Top left no mordant or leaf dip, top right aluminium acetate mordant no leaf dip. Bottom left no mordant rust water leaf dip, bottom right aluminium acetate mordant and rust water leaf dip.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my first experiments for January, in part 2 I will show you what happens with a different mordant.

Happy New Year to you all

Jill

The Week In Between.

What have you been up to this week? It’s felt quite odd this week between Christmas and New Year for several reasons ( no family here because of covid, house still not finished etc.)

I’ve tried to make the most of it by indulging myself with the simple pleasures. We have managed a walk most days, it’s been quite mild for this time of year. I seemed to make a few sheep friends with every field I crossed, but I had nothing for them to eat.

I always love to have book gifts at Christmas, this year I am enjoying reading The Thursday Murder Club, I think the second book is even better than the first. Also some willow weaving books which is my new skill to learn in 2022.

I finally got my new oven installed just before Christmas so I have done some baking.

Blueberry and coconut cake from the Bero Book.

Also my Gran’s wartime ginger cake which happens to be vegan, you can find the recipe here.

Hercules ( my sourdough starter ) has been working hard, I’ve baked bread every other day.

I’ve tested the warming drawer, I had a double oven before but the small oven rarely got used except for warming plates. Apparently you can slow cook in the warming drawer but I’ve yet to try this but I have been doing the final prove in it.

I’ve not had a proper oven for a while so I’ve had to bake my bread in the small oven until now. The crust usually burnt and I didn’t get much oven spring so I was really pleased with this loaf.

There have been various rolls too, these were for bacon sandwiches on Christmas morning and turkey stuffing dips, for our traditional Christmas day breakfast and supper.

Sourdough really doesn’t take much effort to make but it does take time. I prepare it in the afternoon, leave overnight to rise then shape and give a final prove before baking in the morning.

These are rye bread rolls, perfect with the Christmas smoked cheddar cheese.

Then there were stottie cakes with ham and homemade pease pudding, a north east culinary delight.

I got a Ninja 9 in 1 when I thought I might not have my oven in time for Christmas and I have to say I’m loving it. As there were just the 2 of us and no time plan for Christmas day dinner I decided to cook the turkey crown in it and it was perfect. Just 15 minutes pressure cook, 15 minutes to come back down then 20 minutes air crisp.

Also turkey soup using the pressure cooker function. It’s now my number 1 kitchen gadget.

Now I need to find out what happens next with the Thursday Murder Club.

I hope you are having a relaxing week, it’s good to recharge the batteries now and then. I’ll see you next year 🙂

Merry Christmas from Kiln Fired Art

It’s time for me to take a break and get the house sorted for Christmas, it’s still a bit of a building site here but it’s gradually getting there. My Etsy shop is still open but the last posting date is Monday 20th Dec.

Merry Christmas and All The Best for 2022.

Love and peace.