Monthly Archives: January 2014

Book of Kells Font

A few days ago I started getting back into using Manga Studio.  I found that I had forgotten how to use it properly.  It was very frustrating but I’m starting to get the hang of it again now.  My first job was to update my “Award Free Blog” image (see right).  Manga Studio comes with some wonderful “Materials” and I just loved the clouds [I’ve updated the image since I wrote this; the current one has trees, which are also standard material in Manga Studio].  All I had to do was add some colour and some lettering.  Which leads me onto the topic of this post…

I’ve had a request to do a series of images for a family member, but, as a bonus, it might be something that would be of interest to other people.  Anyway, the request is a tall order so I’ve said I will try but I’ve made no promises.  I’m not brave enough to tell you what the series is until I’ve seen whether it’s even feasible for me.  However, I can tell you that I will be trying to use Celtic interlace and “Book of Kells” style illustration and lettering.  So here is an idea of what I have so far.

Book of Kells Font2

It might not look like much but it represents hours of work.  It’s a scalable set of letters traced from Book of Kells images.  It still needs some work because some of the letters will be hard for a modern person to read easily.  For example, the word on the third line actually says “vester”.  And I don’t know what the monk was thinking when he designed the “f” (top right).  There’s something a bit naughty going on there (tell me it’s not just me, please)!

Ave Maria


The Mill in Winter

Last Thursday Sally and I folded cranes, made quiche and then went to trim a clematis at Sally’s mill.


Winter has drowned the ladies’ play pool in a noisy, masculine torrent.


And the path where we were mobbed by butterflies in the late summer is now more subdued. butterflypath

Sally’s leaping salmon was the only wildlife I could see braving the cold that day.   SallysSalmonThe mill no longer functions as such.  It is now a part-time home, a gallery, a gathering place for friends, a venue for yoga, tai chi and other such classes, and, above all, it is a space for creating art.roundremants1 roundremnants2 torrentBy the way, the quiche was delicious.

Parable for the Short-sighted

There once was a king who had three beautiful daughters.  The first daughter was tall, dark-haired and witty.  She spent her time in the stables, laughing with the stable-hands, and riding around the king’s large garden on her favourite pony.  The second daughter was shorter, blonde and gentle.  She spent her time in the stables, grooming the ponies, and wandering around the garden watching the birds.  The third daughter was also tall and dark-haired, like the first, but quiet and studious.  She also happened to be short-sighted, and liked to spend her time with her nose in a book or lying in the garden watching the ants.

Now, the king was getting older and perhaps a little foolish.  He decided to test his daughters’ love for him.  They were summoned to his throne room to sit at his feet.  He told them that they must go into the garden and bring back the most precious thing they could find, to show him how much they loved him.  The first daughter rushed off immediately, knowing exactly what she was going to bring back.  The second daughter left next and headed for the orchard.  The third daughter sat and thought for a while.

Here is what they brought back.

A black, scented rose:

Black rose“There is nothing more beautiful in the garden, father.  No other kingdom produces such beautiful flowers” said the first daughter.  The king was delighted and buried his nose in the bloom.

A late apple blossom:

Appleblossoms“Our garden is so fertile that the apples blossom twice.  No other kingdom produces so many delicious fruits, father” said the second daughter.  The king was very pleased and he sniffed delicately at the blossoms.

An earthworm:

Earthworm 01“Without the unseen and unthanked earthworms, our garden would not be so beautiful or fertile, father” said the third daughter.  The puzzled king looked down at the cold, squirming creature that his daughter had placed gently in his hand.  He recoiled and dropped it.   Then he swelled with rage and sent everyone scurrying out of the throne room.

That evening the third daughter found herself being escorted to a carriage.  She had been banished.  There had only been time to pack a small bag and she wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to her sisters.  Tears flowed quietly down her cheeks onto the ground.  Perhaps it was these salty tears that did it but no-one really knows why; that evening the worms started to leave the garden as well.  Slowly, slowly, unseen and unthanked.

Well, the years turned, the king grew older and died, and the two princesses took over the kingdom.  The first daughter was well-loved by the people and was always seen out-and-about visiting all four corners of the kingdom.  The second daughter was also always out-and-about, helping the sick and the needy.  Everybody agreed that the two princesses were doing a wonderful job.  Nobody noticed that the apple trees in the royal garden no longer blossomed twice and that there were no more black roses.  At least, not at first.

One day, when the princesses had almost-grown children of their own, the first daughter thought back to the day that the king banished her sister.  It was something that she had tried to forget.  “How could my sister have been so foolish?” she thought, but then she looked out at the garden and was shocked.  The soil was packed hard and dust blew around the skeletal bushes and trees.  There were no flowers or fruit this year and she had hardly noticed.  The palace staff had worked hard not to let the shortage affect the princesses and their families.

Soon after, a carriage pulled up outside the cottage where the third daughter had made her home.  When she heard her sister’s request she quickly packed bags for herself and her three daughters.  “We’re going to visit your aunts,” she told them.  She bundled them into the carriage and hurried into the cottage for one last thing.  “Can’t leave without this,” she told the driver, and held up an empty box.  The driver was even more puzzled when she bent down and scooped a handful of earth into the box.  He could have sworn he saw something wriggling in there before she closed the lid.

[Note added 16/01/14:  A friend was bothered that the king never got to see his error.  That is one of the main points of the parable – the ecological impact of our actions often affects not us but our children and our children’s children.]

Intersecting planes

This is one of the intersecting plane models by Mukerji that I mentioned in a recent post.  The label at the bottom of the photos is off the paper I used.

finished7starside finished7startop

The whole time I was making this model I had the theme-tune to Gerry Anderson’s “UFO” going round and round my head.  In case you didn’t know, Gerry Anderson was the creator of Thunderbirds (don’t tell me you haven’t heard of Thunderbirds either ;)).  UFO is a hilarious (to me anyway) 1970’s imagining of 1980 with some ugly costumes (just check out the male submariners string vests), stylish suits, funky art and groovy sets.

In this particular model the planes are in the shape of 7-pointed stars.   The model is called STUVWXYZ Stars.  Being a nerd, it was the name that first attracted me to it.  Don’t ask why though – I don’t know.  You can click on this link to be taken to a website page which has instructions on how to fold the units and join them.  It’s a bit sketchy on how to join them successfully into the ball-shape though.  Here are some photos of the process that might help:

WIP7star1The first step involves making a ring with 7 out of the 8 colours.  The eighth colour comes in at the halfway point (see later). WIP7star2The next step involves making rings of three with the 7 colours.  The colours are chosen so that the units that lie in roughly the same plane have the same colour.

WIP7star3 WIP7star4

Now you continue the process so that the next layer consists of rings of 4.  Then you alternate rings of 5 and 3.

WIP7star5 WIP7star6 WIP7star7

Below is the model with the middle layer finished.  The photo of the underside of the model shows you the 7-pointed star in the eighth colour.  This is the only star that is complete at this stage.

WIP7star8 WIP7star9

From this point on it’s downhill all the way.  If you’re lucky!  You just continue completing the layers in the same way as you did for the first half.WIP7star10To speed things up I used a template (the blue unit in the photo above) to get the angles of the flaps right.

Introduction to Origami

Maryam Jamil of entertainmentstarters asked me how I made the models in a couple of my posts – this one and this one – so I thought I should write an introductory post.

Up until last year I only really did traditional origami.  This involves folding a single sheet of (usually square) paper into a complex shape.  Origami purists would say that proper origami should not involve tearing, cutting or gluing.  Below is a picture of one of my favourite models.  It’s hard to believe that this 6-pointed, 3-dimensional object is folded from a single square sheet of paper, isn’t it?

washi Jackstone

Then last year I had a go at modular (or 3D) origami.  It took me a little while to warm to the idea but as you can tell from this blog I’ve developed a passion for it.  I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject but I’ll tell you what I have learned about it so far.  Modular origami involves the use of relatively simple modules that are combined to produce more complex models.  A lot of models just use one kind of module; like the Sonobe module which I mentioned in my last post, or the triangular unit used in “Golden Venture” models like my swan.  Other models may use two (or more, I guess) different kinds of modules, like the one in the picture below which uses a pyramidal unit to join the flowery units together.


And that’s where I’m going to leave you folks because there is a colossal amount of information on the Internet for people interested in origami.  Just type “origami seahorse” or “origami teapot” into your favourite search engine and you’ll see what I mean.  (Who wants a paper teapot?!?)  On YouTube alone you can find videos to teach you how to fold almost anything.  I also provide links to some origami resources (like Mukerji’s website) in my other origami posts.  Let me know how you get on…

Out With The Old, In With The New

Between Christmas and New Year I had a bit of clear-out.  I got rid of a lot of old clothes.  Amongst them was an old Aran jumper that I had knitted with cotton yarn.  It had become shapeless, bobbled and the cuffs were frayed.  I had put a lot of work into it though so I couldn’t let it go without documenting it here.  The same goes for an old fancy dress costume that I made using fabric paints on a pillowcase.  I ran out of blue paint towards the end – hence the weird cloudy edges.  I strung little coloured balloons from the bottom so that they hung round my knees.  They didn’t last long!  [I didn’t know whether I could get in trouble for posting the full picture so I’ve blobbed out some of it.  Can anybody tell me if it’s okay to display the full version?]

cottonaran MMsblobSo that’s the old.  Gone, but not forgotten. 😉

What about the new?  Well, Santa brought me a new origami book.  😀  It’s another book by Mukerji called “Ornamental Origami”.  I asked for it mainly for the “intersecting plane” models but I’ve been having a go at some of the other models in the book first.  I started with a patterned icosahedron but I got bored with it before I’d even got halfway.  I dismantled it and used most of the paper in the next model.

blossomedsonobe sonobewithinsertsOn the left is a “Flowered Sonobe” using 30 sonobe units with blue inserts.  On the right is the same model after “blossoming”.  [See the comments for a video on how to make this model.]

While I was in the middle of making this model I had some idle time with some empty after-dinner mint wrappers.  (Can’t think where they came from. ;))  This is made from 12 standard sonobe units.


Peace to You in 2014

I wish you all deep peace in the new year.


This is a piece I did a few years ago.  I wanted to decorate a piece of calligraphy in a similar style to the Book of Kells.  The verse is part of an old Celtic blessing which goes:

Deep peace of the running wave to you,

Deep peace of the flowing air to you,

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,

Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you.

Here is a close-up of one of the knots: