Spring Springs at the Allotment

Earlies and Second Earlies (Potatoes)We took on an allotment plot, long neglected, last autumn. The weather angel gave us a month of good weather. We cleared away rubbish, cleaned and painted, deep dug and conditioned some squares and rectangles of soil in which to plant potatoes and brassicas in this new growing season.

I love digging. I love deep digging. It’s about finding out what’s there under all the weeds. Making order out of chaos. Animating a space. Making something beautiful and useful.


Everything is art.

In January we bought seed potatoes and chitted them dutifully before planting them out in March.  Here they are, plants now.

And here are some cabbages, green and purple. With the orange pots they grew up in, next to them. Green, purple, orange.








And here are potato plants and shadows cast by potatoes.












I like cast shadows.

Spring is springing.


Posted in Allotment Gardening, Allotmenteering, Art, Mystery & Suspense, Short Story Writing, Spiritual | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Sprung

The clematis bloomed

The clematis bloomed





Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart

More Clematis Blossom

More Clematis Blossom

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Eclipses and Cuckoos

Five Dark One Light Stone 14 May 2015(Evidently) I’ve been silent. No, silence is a smooth lake.  I’ve been a *glaire of white noise. Oh, eclipses. I didn’t know about their aftershocks which like depth charges, sound silently under water. (I know, it’s not possible to sound in silence – but allow me this one oxymoron). Okay, so I saw the sound (oxymoron 2). It was of feathers lying  on an ocean floor, then disturbed by a black moon plunging like a stone from the upper regions.

Eclipses – detonations – black moons that were just too much like eggs, five eggs,
in a nest, five dark eggs ringing a sixth – big pale  and Stones Sliced 15 May 2015foreign. A cuckoo’s egg.

But I saw in the end that they were only stones. And I found these others – nine black stones split clean in half. And inside, each a wonderful universe of uniqueness.

And they gave me a wonderful idea. It took my breath away. I haven’t had my breath taken away in such a while I thought doomed to eternal breathfulness.

So the cuckoo is hatched.  Well, it is May now, when you hear the cuckoo call.


* Glaire: the white of an egg; albumen

Posted in Art, Consciousness, Inspiration, Mindfulness, Nature Journal, Philosophy/Religion/Spirituality, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Arthouse Coop Sketchbook Tour 2015 – Done, Polished, Posted

Front Cover

Front Cover

Some of the pages were polished – those to which I added beeswax or encaustic wax. The sketchbook was a progression of my artistic exploration Below the Line, a phrase from Deepak Chopra’s book Quantum Healing.

I dismantled the sketchbook and ecoprinted some of the pages using plant matter and techniques developed by textile artist India Flint and described in her book Eco Color: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles.

I boiled the sketchbook cover in a sphagnum moss dye. I added new pages – eco-printed paper coffee filters – which are essentially pockets – and into which I placed leaves and sometimes rusted objects such as staples, nails, rods. All, pages and coffee filters, I rolled up into tight bundles, bound them with recycled sari silk yarn and steamed for 2 hours. I left the bundles to one side for one or more weeks before unrolling them to reveal the prints made by the plant material, rust, sari silks and pressure.

AH Coop 2015 36 and 37 30 March 2015The damage to the papers caused by the process I repaired by stitching, patching, and sometimes discarding where some were too damaged to mend. I included some pages made of organza that had been rust-dyed.  Onto these I transfer-printed symbols: vocabulary that developed from my Below the Line researches.

In addition to the organic arrived, accidentally, the geometric: squares, triangles, circles, in the form of stitches, patches, transfers and folds. I also added to some of the pages melted beeswax/encaustic. I think the wax is to do with embalming, preserving.

AH Coop 2015 26 and 27 30 March 2015Collecting, considering, contemplating, chucking, compiling, collating; finally, fixing the book back together – one line of machine stitching down the middle.

At the heart of the book a mystery is AH Coop 2015 4 and 5 30 March 2015unfolding. What is Below the Line?

There are 41 images in the book.

It may just have arrived in New York, the Brooklyn Art Library, where it will be digitised and catalogued, then sent round the US for a year, in the company of thousands of other sketchbooks. Every time someone checks it out to view, I will get an email to tell me.

AH Coop 2015 16 and 17 30 March 2015



Posted in Allotment Gardening, Allotmenteering, Altered Books, Art, Art Journal, Botanical and Eco Printing, Collage & Assemblage, Encaustic Art, Mixed Media, Multimedia, Nature Journal, Printmaking, Stitch, Stitch, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Jeni’s Tulip Petal – An Easter Greetings Card

Jenni's Tulip Petal 1 April 2015I had an Easter greetings card in the post today, from a long-time friend in Ireland. It was handmade especially for my husband and me and included this gorgeous dried petal from a tulip that blossomed in her garden last year.

I don’t deserve friends. I’m the worst correspondent.  And she’s been poorly, too. I’m ashamed. But I’m going to send her one of my eco prints on khadi paper. She’ll get the shock of her life.  I hope it shocks her into better health.

The thoughtfulness of the card deepens. My husband’s of Turkish origin. Did you know that tulips didn’t originate in Holland, but came to Europe during the 16th century from Turkey?  Tulip, its shape resembling the turban, is supposed to come from the Turkish word for gauze – lale –  the fabric of turbans, though my translation for gauze is bez.

In flower language, purple tulips symbolise royalty. Maybe that’s because in the 17th century you’d need to be royalty to afford the price of a single tulip bulb. Between 1634 and 1637, the enthusiasm for tulips triggered a frenzy known as the tulip mania when tulip bulbs became a sort of currency.

From now on, the tulip will remind me of a greater treasure than money, that of friendship.

My friend’s card has an uncanny aspect, in that she doesn’t yet know about my new enthusiasm – for  eco printing.

I sent off my Arthouse Coop Sketchbook Tour 2015 contribution yesterday, meeting the postmark deadline by the skin of my teeth, as usual.  I’ll be posting some of its 41 images shortly.





Posted in Flora, Folklore & Mythology, Philosophy/Religion/Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Arthouse Coop Sketchbook Tour 2015: An Accidental Technique

Arthouse Coop Patchwork Page I   27 March 2015_edited-1With the deadline in 4 days to get this off to New York, I’m as usual, going to be working right up to the line. I must have a thing for dangerous edges. No wonder I fall off cliffs.  Here’s a couple of pages that I put together just for the purpose of printing off and cutting up for inclusion into my little mystery. They aren’t meant to be interesting in themselves, but well …

Arthouse Coop Patchword Page II 27 March 2015What I did was photocopy a sheet of sheer organza dyed with rust onto which I placed the various textures, all of which have meaning beyond their patterns. The rust-dyed organza acted as a coloured filter. I then scanned the photocopies and adjusted them to my taste in Photoshop. The glaring blue checkered square was a later addition, so didn’t go under the filter.

Next step is to print them onto TAP (Lesley Riley’s Transfer Artist’s Paper) which I’ve been experimenting with. It’s fascinating. You print onto the sheet, then hot iron them onto your paper or fabric.

I didn’t mean to, but discovered a technique I’m going to be using again.

Anybody using TAP?


Posted in Art, Botanical and Eco Printing, Collage & Assemblage, Mixed Media, Printmaking, Sketchbooks | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Friday Fictioneers 100 Word Flash Fiction Story: The Dress with the Tennis Racquets Stamped All Over It

FF 27032015 Bandstand by David StewartEvery Friday writers worldwide gather round the virtual fireside of Rochelle Wisoff and share stories of 100 words, prompted by a common photograph, and exchange constructive criticism. You don’t have to write to read. Click on the blue frog at the end of my story to access all the other stories written to this week’s prompt. Readers’ comments are welcome. This week’s photo prompt is courtesy David Stewart. Thanks, David. Here’s the story your photo inspired:

The Dress with the Tennis Racquets Stamped All Over It

“Takes you back, don’t it, ol’ bandstand.”
She laughed. “Remember the night we crawled under and it was already occupied?”
“Billy and Lorraine.”
“Lorraine anyway, could have been any of the boys. She broke ‘em in like wild horses.”
“Except you.”
“… course. Remember our first?”
“You don’t forget losing your virginity.”
“Tore your dress off, with a line from Jailhouse Rock.”
“That ain’t tactics, honey, that’s just the beast in me.”
“That dress was something. Tight ‘n plunging. Little tennis racquets stamped all over it.”
Next thing he had a handbag wedged in his mouth.
“That was Lorraine’s dress!”

Ann Isik
100 Words

Posted in Comedy Writing, Dialogue, Flash Fiction, Short Story Writing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 41 Comments

Eclipses, Bloodlines and Blood Moons

Two Eclipses Bloodline Blood MoonMy visual journal entry to mark the week. A week of eclipses (two). I’m using blackish tones in this little piece. One black obscuring another. The brownish-black squares are the front and back of two used (blackcurrant?) teabags from my ever-increasing stash. Square black moons placed over another used teabag – of green tea and it’s  yellow-white. There’s two semi-circles pencilled-in at the bottom of the top moon and the top of the bottom moon. I’m going to stitch these with the tea-dyed embroidery cotton that rests under the red line. This is a bit of red recycled sari silk. It represents a bloodline. It weaves right across and separates the landscapes of the two suns and around the top of one of a growing collection of black round stones I am digging up at the allotment. Broken open, they are red. It may be bloodstone. Gem buffs out there, help me. I’m calling this a blood moon.

Teabag Drawer in Printer's Chest, Studio March 2015

Teabag Drawer in Printer’s Chest, Studio March 2015

Strangely, the next important astronomical event this year, I discovered, when researching blood moons, will be in September – a blood moon. It’ll be rust-red. It’s caused by the earth passing between the sun and the moon, thus blocking the sun’s light to the moon. Another apt metaphor.

The second image is of my teabag drawer in my studio. My stash of used and dried teabags is mounting daily. It smells heavenly. I do love the red and the blackish ones, red moons and black eclipses.

When I’ve done with this work, I think I might try and translate it into a small painting. I haven’t painted in quite some time. Some of my eco prints may translate into paintings.

What are you marking of the week in your journal? I’d like to know.




Posted in Art, Art Journal, Collage & Assemblage, Consciousness, Drawing, Mixed Media, Nature Journal, Philosophy/Religion/Spirituality, Sketchbooks, Spiritual, Stitch | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Total Solar Eclipse: A Day of Coronae, Aureoles, Supermoons and Roundishness all Round

A moment to moment video of this morning’s total eclipse of the sun, from Faroe, which lasted about 2 minutes. The video’s long, so if you haven’t the time to watch all of it, go to about 1:10 and watch till 2:22 to see the approach of the eclipse through to the point it begins to pass. This is a spectacular recording of an historical moment. March 20 is the 2015 March equinox and the moon turns new only 14 hours after reaching lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit – and this means this moon is a supermoon and will have a larger-than-average effect on Earth’s oceans. This new supermoon swings right in front of the equinox sun so that its shadow falls on parts of Earth.

The eclipse covered 97% of the sun (over Faroe). Over London (near me) 84%. It was overcast here anyway, but still the sky darkened a little. Birds landed on trees and stayed there until after the event. The atmosphere was eery. I felt a bit headachey, sick and dizzy.

Make a note in your diary: the closest (to the earth) full supermoon will be in September, 2015. This next supermoon will be a new moon, and it’ll again cause a total eclipse of the sun.

Sources:  Nasa, Earthsky, You Tube

Some images (below) of the eclipse, grabbed off my telly.
The day has been dominated by coronae, aureoles, and roundishishnesses in general. It will feed my art.

Total Eclipse of the Sun 20 March 2015

Total Eclipse of the Sun 20 March 2015. Taken from an aeroplane, from above the Faroe Islands.

Approaching Eclipse – the ‘Diamond Ring’ moment


Post Eclipse with Diamond Ring on Other Side

Post Eclipse (Diamond on Other Side of Ring)


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Friday Fictioneers 100 Word Flash Fiction Challenge: The Beyond

(c) Rachel Bjerke 2015

(c) Rachel Bjerke 2015

Every Friday writers worldwide gather round the virtual fireside of Rochelle Wisoff and share stories of 100 words, prompted by a common photograph, and exchange constructive criticism. You don’t have to write to read. Click on the blue frog at the end of my story to access all the other stories written to this week’s prompt. Readers’ comments are welcome. This week’s photo prompt is courtesy Rachel Bjerke. Thanks, Rachel. Here’s the story your photo inspired:

The Beyond

These circular kitchens were scattered throughout the vast wood. Each had stone chimney, oven, well. Doors descended to a stone honeycomb – each settlement’s quarters. We cooked, kept warm, socialised. For food, we hunted to the wood’s perimeters – an encircling fence, beyond which was further woodland – but it was accepted that we never crossed over.

“Why go into The Beyond, Sanai?”

“It is there, Fatwa.”

“And forbidden.”


“Think of our children!”

“We have none. You know few can.”

Weeks of walking brought him to a wall, so tall its top lost in mist.

He would ascend, somehow.

(c) Ann Isik 2015
100 words

In respect of my hero’s name, in case you’re interested, Sanai was an 11th-12th century Persian poet. His master work is the epic The Walled Garden of Truth, the first Persian mystical epic of Sufism. A contemporary of Sanai was Attar – is one of the pen-names of Attar of Nishapur (c. 1145 – c. 1221) – Persian sufi and poet. Both Sanai and Attar were major influencers of 13th century mystic sufi poet Rumi. Of Attar Rumi wrote in a poem, “Attar has traversed the seven cities of Love, We are still at the turn of one street.”  Attar translates to The Perfumer.

Posted in Consciousness, Flash Fiction, Mindfulness, Philosophy/Religion/Spirituality, Sci-fi Writing, Short Fiction Writing, Short Story Writing, Spiritual, Walking, Walking as Metaphor, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments