The last of the cards and a new garden to visit.

I’ve been making hand stitched cards for over 12 years, and had decided some time ago that when I reached the end of my supply of blank cards I would call it a day. I had been tickling around the edges of finishing all the stitched cards I had prepared, but then realised that to get a job done you just have to devote yourself to it and plod on until you can truly tick it off your list. Sometimes, possibly always, when you have many strands to your work things have to go. It generally works well, as the brain begins to clear, freed from all those nagging tasks and ‘shoulds’.

I include the ‘shoulds’ here, because recently I sold and donated some materials that I realised I no longer wanted to work with; in this case lino, and printing inks, and a large tin of Conte pastel pencils, let alone other hopeless stuff that was simply binned. We do hang onto these things imagining we are spectacularly well endowed with time and talent. They do get in your way;  whenever you spot them lurking at the back of the cupboard there is that mix of guilt and possibility. I decided that if they had been unused for years and I didn’t even actually want to use them they should just go. I still have my lino cutting tools, and will buy nice soft vinyl to use, and print with acrylics, should I wish to take it up again. And I hated the Conte crayons from the start; they are very hard pastel pencils.

So, tidy up the tasks and the shoulds, to give time and space for new work. After a few days of stitching, sticking and bagging, they were all done, and I also printed a couple of hundred cards too. I have always printed them at home, and have found that it works out very well, but at some point in the future I will have new cards printed rather than do the job at home. Here are some images of the last of the cards.

DSC_0002CSome of the stitched prints ready to be glued to the cards.

DSC_0003CAll stuck and ready to be bagged.

DSC_0007CSome bagged and 200 printed cards to bag next. It seems that my days as a one person card factory are over.

Some years ago I did a short course in botanical illustration at Winterbourne House, in Birmingham. This is the home of Birmingham University’s Botanic Gardens too. The house and garden, plus a gallery, shop and other interesting areas of the complex are now more readily open to the public. Well, they have been for some time but it’s taken me a while to actually visit; I do live about 4 miles from it after all…

The house is Arts and Crafts, the gardens are wonderful and really interestingly laid out. I look forward to visiting throughout the year now, I am hooked. It was actually like being in the middle of the countryside.

W2The old head gardener’s room re-created.

W3Lovely old beeches.

IMG_0171There are a couple of small greenhouses featuring seasonal plants. I always love these displays.

IMG_0174 - Version 2The cacti house.

IMG_0175The small tropical house was actually like a jungle, very verdant and full.

IMG_0182Sorry if the angle of this makes you woozy, I just wanted to get in as many cyclamen, sempervivums and bulbs as possible.

IMG_0186There are lots of planted rock containers, they always remind me of how I used to enjoy playing as a child on our rockery, with my plastic zoo animals and horses.

IMG_0187Part of the pool and rock garden.

IMG_0191The stream. We were lucky in that it stopped raining as we walked around the garden, and we actually had sun.

IMG_0198There are many places to sit and think, or even have a nap.

IMG_0202The twiggy bones of the arched walk. I have no idea what the plants are, I must check, but will go to see it when the walk actually sprouts and flowers.

IMG_0206A view from the house, which is a large suburban villa, apparently. It has quite a history, which I won’t go into, since I am in garden mode.

IMG_0211And two views of the print room, which isn’t original but was set up using old equipment owned by the university. I like a workshop; I’m obviously in workshop mode too.

IMG_0212I’m spending some time this week getting used to a new computer, but hope to finish a small artist’s book, which I will post soon, and finish some other work, which I have featured previously. After that I have the urge to start a new piece based on plants. It must be spring.

Six and Friends travelling exhibition Orientated will be at the Bramble Patch in Northamptonshire from 23rd March until 6th April. There is new work o see as well as the original pieces first shown last year at Forge Mill.

4 thoughts on “The last of the cards and a new garden to visit.

  1. So many immediate reactions to this post Steph.. first, amazement at the number of blank cards you must have had to start with and the fact that you’ve made a couple of hundred just like that… secondly, delight at some of those garden photos. I love the one with the reflection of that elegant looking tree.It really does seem to look like an oasis in the middle of a city. Thirdly, thanks for the reminder that cacti make great subjects for photography and prints. I’ve sometimes wondered about growing some but I think I’d get obsessed with wanting all the different shapes, sizes and textures. Better to admire from afar via your lovely photos but I fancy making some cacti collagraphs so will add that to my ‘to do’ list. If I can get through that as well as you’ve got through the card making it will be printed in no time! Finally…. looking forward to seeing the artists book too.

  2. The cards were, still are for a while, a business Lesley so I used to bulk buy the cards/envelopes and bags. That’s why I had so many to plough through! My main worry is that I’ll find some more packs of blanks lurking somewhere, and have to use those up too.
    You are right about cacti being photogenic; I hadn’t realised this before you said, but I have photographed many cacti, in botanical gardens, only once in real life, and the pictures work well. Good strong forms I suppose. Good luck with the collagraphs, I wouldn’t want to take on that challenge!
    Many years ago my father grew a lot of cacti from seed in his greenhouse. There was a good variety; one or two were real gems, which flowered after a couple of years. They are plants that I prefer to view from a reasonable distance though…

  3. Good Lord Stephers – that is one hell of a lot of cards old spud … bet you had a little jig when the last one was bagged. Weird about Conte – bods do rave about them, but like you, I found them hard and unresponsive beasts …. although I still have mine …. hmmm . That garden looks truly scrumptious (breaks in to somng) in the extreme – is that where we are going to visit?? xx

  4. I’ve yet to jig His, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet! Yes, we are going to that garden, it’s smallish, but complex, and basically you can walk in circles or indeed other shapes around it all day, and see new things. I forgot to mention there are also some wonderful huge hens there; they seriously look as if they should lay extra large eggs.

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