Category Archives: Chapter 1

Module 2, Chapter 2, Activity 1


Activity 2.2.1

Use handwriting to fill and decorate your sketchbook pages.
Using words of your choice, fill pages in your sketchbook with words in your own handwriting trying out the different tools and inks that you have. You can overlap words and use different tools and materials on the same page if you wish.
You can also vary sizes from very small to huge letters which go off the edges of the page. Or turn paper in different directions including sideways and upside down.

This post has experiments with different writing implements, and were mostly done at Mum’s when she was ill, using ‘found’ paper, an old pad of paper with filing holes in it, and cheap coloured paper from the local stationery shop, all cut into squares (but not very evenly). Some of them haven’t got backgrounds – the papers were so thin and cheap that the merest hint of moisture made them curl up and die (one piece actually disintegrated when I applied a colour wash!). However, I’ve done my best with ‘dry’ colours, using crafting ink pads (applied with a Brayer), coloured pencils, pastels (oil and soft), and wax crayons.

And I didn’t write poetry or anything on them, because I was very limited for space, and had to keep clearing things away, so mostly I wrote about the writing tools I was using, so I didn’t get muddled. I didn’t really plan anything because I had a lot of other things on my mind and was fairly busy, so I just concentrated on writing with what came to hand, but there seem to be a lot of them…

A lot of the sheets of paper are very thin, so I only used one side, and they were very crinkled and curled by the time I was more or less settled back at home. I was going to stick them in the sketch book, but it seems an awful waste of paper, so I’ve left them loose. and stuck some of them together, and glued some on to other sheets, with notes and pictures on the backs. But I have An Idea, which may or may not work…  Watch this space! Force of circumstances means I was a bit all over the place with these, so I’ve posted the pages, without many comments, and some of them are in the wrong order…



Below is sponge eye make-up applicator and red ink. Not a success – was very difficult to control the applicator  (but it’s good for mark making) and it disappeared a bit under the wax and pastel I scribbled over it. And the ink really is quite red – the colour reproduction on my printer’s scanner is not good!

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A piece of charcoal. It’s a bit unpredictable, because it has a tendency to break, and you don’t get even surfaces on the writing, but I quite like that. I tried doing a rabdom sort of monoprint over it, with acrylics and a sheet of perspex.The paint was a bit thick, so some of the letters disappeared under it, and some of them distorted a bit as I rolled the paper onto the perspex, but I quite like the grungy effect. Ink over the top would help I think, but I didn’t get that far.


The next two pages were written with two fine-liner felt-tips held together with an elastic band. Love the effect.Background on the first was done first with a teabag rubbed over the surface, then after I did the writing I put pastel marks in the white bits and used by fingers to rub them in. The second one, on yellow paper, I left blank.





This is written with the hooked end of a metal crochet hook, and I think it’s fantastic. It doesn’t hold the ink for all that long – about three letters on average, and you have to press fairly hard with the end, but you get lots of variation of light and dark, and it’s got a kind of immediacy that other pens lack, if that makes sense. It reminds me of the scratchy writing and sketches by some cartoonists and illustrators – Gerald Scarfe perhaps, or Quentin Blake? And it great if you’re feeling in a spiky sort of mood! Guaranteed to make you feel better!


The page below shows writing done with a pen I made myself (in the interests of accuracy, one of the Darling Daughters has pointed out that it was a cider can, not a beer can). I enjoyed this so much, I’m doing a separate little post to show what I did – when I’ve finished transforming the pencil by some wrapping and the zapping…

I used a page decorated with tulip petals rubbed over it, that I did at Mum’s, because I’d bought her a bunch of tulips that were the most glorious colours, and I wonder if they would transfer to paper. But, sadly, they didn’t. So I’ve included a picture of them, just to show how beautiful they were.



And here is a page where I used a balsa wood pen I made myself!!! Isn’t this great? And it is so wonderful to write with pens you’ve made yourself. The  pen is quite broad, and I cut notches in it, and you can write with a corner, or use it upright to print letters made from the edge, ore upright dragging the edge along (the smaller ‘A’s are done with the edge. Used in the usual way you get a fabulous patterned letter.



I tried using a feather but it was not as easy as you think.

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Below is where I used a glittery eyeliner that I was allergic to. You can’t see the glitter and shimmer here, and I certainly didn’t see it when I bought it – and the name and blurb gave no indication. It was only when I put it on that I realised, and even though I took it off fairly quickly my eyes and the skin around them went sore and itchy and red and swollen! Anyway, I’ve put it to good use here.

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Playing with wax crayons. I LOVE wax crayons.



Playing with black paper. Chalk and liquid chalk:


Below: The letters round the edge are written with a Dovecraft Chalk Marker, which doesn’t look at all like chalk – it looks and feels rather waxy. However, on the paper it does look chalky. The big white letters in the centre are written with Tippex correcting fluid. Long, long ago, when reporters wrote their stories on typewriters, we used gallons of this stuff to paint out mistakes (then we typed corrections over it), so we could take ‘clean’ copy to the typesetters. So when I saw a little bottle of it I couldn’t resist. It’s thinner than I remember, and I’m sure it smells different, and the little brush has been replaced by sponge applicator, but I wanted to try writing with it.


More samples on a scrap of black paper stuck on to a page torn from a magazine. The metallic writing look gorgeous, but it doesn’t show in photos or scans.


Experiments with a highlighter and neon fine-liners on scraps of black and white paper stuck on torn magazine paper. Not at all impressed with neon fine-liners.And why did I scribble over the black paper with an old gold oil marker?









Activity 2.1.4


Activity 2.1.4

Make a collection of recycled papers

Begin to collect papers and envelopes which can be used in later chapters in this module. Try to include newspapers, magazines, gift wrap, junk mail, brown parcel wrapping paper, tissue paper, paper bags, brown and white envelopes. You can include old maps, letters, bills, photocopying etc if you wish as the papers can be torn, layered and painted over so personal details can be torn out or painted over. A very good way to recycle the large quantity of paper we acquire in our homes.

As I’ve said before, my stash of ‘inspirational’ things and the hoard of ‘recycling’ seem to have got a bit muddled up. But here’s a photo of the recycling box, with stuff spilling out of it. I know I’ve used this before, but it really doesn’t look very different – just more so, if you know what I mean!


Activity 2.1.3


Activity 2.1.3

  • Collecting words and letters for inspiration.
    Begin to collect examples of text. Search newspapers and magazines, advertising materials, old greetings cards etc and cut out those which appeal to you. Paste them in your sketch book.
  • Take your camera with you when you are out and about and take shots of letters and numbers in the environment. It could be a signpost, a house sign, numbers on a bus, direction signs at the station, labels in the market, posters pasted on a window. Begin to look for interesting shapes and colours. Choose your favourites, print and paste into your sketch book. 

Right, let’s get this show on the road again! I have had a break because my mother was ill, and I dashed off in a hurry, and spent weeks looking after her. Fortunately, she is much better now, so I’m sorting out the rest of Module 2, Chapter 1, which was more or less done, but couldn’t be posted because I had no access to the internet.

This activity is the one about searching through magazines and such like for text that inspires you. However, I seem to have gone off at a bit of tangent, and all sorts of lettering has appeared – print, handwriting, inscriptions on monuments, painted tiles and all sorts of oddments like alphabet rubbers and alphabet spaghetti. And somehow the whole thing has merged into 2.1.4 (the one about recycled paper), and I’ve amassed all sorts of cuttings, books, photos and object, which keep getting muddled up together, even though I keep trying to sort them out. Some of them are things I like, and some are things I found interesting or quirky.

I’ve tried to display them artistically, with notes about  the history of some things, and what I’ve done, but I must remember that I need to write more clearly on decorated surfaces. I went over some of my handwritten text in darker colours, with varying degrees of success – some of them look a bit fuzzy.

But I have remembered to scan pages on to the computer at a higher resolution, which should make the images better. But they are still not that wonderful, and the colour reproduction is very poor on the whole. Either I’m doing something wrong, or I need a decent printer. Anyway, here we go. First up, an explanation of what I’m doing, which is really notes for myself, but I’ve included the pages here anyway.

Inspiration 1a

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The next two are self explanatory I think:

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And so is this, written with a white Uni-ball on black paper:

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And here I’ve used a silver pen on black pen, but my writing is not to be compared with the wonderful lettering produced by the 12th century scribe who worked on the Mappa Mundi:

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The sketchbook pages still speak for themselves… And I couldn’t resist including something from an old decorated manuscript, because pages like this are so beautiful:

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I love the lettering on these tiles in Postman’s Park, which is one of those hidden corners of London, and is one of my favourite spots in the city. I like the way each tells a story, however brief it may seem, because each story is true, and I love the whole rather grandiose concept of a monument to heroic self-sacrifice – I’m sure only the Victorians could have thought of this:

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Another tile, but this one has been photographed and turned into a card, which I’ve mounted so I can still open it, and the mounting unfolds as well, so I could print a bit about the artist:

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I made a collage on the page below, with bits cut out from a nursery rhyme book – the font and illustrations for each rhyme have been designed to match the words and feeling, and it’s all so jolly. and so well done, I’m sure it would inspire a love of words, poems and stories in any child, as well as a love of colours, lettering and pictures. I used children’s fancy-edged scissors to cut the pieces. I couldn’t resist including the mouse – I think he’s gorgeous!

Inspiration 14

Next is a bit of an oddity – the pages are about an Elizabethan painted room, which includes text passages, and I’ve included it because it’s so unusual:

Inspiration 15

Inspiration 16

Another collage… Logos and brand names this time:


And this (below) is my ‘Mother of the Bride’ goody bag that Lucy, my elder daughter, made to hold favours at her wedding. She bought little paper carrier bags (I’ve scanned it in lying on a sheet of A4 paper, to give an idea of the size), and she painted one for each guest – all with lavender on the front and the person’s name in purple writing, which is why I’ve included it here. She and her husband made up little gifts to put in each bag, and also asked me to stitch embroidered heart-shaped lavender bags, which took a lot longer than I planned (all in shades of purple, and each one slightly different), but was very enjoyable, and very soothing – the wedding was back in February, and the house stills smells of lavender! Anyway, I am using my bag to store a selection of postcards, bookmarks and other bits and pieces, all bearing some kind of lettering.

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I’m leaving it at that! I seem to have so many bits and pieces, and photographs and stuff, I think I’ll just try and use some of them as I go along! And I don’t think I’ve got any photos of shops – shops are usually boring, and they’re nearly all part of national chains, with a brand image. What I like is signs, milestones, notices on monuments, gravestones, really old shop or advertising signs, and stuff like that – mementos of places I’ve been to or know and love. So that’s what I’ve got.