Tag Archives: learning

Sharing skills to make a beautiful memory book

11 Jan

Recently a friend of mine went to a wedding and wanted to make a very special wedding present. Throughout the big day she took lots of photos and, knowing there wasn’t a wedding photographer, she wanted to make a photo album.

We talked together about what she wanted to book to be like. She found and gave me the perfect cover paper for this unique book (Mr Men!) and I prepared the front and back covers using this paper and grey board.

We set a date and my friend came over. I showed her the basics of coptic single sheet binding. We practiced step by step on some paper. Our first job was to get the photographs in order and stick them back to back in that order. We used double sided sticky tape along each edge, being very careful that the edges lined up. We then pushed 2 holes along the edge we will be binding, each sheet in line with each other and with the covers. Then we set to sewing.Mr Men memory book making

Our paper practice really paid off. I used scrap paper to sew along but all of the sewing on the book was done by my friend and she was very proud to have produced something so special.

Mr Men Memory Book spineMr Men memory book inside cover Mr Men memory book front cover I had a fantastic time sharing my skills, my friend loved gaining new skills and producing such a beautiful and unique book and her friends were over the mood to have a wedding album after all, and such a heart-felt one at that.

If you’ve got a book project that you’d like some help or advice with do get in touch.


Handmade memories

30 Oct

In the last few months I have been getting stuck into book making using the fantastic new skills I gained at the Book Arts Course at The Art Academy. I’d really recommend the course if you want an overview of different book making techniques, whether you have made a book before or not.

One of the skills I learned was a beautiful single sheet coptic technique, which is fantastic for binding thick pages. One of the best uses for this is binding photographs into albums.

In August I finished my job working 1:1 with a young person with Aspergers Syndrom who is out of school. After two years or working together we’d shared some fun times. I pulled together all the pictures I’d taken, prepared some covers and created a photo book.


I was really pleased when I gave this handmade gift to the young person I worked with and her mum asked me where I had bought it.

I then had the opportunity to do what I really enjoy, share what I’ve learned. I worked with a close friend of mine to make a memory book of her friend’s wedding…but I can’t show you pictures yet as she hasn’t yet given the book to her friend.

If you have got some photos that you’d like to bind into a memory book, you’d like some help and you live in London, get in touch!

Thinking about playing

10 Mar

I’ve been doing a bit of reading. I’m currently reading Bob Hughes Evolutionary Playwork. I wanted to share this section with you to give you more of an insight into what Playwork is;

What do Playworkers believe? What should they believe and where should those beliefs come from?

For the thinking evolutionary Playworker, there will inevitably come a time when she asks, “Whay am I doing this?” “What is it that I am trying to do, what is it that I want to change and into what?”, and “If I were to write a Mission Statement, what would it contain, and why?”

On reflection when I first became a Playworker in 1970 my personal analysis was both shallow and naive. I wanted to help, and I wanted to do good. Having already volunteered in the local Youth Service and trained to be a teacher, I thought I had something to offer, althought the truth was, I had little idea of what that meant. This view of ‘playwork as a kind of public service’ was reinforced when I realised that the children at the playground, and their parents, came from exactly the same background as me and my parents – secondary modern educated, estate dwellers, and factory people who could perhaps do with a hand, either to maximise their life chances, or to consider different alternatives.

For my first couple of years as a Playworker, I did my ‘good’, as different situations arose, I fielded crime, behavioural issues, parental neglect and abuse, the attitudes of the authorities towards the children and their parents, violent outbursts, and community politics. But increasingly I found myself asking those difficult questions I started with. ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘What is it I am doing?’

I remember my epiphany well. This first playwork experience was as an adventure playworker, on a site that had been a farmyard when I had been a child, but which was now on the edge of a large and dense housing estate. I had played in the farmyard, and the surrounding countryside was well known to me. One day, whilst standing on the top platform of a tower, the children and I had built- surveying both the surrounding area and the playground, with the children going about their business – I had my first genuine insite of the context that I was working in, and that the children were playing in. What struck me initially was the change that had taken place in the twenty-six years since I had been born in that town. Where there had been firlds, now there were houses and factories. Where there had been allotments and a pond, there were just more houses. Where there had been birds’ nests, birds’ eggs, birds’ songs, newts and cattle, there were cars, parking bays and shops. And where there had been a farmyard and a pathway to the woods, there was now this adventure plauground. I wondered, ‘What difference these changes might have made to the children, and to their play? What was happening, what was going on, what was the real reaason for the playground being there?’

I began to think more about play as a need, about playing as behaviour, as an interaction of the child’s inner world with the external, as what I now call a ‘bio-evolutionary’ phenomenon; I began comparing what I had done as a child – how I had been able to do it, why I had done it – with the situation that the children on the playground were experiencing. This period and that process, together with later arguments and evidence presented in numerous texts, formed what is the basis of my own beliefs and convictions about play and playwork… However, we should remember that everyone, playworker or not, has their own valid story to tell about that play means to them.


A week in the life of a Playworker/Maker: Tuesday

29 Feb

Tuesday morning I was up bright and early for the very indirect commute from Tower Hamlets to Walthamstow where the Playbus hosts a morning play session funded by the local children’s centre.

The parents and careers at this session are always there waiting for the bus, their children literally jumping up and down in excitment. This week was very busy with 15 under 5’s along to play. I was talking to one parent who lives the other side of Walthamstow where we used to have another session funded by another children’s centre. We haven’t got the funding to carry on there and as we finished up our work  they were under going some staffing cuts and reshuffles that really affected their brilliant outreach and family support workers. Walthamstow, they told me, has seen a massive number of centre closures and cuts.

No front line cuts they keep saying. Every now and then they blab on about bridging the opportunity gap between the rich and poor. As if. East London has a desperate shortage of nursary places and its the kids from the more deprived areas who always miss out, their parents not being able to afford private care. Children’s centres have done a fantastic job of giving all children access to play sessions where they can explore and socialise with other children and where parents can meet each other, support each other and access all kinds of other services that they might well have missed out on otherwise (speach and language advice, legal advice, language classes). The playbus is used by the children’s centres to reach families who are less likely to go to the centres or access any services, as we can park right on their street and are an easy first place to come. For these kids to have a good start they need the space and opportunity to play. This government aren’t just taking these opportunities away in a short term sense, they are undoing the infrastructure that was only just beginning to make a difference.

Tuesdays session was lots of fun. We blew up baloons and all the kids loved chasing them around. Kids who, at the start of the session were very shy and clingy to their parents, were running around independently by the end. As the bus drives off there’s always a few tears but we will be back next week.

After packing away from the busy session, I had some time to kill. On Tuesdays I work on the bus in the morning and then at an adventure playground after school. A big gap but not big enough to go home and come out again. Thats what comes of working several jobs where each are just a few hours at a time. I went for lunch and tried to come up with some fundraising plans for the playbus. I’ve got a few ideas. Then, as the weather was so warm I headed to the park. Absolutly beautiful scattered with spring flowers and ducks.

Come 3.15pm I arrived at the playground which is especially for children and young people with disabilities and special needs. I’ve not been working there long and am still getting to know the other staff and the children. minibuses bring the children straight from their schools or their homes to the playground. Each member of staff is designated to work 1:1 with one of the children, so once you arrive and help get the place set up, it’s a waiting game for when your 1:1 arrives. The last few times my 1:1 hasn’t arrived and so I am on general duties. This has proved a great way to get to know the other staff. For example, if there is a young person who is known to take all of their clothes off, then I’m able to support the member of staff working 1:1 with that young person to help get them sorted and back out playing. I also relieve people if they need a break. Yesterday, when I relieved one member of staff I was launched into some wonderful imaginative outdoor play. The young person and I layed back on the grass and gazed at the sky which was slowly turning pink. There were tigers hiding out there, bees in the ground and spiders everywhere! (of the imaginary type). Later I joined in with the musical genious who was enjoying playing the keyboard at maximum volume, holding one key at a time. His eyes were closed and he rocked his head just like all the old blues greats. With his other hand he grabed a brightly coloured underella and moved it hypnotically to the durge, breaking into a big smile.

Before we knew it it was time to pack up and get on the minibuses to go home. After being an escort on one of the buses, I was finished for the day; back on the bus to Tower Hamlets.

In the evening, we made the most of the mild weather and planned to walk along the river to a pub in Wapping. Off we went. Every few yeards the pathway was blocked with locked gates. The water front here has been well and truely privatised. Where not so long ago where wharehouses and dockers pubs there’s now luxury developments and gated communities all claiming their own private chunk of the public right of way. In a crack between two houses were were lucky enough to discover an accessible bit of beach. The Thames is so beautiful and should be accesible to all.

 Then, as if some ominous threat, floating past on the river goes a boat pulling some giant olympic rings…as if we needed reminding. As if most people’s lives in London, especially east, haven’t been affected in some annoying way or other since they announced we were to host them. The people of East London knew or have quickly come to learn that these games are not for them and actually, if their lives get in the way of the plans to woo the worlds dignitaries it’ll be no contest who will win. All those I’ve spoken to are dreading the summer. Money has a way of ruining everything.

Experimental Book Making

15 Dec

I’ve been getting stuck into making some notebooks covered in beautiful fairy tale inspired notebooks. You can find several sets for sale in my Etsy shop but here’s a little taster

Because I’ve been busy making books, I’ve been thinking about books alot. When I go anywhere that has some interesting looking books I can’t help but have a good look and try work out how they were put together.

So, in my over excitement about book making, I’ve put together a prototype of a different type of book. Considering I didn’t really know what I was doing, I think it’s come out very well. Here it is…

I made the cover from some scrap curtain material and added a pocket into the inside of the front cover. The  stitch work on the spine is not only used to keep the book pages together but also to attach the cover, which means you get that beautiful stitch detail. What do you think?

I’m going to work on some ways of fastening the book, I’ve got some ideas already. I think I’ll also keep an eye out for some other cover material as this is quite flimsey…could add to the charm though. Anyone know of any material that might be good for this?


Look out for some interesting books popping up in my shop sometime sooooon!

Everyone loves a good notebook

25 Oct

I first learned how to make books a year ago in the summer. I was at a workshop at East London Printmakers’ Studio led by the charismatic Richard Roberts.

Since then I’ve made quite a few soft cover notebooks and I’ve even sold a couple! I’ve had some really nice feedback about them too;

The three notebooks were tied together with pretty ribbon, making them especially suitable for a gift.  The paper was very good quality.  I would highly recommend this product.

I was very pleased with these notebooks.  Lovely spring colours!  Very good value too.

And about the set which was my personal favourite:

I am so happy with these. The paper is gorgeous and it’s all wonderfully put together. I will definately be buying from you again xxx



So in these days of slightly more difficult access to printing, I am about to embark on some serious book making. I’ve got some BEAUTIFUL  and unusual cover paper and am experimenting with felt covers. Keep your eyes peeled for more notebook news!


Print victory to celebrate March 26th

29 Apr

Last night at an Open Access session at East London Printmakers I had another go at a four colour separation, first time since the workshop at London Print Studio.

I prepared my image on my friends Photoshop. I’ve gone for a striking image from March 26th anti-cuts protests.

This is the preparations for printing the final black layer;

And here’s the finished run of 5 drying on the rack (I’m having prblems with the upload but it all adds to the suspense…right click on the red cross and open in a new tab or window to view);

These cards will be available to buy on Etsy soon!!