And all of a sudden June is upon us

So as you may well know, we’re leaving the UK on June 25th with a one way ticket to Canada, where we will be giving a new life a go on the IEC visa for the next 2 years. Months have melted into weeks and then soared into days, with that odd combination of time feeling simultaneously fast and slow.

It’s weird how May seemed so chilled. The end of June still seemed far enough away that we felt like we had forever to get everything sorted. I will admit though, towards the end of May I started having printmaking anxiety dreams. Dreams in which I arrived at the studio and all of the screens were strapped up ready to ship off, completely un-usable. And another one in which my rooster litho stone had, for some reason, been carved into as if it were a lino block – only leaving the lines raised, with the rest of the dream involving me struggling to make an edition. Niche anxiety dreams right? What happened to the teeth falling out or just endlessly falling?

I’m really going to miss this place

Over the last week or so, that anxiety has gradually shifted into an interesting mix of acceptance and focus. I have managed to get my head around the fact that there just isn’t time to complete the multitude of projects that I have lined up in my head. This has allowed me to concentrate on a select few things – making a frame for the print I’m giving my cousin as a wedding gift; printing and framing a gift for my grandma; finally editioning the roster litho; and trying to use up any excess book cover screen prints and recycled paper folios that are still in my 2 plan chest drawers.

The result of this has been a very satisfying and productive last few days in the studio – having made over 40 sketchbooks, editioned the rooster, and made 4 frames for various people including my cousin and grandma.


Despite the stress of leaving such an amazing space and opportunity behind (albeit to pursue a lifelong dream) – I feel that being forced to let go a little bit over the last week or so has been a really valuable experience. Yes I will always strive to do more, and to do better – but sometimes you just have to go with what life gives you and mould yourself to it. Things don’t always have to come to fruition right now, because you can always find a way in the future if that’s what you need and want to do.

Heart in my throat

So today started stressfully, although I decided to poeticise my commute to try and make at least that part of it less frustrating: I missed my bus by the turn of a corner, and my train by a flight of stairs.

Commute aside, my mind was fully occupied this morning. I had a letter to print out, a letter which I had written yesterday – addressed to our headteacher, explaining a big decision that I was making. A decision that is allowing me to fulfill a life-long dream and embark on a huge adventure.

I emailed him, asking for a quick chat after support staff briefing – he replied saying yes, as long as it’s quick. I printed out my letter, signed it, folded it carefully into 3 and placed it inside a light brown envelope. I scrawled his name on the front, went to the loo to stare at myself in the mirror and make big, confident poses (I wish I was lying….) and went down to the office.

At 10:10am, once his office was cleared, I handed in my notice. As of May 26th I will no longer be working as an Art and Music Technician at this inner city comprehensive school. Then on the 25th of June, I will be boarding a plane with a one-way ticket, and going to a country that filled Aidan and I with a ridiculous amount of joy and wonder when we visited last year.

More to follow, there are still some very important people I need to tell about this. The next trip to the print studio is going to be a nervy one….

Loss of wisdom

So yesterday was oddly and unexpectedly eventful….I went to the dentist first thing for a check up and a clean, and he ended up taking out my upper right wisdom tooth! The tooth has been giving me a bit of grief on and off for a while now, but it’s the kind of thing that you just get on with. Anyway, he could see it has been cutting the inside of my cheek and said it was a simple procedure that wouldn’t take more than ten minutes, so after a quick head in hands panic I decided I just had to get on with it….

Injections done, I sat in the waiting room for ten minutes shaking like a leaf and messaging various people, hoping for a response from someone to help me calm my nerves….then I was back sat in the chair, special goggles on, hands gripping the arms of the seat with white knuckles. 2 or 3 seconds of the strangest sensation I have ever felt and it was over. Cotton wool in the gap, calm voice and soothing words from Dr Norton….all over and done with.

The sensation during the removal was really odd. My eyes were closed tight, and visually I had a deep reddy-orange thing going on. I can’t remember hearing anything much, concentrating too hard on trying not to feel the numbed feelings in my mouth, trying to focus on the tips of my fingers tensing into the mint green arm rests. As far as the mouth goes….while he was tugging away, it suddenly felt like the tooth was occupying the space of a grapefruit in my jaw. A feeling like a black hole opening up, no pain, just a numb openness….

Aside from the bleurgh of having to swish salt water round my mouth once and hour, and the self pity inducing dull ache in the side of my face all day yesterday [and to a lesser extent today] – I’m glad I just said yes to having it removed there and then. I feel a teeny tiny bit proud of myself for just taking a deep breath and getting on with it!

Getting back into it

So since the move things have felt a little stagnant. Upheaval can really make it feel like you’ve hit the pause button within your personal life, while everything else races on around you. I don’t know where the last 2 weeks have gone! All I know is that my etsy is feeling a bit stale (although I did sell a bag last week), and that life is too short to get stuck in the oh-my-gods of a sideways shift in your day to day life.

Screen set up ready to print my new fabric labels

Simply getting back in the studio last Tuesday to print labels for my bags was enough to get the ball rolling again. Sometimes you need something like that to force you back into action. So last week I spent Tuesday eve, Wednesday day and Thursday eve in the studio working on various bits and pieces – some etsy stuff, and some lithography. I managed to finally etch the 2nd colour layer for my white rooster commission, and after a few teething problems managed to get the main image layer printed on some paper samples I picked up from John Purcell Paper a couple of weeks ago.


2nd colour layer for the white rooster litho

I’m still new to lithography, so when the ink wouldn’t wash out of my closed stone I did feel a pang of anxiety! Paul assured me that the ink should still take, it just might take a little longer to get an evenly inked print. I spent 4 hours in the studio last Thursday, partly sorting out my new etsy packaging, but mostly stressing over getting my white rooster litho to print like it had before!

White Rooster commission on 4 different types of paper

I’m so happy I’ve got the White Rooster proofed on a few different types of paper now, as it means I’m closer to getting the edition done. I tried out Fabriano artistico in traditional white in both 225 and 300gsm, Zerkall 902 smooth in 225gsm and Simili Japon in 225gsm. I think I’m going to go with the Simili Japon, top right in the picture above – it’s nice and smooth and is a lovely warm white, which I think suits the image better. So excited to be editioning my first lithograph!!!!

creative guilt

I don’t know if anyone else gets this, but sometimes I am enveloped by guilt because I feel I am not making enough.

In the last few months I feel like my creative output has been really low. Admittedly, I have been working on my new etsy shop products for AyamByMaya, so it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing – I’ve made a load of hand bound books and printed a tonn of wrapping paper, and that does take time.

Busy in the studio making my own books

Plus, I’m still doing my Post It Journeys project, so I’m doing at least 4 observational drawings a day as part of that. But for some reason, this just feels like going through the motions, and not actually having a meaningful creative output.

A drawing from my Post It Journeys project

Part of the problem is feeling tired, which I can’t really help considering my RIDICULOUS commute from South East to North West London every day. But I could be doing more. Or at least I feel like I could and should be doing more.

So yes, I use my commute to do my Post It Journeys, but I feel like when I get home I am too quick to just slump once the other bits of life admin are done (you know….we gots to eat, and so do the cats!) I’m thinking I need to start scheduling in time every evening, even if it’s only ten minutes. Time reserved for drawing, time reserved for visual research and exploration, time which will allow my ideas to begin flowing more naturally and hopefully lead me to feel less guilt for not having what I deem to be enough creative output.

Acsensur emotional

I made a flippant comment about the emotional roller-coaster that is printmaking, and the french student working beside me looked confused. I gestured the ups and downs.

Aaah, in French we say emotional lift!

Don’t you just love the nuances of language!?

I wonder how other languages phrase this….anyone care to offer up the equivalent in another language?