Category Archives: cut’n’stick

There ain’t no crafting like ¬†hung parliament stress crafting…

…cos hung parliament stress crafting is a good way to process the news and stop refreshing webpages for the latest shenanigans.

I made a new batch of hipster upcycled artisanal stamp books. They were popular at Leeds Tetley book fair, so these can wait until my comic convention stalls this autumn. 

Use them as mini pattern colouring books if you reeeeeally need a change of focus.



I’ve made a new book. It’s called Trails: a book about travel, history, and being a slug. It’s mostly a comic. I’m posting pages from it over on the Tumblr, if you fancy a sneaky peek inside.

At the time of writing it’s at the printers round the corner, so here’s a blog post about how I made the cover.

Here’s the unfinished cover:
Work in progress cover for Trails

It’s made of cut and torn elements of an old map. Specifically, an extract from page 85 of The Oxford Atlas by Lewis (1951). Yes, I have ethical issues about destroying books of old maps. But listen, right, I think I’ve given this old map a good new home.

I bought it at a hoyge (that’s how the Geordies pronounce ‘huge’) charity book sale at the Linskill Centre, up the road. It was in a fairly sorry state. Torn cover, foxed paper, tears… yup, a sad book full of outdated maps. I wasn’t sure what I’d need it for, but I needed it, so I bought it for a pound.

Did you hear that?

I’ll blog when Trails is out abut the story of Trails and the meaning of Trails. In short, it’s a book about going back to California for a reunion after 12ish years of not being in California. I used my old guidebook, because I wanted to see how things had changed as much as I wanted to see any new things. I kept a travel sketchbook, which by and by got inked, scanned, and made into a book. And the book needed a cover, and the cover had to make sense in the scrap book-y, fragmentary, out of date world of the book. The cover needed to involve an old map.

I had an old map. A sad old map. I tore some bits of it and I cut other bits of it. I stuck them down, unstuck them, fiddled with them, scanned them, fiddled with them, started again on a sewn cover that was a pattern that kind of looked like a street map, then again on a part-drawn part-sewn cover, but no, I wanted the old map.


Did you hear that? Listen again. Can you hear it now? Yes, it’s the distant sound of a copyright awareness klaxon. Google didn’t give me a clear answer about who owns the copyright of maps: some have open licenses, others are very much owned by very litigious organisations. Some old images go out of copyright after a whole bunch of years, others probably don’t. The book of maps had a publisher’s name (Oxford University Press) and an editor’s name (Brigadier Sir Clinton Lewis), but no artist/author/cartographer or copyright or legalese information. I wasn’t sure. Then a wise comics sage voiced concern, and I felt brave, and I decided to seek Official Permission.

And I did, aaaand… it was no big deal. I filled in the form on the OUP website, explaining what I wanted to use and what it was for. I waited a while. I got twitchy about print deadlines so I phoned OUP’s Academic Permissions department to ask what the what was going on. The OUP Academic Permissions department were helpful and decided that my request to use less that 25% of one page of a c.200 page book of maps for a self-published comic book with a print run of 100 copies was not a threat to their world order. They granted me non-exclusive permission to use the extract and I have an official email to prove it.

I fiddled with the torn and stuck map a bit more, added small sewn details, added drawn bits, and scanned it. I fiddled with the contrast settings using I succeeded in my most ambitious endeavour to date: I scanned in the full title of my book, layered it over the map, and made the letters pick up the map but be lighter than it. I’m not entirely sure how: I’m still working out how to do digital art stuff and whether I like doing it.

Here it is, like:
Full cover of Trails

That’s yer lot for now. If you need me I’ll be busy worrying whether the engineer fits the right part to the printer’s printer so Trails is printed in time for Comic Art Festival and Thought Bubble.

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Pumpkins YEAH!


I’m homesick for California (yeah your heart bleeds, doesn’t it) and am dealing with this by being big keen on Hallowe’en and making grilled cheese for tea.

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Ma ma ma ma

I made an etching for my mum’s birthday and now she’s had her very happy birthday I can share photos of it without spoiling the surprise for her.

It’s a peacock, you know:

Showoff framed

It’s a peacock made of two separate hard-ground etchings stitched together with golden thread, you know.

Showoff closeup

This is number 1 of an edition of 8. This means I have seven more etchings to sew and then put up for sale, you know. When I have time in between all the roadrunning.

I’m particularly proud of the fancy shape and multilayeredness and sewing but most of all I’m proud of washing my hands so very many times whilst printing this so I didn’t smudge the paper.

The title of this blog post sounds much nicer in Chinese, you know.

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So very special

Handles for Forks

This (above) is a special edition of this (below).

Pleb hand

It’s special because it’s all arty. I had a delightful time exhibiting at BALTIC Artist’s Book Fair earlier in June, not least because I was in a room full of people who make fancy books. Some of whose books were so fancy that a less broad-minded individual than I might wonder whether they are books. But they are.

It’s not the same as Celebrity Homes but it uses CH’s fancy chapter headings to make a bad joke about a bad joke.

They’ll both be at Greenfield Gallery just as soon as I get them there (and the exhibition Abode opens its doors).

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Bed time.

I went to The Late Shows and it was good*.

I made a pop-up map book in a workshop led by Yvette Hawkins, a lady who does good paper-folding. Here’s my book:

Front cover


Back cover

I also made a phenakistoscope using a screen printing press for the first time ever.

And I printed matches on the cover of a matchbox using an Adana press. Then the assistant had to wrap the matchbox in paper because their risk assessment said otherwise people might light matches inside the building.


So there you go. Adana is not just a delicious sort of kebab, and I liked printing so much I signed up for an etching course next weekend.

I also made paper dollys and did doodling on big paper. Both these activities were at the UVlight-lit Laing Art Gallery, which makes them ‘art’ not ‘goofing around with scissors and paper and pens’.
Paper dollys in UV light
The doodles are mine but the drawing of people is not.

There was also eating, wandering around, drawing with charcoal taped to the end of bamboo canes, watching a video of a man bouncing on a spring and painting at the same time, snapping of glow sticks and riding of the Metro home.

*everything except the open top bus on the gosh darn motorway was good.

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And your little dog, too.

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Divas are wonderful super-human dramatic beings who make life more fabulous. Or they’re spoiled tantrum-y brats. I can never decide which, gosh darn it.

This is a puzzling book. The drawings are deep meaningful meditations on how divas are a form of superhero, signified by mask-like eyes. But it’s also a pub quiz of a book as you can play ‘guess the diva’. It ends with a fairly lame joke, much like most recent Hollywood superhero films.

This book has black print on a shiny white cover and non-shiny pink pages. It’s slightly smaller than A6 size. It has hand-sewn binding that’s all fringe-y, and includes two sequins and three googly eyes. Googly eyes? Googly eyes.

You can buy it on the Etsy for ¬£2.50, if you like. And I’ll post it to you.

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