Two Rivers, Otters and Rest

Far away from home, hiding in a beautiful house, over the last few days I have settled to work, although I find myself painting when I should be writing. I’ve hung a bird feeder in the garden and have been rewarded by a slate-blue and peach coloured nuthatch, chaffinch, wren, robin, sparrow, both hedge and house, bluetit, coaltit, greattit, and all the while pheasants. I can hear blackbirds too and an owl calls at night.

My work table has changed over the few days I have been here. I’ve prepped a print to take to Kenilworth for a customer, and one to leave for Number Seven to add to their stock of my work.

On Monday I visited one of the few hand made papermills in Britain, Two Rivers, with Chris and Davina from number seven and saw how they turn cotton rag to the most beautiful textured watercolour paper.

It is a great delight to me that the paper is made from stuff called ‘stuff’. A great porridge like barrel of it, mixed with water from the two rivers well.

With trays they lift the stuff, and water is sucked away, then the paper is bedded onto felted sheets and placed in a press for water to be squeezed out and away. It is then air dried. Thicker sheets are easier to make I am told. I love the organic quality to this hand made artefact. The ink sits differently on the surface. I’ve not yet used it with watercolour. I love the deckled edges of it. Going to see how it takes to gold leaf next.

We had picked up a warm but dead pheasant on the road on the way there and Chris cooked it for our lunch.

I painted otters onto the paper, with well water, the same that is used to mix with the stuff to make the paper. With left over ink I painted a couple of otters on some of my usual Arches, to sell to add towards the crowdfunder total for Devon. Dulverton is so very close to Devon. Bellow are the two for the crowdfunder: £180 each. Email me before donating to the crowdfunder, with Devon Otters as subject matter, and top, or bottom otters, as desired..

There’s a wonderful map of the UK, created for us by Harry, and it shows where campaigns to place the Lost Words in schools has succeeded. So many people have worked so hard to get our book into schools so that all children and teachers can have access to it.And there are new ‘Challenge Cards’ for teachers, parents, libraries, anyone who wishes to use them, again written by Eva John and supported by our wonderful publisher, Hamish Hamilton.

I will be in Dulverton, signing books next Thursday 25th October. We have a Heartwood stamp we are using. If you can’t come you can still order signed books by calling the shop, Number Seven Dulverton. If you can come you will be sure of a warm welcome in a beautiful place.

My owl has been watching over me, beautiful Heathpoult, tawny, wise.

I need to go. I need to see if I can catch a nuthatch in lines of a pencil. Chris found a dead dipper after the storm. The feathers on its back shimmered like dark damask. Beautiful creature. Built to dive, swift in the streams, a dark and waterproof dart of a bird.

We didn’t eat it.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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6 Responses to Two Rivers, Otters and Rest

  1. Rags E says:

    My Jackie,
    I could read you and look at your images all day! You have set me on the most compelling course – to study labyrinths of all kinds – now my journals are full of them! If you are curious check our blog.
    And speaking of journals, I would love to send you one of the hand bound books I make – if you use a journal. If you’d like one, just drop me a note at my email.
    It would be nice to give something back for all of the inspiration you give to me!

  2. How wonderful, to see how that paper that is so unique is made. And I’m sure you’ll enjoy making something beautiful out of it! I admire your work, and am so glad you share its process of becoming, here on your bog.

  3. Bernie Bell says:

    So that’s what it is…..when I saw that image, in your tweets, I thought it was something to do with sails, and the sea.
    Fresh air and breezes. Is that what’s needed to dry paper? Is that what goes into the paper?

  4. Ah, you’ve experienced stuff! There’s also half stuff and couching and kissing off and moulds and deckles and posts involved in the handmaking of paper. I’ve loved seeing Two Rivers and your otters frolicking on fine cotton papers. I’ve never had an otter play on mine, only a mosquito or two.

  5. Els says:

    Ohhh it is such a delight to see the (still) wet otters !!!! 😉
    Oh my, that dipper ! (we don’t have them here in Holland :
    our waters are too slow) love the different shades of gray on
    those feathers.
    Always special (and sad) to hold a dead bird …

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