Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone

By Jackie Morris

A pillow book of poems, dreams & stories typed on sheets of gold leaf.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

About many books, design, old paints and things.

This is the first update on the Accordion Books page, and I've copied it here because of the relevance of talk about design, Alison, Feather , Leaf etc. So, if you are one of the 164 who is supporting Accordion Books it may be familiar to you. It's really wonderful to have you here as early adopters of the newest of my ventures. I'm going to mirror this posting on the Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone page also, so hope you won't be disappointed if you support both projects that the posts are both the same. 

So, where did this all begin? In the pocket of an apron, made for me and given to me by Cathy Fisher. She's stayed in my house for a while, taking care of the creatures while I galivanted around the countryside with a glorious troup of musicians. And she made me a crossover pinny, with a black fox embroidered inside, and a pocket which contained a fold out watercolour book. I think I painted otters in it. I'm not sure. I had been working on much longer ones, and doodling in what Moleskine call Japanese notebooks. But this one was perfect. With watercolour paper, and not too big, so if you wished you could frame it and hang on the wall.

I began my working day by doodling in a copy of The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow. This is one of the rewards for supporting the Accordion Book project, but I am only part way through the doodling of it. It's a good way to settle the head. But next I needed to wake up the hounds. These are the Reeves paints, somewhere between 150 -200 years old, they have been dormant in their beautiful antique paint box, waiting for imagination and water to breathe them to life. You see, I have two more originals of these to paint, one for a pledge reward, and the other for Alison O'Toole. 

Once again I have been lucky enough to have a publisher who understands the power of a genius designer for a project. Part of this lies in the relationship I have with Alison. She may be half a world away, but we communicate often. And if I have the wrong end of a stick or an idea that doesn't work, she just gets on with travelling on the right path, and shows how it can be, and always is, better. But I have a theory, and that is, one of the reasons things work so well with The Lost Words is that Alison saw the originals. Not just digital files, but the pieces of paper. She understood the weight and the size and the life of them as real objects, before she saw them as digital files. So, I really want to send her her own copy of an Accordion Book ( this fox one) so she can hold it, turn pages, see the weight and how the pigment sits on the pages, prop it up, put it on the wall. And I want to send her a couple of pages that might be in the Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone book. It's a way of saying thanks you for all the work she's done with my paintings and words so far, and I hope it will help inform the design for both of these projects.

John Mitchinson ( publisher) interviewed me this week about FLB&S. He asked me what the book was, and I couldn't answer. I guess it needs publishing so I can learn about it. And before that it needs designing, so the stage it is at is trying to discover if the scans are good enough for print quality. Alison begins work on it in October and all needs to be ready for then. So, I want to write a couple of pages, just for her and post with this original, so she can see the gold leaf also, the light in it, the texture. For there are going to be interesting production problems with this one, as well as design ones. What the book feels like for me is one of those dreams where you feel you have gone to school with no clothes on and you have an exam to do....... remember those dreams. There are no paintings in this book. The words are the images. I feel very vulnerable.

But meanwhile, there are these, where the words on this are drawn with a Victorian dip pen, in paint that has slumbered a long sleep.


I do love how this paint wakes slowly, and I hope I can buy some more of the paint cakes to replace these beautiful hounds. I love that the foxes are made from a pack of hounds ( each paint cake is beautifully embossed with a seated lurcher who melts into the shape of a fox with brush, with water.)

Soon I want to talk about the old paints, how they revolutionised the lives of painters, where they came from, the old colourmen. I'm still searching for the colourwomen, who made paints. Always harder to find the work of women as it gets erased or owned by husbands.

In the meantime I have to type some words on leaf, then pack these foxes and the small gilded sheets of typewritten text and trust them to the post office to carry them half a world away, over continents and oceans. What a journey they will make.

Today I was sent these beautiful photographs from Alicia Hayden. She's been working on words inspired by the images in The Silent Unwinding. It is so beautiful to see this. I asked her permission to post here. Just gorgeous. 

You can buy The Unwinding and its silent companion along with all my other books in print at Solva Woollen Mill.

I need to go. The dogs need a walk, I have friends to meet and I want to go and see if a flame coloured feather is still out in the wild. Thank you for reading, and if you would please share this enterprise. It's the best way to get to full funding, if people share, on social media sites, or just talking about the books.

The Wild Swans and East of the Sun are coming soon. These too have been beautifully re-worked in design by Alison. They have space to breathe, let the words flow. A generosity of design that invites a reader in. They have about them a beautiful heft. Right, I am away to the place of flowers and feathers. Tell me, what are you reading, watching, listening to? 

I'm reading The Luminaries, and watched Blinded By the Light yesterday. Not the horror film but the one about Bruce Springstein. Wonderful film. Just rather beautiful.

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