Wednesday, 6 April 2011


Jane said 'Do not take just one idea'. I think that I am living proof of this axiom. My contribution started with the idea of stacked boxes (very difficult to execute), a joined hanging (not pursued - I can't remember why!) and a collection of pseudo Slough 'Stamps' (not enough time). From somewhere, I don't know where, the idea for handmade books came into my head. I kept returning to two constants. These were the Slough coat of arms and William Herschel. I am an historian and have always been fascinated by heraldry and its meaning so it was an interesting line to follow. The old (on the left) and new Slough arms are shown below.

Also shown is Herschel's own coat of arms and these three sources provided the basis for my work. I originally wanted to make separate books about each of the elements in the devices i.e. the discovery of Uranus , the swan, the dianthus plus the Cox's apple but eventually decided on the discovery of Uranus and the swan. I have always enjoyed researching a subject and then translating it into a viable idea. I like the experimentation and the trying out. Sometimes the actual making can seem secondary.

I investigated Willam Herschel and comets linking them with the heraldic devices. I found out some interesting facts along the way e.g Uranus is the third largest known planet, the moons are named after characters in Shakespeare's plays - many from 'the Dream' and also 'The Rape of the Lock'. One moon has cliffs over 9 miles high and it is the only planet to rotate on its side. It is also the only planet to be named after a Greek, not a Roman god and in 'The Planets' is associated with the Magician.

A comet on an Egyptian wall relief

The cover took shape gradually. I attached various hand-dyed and painted cotton, muslin and scrim strips to resemble comet streaks with my favourite Suffolk Puffs for their nuclei. This was echoed inside the cover. The innards of the book just emerged as I wrote an imaginary populist newspaper article on the discovery of 'The Blue Planet'. This was embellished with stitched comets and painted streaks.

The other page derived from constructing a repeat pattern from the Uranus symbol. I chose two out of several versions and printed these in the gold of the old coat of arms and blue for the planet and sky.

Crocheted cords were used to close it.
A 'Swan' book is under construction as well - more later.

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