Here’s how the teabags are prepared for painting. The medium is used as a grounding for the paint. Without it the teabag material is like blotting paper and the paint just spreads everywhere.


And here’s my first interpretation of Buddha under the Bodhi Tree on a turmeric tea teabag. Not quite as refined as I had in mind. There’ll be others.


And my turtle with a thinner head, a flatter shell and the beginnings of shaped flippers.


Ah. Necessary distraction.



The Bodhi Tree


Looking at and thinking about the Buddha figure sitting underneath the Bodhi tree (the fig tree under which he gained enlightenment) was quite calming this evening. (I found the picture in Pinterest.) I think I need to spend more time sitting under trees or on park benches or outside cafés or beside the sea. Time is one of the things that I need in order to get my creative juices flowing. Another, of course, is inspiration but I can’t write about that just now.

I’m waiting for another used and unfurled teabag to dry and I thought I’d use the time to doodle. I’m not a good drawer (I’ve said that before) but it doesn’t matter. I was just idly playing with shapes and ideas. Some might lend themselves to being shaped in wood, some as linocuts, others as drawings. We’ll see.


The circular shape with legs at the top right is one of my favourite sculptures. It’s in Berlin, outside the Volksbuhne Theatre at Rosa Luxembourg Platz and I love it for its combination of solidity, simplicity and movement, and as a celebration of workers.

This evening I was also working on a design for I’ve been trying to do this on the cheap but I think I’ll bite the bullet and buy a WordPress template/theme. The free ones all have significant design limitations. I really need to teach myself more about WordPress and how the back end of it works.

Right. That’s it.


My turtle in the round

Well, it’s taking shape. But really, this post is just an excuse to experiment with a slider. That’s the plugin that allows you to create a slide show in WordPress. I need to use one on the breakfast blog and this one (Metaslider) seems to be versatile and easy to use. Two of my favourite criteria.

As I whittle down the flippers, I’m worried that I’m going to break one off. It’s so easy for the gouge or knife to slip or for one to go just that little bit harder in order to shave off more wood than is wise.



I think one can learn more by having an open mind about things.

Tea Bags and Turtles

Keeping busy. The Irish Board’s VAT return is due in a few days and, because of the snow and the office flood, I got a little (!) behind with the bookkeeping. So, it’s all being done in a bit of a rush. I was at it at about 6am and again just before lunch and I’m going to do another bit when I get this posted. Went to the gym this morning though which was good. It’s been a while but I didn’t feel too unfit.

Creative-wise, I painted on those tea bags that I prepared yesterday and I’m quite pleased with the result. (Click on them to make them bigger)


And I got on with shaping my turtle.

And that, as they say, is that.

Photographic rediscovery

We’ve been talking about buying a replacement camera for ages and we finally bought one a couple of weeks ago. It’s a Canon Powershot and is slightly, but not much, more sophisticated than a point and click camera. Whereas in the olden days, cameras came with instruction books, this one came with a link to a 185 page pdf instruction book. Anyway, we’ve ben playing with it a bit. It’s easy to use (which was a key criterion) and takes sharp pics (which was another). One thing it does is take tilt shift videos. They’re those ones that look like miniature models. I need to read up a on them a bit but I think the effect is achieved by having a narrow band of sharp focus in the centre of the screen, blurring the top and bottom and speeding the video up a bit. I tried a little experiment this afternoon but it didn’t really work. I think you need to choose your subject quite carefully. And I didn’t. I’ll play around with it a bit more in due course.

Of course, buying the camera reminded me that I have a GoPro that I’ve been neglecting, so I took it into town this morning. On the way back, I managed to nab a front seat at the top of the bus and I did a time lapse. Not that successful really. I think the intervals, at 10 seconds, were too long and from Harold’s Cross on, we were stuck behind a 49 and so the latter bit is dominated by the back of a bus.


My turtle is coming along slowly.


And I dried and prepared another few teabags for painting on. This time, I didn’t unfold the bag, because I want to incorporate the string and the tag in the finished project. That made emptying it a little more challenging. I managed to turn the bag inside out and I made a slit in a place which is now invisible. I didn’t get all the contents out but I don’t think that’s a big deal. I’ve now painted it with an acrylic medium so that it will be able to take some paint.


Stuttering on

Slowed down a little over the last week or so but still managing almost to do something (however little) creative every day. Might have missed a day last weekend but the younger lad had his 19th birthday and there was a party. ‘Nuff said.

My spoon is nearly finished. Had a bit of difficulty smoothing the bowl of it. No matter how much I sanded it, a rough bit remained. Not sure why but I’ll try another one and see whether it was the wood or my technique. Ha! Technique!


Oh yes. As you see, a turtle is in the pipeline.

Still very keen on the teabag painting and I’ve been just messing with some ideas on paper before I try them out on the bags. Here they are:


I also drew a butterfly but it was too crap to put up here.



My bit of teabag art inspired by the work of Oskar Schlemmer who, amongst other things, liked to depict the human form as a series of geometric shapes. Sound.

Oskar was one of the good guys, whose paintings ended up in the Third Reich’s exhibition of ‘degenerate art’, art that didn’t conform to the Nazi’s idea that art should be strictly representational and uplifting.

Here’s his Wikipedia entry: Oskar Schlemmer

And there are, of course, stamps:



Work in Progress

Of all my resolutions, ever, apart from finally giving up cigarettes eight years ago, this one about doing something creative every day is the one that satisfies me most, gives me energy and makes me feel alive and in touch with the world. (That looks terribly pretentious when written down, but it’s as near as I can get to what I feel.)

The tagline for this blog is ‘miscellaneous musings’ and I’ve been thinking about inspiration, openness of mind and the mental space in which creativity takes place. For years, I’ve kind of felt, if not creatively blocked, then not willing to make the effort to be creative, artistically or mentally. Now, it’s bubbling, fizzing, sizzling in my mind and, while I don’t have the technical know-how to do some of the things that I want to, in the way I see them in my mind, at least I feel that I might as well have a go. Indeed, sometimes I feel compelled to have a go.

Take this morning. I happened to open Google and saw the Oskar Schlemmer Google Doodle, and I thought that something inspired by his simple geometric shapes, in primary colours on a used tea bag would be interesting. So, that’s what this morning has been about (well, partly – I did empty the dishwasher and make breakfast and make my lunch – and it’s only 8.27am!).

This is me just working out the idea. The teabag is prepared!


And there’s a spoon. Again, in progress. So it’s really a third of a spoon.


Musings. Muse …




Huevos Rancheros

Christine suggested that I make this breakfast today and include it in So, that’s what I did. (Haven’t written it up quite yet but will later.)

I used the recipe from Rick Stein’s Mexico book that Vicky (my assistant in the Irish Board) had got for me for a pressie earlier in the year,


assembled the ingredients


and made it. It was a bit fiddly in that there are three recipes involved (the Huevos Rancheros themselves, refried beans and Rancheros salsa). There could have been a fourth but I bought some corn tortillas from Picado, a really nice small Mexican food shop on South Richmond Street.

The guacamole (actually a fifth part) wasn’t necessary but I had bought a couple of gorgeous avocados yesterday and had a lime so I combined them to create a bit of a fresh garnish.

Here’s the finished breakfast. Tasty.


Last week, I secured as a domain name. Today I’ve been working on the site, installing WordPress, defining the look and configuring the settings.

Today also, I had my first bloggable breakfast, in Gerry’s of Montague Street with Tim Balbirnie. He featured in my final blog so it’s fitting that he should be my first breakfast companion.

I’ll write it up over the next few days and it should be up at the weekend.


Christine, her sister Tracey, my niece Helen and I went to Birr Castle recently to have a nose around. To cut a long story short, near the end of a walk around the grounds, We came across this


It attracted me because it was carved out of a tree trunk but then I saw the Ogham and thought that Ogham might lend itself to both linocuts and, obviously, wood carving.

I mulled over this a bit and then had a look at Pinterest to see what I could find Ogham-wise. Lots, actually. So I selected a couple of designs , carved them out and started working on some print ideas.


Historically, Ogham appears on stone so I tried to create a background that might suggest stone, and came up with a messy grey wash.


I had recently bought some white printing ink, so I thought I’d print some in white on black card. Here’s the print results


A bit of a mixed bag. I selected some of the clearer ones and the ones that I felt had a bit of atmosphere about them, cut them out and reinforced them with another piece of card. Voila! 6 bookmarks (or whatever). They look better in real life. The photos don’t really do them justice.


Spot the schoolboy error which I didn’t notice until I was comparing the prints with the originals to see which way up they should be. Yep. I forgot that, when printing, everything appears in mirror image. In other words, I should have carved them backwards.  So, they are, as they say, meaningless.



I made Chilli Pickle

Back to culinary creativity for this post. Not massively creative in that I followed a recipe but a bit creative in that I’ve never made any Indian pickles before.

Some background. Although I would have had various curries growing up, the first time I tasted an authentic Indian curry was in the Firhouse home of my future wife, Christine. Dhal and spinach. I remember it well. Or rather the effect it had on my mouth. I had never tasted anything so hot. My late father-in-law, Tom Hughes, was Anglo-Indian, born in Chennai, the place that used to be called Madras and curry and rice were eaten frequently in Christine’s house.

As years passed, I got used to the heat. Tom, and Christine’s mum, Mary, were both great cooks and they loved to feed me. And I loved to be fed. In their house I tasted a wide repertoire of Indian dishes and, with the exception of heart curry and upma, I loved them all. Accompanying the curries would often be a jar or two of Indian pickles. For someone used only to Chef Mixed Pickles, these were an eye-opener. In those days, Pataks was the only brand of Indian pickles readily available in Ireland but, as Asian and Middle-Eastern shops proliferated, the choice became better. We always have a few jars of pickles in the fridge. And now we have a jar of home-made Chilli Pickle too. Yay.

Here’s the process, pictorially.


It’s damn hot. Actually, too damn hot.

I may have a problem …

These are my fountain pens. I have 17 of them. Starting with my lovely Lamy 2000 (the black one at the top) and moving clockwise through 8 more Lamys to the three Noodlers pens (purple, magenta and green), on to my TWSBIs, finishing with my gorgeous TWSBI Diamond 580.

I have terrible handwriting but it becomes slightly more legible when I write with a fountain pen. With fountain pens there’s also lovely fuss: filling them (I don’t use cartridges), cleaning them, adjusting them. The TWSBIs are great because they are meant to be taken apart although some parts are challenging to get back together in the right way. And they hold a LOT of link. The Noodlers are interesting because they have flexible nibs so you can adjust the width of the ink mark, but they do have a tendency to drip a bit. The Lamys are German-made, efficient and elegant, and I use them mostly for work.



There’s nothing creative here really but I’m currently working on a few things and they’ll take a while to bring to a state whereby I can post them here. There’s a few more linocuts (printed and drying), a small whittling project (started) and a new blog. The latter is called I’ve bought the domain name and I just need to put WordPress on it, choose a design and a banner pic, and get blogging. Hopefully it’ll be up and running by next weekend. And I might make some chilli pickle today.