That’s how the magic gets in…

The past couple of days, I have been catching up with an order for Tarot bags. I found some old 20 year old Halloweeny fabrics and  did a lot of hand stictching and quilting.  It felt good to create something whimsical and hand stitched. I love the bag I made, I was almost hoping the client wouldn’t like it, so I could keep it for one of my decks!

Actually this bag is for a Lenormand deck, so it’s a wee bit smaller than the usual bags I make, but it is longer as one of the specifications, was that the wrap around part could hold a five card spread when opened out. You can see what I mean in the photo below The pocket for the cards is on the left hand side of the image.


The bag all rolled up with the deck inside:

Magical Lenormand Bag

The lining is pieced from my own hand dyed fabrics.


The thousands of stitches, in their rainbow threads, are how the magic gets in – of course…


And look how thickly padded it is…! Lucky deck…



An Angel from the North

Way back in 1999 I read a book called Skellig by David Almond. I bought the book for my kids, and ended up falling in love with it myself. Fourteen years and a few hundred books later, I still believe that Skellig is one of the most original and beautiful stories I have ever read .

The book may be aimed at teenagers, but it is ageless. It is a fairytale with a twist, well actually it is an angel tale. Skellig is about an angel, but not like any angel you have ever read about before, although he does have wings. I have lent my copy of Skellig to many friends, in both hemispheres, and they have all fallen for it as I did. Sometimes I had to persuade people to read it, but you know how it is when you find something so good that you really want to share it with the ones you are close to?

Apparently, they made a movie of the book in 1999, ten years after it was first published. Because it is a TV movie and I don’t have TV, I had not heard of it before, but I found it recently. The thing is I have been afraid to watch Skellig the movie. I didn’t want to ruin one of my favourite books. Anyway I have decided I will watch it. The part of Skellig is played by Tim Roth, who is one of my favourite actors, so that gives it some kudos. There is a more fundamental reason than the lovely Tim though. I have been studying writing, both fiction and screenwriting, and I want to see how this movie translated from one to the other. In my opinion, it is rarely very successful, hence my reluctance.

I am going to watch it — maybe today. Oh yes I am, and I shall report back!



The Luminaries – A Magnificent Winner!

I was probably the only one in the room who felt the tension in the moment before The Luminaries was announced as the winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize. However, the other members of our graphics class were left in no doubt about the magnificent win by Eleanor Catton. Eleanor is the youngest person to win this prestigious literary award, being only 28. She is only the second kiwi ever to have won, the first winner being Kerri Hulme, who won in 1985 with her novel The Bone People. Watch this clip of the announcement, and tell me your spine doesn’t tingle!

The Luminaries is set in 19th century New Zealand, at the time of the gold rush in a small town on the West Coast of the South Island called Hokitika. I have made several visits to Hokitika, so this story feels close to home, but since I began reading The Luminaries I want to go back and really sniff around, maybe I will save the ending of the book to read in Hoki. There is something almost 4 dimensional about reading a book in a place that is very relevant to either the story of the author. I remember spending many weekends in Broadstairs, one time home of Charles Dickens. I loved to visit Bleak House (as it became known), where Dickens wrote David Copperfield.

Eleanor Catton’s language and writing style in The Luminaries is reminiscent of Charles Dickens. The narrative has a very Victorian feel to it, lots of telling, as was the mood of the era. Now it is very much all show not tell, but Catton does both and does them brilliantly. The book is so well written, I believe it would make a great movie. It would be hard for a good director to go wrong with The Luminaries, which was also the case with Lord of the Rings in my opinion. How exciting it would be, to have the movie filmed on our island. Here is a link to a wee look at how the news is going down in Hokitika:

Hokitika welcome the success of The Luminaries

I am totally enthralled by the book, life being so busy at the moment means I have been forced to savour the story in small snack size portions. I cannot help but linger over some of the phrases, I particularly love the characterisation of a young and proud Maori man called Te Rau Tauwhare. This thought of his grabbed me:

He would not sell pounamu. For one could not put a price upon a treasure, just as one could not purchase mana, and one could not make a bargain with a god. Gold was not a treasure — this Tauwhare knew. Gold was like all capital, in that it had no memory: its drift was always onward, away from the past.

Pounamu is a unique  form of jade, or greenstone, found in the rivers on the South Island of New Zealand, and especially around Hokitika It is said to be harder than steel and is a highly valued part of Māori culture. The Māori believe that pounamu has special powers that strengthen as the stone ages and is passed down from generation to generation. This is what is being referenced in the above quote. Mana is a Polynesian word which is hard to translate, but the closest I can come up with, is ‘life force’.

Illustration by Clifford Harper for Agraphia UK

The Luminaries is moving fast. Pre-orders are selling out before they arrive in our local bookshop. Happily I got my copy a few weeks ago. Even the cover is perfect with it’s vintage, stained look.I will be writing more on The Luminaries as I read, I also want to explore the whole astrological symbolism in the book. Look out for more posts.

Day 29 – Wishes

Change your name and one another thing about yourself. Begin a poem “(your fictional name) wished”…whatever this new person would wish for.

– a prompt from Miz Quickly


Red wished she was standing

on a balcony in Venice

looking down on the dark canal

gentle slaps of tame seawater

saltiness scenting the night

snow falling straight down from the sky

it’s a night when prayers are answered

but if there is only this

it is magic enough


Two Septolets #14


from a
magic realm
Uku Pacha



Warm olive oil
green pungent
garlic scented
morning air

senses alive
for breakfast