I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Sunday 28 October 2012

A Gatherer of Simples

Hello all, and welcome to Words and Pictures, with an especially big welcome to the new followers... it's great to have your company on the journey.

I'm sharing some white witchery today - a different angle on the denizens of Halloween - the pocket book of a herbalist, or gatherer of simples.

I love some of the witchy images I've seen around Craftyblogland as we approach Halloween - there are some dead glamorous ones, and thankfully very few of the traditional warts and hook-noses variety. That version of a witch is simply another terrible piece of propaganda...

Who knows how much natural wisdom and knowledge of the healing powers of plants was lost in the culling of so-called 'witches', as the Church sought to eliminate the influence of the wise women?

The cover is made of calico, stuck onto thick chipboard, stamped with a Tattered Angels flourish, and frayed at the edges.
It's been aged with blendings of Antique Linen, Vintage Photo and Gathered Twigs Distress Inks.

The twine has also had some weathering with Vintage Photo and Walnut Stain Distress Stains.  Lovely, messy job, swirling it around in the ink on the craft mat!

The label has been stamped with some more Tattered Angels flowers - I thought the one on the left was deliciously medieval - and then hand-written (ooer - the handwriting is back, and for the first time I don't hate it!).

It's made from one of my tea-stained tags... If you saw What was On My Workdesk this Wednesday, you'll have seen all the experimentation.  I was inspired to give this a go by the wonderful work of Lynne over at Adorn.  She creates beautiful vintage pieces using tea and coffee stained elements.  I've used some more of the tags for the inside too.

When I said, on Wednesday, that all the tea and coffee soaking reminded me of a school project, I  wasn't joking.  It's one that I remember incredibly clearly (even though it must be nearly 35 years ago!): we had to create a witch's spell, and were told that we could age our paper by soaking it overnight in the afore-mentioned drinks.

I still remember the refrain from the spell I wrote: Arony, Briony, Rosehip, Thyme, Lend your power to this spell of mine... and that was really the spark for this little pocket-book.  It seemed only right to use some of the tags to revisit that phrase!

And I now have the most beautiful stamps to do the work for me - instead of my own hand-drawn efforts at decoration.  These are mainly a mixture of the Oxford Impressions set Dr Coffin's Apothecary, and Artemio's Hedgerow Plants... and again with the handwriting!

In the background there's the absolutely gorgeous script from Tim Holtz's Apothecary set... now that's what I'd like my handwriting to look like!

I was playing with Tim Holtz's glorious stamping techniques (which you can see him demonstrating here), in terms of applying the ink to the stamps differently for different effects.  All the stamping here is done with Coffee and Sepia Archival Inks (oh, and Black for TH's Apothecary script behind).

I've never been able to draw in the way I would like - and stamps offer a wonderful alternative, I think... it's like the drawing I could never do. I'm so happy to have found stamping as a pastime - it feels like coming home.

And one of the things I adore most about discovering Distress Inks is the capability it gives me to create things that seem to be full of history and character, having travelled through time, and that is what I've loved playing with here.  It's a simple piece, but I love it... I'd love to know what you think too.

I'm very glad you found time to drop in today, and I look forward to seeing you again soon - either here, or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

Medicine is mine; what herbs and Simples grow
In fields and forests, all their powers I know.
John Dryden

O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.
From Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

She led a peaceful, innocent life, with her green herbs for companions; she associated little with the people around, except in a business way. They came to see her, but she rarely entered their houses. Every room in her house was festooned with herbs; she knew every kind that grew in the New England woods, and hunted them out in their season and brought them home. She was a simple sweet soul, with none of the morbid melancholy of her parents about her. She loved her work, and the greenwood things were to her as friends, and the healing qualities of sarsaparilla and thoroughwort, and the sweetness of thyme and lavender, seemed to have entered into her nature, till she almost could talk with them in that way.
A Gatherer of Simples from Cinnamon Roses (1908)
Mary Wilkins

I'm entering this in the following:
The Fashionable Stamping Challenge are offering a Halloween theme
Try It On Tuesday are having a Halloween challenge
And Top Tip Tuesday are playing with Halloween too.  And as a tip: for really natural (and gently scented) aged paper, try soaking in coffee and/or tea for several hours
A third and final entry at the Vintage Stamping Challenge's inaugural Anything Goes challenge
Hels Sheridan at Ink on my Fingers has a post called Harvest Moon, offering the Sunday Stampers Autumn as the theme, and my colours are pretty autumnal I think... and my white witch has been making her very special harvest


Lunch Lady Jan said...

I love this post! I so agree about the tragedy of all the knowledge of countless generations of women being subsumed by the Church. I think I would have been a gatherer of herbs if I'd have lived centuries ago...Being a bit weirdy woo...
And I love your quotes at the end of the post as well!
LLJ xx

sam21ski said...

Fabulous - great subtle colours, great images and love the addition of the string around the book.

Sam xxx

Cestina said...

Oh this is just wonderful. History and botany in one tiny, simple, completely appropriate package. And an Amanita to boot!


Julia S-W said...

What a beautiful little book. I love that you've fabric and your handwriting looks really good to me!I have to say the images inside are stunning. I know that I won't be able to resist those stamps - how could you do that to me??
A wonderful post which kept me enthralled to the end. I'm glad you mentioned how women have been constrained by various sources, including the Church - they have much to answer for in my opinion!
Have a wonderful week,

Deborah said...

What a wonderful tribute to the much maligned wise women of the past. I've lived much of my life at the edge of East Anglia, one of the most notorious regions for its treatment of 'witches'. So chilling.

Carol Q said...

Lovely Alison and what an interesting post. Your book certainly has a very medieval quality to it.

Krisha said...

What an awesome book! I keep looking at the cover and then again at the pages. I think your hand writing is perfect for this piece of art! I liked the spell you wrote and the quotes at the end of your post.

Kjersti said...

Beautiful Alison, both the book and your words in the post - thank you!
Have a nice week!
Hugs Kjersti:)

Astrid Maclean said...

Oh Alison, you are always so full of great ideas and so good with words, - you really do justice to the title of your blog!!! I absolutely love the idea of this piece and the subtle colours in the execution of it, fits so beautifully! You have really inspired me. Fabulous idea to honour the witches of the past with this. Witches were wise women, the last and most wonderful stage of womanhood after Virgin (Imbolc) Bride (Beltane) Mother (Llamas) and finally Witch (Samhain)much nicer word than Halloween I think. Sorry, I got a bit carried away there, but you really spoke to my adopted Celtic heart with this.

House of Bears said...

We love this, it makes you want to flick through and find a spell, maybe there would be one to warm us up in this chilly weather.

Your fraying makes the book look so authentic, along with the distressing for aging, and your stamps are great. We can't draw at all and rely on stamping for many of our projects, without stamps we wouldn't really journal at all.

Thanks for showing us yet another fabulous project. We do love visiting your blog.

Janny Jager said...

A greta lttle book Alison with beautiful colors and i love the idea to make this in this Halloween style,


Sue said...

A beautiful aged book Alison, and your handwriting is just right! I love the soft colours and will have to give the ta and coffee staining a go. Sue x

Evil Edna said...

just beautiful and a great post too. thank you for shraing usat TIOT.EE

Alexandra Marler said...

Alison i adore this blog!I have just subscribed.I want to come and play in your house ;).This book is heavenly..I have finished my training as a Wiccan Practitioner now and this book strikes such a chord in my heart!Thank you..Alex xx

Silvia(Barnie) said...

Just a fabulous creation, love the floral theme, the color scheme and all details. Thanks for joining us again at VSC.

Hettie said...

What a beautiful book and fabulous quotes at the end. Overall a great post! I think I would be in the same coven as LLJ! Love those stamps too! Off for a search in my crystal ball aka Google!

Kezzy said...

Gorgeous spell book, I really love how you have stamped on the calico and the inside is amazing the stamping really pops, love it. Hugs Kerry :-) xxx

Meggymay said...

Wow, a stunning book, with so many details and fantastic images. Thank you for sharing it with us at FSC this time.

mark gould said...

well there is another stamp set to go on my ever growing list. beautiful as always, great ageing effect with the tea and coffee, really love those colours.x

Lisa Minckler said...

You have received some outstanding accolades with this piece Alison and it no doubt deserves them! I'm lacking in words that haven't yet already been spoken, other to say that you brought some wonderful mystical, magical, merriment into my evening. I love the book of spells and your handwriting I think is beautiful!
Lisa xx

Inkypinkycraft said...

This is a wonderful post , and a beautiful and cleverly conceived idea Alison...you are full of wonders!!!!love this! Hugs trace x

chrissie said...

Brilliant project and a wonderful post--I enjoy every word of it.

Love Chrissie xx

Jenny Marples said...

You have become something of a master/guru of stamping on fabric and the use of shades of brown. This has such a wonderful mix of stamped elements and the staining is the perfect foil. Just beautiful. Hugs, Buttons x

Hels Sheridan said...

Stunning, this is right up my avenue... love the stamping on fabric, totes-amazeballs! Thanks for joining in with the Sunday Stamper x

Keep It Sweet and Simple said...

This is so beautiful and your stamping and ageing makes it look like it's been passed down the generations.
Caroline xxx

Unknown said...

Ooooh I love the images you used Alison. This little book is the perfect companion for any witch ;) and I adore your Halloween project. Have a super day! Hugs

Patti P. said...

Gorgeous...love your beautiful take on Halloween. I of course love the vintage time worn feel to this. Have you read the series by Dianna Gabaldon starting with Outlander? It is a time travel series with the main character going back two hundred years through the stones in Scotland/England. I can just see Claire with a book like this. I have read and reread all of the books written so far and can't wait until the next one is released.

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

Love the canvas cover! The inside is grand as well! Fabulous job!!!

Andrea Small said...

How splendid that your spell has such a lovely home. The writing is perfect and the stamps are gorgeous (want, want...) x

Sarah said...

The simplicity of this makes it so beautiful.

Marjie Kemper said...

Love this book inside and out. Consider me one of the many who is glad you found stamping... you rock at it!

pearshapedcrafting said...

Loved this but couldn't see it properly on my phone:(
Now I see it in all it's loveliness I can only say b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!! Love every bit of it! Chrisx

May said...

Beautiful post Alison...Gorgeous project... love your book inside & out... Wonderful stamping & words!! I for one is delighted you found stamping... Your blog is full of beautiful creations!!! Hugs May x x x

Anonymous said...

For me there is a wonderful romantic nature to this book, when I say romantic you do of course know I don't mean hearts and flowers.
Beautifully stained Alison and just so perfect for the feel you have created with the beautiful stamping.
As a fan of stamping onto fabric I would say you made the perfect choice for your cover.
Absolutely adore your take on Halloween Alison and so glad you shared with us at FSC.

Sue from Oregon said...

Very cool and even more impressive is you have remembered this spell for 365 years LOL!

Mynn xx said...

How gorgeous is this?! LOVE this idea--and so pretty! Fabulous creation! :)

Claire said...

What a stunning project with so much thought in the design and creation. Its a really beautiful little work of art. Thanks so much for sharing it with us at FSC and VSC too
Claire xx

Neet said...

You talking of the "old style" witch reminded me of a story I really should share some time about the Pendle Witches and my Girl Guiding days.
I digress. Your book is lovely and I adore the images you have used, so much so that I am going to have to visit a couple of websites to look them up as I love those types of stamps.
Thanks for sharing such a wonderful creation and off now to look at Adorn.
Hugs, Neet xx

Lisa Minckler said...

Silly me, I didn't pay attention to the challenges you entered as I was mesmerized by your spell book, but thank you so much for entering at Top Tip Tuesday and for submitting a terrific tip too!! Just did that last night with sheet strips for my son's mummy costume tonight...WOO HOO...worked wonderfully. :)
Lisa xx

Rita said...

Alison, what can I say. Absolutely Stunning does not seem enough. Wonderful colours. Hugs Rita x

Redanne said...

What a fascinating story Alison and your book is stunningly beautiful. The story made me remember that my namesake, Anne Redfern was the last witch to be 'disposed of' at Pendle - spooky! Crafty hugs, Anne x

Mrs.B said...

Hi Alison, just catching up after a hectic week, and must have missed this on my blog.
What a fabulous little book, and a great story about the school project. Love the aged cover, and a beautiful collection of stamping, a real treasure.
Thanks for joining us at FSC
Avril x

Mrs.B said...

Just me again - thanks for playing along with us at TioT.
Avril xx

Ink Art Designs said...

I love the idea of the witches book...very inventive and a great take on our challenge. Well thought out and put together.
Thanks for joining us this fortnight at Fashionable Stamping
Dot x