International letter journal 2×4 

One of my favourite ways of working is collaboratively. Before letterjournals  I made artist trading cards and post cards with several people all working on the same card- we called these ‘jams’. Recently I have made a couple of letterjournals this way too. Jade Herriman introduced our FB group to this way of working.

My friend Meg in New Zealand (  and I both made a phamplet letter journal that fits in a business envelope and agreed to send them to each other to work in 3 times. 

Meg and I decided to have an ‘abstract’  theme. I tried to remember to take photos every time I received or returned a journal but I don’t seem to have succeeded.

A journal with a selection of my patterns and textures 

A journal with 2 layers worked on by both of us 

Below is one journal with 3 layers of work – we doodled with black and gold pens , added collage and paint – I like the work at each stage , some of Meg’s ripped collages in blue are particularly delicious( middle right, bottom left) . I liked the vieling that you can achieve by adding stripes of white gesso on top of textures ( middle and middle right) 

Some zoomed in sections of the same pages 

This is the first time I have worked abstractly in a journal and a first where only one other person had been involved. I have worked on larger pieces like this before when someone is in the room or the same country , but not different continents and not with someone I don’t know very well. We set up FB messenger and have had quiet detailed supportive chats at various stages. In a way the process and the dialogue have made the journal even more special.

This is where my documenting falls down – below  is my journal with 4 layers – I don’t seem to have saved the photos of my first two rounds ( sigh) 

My journal after tea dipping with 6 layers 

Some of the pages were hardly altered by the tea dipping – depending on whether we used acrylic or watersolouble paint and or glue. 


This weeks materials – pens , acrylic and tea 

I have been playing with materials lately – particularly pens and pencils working out what works layering on top of things – I thought I had a lot of ‘stuff’ before …….

This moments ‘weapons of choice’ (it’s worrying me that I used a violent metaphor to describe my drawing equipment – I think it’s one of the things a parent must have said when I was growing up …..) 

Anyway from left to right 

A selection of permanent markers – for some reason cheap pens work better over layers of water resistant / plastic based stuff and my thin sharpie is much more forgiving than a thick one ….. 

I try and buy pens when they are on sale,or on offer and I am trying out fountain pens and things that can refill so that I cut down on my plastic recycling. 

Back to my list 

Signo pigment ink in bronze – because of the contrast this colour has with the turquoise / teal/ blue palette I am working with at the moment. 

Uniball eye permanent ink and water soluble – in turquoise and green – I like to mix up water soluble and permanent when tea dipping so that you get colours running.

Posca 3mm bullet pen in blue – I love these type of pens when they work but I do not like the flooding ….. 

Cheap Childs felt pen in blue – soluble ink 

Uni chalk marker light blue 1.5-2.5 bullet  – this is nice for highlights 

Pentel wet eraser chisel – contrasting shape to above 

Paint brush with resovoir – I haven’t tried this with waterproof ink yet – it’s an ink guzzler but fun l. 

Cheap Korean gelato – lovely – semi permanent effects 

White Stabillo pencil for glass , metal , paper and plastic  – it says it’s water proof but it’s not. 

Faber Castro Polychromos in Cobalt green permanent. 

Cheap biro – my favourite mixed media implement at the moment 

Distress Marker bought in the sale at Hobby Craft – with a damaged tip – I love the brush end – I wish it was permanent 

The type of thing I have been using them on 

This one is teadipped and has clear gesso drawn on in spirals at some stage …. 

This one uses biro, acrylic , powdered pigment , and several of the above swirled through before and after tea dipping. I say several because looking at the image I can’t remember what exactly ( lol) 

If I use termeric in the tea dipping – I get a nice dark colour but it leaves a residue that needs to be sealed before I can work on top , or it tends to ruin pens – which is not cost affective 

I have found a PVA at the local DIY shop that seems to work when applied with a credit card and it just adds a sheen to the paper. 

The above image was made using :

1)  a fabric diolly print in acrylic

2)  drawn swirls with distress pen , and chalk 


3) tea dipped 

4) PVA 

5) printed on with acrylic through a stencil 

6) doodle flower in permanent marker 

7) biro grid 

I have found if I cheat with the tea and add a squirt of  brown acrylic I can deepen the tones. However, I prefer the effect that you get when you dip the paper several times- printer paper is particularly nice but is very fragile.

Below shows three pieces with different shades of brown – the top one has been dipped once the back one 3 times   

Manic layering 

Part 1 

Christmas and New Year are always bitter sweet for me. Over the years they always meant a lovely time and great food with my Mum. She has been gone 10 years now and they never feel quite the same.

 This year we had illness and drama and so much travelling. I have been like a  maniac making art since we got back . I am still addicted to tea staining and I have bought so many turquoise mark making implements that I need locking up.

Did you know that you can buy my favourite uniball eye markers – in 3 different versions – plain and decorated barrels ? Only 1 of which type has permanent ink? 

It presumably doesn’t usually matter, unless you spend hours alternating pens drawing mandalas  – covering the design in gel medium and tea dipping – expecting to see half your design disappear rather than all of it? 

This is the level I am functioning at, hyper vigilant – I am having a manic menapausal episode with very little sleep – hot sweats and bonkers dreams

Since December I have been working with turquoise. In the New Year more horrid things happened.  I needed  orange. I love using complimentaries so this wasn’t really a problem but I only have one decent small pen in orange and it’s waterproof. I needed to look in my pen stash. 

 My one word for this year is supposed to be ‘passion’but after the week we had had , I think it might have to be ‘equnamitity’.

I  thought about balance and what that represents to me , but couldn’t think of an image that encapsulates the concept that I liked – I found a pattern on the internet that used circles and squares. I decided to try  and incorporate orange/ blue as a way of  trying to cancel out how I was feeling and behaving. I still wanted to use the tea dipping but to develop something new 

I enjoyed the process but when I looked at the  images they weren’t speaking to me. If my art is going in a direction that I like . If  I look at the images and I can see faults but they  say things  like “Yes” or “Somethings happening  here”.   My unadulterated mandalas don’t talk to me either. 

There is a sense of pleasure  – when I produce a new design, but they don’t feel part of me, they are just there. Before I realised I needed orange , I smeared fluorescent pink and yellow onto two  tea dipped pieces with a credit card . I didn’t take pictures because the result was horrid, I added more paint and made  it worse.

 Orange struck, as I  was searching through my pen stash  I found something called a “Crayloa Spider Pen”. The ink was fluorescent orange and came out all sticky – I have no idea where it came from or how long I have had it. I started scrawling all over my reject pieces. It’s fabulous, I don’t think Crayola make them anymore …….. These are yelling at me. My sister will complain  “why are you drawing my migraines?” 

Part 2 

I had to stay out of the flat yesterday – there was too much mess in the kitchen , my blue  images were not speaking to me. There was piles of tea stained paper towels and newspaper. I had emptied my pen stash out all over the sofa and got blue ink on a new dress. 

When I got back after a full body massage and a jacuzzi session I decided to reduce my pile of work by making small pamphlet journals.  These are the same format as letter journals but rather than just folding the A4 pieces in half I trimmed them down to 8×8″ and kept the strip of paper that was left to make mini journals. Some calm reigned for an hour or so. 

After scrawling all over my rejects with the spider pen I wondered if some of my other work could do with one more layer? I drew big mandalas in dark blue Sharpie – they were flat and unresponsive – White Signo pens work well over Sharpie …. 

It felt like a eureka moment – so I drew on top of my least favourite spider pen design as well – the orange was not as punchy when the ink dried . 

Last night the pictures were yelling at me – this morning my sister will definitely complain when she sees them on Instagram lol.