Colly Bird

It’s been a little while since I posted a linocut in progress, so I thought it was about time I got myself in gear and did one!  It’s amazing how time flies when you fill it, not just with art but other priorities, such as family.  It good to look back on the timeline and see just how long you’ve procrastinated over something that you shouldn’t have … just should’ve got on with it!

In the old english Christmas Carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” there is a line commonly sung as “Four calling birds”  it is believed to have originally been written as “Four Colly Birds” an archaism being “black as coal” that was a popular english nickname for the blackbird.  So, here is my Colly Bird for you to see.

I started this on the 8th June and it’s been picked up and put down throughout June and July as other things have taken priority.  I was also unsure about the initial design so left it lurking in the corner of the table while I thought about the background, which I didn’t finalise until yesterday afternoon.  Talk about leave it to the last minute. (must get better at this).


I did finally get the background the way I wanted it, after faffing (I know that’s not a word, spellcheck keeps reminding me!) with lots of bits of paper to create a broken line around the small squares.  I think it looks all the better for it, and hopefully you’ll agree.  A quick word about paper too – paper has very different qualities depending on how it’s made and the sizing process.  So you won’t always get the same finish for your print and it’s important that you get the finish that you want (showing you, on paper, the vision that was in your head at the start of the process).  If you have a few minutes, take a look at this page on the St Cuthbert’s Mill website.  They make the most beautiful Somerset paper and I have a drawer full of it!


I decided on this occasion to use Zerkall papers for this print as it gave me the smooth finish I wanted.  As this is a single colour print, I don’t need to print it all in one go.  So after printing 10 yesterday (of the edition of 50), I’ve cleaned up the plate and put it away until these 10 are sold or out at a gallery, then I’ll take my Colly Bird plate out of it’s nest and print some more.  It’s been a productive and successful weekend.


I love the deckle edges and watermark – so much so that I haven’t been able to cut it off yet.

I think I’ll leave it there a little while longer.

I hope that you’re having a great weekend, wherever you are. Thanks for reading. J




4 thoughts on “Colly Bird

  1. Wonderful work as always. Do you have a limit for how many prints you take off one block, either self-imposed or because the print quality deteriorates? I’ve never made enough prints from one block to know if that’s even an issue. Incidentally, if “faffing” is not in the OED already then it certainly ought to be. I use that word daily – which tells you something about Pict family life.

    • Hi Laura. If it’s a single colour I normally restrict the edition to 50 – my own choice. I once read that if the number is too large then it’s not really a “limited” edition! If it’s a colour, I usually start with 25 and then end up somewhere else after I’ve made a mistake on them. Although I’ve started with only 7 before and ended up with 4! I like the word faffing too, it just says such a lot. Hope you are well, you’re getting out and about quite a bit, is it the school,holidays?

      • Thanks so much, Jean. That’s really helpful and I appreciate you permitting me to pick your brain. Yes, it’s still the school holidays here as they don’t go back to school until early September. We’ve been especially active, however, because my parents are visiting from Scotland so we have been showing them our new environs. Thanks again.

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