Altered board book

I’ve finished my journal about my teaching career! I made it from a children’s board book which opens out concertina wise, and I posted about the first half of it here. One side is all in tones of muted reddy brown and cream, and the other side in blues and purples.

Here is the whole blue side:

I did not have very many photos that I had taken at school, considering the large number of concerts and plays I had produced over the years.

I love the blues and purples in the background on this side….I did quite a lot of bubble wrap printing also. I embellished it with some more illustrations from “Where the Wild things are”, and with a few borders cut from some scrapbook papers.

I painted over all the photos with a very transparent wash of a bluey purple colour to tie them into the background more, and I liked the effect.


I don’t miss my teaching career hardly at all really. Sometimes I remember some sweet moments,some creative things I did, or some proud moments, when my concerts really came together and the children loved performing. I also remember a lot of stressful moments!

I taught many adorable children over the years, and occasionally I will run into some, now grown up, and its usually wonderful to see them. I know many children I taught went on to study music or drama and some have told me that I had inspired them to make these choices, so that feels good!


This is how the journal looks folded out from the other side (which is about my earlier teaching years and also my university days.)




The Holy Tree

“Beloved gaze in thine own heart, the Holy Tree is growing there…”

This is from “The Two Trees”, one of my favourite poems by W.B.Yeats. The poet encourages us to look into our own hearts with love and see the beauty and holiness growing there, and not to look through the “Bitter glass” where we see ourselves as an ugly bleak landscape distorted by self hatred. I will include the whole poem at the end of this post. Loreena McKennit has recorded a beautiful version of this poem (she wrote the music) which I have arranged to sing in my women’s choir Mystica, (and they do a beautiful job of it!).

How I made this page: I had collected this picture of a tree goddess from somewhere ages ago, and stuck her on a turquoise background. The page then sat untouched for months until I saw a mandala tree similar to this that someone posted on facebook. I considered downloading some mandalas form the net but I really wanted them to feel like mine, so I drew 3 mandalas on yellow paper using some coloured markers. The 3 largest ones are the originals. Then I scanned them and made them several different smaller sizes, printed them, cut them out and stuck them on the tree. I love the way they looked when they were reduced in size. I wrote most of the words of the first verse but had to leave out a couple of lines that wouldn’t fit.

You can find the Loreena McKennit version on youtube here:

I’ll leave you with the original poem, and remember you all have a beautiful holy tree growing in your own hearts. Love and light to all.

BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart, The holy tree is growing there;

From joy the holy branches start, And all the trembling flowers they bear.

The changing colours of its fruit Have dowered the stars with merry light;

The surety of its hidden root Has planted quiet in the night;

The shaking of its leafy head Has given the waves their melody,

And made my lips and music wed, Murmuring a wizard song for thee.

There the Loves a circle go, The flaming circle of our days,

Gyring, spiring to and fro In those great ignorant leafy ways;

Remembering all that shaken hair And how the wing├Ęd sandals dart,

Thine eyes grow full of tender care: Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.

Gaze no more in the bitter glass The demons, with their subtle guile,

Lift up before us when they pass, Or only gaze a little while;

For there a fatal image grows That the stormy night receives,

Roots half hidden under snows, Broken boughs and blackened leaves.

For all things turn to barrenness In the dim glass the demons hold,

The glass of outer weariness, Made when God slept in times of old.

There, through the broken branches, go The ravens of unresting thought;

Flying, crying, to and fro, Cruel claw and hungry throat,

Or else they stand and sniff the wind, And shake their ragged wings; alas!

Thy tender eyes grow all unkind: Gaze no more in the bitter glass.