The Silence of Owls

On my monthly trips to Somerset Crafts gallery, I drive the quiet way through the lanes through the Somerset levels. One fresh December morning last year I had to stop as I spotted something quite beautiful through my rear view mirror.

A trail of mist was weaving a path across the distant woods.

It was very quiet, the mist absorbed the sound just like the silent flight of an owl.

The first time I became aware of this silent flight was when I was living in South Wales after leaving art college. I sat in the half light of dusk on my doorstep drinking beer and an owl flew out of the trees. It glided majestically with great wings that seemed to sweep up all the usual sounds around me.

It’s interesting to read about the science behind the owls flight, and about how the structure of their downy feathers soak up sound. Have a look at this article if you are interested.

And have a look at this video to see and hear the proof of the silence!

And I thought it was my imagination!

The Owl Who Brings The Silence

(iridescent glass, ceramic tile, vitreous glass, metallic backed glass, marble) (SOLD)


The Owl Who Weaves Silence

((iridescent glass, ceramic tile, vitreous glass, metal backed glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, marble)

‘The Owl Who Weaves Silence’ is framed and for sale at The Erwood Station Gallery, Builth Wells, Wales.

I couldn’t find a myth about an owl weaving mist (although now we have one 😉 ) , please let me know if you find one and come back soon to see some more owls and read a bit about Roman and Greek owl mythology.



Odd Little Flock

Woopee doo! I thought you might like to see my new little fairies and angels. These little oddities came out of the work I made for Glastonbury Abbey. I love how one thing leads to another when you are making things. Working with plastic bones led me to the barbie doll fairies. I also find it quite strange how the times have changed from when I was going to festivals in the 1980’s. I used to wear quite hippyish sort of clothes that consisted of faded old ripped jeans (not the silly sort you get today that are already faded and ripped when you buy them, but ones I had lived in for the past few years every day) , a flowery top, an Indian shawl (usually nicked from a friend) that I wore like a scarf, a black waistcoat, and either a donkey jacket , leather biker jacket or a much loved hand-me -down patchwork velvet jacket.  Not much make-up, maybe a bit of black kohl eye liner. And I would take a tent (that I also took home with me) a sleeping bag, some cider, and a toothbrush. Maybe a bit of money to cover the “small” entrance fee and buy a pasty. (Many of the festivals in those days were free… imagine that!) I would smell quite bad after a few days and relish the warm bath I would get into on my return home.

Compare with the girls going to festivals today. … expensive fashionable flowery “festival” clothes, pristine make-up and long sparkly hair, flowery “festival” wellie boots. I imagine they use  showers that are  provided these days, and take their hair-dryers.  How can you plug a hair-dryer into a field? Don’t tell me they have electricity too!!!

Here are the girls…

click the pics to buy…

Rainbow Cloud goes to Glastonbury


Saffron Sky goes to Glastonbury


Sugar Rose goes to Glastonbury

The Spirit Angels

I also made some angels. I wanted them to wear boots too, but hob-nail boots, not Glasto festival wellies.  I made the heads using self hardening clay. I really tried to make them pretty but they didn’t want to come out like that. They reminded me of medieval faces. So I used medieval names for them, added a little grandeur pop culture (the Marvellous, the Glorious, the Incredible and the Golden)  and looked up the meaning of the names.

Here are the angels, click the pics to see what they represent and to buy…

Angel Millicent the Marvellous wears hob nail boots


Geraldine the Glorious wears hob-nail boots


Ulric the Incredible wears hob-nail boots


Godfrey the Golden hides his boots

Odd Little Flock is the name of my re-branded Etsy shop where you will see mosaic and mixed media creations of birds, angels and mythical creatures to enthral and inspire you!


Like my work? You can become a patron to help me to make art and write about it. Click the donate button at the top of my blog. Any amount gratefully accepted. Thank you!








St.Brigid Guardian Bird of Relics

It is said that the Irish Saint Brigid (of Kildare) visited Beckery chapel just outside Glastonbury in the 5th Century AD. Although the chapel is no longer there I went to find the hill (Brides mound) where it once was. I wish I had been in on the recent excavations where they re-found seven skeletons for carbon dating. (Excavations during the 1960’s uncovered a cemetery of at least 50 skeletons believed to be monks who used the chapel) It might have been easier to find if I had gone with the archaeologists!

Me and my partner spent several hours trying to find the hill, it didn’t seem to be where google maps said it was. We had to resort to books in the library and finally after a good walk along the river we found it!

The hill was quite unremarkable and there was no evidence of recent excavations, they did a good job of covering it all up again.

But it has a good view of one of the old tannery buildings and the Tor in the distance!


Offerings on the mound.

Saint Brigid is venerated in Glastonbury as the original Celtic goddess who holds the eternal flame as midwife and earth mother. In the town there is the Saint Brigid healing centre and just under the Tor there is a shrine at the White Spring .

On the walls of St. Patrick’s Chapel at the Abbey, murals painted by Fleur Kelly depict the saints in a style appropriate to early 16th Century. This is Saint Brigid depicted with a cow. She is patron saint of many things including milk maids!

Saint Brigid by Fleur Kelly

To return to the story, when Saint Brigid left Beckery Chapel legend has it that she left some of her belongings behind; a bell, some jewellery and her bag. (I don’t know why she would leave her bag behind, perhaps she in a hurry or maybe she never returned to Kildare and died at Beckery)

I chose to make her bag for the Guardian bird’s relic. I used cement and mesh and gilded it in silver leaf, then stained it with tea and rust to make it look old. I hung plastic cows on the bottom as a nod to her patronage whilst referring to the modern plastic collectible world our kids live in. The cows were black and white Friesians but I painted them badly in white with red horns, the colours associated with her cow.

Saint Brigid’s bag with kitsch overtones

Saint Brigid Guardian bird (stained glass, hand-gilded glass, hand painted eyes, metal buttons, shell rounds)

The heart bears the Saint Brigid cross which was a Celtic symbol associated with Brigid. It was originally made of straw, symbolised the sun and was hung above people’s doors to warn off evil.

This is the fourth Guardian bird in the series, please refer to the last posts to read about the others!

You can see this one plus the guardian birds of relics of 2 other saints, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere birds and a living rock legend guardian bird, plus other pieces of work at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.


UPDATE: Now available to buy on my shop:






St. Joseph of Arimathea Guardian Bird of Relics

Legend has it that Saint Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury to spread the Christian faith with the two cruets full of Christ’s blood and sweat. When he arrived he walked up Wearyall (now Wirral) hill and on reaching the top he stopped and exclaimed something like “Since we be weary all here we will rest” (hence the name Wearyall hill). There he thrust his staff into the ground and it took root forming a hawthorn tree. The tree flowered twice a year, once in Spring and once at Christmas. It then suffered hundreds of years of people cutting off branches and carving names into the trunk but it still flowered every year. Later in the 17th century during the Civil war it was considered a superstitious relic and burnt by the Roundheads. However many cuttings were taken and another tree was planted in 1951.

The 1951 tree still stands but was vandalised in 2010, and as you see in true Glastonbury form, spiritual ideas live on by the continual ritual of tying prayer ribbons to it. Whether they are to worship Joseph, or the tree as a relic, or to find peace and a spiritual awakening remains to be seen.  People have different reasons. The ritual is associated with Celtic, Shaman and Tibetan Buddhist deities. In Glastonbury people explore and practice all of these religions, there many ways to find enlightenment!  I find it interesting how pre-Christian religions and paganism unite with Christianity so often, each borrowing stories from each other for their own beliefs.

Here’s another Glastonbury thorn at the Abbey in front of Saint Patrick’s chapel.

St. Joseph of Arimathea  is often symbolised with the two cruets of Christ’s blood and sweat that he collected when he hung from the cross. It is possible Joseph brought the cruets with him to Glastonbury as well as the holy grail, if the cruets weren’t themselves the original grail that is! (More about the holy grail later 😉 )

The Guardian Bird of Saint Joseph of Arimathea

Saint Joseph of Arimathea Guardian Bird of Relics (cement structure, stained glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, glass cabochons, millefiori, shell rounds, hand painted eyes, wire, liquid leaf)

The heart bears a hawthorn leaf to represent Saint Joseph of Arimathea.

cruets (espresso cups, acrylic gems, resin, plastic, paint) Comparing the veneration of the sacred cruets with the glorification of the coffee culture.

This is the third guardian bird in my series of six. You can read about the King Arthur bird and the Queen Guinevere bird here

You can see this one plus the guardian birds of relics of 2 other saints, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere birds and a living legend rock star bird, and other pieces of work at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.











King Arthur and Queen Guinevere Guardian Birds of relics

And so the magic begins! …The Guardian birds have risen from their hidden hollows beneath the Tor . The precious relics tightly carried in their claws, to a place of safety in the Abbey, where pilgrims and folk from the kingdom of Somerset and beyond can gaze upon them in wonder.

I chose to use the double headed eagle as the guardians of the relics. In the abbey double headed eagles are depicted on  medieval terracotta tiles. They were a heraldic emblem, believed to be the coat of arms of Richard, the Earl of Cornwall as King of the Romans. After further research about the bird I found out that in ancient middle eastern cultures the bird was a protective and magical character, while later in the Byzantine period in Greece, Venice and Russia it became an emblem of the empire. Then it was adopted by the patriarch as a symbol of the Orthodox church.









The tiles with yellowing designs are quite worn but you can still see the double headed eagles.

As promised here are the Guardian birds of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s relics. The first two of six birds…

Guardian bird of King Arthur’s relics

KIng Arthur Guardian bird of relics (cement structure, gilded edges and back of wings, stained glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, Vintage rhinestones, shell rounds, hand painted eyes, glass beads, wire)


The heart of the double-headed eagle bears the sword hilt, Excalibur, to represent King Arthur.


Guardian bird of Queen Guinevere’s relics


Queen Guinevere guardian bird of relics (cement structure with gilded wings edges and backs, metal beads, shell rounds, acrylic and glass gemstones, stained glass, hand gilded metal leaf glass, some pieces with gilded celtic designs, millefiori, hand painted eyes)

The heart of the double-headed eagle bears a crown to represent Queen Guinevere.

I used letraset for the words on the ribbon … haven’t used that since the early 80’s!

The relics I have made are mostly playful analogies, comparing the Catholic tradition of the veneration of relics with modern day trends and culture and of souvenir gifts.

If you want to know more about the bone and the ribbon read the last post!

You can see these plus the guardian birds of relics of 3 saints and a living legend rock star and more at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.


UPDATE: Now available to buy on my shop:










The Relics of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere

As I mentioned in the last post I will be posting fairly regularly in the next few weeks to show you my work for the Glastonbury Abbey exhibition “Traces Revealed”

The inspiration for the pieces I made came from the abbey’s precious relics that were once in abundance in medieval times but then lost or destroyed by the Abbey fire and the reformation. Whilst other abbeys successfully moved their relics to safe houses during the reformation, I found very little evidence or traces about the whereabouts of the Glastonbury Abbey relics, so I wondered if the monks had hidden them to keep them safe. Perhaps in hidden hollows under the Tor.
6 magical birds (double headed eagles) keep guard as ‘guardians of the relics.’ They guard King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s relics, 3 of the abbey’s saint’s relics and a living legend ‘rock star’s’ relics!

The relics are mostly playful analogies, comparing the Catholic tradition of the veneration of relics with modern day trends and the culture of souvenir gifts.

King Arthur’s Relics

In 1191 the monks discovered King Arthur’s and Queen Guinevere’s skeletons buried in the ancient cemetery within Glastonbury Abbey . They knew it was King Arthur because they found a lead cross with writing on it in Latin. Translated it means ‘ Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the isle of Avalon’.

In other words …

(fimo clay, metal leaf)

The monks were quite surprised at the size of King Arthur’s bones, he was a real giant of a man. They noticed his thigh bone (femur is it?) was broken, presumably from his last battle before being laid to rest several hundred years ago in the cemetery. Of course it unmistakeably belonged to Arthur as they noticed his name was written on the bone just like the end of a gift shop stick of rock!

King Arthur’s bone (cement structure, gold leaf glass, hand-gilded glass, marble, stained glass, vintage glass tile, millefiori, gold lipped oyster shell)

underside of bone


Queen Guinevere’s relics

Then the monks picked up a tress of golden hair still attached to Queen Guinevere’s skull and it turned to dust.

Or did it??

Queen Guinevere’s hair (cement structure, hand gilded glass, gilded grout)

The monks made a black marble tomb for King Arthur’s and Queen Guinevere’s relics (there were various treasures amongst the bones which included the leaden cross, and four lions heads) and invited pilgrims to visit. It was a useful find at a time of impending impoverishment of the abbey.

….come back soon to see the Magical Guardian Bird of these relics ….

or visit the exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey which begins on Saturday 30th September and continues until January 28th 2018











Do Swallows Eat Olives?

This commission for a private customer was a delight to make. My clients wanted a mosaic for their wall outside their house. After initial discussions by email and a site visit I made three drawings and they chose this one.

As my clients didn’t want very strong or bright colours I chose to use stained glass as I could choose colours that were not as bold as smalti but fresher than vitreous glass.

I was also able to use a fair amount of gold smalti. As the gold smalti was thicker than the stained glass I decided to make it indirect on plastic. It would need a fairly deep bed of cement adhesive to make a flat surface. The flat surface would make it easier to clean off any algae that might collect on it over the years.

Once the leaves and birds were complete I received my luscious order of gold!

There is always so much satisfaction when placing the last piece!

I used sand to stop the gaps so I could grout from the other side. Here you can also see the electrical cable flex I used as a temporary edge while I filled the mosaic with cement adhesive. (There’s always a use for broken things one day)


Thick bed of adhesive and levelling before pushing boards firmly on the top. (And piling on the weight to ensure a good hold)

I made a sandwich of light weight cement boards with adhesive in the middle (my partner called it a custard cream) not only for strength but also because the boards were in two halfs; the first layed horizontally and the second vertically.

However it was still very heavy!

After a few days drying it was turned over and the plastic pulled off.

The trunk was made as a separate piece.

Thought I’d learnt my lesson from the last one I made on plastic and I used a weaker pva glue than then, but it was still a devil to get clean.

Brushed out the sand and grouted.

And gazed at the gold…

I had some help with installing it on the wall.

Final touches glueing olives over the screws.

My two boys doing a few hours work for a change!!!

The Olive Tree (2.12m height x 1.20m wide) (stained glass, ceramic tile. marble, gold leaf smalti glass)



One happy customer


One happy me