1. ‘Birds’ by Brian Wildsmith 1967, This Edition 1969

‘Birds’ by Brian Wildsmith. Published by Oxford University Press, 1969.

I have ‘first post jitters’ and am trying to make leek and potato soup at the same time, but here goes, my first post ….

Brian Wildsmith is a hero of mine. He was born in 1930 and grew up in a small mining village in the north of England. Being a miner’s daughter from the north myself, I need no more than this to like him. However, there is a lot more to like, not least his wonderful children’s books.

The book I am about to start butchering I have had for a long time, but up until now I haven’t been able to bring my scalpel to it. Of course it is long past its best, torn and scribbled upon, otherwise I wouldn’t consider the ‘face lift’. But that’s just it, what I am about to do is give it a ‘face lift’, and despite the rips, doodles and missing page it is still a thing of absolute beauty. It does not need a ‘face lift’. Does any ‘face lift’ improve the face? I have yet to see one which does.

It was first published in 1967, this edition in 1969, and  has been printed by a craftsman. The paper is matt and heavy, almost fabric, and the print is crisp and clear. Modern editions can’t hold a candle to it. The card of the cover is so thick, I will probably need to use a saw to cut it. The stitching holding the pages together is a work of art in itself. This book was made to last. And so it has, it is 44 years old.

As for the beautiful  illustrations, they speak for themselves. Colour everywhere, rich and intense. There is no story, each page shows a group of birds. A party of  jays. A watch of nightingales.  Wildsmith is the master.

It is an unbreakable policy of mine  never to cut up a book which could still be read. Despite this, I still find it hard to do. This book, without a doubt, has been the hardest. I have had it for months, unable to damage it further. This morning I got it out again, and thought about all the people to whom it has given pleasure. I actually have had it so long I can’t remember how I acquired it, although I think it was in a batch given to me by a local primary school. I have torn out the pages which weren’t already torn and intend to use every last inch of it, like a good butcher respecting the life of the animal.

There is a fading sticker inside the front cover which reads, ‘K.J. (possibly I.) Bredon’s Bookshop, East Street, Brighton’.

I would love to show you lots of images but I am worried about copyright issues, which I can’t understand because there are Wildsmith illustrations all over the internet.

To date I have made 461 cards from books and clothes, each individually numbered. None of these cards have been recorded in this way. Today I am starting back at number one. This is my first blog entry and it seems only fitting that the work of Brian Wildsmith should be top of the list.

Still got ‘first post jitters’ and my leeks are burnt, just read back through it about twenty times, seems a little stiff. May I just say here that I am not a writer or a photographer, I just want to record the making of my stuff.

You can see all of the cards I made from this book here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here .


Inside the dust jacket

Inside the dust jacket

31 thoughts on “1. ‘Birds’ by Brian Wildsmith 1967, This Edition 1969

  1. Welcome to WordPress & blogging Alison! I know how you feel about slicing up books, I find it hard to do even with magazines! I still haven’t got myself a copy of any of his books – keep hoping to find one in a charity shop for 10p… like that’s ever going to happen! 🙂

    • How exciting, my first comment. Thank you H. I know, when I came across this I went out to buy a new copy for a friend’s child. The modern versions, though still beautiful, weren’t the same. The paper was so thin and the print quality wasn’t as good. Still, I ended up buying ABC, my friend was over the moon with it. Treasures can still be found in charity shops, you have to trek through about a hundred shops just to find one gem, though.

  2. I’m pretty sure that as long as you state somewhere about there that it’s all reproduced material and cite your source(s), anybody of consequence should be fine… I can’t imagine anybody would be snotty about that…

  3. Pingback: Like books? Check this out | Serviced Apartment Review

    • I know, I decided over Christmas. Was trying to come up with a way of recording the history of the materials I use because I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to say onto the actual work. I am very concerned, though, that it will take up too much time and I won’t have time left to make stuff. I have promised myself that I will stop if that happens. I really don’t want it to be about the blog. I want somehow to number the cards so that they correspond with the relevant posts – but, I don’t know the numbers of the cards yet because I haven’t made them! I haven’t really thought this through…

  4. Don’t over think too much.. just go for it for now and enjoy! It all falls into place somehow. At the beginning I thought I would have a nervous breakdown:) It took me 8+ hours to do 1 post. Now it’s about half, so it gets better and you’ll learn shortcuts. hang in there!

  5. Congratulations!!! If this is your first post you have done well. I listened to a cd last month (in succcess Magazine). in it the speaker said ‘If someone will benefit from your work; not only do you have a right to write. You have a responsibility to write.

    Keep it going!

  6. I love your first post Alison & it looks so processional. My first post a few weeks ago took me about 2 days ! It’s still hit and miss. It’s not something I ever in a billion years thought I’d do as I’m very technically challenged but I’m so glad I’ve done it. I think you’re a natural and your cards are beautiful xx

    • ‘Technically challenged’ is a good way to put it, in my profile I call myself an idiot, my husband says I should remove this – so I think I’ll change it to your phrase.
      Thanks for your very kind comments, that first post took ages, and it’s gone down hill from there. If I spend that amount of time on each post then I won’t have any time left to make my stuff.
      I love your blog, especially when you talk about yourself, I had no idea you were new to it too.

  7. Pingback: 5. ‘Birds’ by Brian Wildsmith (1969), Christmas Cards in January | Alison Sye

  8. Pingback: Eco-Friendly New Baby Postcard | Alison Sye

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