Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Iona Driftwood Binding Retreat with The Travelling Bookbinder. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Lockdown in Scotland came soon after the annual Iona Driftwood Binding Retreat. I haven’t left the island since (except for small boat jaunts to uninhabited rocks.) Here’s a diary of my creative quarantine.

As for everyone, days were full of anxious uncertainty – about the future, our health and loved ones.

Covid 19 Sketchbook by Rachel Hazell. Handlettering. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

The fear was paralysing. I bound a book and hand-lettered wobbly words.

Island inkery, Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Painting pages in sea-ink washes seemed the only thing manageable.

Island bookart: Wire and seaweed. Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Realisation came suddenly: Teaching is what I do, and if I need a reminder or a prompt or some stimulus right now, then maybe others do too.

The Travelling Bookbinder. Make a concertina bookart project. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

The Iona Primary School pupils, studying at home, received three bookbinding projects: A journal, a concertina (shown above) and a fold up pocket book. Designed for all ages to make, with a minimum of materials.

Alphabet sketchbook with driftwood pen. Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Drawing inky pages of letters with a driftwood pen was restful and meditative – create your own alphabet sketchbook and let your mind slow to the dip and stroke.

Hand lettering. Expressive calligraphy. Poetry. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Loose writing, pondering. Waiting for the ink to dry.

The Travelling Bookbinder, Isle of Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Each day is punctuated by a walk on the beach. I got into the habit of filming short clips of ‘vitamin sea’ and posting them on Instagram.

Japanese Stab Binding for Toast Time to Make, Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Toast asked me to be part of their ‘Time to Make’ series – you can follow the film on their IGTV channel – scroll down to Japanese Stab Binding – or find step by step instructions here.

Carrying a pebble. Isle of Iona. Inner Hebrides. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Another habit: Choosing a pebble to hold in the hand. Taking it for a walk. Barbara Hepworth recommended the same, saying “The weight and form and texture felt in our hands relates us to the past and gives us a sense of a universal force. The beautifully shaped stone, washed up by the sea, is a symbol of continuity, a silent image of our desire for survival, peace and security.”

PaperLove photography. Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Getting to know my camera has been the most valuable lockdown learning. Mentoring by Sarah Mason Photography seems like a lifeline to the future.

Byre bookbinding studio. Isle of Iona. Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

The byre studio, door ajar. Shared with swallows, mice, bits of boat and a log store. Not entirely watertight, but very atmospheric, especially in evening light.

Rachel Hazell. Isle of Iona. Deakin & Blue swimsuit. Body Stories. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Being able to swim has helped keep my (mental) head above water. I shared a body story with Deakin & Blue, purveyors of splendid cozzies.

Bound:15 Beautiful Bookbinding Projects, Rachel Hazell. Kyle Books. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

What a delight to know how many people have been exploring bookart, inspired by Bound: 15 Beautiful Bookbinding Projects.

Paper ephemera. PaperLove e-course. The Travelling Bookbinder. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

An amazing bunch of PaperLovers from around the world connected on the five week e-course – it’s such a pleasure to be able to teach online, at least.

Shell collection, Origami boxes, Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Selecting particular shells and pebbles, then ‘exhibiting’ them in origami boxes has been oddly reassuring – it’s satisfying watching the collection slowly grow.

Vitamin sea. Isle of Iona. Rachel Hazell. Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

Although the consequences of Covid – 19 have yet to unfold, the last few months of (enforced) re-calibration show me what is possible, how little/how much we need, and where the silver linings can be found.

22 thoughts on “Island isolation: Creative lockdown.

  1. Really lovely newsletter and beautiful images. Thank you for another view of the world.

  2. Beautiful, Rachel. So glad you were in lockdown in such a beautiful place, doing what you love.

    1. Thank you dear Libby, grateful to be able to share this place with you, Rachel

    1. Oh Sue, That’s great. I’m glad you had a pause. Thanks for your message X

  3. I love your collections of shells and other beach finds; beach combing is a total compulsion when I’m on a beach (sadly not so often at the moment, despite being only an hour from the coast). Thank you for your inspiring posts.

  4. Truly lovely newsletter and images Rachel! I did purchase your book Bound, find it quite inspiring, and looking forward to what I might create.

    1. Oh thank you Gail! Delighted that you have a copy of Bound and are heading off on a bookart adventure

  5. Another insight into your island life, more beautiful images and a most helpful lesson on thread! Thank you, Rachel… much love , Ali.x

    1. Dear Ali, Thank you! Glad to bring you islands, images and thread. Love to you, r XX

  6. Beautiful and inspiring photography! Thank you for the lesson on concertina book making – so much fun!

    1. Dear Libby – It’s a pleasure! Glad you enjoyed the concertina – there are other projects on the blog too, if you want to make more….

  7. Your diaries are always life enhancing, this one especially if you have been shielding in the city. Having ground almost to a halt I have now got out my
    “Bound” and will start life again and head for the sea asap. Had been due to go to Orkney again this year but they sensibly locked down before most people. Thank you Rachel.

    1. Dear Ferriel, Many thanks for your message and I really hope you have been reacquainted with the sea now, Bests, Rachel

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