Magpie Stories – the books

 In About My Work, Artist Books, Exhibitions

You’re not supposed to touch the prints … but you CAN touch books! I used non-editioned prints from the Magpie Stories reduction linocut series in a series of artist books. Each book the haptic realisation of intimate tales of each magpie story.

I love combining different printmaking processes in my books … and the idea to create companion books for my Magpie Stories reduction linocut prints was with me when I started to print these reduction linocut prints.

In addition to the non-editioned reduction linocut prints, each books includes embossing, letterpress printed text and monoprinting in a simple accordion structure with a dust jacket style covery.

Magpie Stories – Making the Artist Books

Each book, Hello, Siblings and Family Choir, tells a different story; but the format of each follows the same formula.

I trimmed my non-editioned reduction linocut prints for book pages. I have to admit that even though these prints weren’t included in the signed limited editions, it was VERY hard slicing my scalpel through each print, trimming them to the correct page size.

I letterpress-printed the words for each book. I was wanting specific positioning of the words on each page. There were no ‘extra’ prints to work with, so I did a lot of planning and testing to ensure the words was positioned correctly on each printed page – I wasn’t going to get any second chances with these pages. I felt like a printmaker living on the edge!

The covers and first and last pages of each book have been blind embossed with carved linocut plates … and for this I referenced real magpie feathers in my (extensive!!) feather collection. Feathers gifted to my by the same feathered neighbours in my prints. Over many years this magpie family gifted many feathers to me. A few were gifted on my front lawn, others were gifted on the footpaths around my home and found when I was out walking my puppy.

The book titles were blind de-bossed on the covers and spine with my letterpress type.

The books are accordion folded structures. But I wanted the books to read as books, reading start-to-end as a book, not necessarily as a folded-out-on-display accordion. I made covers to hold them together … so when a reader held the book, the covers encouraged them to turn the pages like a traditional book.

But … as an accordion structure nested within the self-wrapping covers, the backs of the pages were visible – creating the perfect space to surround my birds with the natural environment they enjoyed. I gel plate monoprinted the back of each page. Its not obvious that there is printing on the back of each page – so I hope it will be a lovely surprise as people experience each book.

And to finish the books – I used some beautifully textured Awagami Asarakusui paper to nest the book inside their covers. This paper also served to stop black from the covers rubbing on to the embossed first and last pages of each book.



hello” said the magpie

hello said I

I have seen you before” said the magpie

I’ve come to recognise you too” said I
would you like come come inside and have a look around?

“thank you but no” said the magpie
Outside the air is fresh. The day has begun. And there is much to do.

I understand” said I
do you mind if I join you



siblings play and tease and chase
as siblings do
they watch and learn and challenge and grow
soft down feathers fall
gifted to a collector
adult feathers grow in place
shifting sibling play and banter and chasing and fun
making way for new siblings
to play and tease and chase

Family Choir


morning on week on month on year
the family return for breakfast
my neighbours. they have come to trust me
they wander around my feet as I disturb the ground
they allow me to sit … to watch … to listen …
to observe … then they gather
and together they raise their beaks in harmonious union
fill the air with their music and song


Each artist book in the Magpie Stories series shares original hand-printed reduction linocut prints. The words are my own, storytelling my own personal observations of a multi-generational magpie family visiting my home.

Accordion fold with a self-wrapping cover.
Letterpress printed with 24pt Goudy Lanston.
Text printed on Arches 88 300gsm printmakers paper.
The cover is Stonehenge 250gsm Black, with blind embossing.
Monotype prints provide the natural surrounds for my feathered friends.
Nested in Awagami Asarakusui 27gsm Natural.

Each book was printed and made in a limited edition of 2.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Sofia Gaal

    So precious. Wonderful work.

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Magpie Stories 'Siblings' reduction linocutStop overthinking it