Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world. I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist.
Focussing mainly on Western Australia and Australia, I am seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday 19 July 2021

The origins of Jack & Jill went up the Hill

 I am sure you all know the nursery rhyme,

Jack and Jill went up the hill

to fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down and broke his crown

And Jill came tumbling after. 

We had quite a conversation the other night with my grandson about why this is flawed. He pointed out that you wouldn't go up a hill to fetch a pail of water from a well. At the top of a hill the well diggers would have to dig down too far to reach the aquifer. So true. I had never really thought about it, even though I have been plagued by this poem all my life.... my name being Jill. 

I must have thought about it during the night as the next morning after breakfast I drew this, albeit very basic, drawing. 

I realised that there is nothing in the rhyme to suggest they went up a hill to a well, though most illustrations you see have them going to a well on top of a hill. 

I decided therefore that there might be a waterfall feeding into a pool or lake on a hill from which they could scoop the water. We have scooped water with a bucket from a river or lake on camping trips many times. 

My son commented that it just goes to prove that you should never assume. 

And my grandson's response: "If it was a lake at the top of a hill, why didn't it flow right down so they didn't have to walk up at all?"..... good question.....

Our friends who have been to Iceland say that just about around every corner when you do a drive around the island it seems there is a mountain with a waterfall, and a house with a red roof. So I figure this scene I have drawn is plausible. 

This illustration below is from the public domain book, The Book of Knowledge, The Children’s Encyclopedia, Edited by Arthur Mee and Holland Thompson, Ph. D., Vol II, Copyright 1912, The Grolier Society of New York. The original copyright for these books was 1899

The illustration does indeed show a well at the top of a hill

The rhyme continues:

Up Jack got and home he trot

As fast as he could caper

He went to bed to mend his head

With vinegar and brown paper. 

Why vinegar and brown paper? According to History House in the UK: 

This refers to the use of a vinegar and brown paper poultice for the treatment of wounds, bruises and other injuries. It is a very old remedy which is still used today for swelling and bruising, or headaches.

For bruises, one method was to take six or seven sheets of brown paper and soak them in a saucepan containing vinegar. The vinegar was heated and allowed to simmer making sure the paper did not break up. The paper was then applied in layers over the affected area. Often secured in place with a cloth or rag.

But what is the real origin of the Jack and Jill rhyme? Research shows me there are a few different suggested origins. As with many nursery rhymes there is a more sinister origin that we are unaware of as children when we sing them. 

Below is a suggestion according to Vagabomb's article: 10 Dark and Disturbing Origins of Popular Nursery Rhymes written by Shahana Yasmin in 2016. You should click on the link to read about the origins of many of our nursery rhymes. It is fascinating reading. 

One origin suggests Jack and Jill are actually France’s Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, who were convicted of treason during the French Revolution, otherwise known as the Reign of Terror, and beheaded. Jack or Louis XVI, lost his “crown,” i.e. his throne and his head. And Jill, or Marie Antoinette's head soon came tumbling after.

So there you have it, the origins of the Jack an Jill nursery rhyme. I encourage you to go to the Vagabomb post to read about more grizzly backgrounds to our popular childrens' nursery rhymes. For instance, do you know the background of Ring a Ring a Rosie or London Bridge is Falling Down

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed my post today.
Are you a Jill or a Jack? Were you plagued by the rhyme as a child, or even an adult?

And just because the wildflowers are starting to pop in Western Australia I thought I would share a few. 

I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week and stay safe. 

Hello there! I love reading your comments. If you scroll down to the bottom you can comment too! I would love to hear from you.

Monday 5 July 2021

The art of botanical eco-printing on paper

Hi everyone. I hope all is well with you and yours. Today's post is in response to a couple of enquiries about eco-printing. 

 The first time I tried the art of botanical eco-printing was at summer school workshop in January 2016 at the Stirling Street Art Centre with Jane Flower from Folios and Fibre. I loved it from the start, but in truth it took me about a year before I actually started to experiment at home. 

Since then I have done some more workshops including an eco-printing workshop in Albany with Penny Jewell but also making inks and paints with Helen Coleman in Mandurah - fascinating! 

I have also done some online workshops with India Flint from The School of Nomad Arts. She is the queen of eco-printing in Australia, and before Covid took over our lives, used to run workshops overseas as well. 

I have also learnt a lot from some on-line Facebook groups for eco-printers like Eco-dyeing with Friends based in Tasmania, Australia. There are lots of these groups on Facebook, if you are on Facebook, with people who generously give their hints. 

In some ways it has taken over my life. But I delve into other arts too! There are so many things I want to explore. 

I really love to eco-print on paper. The very act of laying the leaves on paper, bundling them, and unwrapping to see the result is very relaxing and absorbing. 

In March and May I displayed my work at a couple of art markets, and I was asked by a number of people if I ran workshops. They were disappointed when I said no. 

There are a few reasons for this. I would be "borrowing" the techniques I have learnt from other people - people much more skilled than I who have done hours of study and experiments. To me, borrowing their techniques to teach would be unethical. 

Also I really am still learning. I don't get consistent results. I know myself I have paid for workshops which don't deliver, and I don't want this to happen to any students who might come to a workshop of mine. 

I have a long way to go, and still lots to learn, however, I am happy to share a few simple steps towards printing on paper. If you want to learn more, I will give you some links. 

First of all, gather your leaves. In Australia it is illegal to pick up from the ground or pick leaves from a tree in the natural bush (forest). So really you must do this on private property where you have been given permission. You should also identify your plants, as some plants are poisonous.  

Leaves can be fresh or picked up from the ground. Both react differently in the process, as does the time of year, climate, and how dry the winter was. So many variables! Most of my printing is done with eucalyptus leaves and I have identified a few varieties in my area which print well... usually....but not always! 

Next choose your paper. I use Printmakers paper, though many people use Watercolour paper. Experiment with different papers, but I suggest not using anything too thin as it will just return to the pulp it came from. 

Tear your paper into the sizes you require. You also need something to bundle the papers between. You can use, as I usually do, household ceramic tiles - you know the sort they stick onto walls in bathrooms. Or you can also wrap the paper around rusty cans, or even old engine filters or old trampoline springs!

Next lay your leaves on the paper. I usually dip my paper first in tea water made with about 4 teabags and hot water. The tannin from the tea helps with the printing process.  If leaves are dry, they can be reconstituted by soaking in hot water. 

Lay down the leaves then put another piece of paper over the top. 

Then bundle the paper between the tiles, or around a can, and bind tightly. I do this with strips of cloth, which I reuse over and over. A bit of rust can help with the printing process, but do not use vinegar as this will make the paper brittle. Some people throw rusty nails in the pot. 

Next is to simmer the bundle in a pot of water. I use rain water so it is not affected by chemicals in household water. I believe creek water which has lots of tannins in it is great. The cooking must be done outside in a well ventilated area. DO NOT use pots you are going to cook food in!  Keep dedicated pots. I have a gas burner which I set on my patio. Please be aware of fire bans if you are cooking up a pot in summer. Throw some more leaves into the pot. 

This pot of water can be used again if you are going to use the next day or in a couple of days. The water will get darker, and the prints a little darker with each use. So it is up to you how many times you want to use it. 

Put the bundles in. Bring the pot to the boil, turn the heat down, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Then turn off the heat. I usually leave the bundles in the pot for a couple of hours. Then take out, stand to drain, and don't open until the next day. I then leave them for another couple of days on a bench with weights on top of them. Some people open their bundles straight away. 

In this bundle below which was around an old rusty car air filter, I have put some cloth between the paper and the metal. 

Once the paper is dry, I stack them between sheets of paper under a stack of heavy books for a few days or a week to flatten the papers. 

Each one is uniquely different and cannot be replicated. Leaves picked fresh from a tree will print differently to dry leaves picked up from the earth. Lack of rain will affect the printability. The underside of the leaves (they call it the moon side) will print better than the top side. You can see the difference in this print below. It is often difficult to tell with eucalypts which side is which. 

It is a good idea to take notes to refer back to later, especially when a print works well. 

I love the anticipation of unbundling, though there are often failures which I have no idea why. But you can try overprinting these. 

Prints can be framed, made into greeting cards, or used as covers of notebooks, or whatever you choose!

Doodling on the papers is also fun. Below I have used paint I have made from boiling bark, and an ink pen. 

A few links for further study: 

India Flint, the school of Nomad Arts

Eco-dyeing with friends group on Facebook

Mamies Schoolhouse on Faceboook

Natural Dye Education on Facebook

Eco-printing, dyeing and painting on paper on Facebook

Most important, experiment and have fun. I must stress I am not an expert, you need to do your own study and experiments. I encourage you to do a workshop if you see one in your area. However, be careful, as there is a lot of misinformation out there. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this little introduction into botanical eco-printing on paper. Have you tried eco-printing. Perhaps you would like to tell us about it in your comments. 

I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

Hello there! I love reading your comments. If you scroll down to the bottom you can comment too! I would love to hear from you.