• alexjgardner

positive and negative

Experiments in embossing, and a bit of a grumble...

Last week when tidying the study I found some bits and pieces I'd forgotten I had. One of the items was a box of wooden letters from a bargain shop (otherwise known in our household as a 'shit-shop' - there are good shit-shops and shit shit-shops, and these letters came from a good shit-shop). I'd been wanting to try some blind embossing for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The two images above are the result of my experiments - one in positive relief, and one in negative relief. The embossing was done by soaking some strong paper (Somerset Satin White 300gsm 100% Cotton, for the paper aficionados out there) for about 30 mins, blotting it well and then running it through the printing press so it molds around the letters. Once dry, I tried out a couple of embellishment ideas - one in pencil, creating map-like contours, and the other using super fine tipped pens to draw in a 'route' and add the principles of Leave No Trace. I think I prefer the contour design, and I definitely prefer the positively embossed letters (I like the soft 'puffiness' of the shapes!).

So, why 'LEAVE NO TRACE'? Well, this has been in my head for a while now. Since restrictions on travel were lifted Larry and I (and Marvin - the doggo) have been getting out for wanders in the hills again. We've been avoiding the crowds by going on random weekday evenings or on a Sunday when most other folks have gone home. It's meant finishing the walk with head-torches, or braving the evening midges, but it's been wonderful to get out in the landscape again. And it's a positive thing that so many others are able to enjoy the great outdoors too, some perhaps for the first time. I know how beneficial spending time in wilder spaces can be both mentally and physically, and we all could definitely use some mood-lifting in current times! But the negative side to this is that with the increase in footfall come an increase in shitty behaviour from some.

One of the big things that we've been shocked and thoroughly enraged by is the amount of litter we've come across on our travels, sometimes in volumes that can only be classed as fly-tipping, and one of my biggest rage-triggers, abandoned bags of dog mess. You've made the effort to bag it! Why just dump it on the side of the path! That's worse than not picking it up (which is bad enough), 'cause now you've added fucking plastic to your littering! ARRRGHHH!! Another issue is the amount of larger groups making excessive noise (and by that I mean constant shouting, playing loud music and basically having a party), disturbing not only other visitors to the area but also the local residents who have homes on the land. And what I've seen online in other areas, places I know and love, makes my blood boil. Scattered beer cans, burnt rubbish, tents and even full gazebos just left after a night of partying - it's disgusting, it's lazy and it's downright bloody selfish.

We have stunning scenery, landscapes and walking available in this country. My local area, the Peak District, sits between two major cities (Manchester and Sheffield) and it's fantastic that these spaces are accessible to us, the public. But we've got to treat these areas and the communities that live there with respect. The 'Leave No Trace' principles are there to give guidance on how to do this - I'd say they're 'common sense' rules, but I'm increasingly convinced there's no such thing as 'common' sense any more. If you don't know about the Leave No Trace principles you can find a detailed infographic by the European Wilderness Society here:


I have one simple principle: don’t be a dick. It works for everything, not just an ethical approach to enjoying the countryside. The levels of selfishness on display in the world at present are staggering, in all facets of society, and so much could be solved if everyone were just a bit more considerate of and sympathetic to others. But I rant - instead of just grumbling I'm going to try and do my bit; don some gloves, get a 'grabber' and take a rubbish bag out with us on walks. We can all do our bit to make a difference, and so I might as well start with this. One little step at a time, progress can be made...

Until next time,

P.S. Here are the separate images of the embossed prints, in case you want to see them individually...