Saturday, 29 October 2011

Do not be anxious

We learned this in Sunday School last Sunday, and I've been listening to it through the week. A good song as deadlines approach!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

How myths get perpetuated

In the course of my work, we sometimes give instructions for children's crafts which involve toilet roll insides. At least, they would involve toilet roll insides, if it weren't for the fact that 'you're not allowed to use toilet roll insides in crafts any more - Health and Safety.' So we make vague references to 'cardboard rolls', or perhaps tell them to cut paper towel rolls in half.

However, I discovered recently that, despite popular belief, there is no law, or even official guidance, against using toilet roll insides. Schools may have their own rules, but there is no sense in which there is some kind of blanket ban. On the contrary, according the the Health and Safety Executive (who are unfairly blamed for a lot of nonsense): "as long as egg boxes and toilet roll centres look clean, there is no reason why they should not be used."

Great! So we can stop beating around the bush and tell people to use toilet rolls again!

Except... no, we can't. If we did, people buying the book would think, 'don't they know you're not allowed to do that?' It would look bad, like we were out of the ark.

We could put an explanation, but depending on the context that might be a bit OTT. And even if the club leaders are convinced, some parents will be horrified if their children come home with crafts made of toilet roll insides.

So we continue to speak vaguely of 'cardboard rolls', and because the myth is unchallenged, it continues...

 OK, OK, I'll get back to work...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


We were doing the story of Lazarus in Sunday School. The book suggested a craft which I liked very much. In fact, I thought it was quite cute.


My class of 5-6 year old boys were excited to go home and show their parents what they had been making -  

(Please imagine this written in a creepy Hallowe'en font.)

Monday, 10 October 2011


I believe my father made me for a purpose. We all have a purpose. Don't you think, detective?
Sonny in I, Robot (the film, not the book)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Historical Accuracy

In my illustration work, I try to be as accurate as possible. When illustrating real events that happened in a real place and time (or indeed, fictional events set in a real place and time) it makes sense to make the illustrations as close as possible to how it would really have been. And I love doing research about it - particularly the clothes.

So, when I was illustrating Daniel in the lions' den recently, I made sure to dress him with accurate Persian clothes and hairstyle for the time (really easy – there are so many ancient pictures to copy).

The thing is, though. How accurate is this really? I've given him grey hair, because he was in his eighties at the time. Actually, though, I've a feeling an important Persian official might have dyed his hair. But with a picture in this simple style, how else can I show he is old? And then of course, I've read somewhere (though not verified) that men at the time wore heavy makeup… That might look just a tiny bit odd to today's eyes!

So you have to compromise. If I were doing an educational book that could have info boxes explaining the pics, I would be more pedantic. But when a picture has to speak for itself, you have to not confuse people.

Of course, there are some times when it's OK to stretch the historical accuracy just a wee bit more…

Parts of King Darius are very accurate :-)