Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Release Banner - Advertising - Press Release

What I offer: • You will receive a reliable, professional and responsive service including excellent communication.

Press Release Banners - Marketing Material for Social Media - Advertising for Blogs

You Can Add:
Book Cover - 3D Cover - Release Date - Free Days - Promotions - Available from these Retailers - Taglines - Book Blurb - Reviews - Discounts - Whatever you want!

• I will deliver the first proof of your work within 1 working day.
• Make as many alterations as you wish at no extra until you are happy with the final result.
• When you have approved the final version you will receive a file at 300dpi and your required size.

contact me about your specific requirements


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Make Wine Cork Candles

Wax Cork Candles to Light up That Romantic Dinner

Working with wax, and mixing in pigments to create encaustic art, and decorating hurricane candles, led me to think of other ways to use leftover bits of wax candle, so this is how to make cork effect candles to place in the top of an empty wine bottle.

My goal, was to keep in the realms of crafting, using things that are normally found in the home or you would make an inexpensive purchase like PVA glue, student oils, and masking or wide adhesive tape.

What you will need


Cut the tube along its length


Mark out the tube 3" - 75mm and cut.


Open the tube ready to write

 Lines first marked out in pen/pencil and then covered in oil paint - some thick pencils will transfer from the cardboard.
Paint over using oil based paint as this takes time to dry.
Use a pencil or pen to write what you want on the cork or draw a motif - Everything should be in reverse.
Mark a line on the outside so you have 4" when flat this will give an overlap and a 1 inch diameter tube. 
 Corks have lines around them, one close to the top and the other higher to allow for the bottom to be cut away to fit in the bottle top.

Glue the outside edge and overlap using the previously marked line.

edge Use adhesive tape to hold the tube in position while the glue dries.

Tape up the tube

tape Tape up the bottom of the tube – this needs to seal the tube so the strongest tape is best or you could use additional cardboard cut to shape.

Heat old wax or crumble a cheap Candle

Add a small amount of oil paint to colour. 


Using muffin tins or tuna tins anything metal. Put the wax in enough to fill three quarters of the tin Place on a hot plate to melt.


Oil paint or wax crayon is added to create the colour of the cork. Oil gets the best consistency and you only need a small amount as shown here.


Mix in and stair until the wax is melted. As soon as the was is liquid remove from the hot plate ready to pour.


Make a wick from thin rope and dip it into the wax.


Lay out the wick to dry this I cut into three afterwards. 


Alternative to a hot plate is, place the metal container with wax in it into a bowl and pour hot boiling water around it to heat it up, this may need to be done a few times.

Pour in the wax using grips or pliers

Place the tube in a plastic container and support.

As the wax is cooling but still liquid pour in the wax to the top of the tube.

You can pour a small amount in and see if it leaks if it does let it cool – reheat the wax in the metal container then pour again as now it should be sealed.

Top up the tube

As the wax hardens it will shrink so reheat the wax left in the container and pour to the top.

Insert the wick into a cut out piece of cardboard so you can center the wick.

Alternative make a hole with a tooth pick before you top them up and insert the wick.

Let cool and then you can place in the fridge to harden – optional.

Film Cartridge

I also use film cartridges (if you can find them) I still use cardboard so I can use the transfer method of the markings and writing.

The writing can be added afterwards and when you remove the coverings any imperfections can be tidied up using a knife.

The bottom of the candle will also need cutting back to fit inside the wine bottle.


Finished cork effect Candles 



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Encaustic on a Candle – Art on a Candle

Decorating Candles Using Encaustic Painting


A few years ago, I received a strange invitation to a barbeque high up in the Aitana Mountains on the Costa Blanca. The man on the other end of the telephone asked me to bring samples of my work, that was it.

When I arrived through the high security gates, a little angst with anticipation, eight people were stood around a large grill, quaffing beers.

On the grill stood pots of wax mixed with colour pigment, a table adjacent had rows of different sized candles, various pallet knives, and a box of sponges.

Turns out he wanted to know if it was possible to create art on a candle using wax and had invited local artists from different nationalities.

The best four would be invited to create (Mass produce) candles for a price.

That was the first time I had ever heard of Encaustic painting, and even though the dodgy fella turned out to be a scammer, the experience was worth it. Anything can be achieved with wax and the willingness to fail, a little at first.

What's Encaustic Painting?

Encaustic painting involves using heated beeswax, paraffin, soy, and other plant waxes to which coloured pigments are added. The liquid/paste is applied to a surface, usually wood or canvas, but other materials can be used.

Encaustic was developed by ancient Greek ship builders, adding pigments to hot wax they used to repair their ships hulls. Some of the earliest examples of encaustic art are those of paintings attached to mummies in Ancient Egypt, about 3,000 years ago.

I have been applying wax to candles, especially to hurricane candles that burn through leaving the outside intact, the effect is superb.

The technique of mixing wax and pigment for candles is simple.

Spanish Dance Candles Use a temperature controllable hot plate. Crumble a cheap plain candle into a stainless or metal shot size pot or muffin tins and add powder pigment with a teaspoon.

Knowing the characteristics of your pigments, whether they’re transparent or opaque will influence how much pigment you use. Don’t use too much pigment if there’s not sufficient wax to stick it down, the wax will flake — practice will gets the best consistency ratio.

Techniques for applying the wax

Seascape Sponge, pallet knife, an old thin paint brush, and for detailed work a bristle-less thin paint brush with a metal end.

Start sponging backgrounds like skies and seas, form boats and sailing ships, dipping a pallet knife into the hot wax, moving it along letting the wax slip off.

With practice you can judge the speed needed to apply thick or thin lines and pallet knife larger areas in. Almost drizzle the wax, at the same time spreading it. If you go over, even on a wax back ground you can trim back with a knife and repair mistakes.

Paint layer after layer to raise a surface for a motif and also paint the side of hurricane candles for more complex work as the exterior stays intact, you can place a tea light candle inside and keep reusing.


Safety and further practice

Sea world Apart from the obvious, breathing in the fumes, heat from the wax, and the hot plate, the other thing is to not over heat the wax and don’t dip a pallet knife, brush or anything into a colour that is loaded with a different colour.
Dipping your tools into the right colour then wipe it, will clean it.

Practice on cheap candles as you can scrap them clean for another try until you get a feel for it.
Once you have and got it down. The next step is to buy a large expensive candle.
I don’t think it’s necessary to purchase Carnauba wax or Beeswax.

Using cheap clear candles crumble and melt, add powder pigments (from any art shop) or Oil paints and add Damar resin is enough.
Damar resin is mixed with beeswax to harden it and raise its melting temperature. It also keeps the wax translucent preventing blooming (whitening). It can be polished to a glossy shine.
Wax melts at 150 degrees F– 65 degrees C.

 Why not try with some wax crayons and a cheap candle dip a sponge into the hot wax and dab it onto the candle use a pallet knife to make lines

Practice Candles

I’ve seen people take days to get it and some look like they had been doing it years, which one are you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Best Barbecue Sauces

Three Different Sauces To Try This Summer

If the definition of barbecue, is grilling meat slowly, allowing it to cook in its own juices, then it of course, has been around since cave men discovered fire. Barbecues are much more than cooking food. They are a social gathering of multi-generations of family, friends and neighbours, eating al fresco.
Most countries have their own versions of barbecue, and here in Valencia Spain cooking outdoors is done most of the year round with Paellas and salted Sardines.

But, what is a barbeque in any country without barbecue sauces?

Here are three great sauces to accompany barbecued meats and a barbecue sardine dish from Spain.

Disfruta de la barbacoa!

Spanish Sauce Recipe

Spanish Sauce A rich sauce to accompany barbecue meat dishes


500 ml meat stock
30 grams of butter
1 teaspoon of olive oil
45 grams of flour
1 onion chopped
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped leek
1/2 cup red wine
Salt to taste


1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan.
2. Add all the chopped vegetables and sauté until golden brown.
3. Add the red wine and flour stir and leave 2 to 3 minutes over low heat.
4. Gradually pour in the stock, salt and let simmer for 40 minutes over low heat.
5. Once it has been cooked blend in a mixer and strain for a smooth finish.

Preparation – 10 Minutes
Cooking time – 60 minutes
Serves 4

Argentine Chimichurri

Argentine Chimichurri A spicy sauce for barbecue meats


Cup of olive oil.
Cup of white wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves
1/2 medium chopped onion
3 dried chillies crumbled
1 ripe tomato.
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of thyme.
3 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 bunch chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon of paprika
Salt to taste


Put all ingredients into a blender and puree until a smooth sauce.

Passion fruit sauce recipe

Passion fruit sauce recipe Sweet and sour sauce to accompany barbecued meats


5 passion fruits
5 tablespoons of sugar.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup water
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper


Bring the balsamic vinegar, water, sugar, parsley, salt and pepper to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes, let cool. Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the pulp. Puree the passion fruit in a blender with half the sugar syrup. Adjust the taste by adding more sugar syrup until a pleasant balance of sweetness and tartness is reached — you do not want it to thicken like jam.

Strain and discard the seeds.


Barbecue Sardines

Sardines Sardinas a la barbacoa


4 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil


Peel the garlic cloves, cut them and place them in a mortar and pestle to a pulp. Pour a splash of oil in the mortar and mix well.

Season the sardines generously (without removing the heads and guts) with sea salt crystals, transfer them to the bowl of olive oil and garlic or coat with a brush and place on the grill or into a fish grill basket and place directly onto the heat.

Cook 3 minutes on each side. Serve on a platter and garnish with a sprig of parsley.

Note: The sardines are kept in a large bowl of sea salted water. This helps provide a fresh seaside taste to the fish.

The fish is fully cooked when the eyes turn a glossy white.

Serve with a splash of lemon juice.

Discard the bone, head, and guts.

A Hot Curry Recipe to Cook for Dad on Father’s Day 


A Celebrity Favourite - Whole Chicken Curry

I first made this dish, after trying it several times in a restaurant called the Sopna in Blackheath Village, London. Unfortunately it is no longer there.

I would visit often with an Irish friend, and he thought it amusing to challenge the chief to prepare him a red hot curry, suggesting he was incapable of making one he couldn't eat - bad alcohol-induced mistake.

The waiter, smirking, brought out a curry dish with a little flag stuck in the middle reading: "God bless you". I think he was too polite to say God help you, but the metaphor wasn't lost, especially on my friend, who went home with the hiccups.

I, on the other hand, would order a dish made in honour of another regular diner, called a Terry Waite Special/favourite.

Terry Waite CBE is an English author and humanitarian. He was the assistant for Anglican communion affairs for the Archbishop of Canterbury in 80s, and an envoy for the Church of England.

He try to secure the release of four hostages held in Lebanon, including the journalist John McCarthy, and ended up being held captive himself between 1987 and 1991.

He also likes Awesome Curries!

Chicken Tandoori - Murgh Musallam

First the Stuffing


Keema Stuffing

600 grams – 1 lb 5.16 oz of Minced Lamb or Minced Ground Beef
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Green Pepper (finely chopped)
3 Green Chillies (finely chopped)
1 tsp. of Ginger Root (freshly grated)
3 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
1 tin of Tomatoes
1 tsp. of Turmeric Powder
2 tblsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp. of Ground Cumin
5 tbsp. of Medium Balti Paste
600 ml of Beef Stock
2 tbsp. of Olive Oil

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and Sauté the onion until golden brown and soft.

Add in the minced lamb or minced beef and fry for 10 minutes or until brown.

Add in the chilli, green pepper and garlic and fry for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, coriander and cumin, continuing to fry for another 2 minutes.

Stair in the balti paste and fry for an additional 2 minutes. Mix in the tinned tomatoes and add the beef stock. Bring to the boil and simmer without a lid for one hour ladling off excess fat.

Drain of the stuffing into a bowl and set aside for later.



1 (3-pound) whole chicken skinless

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup tomato pureed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon peeled and grated or crushed ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 tbsp curry paste
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Olive oil, for brushing

Three boiled eggs

Cut slashes in the flesh to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place the chicken on a platter or large, shallow dish.

Mix the yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, cardamom, black pepper and salt. Stir and mixed well, pour the mixture over the chicken and rub it into the flesh, turning the chicken until fully coated. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Set aside the excess marinade.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Spoon in the pre-prepared keema stuffing compacting and stitch up the opening with skewers to hold in place.

Preheat the oven to moderately hot temperature – gas mark 6 – 400 Fahrenheit or 200 Celsius.

Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, brush the pan with oil, and cook, turning once for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to moderate gas mark 4 – 350 Fahrenheit – 180 Celsius further cook for 60/70 minutes.

Add the excess marinade with the left over sauce from the keema stuffing previously set a side stir together and heat allowing to simmer.

Remove the chicken from the oven pierce the thigh if the juices run clear it is cooked, Pour away the fatty juices from the pan.

Place on a platter or large dish arrange the boiled eggs around the chicken and pour the sauce over the chicken and cover the eggs.

Grate on some cheese and serve.

Being a garlic lover, I eat it with garlic Naan but you can serve this Murgh Musallam-esque stuffed Chicken with any kind of Indian bread, like plain naan or tandoori roti.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Streaking For Mother

 How far would you go to help the people you love?

A cynical, famous underwear model, and infamous international sports personality, despondent and guilt ridden because of a terrible mistake, finds redemption from helping the Streakers who ruined his chances of a world record.

After moving in with this bunch of dysfunctional guerrilla marketeers he discovers all isn't what it seemed and finds out his life is being controlled by his estranged mother from beyond the grave.
His mother is also the patron of a large pawn brokers and the Streakers Matriarch who believe her absence is temporary. It soon becomes apparent to Ashley she has left him with no choice but to help them move on with their lives and come to terms with her untimely death.

Ashley has made enemies too. He is viciously attacked, sent a threatening message, and attempts are made to destroy him in the media - both professionally and personally. With his new house mates by his side, they must discover and deal with his pursuer Streaker style. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

My life as a Steeplejack

Steeple-jacking a Beginning

When I left School, the British band UB40 was singing about being one in ten, three million unemployed and rising.

I remember things being that bad there were queues outside bread shops, like some depressed eastern block country, yet they were not queuing for bread, but work - one position - fifty applied.

After leaving basford hall college Nottingham, I went against my father's wishes, and applied for a job at the firm he worked, which just happened to be advertising for three Steeplejack mates.

As a teenager, the experience was exiting, walking into the company's yard on a Monday with your suitcase in hand, not knowing where you would be going, and which part of the country, and how high you would be working. This was kept a secrete and chalked on a large blackboard along with who you would be working with, another important factor I later learned.

Whittington Hospital Islington London

Image Shearart Two of us ‘Sprogs’ as we were called, were sent down the inside of the chimney in bosun’s chairs, armed with sweeping brushes, and told to sweep the sulpha/soot off the full length of the barrel, so it could be inspected for potential repairs.

The joke was that, we were told that the chimney had only just been turned off, and was still hot inside, so take all our clothes off and wear only boiler suits (refusal would have been met with hostility).

After hours of choking, sweat and burns, we emerged at the bottom, black as soot. The showers removed most of it except around our: necks, arm pits, nipples, lower region cracks. They were burned black and took months to fade, at that point I realised I didn’t know everything as a teenager.

Steeple-jacking seemed natural to me as my grandfather was a steeplejack, my uncles and my father too, but he wanted me to be a chef. I think he was a little anxious that I would embarrass him, which made me all the more determined to succeed. I just had to overcome the fear of falling to my death and landing on some ornate wrought iron railings.

To add an extra flavour to the difficulty level, My father was a senior Foreman, and those steeplejacks who he had trained and traditionally worked hard, ridiculed, and I’m going to use Steeplejack parlance of the day – Slagged off. I was assigned to them, payback was tough, quitting wasn’t an option, they tried, and eventually I earned their respect and they became friends.

Day To Day

Image Shearart Working on power stations, mills, concrete and steel chimneys, cooling towers, and installing lightning conductor systems. To restoring Churches in the middle of a verdant country side on the edge of a small village, were all, week to week stuff and sometimes we would be given some unusual work.

The miners’ strike was on and next to a lot of pits in Yorkshire, loomed Coalite sites, churning out smokeless fuel, piles of it, some striking miners (allegedly) would appropriate some smokeless coal for their home fires.

The boss being an entrepreneur volunteered our services; the job was to enclose the whole place with 10ft steel roofing sheets, which seemed miles. Now and again an angry mob would stand there attempting to intimidate us, and things got worse when they found out we were from Nottingham, adding insult to injury, as Nottingham was considered scab pit country.

Our foreman had a word with them, and we were surprisingly left alone after that. I found out years later that a couple of the sheets weren’t fixed as well as they should have been — fancy that.

Meanwhile, every time we exited the motorway to enter Nottingham, the police pulled us over and
 asked us if we were flying-pickets, we nodded our black soot covered faces no — this was cutting into our pub time — the police didn’t believe us.

Don't look now

Don't look now

India Mills Ornate Chimney One of my fondest memories, and again, still a teenager, was working on a famous chimney in Darwin Lancashire, the rumours were that it had a huge stone overhang that forced the weight onto your arms as you climbed over, and some firms had backed out and ran scared, but this is an industry full of untruths, generated in the pub, at least in those days.

Nevertheless, it does put weight on your arms, and it is the moment of truth climbing over the top, especially when the top of the ladder hasn’t been tied yet. For me, the excitement factor was driving from Bolton coming down the hill and seeing it for the first time.

The boiler man was a tablet of touristic information, and apparently the chimney was designed on the tower in St Marks Square Venice; mill owners would compete by building the most ornate chimneys, this one costing 14,000 pounds.

We worked on the chimney for a few months, scaffolding the top and rigged cradles on it. I was impressed so much with Lancashire and the friendliness of the people, I moved there.

The mill and chimney are steeped in history and can be found by clicking the link arrow below.

Image Source

Looking west from India Mills Chimney One day whilst working on the chimney a fella dressed in a suit approached and asked if we would take some aerial shots of his auto sales garage and surrounding area, at the end of the shift we did. His wife had a shock when she went to collect the photos as we had including three naked backsides. Luckily they had a sense of humour.

Image Source

Steeplejack's names carved into the stone below one of the urns including mine.

Don't look down

Don't look down

Climbing over the overhang

Climbing onto the slippy stone plinth usually covered in Pigeon excrement

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Image Shearart Bob-a-job week was the week cub-scouts would knock on your door and sell you a ticket that would entitle you to have some work down: Wash the car, sweep the yard and my personal favourite, weed the garden.

My uncle was in the paper for giving a cub- scout a sweeping job at the top of a high tower on bob-a-job week, in the late 70′s. Steeplejacks were often in the paper, on this occasion we were invited to sit in front of the film camera.

Several of us, from different firms, were filmed by the college working on various chimneys, and invited to a lunch at a county pub to help produce a recruitment video – OMG how embarrassing.

Don’t give a steeplejack your camera or interview him after a couple of pints.

Gaz top ‘a children’s TV presenter’ was interviewing us all and the brief was simple, relax and be honest.

Some anecdotes from the older steeplejacks, started out pleasant until ‘cut we can’t print that’ and then asking us questions about wages and working conditions, whilst drinking pints of beer down, before the wasps landed in them, in the mid-day sun – what did they think they were going to get?

Not all of us gave a bad account of ourselves, but if they had briefed us on what they wanted, and said keep the language down, and don’t mention lodging away stories, they might have had a chance, on a personal note I had an extra cringe as the sound man was my neighbour.

To be fair, they were honest and relaxed.


Considering a career in the Steeplejack industry?

Years later, I entered the world of building site management, contract management and construction project management, and in the earlier years was faced with employing site managers to supervise safety critical works in the rail sector, the majority of labour had rail experience, not construction.

I pulled in some steeplejack foreman, and they aced it, yes they were trained and did the subsequent courses, but hands on they had a natural risk assessment ability built in and that is the essence of leaders. If you as a youngster are looking to enter the steeplejack industry, I have put together some links below from the UK, United States and Australia.

Considering a career in the Steeplejack industry?

Modern Day Steeplejacks

Back in my day we worked without fall arrest systems or safety harnesses 'free climbing' things have moved on, placing safety as number one using structure, risk assessment and clear communication.

High Rise Maintenance

Refurbishing Victoria centre flats in Nottingham, considered an eyesore for years, we used cradles and bosun’s chairs to completely clad and stone dash the outside, including installation of window sills, concrete repairs and sealant works.