Sunday, October 19, 2014

A little bit of whimsy

I began a little whimsical journey the other day - sparked by an old rusty tin, I started thinking about buried treasure, lost libraries, lost words...and before I knew it, I was preparing pages for a new 'book'.

I wondered if there was a record of lost words; words that had been in use, but which were now considered extinct in a way. I discovered the website Phrontistery and trawled through all those beautiful lost words.

I tore some paper, painted it front and back with black tea.



Sat down with walnut ink and in a deliberately unimpressive handwriting style wrote out the words onto the wee pages.


I made seven bundles, wrapped them with crochet cotton and went out to the vegetable garden.


I dug a smallish hole, not too deep, and buried them.




Whimsy.

I will see what they are like in a few months - but Barry warns me I probably should check them a few times before Christmas as we have loads of worms in there and they might devour the pages, rather than just nibble them.

I'm not sure what creative muse struck me or why, but the deed is done. Lost words have been buried, to be resurrected later and maybe if I'm lucky, to form a book of sorts.  No idea if it will work, but it's been a little path I couldn't not go down, once I'd started thinking about it.

Whimsy indeed.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Lightning Jobber

And what a great name that is!  I had never heard of a Lightning Jobber until a month or so ago,when on a random interweb wander I found myself looking at the Letterpress Classifieds at Australia New Zealand Printmakers...my first ever visit to their site.

My breath was taken away when I saw they had a press for sale.  This may not be very exciting to those in the US where letterpress presses are all over, and in the UK and Europe where there are also probably many; but here in Australia we just don't have a lot. We seemed to toss them out when they were done with; and we didn't have many to begin!


So... I took the plunge and approached the fellow who was selling, and after much convolution and stress (organising to move a very very heavy 1897 press from Melbourne to Maleny is no task for the faint-hearted) my Lightning Jobber has arrived.


The box of tricks that accompanied it - I will have fun familiarising myself with them all!


On one of our recent quick trips to Melbourne we had about 15 minutes to visit the fellow and see the press before rushing off to a meeting.  Here it was in its garage home in Melbourne.


And here it is in its new studio home in Maleny - I think it looks like it belongs.



I have occasionally mentioned my love of letterpress and dreams of owning such a press, here on my blog, and I can hardly believe I've made a start!  I don't know when I'll get a moment to spend time playing, but it is wonderful to think about all of the opportunities that now lie ahead. Big happy sigh.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Layouts, drafts and doodles

I am in amongst a couple of calligraphy commissions which really means I am in the studio for various lengths of time writing and re-writing the same words! Measuring up some lines, then working out nib sizes, writing them out, checking the layout, adding emphasis here or there, changing nib sizes to see what happens.

I think, I hope, I might have just found the right layout for both of them for now.

So I have ruled up the paper once again, and during the week I will hopefully write them out properly.

Some close-ups of the working drafts.


Different nib size and a few words I think I can delete.


Quite like this of, if only the f was somewhat straighter!


And my table as it appears at the end of another day...


But then I just had to go play for a bit, burning more beautiful tengucho paper.  Despite the fact these probably look like fish scales, I am thinking about clouds and how to express clouds...




It is quite a lovely, drifty, exploration and every now and again I catch an idea, a thought or a possible expression and have to get it down or try it out. Fortunately there is no looming deadline on clouds and I am free to meander through them for a bit longer.

To finish - one of the best parts of this weekend, was to head down to Redland Museum today to attend the opening of Personal Histories - a remarkable international book arts exhibition, conceived of and curated by Robyn Foster.  It was wonderful to meet Robyn in person and see what a gorgeous job she has down with these books; and to meet fellow book artist Terence Uren for the first time, and to catch up with Helen Malone.

Barry, Susan and I were there so it was a great little gathering. In amongst all the excitement, I failed to take any shots which could be shared here, but do pop over to the Personal Histories blog - lots of loveliness. And if you get the chance - the show is absolutely worth a visit.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Around the place...

Work-work and bathroom repair/renovations have certainly kept me from the studio for what seems aeons.   I have nothing new to show or share, but took this photo yesterday afternoon as the sun set. The light beamed through one window, across the dining room and onto this wall, perfectly illuminating this painting. I walked out of the office and this is what I saw.


Moments like that remind you that nature does art even if you don't.

So I wandered around and photographed a few more moments around the place - quite a mixed bag. It is Spring time and definitely warming up, and the orchids in the book wall are blooming.



We found a nest down the back and brought it inside. I can never look at a nest without awe and wonder at how beautifully crafted they are.


As I look out the kitchen window (you get loads of reflections from the back windows) I see how well the wall is rusting, and I glimpse the peace flag weather grams still blowing in the breeze at the top of the driveway.


I mentioned renovations. Barry asked the builders to keep an eye out for something or somebody in the wall cavity. I had heard scrabbling noises in there a while ago and knew that somebody was making a life in there. The builders found this desiccated water dragon lizard.  Sadly it must have run out of food in there, and not been able to work out how it got in and therefore how to get out.  It looks very much like a wee Tyrannosaurus I thought.


And this one is from a week or so ago. Our Pace rainbow flag was hung on the wall of the shed/studio carport, and as I walked to the car I saw this great reflection.


 I like the random rainbow of peace...

Hopefully we'll be back to normal art-making transmission soon!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A theme is emerging...

Maleny Printmakers are holding their second Collectables exhibition in November (7, 8 & 9).

Each printmaker works on high quality paper measuring 13.5cm (h) x 11.5cm (w) which means each print can fit in a CD case. Last year we had 120 prints on show and it was a stunning exhibition.

I expect there will be around the same number this year and I have been getting my prints ready - making 10 prints into editions of 10 means we each prepare around 100 prints for sale, which is a lot of work.

I wasn't sure what I would do this year or what it might all look like; but a theme has definitely emerged.

Whilst I also have poppies and alphabets and embossed asemic writing, the main theme coming through for me is birds and feathers and nests. I clearly haven't quite got it out of my system yet!

Here's a preview of some of the prints that I hope to show:

A series of blue feathers...




A rusty bird that may not make the cut...


Despite their difficult beginnings, the willy wagtail prints are looking OK for now



A lovely sepia-toned feather print


And of course the feather and the nest on that lovely goyu paper.



 It feels good to be on track with my printmaking and not necessarily rushing at the last minute. There is still plenty of work to do - selecting prints, signing, numbering, naming and packaging, but that seems like the sir tot work you can do in the veining or in short bursts, without needing to really set aside a serious stretch of tim win the studio.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Instead of working...

Despite the fact I have a couple of commissions lined up that will be paying me money to do them; and the other fact that I'm preparing for more work-work in Melbourne, which also helps pay the bills, I got distracted.

In fact it doesn't take much to distract me I must say.

There I was planning to draw up all these lines for calligraphy and work on a couple of layouts when the siren song of incense burning called me. And who am I to resist?

Its an interesting reflection for me how some works take over your life your mind, your thoughts, your dreams.  This most recent book with Susan, which isn't actually due until the end of January, has done that to me in the past week or so. I close my eyes and think of options, I try things out, I scribble notes, I dream of more ideas.  And yet, I have months to do it in!

The commissions on the other hand are due in the next few weeks and I should really be head down bum up and working on them.  But I will.

So I started trying cut out some letters from the scraps of pages I had left over.

And then I tried to burn the edges.  I like the life in these words, despite the fact they have been burnt.



This jumble of them all together was particularly nice I thought.


Book, before and after.



I still find burning with incense the best way for me to control the burn. I sit quietly in the studio, with my candle burning and dip my incense stick in to get a flame and that hot-red look, then burn a bit, then re-light the incense. All so slow and meditative.

You can see by the number of holes in my backing paper how often the incense tip breaks - I end up putting out little scorches here and there as I go along.

I was checking here to see if you can burn the top edge of a page effectively.  So much fun.



As ever, I don't know where this will lead or even if I'll use it in the final piece. But half the joy of making is the exploring and testing I think, those lovely unanticipated meanders, following an idea or two down a path...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Complementing each other...

Barry and I have begun work on another project together. Once again it's fun to observe how we each bring our own ways of seeing and thinking and doing to a project and yet how complementary the work ends up being.

Barry began with some metal.  I then tried to work out how reflect some of the detail and patterns in the metal.

I tried tracing it. Which was pretty good, even tho it meant I only chose a few highlights and not the whole design.


And then I began to do rubbings...

I was most excited! This way I could get a really good sense of the design without too much trouble.



I had forgotten how much fun rubbings were.

I was hoping to use these images to cut some embossing plates and be able to emboss a modified version of the design - to hint at it, and give a sense of it without trying to replicate it perfectly as I knew that would take me forever and be beyond me.

And then.

I looked at the metal.

I looked at the paper.

I looked at the press.

And I thought, why not?





Oh me oh my, I used the metal as an embossing plate and transferred the whole design into the paper.

I. was. over. the. moon. happy.

My mind has a thousand ideas now and Barry's metal stash will never be safe again!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Finding ways

Susan and I have begun another collaborative book.  We set some parameters, had wild-round-the -world discussions about options and we each went home to play and explore.

Today we were getting together to swap pages - we each prepared around 14 pages so that we could give each other 7 and keep 7 and build a book around the two sets of pages.

We had added another dimension into the work this time - burning.  This is where it gets funny; over the past few days we have let each other know where we were up to and what we had done; and in the texts and emails it become clear that we had left our last meeting with quite different ideas about what we would do!

I thought we would prepare pages and do a bit of burning, then hand them over for more burning and destruction.

Susan thought we were burning pages and handing them over.

So with trepidation we go together today thinking it might be very very ugly and that we would need to modify, reverse, and possibly start again on some parts.


In the end we decided to work with what we each delivered. They are so very very different, but there is immense potential in what we have in our hands.  In fact I am quite excited by the possibilities now and am looking forward to seeing what happens next.



They actually sit together well - hiding, revealing, covering, protecting...



Here are my piles of trials, so funny that I left all my delicate burnt pages behind and just burnt into my Arches Velin pages!




And played with wax and water...



I remain hopeful that something beautiful may emerge from this intriguing mix!