Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book meeting day

I love how in my diary today it read "9.30am Books meet - Susan's". It might sound mad, but it has become a regular part of our collaboration, where after we have worked our way through the ups and downs and twists and turns, our books get to meet. We know what it means when we write it in our diaries, and it feels as if it's almost a necessary politeness to let our 'sibling' books meet each other when they are complete.

We always enjoy the moments - knowing a fair bit about the book the other has been making; or not, as the case may be. This time we had shared much of our thinking and process as we worked to find a way to make a 'recipe' book not look like it was made by throwing this and that together and hoping. So even tho we had a fair idea of what to expect, there were still lots of lovely surprises as well.

We both loved them both.

They tell quite different stories and have used the parameters of the cards quite differently; but once again, they seem to sit well together.

Artists' books are not always easy to photograph, and trying to show two together looking beautiful is quite difficult!

So in the end, we go for angles and interesting corners and elements...

They both offer the viewer a lot as you turn the pages, spend time with them, and look at the many details.

And to finish - an abstract shot of Susan's cover - delicious!

There was another satisfying sense of accomplishment and achievement today when we looked at our work together and reflected on how we had resolved issues, made tough choices and discovered lots of new ideas that we can't wait to test out! I'll tell the story of my book and show you it in detail soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Of nests...

I think like many others, I am enamoured of feathers and nests and eggs and birds as imagery and as symbols.  Somehow for me they feel accessible and friendly and something that we can relate too, something that brings out a certain gentleness in us perhaps.

I like the idea of flight, and of drifting; of new life and of nurture. Birds, feathers, eggs and nests offer these things I think!

Maleny Printmakers are hosting another Collectables exhibition in November - all small prints which fit in CD cases and cost $25 - so I have been trying to make some prints to show and sell.

This is an edition of nests I have made, on beautiful soft goyu paper from Talas in Brooklyn, NY.

The paper is light and feathery, yet strong, which reflects how nests are. So often when winds have blown and leaves have been shredded; the nest remains.

I wonder what the collective noun for nests is?

Such beautiful feathery edges...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Testing, testing...

I am involved in an interesting art project at the moment which is really pushing the boundaries of the kind of thing I do.  It's a big installation of artwork and four of us are working on it.

Can you tell it's still hush-hush and secret squirrel? I can't say much about it at all yet, but I did want to share these lovely images of test-plates I had done last week.

I am going to be writing some calligraphy and then getting the calligraphy laser etched onto metal or a similar material.  So I have been learning heaps about materials and techniques.

Most of the work involves composite aluminium, so I wanted to see what was possible using that.

You can't laser cut through to the black core of the composite because it will 'ball' and rub and look messy, rather than leave clean lines I discovered. So the only option is to laser etch and I think it doesn't give me the dark text against the lighter background I was looking for. Altho in other settings it would be lovely!

Funny how with the light on the composite here, it actually looks like it could be used. The second one without direct light shows it won't be a starter.

So then I wondered about etching plain old aluminium...same effect really, too light.

And then Craig suggested the Engraving Laminate - silver with a dark core.  I like it. Nice crisp, clean lines, nice dark-light contrast and it comes in the size I need!

It is always so interesting when you move out of your comfort zone of ink and paper into other worlds and materials, to discover what is possible and how you can apply what you do in a different way. I'm enjoying the exploration and looking forward to the whole thing coming together.

But in the meantime, I basically now need to work out what to write, get the words agreed, get the style of writing agreed, then practice writing, get the layout right, then write it, then scan it, then get it formatted to the right file for the laser etcher and scaled up to the size of the board, etched, delivered and installed and we're done!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Exhilarating exhibition

I was wandering through my photographs the other day and came across this whole set of photos from an exhibition by Glen Skien which Susan, Steph and I visited back in May. I can't believe I haven't shared them before now! Probably says a bit about how busy life can get...

Honestly, it was one of the most moving and beautiful exhibitions I have seen in a long time; it took my breath away and left me in awe and wonder.

Sometimes works of art can humble you. Sometimes you just feel as if you have come home. Sometimes they make you gasp, then forget to breathe again.

So many times in this exhibition I felt that way. Every piece was deserving of time and reflection.

I didn't get all the names of works, but the creator is Glen Skien, a wonderful printmaker and story-teller, and maker of magic.


All photos were taken with my iPhone, I can't believe I forgot to take a camera with me, but it was one of the days when I was grateful that technology could let me hold a camera in my phone...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The new book continues along

I have kept the bits and pieces for this book out in the studio - lying around where I can see them and where they can begin their little conversations with me as we go along.  Every now and again the pages let me know where we're headed, and what I need to do next. It's a comforting way to build a book; working with the materials in a friendly way.

Without words I am trying to find ways to tell a story.  For many this is utterly natural and their place of beginning; for me it is not. I still want my book to be very 'me' if that makes sense; I don't want it to be a book that doesn't look like I made it; so I can't just go drawing things because that isn't really who I am.

So I am making marks and using symbols...

And cutting out little windows and printing up some images.

Susan and I have agreed that the books will meet on 20 August, and given I'm away for  a week between now and then, I do need to get a wriggle on!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A new A Letter a Week alphabet

Over at A Letter a Week 2014, the themed alphabet for the year is an alphabet of place.  An alphabet that represents, shows, or tells a story somehow of place, or a place.

I gave myself the first half of the year to ponder what I would do, and then came up with one of my favourite places to visit - New York City.

I also figured that there would be lots of alphabet options in that city, so I started to think about the words that linked to the letters.

But to begin, for some reason I felt like embossing. Despite the city's vibrancy and liveliness and occasional neon overload, white on white embossing still felt OK for me. Perhaps because it was snowing the last time we visited and all was blanketed in white and Central Park looked so beautiful.  Or maybe when I stopped to think about words that linked to letters. I let the hubbub of the city disappear and just focused on that one thing.

I cut a map of NYC into a sheet of lino and then embossed it several times. I cut these embossings up into 7cm x 7cm squares so I would have a mixed up version of the map. The letters will be written in whatever part of the map that appears on top of the pile as I go along.

Here are my first four letters - I tried to make sure each letter was memory of our visit.

A - I love the Apple store
B - Bagels; we stay around the corner from one of the best bagel shops on earth. Heaven.
C - Central Park, so beautiful
D - Downtown, as the song goes...

 On occasions it hasn't been easy to choose just one word for the letter - we have so many wonderful memories of this place. But the good news is that so far, I'm on track with the weekly commitment. Phew.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another dance, another book...

Susan and I spent a wonderful day together exploring our next collaborative books. The sun was shining and it felt like Spring was nearby, a most beautiful, beautiful day on the mountain.

We are collaborating differently again this time.  We decided that it would be fun to test out Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum's Book Artist Ideation cards.  They are a set of cards with several categories and you select one card from each category and then 5 adjective cards to set the parameters of your book.

Image sourced from Julie Chen's website
They offer groups of artists a great way to create similar yet different books; help you if you are stuck; or challenge you out of your comfort zone.

Susan and I selected the following words together - taking turns in picking a card, and agreeing on the one adjective we would "throw back" then selecting another one.

Text: None
Image: Abstract
Structure: Multiple openings
Paper: Multiple colours
Layout: Asymmetrical
Technique: High Tech
Colour: Muted/Pastel

Adjectives: Miniature, Photographic, Personal, Issue-based, Simple

Some of the selections made us happy, some of of them made us despair. Not really, but they certainly challenged us. For example, in the Text category - we got the card "None". Right, like that makes me feel comfortable! Not.

We made our selection ages ago thinking we could mull the options over - which we kind of did but kept getting stuck. One day we got together and agreed to do a mind-map exercise each with our own paper in front of us, and the key words on it, then we discussed how we thought each word could be incorporated. This was really really helpful.  It suddenly opened up a whole new way of looking at some of the options and helped me overcome some of the obstacles where I had a solution for one word; but that solution worked against one of the other words. For example Photographic and Abstract; Simple and High Tech...

We have come up with some brilliant solutions to incorporate the guidelines and are both happy that we are on our way.  Of course, we are aiming for a book that looks complete and beautiful of its own accord - that doesn't shout - "oh this was made to a recipe"; and yet we want to be able to point out the ways we responded to the guidelines.

So far so good.

We spent a good part of this morning mentoring each other - talking through ideas, suggesting possibilities, picking up each other's pages and moving them around until we saw a new way...

Here are some of the points along the pathway so far...

In the afternoon we did a series of proofs on the press to see if our ideas were working out. It was a very fulfilling day and we are both up and running now! The books are due by mid-late August and we both think we can make that happen. Will fill you in more as we go along.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Flags for Peace and wooden covers

We have quite a bit on over the next wee while so are trying hard to stay ahead and if possible get in front. So I was really pleased to finish my contributions to Flags for Peace and International Day of Peace on 21 September.

I have done some flags from old book pages which will hang on our verandah; I am continuing to make peace weathergrams that will hang on the tree at the top of the driveway and I have made two small indoor peace flags which will hang in the house or near the front door...

The main peace flags hanging in the shed-studio. It is such a funky little building with these swinging stain glass panelled doors heading into the bathroom...

The two internal flags - pebbles for peace!

It also looks as if there might be the opportunity to have some items in a new fine furniture and timber gallery-shop nearby, so I have made a couple of books that can be used as guest books. My sense is that people could have these books out at events (weddings, birthdays, farewells etc) and folk could write a message on the nice pages and the recipient would have a lovely memento of the day.

 These two wee concertina books have lovely huon pine covers and the words congratulations and celebrations written in calligraphy along the edges of the pages.

There's always a little bit of something going on...