Sunday, August 28, 2016

Piles of peace

When I have ink on my press, I try to use as much of it as I can.  Like most folk I don't like wasting things, so with a lovely grey ink primed, off I went.

I have also decided to wrap my forms of type with Imagine Peace on them, and store them in a box, so I can always pick them up and print swiftly.  If I find I need the letters for another piece of work, no worries, I can undo the form and use the letters, then re-assemble it.

It pleases me to have imagine peace ready to go at a moment's notice!

And so I used up more trimmings and printed a heap of cards.







There is something rather luscious about having piles of peace around...



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

Things in other peoples (sic) work influence you and I am all for that as long as you make it your own thing. You know, you want to speak louder than they do when you have finished. 

Rosalie Gascoigne

Once more into the world of pondering art with Rosalie as my provoker of thoughts.

This is always such a thorny issue to open up or discuss I think.  Despite thinking it would be fabulous to think I was the first and the only person to ever truly have thought what I thought or do what I did, I know that in reality we are all touched and moved by others' work and that in some way, it finds a way into your mind or your heart and you may embed it somehow in your work.

I have no time for copies. I have no time for people doing work that is so close to someone else's that it might as well have that person's name on it, except that it is usually not as good as the original and labelling it thus would be unfair to the originator.

I like it most when there is a long line between 'inspired by' or 'influenced by' and the work I am looking at, not a short line the I can draw distinctly.

I think Rosalie's words are an honest acceptance of what happens;  but her final sentence is what matters. Yes, let your work be influenced in some way, but make sure that it is clearly your voice that is heard when it is done. Not an echo of another, but yours, having taking a thought or idea and having translated and moulded into your way of making and being. Make sure you speak louder.


I don't know the name, but it's by Rosalie Gascoigne and I really like it...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Truly Under Construction

Life is full of variety, and variety is the spice of life it seems, so my life is very spicy right now!

I am working on cut letter awards, more lettering for a shop; some lettering work for a new building; a letterpress calendar page, two other letterpress commissions and of course, organising and making work for the show at Pine Rivers that I mentioned here.

In amongst it all, we are heading off for a cultural art-exchange to Japan.  As part of the exchange we will be doing some workshops so we are busy as a team designing the process - we will have folk making concertina books with pouches, and then making things to go in the pouches - stamping metal, painting cards, printmaking and brush-making. Should be fun, but it's all a bit mad.

Whilst we are there, we are fortunate to be having our own exhibition in a very elegant gallery in Sano.  The theme is very much around Australian nature and we have Barry's metal work, Christine's textiles, Noela's jewellery, Merv's painting and my books.

I am taking my Under Construction books - they seem to fit the Japanese aesthetic and are very nature focussed. They also have calligraphy in them, which is a nice tie-in to Japan - I have taught western calligraphy each time we have visited.

Hence the first of the Under Construction references.

Under Construction I

photograph by Penny Riddoch
 Under Construction V

Photograph by Penny Riddoch
Some details and some of the calligraphy close up.




And then there's the other sort of Under Construction...

This is the room I am making some work for in Melbourne. It is clearly still a construction site but I am getting my ideas together and hope to progress things again when I visit next week.

The curves are beautiful (yet challenging) and it feels good to be so far above the noise below. I hope it will be quiet sanctuary of sorts.


 And if it's under construction, then we have to wear hard hats and hi-vis!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

White words

The group of women who have been helping organise and support Regional Print activities  to celebrate the Print Council of Australia's 50th birthday are holding a small show/display at Pine Rivers Gallery in November.

Even tho that it a way away, the work basically has to be ready by mid-late September and with a bunch of things on the go, I felt I really needed to get down and start printmaking in order to have something ready for the show.

I had a great day in the studio on Saturday - printed and then printed some more.

It was a very time consuming day; lots and lots of fiddly little processes to sort out but a great sense of achievement at the end.

It's not as if I'm finished by any means, but I have managed to get the main part of the printing done - still lots of steps to follow, so do watch this space.

One of my favourite images from the day - white ink on white Japanese kozo paper stuck on the studio window with the sky coming  through...


And a partner image.


My two favourite mistakes of the day.

I like them so much I have trimmed them down to use for something else!




Detail of a mistaken W.


And some shots of what I was trying to do...



Half way through peeling off the tape.


By the end of the day I had printed enough pages for an edition of 5 books with two more sets for an exhibition copy and a hors de commerce copy. I had also printed two broadsides which were serendipitous and fun.

It took nearly an hour to print the seven copies for one page. There were seven pages to print, so it was like a full day in the print shop just head down, bum up printing. I was sticking tape down, inking up, peeling tape away for each page and that was might fiddly, but there results were oh so very rewarding.

Next to the sewing machine, the covers and the stitching of the books.




Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare. 

Kendo Yoshida

I figured that Kendo Yoshida was either male or lived along time ago, or both, because I really would rather this quote spoke about chatting with folk - men AND women of unseen generations, but I didn't let the gender equity issue get in my way of pondering. As I wandered the interweb looking for information, I found that he was a Buddhist monk, born in 1283 and who amongst other things wrote a collection of essays titled "Essays in Idleness" which sound delightful!

The image this quote evokes in my mind's eye and the sense I get from it, is one of such pleasure. Anytime somebody suggests sitting quietly and uninterruptedly reading (not necessity alone, I think reading in silence can be companionable) I respond with the biggest deepest sigh of delight. Such an exquisite gift to be left alone to read and ponder and disappear in the worlds of the words...


Candlelight, not lamplight, but lovely.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The big and the small

As I continue my letterpress adventures I continue to refine what I do with my type - where and how I store it in particular.

So far, I have most of the lead type in type drawers in type cabinets. Tick.

The wooden type sits in other drawers, which sit on top of each other and not in a cabinet at all. Not so much a tick.

There are also five more drawers of type sitting underneath a table in the studio which needs to sit in a cabinet. Definitely no tick.

So I have some thinking to do and the past week has seen two completely different sorts of resolutions.

Firstly the small.

I found this ingenious type cabinet in NZ - being made by the printing museum folk there.  It is small - about A5 size and yet, works brilliantly.

It is economical space-wise,  and useful for small sized (say 12pt) lead type.

Here's how it rolls...

It comes like a mini 3-drawer filing cabinet.


Each of the drawers has compartments for type.


Which, when you pull them out and put them side by side, work just like a California job case! How brilliant is that?



I was over the moon when it arrived this week and thought I would be able to start transferring my small font sizes into it, which would then free up space in the cabinets for some of the ones sitting under the table.

The second resolution came about most unexpectedly. The antiques and collectable gathering "Recyclerama" arrived in Maleny again on Saturday, and as we wandered through we came across a type cabinet, without any drawers.

Clearly for most folk this would not be helpful; but for me, with 5 drawers of type with no home yet, and another 10 empty drawers sitting in a cupboard, this seemed perfect. This cabinet could be filled with all my random drawers and random type, and I can modify some of my drawers to take all my wooden type and then it will have a home as well.



So home it came with us and we sat it in the sun for bit to dry out and whenever the time is right, Barry will do the hard yards of sanding and cleaning it and I will then be able to start filling it.

The small issue of exactly where it will fit remains to be solved; but I am sure we can move something around!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Lots of cutting

I do get offered some lovely jobs to do and this one is for such a good cause and is being done with lot of lovely cutting and white on white.


I have to use 5 letters for each piece. There are to be five completed pieces. For each piece I have to cut 10 letters because of the nature of the stacking of the letters so that is 50 letters. Each letter is about 8cm high.



Then I have to trim half of those letters so they sit above the underlying letter letter nicely, which is like cutting 25 letters again. This isn't how they will sit, but I did enjoy the fanned look and for a moment, thought I might change the plan and do them this way!



Then I decided to make each piece unique by cutting small holes in each letter - so triangles and upside down triangles, circles, squares and diamonds. I think each letter has about ten of these small holes; so again for each piece there are about 50 small holes to be cut as well.

I think you get the picture!

I have been sensible and broken up my cutting up of letters, with drawing them, and in-between cutting doing other tasks to rest my finger.

But still, there's a lot of hand-cutting going on.

And I have collected so many trimmings - this isn't all of them by any stretch of the imagination. My recycled paper bag for pulping and paper making has been filled.






And still, there is attaching letters to paper to do (all the letters are now attached to each other) and then attaching paper to the frame.


I have commissioned the first box frame for hanging and I have to experiment this week to see if they will sit well or if I have to come up with some other 'brilliant' idea to present them.

Fingers, sore cutting ones and all, crossed!

Hopefully the finished pieces aren't too far away and I will be able to share more of them soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” 

 Shaun Nieguist

Such an interesting thought.

Intermittently I spend time reflecting on my life and whether I am doing the things I say I want to do. It may take the form of sitting down and writing a list of things I want to have in my life (things like calm not acquisitions!); ways I want to be in the world; things I want to be spending my time on; and people I want to be spending my time with.

At times like these I feel as if I am almost attempting to create the perfect life of Fiona; imagining me being the best version of me I can be.  So that's not a bad thing I guess; thinking about the best you can be.

And then I stop and reflect some more and see what it might take to make one or more of these things happen in my life. How to make changes. How to make small changes and how to make big changes.

Barry and I often say to each other - "if it is to be then it us up to me."

Which is kind of nice shorthand for "don't just say you want to do something - do it!"

And so I try to consider a couple of changes I think I can make, I become more mindful of them; put them on a list, or try to build them into my life some way. Sometimes I succeed - sometimes not! Sometimes it is hard to work out what has to give, in order to bring the new way into being.

I am better at sitting quietly for a few minutes a day; but am yet to master regular cleaning of the decks. Sigh. I think the quote captures where the hard part lies.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Teaching Lombardic Versals

I had a great 3 hour session with design and typography students at the University of the Sunshine Coast today.

In a highly digital age and environment, some lecturers are trying to offer a return to the hand so to speak; and Irene (a calligrapher) is hosting Back to Basics sessions.  My good friend Helen Irving ran a couple of sessions with them; and suggested they might invite me along as well.

Given the participants know a bit about typography and letters, but not how to make them, draw them or write them as calligraphers do, I decided to do some drawn letters - the fabulous Lombardic Versals.  I think they are fabulous because they are so flamboyant and offer a richness for decoration and expression.

I started by showing my 14-15th Century antiphonal page - on vellum.



I spoke about how these letters were no shrinking violets - they called attention to themselves and to the paragraph, verse or point that you needed to pay attention to. In the Australian vernacular they really said "look at moy, look at moy".

They are so intricately decorated. We spoke about how the decoration could be outside the letter (surrounding it), inside the counters of the letter, and within the letter form itself. There are good examples of all three options here.





We started the adventure by tracing the letters - to get a feel for some of the funny lumps and bumps within them. I had lots of resources for them to look at and get inspired by, including one of your illuminated Bs Gemma!


Then we wrote the letters by hand, and it suddenly became much harder.


The we set off to up scale them and make them decorative. A diversity of gorgeousness was the result.












They achieved a huge amount in the short time we had together, and everybody left feeling the time had really flown.  It is always good to share passion for hand lettering and writing so I was really pleased to be able to do that.

Thanks so much for inviting me USC.