Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A few teaching gigs

The beginning of the year is such an interesting time to stop and look at the shape of the year ahead.  I love having a sense of the year's shape - the outline, the sketched in bits that tell me a bit about where I'll be and what I'll be doing.  I'm not quite sure why that matters to me, given that the year usually takes me on a roller coast of a ride that I could never have planned for!

Still, I am looking at the year 2017 and there are commissions due, conferences to run and attend, exhibitions to view, an open studio to have, teaching gigs here and there and the Celebration of Books to help coordinate. Looks interesting!

A quick shot from my website page 'Workshops' where you can find most of the details.

I have three workshops booked in already - the first is next month in Toowoomba.  I will be teaching a new workshop "Building Narrative in Artists' Books".

Here's the blurb:

When we make a book ourselves we are often thrilled that we have made the container – and pay less attention to what is contained. This workshop will focus on building narrative in your book-making, encouraging you to find ways to use the book form to tell a story – short and sweet, simple or complex, political or fairytale. 

We will explore techniques to offer readers an interesting experience. The book will use a simple binding, and focus more on the content and sequence, using techniques to encourage enquiry and interest in the reading. We will make a small book with a cover. 

I think it is important for us to stop and think about what we are trying to say with a book; and to pay attention to Structure, Content, Materials and Sequence. I am looking forward to sharing my thinking with an enthusiastic group and to see what they do!

My second workshop of the year, is in June, with a return to Wrapt in Rocky, for a 3-Day Wrapt Retreat.

I will once again be teaching "Quietly and Gently" but modified from 5 days to 3 days.

The blurb goes:

Sometimes we just need to be quiet, to slow down and be peaceful. 

 This workshop will explore the beauty and elegance of working white on white. The limited palette provides both challenges and opportunities, with serene outcomes. Working on paper, you will have the opportunity to explore a myriad of ways to create texture and meaning on paper, using different materials and techniques. Embossing, printing, cutting, lettering and stitching will all form part of the week, and bookmaking will bring it all together. 

Participants will create a sample book of techniques as well as a light slipcase to protect the book. Suitable for all levels.

Feel free to contact Wrapt in Rocky here if you are interested in attending.

The third workshop of the year is booked in, but is a mystery workshop!  We haven't decided just what I will teach; but I am booked in with the Calligraphers of South East Queensland in October.

You can find updates and details on the 'Workshops' page here on my blog and on my website.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Collagraph printing

During the week a friend helped me print some collagraph plates.  I had made the plates as part of a two day workshop - day 1 make the plates, day 2 print the plates - but we had headed off to Japan before day 2 so I never got to learn how to print them.

Altho I love printmaking I am a real novice and certainly don't know any tricks of the trade like I do with say book-making, so it was special to be able to spend time with a person who knows how to think about printmaking. Even tho she is an intaglio expert, she could guide me thru this relief printing process as well.

I dived in and over-inked straightaway! Laugh. If I had paid attention I would only have inked lightly and left more of those lovely empty spaces.

We tried a viscosity ink approach and I thinned ink, and used hard and soft rollers. I'm not sure I really got it, but I could see a few of the things that happened and understand why.

Inked and ready to go. I loved seeing these centre lines drawn on the plastic over the bed of the press - clearly to help with registration! 

How it looked after printing.  As ever, some interesting bits and pieces and so much analysis needed to understood why some parts work better than others. The plate, the amount of ink, the thickness of the ink, where I applied the ink, the sequence of colours, and so on and so forth.

I do love some corners, with the their empty spaces and sense of embossing.

A few notes and a nice still life.

And so I tried NOT to over ink the second plate, which worked well for the first layer of ink. Tick. Except afterwards, I wished I had inked the lower half as well. You live and learn don't you?

This ink really needed to be thinned far more than I did, which was a shame - it overpowered things by the end.

As evidenced!

Yet once again, I loved a few of the parts and the lovely texture and patterns they provided.

So much more to learn and practice, but I have a much better starting place than I did before this week. I learnt about barrier cream,  some registration tricks, how to let the blankets fall from the drum, what tape to use to mask off and so many more things. Spending time with artists in their studios you always learn so many extra bits that just add to your knowledge and make things easier and better. Thank you my friend!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“A good book is always on tap; it may be decanted and drunk a hundred times, and it is still there for further imbibement”. 

 Holbrook Jackson

Somebody who enjoys a glass of red probably wrote these words I reckon; or perhaps  a whisky drinker or a drinker of other spirits.

I imagine its about the decanter - which you can just keep filling up I guess - and that sense of ongoing renewal. Or the idea of beer on tap just flowing.

A good book does offer itself to you time and time again; I can, and do, keep books to read over again and I often enjoy them just as much the second time round, even if for different reasons.

Books can really be the gift that keeps on giving I think.

A well stocked wine cellar!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fun with fabric

Not much actual art happening that can be shared and shown just yet; so it's back to the clothes I was sewing before Christmas.

It has been a bit of  revelation just how much I enjoy making clothes for myself and how much time it can makeup in my brain! It's also funny to observe how when I am in the middle of making, I am constantly trying to find ways to get back to the sewing machine, grabbing half an hour here, setting aside time there...I guess that's the definition of an addiction or obsession.

I haven't touched fabric this year except to pre-wash a stash that I hope to make up, but before Christmas I got a bit done, including my Christmas Day frock, as featured with chickens previously.

I liked the detail on the pocket, and the sort of underskirt in black - added some length and also added a bit of interest I think.

It fits really well and is a nice cool summer shift.

I whipped up some black trousers the week before Christmas - I like to wear comfortable black trousers when I travel and these are very easy and comfy and still look OK.  I turned the pocket fabric around so that I could use the selvedge at theta of the pocket as a bit of decoration - the selvedge was so lovely.

Nothing flash but very serviceable with a dash of interest.

I also completed this loose top in mid December. Another summer top, loose, cool and comfortable.
The fabric was some of my mum's stash that I kept and it's nice to have made something with it.

Back to hand stitching now - edging closer to completing the commission and sending it off.  Handing over another one next week I hope and getting words cut for a different one next week as well. Phew.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Whilst Barry and I have been under the weather this week, not much art got done.

We mooched about a bit, continued the new year tidy up and clean up of the house, and generally took it quietly.

So this is a selection of random moments over the past few weeks.

We spent Christmas in Sydney, at Coogee beach and there were some lovely moments, early in the morning, looking out to sea. I love the way shooting into the sun changes everything...

The sea baths.

The quintessentially Australian Surf Life Saver flags...

My Dad heading through to the cliffs for a good look at the ocean

 and I got to go feed the chooks and hold one (in my best Christmas Day frock and all). No animals were harmed in the taking of this photo.

We returned home to a hydrangeas in full bloom. I love love love this colour.

Managed to quietly sort some type we collected in Sydney. Thanks Mo!

When I say collect, my Dad very kindly drove it home in his car - no way could we have posted it or carried it on the plane!

Today I started to play with mono prints - this trial used Caran D'Ache water-soluble crayons. Interesting!

I accidentatllygot some ink on my embossing tool that makes my mark, so I had to clean it off and the  it seemed easiest to just emboss, emboss, emboss and wear it off. I did so on a tissue and was surprised that it worked so well!

And as I left the studio this afternoon, I took this photo of the first flower ever on our ponytail palm - fascinating.

 I am still finishing two commissions; one is ready to hand over (yay), and new work is getting ready. But slowly, slowly...

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“It’s impossible” said pride. 
“It’s risky” said experience. 
“It’s pointless” said reason. 
“Give it a try” whispered the heart.


A whimsical quote for the first Thursday Thoughts of 2017. As I cycled through art, life and books I am pondering life this week, and I've always liked these words.

They aren't difficult to ponder, they aren't earth-shattering in their depth and consideration; instead they are a simple way of recognising the dimensions we bring to decision-making and the dimensions we sometimes need to quieten.

How many times as we think about starting something new or doing something differently do we come upon voices like these?

I didn't know anything about Reason v Intuition as two ends of a spectrum until I was well into the workforce - it was a revelation to me that not everybody just instinctively 'knew' things!  One of my own favourite ways of describing how this happens for me is "I come to quiet knowings..."

I listen to my intuition; and I always have. My gorgeous mum was highly intuitive and I learned it was possible to make a successful and happy life listening to it.  Here, the heart encourages us to give it a try - and sometimes we just have to.

Stitching scraps of copper with wire - I just had to give it a try...

Peace Mends the World 2013.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


I must admit I'm a sucker for a sparkler, and we surprised ourselves by staying up until midnight to greet the new year; celebrating Hogmanay with a Scottish friend.  Sparklers just make you feel better so it was great to have plenty to play with on the cusp of a new year.

In between Christmas and New Year's Eve I received some new type. An excellent Christmas present.  It is a set of caps - Delphian 30pt and I really like their elegance.

As part of our tradition, Barry and I make and send New Year cards, rathe than Christmas cards, and we both decided to do letterpress cards this year.   I thought what a great way to christen my new font, and to test myself with a different, slightly tricky, lock up.

As ever, I enjoy the back of the locked up chase as well - and this time the writing on my apron peeks through the spacer in the bottom left!

Once again the stairs in the shed studio performed well as a drying rack.

And in the end, I like the simplicity of the card, and I like knowing it was a bit tricky to do and I did it.

 It's always a nice way to start the year, with a bit of low key creativity.

With more wishes for a kind and gentle new year, filled with creativity, care and connection.

Happy 2017!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Looking back on 2016 with hope for 2017

We've arrived at the end of a year and the beginning of a new one.  Around this time each year we stop, look back, think about our year and how it went; and think about how we'd like the next year to be. 

Looking back involves spending time looking over the work I made in the course of the year, and the pieces that ended up meaning the most to me - either because they were significant; or simply because they made me smile. It's become part of a tradition on the blog to create a list and in doing so I remember so much more about what I have done though the year. 

For previous lists you can see: 

It was a fairly lean year in the making stakes for me and yet I discovered I had more than 10 to choose from for the Top 10, so from the 2016 archive, listed alphabetically and not in any order of favouritism, we have:

1. Daily Rainbow Words

These make me smile and in a way I wonder why I never thought of doing them before!  I love the ritual of choosing a word each morning and here they are in rainbow coloured wonder. 70 words in packet so lots of options.

2. Fed Up

2016 was a year of commissions and this was one of them. I made five pieces as gifts for the five men who host the Fed Up lunch to raise funds for family violence services.  The five works were siblings not quintuplets - the same letters but with different patterns cuts into them and slightly different layouts. 

3. Go Girl!

This piece came about because I had ink left on the roller. I grabbed some random wood type and one of my favourite phrases and there we were. I intend to make this an open edition variant - using the same words with different inks and different type. It too makes me smile!

4. I Lost my Words

After my mum's sudden death in December 2015 I just found it so hard to create or make - to find something to say; to draw from inside me anywhere. As a woman who works with words, I felt like I had lost my words. And so I set myself a small task of working with the word WORDS - to see how many ways they could disappear... this is one in a series.

5. Imagine Peace

One of my favourite innovations this year has been to use up ink on the rollers and offcuts of nice paper to make business cards with Imagine Peace, using a variety of typefaces. I carry these in my bag and hand them out at random and offer them to folk in different places.  They make me happy.

6. In Peace and Stillness

My biggest commission of the year and one with loads of learning in it - putting words on windows in a new service for homeless women in Melbourne. Working with the women was an honour and a joy, and creating a space for reflection and meditation was precious. So so precious.

7. Lost for Words

Continuing on with the notion of losing my words, this is the only artists' book I made this year. I used wood type to produce a small edition, masking off the letters as the pages progressed.  

8. Peace Books in the Landscape

Barry and I had wanted to do this for ages - etch some big standing books for our garden, and we finally made time to do it and I love them! With words of peace within them, and loose circles and semi circles on their covers, they are a beautiful collaboration - words, books, metal...

9. Quietly and Gently

It was a year of teaching as well and one of my favourite things for the year was the sampler book I prepared for the course I taught at Wrapt in Rocky - Quietly and Gently.  It was all white on white, exploring techniques, working on, above and through the surface and I just loved the book; and the class!

10. Words and more words

This broadsheet came about because I forgot to remove some of the masking tape on the wooden type before inking up again. It is a reminder of happy mistakes and I love it for what it is; and what is says about process...

 Thanks for coming along on the journey back in time.

For 2017 - I wish for a year of hope; of peace; and of kindness. A gentle year in which we find our way back to our best selves and in which we create and make and continue to share.

Thank you all for the time you spend here - I look forward to another year of connecting in blog-land. Go well.