Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Peace in the brilliant blue...

That beautiful big blue sky is with us again...

I was standing on the deck at the house and looked up the drive to the peace tree at the top. The tree is bare and beautiful; and the peace doves and remnants of the peace weathergrams were silhouetted against blue.

From about 25m away I photographed them.

Also just a little in love with the remnant seed pods or some such that point elegantly skyward.

The string remnants are gentle reminders as well - marking history in a way.

 Almost a tangle of them near the trunk.

A zoom-less view from the deck.

I hope you find these as peaceful as I do -I look up often to check them, seeing them sometimes swaying, loving that they remain years on; and that they really shine in the winter with the leaves gone.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Celebrating Books

My goodness. It is late Sunday afternoon and I am wondering how soon I can head to bed!

We have just completed our 7th Celebration of Brooks Maleny and boy was it a winner!

It was the most fabulous time with workshops, poetry readings, conversations with authors and our Big Book Club.

We baked and catered for 100s of people, enjoyed the most brilliant weather and caught up with friends new and old. Wow.

On Friday night Kate Evans (Radio National The Bookshelf) was in conversations with Bri Lee about her challenging book Eggshell Skull. It was the most sensitive investigation of the issues and a generous and open conversation.  The room was wowed. Kate has become a true friend of the Festival - this is her third visit to us; sadly I was so engrossed I failed to take any photos.

On Saturday Poetry on the Precinct had its second outing and we were fortunate to have huge blue skies and little wind. About 80 people wandered up to the precinct to sit and enjoy readings by five local poets (MTC Cronin, Robyn and Sophie Nugent, Brett Dyonissius, Viv Mohan and Angela Gardner).  It was a special place and a special day. Poetry is such an amazing form of writing - it can say so much with so little. On Saturday it most certainly made us feel.

Kate amongst the glorious green and blue.



A panorama of the crowd, the poet Angela, the space...

We returned to town for the Big Book Club where we discussed Sarah Krasnostein's book The Trauma Cleaner. This is an amazing book, touching on memory, empathy, trauma and re-building.  Every table has brilliant discussions and the plenary with Sue Collaro and Dr Clare Archer-Lean helped us all see things anew and differently.

Sue and Clare.

Sunday morning dawns on the mountain...

On Sunday morning Kate Evans once again hosted discussions with three authors about their books - Trent Dalton (Boy Swallows Universe); Sally Piper (The Geography of Friendship) and Mirandi Riwoe (Fish Girl). Every person I spoke to afterwards pretty much described it as brilliant. Our numbers were up at every event and it was all just so rewarding.

The four musketeers - Kate, Sally, Trent, Mirandi.

I could honestly recommend every book that was discussed over the weekend - but we only realised on Sunday morning that all of them deal with childhood, and all of them deal with trauma - so don't try them all at once.

What an astonishing gift this event is - we work hard, but we get so much out of it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Learning became her. She loved the smell of the book from the shelves, the type on the pages, the sense that the world was an infinite but knowable place. Every fact she learned seemed to open another question, and for every question there was another book.” 

Robert Goolrick 

As an opening line, who could disagree.  I think it is the most beautiful ode (not in the literal sense) to a girl or young woman - to let her know that learning becomes her.  I think it also holds hope for all of us who are older - that learning still becomes us too.

I would love a world that thought we were at our shiny best when we were learning!

The rest of the quote too gives one of the best expressions of why I love books.  "...that the world was an infinite but knowable place".

So true - books give you this send of limitlessness; far away edges, and unknown places.  Yet they also give you a path and a way to make sense of it; to contain it bit by bit as you grow to understand it.  Oh yes.

And to have a sense of security that as another question was opened, there was hope of an answer to be found in another book.

Somehow this quote captures the wondrous explorative nature of books; and the making sense of the knowledge thing they do as well. Sigh.

As we prepare for our weekend boutique festival Celebration of Books Maleny - this seemed the perfect quote to ponder!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Value adding?

I think most of us use and re-use materials in our work. I am pretty sure we nearly all try not waste things. And so it was that I looked at the scraps of final prints I had done on my sampler, the ones where I was trying to remove the ink from the type before cleaning, and I thought they could become notebook covers.

They are small, they are handy for popping into a bag. They are stitched with the simplest of pamphlet stitches. They are not made with precious paper. They really are scrapbook notebooks.

And I like them in their humble, unassuming way.

The light on one of the presses was lovely this morning.

Some are stitched with tails out, others with tails in.

They play nicely together as a group.

Ahh, that light...

And then when the scraps were even smaller I printed some thank yous on them and cut them down into coasters for the studio. Not beautiful, yet practical!

Sunday, July 8, 2018


Its a strange old time, but in amongst all that there is to worry about and be concerned about, I find many things and many people for which, and whom, I am grateful.

This has flowed into my spare time in the studio, where I have found myself picking up pencils and pens, stamps and ink and type and scraps of paper and repeatedly making thank you cards.

Odd but true!

I made these wee ones a few weeks ago and then this week, these emerged.

Folded cards.

And notelets.

Playing around with the words, and then turning 90 degrees and printing again.  I loved the patterns that appeared - I am still not good at predicting what will happen, but get inordinate joy out of the moments when I discover what does happen!

This is what I managed to do mostly.

And then this happened somehow.

And I actively worked to see what happened if I tried this. So, a bit of  serendipity and a bit of planned play.

I love the different shapes that appear in the central negative space; as well as in the broader outline of the pieces.

And then these wee scraps were stamped as well - swing tags for gifts perhaps.

Walking out the door on Friday morning - we were welcomed by a peace weathergram caught in the decking.

By Saturday morning it was gone. A fleeting visit but very welcome.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“My actions are my only true belongings.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh

This one got me pondering back and forth, yet I enjoyed the mental ping pong in my brain for a bit.

At first, I felt he was saying that the only real things you can own are your actions.  When you strip away the possessions and accoutrements and all those things that we accumulate along a lifetime, then what we are left with as a sense of of what we can own - are our actions.

Then I wondered if that could possibly be it - surely we can own our own thoughts as well?

My sense is that as a buddhist monk, you are probably pretty good at not owning possessions - and that the statement is almost an expression of his lived reality. "I own nothing (unlike many of us) so my actions are it".

I think what I take away most from it tho is maybe not about belongings so much as about the real person. If you strip away all the things that surround us - our clothes, our house, our car, our computer, our phones, our televisions. These things tell you something about us; but they don't tell you about the real us.

It is perhaps in our actions, that our true selves can best be glimpsed.

Tokyo, 2016.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A sampler of sorts...

I spent some time having a play afternoon with a friend in the studio - getting her to print her first wood type. We had such fun and my brain was going in this direction and that thinking about things to do and try next. 

So the next day, I thought I'd try a mash up sampler thingy - trying out all the wood type we have as sets, and just the numbers 1-10.

For some reason I just love the jigsaw puzzle nature of letterpress and the problem solving of layout and positioning that comes with it. It took me quite a while to make a proper shape of the type. I hadn't known what I was going for, it evolved and became clearer that I didn't really want many 'holes' in it; I wanted it pretty dense.

I filled the gaps with ampersands, because...ampersands! 

Anyone who knows my work knows I am not known for my use of varied and vibrant colours - but again, I thought I want to try a multi colour print and so I did.

 I thought they'd work well together.

Starting in the middle and with the gold, I inked my way around the set up.

I was somewhat concerned when the yellow appeared so lime green, but I thought just go with it.

In case like me, you didn't notice it in the set up - here's the first print - for proofing of course! I had moved those letters down and turned them around, but forgotten to switch them around when I did. Always good to see where the different heights of type are not inking etc, so back we go...

Properly inked and set up this time.

And lots of lovely trials done! I am really happy with them on different papers and seeing the results of my problem solving.

As I went to clean up, I thought I should do some prints to remove ink from the type. So I did some diagonal masking and printed; then I turned the paper around and printed again. Quite a nice effect.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Studio re-jig

After teaching our letterpress workshop a few weekends ago, Barry and I decided that we could sort the studio space out even a bit better and so on Monday we went for a trip to IKEA.

We purchased six more storage units and a table top, and so it came to pass that on Tuesday, we spent the whole day building furniture.

The idea is that downstairs will be given over to letterpress printing. And other presses.  But the main focus is on making the letterpress machinery and type and equipment easily accessible and easily found.

So it was out from under the kitchen bench for the furniture; disappearing from the centre of the kitchen for the etching press; moving upstairs for the calligraphy bits and pieces. Transferring some of the books to the bookshelf upstairs. Getting quoins off the window sill; removing quoin keys form a tray; retrieving the pica rulers from a kitchen bench. And so on...

Two new filing cabinets with Adana presses on them - ready to go wherever they are needed.

And behind them in a space which is rarely used, lies the etching press - also ready to be moved to wherever we need it, when we need it. Note the pumpkin crop outside the window!

 I can't believe how open the kitchen looks! We removed the defunct dishwasher and put in place more storage, and new bins for cleaning cloths. And built a wee shelf not for the corner space where the furniture both wooden and metal now sits in clear tubs.

 Upstairs, the beginnings of a new desk for calligraphy.

Setting up.

Getting down to work.

21 swing tags for Barry at the end of a misty and rainy afternoon.

I adore the new space and can't work out why it took so long to set up a desk up there!  It is way up in the air; I look out over the mountains, I can see up the driveway and across to the house. I feel like the Queen of the world...

And may I say, that after all the rain, the valley and the mountains were spectacular on Friday morning - deep deep sigh...