Tuesday, August 11, 2020

What happened along the way to "on joy -"

 I really am pleased with how this book worked out as I was far from convinced that it would actually get somewhere.

To begin. 

I had thought that Barry and I could both do with a little nudge along creatively - trying to find ways to explore the letterpress beyond our initial thoughts and thinking.  We spoke about doing a kindred project, using the Artist Book Ideation cards I had purchased from Flying Fish Press many moons ago.

So at the end of June, we sat and selected our cards together, and these were the guides:

COLOUR: Black and White 

PAPER: Transparent and translucent 

TEXT: Collaborate with a poet/writer 

STRUCTURE: Unbound 

IMAGE: Found image 

TECHNIQUE: Mixed media 

LAYOUT: Based on a grid 

ADJECTIVES: Fragmented or mosaic Mysterious or coded Surreal Allegorical Graphic

I really like this process for busting out of my own thinking.  One of the great gifts of this project was it allowed, encouraged, forced, me to look at my translucent papers and work out how to use them.  I have had some of them for so many years, yet have never really put them to too much use and here was a real opportunity.

The collaboration around text was also a good thing to try to work on.  We both approached our friend Mary Jane Dodd to see if we could work with some of the words from her book "Offerings", and she generously and kindly said yes.

I selected only the opening few words from the full work "on joy -" but they resonate with the times.

The rest of the work is beautiful and can be read here...

So I wanted to work with loose unbound pages, in a grid, that when layered together could create a whole. I wanted to work with the notion of shattering into pieces and used a found image of broken glass. I wanted to use thread.

And so it came about that I traced the image onto a beautiful Japanese paper (sekishu kozogami mare) and then cut it into 16 pieces.  I had four pages of tengucho (18gsm), and placed 4 squares on each page. and then stitched the lightest tengucho paper (4gsm) over the top in a 4cm grid. The squares were held by the stitching together of the paper. Leaving those threads dangling as I do.

A reminder of just delicate that 4gsm tengucho paper really is...

See here and here for some earlier process posts.

I tested printing onto the 18gsm tengucho and it was divine.  And then I thought about the way I had proofed it to check alignment and realised that if I printed three times (without re-inking) and moved the paper a tiny bit each time I would get the echoes of the words. I love those unexpected moments that truly make magic of a piece.


And then it was done.


And it feels special.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

From "on joy -"

This is a walk through my most recent book.

It is an unbound bound and it feels lovely to hold and to turn.  I will do another post that takes you through the story of its making soon, but for now, enjoy its fragility and softness...

Those edges.



More of the story later.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

"Just the knowledge that a good book is waiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier." 


Kathleen Norris


Book as reward.  It has ever been thus in my life, as far back as I can remember.  The greatest gift I could ever give myself was time to sit down and read.


When I was studying (and it was a hard slog) I would finish up late each night and the reward was not to sit and keep reading anatomy books, psychology books, disease and inflammatory response books. It was to go to bed and lose my self in the soothing (often nothingness) of a novel.


Sometimes the books were challenging literature and I read some great ones as a student; but most often they offered solace, relief and release from the bonds of learning excruciating levels of detail about the human body, movement and management.


I still have days where at different points in the day I think about how much I want to get back to my book. How much I want to see what happens next; and how much I want to just get to the end of the day and read. Bliss!



A sack of books - Singapore National Art Gallery 2018.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Moments on the mountain...

Lots of studio time is being spent preparing for workshops, teaching, group visits etc and not as much is happening on the making scene.  I have a couple of half completed projects and one just done, so soon it will back to the creating and making, but for now some moments on the mountain.

We had a week of mist and rain which made for some beautiful images - like this red flowering plant (forgotten the name already)


This wee snow pea flower just blew into frame on misty morning, and I clicked.


A brighter, but still damp morning.


A shower taking the mountains away as it moves through the valley.



The mountains coming and going within the mist




And then glorious days for a magnolia



for peace doves,


and frangipani branches.


The moon setting about 6.15am this morning - just peeking through.


Beauty everywhere.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Paper, peace and pastries

As ever small things progress in this direction and that; nothing quite finished, yet things are busy.

I have been talking to some folk about different commissions and thought what might really help was a more serious swatch book. And so I cut most of my favourite and popular papers into A6 postcard size and wrote their names on them and their weight and began.

Am yet to work out how best to hold them together - or even if I need to - but they will be helpful when folk start to ask if they could get cards printed on x or y or z.

Sometimes it's the ongoing maintenance, the underpinnings of an art life that one has to attend to.

These are our lighter book papers - for small chaps books and the like.



These are our heavier papers for printmaking, letterpress posters, cards and such.


And these are the only coloured papers we have in stock! All are quite heavy 280-300gsm.


Off on another tangent it is time to make and send out some tokens of peace for International Day of Peace.  IDoP isn't until 21 September; yet here we are in early August and how did that happen?  Furthermore, given the delays postal services are all facing during the time of the Virus, we figure it's better to go early than be late. Fingers crossed these make their way safely to new home.

Never shall I tire of looking at gathered threads! In this instance brown jute string.  Just fabulous.



This year, I am using recycled cutlery pouches from a local coffee shop. Our cutlery used to be delivered to us in these pouches and I gather and collected them thinking they would make good weather-grams.  They are nice and sturdy.

One thing I like about them in particular is that they do have a pouch and I think folk might find little things to pop alongside the peace message...I know I hope to!



And pastries you may ask? 

We taught our first Introduction to Letterpress workshop yesterday and had a fine time.  One person was trying to look at how to bring letterpress into a business that they were thinking of.

At one point, we played around with variegated gold leaf to see if you could blind emboss it - and in rush we got this result; but it definitely made us think that if you attached the gold leaf first, then pressed into it that might get something worth something!


Anyhow, always fun to digress in a workshop. Grin.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

'The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice' 


Martin Luther King


Somehow these words seem so apt right now - they offer some long term view of what we are observing and experiencing.  As we watch places where truth has been replaced by lies; where democracy has been eaten away by greed and has been set aside like an unwanted plaything; where force has become the only response; where human rights are trampled and mocked.


So much of this time is awful.


And yet Martin Luther King manages to remind us that the arc of the moral universe is long yet bends towards justice.  How I hope in so many ways it does.  That it not only bends towards justice but that it reaches it.  That is grabs hold of it and works with justice until a sense of decency, fairness and rightness prevails.


Please, may it bend towards justice for all of those disempowered and disenfranchised by our current settings.




Maybe that's what we need - double bending towards justice!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

OPEN finally, and beauty

Over the weekend the ink dried on the covers for my poem Open and I was able to work out the edition as well as put the Press' chop on both the poem and the cover.  Nice finishing off work.

Here is the finished product, photographed in dappled light in the studio.

Dappled - such a lovely word...

The covers of the first five.


The cover of Number 1.


Cover opened.


Poem turned, inside back cover.



The bits together.



I ended up with an Edition of 20 - which I find rather remarkable.

For the trials and tribulations of this piece see here; and for the options I played with for the cover, see here.

And as I went to exercises early yesterday morning - sombre beauty dawning.




Sunday, July 26, 2020

Small steps along the way

I have been continuing to explore the layering and translucency of this funny little experimental book.

Working with the imagery of shattering, I found another beautiful, but different Japanese paper, and traced the image onto it, and then cut the work into 16 squares, each 4cm x 4cm




I do spend a fair bit of time waffling around when I have delightful and delicious paper to play with!
Many a moment is spent staring at it, lifting it, watching it move, sensing its lightness and driftiness. 


But I then had to consider how it might sew.  I need to hold the lightest papers together and I really wasn't sure if the sewing machine would simply shred it; so I layered up a few scraps and headed home to the trusty machine.





And we did well!