Tuesday, November 13, 2018

An article and more 'creative life' time

I was approached a while back by journalist to see if I would be OK if she were to include me in article she was writing fro the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies journal called 'art life'.  I was more than happy to be included and sent off the images and promptly forgot about it.

On our return from Scotland I discovered a copy of the journal had arrived and the article was contained within.

It is a lovely consideration of books as art, and of different approaches by different women, in the making of their artists' books.

I am very pleased to have been included and enjoyed reading the various stories.



My part is titled "from print to politics" (what a surprise!) and features two of my favourites "A Subversive Stitch" and "Time to Change".



And after sharing the article it is back to what makes a creative life. This is the state of my studio desk this morning after unpacking from the weekend workshop and having to shift and move a heap of things in preparation for a possible re-arrangement of the studio space.

I had planned to just keep printing and preparing a for a workshopI am teaching, but clearly there is a new priority and I am calling this part of the creative life "Supporting a Creative Life".  Tidying, sorting, cleaning, setting up; all of these things form part of the underpinnings to a creative life.  They need to be done in order to do the most important part, the making.

In the past, I have kind of disregarded this element of the creative life and been annoyed and frustrated by it; but I am slowly coming to realise its importance, and am making peace with the time it takes to do.  Soon things shall be clear and calm again and I shall be inky once again.



And as promised a quick look at my finished book - a quarter case binding I think it is called...



Sunday, November 11, 2018

Workshop work in progress

Barry and I have just spent a great weekend with the Queensland Bookbinders Guild, doing the Introductory bookbinding course.

Whilst I may make book; I  Have not had any real understanding of how to properly bind books, so we thought it would be good to develop some skills if we are planning to print some letterpress books with decklededgepress.

The photos are pretty random and the book is still drying and not perfectly finished, but when it is I shall share it!

I learnt so many things - here you can see how I might need to learn to saw a bit deeper on my kerfs (what a delightful addition to my vocabulary that word is).


Sewing onto tapes, and trying to work out how firmly to pull the stitching - not so loose that the pages flop about the place; not so tight that the spine loses flexibility.


The extra joy of practising weaver's knots to join threads...always does my head in and so it was good to have to do a few - helped me memorise them a little bit better.


And some of the cool tools you meet along the way - this safety cutting ruler that has the hinged bit to protect your fingers - genius!



And me oh my, I rounded my spine.  I loved this bit - it was like magic as you hammered gently on the spine and rounded it - producing this beautiful concave curve at the forage.  It was soooooooo satisfying!


We worked with pre-prepared packs, so I traded my green buckram for purple (no surprises there) but that meant my end papers were golden yellow.  A bit of a tricky match for purple, but I pretended they were orange and found I could live with them.

The next tricky part was selecting a headband for the book that would blend with my two rather special colours - I went for this yellow/grey blend and I think it was a good choice.


Look at that rounded spine!!! And that beautiful headband in place.


Covering the spine and preparing to glue.


I went double purple on the case.  Bold purple buckram for the spine and the corners and a patterned purple paper for the rest.  Heavy duty purple.


And this is as far as my photos go!  I have actually glued the endpapers down and have a text block sitting within a case, but it is still drying - the paste takes a few days to really cure before you can do the finishing touches to it and I don't have photos of it at that stage, but once dried and trimmed I shall share.

It was a really good weekend: a well run course, well-paced and full of additional bits of learning.  Excellent resources and the chance to purchase materials rounded it off and we both came home with our heads buzzing and another book to be made!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning. 

Charles de Lint

I said last week that this quote was apt for both art and life so I have decided to repeat it here this week, pondering life.

Of all the quests we hear of, I would suggest that a simple life is cry from the heart of many we know.  Some of us have managed it, pulled it, off, worked it out. Others of us continue to try to find ways to make it real.

I am in no doubt that my life is far simpler than it used to be, so that is grand.  And yet, I still hanker for even more simplicity.

The opportunity to spend time in the Scottish Highlands, in a small cottage, with no TV, no mobile coverage and a bit of a drive to most amenities is a great lesson in simplification. I enjoy the time there because it is not complicated, the demands and the distractions are fewer.

The weather reigns and guides our activities.

On returning home, it is quite the challenge to maintain that air of simplicity; of moving more slowly, of not gathering loads of commitments into my arms to pursue, yet of course life is different at home.

Life at home has regular things that you do like sewing; there is a studio to visit and get into and make; there is a garden that needs tending, there are appointments, there are community commitments, there are the family and friends that you want to make time for and there are just things that you do in life which you don't do when you retreat.

So accepting that, and working within it is the trick. Working out how to keep life in balance, as simple as possible and not over-commit are my challenges.  To not do more than I need to as my life is so rich and varied just as it is!

I feel as if I do work hard to keep my life simple,  and I know it has meaning, but it can be hard work not to get caught up in too many things and busy-busy-ness.


The kitchen window sill at the cottage...simplicity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Pondering a creative life

It is hot and sticky here - too hot for comfort and sticky such that it only seems to help if you have a shower or change your clothes a couple of times a day!

Time in the studio has been a bit stop start and a few things are underway and are others are being pondered.  Lots of other things are being pondered - an exciting invitation to a prestigious exhibition next year; the possibility of a series of works heading into a show mid next year, some articles to be thought about and written, a workshop to teach; two more invitations to teach and workshops to design and a large week long workshop to prepare for as well.

Then there is the research and investigation into stickiness - and may I say I have received lots of suggestions and help with ideas about how to attach bookplates, and am about to purchase few possibilities and begin the trialling...as well as working out how to transport a beautiful old press and the books to buy that will help us understand how to work it and...

So lots of creative activities, with lots of acton in lot of directions, but not much of the action is yet taking place in the studio.

So on top of all of these diverse things I began to ponder well just what does make up a creative life like mine?  At the end of a day when I feel I have nothing to show from the studio yet have been doing a range of these other things - have I been living a creative life, whilst not actually creating?

So I have begun to think and write about it a bit and who knows where it will lead.

There is no doubt that they are all related somehow; and I think part of the incentive to explore it in more detail is to perhaps make myself feel OK about those days when work isn't produced; yet creative and artistic support work has been happening.

I have been doing small things - continuing to print the sample book for deckled edge press; and then doing a first run of swing tags for Barry's leaf spoons which sell in specialty shops around here.  We thought we might try to do them with letterpress rather than my calligraphy, just because there were a lot to do and it might be quicker.




The results are quite nice; different to the calligraphy and I think our jury is still out on which we prefer.

 And then just living and loving a creative life on the block, these peace doves of Barry's had fallen from the tree - wind and rain at play - and were sitting out the front of the house, so I popped them into an art installation on the chair made by our friend Ken  and quite enjoy saying hello to theme each time I walk in the door!




Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lettering left and right

My artist statement says that nearly all the work I do involves text somehow - and that is so true!  I love discovering new ways for creating letters, words and meaning and recently Barry bequeathed me a tool that he had been given ages ago.  It's a tattooing type tool and is limited in that it only allows for four letter words, but I did have a play with it and think there is definitely potential there.




I was hoping to be able to do both the poke in bit, as well as the poke out bit (technical terms!) and so I put the letters in back to front a bit like letterpress and discovered that no, its not possible and what I will be able to do is the poke in bits!



And a couple more of my favourites as I work thru the sample book prints.


And seriously, one of the first typefaces I ever got  - accidentally of course a part of something else - and which I have loved since Day 1.  After several years of not knowing what it was; I asked Instagram and David Wakefield replied with all I needed to know - what a gem.  And so now it is filed under Elongated Anglo Saxon, rather than Decorative Gothic!


I do love it so.


And to use up the last skerrick of ink I proofed a couple of book ornaments we had picked up in an op shop in Scotland.  Fun I think - and am now pondering printing book plates...but can't work out how to make the stickiness, but somebody somewhere might know.



All in all, a good few days pottering abound in the studio!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

"Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning". 

Charles de Lint

Today I am pondering art (next week life, the week after books, and the cycle continues...).  This quote could probably provide enough food for thought for both this week - art - and next week - life- given how well it applies to both.

But for art's sake I'll look at it that way.

I constantly find myself struggling with how to make things that are simple, still have meaning; and how to make things with meaning, simple.  It is an effort and it is something that has to be worked out. Occasionally, very occasionally, the balance simply appears in a piece. And for those rare moments I am grateful.

But far more common is the process that is accompanied by many questions like how much have I left out or taken away?  Is it still communicating or does it need something more to get the message across? Is its simplicity simply blandness? Or is its simplicity the essence? Is its quietness inviting? or simply missing in action?

Because it is who I am, and how my art is, I am willing to continue to engage with the effort needed to  keep things simple and retain some meaning.

Maybe I will ponder this one again for life next week - keeping it simple too is an effort!


Some blank typewriter words for a family violence piece...

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

hearts here and there...

Before we went away I looked around the block and spent time with the hearts we have at home.

As we travelled I kept an eye out for other hearts in the landscape and found them here and there...

We found one in the gate of a park in Thurso...


On our daily walk to the cove we discovered this rope - just resting there like this.  No fiddling or playing around with it was needed; it was simply a perfect heart awaiting us...


We visited Orkney and the Vintage Paper Company, and as we wandered the streets of Stromness, this set of stacked stone hearts caught my eye.


A hand blown glass heart at Whaligoe Steps cafe.


A heart woven into a doormat at Cromarty Arts Trust.


A heart as graffiti on the inside of a chapel ruin in Cromarty


Heart on a headstone in Cromarty Cemetery.



And as we circle round to home again, a collection of heart rocks, stones and pebbles at the front door of the cottage. Collected along our way from coves and beaches nearby, they welcome us home when we visit.


 Hearts at home...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Back into the studio

We are back from a truly marvellous and rewarding time at the cottage in the Scottish Highlands.  It is a special place for us and we miss it already; but are feeling the joy and magic of being home as well, so I feel ever so fortunate to have two special places in which to spend time.

It is hot here now, a stark contrast to the Highlands, and we are moving back into our lives slowly and gently.

As I tried to get my head around what commitments I have, what I need to do, what has to be done and then turned my mind to things I'd like to do as well, I felt as if I came up with an answer the met both the criteria so I could get started on that.

We stopped in Singapore briefly on the way home and were fortunate to visit Yao Yu at TypesettingSG - the only traditional typesetter and letterpress printer in Singapore.  We had a lovely visit and I was inspired by his sample cards - showing the sizes and typefaces he has. I made a commitment to myself to make my own before Christmas, and so began to print in my spare moments this week.

You would not believe the delaying tactics I have used to NOT do this project for so many years.  I have always struggled with how to bind them - would I come up with a bunch of typefaces on a single page and make a pamphlet? How would I order them? Alphabetically? Serifs all together?  Sizes I have?  Would I print the whole alphabet or just a few letters upper case and lower case? I felt so often that I couldn't work out the perfect solution, that I procrastinated and got no solution whatsoever.

I had landed on the idea of printing on postcard sized cards, and then using a single circle binder (there is are name for it that I can't recall) which would allow the whole thing to stay together, yet would also allow me to take cards out if I sold the type; or print new ones and put them in if I bought new ones without having to re-print every page kind of thing.

So Yao Yu's cards just reinforced things for me.  Altho his were just loose and heaps of fun to sort through and shuffle!

And it has begun.

In the end I decided to print 5 postcards of each typeface and fount that I have. That way there would be some for students to sort through independently when they were in the studio; and it would also allow me to to have one set alphabetically and one set by type size which helped settle me. Laugh.

Here is where I have gotten to so far - I have managed to print 8 founts of type. I began alphabetically and here we are.










In the middle of the night the other night I also thought - brilliant - I can set aside one set and pop 4 of them on a copier at a time and then copy them onto card, then cut the A4 card into 4 postcard sized shapes and I will have spare sets as well - I could have a set by serifs, san serif and fancy, and all of the combinations and permutations my heart might need. Delight and Joy was mine!