Sunday, June 24, 2018

checking and checking...

As a self-taught letterpress printer I am continually learning.  There must be better and faster and easier ways to do things, but I stumble along and discover things for myself.

At times, I would love to be in a shared print shop and watch others and ask and listen and all of that; but instead I just have to figure things out for myself and I laugh a lot along the way as I realise I could have been sooooo much more efficient!

Case in point.  Preparing to print the first 'verse' of the 'poem' that will accompany the images of standing stones, I first of all worked out the size of the print area and tried to place my small pieces of type within it just to get a sense of how it might look.

Of course several fell over.


 But I thought I was onto something size-wise and positionally, so I grabbed a few spaces to see how they worked. All looked OK.


Then I locked the type up in a chase and carbon paper proofed it. Told myself I wanted to move things this way and that, so went back in and changed the spaces and and hoped for a better look.


I di this several times...


I think maybe eight times?



And then thought - why don't I just cut the words out and lay them out how I want to see them printed, and then see if I can pop the type in to match my preferred layout?



And look at that - it worked!  I could have saved an hour or two I reckon if I had used my brain a wee bit earlier in the process. Laugh.


Locked and ready to test print.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“When a library is open, no matter its size or shape, democracy is open, too.”

 Bill Moyers

What a comforting thought this is in amongst the times we live in.  Just knowing that libraries are there, that they are open, and that all sorts of people can be there accessing information, books, newspapers and magazines that inform them fills me with hope.

In response to this quote it seems to me to be even more imperative to keep libraries funded, open and even expanded.  Losing a library is a loss on so many levels for a community and that loss can be sense at higher levels too - if we shut down our libraries are we shutting down our democracies?

Books, reading and the sharing of knowledge are all there in the library.  These things are critical to functioning democracies and it is so good to know that libraries are open, the lights are on and we are there seeking truth, knowledge and information!


I'm sure she loves a library too...NYC 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Go Girl!

I have begun an annual print run titled "GG".

It has become an annual event serendipitously, rather than through thoughtful intent, but I like that it has emerged in this way. Always using wood type. Always using random letters rather than a consistent font.

On the weekend I got to play with my new magnets (courtesy of Springtide Press) in the bed of the galley proofing press.

We had also recently purchased some random wood type - all a bit oversized and I thought I would like to use it for my next GG print.

Here is the wood type set rather unorthodoxically in the press.


And here are the prints that emerged. I love the energy in this edition!



Multiples drying.



Playing with how much you can take out and still know what it is saying...



This is the third print in the 'collection', and the first two can been seen here.

2016 - GG


2017- GG I



And now we have GG II. Long may the girls go!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pottering about

I feel as if I needed time to re-acquaint myself with the studio space and making.  Having spent so long cleaning it up, then preparing it for teaching, then teaching, then tidying up I felt we hadn't spent much time together just hanging and playing and making.

So my goal was to simply do that - spend time pottering about and doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Water colour pencil meanderings.



I had run out of thank you cards - a nice dilemma to have I guess! So some pencil ones, some with watercolour and words.






Some bunches of flowers.



And some leftover printing.



I feel I remembered myself a bit. I remembered what I love. I made some things. I made some mistakes. My heart and my hand connected again.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” 

Libya Bray

It feel like it gets harder and harder to think and believe this, yet I know it is the truth and what we all must do.  I don't think I have ever felt so deflated by the state of politics as I am now - on every side, in every country it is awful.

I know that as individuals take a stand, ask questions, challenge the status quo, are kind to each other and to strangers, and persist and persist and persist, we WILL see change.

If I back peddle a bit, and get off my sorry horse (what mangle of metaphors that is!) I definitely feel as if we are at some turning points. I think for women, things are changing. For gay and lesbian and trans people some things are changing.  We are in places, becoming more open, compassionate and kind. And for that I am grateful.

It seems to me it is up to us, 'we the people' as they say, to make that one gesture. To make and mark that moment in time. Together.



Street art on a laneway wall in Melbourne... results do indeed vary.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A little bit of this and that

As we tested this and that and had a few goes at things with different papers and the like at the letterpress workshop on the weekend, one of the things we trialled was the use of the metal type with a tabletop press, but with no ink.

Always a fan of white on white, I knew embossed lettering looked gorgeous and so we had a quick play with some Arches Velin and with some beermat bored.

Delicious - and now Barry and I each have a coaster by our computer with Kindness on it - a lovely daily reminder.


The beermat board really does love the pressure...


And the Arches came up softly and gently.


As we pottered along we came across moments of broken type. Even tho lead type seems indestructible; it is fact quite fragile and relatively easily damaged. As evidenced here...

This beautiful 'h' just wasn't picking up the ink like other letters, so we had a good look at it and discovered that the surface was really pitted. Not sure why, but there you go. So we changed it over.


There was a nibble out of this 't' as well


And one of the leading edges of this 'v' had also been munched.


I have now set aside a special place for broken type - and will continue to use it to demonstrate the fragility of type in future workshops.

And to finish the day we watched a massive storm below us in the valley. We dashed back from the studio anticipating that we were about to get drenched and then the sun burst through and we were offered these rainbows for reward at the end of a big couple of days!



I really do love a rainbow...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Letterpress Workshop

Barry and I have just had the pleasure of teaching our Intensive Introduction to Letterpress workshop over the weekend.

We enjoyed the company of two printmakers from Toowoomba - both with a passion for letterpress and a willingness and enthusiasm to get in and have a go and learn as much as they could whilst they were here.

And achieve a lot they did.

There were lots of handouts that went into their folder (I had fun preparing their names during the week).


The studio was looking pretty good before we began - clear and clean and a place for almost everything and everything almost in its place!




We had books to look through


And samples to explore


On Saturday we spent time learning about the letterpress and all the bits and pieces, and used lead type to print a postcard.

By the end of the day there were plenty of postcards!  And a well used press.



On Sunday we turned to wood type and the proofing presses and made slightly larger works A5 - A4 size.


I like how both of these photos show the progression from the first proof to the kind of place where they landed by the end of printing.

It was great to problem solve the things that weren't quite working; and to show how to do little fixes that improved things big time.



Both Ute and Jess were fabulous and we enjoyed our time immensely. Its always great to see where people take letterpress once they have a few skills - the ideas just flow, the experiments begin and the knowledge gets shared.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Your problem is that you bring the critical factor down, before you have allowed the lyric to make its statement.” 

Friedrich von Schiller

I think these words were written to a young poet experiencing writer's block.  I think they are very wise words and I love the beauty with which he describes bringing forth the lyrical - allowing the beautiful magic to appear.

I have a bunch of one liners (properly described as 'rules of engagement) that I post on the wall when I am teaching and one of them is similar to this. I suggest that folk:

"Create first. Critique second. They are different things".

We so often bring forth the critic and critique the work before we have even given it a chance to become something.  Sometimes students beat themselves up as they begin, as they get to the middle and then again at the end.  Surely this takes away the joy of making and creating and exploring and wondering what if?

Understanding that they are two different things, and getting the sequence right is pretty important I think. And I propose that Schiller said it rather more beautifully than most!


Rules of engagement on a whiteboard...

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Designing something?

Every now and again I get completely distracted by an image.

I saw a photograph of a series of paintings hung gallery style on a wall.  I loved the arrangement of the rectangles and turned them into black and white in my brain.

I wondered about the quietness and calm of the grid and what it made me feel. I wondered why I responded to it. I wondered what I could do with it!

So I went away and drew some black and white type rectangles. In rows. In squares.





They made me happy. So I thought about how to colour them in bit and make things a bit more defined somehow. Scrappy scratching, but I liked them even more.



But honestly, what to do with them?  How could I use them? What could I make of them?  I wasn't sure I simply wanted to draw them by hand and colour them in and so I thought about how to reproduce them.

I pondered etched aluminium; but the sunny days then made me think some more about photopolymer plates.

And the process has begun. I found some old transparency film and used a sharpie pen to trace and colour in one of the images.


If all goes well I will be able to expose it, and then see if the plate works. Then hopefully print it. I think.

I am still not really sure what I am doing here, but I am following along with the notion...