Thursday, December 31, 2009


The last day of the year finds Barry and I doing one of our little rituals. A few years (or a lifetime) ago when we were busy executive types we just ran out of time for Christmas cards. We started our own tradition that year of sending New Year cards instead. Not only does it take a load off in the lead up; but focuses us on wishes for happiness in the year ahead for our family and friends.

So today we both began making our cards (also a nice way to spend those sometimes odd days in between). In a moment of *madness* Barry went for white on white embossing, which has nothing to do with timber, rust or copper; whilst I stuck with a simple square and coloured design.

Barry embossed his on our printing press using a cut out plastic milk container template (and was apparently very pleased with the ragged edge look which he retained throughout).

I used a similar template to draw 4 squares, wrote the numbers and the Happy and then used watercolour pencils and water to colour in the boxes. I don't think I repeated any colour combination, and now we just have to sit and write to folk.

So as 2009 disappears and 2010 appears, my wish is for peace and happiness; health and harmony; fun times with families and friends; and many magic moments of creativity.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 favourites

I know that lists are ubiquitous this time of year - but if you're like me and love a list; then that's a fine thing! It has been a creative and successful year for me in many ways - so many opportunities to make things; lots of experimenting; lots of finding out what I really love and occasionally what sells.

I have enjoyed putting together my 10 favourite pieces (of my own work) for the year as I looked back through photos and remembered how they looked and how they made me feel. Most of them have gone to other homes so its nice to reflect on them, even if I can't see them again.

I smiled when I looked at the final selections - white on white as ever; simplicity; peace and gentleness; nearly all books; and most with words that matter to me.

This list is in alphabetical order only as I seriously couldn't play favourites!

1. Artemis - poem by Robyn Nugent

2. Cloisters of Iona (collaboration with Barry Smith)

3. Echoes of Edinburgh

4. Floral happiness - partial image

5. I come to quiet knowings...

6. Peace in your pocket...

7. Peace is every step

8. Phrases of the Moon - poetry by Robyn Nugent

9. Shine

10. Silences - poetry by Gershon Holtz

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A special book

Barry and I have been collaborating on a special artists book for my parents. They are both celebrating 70 year birthdays so we decided to give them a joint gift. As a starting point we used a set of Tabernacle doors from a decommissioned and deconsecrated Catholic church - the metal and Gothic nature of them was so beautiful. Barry's blog probably best describes what he did with them to make them look even better.

We placed them onto a wedge of rose gum timber and I then went away to design the insides and write some words. The Scottish island of Iona has a special place in my parent's hearts, so I used some words and images from the Cloisters of Iona Abbey - a very special place.

The cloisters have four sides - East, South, West and North and a meditative walk through them brings you quietly back to the beginning point. The carvings reflect birds or plants of Iona, Scotland or the Holy Land and I used some verses of the Cloister poem and wrote in uncial which has links to Scotland and those times. The Book of Kells has links to Iona as well.

Here is the finished product - we were both proud of the outcome and pleased that it was welcomed warmly to its new home yesterday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas box

I have made a few gifts this year for Christmas so can't show many of them until they have been received and opened. I can however show this one because my dear friend couldn't wait until Christmas to open it!

He is a collector of Tibetan art and earlier in the year showed me this beautiful set of Tsakli cards he had received. Tsakli are Tibetan initiation cards which usually involve a drawing/painting on one side and some calligraphy on the reverse. I thought at the time they deserved a box for safekeeping so we took some measurements and I came home and ages later made a box and popped it in the post.

Here is an example of the tsakli with measuring tape and shadows (it was after dinner & wine after all); and some images of the finished box. The good news is the box works - the tsaklis fit and all is well! The box is decorated with some Buddha figures we found in Thailand and brought home and gilded ever so slightly with gold leaf.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Colour

Christmas is nearly always colour-coordinated in the Dempster-Smith household (as the Smith part has come to accept).

This year we are hitting it with intense purple and blue which has worked out to be a stunning combination. My Christmas Day outfit will also match this theme (which is too much information I expect).

In addition to colour themes, our decorations are strictly minimalist as evidenced by the tree below. I also collaged the tissue paper onto some card; and then initialled each tag which will hopefully identify the recipient.

BTW - it is still raining. Our first tank has filled and now rain is flowing into the second tank; the tanks over at the shed are overflowing so all good.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rain but no Rainbows (yet)

I've discovered just how powerful this blogging thing can be! The rain is here! We have had 25 mm at least since it began; and here is what the radar looked like at about 5.30pm. It is blissful and a delight and feels so right. Maleny is up the top in the yellow bit.

The sound of rain on a corrugated iron roof is a wonderful thing. And I can hear frogs croaking too - all is well with the world.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rainbow paper bits

I am dreaming of rain. I look to the skies and try to envision rain clouds with water pouring down. I am contemplating a rain dance on the water tank...but the full moon is still weeks away.

So my mind has turned to rainbows yet again - because you get rainbows when you get rain.

I came across this blog today and haven't really had time to work out what it does and how it works; I think she collects and sources beautiful photos of books, paper and the like. I loved her rainbow paper bits pictured below, along with some of the rainbows we find in our house in the early mornings as the sun hits the bevelled edge of our louvred windows. Think rain!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I am just a little bit in love with type. The old fashioned letter press type that is; and would dearly love to discover a letterpress nearby. We hope to do a course in February but in the meantime I just get to play with this alphabet of wooden type we bought in Paris.

All the letters belong to different alphabets which I like to think were used for Parisian broadsheets advertising the Moulin Rouge and so forth, but as I scrambled through the bins of type(!) I just wanted a complete alphabet; so in muddled French I expressed my hope and voilĂ  we made up an alphabet. This picture is one of my ideas of heaven...

I used the type in an artists books called "Postcards home" in which I wrote the names of places we have visited in the recent past and made them into postcards. Because I only have one of each letter I could only write places that didn't repeat a letter! So no Melbourne, London, Glasgow, HongKong or so on. Here are a couple of the places I could use. One day I'll even ink them up somehow and print.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I have been thinking a bit about printing today as I tidied up my studio (after the chaos of the past few weeks it needed some care and attention) and itching a bit to get in and make some images.

I can hardly believe it its almost a year since we did a workshop with Glen Skien. I have admired his work for a long time and it was wonderful to spend time with him - he made printmaking accessible for me for the first time. I learnt from him how you could create simple, quick images that appealed through layering and simple dry point.

Here are some images from that workshop - I have since gone on to use some of the techniques in artists books and prints (the pandanus hanging books are below). I have been plotting and planning some work for 2010 and expect that these techniques will get another run...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

To market, to market...

Saturday was a big day - we were up early (like too early for coffee at our usual cafe in town which momentarily looked to be an inauspicious start to the day) and off to Montville. We drove thru mist and gentle drizzle which was beautiful; but also potentially challenging for those doing the outside markets. In the end the weather was overcast and beautifully cool after our recent heatwave temperatures.

We set up in the charming hall along with three authors with their recently published works and another book artist; whilst out on 'the green' there must have been another twenty artists' stalls. In the end we had a reasonable day - never rushed off our feet; occasionally slow, and we did sell a couple of books.

It has been interesting to reflect on markets as a way of selling your work and already I have ideas about how I might do it differently another time!

Here we are all packed up and ready to go and a couple of shots of the set up. At the end of the day, Kim showed me her photographing 'box' and let me try it out - the timber book came up so well using this creation I think we need to make one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Timber books

The production line has been in full force as the weekend market gets closer! I had asked David Linton if he could cut me some timber for book covers as I liked the idea of timber and paper coming together, the same element in different forms.

I collected them on Saturday and have been ripping paper and stitching ever since. Along with some hand decorated and hand stitched journals, I have been making these beautiful timber ones; some on tapes, some link-stitched to the covers.

Here are four; there are six now and the pile of books is growing - hopefully something for everyone? The market is just another one of those challenges, steps forward you take - testing if there is a 'market' for hand made journals; seeing if I enjoy the whole production and selling experience. It's all new and different; and in the end life's about trying things and having a here we go!