Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pavement Punctuation - Portland

I would never normally say 'pavement' (footpath is what we would say); but I am in the US and it alliterates (hmmm is that a real word?) so well with the other words, so forgive me.

I am enjoying Portland and even tho I know a visitor only ever catches a glimpse, out of the corner of their eye, of how a city and its people really live and breath and move and play, my reading is that this is a city where they believe that art should be a part of our everyday lives. It seems that wherever there is something functional - the light rail stops - there is a little bit of artistic endeavour added. The glass walls might be etched; the doors might be etched; there might be a map in the concrete telling a story of local creeks and streams; there might be a few trees in the guardrail; or the lights might actually be flowers. On every block downtown where the light rail travels there is a piece of sculpture.

Barry spotted this today at the PGE Stadium stop. Cast into the concrete were all these little punctuation marks in steel. I loved them. The stop is right next to the Oregonian newspaper, so perhaps there is a link.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Letterpress in Portland Part 2

Well the process of letterpress was beguiling and bewitching; but the outcomes were fabulous and exciting.

Whilst it may not look much, I was thrilled by the elegance of the printing and of course, when we tried it white on pale grey and white on pale blue I loved it even more. The quote "the eloquence of silence" seemed so suited to the sense of "there and not there" that the lighter coloured paper and the white ink created.

Here are some shots of the bits we printed. The process is meticulous and requires attention to detail; but once you have the plate 'set' and registered appropriately, then off you go and print 100s at a time. Sigh.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Letterpress in Portland

It's official. I am in love with letterpress.

The world is a wonderful place and as is the manner of things, when we were planning to head to Calgary we wondered where else we might go. I suggested Portland because it seems such a creative place from afar (lots of blogs I read come from here) and so I searched around to see if I might be able to do a course or something. As the wonder of the world would have it - we chanced upon the Independent Publishing Resource Centre and were able to book into an Introduction to Letterpress course. We joined the IPRC for 3 months to enable us to do it - shame we can't be here longer to make more use of the print room!

We had a great teacher and I learnt so many new words - composing stick, chaser, tympan, plate, quoins, furniture and many more.

Barry came along and together we printed one of my quotes "The eloquence of silence". It was so much fun I just know I'll have to do it again!

As a teaser, here are some shots of the fabulous bibs and bobs we used. I'll post the outcomes tomorrow as they deserve their own post.

A box of coppers and brasses - the tiniest, thinnest bits of copper to help pack out the plate during locking up

A box of cuts or images that you can add as decoration to your type block

The type block being prepared to be  locked up - filling the chaser with furniture and other bits to make sure it is nice and tight and firm. The two rows of type and image to be printed are in the middle.

The chaser set into the press, with the rollers below inked up ready to be rolled!

I just loved the whole process of making a kind of jigsaw puzzle come together and solving lots of problems along the way. And even better I loved the outcome of the process!

A Letter a Week (ALaW) 25

Edging closer to the end of the first alphabet!  Here is Y after many attempts and re-attempts.  Sometimes it just seems to be that you work and work and work an idea and it goes absolutely nowhere.  I wanted to see what it was like painting on gesso, on timber. I applied gesso to a piece of red cedar quite thickly, and waited for it to dry. And waited.

I then wrote a Y on it and it looked ghastly, so I had to re-apply the gesso and wait. Again.

I wrote another Y and thought - let's paint it with acrylic. OK but pretty dull. So I thought, does watercolour go over gesso? I washed some watercolour over the letter and background hoping it might make it more interesting. It didn't. Then I put copper gouache over the whole lot thinking I might 'pull' the letter out of the wet gouache. The phone rang and the gouache dried. Having hidden my letter completely I now began to panic - I had a square of copper looking wood.

I applied some gold leaf in random bits and then wrote over it ink. Not a bad outcome after all the detours. I must admit - ink keeps winning out over paint...

I must admit my lettering is suffering with this broken finger - I have to keep it straight and out of the way and it just leaves me with so little control. My handwriting is atrocious at the moment!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Canadian book arts

Last night we were welcomed to a gathering of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild at Susan's house in Calgary. It was a warm and sunny evening, filled with fine food and wines and the company of like-minded paper-loving souls.

The group welcomed Barry and I and included us in their show and tell sharing segment. We met fine bookbinders, book artists, papermakers, paper mache sculptors, paper spinners and folk like ourselves who did a bit of everything! We have been made very welcome in Calgary and have really enjoyed the hospitality and sharing with folk.

Lisa from In a Bind bookbinding and book conservation studio, and Lee ponder a piece

Some of Romy's fine, fine paper spinning, using kozo paper and lists of endangered species. The text appears then disappears as she spins...

An old book that Leslie was in the midst of restoring...

And the group having lots of fun around the extended table

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Calgary calling...

Well yes, my absence from blogging is due to the fact that we have travelled to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for Barry to do a metal fold-forming course. Whilst very happy to be a handbag; I also sought out a few opportunities to do creative stuff and develop more skills.  I was really lucky to get in touch with Susan Kristoferson a paper artist of great renown.

She offered me a tutorial in her home studio, making itajime paper. This is a Japanese form of 'board clamp' dyeing using paper.  We spent the day happily folding, dipping and dyeing and I was really happy with the techniques I learned and how some of the papers worked out.

I expect that in the first instance these will be used to make book covers and interleave pages within books; as well as coverings for boxes and for cards and collage.

Here are a few examples of the day's production - lots of variety! None of them portray 'classic' itajime patterns but I will practice that some more at home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Letter a Week (ALaW) 24

X is a tricky letter, but once I again I put to good use the playtime we had with Noela recently.

I had some black cotton (has to be 100% cotton) and went in search of bleach. Well, I couldn't find any and though I was going to be busted and have to try something else. But then Barry suggest what we call "exit mould" type stuff that gets used in bathrooms (very selectively).  I thought why not?

So I drew the letter on the fabric with a white pencil, then used an metal embossing tool (ball) to dip in the 'bleach' and then draw onto the fabric. It's hard because the bleach goes on colourless and you can't see easily where you have been. But I liked the streaky effect and am happy with the outcome.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Letter a Week (ALaW) 23

W is a very wide letter. To make it fit the 7cm x 7cm square I had to sort of kind of squish it up a bit, so it looks a bit cramped.

Anyhow, I have been spending time recently being inspired by some very talented collage artists including Donna Watson and Leslie Avon Miller and it suddenly struck me I could use collage as the background for one of my letters. I am in no way implying I am a collage artist (nor one in-the-making) but because my letters are all about experimentation it seemed to make sense to experiment with collage here.

I glued some cream coloured paper to grey board; added a square of grey rusted paper and a strip of rusted fabric (is a theme emerging?) and then dropped in a rough hand cut red circle.

I then drew the W over the top and inked it in. Such fun!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lucas Parklands - Returning

I just love the way this piece has worked out - it does everything I hoped it would do and more.

I love that you can see the forest floor through it.

I love that you can see the rainforest through it.

I love the way the letters fall at the feet of the work and are almost invisible.

I love how Jim helped make them easier to see!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lucas Parklands - Works in place

Monday was a great day with everybody working well together and helping each other out when more than one set of hands or eyes were needed. 13 artists from Arts Connect Inc. have displayed 59 sculptures throughout the rainforest.

Noela's sails sit beautifully across the water and through the forest.

Ken's letters from A Letter a Week appear along the length of a mossy log.

Kim's works sit with silent majesty upon a grassed area near the house.

Barry's pieces nestle into the forest floor.

Barry also seemed to spend a bit of time up a ladder helping out!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lucas Parklands - Installation day

I am almsot ready to keel face forward into the keyboard after a fabulous, exhausting, exhilarating and physical day installing the sculptures for this weekend's show. The walk through the rainforest is about 1km long we think and there are a few slopes up and down to negotiate.

I was so happy to see the work in the place where I had envisaged it when I began making the pieces.  They look so right and at home - the setting really makes them shine. So this post is all about me - but the next ones will be more expansive!

Returning - with the rainforest appearing through the letters as I has always hoped.

Renewal - I skipped and danced and waved my hands about today when I saw the beautiful fresh fern growing in the blackened tree stump that I had dreamed about placing these three books - Renovo, Resumo and Reparo - in. Renewal.

Place - I knew I wanted three trees for this piece and couldn't believe my luck with these three. So proud and strong. Meaning, Belonging and Connecting at work.

Sentinels - When I saw the sunlight play through the spindly saplings in this clearing I knew my upright posts had found their home - they stand and reference the straight lines of the beginning rainforest trees.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Letter a Week (ALaW) 22

I had fun with this V. First of all I tried the burning-holes-with-incense-sticks on heavy paper and got absolutely nowhere. No holes, but a few scorch marks. Then I chose cloth, thinking a nice piece of rusted cotton with holes in it would look great - but the tiniest of holes just kept on growing until the fabric was smouldering and I had to hop outside and dance on it to make it go away!  Next experiment was with black rice type paper and I was sure it would burn, but not convinced it wouldn't take off as well - but it didn't.

Don't you love the little brown bits around the edge and the individual nature of each and every hole? Yum!

More learning captured! I also took a photo of me practising it this time as well.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A lovely bit of paper

Sometimes you just need to stop and realise how lovely some things that you pass by every day really are.  In my studio I have this piece of tissue which I have used for quite a while now to blot my watercolours when I am either painting or writing with them.

I opened it out the other day and saw with new eyes and just thought what a lovely, soft blend of colours it has made over time. A random kind of rainbow in a way.

A wee morsel to share!

Friday, June 4, 2010

COMA - Scratching the Surface

The Collaboration of Maleny Artists' (COMA) exhibiton opens tonight at A Peace of Green gallery in Maleny.  The theme was "Scratch the Surface"and finished pieces could be no more than 5" x 7" and 3D pieces were limited to 7" x 7"

Scratching the surface felt more literal than metaphorical to me and I longed to scratch the surface of some metal. I used an aerial view of the Obi Obi creek snaking its way past macadamia stands and through lush green pasture and vegetation around Maleny as inspiration.

I scratched the surface of a found piece of steel by engraving the image and making marks with the engraving tool. The light touch this technique produced reminds me to touch the earth lightly.

I also found an old piece of copper with a beautiful green patina and scratched its surface by etching the design away with acid. The patina left behind reminds me of the verdant landscape of the Blackall Range and the exposed copper reminds me of the rich red earth.

Just to balance out the 2D and 3D elements of the exhibition, Barry and I quickly pulled together another piece called "Home" recycling an old piece and making it new - using a tiny gum bud found on our morning walk to make a nest in a copper tree. I scratched the surface of the copper leaf on the timber.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mark-making with Noela - in action!!

I wrote yesterday about the fabulous mark-making workshop we did with Noela.  Then the wonderful woman brought over a CD of photos of us in action and clearly each CD had been tailored to the individual - mine had lots of photos of me.  I was looking particularly glamourous as I do in workshop mode but here are some action shots of the things I described.

Thanks to Noela, Ken and Kim for the photos - an excellent example of documenting the process (not just the outcomes).

1. Left handed mark-making
2. Christine, Fiona Caroline drawing with eyes closed
3. Syringing (?verb?) bleach onto black cotton
4. Gestural mark-making with long handled brushes (LtR Caroline, Mark, Fiona, Noela)