Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finishing off a bit of collaboration

A few weeks ago Susan and I got together to make a box for our unbound book; and we also used the time to choose some papers to make a 'container' to hold our envelopes from one of our previous books.

It was fun going thru Susan's paper drawers and choosing papers that would work.

We selected a brown one and a kind of zebra one. Not the best of explanations, but I'm sure you're with me.

So having selected our paper, I headed home, and independently we made our 'containers' for our envelopes.

We smiled of course when we got them together for a quick look to see where we'd gone with the same materials.

Susan had created a lovely folded pouch which she wrapped loosely with some leather thronging.  She had chosen to use the dark side of the paper.

I had chosen to use the lighter side of the paper and made a slightly more structured envelope with a clip to close it.

As ever, they both work beautifully together, yet they are uniquely their makers' own.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sometimes I miss the mountains

I have just had a great weekend away in Melbourne, just me and my bestie Sue, wandering, talking, chatting, eating, drifting, dreaming.

But nonetheless it is grand to be home.

I love returning and gazing out over the valley - renewing my relationship with the mountains, observing what they are showing today. Tonight the stars were full and bright above us, and the city lights glowed on the horizon, silhouetting Mt Beerwah.

A week or so ago the mountains were magical and beautiful... draped in soft mist puddles.

It's a special place and every day I recognise how fortunate I am to have these ever present companions.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” 

Jo Walton 

Quotes like this just make my day!  I love the sense of an overflowing abundance of books, of books around me, beside me and within my reach. Sigh. My idea of paradise really.

I am struggling a bit with reading for my group book at the moment. We meet every 4 weeks and sometimes when my life is extra busy as it is right now, I don't get enough time to read; which means I am only getting to read my book group books because I feel an obligation to have read them before meeting to talk about them, rather than spending time with my own passions and indulgences.

But I am heading off for a few days and have happily dumped any thoughts of responsibility and am just packing books I want to read, for me.

And all seems well with the world.

Books do offer me much solace and comfort and I do believe I can almost face anything if there are books about. Which is quite a remarkably powerful and strong notion really isn't it?

To really believe that books will support you thru anything is quite amazing.

I bought these buttons at my favourite bookshop - Rosetta Books in Maleny - yesterday.  They make me smile and express so many things I feel about books and reading. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Printmakers fun

I mentioned that on Sunday we hosted Maleny Printmakers at our place for a play day - which was highly unsuccessful until we started to do copper sulphate etching on aluminium plates.

The kitchen lithography seemed simple - alfoil, soap or lithography crayons, coca cola, water, oil then ink...but not one of us managed to get the coca cola to interact with the crayon or soap in order to change the surface of the alfoil - despite the videos making it look oh so easy and like magic.

We all tried different things so we kind of feel as if we gave it a good go - but maybe our alfoil is different to the alfoil in France and the US; maybe our soap needed different properties and maybe our coca cola is even different to what is used elsewhere.

Here are my marks on alfoil before coca cola.

After I inked up my alfoil and printed - all you can see is the ink where I couldn't rub it off the foil - none of the marks collected ink at all.

So it was with a bit of fear and trepidation that I suggested we give copper sulphate etching a go on the aluminium plates we had purchased.  It was several years ago that I attended a workshop on this and I hadn't played with it since, so hazy, sketchy and uncertain were all good adjectives to describe my recollections.

Still we wanted to achieve something other than shiny alfoil on the day so off we went.

The sense of relief I felt when I saw the surface of my test plate being etched was immeasurable! Something was happening and from there on in, everybody could have a play, experiment and test out ideas. Phew.

Here are some images of the plates and prints that people achieved...

Kim's stunning marks. In both instances her plate is upside down to the print. But don't you just love the plates as well?

Some of Susan's test plates - experimenting with different resists and marks.

A couple of Nancy's lovelies.

The richness of Nancy's black background on this one is sublime.

Steph's print and plate - lovely shapes and marks again.

A couple of Sonja's - Mt Beerwah and a second impression of a snake skin in soft ground

And a remarkable thumb-print root system on this tree

I din't get around to printing - was too busy mother-hening and hoping that everything was working out OK. Nonetheless, I have several wee plates prepared and one day sometime soon I hope to do something with them!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


We have spent a really wonderful day with our local Maleny Printmakers group here at our place. We decided to have a play day and test out "kitchen lithography" which is all about using stuff around the house to create prints.  Eight of us gathered, and watched the video and were inspired and dumbfounded by the ease of it all - how cool, we could create prints so easily!

Laugh.  All eight of us tried, and failed to get even a mark on our aluminium. Then we did variations, tried new things, did this, did that, walked backwards in a circle three times... you name it we tried it, and yep, still none of us got a mark to appear, let alone print!

Luckily we had lots of food, and coffee.

The afternoon was way more successful, with copper sulphate etching onto aluminium plates. I'll try to show you some photos of that later on - I didn't check if I could blog on them sorry!

In other work around the place I have been embossing, and trying out three-tiered embossing as well.  So far so good, although it took me quite a few tries to wrap my brain around the process and to get the sequencing right.

X marks the spot, on velvety soft Arches Velin.

Sorting out my letters and taping them in place.

My very sophisticated light box - paper taped to the sliding door of the shed!

The last template to be worked on.

And the result...

This is not too bad for a trial. You can tell is a trial because the letters are too close together, unlike the letters in the photos above. I haven't gotten around to photographing the other piece - it was swept up in the tidying of the studio before today's play day.

Still, I do like the extra 3-D nature of these letters and think I shall have fun exploring them.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“The meaning of the work is in the doing of it.” 

Cy Twombly

An interesting thought to read from Cy Twombly whose work is so beautiful, sublime and almost not there sometimes.

In a way, this was unexpected for me - perhaps my own prejudices come forth here, but I am not used to great artists paying attention to the process, the making, the doing. So much capital A art seems to be discussed as about the inspiration, the intent, the message and the meaning... rather than celebrating the making.

This quote seems to say to me that the message of the work is in the making, not what it purports to represent or the political or social commentary that can be attributed to it afterwards.

I am a maker and proud to be so, and I love exploring the processes, both the physical and the existential, that occur as we work towards something. I am no student of art or Art and cannot claim to have any great insights or knowledge or learnings, I am just pleased to see somebody whose work I admire celebrating the process!

©2009 Fiona Dempster, Sashiko in Tatebayashi
And once again the world has turned and I am joining in the monthly challenge to find the rainbow - also known as Roy.G. Biv. This month we are looking for indigo - the hardest colour I think - and this is some indigo-dyed fabric with Sashiko stitching. You'll find more indigo and more links over with Jennifer and Julie.

This stitching tells a story I am sure, and shares its meaning.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bits of black and white

Life seems to have had a few moments of late, but we appear to be in back front for a bit.  I have mostly been trying to get works ready for our exhibition in August - oh my goodness, is that really the time!?!?! - and also working on a few commissions, so I don't actually have much that I can show right now.

I do however have these images of a pebble commission and the front cover of a farewell card for Ken. He is heading off for a year, travelling the world, so we had a lovely Sunday lunch for a COMA farewell at Wendy's place at Maleny Retreat. A wonderful shared lunch, lots of good conversations, walks and wanders in such a stunningly beautiful and peaceful location.

The request for pebbles was large! One upper case alphabet, two lower case alphabets, extra vowels and some punctuation. I think whoever gets to play and write messages with these pebbles will have a fine time.

Don't you just love the question marks in life?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

"Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it". 

 P.J. O'Rourke

This always makes me smile.  I am sure that at times people are quite keen to let you know what they are reading because it is fashionable, controversial, very very clever or highly-thought of, and that somehow their reading of it adds something to their worthiness.

On the other hand of course some books are kept in wrappers such that nobody knows what you're reading. I remember in recent times that book about 50 Shades...was in a plain grey wrapper in our favourite book shop. I laughed of course because everybody would know exactly which book lay below that cover so it seemed like a double-blind something or other.

My reading style is eclectic, and I would suggest there is only a 50-50 chance that I would look good if I died in the middle of most of the books I read!  I'm not sure what the other half would say about me; but in the end it doesn't really matter does it?

My very own shades of grey (or white) book... The Unbearable Whiteness...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A journal article

There is a great journal from the US called "Bound and Lettered". It caters for artists' books, bookbinding, papercraft and calligraphy.  I have subscribed for a number of years and it is always a treat when it arrives to sit down with a cuppa and go thru the articles.

In this edition (Volume 10, Number 4), I was fortunate to be included with an article on how I wrote on the big log of timber outside David Linton's wood shop here in Maleny.

The article is titled Words on Wood and goes through the trials and tribulations of writing on such a large piece of timber. It also compares the timber when it was originally put in place in 2009, and how it has weathered over the years.

I am thrilled to say that the lettering has survived a couple of very wet summers.

I wrote about the weathering a bit here on my blog last year.

I was really pleased that they accepted the article - and I am in great company in this Volume. The articles on Activist Scribes by Carol Du Bosch and Calligraphy for a Cause - out of the silence by Sally Penley have completed energised and enthused me.  There is also a great article on Modern Bindings on Antiquarian books by Jen Lindsay. And plenty more. It has taken several cuppas to get through this one.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tired but happy

Well, we have just finished our weekend of Open Studios.  This is the first time we have kind of done this on our own, rather than as part of an open studio trail and we are truly grateful to all our friends, colleagues, family and fellow artists who came along; as well as the many new folk who visited because they read about us in the recent magazine article.

We had a fabulous two days - the weather could not have been better - warm, still and sunny days, with views across the valley for miles and miles. Somehow it always feels better when people visit and they can see the mountains and the valley below us...

We had about 80 people visit over the two days which meant that it was a steady flow of people and that we could really spend time with them and chat.

In the end I didn't take a single shot all weekend, but I did photograph some of  the 'before' views of the shed and studio...

Some of Barry's light catchers.

A view of my display and sale tables. And a few wall pieces.

Barry's raised bowls and pods.

My rusty book "Linear II"

Some of Barry's steampunk range of jewellery

And some of his incense burners.

All in all one would have to say it was a success! We are a bit weary tonight, but that happy, satisfied and grateful weary. Thanks to everybody who made it such a great time - my brother and his wife who brought us food; my mum and dad who dropped off more food to keep us going; our friends who came and bought pieces; the people we had never met who bought pieces; the friends and neighbours who dropped in to see what we do and/or have a cuppa and keep us company... everybody brought so much to the weekend.

We will definitely do it again. Go well.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”

Charles de Lint

These moments are special I think, when from some place deep inside us or from a long way away we get that sense of knowing a place or a person or a thing.

I have no idea if science has a valid explanation for these moments; but I am confident that they are real and that many folk experience them.

It sometimes feels as if in amongst the multitude of people and places on the planet, that you have somehow met them before or visited. Sometimes you recognise a kindred spirit, sometimes you feel you are in the right place.

I remember my very first trip to Scotland when I was in my twenties - we were driving in the Highlands and I suddenly felt this whoosh feeling "this is home". It was palpable and strong. Scotland still calls me and I feel a strong attachment to the west coast - that this is the place of my people and that I am connected deeply somehow.

I think Charles de Lint has a wonderful way of offering us views on what is reality and what isn't, and suggesting that beneath our logical and analytical frameworks lies another way of being and experiencing the world.

Castle Tioram on Loch Moidart, Ardnamurchan Peninsula, Scotland. This is the castle belonging to my mother's side of the family's clan - the McDonald's of Clan Ranald. I love its remoteness and its many moods.

We stayed in a cottage with a view of the castle for a week back in 2003, and spent hours every day gazing at the castle (which is really a ruin), walking over to it when the tide was out, rambling over it and dashing back as the tide came in.

As I type this I can't believe it's been ten years since we made it to Ardnamurchan, I think we might need to head back...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

First alphabet of the year complete

Over at A Letter A Week 2013 there have been some amazing alphabets being created.  One of the alphabets had a theme (as per usual) and this year it was peace.  Not an easy one to interpret or create to; but we have some fabulous responses emerging, and some completed works as well.

Like everybody, I pondered my peace alphabet for quite awhile, and in the end decided to set myself the challenge of finding peace mentioned in the newspapers we read each week; and then doing my letter over the top in a hand I am not familiar with - Neuland style.  Some weeks, I couldn't find a mention of peace; some times I hit the jackpot and there were three or four mentions.

I enjoyed writing on the newsprint - it is an easy every-day material, and graphite/pencil seemed like an ordinary material to use as well. Hoping in a way that peace could be an everyday kind of thing I guess.

When it came to putting them all together, I thought of a corkboard - like pinning up things I had cut out from the newspaper on a board.

The analytical side of me had been recording where I found the word peace and in what context; so I made up an extra top 10 mentions squares as well - and included them in the final piece.

I am playing with the idea of it being more random - but for now the structure and the grid hold me.

My lettering needs a fair bit of work, but I am happy enough with where I got to.