Sunday, June 29, 2014

Flags for Peace beginning

We celebrate and share International Day of Peace on 21 September each year, by making and hanging flags for peace. Mary Jane is hosting the event again, and both Barry and I are turning our minds to our flags.

I will once again hang weather-grams of peace in the tree at the top of the driveway. People see them there and talk about them and that is wonderful. I like to remind them each year...

I have also decided I need to do some quick and simple flags - the diary and schedule are quite full from here until December - so over the weekend I began.

I got some old book pages out, wrote PEACE on five of them, then sprayed them with a gloss varnish-finish to help stabilise them for the weather.

The flags are underway!

They are not yet strung ready for hanging, but I am happy that I have made a start.

Here they are just finished on my writing board

After and before spraying with the varnish...

I discovered this beautiful watermark in the paper when I took it outside to spray.

And I'm always a sucker for a bleed-out shot!

We think we will move all our flags from the back deck out onto the front yard so that folk can see them on 21 September; and my beautiful hand-made paper with origami peace crane flags are still going strong at the front of the house! I love that they have survived a good 9 months outside.

Even if its just for a day and people stop and wonder what the flags are meaning, then that is good. The weather grams last a lot longer and keep reminding folk for months...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

“Reading is a dialog with oneself; it is self-reflection, which cultivates profound humanity. Reading is therefore essential to our development. It expands and enriches the personality like a seed that germinates after a long time and sends forth many blossom-laden branches.” 

Daisaku Ikeda

Reading is for sure, a time of self-reflection. I can't count the number of times where I have talked to myself about something I have read; something I have learned; or a beautiful passage. I often stop and wonder if a conversation in a novel could really have happened like that. I might stop and put myself in that situation wonder how I would have acted.  I think to myself what on earth it must have felt like to have that happen.

If I am reading non-fiction of great sadness I will ache and cry quietly as I ponder upon how tragic some circumstances and experiences are. And very very often, I will stop and say to Barry variations on the theme of "If I ever complain about xxxx just remind of this; or if this is my biggest problem I'm doing all right".

So having just written that, I realise that I am reflecting the quote - that reading and self-relfection can cultivate your humanity.

Blossom in the sand, Umbakumba.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The moon and a conference

A strange combination for  a blog post - but they are both things I have been meaning to write about for a week or so, so figured I'd pop them in together!

I'll start with the full moon from a week or so ago - we were lucky to see it in a few different places,  and at different times; but I also got some shots from the night before fullness.

I continue to be somewhat amazed and astounded at how good cameras are these days - that it is possible for me, with a good, but not special, camera, to stand outside my house without a tripod and photograph the moon. With some detail. The moon!

This is an early morning moon set. I got out of bed at some odd hour for this. I love the sense of mystery as the clouds drifts across it.

With this one I wanted to see if I could get the moon reflection in the dam below, which I kind of did.

And then just the beauty…

The next night, closer to moon rise.

So so beautiful.

If only I could make a stylish segue to the next topic, but I can't so shall just dive right on in!

In October, the Association of Book Crafts New Zealand is holding an international conference in Auckland.  I will be presenting a paper called "Exploring Collaboration", which has grown out of the collaborative work that Susan and I have been doing over the past two years.  It will use our work to illustrate some of the points I want to make about collaboration; and how it can be more than just divvy-ing up the jobs so to speak.

I have become quite intrigued and fascinated by what collaboration can and does mean, as Susan and I have explored it and tested it in different ways, and this paper is giving me a real focus for much of my pondering.

Susan plans to come over the Conference as well, so we will hopefully both be able to show and talk about our work a bit.

I am enjoying the time spent thinking more about this topic, exploring what it looks like and how it can be expressed.  There is always something in the theoretical side of things for me - I like to understand the concepts and the descriptors and the ways in which we define things…

There are some other wonderful speakers attending and hopefully the chance to meet some people form the interweb in person!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Finishing and Faddling

I've experienced that serious sense of purpose and commitment, combined with drive and need to complete a piece this week. Followed by the total relaxation of aimlessly exploring a few different things in the studio, with no goal or aim in mind.

I finished my third "Fragile Gains" book and am mightily relieved to be sending it on its way to the US in the next day or so.

There is always a degree of pressure in delivering work that has been sought - compared to making the work for itself.  Luckily I was kind to myself and gave myself the whole weekend to complete it, after finishing burning through the week.

Quietly and gently it came together; but with lots of persistence.

So here are some fragment of the final…

Before I could knuckle down to the actual completion, I gave myself some empty-mind, free-time to play and explore. So I got out the watercolours and some Arches Velin paper and practiced this -

Then afterwards it was into more mindless tasks like cutting paper to the right size for the November Maleny Printmakers' exhibition and trialling some mono-prints.

Inspired by Carol du Bosch over at A Letter a Week, I also grabbed a pen, dipped it in ink and wrote a letters on a few scraps of paper, then washed the ink off - serendipity of marks here we come!

It was so good for the spirit to just faddle and faff around - trying this and that just for sheer fun of it.

And then today, because the bunches of bananas are ripening much faster than we can eat them; the first loaf of banana bread. I expect there will be plenty more...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

“My heart wants roots. 
My mind wants wings. 
I cannot bear their bickerings.” 

E. Y. Harburg

I think life is full of dichotomies like this and I think it is perfectly fine to feel the tug and the pull between quite different directions or options.

I often feel that between travelling and staying home - the hermit and the wanderer.

In my artwork, it might be between letting go and maintaining some control; between doing commissions and doing my own thing.  It always seems to me that in the end its about the balance.

I'm not sure I feel the bickering quite as much this quote suggests; I am simply just aware that there are tugs in different directions, and that at different times I will respond differently to them. Life's not about being homogenous and only ever doing it one way or feeling one way is it?

WIth reference to the wings…here's my contribution to Jennifer and Julie's monthly search for Roy G Biv, the rainbow. We are almost at the end of our rainbow so to speak, with this month's colour being indigo.  Some emu feathers as part of a cyanotype...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Of skirts and things...

Last week I got together with a friend to sew a skirt. We had been inspired by simple clothes we had seen; with bits added and stitched and embellished upon them. Surely we could do that we thought?  I bought a very simple 6-panel A-line skirt pattern; she drafted hers from a skirt she already owned - braver than me.

We sat and stitched together and had a fun time - feeling very excited as the garments appeared before our very eyes.

I figured that as I didn't really know what I was doing that I would use calico as the base material. It is a lovely colour, nice and honest to work with and inexpensive - if I stuffed up it wasn't a huge loss.

I didn't have time to buy interfacing or a zip, but went ahead regardless.

This time around I made all 6 panels out of calico; but the central front panel I made the seams on the outside - so that it has that unfinished look about it and will fray - I am hoping for lots of loose threads.

Without interfacing I chose to strengthen the waistband by doing three rows of stitching through it once it was on - no idea if it will work, but it seemed OK. I did buy a zip the next day so that went in.

I then found a few scraps of fabric in my fabric stash. One was tea-rusted by me; one was eco-dyed by Trace and one was vinegar-rusted by me.  I stitched them on, simply, and then left threads dangling again.

In lieu of a hem I just pulled threads and let that fray as well.

People may have already seen the skirt on Facebook but here it is and here am I in it.

We took these photos very quickly to send to my friend; but now I'm showing them to the world. Laugh. We did smile at all the lovely 'props' that remain - spare shoes, bags, tea-towels….but that's us and that's life!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A lovely weekend

Here we are, Sunday night, tired and happy.

We opened the studio over the weekend, and had lots of wonderful chats with folk - some who were just driving by and decided to drop in on a whim; others who serendipitously found themselves nearby and came to visit and meet in person; and new locals and old locals and new and old friends also came along. And my fabulous mum and dad who brought food to keep us going!

There was time for chats and cuppas here and there. The studio looked good after we had cleaned up outside; and inside it sparkled as well. The log fire kept the place warm and toasty and inviting, and the weather was overall pretty kind.

These photos are all "pre" shots, so still looking tidy and fairly well stocked... I should have done an "after" shot as well! Not quite so tidy...

As you walk in the door.

My shelving at the end - filled with knicks and knacks and pages waiting to tell me what they need to be...

A pause on the stairs for two of Barry's pieces, and a quiet-peace-filled nook.

Then upstairs to Barry's steampunk-inspired corner. He could have sold that lamp a few times over!

 And to glass cabinets with my books and bibs and bobs..

 Including my rusty nest...

A table of Barry's shiny things…

And a few prints and wall pieces as well.

We stop and reflect on what an Open Studio is really about for us.  We used to be part of an Open Studio Trail - and could have hundreds of visitors through over  a weekend; sometimes busloads would appear.  They were busy, chaotic and exciting times; but not everybody who came was interested in our work and there was very little time to talk with people about what we did or why we did it; and visitors often didn't get a chance to ask questions or explore something more deeply or more slowly.

So going out on our own has meant fewer people coming through - but more time with them. It has surprisingly also meant more sales which is interesting in itself. Altho don't ever ask me to pick what might sell - I can never pick it!

It was also a great opportunity for me to be able to show people "Fragile Gains" 2/3 before it heads to the US on Tuesday.  It was wonderful to see how people responded to the work and to knowing that it was off across the oceans.  There won't be any copies left in Australia when I finish 3/3 and post it off, so I am glad that a few more people got to see it here. Because a lot of my works heads off, it isn't seen locally so it is nice to share it with folk in person, here, right here, where it is made.

It also works for us, because it shows locals that we really do run a gallery/shop of sorts and that if they want a gift for an event or occasion or a card, then they can call us and pop over and purchase it. Gradually folk are beginning to feel as if we offer that - a shop - and we love it when people ring and say I need a gift for a wedding in Italy…or it's my husband's birthday tomorrow do you have anything? It is a lovely local exchange - handmade and personal gifts.

There are moments of absolute joy where somebody falls in love with something; you can take the time to show how you do it; they get to try and take a wee bit home; with their heads full of ideas and inspiration. That's priceless I think.

There's also something else - it reminds us that we are skilled and semi-professional artists; and encourages or forces us to think about ourselves that way for a bit. There is always a bit of pressure in putting yourself out there, and yet we both find it good to be able to tell our stories and show our work and in the doing, we get reminded of what we are…strange I know, but I often have those moments where I think "we're not in Canberra any more" just like Dorothy isn't in Kansas anymore.

So it works for us on a professional development level as well.

It means so many things, and offers so many things. Plenty of pondering still to happen I expect as we go over moments and experiences; and share thoughts with each other and vignettes from the two days.

And we have plans to do it all again in November...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday Thoughts…and a winner

But I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.” 

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

This week's Thursday Thought turns to art again, in my mini-cycle of art, life and books.

For me, this quote is just a perfect way of describing art; as much as it describes writing so beautifully.

In a way, it's funny to read words like these from someone who is so successful, who has found her voice and her tribe and who write so wonderfully, and is so well-published. Nonetheless, I don't think her success precludes her from explaining how she feels about writing (or making art) whether one get's published (or bought/collected) or not.

I imagine a successful author gets a wee bit exhausted with all the events they have to attend in order to promote or sell their book; the Writer's Festivals they need to be seen or heard at and the like. So perhaps its a bit "be careful what you wish for…"

I guess for me it returns to process, to the act of making, to the doing, the expressing and the creating. Not so much about the final piece, but for an artistic soul, the doing matters and is its own reward. Ms Lamott writes of what writing (making) gives and teaches; as well as the many surprises we experience. This captures how I feel about making and creating - I feel that I am given so much by the opportunity to spend time in that place.

Happy time in the studio - lost in the making…

And now to the winner of the give-away!

I had such a wonderful time reading all your favourite quotes - so many fabulous, uplifting and energising words were shared, so thank you all for your encouragement and support.

19 individuals left a comment, so I wrote the numbers 1-19 on scraps of paper, popped them in a cloud-bowl and asked Barry to select a number. He chose number 15, and the 15th person to comment was Mo Crow - congratulations!  If you let me know your postal address I shall pop the wee book in the mail to you soon.

Thanks again everybody...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Happy days and play

I have been enjoying studio time of late - lots of lovely little adventures beginning; but it is probably time to start focusing on some of the bigger pieces of work that are waiting for me to spend time with them.

There has also been lovely news in the past week or so.

I learnt that I have sold both of my Fragile Gains books, and that I also need to send my third in the edition over to 23 Sandy Gallery as well!  As I have said to Laura - it is  still 'under construction' but will hopefully wing it's way over there soon. I end most days smelling like a hippy smothered in incense at the moment…

It is so wonderful to know that books I care about deeply and which I respect are heading into University collections.

Another piece of good news has been that an article I wrote on the "A Letter a Week - Artistic Journeys Through the Alphabet" exhibition which I organised late last year, has been published in Issue 15 of Down Under Textiles.

It is a six-page spread and a visual feast. It gives such a great sense of the pieces and looks wonderful!

 One of the double page spreads…

Here's one of my transition projects - a little bit of fun before I begin some serious work.  I mentioned rusty birds the other day and I have played around with what they can do.  Different techniques, different results, and all a bit of fun!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Open Studio time again!

It's exciting to think that this time in a week, we will have hosted another Open Studio event here on the mountain. We are both looking forward to it, and have been busy in the studios over the weekend making things and testing things but not yet cleaning up!  That will happen throughout the week so things are all sparkly next Saturday.

I have been enjoying making more books and some notebooks. Here is another "peace is every step" book; this time in wild crazy purple, magenta and red - acrylic inks into water.

I love the hand-stitched detail on the book's wrap.

A six-page concertina, it will sit nicely without taking up too much room.

It has little cut-outs and hand stitches in the valley folds…threads dangling again.

And in keeping with the 'in the pink' kind of theme happening in the studio at the moment, here are some red poppy prints I have even working on - possibly for the Maleny Printmakers' next Collectables exhibition in November. Not sure where they are headed at the moment…

I'll be updating my on-line shop after the Open Studio - adding more things and maybe even taking some things down if they sell next weekend!