Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Letterpress play

We have been busy here on the mountain hosting Christmas and visitors and attending events; and the associated cleaning, cooking and washing that accompanies it all. Today we had no commitments to anybody but ourselves and decided this was the time to do two things - begin our New Year's cards, and see if we could have a play with the beautiful letterpress we bought a few months ago.

So we got to combine the two, working out as we went along whether or not we could letterpress print our NY cards this year.

So far so good!

First things first, we changed over the paper that the former owner had used for his registration of work. It was a work of art in its own right, but I wanted a fresh start.

The new paper in place.

Barry and I worked out how to set the small wooden type pieces we had discovered in Paris last month in the chase.  I don't have a great deal of understanding of the language to describe all the parts, so forgive any blunders...

First impressions...we needed to check what might print before we actually inked the plate up fully. The poor old 1 was hardly there at all, the 0 was great and the 2 and the 5 both needed a little bit of assistance.

So we popped the chase out again and taped some paper to the back of the type to lift them forward ever so slightly.

And then the inking began!  I laid on some bright red ink...

And then the press went work. It is the most magnificent design - the rollers go up and down and the plate turns until you have covered the entire plate with an even coating of ink. Just beautiful to behold a machine being so clever.

And the first print! Barry designed a neat way of registering the card - two strips of greyboard with a light covering of paper - and the card slips into it. He turned the wheel and I took the card out and slipped the next one in - a great team.

Here's a bundle beginning to dry.

And here's where I went a little bit crazy with overprinting... not a great look, but it got the brain ticking over about future options...

All in all a delightful way to spend a morning and now I am even keener to sit down and read some of the letterpress books I got for Christmas to get my head totally into letterpress!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Parcels in the post

Although the title of this post makes perfect sense around this time of year - parcels heading left right and centre across land and sea; it's not about Christmas presents.

One of the lovelies things about blogging has to be the connections you make with like-minded souls, in far-flung corners of the world.

Somehow, blogging helps us find our tribes, and by taking the extra time to read a full post or leave a comment (as opposed to scrolling past a post and 'liking' it) you seem to get to know folk better, learn more about their little whims and oddities and the things they like.

Over the past few months I have been delighted to receive parcels in the post from a couple of blogging buddies; all generous gifts that appeared from across the miles and the oceans.

Firstly, way back, Ellen offered up a giveaway and I managed to sneak in before the deadline because of the time zone difference - yay! Ellen sent thru a fabulous stamp print; and then out of pure generosity of spirit added in these packets of stamps. Oh my. I got them out and played with them on the kitchen bench; admiring the brilliant colours; the designs; the age; the combinations. I am looking forward to using them in some work. Aren't they stunning?

Then Gaby who is more friends with Barry than me in a way, but who knows what I like, offered to send me some old nibs she had come across at a market.  They arrived in the most beautiful package and with lots of heart.  They are now sitting happily with my calligraphy tools in the studio - waiting for their debut! I have got as far as writing test words with them all and working out where they fit in the fine-line, flexible or firm nib category and a couple now have their own holders and are good to go.

And then the other week Jennifer sent through a journal Barry had won in a giveaway on her blog; but included an extra one for me; and some of her beautiful cards (which I have already used).  It utterly delights me to receive such gifts from the heart and from the well of creativity, in the mail, and to go through the unwrapping process with such anticipation, and such gratitude on fully opening.

Thank you one and all - blogging is good!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Wishes

As Christmas arrives and we turn towards family, friends, community, rituals, and gentle remembering, I wish for peace.

Peace within, peace between us and peace between nations.

To all my blogging friends who share so much and support each other so much, thank you for another year of magic.

Wherever you may be, and however you may spend the time, may your Christmas be bright and beautiful, may you be safe, and may you find and celebrate moments of peace.

Christmas Bush by Maleny printmaker Julie Hanrahan.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


I think I have come to the view that if I have a year to do something, I will either do it straight up, or leave it until right at the end.

Guess which one I'm writing about today?

Yep - the last minute all stops effort to get my book for the Sketchbook Project done in time!

Around this time last year, Barry and I visited the Brooklyn Art Library to visit the Sketchbooks there, and 'borrowed' two of Jennifer's to have a look at and to hold. Always amazing to view and to hold something which you have only ever seen on-line.

We were fired up and enthused of course and committed to doing our own for this year and I can't speak for Barry, but I promptly put it on the list that could be put off until I really had to do it. And so it turned out to be.

On top of this sense of last-minutedness, I executed my plan very poorly and found I had ruined a couple of pages and couldn't actually do this wonderful fold out looooooonnnnngggg ladder that I thought I would do in line with the theme 'ladders'.

Instead I made many ladders, because sometimes you need more than one ladder to get you out of the pickle you are in...


Friday, December 19, 2014

ALAW finished!

I am finished my second alphabet for the year over at A Letter a Week.  The theme for this one was "Place" and my letters were all about our trip to New York around Christmas last year.

From this pile of embossed pages, each one 7cm x 7cm, representing sections of a map of Manhattan that I had embossed on a larger sheet of paper and then cut up, I wrote my letters and made a book.

The finished wee book.

For each letter I wrote a word that reminded me of our trip there.

A - the Apple Store; in all of its gorgeous glass cube-ness and full of funky young things. And then us.

F - the Flatiron building; such a stunning building and an icon of NYC architecture. And the park across the road had boulders in the branches of trees!

J - for Jennifer, who despite having so much going on, made the time to come down to NYC and catch up with us - it was brilliant.

N - New York itself, in all its madness, haste and beauty.

U - Upper West side where we stay in our semi-sub street level apartment.

X - for Xmas, we spent a beautiful day there feasting and then wandering Central Park.

The book is soft and white as my favourite memory of our visit was the seeing the city covered in snow; how gentle and quiet and muffled it makes it. Central Park a white and beautiful wonderland. Ahhh...so hard to imagine as we sit here and swelter in a summer heatwave with evening storms.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Still thinking of burning...

Susan and I have given ourselves until the end of January to finish these books - we have both been travelling and then of course its Christmas and New Year and summer time here in Oz.

Even tho its a while away, I have been thinking about it and doing little bits here and there.  I think I have nailed the design, and the covers and how the pages will incorporate both of our work.

I think have the scale right and I think I have solved my 'floating' words problem.

Of course, all of this is yet to be tested, but at least some of the thinking is done.

I much prefer this look to the stitched look I was trying out earlier. I was playing with a leftover perplex page.

Floating rather than tethered?

And this is what the back looks like.

Working on cover ideas...

Looking at the possibilities for the pages...

Hopefully it wall all come together with a rush and a roar in the new year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

QLA 2014

One of the commissions we had to finish before we went away was the trophies for the 2014 Queensland Literary Awards. We were honoured to be asked to create them again, along the same lines as last year, but with a bit of variation.

We kept the covers the same - with an updated logo on the front and the words of author/poet David Malouf on the back. The inside of the covers was different - various swirly florentine patterns from recycled EPNS trays.

Barry cut and polished the metal and gave me some spares to acts as embossing plates.  We had the words and logo etched into the metal, but my, you learn a lot working with recycled materials as you are never sure what is in them and how they will react.  There were several 'sick to your stomach' moments when the etching just rubbed right off! We learnt which metal we could use and why, but not after multiple trips up and down to the shop where it was done.

As a result Barry has lots of pieces he can use for books and earrings!

I embossed the inside pages with the florentine designs and wrote the names of the winners. It was such a joy to see so many fabulous books and people rewarded!

Together we riveted the perspex covers surround over the covers and the pages.

Then I stitched them up with my own weird and wonderful binding which I have to remind myself how to do each year!

They were packaged up in their signature orange pouches and popped in the post. We weren't able to be at the ceremony this year, but from all accounts the recipients were thrilled.