Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry” 

 Leonard Koren

So much of my work is the fine balance between enough and not enough; never really at the other end of the scale of enough and too much.  I constantly struggle to find the balance between my need for simplicity and the essence of things, and the appearance of nothingness and emptiness.

I love the words here, suggesting that the goal I have in my mind without real knowing it, is to not remove the poetry. To make sure I have enough of it, and that I leave the bits that sing, that speak, that whisper to folk. To ensure that I haven't simply created an echo chamber.

I love those moments when you go - That's me! That's how I want it be! That's what I'm trying to do! And keeping the poetry in the work is just that.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More low tech design strategies

As previously seen, I still like to do a good old cut and paste and print it out to see where I am headed with long and large amounts of text for walls.

I have the honour of attaching the storyboard to the artwork that sits above the checkouts at our local IGA store. Back in 2014 Noela Mills designed the work, Edith Ann and her team installed it and here in 2016, I am completing it with words. Rob and Sam the IGA owners, say that folk really love looking at it, but they don't always fully understand it, so could I please help tell the story?

Happy to!

The two walls I have to place it on are 8m and 8.8m wide, so I want the words centred on both.

Rather than try to get handwritten calligraphy to scale I chose a computer font that looks slightly handwritten and scaled it up.

So I thought about what size I thought would work and decided the only way I could comfortably do it was to print it out.

The good news was that I printed on old letterhead, and that the paper was then shredded for mulching the garden...I used 48 A4 pages up front.

As you can see my first attempt at printing went a long, long, way, snaking through the house for 9.5m...a bit too long.

So I fiddled and faddled with font sizes and scaling and worked it out pretty well after quite a few extra efforts.

The top run is at 300pt, the second at 250pt, the third at 220pt and the fourth at 235pt.

235pt won.

So now to choose the colour; to measure the height above the baseline (currently the baseline is hidden by Christmas decorations) and then organise to get it printed, cut and installed.

2017 here we come!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Peace on Earth

Today is Christmas Day, and we turn towards families and friends; to gather, to celebrate, to share, to reflect, and to remember.

Wishing all my friends in the land of blog a peaceful, gentle and calm Christmas. Wherever you may be, near or far, and however you may spend the times, may you find and celebrate moments of peace.

Peace for all of us, one step at a time...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” 

Stephen Fry

It seems to me that the near hysteria about the end of the paper-book is slowly receding and we are all settling back and realising that there is place for everything: the e-book,;the audio book; the hardback; the paperback...

We live at an amazing time and are privileged to have so many options available to us - the chance to listen to a book being read; the chance to read in the dark with a semi-illuminated device and the glory of holding a paper book in our hands.

This quote by Stephen Fry says it simply.  Escalators and elevators exist, but then so do stairs.  Stairs are still there and are still used by many folk. As any person who uses a wheelchair will tell you - stairs never died out and lifts, ramps and elevators never took over the world (yet).

The newest and the latest and the greatest don't always take over, and don't always last - fads and fashions have shown us that through history. On the other hand some things do become consigned to the waste paper basket when they are superseded by improved and better things.

I guess its just about keeping perspective and remembering if something is good; and is useful; and does things for us that the new things don't, then it will probably be OK.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Next steps...

The end of the year is approaching which means my deadlines are approaching too!

 I have been struggling a bit with head and neck problems and have been told no sustained bending of my neck - which makes hand stitching a virtual impossibility. I have put it aside for 10 days to let my neck get better; but in the interim have been progressing other tasks that also need to be done, and which don't require me to have my head down for long periods of time.

 This is part 2 of the poetry commission and thankfully, the tricky parts - using the photopolymer plates and registering the second colour print - have gone well.

 The work won't be public until the end of January, so in the interim, here are some more shots of work in progress...

Once again, the photopolymer plate got itself inky on the way through. We trimmed it back to here; and then ended up trimming all the way back very close to the lettering.  You really couldn't leave the ridge line and the inky bit in...

An inked up press is a beautiful thing.

Part two printed and left to dry on the 'drying racks'

 A detail of the cover - from a photopolymer plate (no inky bits!)

Hopefully I can get back to some stitching in the next few days - taking it slowly and gently and not pushing myself.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Poetry commission underway

I have the privilege of working on a beautiful letterpress poetry commission at the moment. It involves poetry and I plan to do a single page of poetry, with two colours, and a cover.

Whilst I had set aside Saturday and Sunday of printing, I was lucky that there wasn't too much booked in for Friday as well, as I took several hours on Friday to start setting the type.

 This is the first large piece of work I have done really - and I discovered so many thing I need! I need a lot, a lot, of spacers. They are the metal bits you put between words and then some larger bits that fill out your lines so that you have a nice rectangular block to lock up. I need these spacers in each size of type I am using – in this case 18pt and 12pt.  As well as in 24 pt for between the verses and 36 pt for between some of the lines.

 I also need lots of lead line spaces as well - and luckily I had bough a box of them one time not really knowing why, and also a lead cutter so I could cut them to size! So Friday was a very long day of trying not to panic in case I didn't actually have enough of the things I needed in order to fulfill the order.

 It also feels different because the words and work are precious and special; and because I am getting paid for it as well. Extra reasons to try and get it so right.

Here, as I begin, you can see how many spacers I needed to fill out the lines - I used to think it was all about having enough type!

I had a moment when I realised the polymer plate of my calligraphy, to be used for the title, was actually much wider than the body of the poem. It seems you can't remember everything when you're learning. It worked out OK tho.

Beginning setting the type for the cover

And so to proofing!  I LOVE proofing. It shows you where the ink is going as well as all the mistakes you have made and gives you chance to fix things before printing for real. Here are some fun mistakes along the way.  The actual polymer plate, not just the lettering, was picking up ink - eek.

Nothing like an upside down letter or two. Or a mischosen letter or two!

Right at the end of the longest line of type, one word wasn't picking up as much ink. It  may have been the rollers were slightly imbalanced or the plate had moved a bit, but the easiest solution was to build the word up a bit from behind with some double-sided tape. Worked a treat.

The end of Day 1 printing using the stairs as drying rack. And why not I say.

And then because I hate to waste ink and there was a lovely grey still there on the plate...

I didn't even unwrap the type that I keep tied up. I didn't set it in the Adana or the Lightning Jobber. I just placed it onto the bed of the proofing press, rolled it with a roller, popped the cards on top and printed.

Very rudimentary and not particularly precise, but it did the job in the 15 minutes I had. I soooooo didn't want to have to clean up another plate and set of rollers just to play with these cards, so this was a good solution!

Next steps - printing the second colour and the cover...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” 


It is a thought worth pondering I think as we consider how best to use our precious time. Not only in  the big things of life, but also in the little things along the way, as I look back over the year since my mum died.

The words here ring with an edge of regret, a hollowness, or loss; of not taking opportunities.  I am not sure you can really live successfully with regret; but I think the words are helpful in terms of guiding or shaping some of our day to day decisions.

In typical fashion I head to the middle on this idea; I don't honestly believe you throw everything up in the air and do whatever you want to do right now, just because something might happen. Nor do I think you just sit there going oh I have plenty of time for everything I want to do or say so I can just put that off.

I do think the words might suggest that if there are important things to do or say, then do or say them now.  If you have a kind thought, then act on it.  Don't necessarily put off the things that matter; but find ways to incorporate them into your life somehow.

None of us ever know when we will run out of time for ourselves, or with others, so I guess it is just about making the time we do have matter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Different stitching

On reflection, this year has been a year of teaching and of commissions. Both of which are grand; but both tend to see me working on work differently to the way I work on things when I am just creating and making from my heart and my head and my hands.

In the past few weeks I have carved out three hours a week just for myself. I have been attending 'sewing' which is all I can say; a group of women gather in a shed/studio and make clothes under the guidance of the amazing Narelle.

People alter trousers; modify and adjust existing clothes; follow patterns and make shirts; draft patterns off existing clothes and then sew new versions; and also draft patterns from an image. Amazing stuff.

I am sewing from patterns, drafting from existing clothes and modifying and altering.

Here is the first stage of my latest project. I am sewing a tunic style dress from a Japanese pattern book and have decided to add a few contrasts and a bit of hand sewing.

As I wandered around I thought I wanted to add some detail to the pockets and this is how they are looking.

The dress is the beautiful purple linen, and I like that one  pocket has a vertical detail and one pocket has a horizontal detail.

Before stitching.

Sewn onto the front of the dress - sadly the purple is not a good colour in the photo; it is a beautiful violet colour really.

I bought this nice oatmeal coloured linen top but found it was a bit short. So I decided to add a bit of length front and back in a contrasting colour. And at Narelles' suggestion, I added a little something to the pocket to bring the whole lot together so to speak.

And my first attempt ever at drafting a pattern from existing clothes. I loved my pair of loose, linen pants with a stretch band waistband and together Narelle and I worked out how to re-create them. So happy!

The bottom photo shows the colour best; the top photo shows the trousers best. Laugh.

So at the moment, this feels like some of the most creative work I am doing, and I am enjoying it oh so much.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Stitching and the art of orchids

As for everybody right now, the world is busy and focused. I am trying to finish a couple of commissions before the end of the year and they are taking a fair bit of dedicated time. Which I may say, is kind of hard to find in amongst our other commitments to places and people, but slowly slowly we will get there.

So I don't have much to show for my art at the moment, which is why this blog post is all about the art of my dad's orchids, with a little bit of stitching.

My dad is an amazing grower of orchids. He tries to always have at least a couple in bloom all year round and at the moment, they are excelling themselves.

They always make me smile when we visit.

This tiny wee white one is a stunner. The flowers are about 1-1.5cm long.

Lots of lovely gorgeousness to go around...

Dad has the art of growing orchids down pat; I think it's best if I don't try to emulate him but just stick to my own art and just enjoy the results of his!