Sunday, February 28, 2016

Letterpress whisperings

The title of the post is an odd one, but it is how I have come to feel about getting access to letterpress materials - presses and type in particular.  Its not easy to find presses or type or the other bibs and bobs you need in Australia.  We don't have many left, and they seem to be part of an underground world, where messages are passed around between this one and that. Letterpress whisperings...

I felt beyond belief fortunate to have been part of the whispering network through the week. The fellow I visit to rummage around in his shed and see what sort of odd sets of type he might still have, emailed to say he had come across a stash of things if I was interested.


So Barry and I enlisted the help and the car of my dad and headed south again - the second trip in ten days to gather more type and drawers and things...

It took two cars, packed to the gills and quite heavily laden, but it was worth it. I have spent the weekend sorting, cleaning, hauling, lifting  and detailing what I gathered and I remain elevated on a cloud by the sheer volume of it and its gorgeousness.

Loading some of the trays into the back of our car.

A pile of the trays on the floor in the studio.

And on the paper drawers...

I think there were 27 trays all up.

Full. Of type.

Barry spent most of his Saturday cleaning, sanding and oiling the cabinet to return it to its aged grace. What a gem he is.

I loved the back of the cabinet and its many many stories...

Barry also cleaned the furniture rack for me. I won't need to go looking for furniture for a very long time!

The small Adana that we bought up as well.

With all of this stuff strewn round the studio, I decided "Holy Exploding Studio Batman"
would be an apt title for this panorama shot.

This is where I got to by cob Saturday - cleaning the drawers and slotting them back in.

And when I pulled up stumps this afternoon, it was nearly done. Or at least there was enough room on a table for me to make and cover some book covers for a job I must do (when I am not distracted by type...)

And to add to the wonder of the week, I got an email asking if I would like to be gifted a book press, a sewing frame and sundry bookish bibs and bobs. Clearly yes was the only appropriate answer, so off we went on Saturday morning to collect that as well - lots of whispering going on amongst the binders and the letterpress folk. And lots of heavy lifting going on for Barry and I!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” 

Anne Lamott

This is one of those quotes that I have glanced at and read times over and always smiled and enjoyed and thought 'I like that'.  Today I chose it to ponder upon, and it struck me that I really hadn't ever thought too much about what it might really mean.

In terms of application to my own life, or my observations of life I wondered what it meant to be a lighthouse?

As I though about it, I think it means for me that the true value of a person's shining light is that they are somewhat steadfast and reliable and they are just there.  You know they are there, they share their light and you can find them easily.

They don't run around like a chook without a head trying to rescue people; they are there sharing light and possibly wisdom and care.

So it's about light - and all it offers, but also about presence and availability. They are there, and their gift is shared.

I'm intrigued what a wander these words have taken me on when I so instinctively just liked them!

So having happily chosen the quote and gone a'wandering with it, I then thought do I have a single photo of a lighthouse with which to illustrate this post?  Barry reminded me that on our recent trip to NZ we saw a lighthouse - but did we have photo of it? Yes I did take one!

From inside a boat and all, but you can imagine this wee lighthouse shining for boats to keep them safe.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Back to 'Endure'

I was looking for a photograph for something the other day and was wandering through the professional photographs that Susan and I had taken of the collection of collaborative books 'Pas de Deux'.

I realised how beautifully Anastasia had captured our large Perspex books and that I had never really been able to show anybody what my book Endure actually looked like.

I had made attempts, but photographing Perspex is nigh on impossible and the light in our home adds a further degree of impossibility.

So to take you all back a few months, here is Endure in all its professionally-shot glory.


Endure (L) and Susan's Perseverance (R). Studio photography by Anastasia Karyofillidis.

Close up and personal.

 And from behind...lovely little stitches.

And here it is on display at Noosa Regional Gallery last year.

Our two books were the entrance feature.

The lighting was superb...

And oh me oh my the shadow-play!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

More joy with type

My love affair with type and letterpress continues.

During the week Barry and I got dirty and dusty on a road trip to discover more type.

We travelled south a bit and visited a fellow who has a shed of type and things and sometimes presses.

No presses this time, but I did get to purchase some 'fancy' typefaces and some ornaments, as well as a few technical and very useful items.

But first to the dirt on the fancy type. Such fun and fancy, but oh so dusty. Task one is to wash it it all, then discover what might lie within. Is there a full alphabet? Do I have punctuation?  It's always a gamble, but I just want to gather type and save it from being melted down.

A fancy N or an upside down U?
 It's a U.

I also picked up some random wooden type and a small box of more fancy things - ornaments as they are called in the trade I think.

And then on the weekend I got to play a bit too.

 So I put a test chase into the 1890 Lightning Jobber press to see what was there. When you are working with fancy or unusual type, it's always hard to tell from trying to read them backwards whether things are as they seem.

From this test sheet, you can see I don't have a capital D, K, or M, and that what I thought might have been a fancy L is in fact the pound sign.  And what I thought might have been a fancier lower case l was in fact a b. I was happy that all the lower case was there, including two 'e's and two 's's and two 'd's.

And so I went to town, merrily printing away with my beautiful old workhorse press.

Just a bunch of cards to have in my stash to send, but such a fun time. The over-printing doesn't really work, but that is what play is about no?

Sigh, love that soft impression into the paper.

One of my favourite cards to send.

And how cool was it that Barry found another tray of type that had two smaller sizes of a fancy typeface; and it wasn't until I had cleaned the larger size  that we confirmed they were pretty much smaller sizes of the one in the dirty type tray, with a few variations here and there!

And then I played with the ornaments. Not an easy task to just pile a bunch of different sized pieces of type into a chase and try to lock it up - so the pressure wasn't perfect in a few places - but I just wanted to get a feel for what they looked like. You'd never really use them like this, but once more it was fun getting in and learning heaps.

Nothing earth-shattering here again, just some lovely swing tags to attach to gifts at some point.

It was good to get into the studio and make something again.  It has been a while, but I am slowly working my way back. I have started thinking about a book I want to make using letterpress, so that is  a good sign.

Until then, I am just so happy to be playing and learning.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” 

Maya Angelou

It's a funny superstitious kind of thought isn't it in a way? - that we have a finite amount of creativity within us, and after using it, it will all be gone.  I don't think I've ever thought of it that way - like Maya I tend to think the more you use, the more you create.

My original profession was a physiotherapist, so I look at creativity like a muscle - the more you use it, the stronger it becomes; the more effective it is and the more efficient you are.

I guess if you look at in the reverse, that the less you use the less you have, that also seems to hold true. Those times when you haven't been able to get to the studio and be creative in any way shape or form, seem to show that when you do, you are often searching, looking here and there for the creative juices to flow, for the spark that will set you going again. It's as if by not using it, you have lost some of it.

I also think it happens that once  you start making connections, leaping here and there, trying this and that, following that lead, exploring that option, trying that idea out, that the creativity just multiplies and the energy flows and the wow! factor is there.

Not the most beautiful L in the world - a bit unbalanced and all the rest - but it shows me playing and trying and testing and letting loose...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pas de Deux article

A happy visit to the Post Office this morning when I discovered my copy of Bound and Lettered had arrived - and it contained the article I had written on Susan's and my collaborative works, the Pas de Deux collection.

The article features the story of the collaboration - in one place rather than over a few years of blog posts, as well as showing some of the pairs of our books.

It is nice to see the story in print, and lovely to be able to share it more broadly.

Here is the cover - in case you happen upon a copy somewhere or want to buy it online.

The photography by Anastasia Kayofyllidis is gorgeous and the books simply shine.

The palette of the works together is very much the look of the exhibition we held last year. Such a sympathetic and gentle feel to them all.

And then just because it has been an odd summer - jeans and jumpers one day singlet tops and shorts the next, literally, I've thought of these as the last of the summer roses...

They may not, but the way the light caught them, evoked that sort of feeling.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

White and white and black and white

I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have anything to post about this weekend as I seem to be doing mostly documenting and other types of art work at the moment. But today I sat down and went to town as they say, making samplers for my white on white course. It was fun.  Gradually the book is building...

Piercing tracing tracing paper

Gelli-plate printing

Hand stitching - testing length of stitches and threads.

Embossing with lino

Embossing with desk mat

De-bossing with desk mat

And then I had to print on black paper to see what happened - very happy! Nothing to do with white on white but you know when you just want to head off and try something?

And to finish off, I came across these stencils at a recyclerama show on the weekend and think they will be fun. Plus they look gorgeous. A kiss and a hug.