Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Preparing to print

I was able to grab the morning in the studio and just wanted to do something small - pretty much anything - to feel like I had inky fingers and words were happening.

Back in January I mentioned that my touchstones for the year were to be kindness, care and hope.

They remain so, and thus I chose to work with those words as I fiddled and faddled with some type.

I love this typeface - Empire 72 pt. So elegant and reminiscent of Art Deco glamour.

How I prepare it,

And how it should look - flipping the photo - this is how it should print.

This is Falstaff 48pt. It is much squatter, but I love the thicks; they gather so much luscious ink and look sumptuous when printed.

The right way around again.

Followed by the still-to-be-classified elegant gothic/blackletter typeface. Such a contrast; but so lovely - 36pt.

I love how it has two different lower case e s.  (Always hard to write the plural of a letter).
I chose the drop down one when finishing a word and the neutral baseline one for the middle of a word.



and Hope

They printed up OK on this scrap of paper and I shall put them to good use!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Another collection

I am thrilled that one of my favourite books, Learning My Lines, has been purchased by the University of the Sunshine Coast to be part of their permanent collection.

Its funny how some books make their way into your heart and this is one that had travelled here and there and always returned, and in the end was one of the very few pieces of my own work that we had in the house. I liked looking at it and it made me smile as I walked past it each day.

I had been talking to the Uni about some other pieces; and was surprised when they said; the piece really we want is one we saw on your website and this was it!

It was made in 2011, and was first exhibited in Melbourne at Hand Held Gallery as part of our exhibition Light and Lines.

It travelled to Perth in 2013 for an artists book exhibition there; and was again shown in Brisbane in 2015.

Each time it came home.

It came about because I found these five scrappy old books with their spine covers disappearing at the recycling shop at the Gympie tip (rubbish dump).  I fell in love and knew they would become something.

I have always been in love with the look soft theses uncovered spines.  They just make my heart melt.

And the book brings me so many happy memories - like learning to rivet with Barry!

And every angle has something of interest; some secret past uncovered, yet not.  So many stories to tell, such  a beautiful object.

The original blog post was titled 'content sigh' and expresses all I felt about the book at the time; and it is intriguing to discover nothing much has changed over all those years; I still love it!

 Learning My Lines will go on display in one of the University's libraries.  Once I know which one, I will try to visit it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

"Reading a good book helps us feel unalone". 
John Green

When things are tough or I am going through life experiences I have not previously had; I turn to books.  Sure I sometimes turn to the Internet, but the bottom line is I turn to books: to read the words that others have thought about and shared; to read how things can and might work out; to read of things I need to prepare myself for and the like.

In these times, I read to know I'm not alone.

In so many ways, books can offer us hope in the darkness; an understanding of what is really happening; or ways to gather and rise up and respond to things that are wrong.  Books can provide encouragement and ways forward, both of which we often need when we are not sure of how the next bit plays...

And so I am gathering good books like a squirrel gather nuts - books that help me make sense of the things I observe around the world; and books that help me have hope and strength to find ways through.

Where would we be without books?

Rainbow stack plus rainbow!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Variety in my life..

I'd have to say I never really get a chance to get bored. I often think I need about three lifetimes to do all the things I want to do; but for now I'll just fill this one up with as much interesting stuff as I can.

I wonder at times if I am a flibbertyjibbert (unsure of the spelling) or if I am just interested in lots of different things and use my brain in a multitude of ways.

Since returning from Toowoomba on Saturday night, my life has been about using produce from the garden, gardening, work-working, book group, catching up with friends, exercising and a sprinkling of mucking about in the studio.

Thanks to some advice I received after failing to get the bleach to really do its thing on black paper or fabric; I bought some fresh bleach and had much more success!

Golden tones on Black Canson.

Rich rusty tones on black cotton.

The garden has been producing madly - summertime will do that - so I have been making and preserving and basically busy in the kitchen whenever I get a moment.

Bell peppers and cherry guavas

Become sweet chilli sauce and cherry guava jelly.

Eggplants become baba ghanouj

Zucchinis become zucchini slice

And not our raspberries, but a delicious Cloud Cake for my Aunt's 80th birthday.

 And most of yesterday and today, I have been writing an online survey for an organisation in Melbourne, work-working.  I had to find a way to get the questions to lead to the right next questions after different responses and here is how I tried to work it out! Feels very different to my art-work; but I guess problem solving is problem solving no matter the problem.

Nonetheless, it does feel as if I am due some solid time in the studio just playing and experimenting and making stuff. Soon I hope, soon!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Teaching in Toowoomba

Barry and I drove over to Toowoomba late on Friday so that we would be there bright and early to start teaching on Saturday morning.

It was a hot day, but the welcome was warm; the venue beautiful and the day full of hard work and fun. I was invited by the Artists' Book group at the Toowoomba Art Society to teach Building Narrative in Artists' Books.

As I mentioned to them several times; they really got the speed version of the ideas, as the workshop would be best taken at a slightly more digestible pace over two days. But we did it!

By the end of the day peoples' brains were full of ideas and things to try and test and a sense of satisfaction that they had achieved something; as well as opened their minds to a bunch of new possibilities.

Twelve people joined me and they all got a folder with their name on it to collect their handouts in.

I was on my feet all day, talking and talking, showing, demonstrating, checking and the like and I rarely got to take any photos; for which I apologise.

We talked a lot about what narrative was in terms of story telling: beginnings, middles and ends; as well how it uses and refers to the past, the present and the future.

I went through how concertina books and scrolls tend to enable you to see the whole idea laid out once they are opened; whereas a codex hides the past and the future, and only offers a glimpse of the whole at any point in time.

We touched on a number of ways of engaging the reader, encouraging them to interact with the book and to continue to read through to discover what happens.  

I think one of the hardest parts for folk was the imposition of pages in a codex - working out the sequence of images and text you want to use; then woking out where they all are in relation to each there and how they will be seen when you open and read the book BEFORE you put the book together.

LOTS and LOTS of thinking and planning!

Betty went to town with her photos and made a book about life's journeys, with lots of twists and turns.

The starting point for Lorna - some of her own words. She went on to use circles and the transparencies in a multitude of intriguing ways.

Hilary made a gorgeous envelope with this template, and her book was full of beautiful artwork and connections.

Stephanie and Jean went on walks with nature; here are some of Stephanie's inclusions.

Debbie explored all of the ways you could make it interesting, as did Claudia and Ute.  So in a way, they made sample books for narrative books; and all of them had ideas of where to next; as if the process of making the templates, had triggered and sparked ideas which was great.

Noelle also tried lots of things and went away with book ideas bubbling along.

Nadine really got into her content and made a book that she could use with her Year 11 art students.

Jo discovered so many beautiful ways of revealing and hiding things as she made her way through her book; and how materials make a difference.  As did Jenny, whose book about the dingo fence had a great ending!

Some of the finished books.

We were doing a simple binding for a single section book (after all that hard thinking and planning it would have been way too cruel to do a complex binding!), but I offered them three variations on pamphlet sewing that just make the books look a bit different, interesting and enjoyable.

 Here are two of my samples - the dot-dash; and the chain stitch sewing.

Show and Tell at the end of the day.

Everybody got stuck in and did heaps of work towards their books. Not everybody completed a narrative book; but by the end of the day, everybody had a number of new skills in their repertoire as well ideas for their next books. I'd love to see where they go next with their books..

As we had breakfast in town before the workshop began, we came across this great laneway coffee shop with some beautiful mural work - here are a couple...

This one by Kate Hallen.

This one by Leona Fietz.

 It's always a good day when you see art and share art. Thanks so much to the Toowoomba Book Artists for inviting me and working so hard; and creating such wonder...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“I will love the light because it shows me the way. Yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” 

Og Mandino

This quote has been with me a long time, and it asked to be used today.  I have enjoyed flicking over it each time I prepare for my Thursday Thoughts post; but today it resonated more and reflected a bit about the way I am feeling at the moment.

iI is almost a truism I suppose: light showing the way; dark exposing things we couldn't see in the light. A simple idea which has probably been used for centuries to help us all make sense of the ups and downs of our world.

At the moment, it feels perfectly pertinent as we face so many distressing situations throughout the world. So many examples of ugliness and nastiness, all predicated on fear or greed or intolerance.  The number of times I have shaken my head with sadness and disbelief in the past month alone have been almost too numerous to count.

But yet.

In amongst all of the awfulness I am buoyed; my spirits are lifted; I am elated, by the rallying of good people with kind intentions all around. From the Women's marches and rallies; to people appearing at airport terminals; to small acts of kindness between strangers. These stars are shining, and they have come out, because the times feel so dark.

These little sparks of light convince me that there is hope; that with kindness and care we will get there.

Linoprint detail from Starry Starry Night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Late last year Mo let me know she had come across somebody with some lead type that they were trying to work out what to do with.  I got in touch and over the course of things, I managed to get my Sydney-based brother to drive over, collect it, and store it, and then my Maleny-based father to drive it home from Sydney to Maleny. Nice work Fiona šŸ˜‰

It was VERY heavy, and it sat on the floor of the studio for quite a few weeks, whilst I worked out what to do with it; and found the time to sort through it all.

The type looked pristine. and on the way through, I decided that I would try to proof the work, so that at least it had been printed once.

A week or so ago I did just that - only onto some poor old Canson Mi-Teinte that I had in the drawers, but it was about the right size.

As it isn't my work, I won't show you the whole thing here; but I did pop a few of the proofs into the mail and sent them down to Sydney just in case the originator wanted to see how it printed.

It was a fascinating piece of work and I loved looking at it, exploring its meanings...

Because there was still ink on the type; I had to just keep printing on scraps of paper. Can't waste ink!  So here are a few more fragments of the work.

And because the work was large, the paper small and very light, and my hand-rubbing-with-a-baren skills still relatively poor; I got these lovely stutter prints.

One of the most intriguing discoveries as I then spent hours cleaning and dissing the type, was how some pieces of type had been altered to create the letters that were needed, and which must have been missing. Here you can see how 'h' became an 'n' and how 'b' became an 'o' on occasions.  I loved the ingenuity.

And then, hours later, I had put it all away in TWO full drawers.  I went through and checked my books, and it is Monotype's Bodoni Bold Italic 36pt.  And those drawers are full and heavy.