Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Whiling away in Waiheke!

Barry and I have just returned from a quick trip to Waiheke Island off Auckland.  Fortunately for us, Auckland is only a 3 hour flight from Brisbane, and Waiheke Island, well its another world away...

We were celebrating a milestone birthday for Barry and we had a delight of a time.

Such a beautiful place, and so much art to ponder upon.

The welcoming view...

 There was art and sculpture throughout the island. Outside the Library, these calligraphic words (wind land hau whenua by Kazuhisa Nakagawa) etched into the concrete...

And this fabulous corten steel Tui's Drop by James Wright.

A beautiful gallery called space housed these homes by Paul Radford.

These magnificent totems were at the Dead Dog Sculpture Park. Sadly we had returned the information sheet before we walked past these so the artist is unknown sorry.

Back in town, I loved how life imitated art, sort of...

Back at our cottage we watched the sunset glow

 We wandered to beaches and fell in love with this boat shed at little Oneroa.

We visited Gabriella Lewenz's beautiful studio and bought this piece as a memory. Altho it was coastal inspired, it felt like valley-mountain mist home...

And a final farewell to Waiheke.

Time flies when you're having fun. Home briefly then onwards again... a little bit of madness never hurt!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

"The older I grow, the more I listen to people who don’t talk much." 

Germain G. Glidden.

It is most definitely true for me that the older I grow, the quieter and more introverted I seem to become.  I don't know if its the life of the artist; the life on a mountain top; or the life of working from home; all I know is that it gets harder to gather in large groups; to attend things where I don't know anybody.

I think its always been a preference - staying home with a good book - but I can almost feel a physical need for it more these days.

And so, to the quote.

Isn't this precious?  I have really found it to be quite true in lots of ways.  Some of the wisest  and most caring people I have come across don't seem to say much.  They seem to listen. They allow you to be heard. They encourage you to explore and find your own answers.

I think it is saying I pay more attention to those who don't say much because often what they say really matters. The words have been weighed, or simply are so perfectly instinctively right; they don't need to say much.

This just seems to say something about being quiet, listening and not saying much...
Stockholm 2017.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Books on the way to the US

I decided that after having pretty much a single focus last year - making work for the Sydney Contemporary - that I would not commit to any one big thing this year; yet I would try to get my work out and about in other ways.

So I responded immediately when I saw that Alicia Bailey, Director of Abecedarian Gallery in Denver Colorado had put out a call for submissions for an exhibition called The Printed Page III.

The exhibition is really a series of satellite exhibitions throughout Denver from February - May 2018. I hint there are about 8 venues and the focus is on books that utilise the more hand-on forms of printmaking as a primary element.  I think the show will look gorgeous.

There will be an online catalogue, and I'll send out a little reminder as the show gets closer.

I submitted two books and was thrilled last week to learn that they had both been accepted.

We are headed away a bit in the next little while so I managed to get the books packed and posted off today which was a huge relief!

Successful was: Lost for Words a letterpress book where the word words disappears...

Also successful was What? Why? What? What? one of my books about family violence.

These are both books I like and am proud of, and its so very nice to have them acknowledged in this way, by being juried into an overseas exhibition.

Safe travels! 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Testing and trialling

Sometimes the only art work I get to do is testing and trialling - and sometimes the results are exciting; at other times they are not so exciting.

On Friday I spent some time with good friends in one of their studios. They were exploring serious copper plate preparations and etching and proofing and printing. I was all set to test how well my friend's small tabletop press would emboss.

I need to work out a system fro embossing in an isolated location with a group of students for about a week.

We can emboss by hand; but the crispness of the mark you achieve by embossing with an etching press is so delightful and uplifting I'd love folk to have the opportunity to experience the difference.

So to looking around, asking lots of people and trying to work out what the actual specifications of a press might be that would allow for the extra pressure needed for a great emboss.

At times I amaze even myself with the ridiculous amount of preparation I can do to test something - it seems so unlike me!

Still, here's what I got up to:

I ripped up sheets of Arches Velin, BFK Rives, Fabriano Rosapina and Zerkall 140 and Zerkall 170 into 10cm x 10cm squares.  I cut up A4 sheets of Bristol Board 150 and 200 and Colorplan 170 into the same sized squares. Then I initialled each them so I knew what it was. Made a stash of about 60 pieces of paper.

I decided I would trial each paper wet and dry; and use 4 different matrices: thin desk mat; lino; milk carton open; and milk carton tight. That just meant I would emboss hearts that were open shapes and also dashes which are tiny and tight shapes.

I was testing if different thicknesses would go through the press better than others.

Lino is the thickest.

Milk carton slightly thinner.

Thin desk mat the thinnest.

Prepared myself a little grid to record results. Which I then re-did the maths on once I worked out I needed to add in the Bristol Board etc!

I spent about half an hour cleaning the roller - the press lives by the seaside which means that rust can appear magically overnight.

Put three blankets on and a sheet to protect the blankets from any random rust I hadn't cleaned.

Got my stashes and my matrices together to go.

You can see that the press is not much bigger than my notebook!

Long story short; the rollers were not big enough to generate the pressure needed.

Here are a bunch of the samples - I tried wetting the paper, reducing the number of blankets and working the press back and forth; all to no avail. Just could not get enough grunt out of it.

Compared to this - done with my etching press at home; you can see there is really no comparison.

Nevertheless, the item was in no way wasted.  It was really valuable to have made time to test this; not to have assumed and thought we'll be right. I now know I can't get away with a really lightweight press, and it is great to know that.

So, the hunt continues; the research is still being done and in more depth. I have a few options to pursue and will hopefully find a solution for the workshop coordinators.  If not, we won't do embossing this way; but it would be great if we could!

Friday, January 19, 2018


Just a quick reminder to those folk who left a comment on the blogpost about the set of wee cards; I'd love to hear from you with your best postal address.

Just pop over to the "About Me" at the bottom of the right sidebar, find my email and send me a note!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“There’s only one core rule to being an artist that no creative man or woman in history has been immune from. You’ve got to show up. If you don’t even attempt to give your creative urges time, space and energy in your life, then you’ll never be able to create a thing.” 

 Dan James, creativity coach

Each year I wonder if I will spend more time in the studio this year. I wonder what is the best way to make sure that happens? Should I create a timetable and go to this studio at certain times, no matter what other commitments might appear?  Should I? Could I? And round and around.

I do know that these words by Dan James are true.  You most certainly do not get to make anything at all, if you don't show up.

If you stay sitting at your computer; or watching TV; or head down and eyes captured by social media or other things.  If you don't actually prioritise your art, then it often won't happen.

Time in the studio is never wasted.  Cleaning the studio can refresh things; ordering the studio can make it quicker and easier to create when the urge hits; rearranging this and that can remind you that you even have a stash of that so you start to think about how you could use it...and then of course there is the time spent there testing ideas, playing, exploring, practicing.  And then, the moments when because you have shown ups and all the other subliminal and preparatory stuff comes together and you start. You get going and you barely come up for air. You make, you create, you produce and it happens.


Showing up last Autumn...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

heartbeat script

Just in case folk thought I may have given up my love of calligraphy and become a complete and utter letterpress person; fear not!  I continue to love and admire words wrought by hand and have been able to play a little bit of late with my heartbeat script.

A friend asked if I could write a reminder for her, which she could pop in a simple frame to remind her to "just breathe".

I loved it. I had so much fun playing with the words and the script and the whimsical little flowers I had been exploring earlier.

Sometimes somebody asks you to do a 'job' and the stress of it drives you bananas; this time it was the lovely antidote I needed and it felt like the 'job' was a gift to me from her, so I had a great time.

I tried a few and sent her some drafts; then we worked on the design for a final which was quite different from these; simpler and beautiful. More of a whisper...

I thought I could share the drafts here nonetheless as the final looks so different.

I did a couple of different colours, styles and backgrounds - pink on grey, black ink.

Blue on grey, black ink.

Gold infill and 'stitched' outline on cream, purple ink.

Multi colours on cream, no leaves on stems, purple ink.

 Multi colours on cream, leaves on stems, black ink.

So many possibilities and combinations! It has been interesting nonetheless; that these spare drafts have sat on the entrance hall table and already two have been gifted on to folk who saw them and sort of, needed them.

I am also working my way towards doing my pennant for Mo's exhibition. If you link to Mo you will see her plan, and it is based around the words of Old Man Crow (her partner)'s lyrics " I dream of a world where love is the answer".

I have received my pennant - cut from an old wedding dress - and have been working out how to respond. I am headed this way I think...

This is a book from a long time ago when I was doing A Letter a Week. I handstitched a letter each week; using my heartbeat script. I stitched onto rusted braille paper which I had 'decorated' with lead pencil or silver pen a tiny bit. Every second letter I filled in; the alternates were left with just an outline.

I made a book and use it as an exemplar whenever I teach this script.

I am thinking I would fill in each of the letters for the pennant. It's a good place to start and as ever, we shall see where we end up...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Things happen

I was planning to post on more tidying up the studio today - that seems to be pretty much all I have been doing.  This morning I remembered that I had to print some things because the rest of the week is full and there is no time to do them - which came as a bit of a shock!

So I managed to get that job done, and then...

I think it is serendipity really. A few folk have written or spoken about their desire to keep in touch by mail a bit more this year.  Expressing the pleasure they get when receiving a card or package or even a very lengthy handwritten letter (that was me, I was thrilled!); but also wanting to make that almost physical connection by writing or sending something that has a presence, and is tactile.

I would not be the first person to ponder the manner in which we have replaced slower handwritten communication: firstly with email; then we superseded that by commenting on things; and reduced that further to a heart or a like.

I thought how often I title an email to a friend "quick hello" or "touching base" almost indicating to them before they open it that it won't be a long missive, just a "I was thinking about you before I ran out the door" kind of thing.

Nothing all that wrong with that - at least I got in touch - but it did make me wonder if folk might send a card that said the same kind of thing?  I had the idea to print a few postcards that basically just had phrases like that on the front.

I wondered if perhaps you could carry a few with you in your bag, and when you were waiting somewhere or having a coffee by yourself you could pull one out and write a note to somebody? Maybe?

I'm not sure, but I had a quick go this morning after finishing the job and came up with these.

Using some of the wooden type I recently received I had a play.

And the results.

I printed them on the postcard practices I did recently, where I used too much pressure for the back of the card, so they are really just proofs at the moment (altho I would use them, but couldn't sell them).

I always love how wood type shows you it is wood type. It rarely prints perfectly like lead type; it always carries a part of it history onto the page. You can often see the grain of the wood, or the nicks and cuts it has had along the way.

Also it is pretty darn hot here today and the ink was drying in front of my eyes, so given they were a final run after another job they are slightly less densely coloured than I imagine they would be had I printed them properly on a cooler day.

Possibility or not?
Other phrases I could use?

Thoughts most welcomed! I am trying to work out if it would be worth making sets of them to sell on my shop or not, so thanks for being an unexpected part of my first ever market research!

Go well.