Tuesday, October 30, 2018

hearts here and there...

Before we went away I looked around the block and spent time with the hearts we have at home.

As we travelled I kept an eye out for other hearts in the landscape and found them here and there...

We found one in the gate of a park in Thurso...

On our daily walk to the cove we discovered this rope - just resting there like this.  No fiddling or playing around with it was needed; it was simply a perfect heart awaiting us...

We visited Orkney and the Vintage Paper Company, and as we wandered the streets of Stromness, this set of stacked stone hearts caught my eye.

A hand blown glass heart at Whaligoe Steps cafe.

A heart woven into a doormat at Cromarty Arts Trust.

A heart as graffiti on the inside of a chapel ruin in Cromarty

Heart on a headstone in Cromarty Cemetery.

And as we circle round to home again, a collection of heart rocks, stones and pebbles at the front door of the cottage. Collected along our way from coves and beaches nearby, they welcome us home when we visit.

 Hearts at home...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Back into the studio

We are back from a truly marvellous and rewarding time at the cottage in the Scottish Highlands.  It is a special place for us and we miss it already; but are feeling the joy and magic of being home as well, so I feel ever so fortunate to have two special places in which to spend time.

It is hot here now, a stark contrast to the Highlands, and we are moving back into our lives slowly and gently.

As I tried to get my head around what commitments I have, what I need to do, what has to be done and then turned my mind to things I'd like to do as well, I felt as if I came up with an answer the met both the criteria so I could get started on that.

We stopped in Singapore briefly on the way home and were fortunate to visit Yao Yu at TypesettingSG - the only traditional typesetter and letterpress printer in Singapore.  We had a lovely visit and I was inspired by his sample cards - showing the sizes and typefaces he has. I made a commitment to myself to make my own before Christmas, and so began to print in my spare moments this week.

You would not believe the delaying tactics I have used to NOT do this project for so many years.  I have always struggled with how to bind them - would I come up with a bunch of typefaces on a single page and make a pamphlet? How would I order them? Alphabetically? Serifs all together?  Sizes I have?  Would I print the whole alphabet or just a few letters upper case and lower case? I felt so often that I couldn't work out the perfect solution, that I procrastinated and got no solution whatsoever.

I had landed on the idea of printing on postcard sized cards, and then using a single circle binder (there is are name for it that I can't recall) which would allow the whole thing to stay together, yet would also allow me to take cards out if I sold the type; or print new ones and put them in if I bought new ones without having to re-print every page kind of thing.

So Yao Yu's cards just reinforced things for me.  Altho his were just loose and heaps of fun to sort through and shuffle!

And it has begun.

In the end I decided to print 5 postcards of each typeface and fount that I have. That way there would be some for students to sort through independently when they were in the studio; and it would also allow me to to have one set alphabetically and one set by type size which helped settle me. Laugh.

Here is where I have gotten to so far - I have managed to print 8 founts of type. I began alphabetically and here we are.

In the middle of the night the other night I also thought - brilliant - I can set aside one set and pop 4 of them on a copier at a time and then copy them onto card, then cut the A4 card into 4 postcard sized shapes and I will have spare sets as well - I could have a set by serifs, san serif and fancy, and all of the combinations and permutations my heart might need. Delight and Joy was mine!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Language is the dress of thought.” 

Samuel Johnson

I am pretty sure this would be Samuel Johnson of dictionary fame; it makes sense that he tries to understand what words and language are.

And I really do quite love the notion of thoughts being cloaked by words - that words and language provide the visible shape and form to thoughts.  For surely that is what a book is?  The physical manifestation of somebody's thoughts?

I suppose that the spoken word is also an auditory manifestation, but it is words that cloak and shape thoughts no matter how they are delivered.

For every culture and nation that creates a language - we are trying to find ways to express our thoughts; written or spoken. We use words to cloak our thoughts and and then language to dress them more fully.

Some visual part of me reads this quote and want to try the clothes on - to try putting a summer frock on a thought; or a long skirt or a winter coat or even some socks!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Walls turned sideways are bridges” 

Angela Davis

So simple. So apt. So true.

I do love a mind that can look at things differently, that can ask questions and see things in new ways.  I had never stopped to think of this - yet how true it is given all that we know of building walls these days?

I also like how there is no hint of tumult, revolt or anger like bringing, tearing or ripping down the wall. Angela Davies simply suggest turning it sideways and it takes on a whole new role and purpose; one which is the entire opposite of its vertical nature.

Just lie it down flat and it allows us to walk towards each other...

Poster seen in Stockholm, 2017.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A last little bit with letters

Before we headed off form the Highlands, we had one of the most beautiful days.  After misty and mizzly days, we woke to a clear sky. The wind stayed down and the big blue sky stayed all day.

One of our neighbours said the old folk used the expression "a day between weathers" to describe it, and it was perfectly so.

Which worked for me because I had hoped to be able to touch up the sign to the Armadale Beach  before we left and I thought I had missed my chance.

So over I went and using a rather dodgy and el cheapo paintbrush touched up the sign so it can be slightly more visible for folk. I had checked with locals that it was OK to do it before I began...

It was beautifully weathered, but not all that functional.

So my 'tools' were laid out next to me...

And my 'ladder' was placed beneath the signpost (OH&S nightmare for sure).

You can begin to see the contrast between the old and the new. And that sky!!!!!!!

One side finished.

No shots of the other side because it was right into the sun.

It was so bright, it was bizarre.  But you can now read the sign from a distance which we hope will help guide folk more easily to the beautiful beautiful beach...

It feels nice to have been able to contribute a very small wee thing to the village which has been so welcoming to us.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” 

Albert Einstein

How lovely to think that all of us making and creating are simply giving permission for our intelligence to pop out and have fun!

Perhaps Einstein is trying to sort out the difference between left and right brains - that the left brain is more structured and ordered and the right more about making connections and forming new ideas? I never think of creativity as being less than intelligence - the way people create meaning and share messages is often highly intellectual and highly skilled.

Nonetheless I do like the idea that at times, its like letting your left brain off the leash and heading off and having fun!

In a friend's garden...

Cutting letters into stone...

When Barry and I were considering what sort of art would be possible to do whilst in the Highlands, we thought about the cost and expense of trying to set up and do letterpress; of him bringing all his hammers and anvils up here and storing them, of me leaving paper and ink etc etc and of course, we pondered the weather.

In the end, we looked around us and said, well this is a place of stone.  Nearby is the home of Caithness Flagstones which have been shipped around the world; and every croft and farm in the area is divided up by stone dikes that follow the landscape up and down and have stood the test of time; time and time again.

As we pondered stone we thought about craving stone; and of cutting letters into stone.  So in his inimitable style Barry began researching opportunities to do stone letter cutting in Scotland and by all the good graces of fortune, a week long course was being held in the Highlands, at Cromarty Arts Trust, whilst we were here.  We booked and off we went. Later on, we discovered it is nearly the ONLY stone letter cutting course in Scotland all year - serendipity for sure.

We both learnt heaps. The course was half lettering and half carving; so whilst I got the lettering side of things I had no idea where to begin with carving. For Barry, he felt most comfortable with a chisel in his hand and was unsure about how to create and space letters.  So a good balance really.

It was a great week, and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously.  I was in a small sub group of four - three of whom were stone masons; and I basically provided the entertainment I think.  But I did make gains through the week; and Robbie Schneider our tutor was most patient with my weird and wonderful interpretations of how to hold the tools, how to stand and how to use the tools. We laughed a lot.

Nevertheless here are some photos of my work - in all its less than glory; and finally with bit of a shine...

A pristine stone to begin - with the tools - a dummy to the left and three sizes of chisels to the right. All on a wonderful strong, large leaning easel.

I just could not control the chisel to get a straight line.

And my attempt at cutting a curve, circle, O, was somewhat depressing.

So I decided to try some straight, sans serif letters and I began to feel like I understood a bit about it.

So I tried to do another O...

Tiny chopping marks - you are looking for deep diamonds. Diamonds almost sort of, deep definitely not.

Chopping away a bit more (or hacking??)

Beginning to tidy up by chasing inside the letter.

And after a final tidy.

Some action shots along the way.

I began to think of my stone as my workbook - a record of my errors and improvements - so I kept working away testing and trying things.

And here is how it finished up.

I cannot lay claim to the Q.  I decided if it was a record and I wanted to use it as guide when I got back, that there wasn't a whole lot of point me only being able to refer to poor cutting as a learning tool. So I asked one of my mason mates (Mark, 27 years a mason) to do me a letter of his choice - and he did the Q - how delightful that is. I was thrilled to just watch him work on it and watch how he did things.

I also have one of Robbie's points at the top right as well. The plan is now to turn the stone over and write/cut a finished piece on the other side, so I will try that next time we are in the Highlands - the stones are clearly too heavy to travel to Australia in our luggage!

My work improved. There are still lots of errors and mistakes. I like the word SHINE.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Everyone has their favourite books to be re read and re-read. Such things become talismans and love-tokens, even personality indicators, the truly bookish will mate on the strength of a spine.” 

Jeanette Winterson.

I can't stay away from Ms Winterson when I am pondering books it seems.

In complete agreement with her, I really do think that folk have their favourites which can breed and re-read and utterly enjoyed time and time again.  That there are books we turn to when we are poorly; or need to be sad, or when we need to be cheered up.

The notion of books being personality indicators - I love it!  Rather than do all the psychometric testing simply tell us your favourite books or let us look at you book cases...

I must admit I fear what would emerge from a test like that for me (I am eclectic if nothing else). And what a great final line - I haven't heard of it happening, but am sure that it could!

Old bedhead in a shed...hearts and love and a love-token maybe.