Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Go Girl

Each year I do a print of Go Girl!.

I gather together a selection of random wood type and print the words so they fit on an A5 piece of grey card.  Each edition is an open edition so I can add to it should I need; but I usually print 10 for starters.

I have done three previous prints . The first was GG, the second GGI, the third GGII and this one is GGIII.

A practice lay out of the type.

A couple of trials on cream card.  I like to then turn the page a bit and print again without re-inking - the effects are always interesting.

And then off we go.

I love how wood type shows the marks of its history and life - the rough edges, the splits, the chunks nicked out at different times...

And my highly professional display of all four in my studio!

Go Girl indeed!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sewing creativity

With a variety of studio projects on the go, and some progress being made but not huge amounts, it is nice to have my sewing trundling along quietly in the background.

I had made a dress very early on in my sewing life and whilst the top half fitted beautifully, I thought the bottom half was a bit too voluminous and wasn't particularly flattering.

Nevertheless I still  liked the top half so thought I'd unpick and create a new top and see if I could salvage a skirt out of the bottom.

The top looks lovely - I debated a few times about what to add to lengthen it - simple, straight, diagonal, patterned, flimsy and in the end went for the plain jane version which suits me best.  I like the top and I wear it! The black panel is also crushed linen.

I fiddled with the skirt notion for bit, and came up with the idea of pleats at the top (front and back) and pleats at the bottom (front and back) as well as splits up the side so I could still stride out when I walked. Again, I think it worked and I enjoy wearing it - it has pockets in the sides still - yay.

And then I had help drafting this skirt off one I already owned. It fits really well and I love the added interest of the diagonal and the asymmetry (and the invisible zip). No pockets on this one tho. Might have to work out how to include them in my next one.

My project this week has been to make another apron like this one. I LOVE this pattern and wear it over a slim fitting black dress. In public. Never at home or the studio. So this is an off white beige linen one.

It has the BEST pockets.

And here is the latest one underway. Hard to photograph but a lovely grey linen with a white scribble.

I came across these tags and bought a pack and am now sewing them into all the clothes I make with pockets!

I finished the apron.

And a remnant became a scarf.  I must say the hour or so it took to fray the edges was beautifully therapeutic.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” 

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf write so eloquently about the need for a place away from the hustle and bustle and demands of a life.  A place to to simply be.

Myself being myself.

That's the essence of it I think - so often we are ourselves, being for others. Whether that is work or family or friends or neighbours or community or... it is often hard to find the time and space to simply be for yourself.

It interests me how she refers to bare things.  Things that are simply things. Things that do not need to be admired or dealt with in any way. They are simple and bare and simply there.

Quiet time alone can be delicious, when it is what you are craving. Quiet time alone settles me, centres me, fills me up and lets me get up and out and doing all those other things afterwards. Without it I get frazzled.

Here's to solitary time and spaces.

Armadale cove, Scotland.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Studio time

It seems some weeks see me dreaming of the studio; other weeks find me there every day doing something different.  It's a bit of a mystery to me how it all works, but I have found some days of late to get down and make things which has been grand.

It's also not always the making; but the magic moments along the way.

Like when I tore this carbon paper...

I spent a day and a half helping a friend add letterpress to their prints. It was an intense couple of days - on our feet for all the hours setting, proofing, cleaning and dissing type - there were about 10 prints which need to be set and printed.

As is often the case, as we had finished the prints, we decided that we'd use some spare up and make covers with a title. And into the dusk we printed...

This is the print I was gifted - love the ghostliness of it.

I have also been setting samplers of the 20 odd trays of the type we received in January. It all takes time! But I am really glad I came up with the sampler books here we could simply add the cards in without having to create a whole new book.

And then I got around to thinking about printing my Go Girl print for the year - here I am sampling all my random wood type letters for the print.

And unrelated to art at all, but a photo that  I loved.  My Dad is at the cottage in Scotland at the moment and in a frenzy of spring cleaning he popped all the cushions out on the front patio to get some sunshine into and onto them.  I thought they looked rather lovely!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Preparing to etch

Barry and I have been working towards a "big etch day". Barry had built an etching bath that could accommodate large sheets of aluminium (80cm x60cm). He had salvaged some aluminium sheets and cut them to size for three standing aluminium books we planned to make for the Compassion exhibition. We had decided on words and imagery, and then it was over to me to bring them onto the 'pages'.

And then, we could make up the big bath and etch them.

So here they are standing ready for me to begin work on them.

I had to work out how much of the 'page' would be seen, and thus how large the writing could be. Would the words be the same size? or some larger/smaller? Where would I position the words? How would the position relate to the cover imagery?

I started drafting using two lead pencils taped to gather.  I always like how this approach shows you the building blocks of the letter - where the lines really go.

You can see a hint of the cover image on the reverse of this page.

At first I outlined the words in a thick pen; planning to rub and trace them onto the metal.  

Then in a light bulb moment I wondered if they would transfer using carbon paper? So much quicker, cleaner and easier than having to create a tracing.

And they did!

I had originally planned to use shellac as a block out; but remembered Barry had successfully used these paint pens before and wanted to see if I could maintain accurate lettering with the pens, and I was pretty pleased. It somehow feels far more natural for me to use a pen than a brush.

And of course, once you have an etching bath going you really want to etch everything in sight, so I created a few small, fun plates as well.

We also needed to etch a reference plate for a piece of work Barry had done a year and a bit ago, so I wrote out the details and we etched that as well.

It worked out well, as did my wee fun plates!

We have been cleaning and preparing the bookplates and they are edging closer to being 'bound'.  I really love some of the detail on them.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“There are two things I wanted to do. I wanted to show the things that had to be corrected. I wanted to show the things that had to be appreciated”. 

Lewis Hine

I liked this quote because it felt to me like somebody (Mr Hine) had sat down and had a think bout what he was trying to achieve with his art, and then summarised it succinctly.

In fact he was clearly very thoughtful about the direction and impact of his work as a photographer and used his skills and his profile to document and promote child labourers in the early 20th Century in America.

I think I also responded because in a small way,  I felt my work is a little about these two things as well.  I want to draw attention to things that need to change and I want to celebrate the beauty and wonderfulness of some things.

In particular I like the balance in his thinking - he sought to point out things that were in need of correction; but didn't simply whinge or moan or depress everybody with  the awfulness of it all. His counterpoint was to balance these issues with things that should be appreciated, that raised our spirits and showed us good things.

I like this notion of balance and will no doubt ponder how to develop a proper sense of it in my own work.

Celebrating the lives of little birds and their amazing nests...

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A bit of this and that

Autumn is arriving and after wet and misty times, the sun is back and the blue sky is big.

Dawn on Monday morning from our back deck.

It was a really a busy weekend here on the mountain as our Celebration of Books team hosted live streaming events from the Sydney Writers Festival.

We are really happy that our small town is one of only about 40 places in the entire country who get to stream sessions from this major literary festival.

We began with Leigh Sales on Any Ordinary Day.

Followed up with Ben Quilty and his book HOME - drawing by Syrian refugee children.

I texted in a question and they asked it!!

Sunday saw Annabel Crabb talking to Nikki Sava, Samantha Maiden, and Sharri Markson about politics and journalism - fascinating stuff!!!

You really felt as if you were there.

And when we got home one morning, the sun was shining through the rear brake light of our car and illuminated this leaf - amazing.

 A mixed weekend of technology, books and nature.

Sunday, May 5, 2019


As many of you know I have begun to focus (some may say obsess) on pockets and their availability and accessibility within women's clothes.

I have been reading about fashion history, how pockets have evolved and why as women we find it so hard in the 21st century to purchase clothes with reasonable and decent pockets.

For me, pockets have become a feminist issue; and a site of gender politics.

For too long, women's clothing has been viewed as decorative, not participative. It is made to be looked at; but not to be used. It is for women to admired within, not for women to be able or active.
It's about form, not function.

Pockets are the perfect metaphor for privilege - taken for granted by those who have them.

Women sometimes get no pockets. Or women get non pockets - sewn up pockets. Is there anything more frustrating than realising too late that your pockets are sewn closed, bound shut and their potential for functionality made frivolous and simply decorative again?!?!?!

When we do get pockets they are smaller and narrower than the equivalent pockets in men's clothing and they are inadequate and non functional. Large smart phones do not fit in the pockets designed for women.

I'll stop there but a full essay is blooming in my mind!

And so to making art.

I recently prepared and printed a bunch of small posters (40cm high x 30cm wide).

Printed and incorporating the feminist/suffragette colours of purple green and white, I loved the strength of the purple here!

Once printed, I traced designs for three pockets below the printing.

And went and threaded up my faithful sewing machine and got stitchin'.

From behind.

In the end, there was an edition of 10 plus 3 artists proofs.

It was pretty funny - I had to work out a stitching template to remember where to start each line of stitching, as it was quite the job to roll the paper up gently enough to get through the space between the needle and the body of the sewing machine without damaging it.

I will be entering the work in a show so I used my own mark rather than decklededgepress'.

I tied all the back threads off, but left the front threads dangling a bit - a touch subversive and unruly.

And here is the finished poster.

You can find the posters for sale here - $50.00 each with FREE postage anywhere in the world.