Sunday, July 21, 2019

A beautiful commission

I was recently asked to make a book for a person's 80th birthday.  The person knows my work and loves books, so we started out on the commission journey thinking about a book to make.

When the commissioner arrived at the studio to look at a variety of books and styles and presentation, we wandered around a bit, and then, perfectly, landed on one of my Under Construction books.

The person felt it would be perfect, so that was lovely.  You know those moments when you can feel that this is it, this is right? When the person keeps circling back to it?

So I had thought that's grand, I shall be able to wrap and pack and send it on its way.  But the commissioner wanted an inscription.

I was a tad fearful as the frontispiece page had been glued down and I am never sure how ink will react with paper after period of time etc etc. And the photo below is the answer to a question I had.


I had readied myself for some very tiny, fine writing with pencils of all shades of brown...



But didn't need to.

The quote reads:

Fragile running stitches
Stems and twine bound together
Nurtured with a kiss

I asked the commissioner to send me the words they wanted inscribed and they duly returned them to me.

And so I practised.


Always measuring, testing height, and width, and starting points, as well as paper, ink and script...




Getting there...


 With a bit of light on it.


The book before I handed it over and the commissioner wrote their words own on it as well.


I was pleased with how it worked out and hope the new owner can feel the love that and care that went into the selection of the work, and the chosen words...

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“Things will be far worse than they are now. And far better. I wait.” 

Charles Bukowski

At times I am not sure I can bear the thought he starts with here; that things will be far worse.

I think it is the use of far worse the frightens me - make is sound as if things will get really really bad really bad.  Perhaps they will.

And yet the thought is balanced by the notion of things getting far better, which I can barely imagine - things seem pretty good now.  I wonder why use of the descriptor 'far' has such an impact on me?  Why can I get so easily aroused by fear of things being far worse, and be left barely able to imagine far better? hmmmm.

In part it is probably because I am not a person of great highs or lows; I am rarely in high alt as they say, nor deeply dark and down.  I prefer the steady as she goes approach with minor variations.

I do however like that last sentence.

I wait.

It describes the truism that yes things will change, and that they will take time, and in time, they will be changed, so I wait.


A collaborative piece by NightLadder Collective, 2019.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hidden extras from Fibres West

At the end of the week each of the classes at Fibres West presents their work.  It is always an amazing and stunning display of what people have achieved through the week.

I visited each of the other classes' work and managed to get some photos from half of them (don't ask me what I was doing for the rest of the time - brain freeze apparently).

Here are a few favourite images from those I managed to photograph - apologies for no attribution.

Click here for the tutor's and workshop information.

This piece is from Alysn's class - heat applied to stainless steel fabric I think.


Some of the brushes made in Lorna's class.


Some marks from Lorna's class I think!


Some sculptural pieces from Mo's class.



Fabulous felting from Eva's class.




On the drive back to Perth we detoured to look at the silo murals in Northam  and I loved these ones.





A wonderful art-filled week!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

White on white in the West!

Oh. My. Goodness.

I have returned safe and sound to the mountain after the most amazing week in the west teaching Quietly and Gently...

It was a a fabulous class with a great gang of students who worked so hard and so collegially it was incredible.  They were all colour-focused type people and they worked with the challenge and restraint of only white on white with gusto and great success.

We covered mark making; sewing by hand and by machine; embossing and debossing; and cutting...
They sewed a coptic bound book and filled it with their samples, then they made  slip case to tuck it into.
Then they let loose and tested out ideas that they liked, found the things that were 'them' and made beautiful work.

On the Friday morning I reminded them all that only they can make their own work.  Their work is theirs. It' not the teacher's so if they were dying to add a little bit of colour - they should.  I would prefer if it was discrete, but if they felt a touch of something would complete the work for them; then they should add it in.

What's the point of forcing folk to make work that isn't them?

I think I have a shot of something from everybody (in no particular order) - the bits I remembered to photograph, the bits that I felt were unique, the bits that remind me of the work, the bits that show a few of the things we did.

Anne's second book with beautiful letter design and cutting. Lots of design thinking went into this piece and was executed brilliantly.


Shirley's second book - with embossing and pierced letters and threads dangling...finding pouches and pockets a wonderful home for small treasures.


Another Anne used her daily words - and hand-wrote and debossed them in a wee keepsake book. It is tiny but precious piece.


Erin's elegant bird and cloud motifs - here with embossing and the finest embossing of wire for the birds to perch upon. The other pages share the motifs in different sequences and techniques.


Jennifer's second book - a container for thoughts and leaves and nuts...a wonderful way to keep and display keepsake, memories, reminders.


The final page of Virginia's second book - the narrative led you through visually using all the techniques and the pay off for turning the pages was this fabulous mark.


Deb's second book - with so much subtlety, detail, repeat motifs and the perfect words...the act of hiding and revealing slows you down and makes you want to know where next? what next?


Marianne often preferred the back story, the page behind, the back of the work; and worked to create a book that was true and reflected those moments of confusion we all feel.


Frida found ways to produce the finest of hand embossings - getting right into those tight corners and lifting the image off the page with a bounce!


One of Lesley's sample pages - with the subtlest use of stitch and spacing to produce calm...the simple elegance of this work is beautiful.


Sharon popped her 5 days' worth of daily words into her sampler book, and loved that her final word was 'do' - I so hope they all get to make and do when they return home.


Penny has a ritual/routine/practice of stitching each day onto fabric. So for the week of the workshop she stitched white on white and chose to use them in her second book.


The final class display was a real delight. It was a vision of calm; an oasis in an otherwise brilliantly-hued room! So many folk commented on how beautiful the work was and how it made them feel.



The dawns were exquisite and we knew when it was 'corella-hour', as hundreds of corellas flocked to trees.


As ever, I love the remnants and the remains showing the marks of the making...



 We had a list of four letter words with no repeat letters to use with the old tattoo kit and came up with some new ones as well!


 We had a wonderful time.  It was a friendly, chatty, connecting and sharing group. We worked less than quietly at times; but that is the point of gathering and sharing is it not?  I wrote in my journal notes of - "happy murmurings as they hand stitched".

Even if at times there was raucous laughter, the work in the end is quiet and gentle and the processes meditative.  I imagine when folk return home they will both work quietly and gently; and produce quiet and gentle work.

With huge thanks to my gang for making it such a delight to teach them; and for all of the amazing work Fibres West, Martien and her team, did to make us welcome and have so many amazing opportunities to talk art, see art, watch art and share our passions.

On Saturday evening, heading east with the flying kangaroo as the sun set in the west...




Thursday, July 11, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“I’m using tons of steel to make the situation look lighter”. 

Richard Serra

What a way to think about it.  I have pondered this one a bit, this way and that, and can't really quite pin point what I think he might mean!  Enigmatic perhaps?

Perhaps Richard Serra is suggesting that with the presence of huge amounts of steel; everything else is in sharp relief and that by virtue of the steel's heaviness; the rest appears lighter?

I can only think that he is referring to the space around the steel; the context in which the steel is placed, the counter space, or the negative space?

But then he refers to making the situation look lighter and I am left wondering all over again.

Whatever he meant here, I am grateful that he makes his work - stunning, inspirational, breathtaking and awesome.  I have felt very restful and calm in the presence of his work; so perhaps that's all it is - he wants us to feel lighter...


Richard Serra, New York, 2013.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Set up and ready to go in the West!

As this post goes to print so to speak, I am in WA getting ready to teach Quietly and Gently at Fibres West.

The preparations for such a course are a bit mammoth and many hours were spent cutting paper, revising and photocopying handouts, getting samples together and making sure I have enough of everything to share around.

Given we are so far out of town (100km from Perth itself) and knowing that supplies won't be easy to get hold of if I forget something, I dedicated a whole bag to resources and supplies. Fingers crossed.

We work on 10cm x 10cm squares of different papers, and here they are all bundled up ready to go.  I think I need well over 400 of these squares, so much chopping was done.


My desk looks completely overwhelmed, but my checklists have been working and I think I have got most of the things I need in that stash. Everything from containers for sharps to cutting boards to feathers to tools for sale.


And brayers, and lino cutting tools and rulers and threads and lino and pre-cut covers!


Ans always there are samplers...


There is a shop one night so I have prepared a bunch of small things for sale - these wee journals with embossed poppies are rather sweet.


I have made name tags for my students - I always appreciate a name tag!  One,  like to have nice ones myself; but two I really like it when folk wear them, it helps my name memory so much.


I also do folders for all their handouts.


I will also be presenting a 45 minute talk on my work so the powerpoint has been timed and finely tuned I hope, so that it lasts long enough but not too long!


And as the say, let the workshop begin!