Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Finishing, beginning and in between...

I am trying to get through a bunch of small-medium tasks in the next wee while.

I managed to finish my peace weather grams - popped holes in the top and threaded the string for hanging.


In between times we had visitors and the weather was grand.

And we all had fun working/playing with Barry - I made a bowl!

And of course, popped some rust in it too.

I began thinking of what I might wrap my threads on when they are finished being solar-dyed. The answer was these square pegs.

 I also began to plan the stitching for this edition of books - a sample of the printed cover.

Some options to choose from..

Lots of things going this way and that - finishing, beginning and in between times...

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Botanical dyeing

Who knew?

I spent a week in Western Australia recently, surrounded by folk who eco-dye lots of stuff.  I have never felt drawn to wrap stuff and boil cauldrons of cloth, but a student brought her copy of Slow Stitch in, and I borrowed it.  Came home and bought it.

I was enjoying reading it for the stitching, when I had a light bulb moment - you could dye the thread you stitched with and I was off to the races!

In a slow way, but this is the bunch of flowers that started it - some violets I had picked for our guests through the week.

I went and checked if I had some threads I could use, and yes of course lots of cotton crochet threads, so I started there.

I read the book, bought another book, read the internet and began.

I soaked my threads. I used a variety of ply and style just to test out theories.

Trying to be good and keep a record.

I prepared my alum, and headed off into the garden.

I added to my violet stash, and picked comfrey and rosemary as well. I also picked rosemary flowers.

At Barry's suggestion I included red crucifix orchids to see what they might do.

I am doing the solar dye bath approach, and of course the day I was doing it there was less solar than the past week, but that's life.

I lined them up outside the kitchen window to remind me to shake them each day and to check when I think they are done.

The one on the far right is an iron mix from the fire pit in our back yard which we use as a bird bath. Again, who knew?

Late Friday afternoon some sun appeared.  They look nice together I think.

As you can imagine fingers are crossed...

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“The writing is in the sequence of the signs. This is the one thing we can’t change. The experience is the sequence. The experience is not in any one moment of perception, but in the movement through the sequence from beginning to end, at our own speed, with interruptions. At the beginning of each sentence we are projected towards the end. At the end we have the momentum of the beginning. Same with the paragraph, same with the chapter, same with the whole book, maybe the trilogy. The beginning requires the end, the end the beginning. We are locked into a journey”. 

Tim Parks

The further I get into my life as a book artist, the more I think about the why?  I think about what is the point? Where am I taking you? What is the payoff for you spending time turning pages in my book?

And as I ponder narrative these words about sequence resonate. The notion that a codex book has only one moment in front of us. That the past is behind (we have turned that page) and the future awaits (when we turn that page). All we have right here and now is the present. That page in front of us.

Reading the sequence of words and pages is deeply embedded in my psyche I think and the rhythm of it, the deeply held understanding of the rewards of reading, all of these things come together as I read an artists' book. Subliminally at first, but as I understand more about what I am attempting, the more they surface.

The wonder described here of propulsion from beginning to end to new beginning is so beautifully wrought.

This is where I got to with this wee book.  There was no point it simply being a collection of images and words contained within covers.  It needed to say something more, simply because it was a book!  And this is what I hoped for, that we could all be a voice for these women...

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Back in the swing of things...

I haven't had much time in the studio since returning, but grabbed a few hours to get down and do a few bibs and bobs.

First up I needed to do more swing tags for Barry.  I gather up scraps of paper and cut them to size (12cm x 4cm) and collect my ink and my pens and start writing.  Italics first, then the capitals, then the capitals on the back.  It always takes a good few hours but once in the swing of things, it generally moves smoothly - unless the paper reacts badly to the ink which happened a few times!

I had gifted a few sets of pebbles with the word "SHINE" on them to different women over the past wee while, and during the week received an order for a set; so I had to check if there were enough letters left.  There were, but it did cause me to go through my stash and update a few letters.

So I sat and wrote on the pebbles after doing the swing tags - a lovely gentle pastime.  I am now ready to spell any word that is needed!

And then with International Day of Peace coming up in September, and knowing that we will be away, I worked out I needed to print some weather grams - first to hang in our tree and second to share around a bit.

This year I have gone for simply repeating the word peace in small wood type. Of all the type I use, it is wood type that has the most character; and that has worn in so many ways during its life.

The heights are slightly different, the edges worn a bit and so it is never the easiest of tasks to set and lock the type up - especially when you use three different styles as I did here.

Still, I like the repeat of the word, with different typefaces.

There were more than a few moments when things went a little bit loose, and some running repairs were needed.

But we go there in the end.

I chose to use brown paper envelopes this year in the hope that they might last longer on the tree, so the hypothesis shall be tested!

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!