Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"Learn silence. With the quiet serenity of a meditative mind, listen, absorb, transcribe and transform".


I often think about how powerful and important silence is, and we are finding moments whilst we are here when we stop and hear absolutely nothing. Nothing. Nothing at all.

It is eerie and challenging, yet also pretty special.

I like the way Pythagoras all those many years ago spoke of silence, not just in and of itself, but also as a catalyst for something more.

The idea of using the silence to consider and then propel yourself into something is interesting.

In part that has been happening of late as I adjust to the pace and the rhythms and the quiet.  My mind is beginning to have conversations with itself about what to do with it; how to use the thoughts that flow through your mind when you walk in amongst it; how to consider and make use of the words that flow - where should they go? what should they become?

And so hopefully yes, I will be able to absorb, transcribe and transform moments from the silence.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

This and that in the Highlands...

I have been enjoying doing a few bits and pieces here and there, but we are also getting out and about having wee adventures when we can.

Before we came away I trimmed some linen from my dressmaking projects into squares with the plan of sewing some coasters for the cottage.

I marked out squares as guides using some fabulous 'chalk' I bought in Stockbridge in Edinburgh. We went into the shop that does alterations and repairs for clothes and asked if they knew where we could get tailor's chalk.  Me in English, all the staff Polish so it was pretty funny trying to get the idea across - but I loved the lightbulb moment of insight and translation as the manager grabbed something from a drawer drew onto fabric then rubbed it off with steam - and we had it! I tried to pay and she simply gave to me which was so kind. We gave her a Barry leaf in exchange.

As mentioned I have been brewing my pots of local flowers and we had two amazing days of warmth and sunshine - 25 degrees in the far north of Scotland!!!

The cottage early one morning - that biggest of blue skies felt like home.

The sun streaming in to the cottage kitchen with sweet peas smiling.

A beautiful afternoon's walk to the headland and looking back to Armadale Bay.

This morning was softer light and I picked this posy...

And ta-da! I pulled the threads out of the brew this morning and was pretty happy.  Top left is the sweet peas after they had started to fade; clockwise then red clover, purple thistle and stinging nettles.

I was pretty happy!

And this afternoon on one of our adventures we met quite a few Heilan coos... they are just the best.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Making a start

Our previous visits to the cottage in Scotland have been very task-focused.  The first time we were on a whirlwind trip to identify possible cottages; the second trip we came to renovate and furnish inside and set up the internet and telephone etc; the third time we came to do outdoor work of drains and gravelling and clearing land; and this time we hope to have fewer tasks to do (altho of course we are still doing lots of weeding and trimming to bring the yard into shape again after a fruitful summer of warmth and rain).

That said, we are both keen to focus on our art lives whilst we are here as well, and that can pose a problem for a metal worker and letterpress printmaker.  Our materials and tools are too heavy and awkward to move around the world with us, so we ponder other things.

I tried to be a bit prepared this time and have some fabric and some threads and some notebooks.

I made 8 notebooks a while back thinking I might write in one a week.  I started off OK and used the Turkish fold book to capture the week of transit - flying, stopping in Edinburgh, researching the cottage at the National Library, going to a Fringe show, enjoying the madness of the city in full festival flight and the many arts and crafts opportunities that were also on. It continues the r=train trip to Inverness, overnighting there and then the final train trip north and arrival at the cottage.

I wasn't sure how I might use this folded book but have come to the view it is brilliant for capturing a week of odds and sods and lets you dump things down without feeling obliged to write a full page.  A very friendly approach to journalling is my assessment!

And then to the cottage - the other place we call home.

We stuck to our tried and true method of being super busy and then we woke up. We slowed back down into the rhythm of the place and my mind turned to making and creating again.

I had seen a great leather purse in Edinburgh - a triangle fold and one into which I could put coins. My new wallet doesn't really work for coins so I have to find an alternative and additional option. Why not try to make one I thought?

I found the folding pattern on line OK and thought how hard could that be?

First attempt at a paper template failed.  I needed to draw equilateral triangles and couldn't work out an easy way to do it. Googling identified the need for a compass - which is not something we have on hand here; but also offered up an option for tracing around a round thing.

A mug perchance?

The inaccuracies associated with drawing pencil lines on a mug and basically hoping, thwarted mea gain and yet I was sure there must be a way.

So I fiddled and I faddled and drew one by messing about with fold lines.

Once I had done this I measured the height of the triangle and wondered if there was a formula for the ratio and yee ha there was.  I can now create equilateral triangle of any size by calculation. I laughed at my glee haven't cracked that!

I made a few paper templates and wrote some notes and called it a day.  Making a purse can wait.

I had chosen this wee notebook to use as my thoughts and ideas jotting place whilst away and it turned out to be the perfect choice.

Inside it has this extra bit which is the hinge that allows the pages to stay in place; which was just the right spot to tuck my templates.

And then to thread.

Having happily solar dyed some threads form our garden at home, I had wanted to try and dye some here as well.

I met too many stinging nettles for my liking as I weeded, but that got me thinking if they might be put to good use.  So I harvested some stinging nettles and some red clover and some purple thistle flowers and thought I would give it  a go.

We shall see what happens.

When last here, my dad had planted some sweet peas with the hope that they might be flowering when we arrived; and they were, so the dead heads were next in the pot!

 And finally after all my flights winding cottons onto pegs here i my stash from home.  All so gentle and sympathetic I think.

Stitching fun awaits!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"One of my favourite definitions of the difference between architecture and sculpture is whether there is plumbing or not".

Gordon Matta-Clark

I love this point of differentiation!  It is such a practical and prosaic way in which to think of the difference.  Because sculptures can have doors and windows into them I guess; as well as places to sit and nooks for things.

Sculptures can also have electricity and wiring can't they if they are illuminated?  So the plumbing is really it, because I don't think we're talking about furnishings and appliances and things that aren't embedded in the piece.

I oftentimes think some architecture is really a beautiful piece of sculpture, or at least that it lies further along the spectrum towards sculpture than simple function.

They may be functional, but they are also beautiful and a wee bit huts at the end of our road in the Highlands...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“What was home, anyway, and what was away? What I knew was this: I was most at home when reading, when being taken away by words”. 

Nam Le

This week my pondering for Thursday Thoughts turn towards books; and yet by virtue of this quote I am easily linking to one of my other subjects 'life'.

And also my third rotational subject 'art'.

I am considering home and away, here and there, and what it means for me as I make and create Art at the moment.  And Life is so very much about home isn't it? And well Books, they most definitely feel like home to me, so this wee one is a bit of a trifecta.

However, I took the book angle mostly and feel as if I would like to write the most beautiful of essays on how much books feel like home to me.  How they feel as if I belong. How they make me feel safe and secure. How they comfort me and nurture me.

Books do all of the things that a home does - and they are also portable; I can take them with me and always feel 'at home'.

And then as Nam Le says - the words take you away.

So is it the sense of being taking away that most feels like home?

Home and Away...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Threads rolled and ready

I managed to dry my threads and then began to wrap and roll them onto my lovely old square pegs.

I thought I'd use some brown paper and write some tags as well - the whole production thing had me in its thrall and I was going all out!

The rosemary leaves...

The paleness of the red crucifix orchids...

The coffee!!

The rosemary flowers after dipping in iron (rust)...

On the flight to Melbourne I kept winding the threads - the violets and the comfrey.

 And by the time we got home I had them all rolled and ready to stitch! I had thrown some extra cottons into the remnants of the violets and the coffee and have since pulled them out and dried them, and the time has come for another flight on which to wrap and roll them.

When we were in Melbourne we came across this version of the Fearless Girl - a tad controversial in a few ways; but just looking at her standing there like that, I do love her, and just wanted to say "go girl!"

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Slow progress for a wee book

I have an edition due in November and I have been working towards it all year, knowing that my time  this year was going to be bit hither and thither as they say.

From the beginning, I wanted to use a variety of techniques and imagery to pull together a small but hopefully sweet book. That meant I needed lots of time to do all of the processes.

Back here in February, I was looking for imagery and preparing solar plates. A week later I had cut pages and was printing.

Then there was the setting of type and deciding of internal pages and the layout of words...

The typefaces is tiny - 8pt - which means the individual pieces are tiny and the eyes do boggle a wee bit.

Here is the colophon before proofing.  I found a mistake or two.

Loads of notes in my notebook thank goodness as there was often a rather lengthy time in between steps.

 Printing the four lines of verse.

The paper was fairly lightweight - around 130gsm, so the impression of the type pushed through a bit more than I would have liked, distracting one from the words on the page, Not to worry, I just sat quietly for a bit and gently rubbed it all back down with a teflon bone folder.

And then I de-bossed, by hammering, a few initials here and there.

I folded the covers, which had been de-bossed using a collagraph plate way back when in January!

And then prepared the book section and once again, trimmed the foredges, this time by hand as the books are small (10cm x 10cm) and there weren't too many pages.

Isn't that just the loveliest image to sit with before I stitch?

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter”. 


It is fitting to use this quote today because we are working in Melbourne and I first came across this quote as art on a laneway wall here two years ago!

It is truism and a good one at that - but written rather more eloquently than I might have done.

It is a fine thing to be aware that we may not always be accurate judges of our own beliefs; that in fact we can be easily influenced by the manner in which the information relates to us - is it a lie that flatters or is it a bitter truth?

Whichever and whatever, I think this simply reminds us to think about the validity of the information when we observe our own response...

Laneway art, Melbourne, March 2017.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Stitching and finishing a commission

I have been fortunate to be involved with a poetry commission and I posted earlier about the calligraphy for the cover of the book.

A colleague Katie did the layout and design work for the booklets, and I was asked to complete the work by hand stitching the booklets.

The first job was to fold the covers, and the pages.

There is an edition of 22, and it took me a while to work out the best thread, the best stitch and so on.

I had planned a chain of pearls stitch with little baubles on the spine; however because the cover had imagery that wrapped around; and was soft and quiet, it felt quite wrong to distract from the quiet beauty of it with lots of little stitches.

I never cease to be amazed when my plan for something is quite clear in my head until it has to happen and then it just can't possibly be!

So it was back to testing and trialling threads and stitches.

Until I landed on the soft grey embroidery thread - two strands of DMC 234.

 And began to stitch.

The pile grew slowly.

Until it was finished.  I had asked for extras to be printed in case of stuff ups, so there was more than 22 to stitch.

Once stitched, I had to trim the pages.  You know the thing when you nestle pages within pages and the inside ones stick out more?  So Barry came and helped the guillotining - by holding the book firm whilst I pulled the lever. Excellent team work.

A stack of books.

I went back and trimmed all the inside stitching thread ends.

And loved the thin foredge trims as well.

And then we were done.