Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing”. 

Harper Lee

I imagine Harper Lee was thinking about a time perhaps when her eyes would give way and she might not be able to read.

Given that today we have other options for reading (in particular audio books) the practicalities of the quote seem less pertinent; yet the thrust of it still feels quite relevant.  It seems to me to speak more about things that we take for granted.

I really do love being able to read.  I love knowing that I can always pick up a book and lose myself in it.  That I can turn to a book for solace or comfort or learning.  That reading can transport me and calm me and excite me.

Perhaps she had taken the ability to read for granted; in much the same way most of us take the ability to breathe for granted. We don't think about it, we do it automatically, sub-consciously and regularly.  And perhaps the point to be made is that occasionally it is good to pause and notice. To pay attention to the the multiplicity of things we take for granted, and then be grateful for them.

And love them just a bit.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Fiddling with the letters

I was merrily working my way along with the embossed lino cut and managed to create a nice frame for the letterpress type. All good.

Then I had to work out how to get my type to fit, and so another rather long process got underway.

I knew the quote I wanted to use and the size of the frame; I just needed to work out if I had the right amount and right size of type to do it. I also wanted to fully justify it - to help retain that solid sense of the frame.

So I began with the type on the left. But it was too square and didn't quite fit. So I went and tried the bold version, which became a bit too heavy and strong (even though it took up more space). Feeling a bit like Goldilocks I was.

The other challenge was did we have enough pieces of type to do the quote? So I had to do the maths on how many of each letter I would need.

The bold type really did look too heavy and squat against the lovely long thin lines of the tree trunks.

Here are a few of the options I tried.  Also getting the attribution for Mabel Thynne in properly was proving a bit of a challenge.  Again very Goldilocks-like: too high, too low, too big...

I landed on this layout, but couldn't work out how to sort out the big gaping holes. A note to self here - maybe hand emboss after printing?

I went to proof the text on the Adana and for whatever reason, it just wasn't working. I turned the chase around and tried to proof sideways - and damaged my type.  I had forgotten to check if the paper arm holders would hit the type and I got my answer for sure. They most definitely did.

Lead type is quite soft it seems.

The top line was most affected - the s, the e and the o.
This was a bit of a worry as I only had one more s and one more e in the case!
For some unknown reason an r disappeared from 'are' as well, and that used up the last r in the case! A close call.

 I wondered where Mabel's name should sit and it clearly was a bit wobbly when I sat it up higher.

It also didn't finish the frame edge off firmly up there, so I decided to drop it down and use lead not spacers to keep it firm

I inked up a dark green and it looked pretty good,  But those gaps were still a worry.

I had originally thought I would need to print the words first, then wait for them to dry, then put the print through to emboss it and therefore lining up would be tricky and hence the thought re hand embossing afterwards.

As I proofed the type on a proof emboss I realised I could emboss first, then print the type because the type print process wouldn't flatten the emboss. Technical issue which no one else would care about but it did make me very happy.

So I cut the lino again with fingers crossed that this was where the tree trunks would run; and went ahead and embossed first. I was working towards an edition of 5.

And I got them!

It is really hard to get the deep green colour of the ink in the photos, but there's a hint of it here.

I was pretty happy in the end; after all the thinking and problem solving. The print looks like it is mine; the quiet emboss and the words are all there is.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Of lino and letters

I am participating in a group exhibition for International Women's Day. It is called "Eco-Women" and will celebrate women environmentalists, scientists, activists, artists and all manner of women who have helped build knowledge of our ecology and environment and who have also fought to protect it.

So I have been researching a few ideas and have happily landed on my woman.

I am getting my act together and am looking to combine letterpress and embossing.  Lino cutting is always a blast from the past for me so I have to reacquaint myself with what to do and how to do it; but I have spent many happy hour engrossed in the design, the tools and the lino - just quietly working away.

I am working with a local rainforest reserve - Mary Cairncross.  It is just down the road from us and a special remnant rainforest. So I sketched out some ideas of a path within the rainforest.

And then decided to add the block of text into the middle. I transferred the imagery to the block, and began to carve.

Once I finished carving I did a proof on cheap paper to see what I thought. Apart from the crinkles, possibilities were emerging.

 Doing a proof on real paper is always so much more rewarding.  The carving is coming up well, but I am not so sure of the design. The pathway and rocks are too weak at the bottom and the text block means you kind of lose the notion of the pathway anyway...

But delicious.  So I am now carving a new block; I have tightened up the frame a fair bit so the text block will be more defined. Fun times!

In other news, I took receipt of an unexpected parcel during the week.  I knew who it was from (dear friends) but had no idea what they may have sent. It was pretty heavy and a bit bulky.

The grin was as wide as the grand canyon when I opened it - chock full of italic wood type!

It was dusty and dirty but beautiful.  I don't have any Italic wood type and it is about 5cm high and bit of a fun typeface.

So I washed it all in warm soapy water and scrubbed it with a brush - now it is shiny clean. I had fun circling it around the sink and kitchen bench in the studio

And there was also some bonus type in it - a different typeface but same size and italic as well, so it can be a capital letter or I could figure out a bunch of words that could be printed with what I have!

 I think I have the best friends...

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

"Speak your mind, but be kind."

Truism, author unknown.

Today's Thursday Thoughts turn to the topic of 'life'.  I am not sure why this one grabbed me today, but it did.  It is on a yellow sticky note attached to my computer and I glance at it each and every day, reminding myself to be assertive yet kind.

I think many of us are hardwired or trained to restrain ourselves from saying what we think - whether as women we are socialised to be peacemakers and to not rock the boat; or generally speaking we may be shy or unsure of ourselves in certain situations.  Or perhaps we don't have much experience in voicing opinions and being heard.

Despite my feminist strength of character, I am oftentimes left not knowing how to say what I need to say.  Sadly when it does come out, it can sometimes sound a bit shouty, angry, het up, furious or some other form of less than pleasant rage.

And so I remind myself that I can say what I need to say, but I can also be aware of the other person or people.  I can speak my mind AND be kind.

Somehow these simple words give me permission to say what I need to say, in a manner in which I would like to hear it if it was said to me.

Weird how the simple ones can end up dealing with great complexity!

A photo my dad sent me from Scotland when our daffodils were blooming speaks of kindness to me...

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Of stitching britches, and babies

My favourite jeans for yard work started ripping.  I figured I could keep wearing them and continue the ripping or I could throw them away, or I could mend them; also with an SOS out to Liz Ackert having seen her darn hers beautifully, I undertook to have a crack myself.  

It makes me laugh to see that the main rip has yet to be attended to; however, many small frays are being dealt with.

I decided I would try and test a few different ways to see what aor tof stitching enjoyed and what works for didn't work.

These two frays show random horizontal and vertical stitching and seed stitch.

Each darn has a patch underneath it as well.

This has proven to bey favourite  so far, so I am going to use it on the rip if I can.

And so it begins...

All poor efforts are mine and purely mine and have nothing to do with Liz's suggestions!

And so to babies...

My cousin's daughter had a baby on new year's day and I am doing a calligraphic Y for them.

I wanted to be a bit playful with this one, so started to draw and doodle a bit.

And then tried to transfer onto proper paper - with mixed results!

Finally got one that copied well.

I trialled a few colours - I first thought of the amber colour tones as I had seen the wee one in clothes like that a fair bit.  But then I fell for the brighter blues and greens.

So I finalised a blue-green one.  Then I saw more photos of the bairn in amber/gold/ green tones so went away and did a final of that and forgot to photograph it before taking it to the framers! Laugh.

But you get the idea...

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Armadale Horizons

Whenever we visit the cottage, we try to do a walk to the cove every morning.  It has to be pretty bad weather for us to pike it - we don our many layers and our waterproof troos and head off intrepidly!

On our most recent visit, we took a lot of photos of the water and the sky and the horizon.  I chose to stand in the same spot each day and photograph the same horizon at the same magnification.  Or pretty much the same.

On return I have been playing with what to do with them; how to present them or show them and it has been a dreamy time staring into that horizon.

I selected 42 photos and printed them all out onto individual sheets  of matte photo paper.  They looked great on the dining table and the kitchen bench.

I am mesmerised by the individual nature of each and every one of them - even grey misty mornings look different.

So I have gathered them up and layered them with tissue paper between them and they can now sit and quietly let me know what they might become.

In between times I printed them all out on cheap paper, in a smaller size and wondered how they would present if I placed them next to each other. A really quick cut and past job.

Because the photos are square, Barry suggested I try 36 of the 42 in a square format. So I did, but couldn't quite work out why I wasn't finding the square and the grid calming like I usually do.

I think it was because it didn't actually look square because of the horizontal lines the sea was forming. I did love the way the lines appear and offer another element to the whole thing.

42 has  quite a few nice divisions 6x7, 7x6, 2x21, 3x14... and I think I like the 14x3 version.

I could do cheap and cheerful cuttingand pasting whilst watching the tennis - photos taken at night on the floor.

I am now trying to imagine what they might be printed on, and again, what they might become. 

To compare and contrast in a way, the valley was astonishing at 5.30am yesterday.  Layer and layers of clouds and a tiny strip of blue. Sublime.

And barely a mountain in sight!