Thursday, April 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Every authentic work of art is a gift to the future” 

Albert Camus

Isn't this just the loveliest way of thinking about the things we make - that they are gifts to the future.  That in the future folk may find our art; may wonder at it; may see it in a book; may buy it; or simply come across it somewhere.

I like the positive sense of this. Yes, the work may have come from behind us - drawing on things we had seen or thought or done in the past; and yes it may have been made in the present, right here and right now; but really its purpose is in the future - a gift to the future.

It can also be a gift to the future me - I get such delight when somebody reminds me of a piece of mine they have and love; or way down the track somebody discovers something on Pinterest and gets in touch and I get all nostalgia or enthusiastic again.  Almost a bit like a gift that keeps giving.

That thought of a gift to the future offers me hope and a sense of wonder.  As I finish something I never know who might see it when it leaves home; or gets shared or...

Back in 2013 my wee book "A Subversive Stitch" appeared in The Huffington Post! Who knew it would ever be there!?!?!?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Defining skittery

I did manage to spend a fair bit of time focused on problem solving a big letterpress piece over the weekend; but for the rest of it - skittery remains!

I sat down to blog and thought what have I done?

And so here it is in no real order, making no real sense, just capturing the range of things I seem to be doing at the moment. None of which is yet serious enough to warrant its own post!

I have stitched five more calico aprons and am using my high tech design skills to discover how much room I have left over for type. I am planning fundamentally feminist type words and shall pop them in the decklededgepress shop if they work.

I have been playing some more with glitter I found in my drawer. It makes me happy.

And to add to the definition of skittery I do not believe I have an 'after' shot!

Further evidence of skitteriness linked to my larger letterpress project - setting a poem and discover I have run out of 'n's. Sigh. I needed a lot of 'n's.

Rummaging through some old books I was moving from home to the studio and discovered some of these playful moments and again, they made me smile.

Removing text to create some sort of poem. I do this in one of my two-day workshops (Words and More Words) and these were preparation for that I think.

Black marker.

Dr Ph. Martin's Bleedproof White.

Our avocados are in full swing at the moment so I got distracted by the notion of dying threads with their skins and their seeds.  Turns out they make a delightful coral pinky colour.

Today we had rain, and the mist started to rise and a rainbow appeared. Always a good day when it's a rainbow day.

So yes, I am sadly not yet through my skittery phase, but maybe in some sort of way I am getting lots of little bits done?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Around the edges

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time solving a letterpress challenge.  It is not yet complete, and the struggles were many, but I did manage to see and do a number of other things, around the edges.

Saturday was ANZAC Day here in Australia - the day we stop and remember those of our armed forces who have fought for our country.  It is for me a conflicted time - how best to honour and respect the terrible losses; how not to celebrate war and mythologise it; and how to try and focus on peace. Every year I weep.

We usually begin with the dawn service (here in Maleny in the pitch black at about 4.30am).  But this year because of the virus, there were no public gatherings. Instead a grass roots people-led campaign suggested we go to the top of our driveways at 6am, perhaps light a candle, and listen to the memorial service broadcast from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra - the Last Post and the minute's silence.

So we did. And it was moving and perfect.

We looked down our street not expecting to see many others and saw our neighbours and another couple further down the road. Here I am afterwards, heading to have a socially distant chat with Rodg.

Whilst chatting I glanced across at the embankment of grass on the right.

Can you believe? On THIS day, I spy the second last peace weathergram from last year resting in the grass!

So I collected it, brought it home, and let it dry with the gathering of peace doves (I wonder what a beautiful collective noun for peace doves could be?) on the chair at our front door. A compassion of peace doves? A serenity of peace doves? 

Do share.

There is a single peace weathergram still on the tree - a remarkable effort since August last year.

And so to the other edges.

On Friday Barry and I learned that our artists' book "We are Sorry" has been shortlisted for the Libris Artists' Book Awards. We did a happy dance - this is probably the most prestigious book arts prize in Australia and it is an honour to be shortlisted, and to be amongst some very marvellous book artists.

Because again, the virus, it is not known when the books might be able to be judged nor when they might be able to be shown to the public.  But still, first steps first.

And in some in-between moments, I decided that the circles would be contained in a square, so the template has been put to good use and I am beginning to prepare the cards.

And for hope. Not made this week, but a sentiment for always.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Here was language that drew meaning out of music, of echo, of silence. That communicated before it meant”. 

Lam Ne on David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon

David Malouf is an Australian writer.  He has written some touchstone books for some of us; and he writes beautifully of his growing up in Queensland (the state where we live, often maligned by those down south).  I studied his texts at high school as well.

I love the way that Lam Ne suggests that Malouf's writing could draw meaning out of things that weren't there; that weren't words; that weren't written down.  That somehow through the written word, he could muster expressions of the intangible.

The last sentence is the most beautiful for me.  The idea that his languages could communicate before meaning something.

It seems to me that suggests communication in the form of emotional response; or intuitive reaction; or simply coming to an understanding of something.  Somehow these words were able to express things that allowed the reader to 'know' or experience something before they knew what it meant.

As if you didn't need the words to tell you something - they simply evoked it.

It seems to me to be a gift if you can do that; and another gift if you can express that thought to others.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Round and around

Early in the pandemic, when things were moving fast in other countries and we weren't; when no one seemed to know if we needed to lock down and get supplies ready for months; and when it seemed as if the only way the curve was moving was up and up and up exponentially, I was a bit anxious.

I has some moments where I went right out to catastrophe, death and destruction and had to reel myself back in.  One of my responses was my 5 4 3 2 1 cards, which I am still finding help me out when needed.

My best friend is a wise woman and as we talked about how to manage things, she said - just remember circle of concern; circle of control.

I liked this notion and it was a simple one which stuck.  I have also come across ones like "worry is like a rocking chair - it makes you feel as if you are doing something; but it gets you nowhere" and also "why worry? if you can't do anything about the problem, then worry is a waste. If you can do something about the problem, then do it - don't worry"

Those links are to my Thursday Thoughts on them with proper quotes and attributions.

And in keeping with my desire to have fresh flowers inside to keep me happy - this is a beautiful bunch my Dad gave me last week.

But back to circles.

Over the last little while I have been pondering how to represent the idea; and how to use it. I came down on the side of small cards that could be stuck on a computer, in kitchen, by the bed wherever one starts worrying.

We had some ink on the press so I went ahead and printed the words. Then I had to fiddle with the circles.  I chose to use circles of concern; because it seems I can be a prolific worrier across all sorts of things!

Working on ideas for representing the circles.

I masked off a square using this painter's tape. Always a bit hit and miss as to whether or not it will pull off easily; or if it will pull the paper off as well.

Playing around with multiple circles of concern and a differentiated circle of control.

And yep, it pulled the paper off with it.

And some of the writing!

So back to a template to draw a border. As I was doing this I kept saying to myself - could you BE more old school???

Trying to centre the circle of control.

But then wondering about borders, overall imagery, or bands.

Round and around we go.

I love the patina on one of Barry's fallen peace doves which now perches on the chair at our front door.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Garden, beauty and tag teams

We have had a good weekend - getting long stretches at the new studio space, and also enjoying time in the garden and around the block.

After working in the yard on Saturday morning, this is where I landed: down near our small fire pit, sitting on a log, with my work boots on.

As I sat there, I looked to the left..

And I looked to the right...

 And I thought not a bad place to be self-isolating...

We had checked the veggies and the seedlings and collected lots of good looking limes and some excellent avocados.

 And so to the studio and cracking on. Barry has been making lots of product. Although we can't really open our studio/gallery/shop/doors yet; we are using our time preparing product and stock for when we are able to again. Barry has made lots of leaf spoons, leaf tea caddy spoons and leaf pate knives and the tag team part comes about because I do his swing tags.

They add something to the look and feel of the product and lots of folk like the handmade nature of them.  So I thought I had better get in front and make about 50.  Very much the most I have ever attempted in one hit!

First up I do an italic H and Barry's name.  This highlights him; and also leads into the Handmade opening line which follows.

You might be able to see in this shot (second from the right at the bottom) that I got a bit tired writing these out 50 times and for some unknown reason my mind turned to Happy Birthday, so a couple of times I started to write Birthday rather than Barry.  One got tossed but I caught myself on a couple of others and managed to turn the i into an a.

After they dried overnight it was time to add the rest of the words to the front, and later to the back.

 I wrote "from reclaimed and recycled materials' on the back; and then they were finished!  Barry chose two different thread for tying them onto the spoons/knives and so a hole was punched, thread cut to length and tied through the hole. Now all that needs to be done is to attach the tags to the spoons and knives - just like this.

They are available for sale in his shop for $40 each and I think they make great gifts.

I love playing with displaying the swing tags, like this.

And Saturday's sunset offered the most remarkable sight.  We had been out doing a few chores and came inside, looked out at the light and thought wow!  I have never seen such a thing - a rainbow fireball sunset.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Truth is the child of time” 

Immanuel Kant

Short. Simple. Deep.

I came across this somewhere on my internet wanderings late one night and  it struck a chord. I scribbled it onto a sticky note in an almost indecipherable scratch of a script and stuck it onto my computer.

Not sure why it resonated so loudly, but it did.  I think in part, because before the virus took over the world, we were facing some pretty intense investigations into use/abuse of political power here in Australia.  These kind of investigations take time.

As a result, their outcomes are often well distant from the actions and yet the only way we have gotten to the truth is to spend time, make time, and take time, to reveal it.

I think I liked the idea somehow of truth being born, as a child, as time allows.

We must hope that after the virus we still have the energy and the fortitude to continue them. To dig deep for truth which may be revealed, all in good time.

Mural artwork, McAuley House for Women, Melbourne.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Things, just things...

So it's still a bit stop start here, doing a bit of this and a bit of that.

I am trying hard to have flowers in the house each day and with Autumn heading our way, I am now pretty much down to scrounging weeds around the block but they still make me smile!

A lot of time has been spent updating our deckled edge press website and the shop there.

As you know we moved into the new studio full of excited ideas and plans for gatherings, workshops and exhibitions even; only to find within a few weeks that we were all socially isolating and no way could 6 people do a workshop; or more attend an exhibition opening.  We might have been able to manage an open studio with limited numbers of people in at a time; but the no browsing and touching rules would have made that a bit of a nonsense.

So instead, we have made a lot of cards and posters and mini-posters and put them out into the world via an online shop rather than in that lovely face to face manner.

First up is the Rainbow of Kindness mini-poster set.  It is the first joint printing effort by the two of us in the new studio.  We took turns choosing a quote and printing - Barry did 4 and I did 3. I look at them and think mine were kind of the 'be kind in a toughly manner' ones. Orange, Green and Indigo...

Anyhoo - they are now for sale in the shop in a set of 7.

Other things over there include: thinking of you cards; grief cards; virtual hugs cards and postcard sets (many more than you see here!).

It has been fun printing and also the isolation time has offered a good opportunity to focus on updating websites and shops and getting in touch with people.  Our most recent joint newsletter can be found here.  Or you can subscribe at the top of the right hand side bar of the blog for future ruminations.

If you'd like to join our deckled edge press newsletter - you can find the latest version of it here; and can sign up for it here.

We don't send them all that often so they won't be filling your inbox box. Promise.

I have managed to modify and amend the masks for my cousin - yay. We went with half shortened, and half made into ties.

And I am slowly circling (deliberately) the notion of circles of concern and circle of control. There has been so much to worry about of late that I have had to keep pulling myself back to the things about which I can do something.  My circle of control.  It has been a bit of a mantra for the past few weeks and has given me permission to not put everything into my head.

So here is an early meandering...

Just a few of the things happening over here as we wait.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Studio pottering

To start, a shot of a stunning pink flower of a weird cordyline type plant at the new studio - stunning!

And then to pottering.  Whilst my anxiety about the world and the future is receding slightly (mainly I think because we appear to behaving as a nation and doing sensible things with good outcomes) I am not yet back near anything I would call peak performance!  I am definitely still a bit skittery and finding that time is an odd thing - slippery and stodgy at different times.  So I am manly pottering in the studio and using the time to do some of those what if? or how do I? s that I often think about in passing, but don't get back to doing.

This week I decided it was time to try out some metallic dusting powder I had bought when we were in Scotland last year.  I thought it might be nice to dust it onto black or other colour ink to give it a golden touch, rather than using up lot of metallic ink.  Metallic ink can also be a bit hit and miss - it is always hard to get the metallic pigment bits to stay evenly mixed and not just fall to the bottom of any pot and so on.

So as Barry was madly printing away the back of over 200 postcards, I nicked into the production line to print two for myself to practice on.

The dusting powder is very fine - so precautions re breathing were taken. Whilst the ink was still wet, I dusted a wee bit of powder on. Gold and copper.

And because I am pretty impatient, I dusted it off again after about 5-10 minutes. And was pretty chuffed! I think we will find nice ways to use these powders.

Another thing I bought when in Scotland was a sheet of polymer plate flourishes.  I am a traditional type kind of letterpress gal; but thought a few flourishes could come in handy every now and again.  So they have sat there for a while now and I thought if not now, then when? Laugh. I am not made for modern ways...

I have had limited success with polymer plates  and as ever, teaching yourself can mean a whole lot of dumb things happens and mistakes get made.  Still, I thought I should have another go.

So I cut one out and attached it to a piece of timber I had had cut to make type high.

Pretty happy with what came about - could be useful. It was crisp and clean around the edges which was great. But boy did I have trouble making it stick on the block.

I thought I should test out a few more so cut out quite a few from the plate - it was good buying! Lots of different flourishes.

They were all set on blocks and I thought this would test a good few of them.

Again - struggled to get them to stick.

Two fell off as I put them through the press. Clearly this was not going to be a thing I could ever use if they just fell out willy nilly.

The general look and feel of the print was good (except for the two gaps issue) so I wanted to check if I could find out what had gone wrong.

I laughed so hard.  A quick google about the type of plate (it has some serial number on it) and I found the bit where the advice says "replace the blue protective sheet after each use to maintain the plate's adhesive capability".

I went to the drawer where I had packed them away; picked up a piece; and slowly, gently and with stifled and muffled hilarity pulled back the blue protective sheet to discover a significant and magnificent layer of stickiness on the actual plate!!!

There's always next time. Stay tuned. Grin.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” 

Albert Einstein

Today I ponder art, and in doing so accept and acknowledge the role that the intuitive mind plays in the creating, dreaming, and making of my work.

I feel fortunate that I have access to my intuitive mind. I use it and rely on it a lot - I oftentimes just seem to 'know' things.  I can't explain how I do, I just do.

I find in the dreaming of or pondering of art-in-the-making, the intuitive mind often guides me, leads me, and lands where I need to land.  It is fast, cheetah-fast, and things can arrive solved or ready to roll and they feel right.  Of course not always, but often enough for me to recognise it is part of my creative process.  I acknowledge it, note it, smile upon it and keep on going.

I think one explanation for intuition is that it involves super quick analyses and connections between things that you know or understand; experiences you have had; outcomes you have witnessed; or processes you have undertaken. Kind of like your life experience counts for something and some part of you takes away the set by step process of getting from A to B to C and says 'here it is'.

A true gift.  Einstein recognised the intuitive mind as such and I imagine was grateful for his as well.  Like many things in the world our scientific and rationale worlds take precedence and and we admire and fete the things we can prove or measure.

In times like these when we need and rely on the artists and creatives to help us get through - perhaps it is more timely than ever to celebrate the intuitive mind.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Around and about

As we all adapt to the new normal, we count ourselves as very fortunate to be able to self-isolate on the mountain block we call home. The block keeps us busy at the best to times, but is now also offering us healthy activity and things to do and focus on when our minds might otherwise wander.

A magnolia bud from down below.

We are gardening most days, hauling logs, building walls, growing seedlings and sprouting seeds, gathering flowers and just enjoying basking in the beauty that surrounds us.

It calms our souls.

Despite having removed our coffee plantation because of a nasty weevil infestation a few years ago; there are still coffee bushes growing around the edges of the block and they are bursting with coffee cherries (which have the beans inside them).  We figure if things get really bad, we can start to process beans again...

The camellias on the terraces below are coming into bloom and wandering amongst them is like walking amidst pink and white snow drifts.

A bunch we picked on Sunday

I popped them in these little wee floating boat 'vases'; and set them upon window sills in the kitchen.

And here are some camellia shadows on the water tank.

The veggie garden is beginning (we hadn't planted any as we were due in Scotland on 25 March...) and we are enjoying the daily collection and sharing.

A few weeks ago I did a bit of a panic buy of seeds (only one packet each of about 6 veggies but I did feel a bit panicked) and we set them to grow and already they are bursting out.  Barry prepared another veggie patch for them and that has been good to see.  

Our climate is a very kind one - we can grow so many things. Avocados are coming on and limes have almost reached nuisance levels; but our entire orange crop has virtually just dropped which was sad.

But we have a beautiful place to occupy us and nourish us.