Tuesday, June 30, 2020

And finally to print!

Way back a while ago I started to work on this collagraph plate.

It started when I looked at one of my 'Under Construction' pieces and thought how much I loved the stitched-on twigs.

So I sketched an indication of them onto tracing paper, and transferred them onto some grey board.

And began cutting.

And then I shellacked the plate.

And so it remained for over 6 weeks until last Friday when I picked it up and got to print. At last.

I chose to print with  a combination of burnt sienna and Payne's grey, with loosened up water-based etching inks.

It was quite the challenge to get the surface lines to take the Payne's Grey without smudging the back ground too much; but then I worked out it would be fine if there were smudges.

Same with the edges.  I started out trying to keep within the lines; then decided to actively rub outside the lines

I hadn't printed in aeons it felt like, so I was tentative with the pressure, but in the end I quite liked the ethereal look of the print. Although the more heavily printed parts don't please me.

But there are some lovely moments.

I kept printing with different papers and different pressures and directions and ended with a stash of prints that I numbered and recorded what I did differently between each one.

They are so far removed from twigs now. Are they people dancing? Are they a forest after the bushfires?  Are they hieroglyphics telling of our times? So many things can be seen within them and that intrigues me.

I was particularly happy with how well the ink came off the plate without a laborious clean up session. Yay.

The works will act as a reference and guide to future experiments and hopefully prints.  At some point I want to include letterpress with prints in some way so that will be the next bit...

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Calligraphic cards

Now the busy-ness of getting letterpress printed cards ready for sale has slowed; I have turned my mind to calligraphy again and have been thinking about how to combine some calligraphic lettering and some print maybe?

But to start, a visit to the studio by friend resulted in this gorgeous little bouquet. Stunning colour and lovely fragrance from the thyme and the rosemary.

I was thinking that we needed another, softer, thank you card.  I pulled out this polymer plate and left it on my desk to remind when I returned. I had done the calligraphy and had it made years ago and never touched it.  Now seemed to be a good time.

I looked at it and wondered if I should try to cut close to the edges of the words because it wasn't very high, and from previous experience the ink went all over the background as well and smeared and smudged.  Then I pondered rolling the ink on by hand and hoping I didn't mess it up.

And then I thought - I wonder if it will blind emboss???

And it did!

And just because I can't bear waste, I wondered if it might sort of blind emboss on some scraps I had?

And then I wrapped them in Habu thread and sat them in the sunshine and lo, they were lovely.

I had been cleaning up at home and came across a postcard I had made several years ago, and thought you know, the times still need this and so I went and did some of my heartbeat script on postcards. I then drew and hand-coloured a bouquet of blooms in between and thought folk might just like these.

And through the week, the sunset was colourful and full of movement; and high above, slipping through a veil of cloud sat a wee moon.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

"In the end, we’ll all become stories". 

Margaret Atwood

I don't think I have ever really thought of my life as a book; or as a story, yet of course, that is exactly how it will end up!

For now, I am a person who does what she does - who breathes, who speaks who reads, who laughs, who gardens, who drives, who stitches who....does all sorts.

I was thinking about something else just ending up being stories that are told about it. How people will always pick out the key bits that they remember or like about something and then that is the part that gets told.  In effect, every event gets distilled down to the bits that folk remember to tell.

And even then I hadn't thought to apply it to a life.

For we will all be stories.  Most of us won't be books, but we will be stories. Stories told of this and that and do you remember when?  Or I loved how she always ...? Or that reminds me of the time...

I sit here quietly having my mind explode with the notion - when it should really be self-evident!

Thanks as ever to Ms Atwood for making me think.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A Place Among the Clouds...

Ahhh...it is done.

I continued to play and worked out that I could add add an overlay to the cover. I printed two off-set printings of the title, one inked and one a ghost print so the the depth of colour varied between the two on the floaty paper and the one on the grey cover.

The next challenge was attaching the floaty paper to the cover; and stitching the whole thing together without it slipping.

To the very hi tech technique of washi paper.  Sticking it to my trousers helped take any extra 'tack' off it as I really didn't want it tearing the floaty paper or the cover when I removed it

The pages and back cover taped - each page was taped to the back cover individually; but all in the same spot so only one piece of tape touched the back cover.

The overlay taped to the front cover (seen after stitching) and the front cover attached to the back cover (in the same spot again). You can see I decided to reduce the number of lines of stitching, but still went with the straight lines .

After I had finished it, I needed to find a way to wrap it, store it, protect it.  I decide to hand stitched a sort of folder to keep it safe and flat.

Using figure 8 stitches along the sides.

And then you lift the book out and begin.

The front cover.

Then through the book...

Satisfied sigh.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Continuing my place among the clouds

This week has proven to me how good it it to spend regular chunks of time in the studio.  It has meant that I could ponder, progress, ponder anew, progress a tad and move along at a lovely pace.

I had previously worked out the pages, and the point of binding.  But then there was the reality of binding.

So I took along my sewing machine one day and tested how it would go, stitching through the beautiful Magnani cover and the light as a feather Japanese paper pages.

I scored 3cm down from the top on some scraps and stitched.

It held them well; but I began to worry that the top parts of the pages could tear, as if along perforation.

So I did some more rows of stitching.  Whilst this appealed to the structured me (I found it quite calm), it did seem bit heavy handed for clouds.  Somehow it just seemed too rigid and too earth bound kind of thing.

So I cut the scrap in half and stitched another one - this time with random waviness in the hope of simulating cloud-like sensations!

Kind of sort, of, almost.

Setting that side, I turned my mind to how to create interest on the cover.  I had thought about embossing some trace line imagery of clouds, but then I looked through my photographs and realised it would be beyond me to deliver something decent.  When I looked at imagery on line for illustrating clouds they were all fluffy and twee and I closed tho pages as quick as I could.

I thought about random stitching lines to outline clouds and that wasn't doing it for me either.  Sadly, at first, I thought I would have to just letterpress print the title. I have been trying to push myself beyond just words and this was a wee bit disappointing, but would at least not look dreadful!

So I began with some lovely light round wood type.

I reversed this photo on my phone so I could see how it would read.  The extra blocks are for working out spacing.

I measured it this way and that and then placed the type on the bed.

Locked it up and inked it.

And was very happy with the result on this test paper.

Of course with ink on the press and spar floaty paper about I just had to keep testing and playing.
Here I overlaid the brown paper with some floaty bits.

Here I overdid the floaty bits onto some of the grey paper.

And I knew we were getting somewhere...

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Let tiny drops of stillness fall gently through my day” 

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann

Ms Ungunmerr- Baumann is an Aboriginal elder, and a renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker.

Oh how this quote spoke to me today.  It has been feeling a lot like we have gone from slow-time, the fallow time, the time of waiting, into the re-emergence at warp-speed.  Several major things rushed themselves forward from August to June and involved hours of preparations and long days of hard work.

So we find ourselves feeling bustled and a bit frayed.

And then, tiny drops of stillness...

Sometimes we can only manage tiny droplets but oh what a balm they are. Folk who gather their energy from quiet time, from solitude, from stillness, need these moments.  Perhaps they are needed more like a flow of stillness; but when things are tight, droplets will do.

I think I also responded to the idea of drip feeding stillness into your day; which seemed to acknowledge the reality of a lot of people's lives - the attention to and for others; the transiting; the scheduling; the busy-ness of it all.

I think she was suggesting that we don't all need to go off into the forest for hours and absorb the stillness; but rather, finding a steady stream of small moments of stillness in days of frenzy will renew us and sustain us.

Tiny droplets on an agave leaf.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The valuable role of gecko poo

Quite the intriguing title I know!  It all began with some work I had printed some time ago (2015).  I had left the work out to dry overnight and returning a day or so later discovered it had been the perfect target for a gecko poo.

Of course. The challenges of living in a rural setting.

Despite being disturbed by it, I clearly paid little or no attention to it as I only re-discovered it recently when I was sending some work to a friend.  I was trying to choose the best set of three prints for her and had to remove this set from my considerations for obvious reasons.

I set it aside and thought I must do something with it.

I have been pondering how to bind clouds for quite some time, and thought this might be a nice little project to begin with - there was nothing to lose. To clarify - the work is  titled A Place Among the Clouds.

The remnant stain from the offending item.

So I set to work, recording the exact placement of said poo and thinking about how to remove it - by trimming the bottom? by trimming down both sides?

Given there were three sheets of paper to the work; how would trimming the sides make it look?  It was a funny old thing to get myself so thoughtful and involved in the small task of removing the stain.

As I was testing out how to go about it I layered the three sheets onto each other and was mesmerised by the the words softening and hiding and layering. Sigh. I spent quite a while with these lovely moments.

 From random placements I then tried to see what happened if I did a more formal grid plus diagonal.

 Also very lovely.

In the end the decision was to trim the bottom of the sheet.  I had assumed I would trim them all; but when I saw how the trimmed sheet sat upon the sheet underneath I realised I wanted to trim them to different lengths.

And then bind them at the top.  And the diffenret lengths along the bottom would be how you could ease your finger in to the delicate paper and lift it up.  And it occurred to me the this was the perfect position to bind, as the movement thought the three 'verses' was much more about clouds lifting and rising, and this action reflected the words.

Of course I needed a cover, and so I tested out some grey Magnani Pescia paper - velvety yet firm. And I think it is looking rather fine.

The next steps will involve scoring the front cover to make sure it will fold and bend at the right spot and then binding them together. But before that I also want to work out how to have some imagery on the cover. So a nice progression thus far and a few more steps to go.

I have been rather comforted by how deeply I got into artistic making again after having been making so much product for the Gallery Shop. A rather joyful re-discovery.  All because of some gecko poo which made me think of something as less than precious and gave me permission to play and explore and wonder...

And as I was packing away, I came across this very old collagraph print (2006) and rather than toss it into the bin, I have kept it out.  For some reason, it said something to me.  I am not sure exactly what yet  but it is sitting alongside the work in companionable silence, and will let me know, all in good time.