Sunday, February 28, 2021

Feminist printing

 Its been a terrible few weeks for women in Australia - especially women who have been victims of rape and sexual assault.  One story has seized our attention - the allegation of rape in Parliament House; after hours in a Minister's office. Allegations of repeat assault by the alleged perpetrator.  Allegations of assault in other offices.  Allegations of historical rape by a Cabinet Minister.

The layering of shame, victim-blaming, cover up, diminishing of the seriousness has left many of us enraged. Like the Women's Marches in 2016 and onwards, we are so sick of this sh**. 

One particular moment infuriated me, when after a very lame and dismissive response on day 1, our PM suggested he had checked overnight with his wife who suggested he think about this firstly as a father - what if this had happened to his daughters?

The fury that a male leader cannot imagine the horror of sexual assault unless he is related to the victim. Could not think to take any action in response to an alleged serious crime unless he was related. Was not concerned that the alleged assault had occurred in our home of democracy, on his watch, unless he was related. Could not imagine the fear of a workplace that allowed this to pass, except if he was related to the victim.

So I printed this small poster.

and eventually ran out of ink.

Whilst my anger urged me into the print; I showed it to my Dad, who took it in quite a different way.  He thought it was beautiful, and that folk would like it because it recognises that their daughters are far more than just daughters.

So, my blazing anger was turned around and I could see that it might be interpreted in a positive way as well. The personal is political; the political is personal.

And so to domestic posters. 

I love teatowels and think they are a subtle, subversive way to protest.  They hang over dishwasher handles, on oven doors and other places in kitchens, bearing silent witness with their messages.

I printed a few of one of my favourite phrases  Go Girl!!! - different letters, different layouts, different colours.

I really wanted to use the beautiful Italian typeface we have Amelia; however it doesn't have any exclamation marks.  It is higher than regular type so I taped together a bunch of !!!s and then attached them to a piece of card to lift them up enough to be able to print. 

Leftover teatowel texture.

A more positive note to finish on!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

 "Only two words lead to success. Yes and no. You've mastered saying yes. So start practicing saying no"

Jack Canfield

A funny little one to choose, but I was speaking of this with a friend the other day so when it popped up I guessed it was meant to be pondered.

Apparently Mr Canfield is an author /motivational speaker which is why, I imagine, he chose the word success.  I had thought to myself it always depends upon how you define success - and in my case if success is defined as living a clam, steady, kind life, then I'll take it.  If it means climbing over the top of somebody and self-promoting along the way, not so much.

But back to me and my friend. We were chatting about how it can be hard to say no to requests, for our time, for our skills, for our knowledge.  I think as I grow older I realise the value of weighing up how much saying yes can impact on my capacity to do the things I want to do and to live in the way I wish to.  

My willingness to say yes is fuelled by enthusiasm, curiosity, a commitment to help, a sense of duty or responsibility and a bunch of other things; but it truly doesn't work in my favour if I find myself stretched, strained, tired and tight having run out of time to do things that need doing; or finding no time whatsoever for the things that nurture me.

I guess I found a grain of truth in what he says, even tho we work with it in different contexts...

like making time to go gathering sweet peas...

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

More pocket progress

 More progress on the pocket book.

In the end, the bottom line is that a handprinted a book takes time.  There is a lot of time spent planning the size and the layout; choosing the words to write and the order in which they will proceed. Then comes the typeface; and the size.  And then the question - do I have enough of that typeface in that size? My mind turns to paper and how that will work out, and so on.

Here I am after setting a couple of pages - trying to work out which paper works best.

I decided on the lower as I felt there would be too much bleed through on the top paper - even tho I loved its tactile nature.

Yep, too distracting to see through to the other side as much as this.

And so of course to setting - working out where to position the type on the pages so that they are consistent throughout the book. How to work out which lines are the longest; and how many lines are needed. These pages reflect a 5 line verse and a 7 line verse. Tricky spacing to manage.

But I printed 15 of each hoping for an edition of 10 by the time I could have stuffed things up along the way.

The final page is set.  

And so the covers are covered and the inside cover papers 'stitched' and glued.

The Title page is printed in green and the other pages are printed, all ready for collation.

And stitching.

And then just because I love the shadow play of these flowers and leaves. You would almost think somebody had painstakingly snipped each of those leaves to make the serrated look so brilliant, but no, just nature!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

January done!

 I know it's mid-late February but I was happy to finally finish my Covid diary's hand-stitched, January handkerchief earlier in the week.

I love the process of sitting and stitching but do find that it is very slow. Or I am very slow. Whichever it is, I certainly don't get to stitch each day; yet I thoroughly enjoy the stitching as I sit, accompanied by Series 5 & 6, so far, of the West Wing.  

Here I am beginning the final diary entry for the month.

A close up of the last entry - NZ travel bubble re-opens.

The finished, unironed hanky.

Some more of the entries.

After ironing away the purple pen I use for writing. The very pale grey thread almost disappeared. Especially when set against  dark grey rug; but when I put it against a white background it is legible so that was a relief after all that work!

This hankie was so very, very fine.

It looks lovely with crinkles and shadows, and makes a great start to the year of stitching and recording. So many small things happen, so many big things happen, so much happens that I know I would have struggled to recall if I hadn't stopped to mark the moments somehow.

And now February begins.

Already I am finding this weave firmer and I think the stitching is looking much better as a result. Onwards!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

“It is illuminating to note, here, how the daily rituals and working routines of prolific authors and artists – people who really do get a lot done – very rarely include techniques for ‘getting motivated’ or ‘feeling inspired’. Quite the opposite: they tend to emphasise the mechanics of the working process, focusing not on generating the right mood, but on accomplishing certain physical actions, regardless of mood.” 

Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

I must admit I quite liked the title of his book, so I kept it in!

It seems to me that authors and writers would most definitely relate to these words - given my understanding of how they make themselves sit and write 5000 words, or two pages, or the like each day.  The discipline that applies to the art of writing is significant.

In earlier times, when work-work was the 80 part of my 80:20 balance with art; I used to set aside Fridays to make and to do.  A work colleague said to me; but how can you do that?  What if you're not inspired on Friday? What if Tuesday is full of inspiration? What happens?

And you know, I had never thought about it.  I just knew, that on Friday I had the opportunity to make/do/create and that I would use that precious time to do so.

Sometimes it was the chance to just get in and do what I had been thinking about during the week; finishing off something I had started the week before; whilst at other times it might have been reading about art or playing with materials or testing and trialling something. 

I didn't need inspiration to be on-call on a Friday- I just needed to know that I had Friday to sit down and do something.

Some of my Letter Arts Reviews - always fabulous inspiration!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pocket progress

 One of the feature of my work I have discovered when speaking about it, is this notion siblings.  I oftentimes will make wall works; which have accompanying books.  I may make a book and then create wall works that are related.  I think of them as siblings in the sense that they are related; yet not identical kind of thing.

And so to my pocket book.  Several years in the making (or not making really isn't it).  I thought the poster Pockets are Political deserved a book as well, and on and off have thought about what to do and how to do it.

It finally became the project I needed to make and I have set about writing words, setting them and printing them.

This bit of the progression story is about the covers - inside and out.

With a nod once more to the suffragette and feminist colours - the covers are a beautiful rich purple buckram, over Arches Velin 280gsm paper. I wanted the covers to be firm but flexible and I think this combination achieves that.

And then to the inside covers.  I worked out what weight paper would be good; and then wondered if I should embellish it at all; go for marbled paper, or stitch it maybe?

Stitching felt a little bit too distracting, and then I landed on the sewing machine without thread idea.

I retrieved the pattern I had used for machine sewing in green, the pockets at the bottom of the poster and worked it onto a page.

I did not think I had the care nor attention to trace and stitch it 15 times, so I experimented with layering the paper together and tracing onto only the top sheet.  

This worked for 5 or 6 sheets so I was set.

I traced and taped together a few bundles then sat down at the machine to stitch.

With very satisfying results!

I rubbed out the tracing lines on the top sheets, then glued them in position on the inside of the covers.
I love their subtlety and I love how the imagery reflects the exact same image on the poster, yet is different.  They are linked yet individual. Like siblings.

And to keep the sibling theme going, I printed the title in the same green that I stitched the pockets in on the poster! 

The books are still under weights and should be ready to be stitched this week.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Felt fun

 I love drink coasters.  I love having them about, I love that they are so helpful and I love that they are small but nice ways to protect your furniture.

I have been trying to find the perfect coaster for the new place - I know, serious first world problem.  In summertime we have ice in our drinks and the condensation either pools on top of the hard coaster and runs off on to the furniture, or goes through the fabric coaster and onto the furniture.

I came up with the notion of using the dark grey felt that I use for placemats and coasters, but adding a thin layer of cork underneath.

And voila as they say - perfect!

So far the excess moisture is trapped by the felt and can go no further because of the cork. Fingers are crossed.

I had a few scraps left over from cutting the final felt strip down to squares and like most of, cant bear wast so went ahead and folded them in half and did some wonky blanket stitching to hold the sides together and yet another voila - tiny gift pouches!

Small things make me happy.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."

Carl Sagan

Probably some of the best words ever written about the magic of writing and reading and books.

How clearly and simply he takes us from the flat object with some funny black squiggles to being inside another person's mind and having them, speak inside your head. 

The notion of having someone speak clearly and silently inside your head. Speaking silently - so true, yet how odd when you look at it like that!

I also like how he references time travel - how the words can be centuries old; how books break the shackles of time.

I'd never focussed on the time-travel dimensions of a book before - certainly I had thought about how you could travel in a book to far away places. I oftentimes think about the fact that these words were written a long time ago; how prescient they were; how relevant they still are; and I think I have thought of books as artefacts; nouns and objects rather than aligning them with the action of time-travel. 

Oh I am getting myself tangled in this meandering!

Nevertheless, I say yes to considering and pondering the role of books and writing in binding us together over millennia - what a marvel they are and how fortunate are we?

From 10 years ago - Australian Antiphonal, depicting magpie songs...

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The commission completed

 In the end, the work was all about the map. I used map references in the book; we incorporated map imagery into the wall work and Barry etched a map outline into aluminium for a wee sculpture.

The wall work...

I had written some words (poetic prose?) for the book; and wanted to incorporate some into the wall work as well.  Here is my calligraphic rendering in ink. The property is large, and in western Queensland, and the land goes on forever...

Of course once I had done it, I took a photo from directly aboveand was horrified by the blank space top left. So I tore a piece of the map up and popped it on.

Still not quite enough, so a tiny fragment of the map was added and I could feel the trio of left sided elements making me calm again.

Sadly the clarity of the photos is not transferring well into blogger today - I promise the calligraphy is not blurry!

And so to the book.

It rests with a wrap around cover and band in a custom made perspex box.

The stencil motif was repeated

These words are shared between the two pieces.

Thinking about returning, leaving and memories.

There are five sets of words - some directly from the map; some more personal as I imagined the place from afar. 

And of course, I love the edges.

Barry took the outline of the map and etched it into aluminium, and placed it on a cube of gidgee timber.  The map describes stands of both mulga and gidgee/gidyah so we wanted to reference the timbers where we could.  The bark lines on the wall piece are mulga.

I love how he carefully folded the metal to appear map-like and tethered it in three corners.

And here they are all wrapped and ready to be received.

We had a nice home made lemon and blueberry cake with a sparkler, and the gifts were opened and we spoke about what we had tried to do and it was all very lovely!!!