Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Play and discovery

 A wee while back I posted about my excitement about purchasing some old letraset. About a month ago, another friend who knew of my search, discovered some and sent me another whole stash. Be still my beating heart!

Life has been busy and has not allowed me the option of just playing and testing and trying things; but on Sunday I took the latest stash down to the studio and hoped I could have a bit of a play, after finishing all the chores on the list. And I did. Yay.

It has been decades since I did this, maybe back in the late 70s or early 80s was the last time?

Here I had been rubbing that first S for a while and though I was done.  But when I checked - the letraset said no.

I then recalled that this was what I was supposed to see - that faded look as it was being transferred or had transferred.

The traditional lift and check...

And we have lift off. Or rub off?

I was working with some Japanese paper - both sides. One is slightly shinier than the other.  I also wanted to test it on some book paper I had. I like how the fibres of the paper are drifting into the lettering.

I am also quite fond of the broken bits, the cracked bits and the bits that just never make it across.  

I think the tests and trials and play were successful.  I used Chesterfield 36pt, and there is still a fair bit of it left!

So, BIG thanks to my friend Caren who shared her stash with me - women friends.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Mist and mizzle

 Sunday morning has become a morning were we walk the long way around into town and have a coffee somewhere before walking back up the hill to home.

Today the cloud was low; and there were droplets in the air. We checked the radar and thought we could still go - if we put on our raincoats and maybe just did the short walk. We also reminded ourselves that we always walk in Scotland, whatever the weather and thought we shouldn't be wimps. Later on we remembered that we always have our waterproof troos on in Scotland as well! 

So after a week away by the water (with no making done, just lots of resting and reading) today is just about droplets from our walk.

A web in the mist.

A dropped coral flower startling against the black asphalt.

Industrial droplets.

Drops on feathery grass head.

Maroon and hot pink combo.

More drops on weeds...

I loved the blurred view of the inside of the agapanthus.

Pretty in pink.

 More industrial drops.

More aggies.

Sage leaves at our front door.

And a phalanopsis  orchid at the studio.  We were gifted this plant (in flower) back in June last year for the opening of the studio to the public.  It lasted several months, then we popped it in the ground outside the studio and were rewarded this year by its return. We are thrilled!

We tipped 55mm out of the rain gauge on return so there has been a bit of water, and as soon as the sun pops out again we'll be able to hear the weeds growing for sure.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In a way I imagine this is an introduction of sorts to the idea of mindfulness. To be focussed more on the here and now than on the times that were; or the times that will be.

The honest understanding that blunders creep into our days; that we say and do things which we wish we hadn't is good I think.  The way he suggests they are just part of normal, average days helps reduce their imposing memory. Somehow it sets expectations that these things will happen and in many ways, they are not big things.

Which is helpful to those amongst us likely to catastrophise or overblow errors into disasters.

There is always so much hope in a new day, a new dawn.  The chance to begin again is deeply ingrained in our psyches and associated with the early morning I think. And I like the idea of beginning a day serenely.  Serenity seems to be such a lovely way to be (not suggesting for a moment that I manage it!).
However, when I do feel serene, I know it is beautiful and special.

A' Mhoine (The Moss) 2019. The long stretch of bog between the Kyle of Tongue and Loch Hope. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ongoing Friendship

 As I prepared work for The Red Thread exhibition, I muddled around a lot until I landed on my theme.  It fascinates me how I can have a million ideas of what I could do - try this, do that, make these...and they explode out of my brain and onto the page of my journal and I play with them and explore.

And then I realise I need an anchor.  They are too chaotic. Too disparate. I need a thread if you will, that will link things. I need a jumping off point that brings coherence to the body of work - rather than a random collection of ideas.

And so it was with the poem about Women Friends by Pauline Prior-Pitt.  Once I was able to use her words, I could think about how to present them in different ways.

The next step was the returned rusty tin and "Old Friends" emerged serendipitously.

Which led to a run of ideas about small, old tins. Sturdy and strong, intimate enough to hold in the hand. Protective. And the ideas of adding more work to tins grew.

Which led me once again to unbound artists' books.

I think the first unbound artists' book I made was back in 2008 called Quest - and it was a hanging book with pages that could be re-arranged within their fabric holders. Using  a script I designed myself.

My first really thoughtful and purposeful unbound artists' book appeared in 2009 when a friend sent me some words he had written about key moments in his life, to celebrate his 50th birthday. He asked me to make him a book.  So I illustrated the pages and wrote the words out in calligraphy and then came the time to bind it. 

And I simply couldn't. I couldn't bind his life. I couldn't decide and fix the order in which his memories would be read. I couldn't say this was it - when there were so many year to go. My dilemma was solved by an unbound book. I made a box and placed the pages in it in such a way that he could move the story around; change what he saw first, tuck the saddest things away at the bottom and so on. I also included several 'blank' pages Because his story wasn't finished; and we could add to it later on if he wanted to.

And all I can say is my photography has improved in the intervening 12 years!

So with that lengthy blether behind me I turn back to making unbound artists' book about friendship. With a similar theory to my friend's book; friendships change; they alter, they move around and aren't fixed, again the notion of an unbound book was perfect.

I used fabric sent me to years ago by a woman friend (similar to how I used Liz's fabric for Unfurling Friendship). Jennifer wrapped some old sheets around rusty cogs and left them out in the snow for winter (in Connecticut, USA) and I was the lucky recipient of some.

I stitched short lines, long meandering lines, little loopy lines across the pages - friendships can be of all shapes and sizes.

I popped crosses to mark the spot - two friends.

I added two spare pages, a needle and some thread - so the recipient could continue and add to their story.

The poem was printed onto goyu paper and dipped in wax, and stitched into the lid.

 And I made two of them in these lovely larger tins. 

And two in smaller tins.

And they were really popular and I am encouraged to keep making along these lines.

Stories of friendship, ever-changing and growing. Women Friends.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Studio Sale has been...

 I don't thinkI even got around to mentioning on the blog we were having a Studio Sale. Says a lot about the busy-factor here at the moment and for being remiss, I apologise.

We had an all weekend 20% off everything sale and had a really good time.  We had flurries and frenzies at some points; whilst at others had quiet times where we could sit and have a cuppa, chat to friends and do small tasks like stitch pages here and there.

So, to make up for my remissiveness; I want to offer any blog readers 20% off our online shop items for Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 November (Brisbane time). All you need to do is go to either


barrysmithart.com or 


and search the shops and see if there is something you might like there.  Not everything we have for sale is online given the nature of packing and posting and other considerations, but there are still some gorgeous things there for unique and personal handmade gifts (for others or yourself).

Use the Coupon Code BLOGSALE at checkout to get your 20% off.

There may be a tad delay in getting things posted next week, but we will stay in touch and let you know.

Some images from the weekend... tired now.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” 

Carl Gustav Jung

I am pondering art again this week and I liked the way this quote linked a few ideas together.

In a right brain and left brain differentiation thing it suggests that intellect is not the driving force for creativity which I think makes sense. I can rarely think something into being by pure logical or rational steps. There are leaps and diversions and rewinds all the way through it seems.

I had never before pondered the existence of a play instinct and probably should go explore that more, but right now time is short and I can simply feel a little bit excited by the notion of an instinct to play.

This instinct to play arising from inner necessity also seems to me to show a pretty good understanding of many artists, creators and makers.  We actually have to be making or creating. It is the way we make our way through the world and yes I agree it can definitely be described as an inner necessity.

The use of the word object in the last bit is the part where I am not quite sure. I guess it all falls to the definition of an object and can an object be an idea or a drive to resolve something? This part seems a little bet reductive and directive to me. I think the creative mind plays with ideas and resolutions, rather than simply objects that it loves...

I had trouble finding a photo of an object that I love... so here is an idea my creative mind has yet to resolve. I have enjoyed heaps of time wondering about cloud puddles and reflections; the idea of upside down/inversion; how water does magic framing things, at the right angles...

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Feminist postcards

 A few folk have asked if I might make my feminist posters into postcards - so they could send them to friends or just have them on their desk or fridge or...

So I took the seven in my poster series; and redesigned them using only metal type (many of the larger A4 posters use wood type).

Printed on heavy Gmund 300gsm cotton rag paper they look great!

I wrap the seven together of them with three threads - suffragette colours of purple, green and white - and include a brief explanation of the words and the impetus for using them.

The seven of them.

They are available over at my online shop; or at the Deckled Edge Press online shop
And will also be available at the studio sale this weekend!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Farewell the Red Thread...

 The beautiful showing that was The Red Thread closed this afternoon. All four of us were able to be there for most of the day - to share with friends and fellow travellers and to enjoy time together.

Beautiful red flowers/berries to celebrate!

Friends arrived and chatted having not seen each other for ever so long.  They enjoyed the art and hearing the stories...

It's always great to have the artists there to talk about the work.

A lull at lunchtime, and Barry brought us a heart each - the hearts that connect; the red threads that hold...

Now to tidy up the paperwork and the payments and tie a big red bow on the show!

And that's a wrap.