Sunday, February 27, 2022

Scenes from the weekend

 Some folk may have read about our Friday in the studio 'going to custard' over at Barry's blog, but I will document some of it here for my own records.

It's been raining. We have been caught in a massive low depression that is very slow moving. On Friday I was sitting in the studio watching rain outside; watching walls leak that have never leaked; watching the creek near us rise like I've never seen it, feeling edgy and uneasy. My access to the internet via my phone was gone and I couldn't text or message anybody. It was unnerving and unsettling.

I rang and asked Barry to check the radar to see if it would pass; or if the heavy rain was setting in for a bit.  It looked like it was here for the duration so he offered to come and collect me. It was the first time I had felt unsafe at the studio. By the time he arrived I had discovered significant water seeping into the studio underneath the type cabinets and so we had to really get going.

Raincoats on and we were off to dig trenches and drains to divert the water away. Scrambling to dig with sticks and stones we worked for an hour in torrential rain. The were fewer waterfalls by the time we finished!

Back inside we were mopping up - the water was headed for the piece of carpet the big old Lightning Jobber sits on and we knew that if it got wet, we could never move the carpet given the press is so heavy. We have never been so grateful for having concrete floors! Here I am still covered in muck.

By the end of Friday we could head home - with dehumidifier on; the air conditioner on dry and things looking settled. We had had 277mm of rain that day and overnight (12 inches).

Saturday it was still raining and we checked the studio - all good.  Only a small bead of water left beneath the type cabinet so we popped some blotting paper in to draw the last of it out. We thought.

I left Barry there but about 2pm I got the call - the water's inside again - so I dashed down and we were out again in the downpour trying to keep it at bay.

It has been described as a 'rain bomb'. We had about 100mm (4 inches) of rain in half an hour - I have never witnessed rain like that.

We moved a bunch of things to 'higher ground' 

Mopped madly for abit; dried off around leakage areas; and again, we left in the late afternoon with mission accomplished; this time there had been two breaches and we had added a fan to our arsenal drying equipment.

On the way home we stopped by the bridge in town to see how it was faring - the water was right up against the top board - creating waves and backing up.

Sunday morning and we had had another 12 inches (285mm) of rain in the previous 24 hours. Seriously sick of it; but it had finally moved on and we were left with the smallest of showers and drizzle all day. Brisbane and those south us are now flooding and its awful down there. One of Barry's nephews got out by canoe.

Just to the left of our driveway as we head into the studio this tree on this van.

We know how fortunate we are; and how small our worries are in the bigger schemes of the world and others' terrible flooding (the flood level at Gympie is 23m - about 70 feet, so many people evacuated, roads washed away and homes flooded throughout south east Queensland), but it was dramatic enough for us.

Grateful to be home, and warm and safe and dry.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves". 

E.M. Forster

And so it sometimes is. 

I hesitate to say the ONLY books that influence us are these, but I do think there is truth in the notion that books that are a little bit ahead of us, that take our thinking further, or meet us at the edge of our interest or understanding are really really good books!

They offer incentive to continue to learn, explore and pursue; they offer new ways of doing things and I really do think they can change our thoughts and behaviours too. O simply just give us even more glee and things to look forward to!

I often get a blinding insight into something, sometimes only one thing, but it is a powerful and mighty breakthrough. Perhaps it crystallises my thinking; or puts together a bunch of disparate things I haven't thought to connect before, but I am a real lover of ah-ha moments.

Out comes the penned paper to jot it down; or the pencil is out to underline it. This! This here! This says what I want to say or had been thinking! 

These books meet me out on the edge of my thinking and dreaming, and come to meet me.

Jerzy Kedziora, Krakow, 2017.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


Not a lot of creativity happening over the weekend; but I managed to squeeze in the tentative beginnings of the first step towards something...

Instead the time has been spent doing the jobs that are so often part of the making process - it's never just about the art!

My favourite by-product of doing Barry's swing tags - the play of the threads after finishing a stash. This time around I used some of Habu's paper thread...

We collected the perspex cases for our books . Here is Turning Point in its case, just before wrapping, packing and posting.  It took us about 3 hours all up to sort out the wrapping, the paperwork, the display photos, the emails, the scanned pdfs of the hard copies attached to the books, the postage labels and so on.

But they are now winging their way to the LIBRIS Awards in Mackay and fingers are crossed.

Another job - cleaning all the wood type to remove mould.  There wasn't a heap; but we have had such a wet summer you just know if there is a spot for it grow it will.  I took out all the trays of all the wood type and wiped them over with clove oil and eucalyptus oil.

I think this was the worst!

And then there was some cataloguing of equipment and type for a printmaking group who have just managed to get hold of a fabulous Albion Press, and need all the bits and pieces that go along with letterpress. So we sorted out some stuff we could send to them, and also send them photos of things we think they might need. Another few hours right there.

Hopefully I will get back to some of the creative side of the making life soon!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Covid feelings

I recently had one of those serendipitous moments as I looked around my desk and thought what if? My eye had landed on some old fabric and my head was still a bit full of letraset and I thought why not?

Then what to write? I figured I would be led by the original bit of stamped fabric and just do a couple of words about the covid feelings.

Way back when, around May 2020, I set up a little lettering stamp and stamped becalmed all over this lovely soft cotton.  It was definitely how I was feeling at the time - sitting quietly amongst the rolling swells, going nowhere; no action of mine would change much; waiting, waiting, waiting.

After a while I thought to wash it and see what happened. The ink washed out a fair bit and kind of yellowed off, but its message remained.

I used some new letraset I had bought last year as I tested whether it would transfer to fabric. I thought the vintage stuff might not be able to handle it.

It transferred well and then I went and got some other sheer-ish fabric - no idea what it is; but definitely involves some synthetics! Again, the new letraset transferred well.

I had been gifted this very open weave muslin (perhaps?) including with its stains and frayed and rolling edges.  I do love it. The new letraset transferred well onto this as well; and I think the open weave makes the lettering appear less certain.

Yes. Very nice.

And so I moved to using vintage letraset and hoping it retained enough moisture or tack to transfer OK. It certainly look unsure here!

More hesitant.

and very tentative.

And so to compare...

and contrast.

And decide...

I have started collecting words about how we are feeling about covid two years on from our first realisation of what was happening.

I have an idea for some pages.

A book may emerge. Tentatively.

Or then, something else might happen...

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"If we don't use our imaginations, we can't live a moral life".

Tim Winton 

Tim Winton is one of Australia's best, most loved, and iconic writers.  Some of his books are perennially on school curricula; others are almost embedded in our national psyche. Some I love, others I just don't get the whole deal, despite reading them three times!

He visited Maleny a few years ago to promote a book and I noted this quote down as he spoke as it felt full of wisdom and rich for exploration.

What this short sentence says to me is that in order to be a decent human, we pretty much have to be able to imagine the plight of others; try to understand their life experiences, and not assume that everybody is just like us

It seems if we are unable to empathise "put ourselves in their position; walk a mile in their shoes" or whatever, then we can't really pretend we are living a moral life. If our only point of view is our own; and we base our understanding and decisions on simply our own lived experiences; then we are not particularly good people.

It is a bit along the line of the notion that fiction teaches us empathy.

Using our imaginations, takes us out of our own lives and helps us consider others and their lived experiences, which can be so vastly different from our own. I often say there are so many worlds out there, when I slow down and realise how differently lives are lived for so many reasons.

So yes to Tim Winton's idea of using our imagination enabling us to live a moral life.

Me trying to use my imagination, Aceh 2007, 2 and a bit years after the tsunami.  

This huge tanker was carried 6km inland by the water surges and just left in this field.  How so many people recovered and got on with their lives was an astonishing learning experience for us as we tried to imagine what it was like to recover from so much loss and devastation. B's friend Jeff (alongside me) led a lot of the Australian re-building effort.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The cottage

Our thoughts have been turning to the cottage a lot more of late, as we get a bit of work done on our kitchen ceiling; as we join zoom meetings about a proposed wind farm; and we chat with other folk who have family connections to our wee village.

My heart has also turned to making work about the cottage and I have returned to an idea I had last year but which has sat there, patiently waiting for me to find a way through it.

Several veers to the left, the odd dead end and the need to clamber over a couple of fences and I have begun to make some progress; in completely different directions to where I thought I was going. Such is life.  I should really remember to never set out with certainty!

Plan A was to get some aluminium plates prepared in the shape of the cottage.

Plan A also involved etching said plates with imagery of flowers. I prepared some flower tracings and then laughed at myself - thinking how on earth can you get that onto the plate in such a ways as to etch it, so that you can ink it and print an etching?

I say I shouldn't head off with certainty; but I should in fact set off with an understanding of what it might take to achieve my goal and all of the possible steps; rather than my follow my nose and see what happens. Dilemma.

So I left it for 9 months, unable to face the challenge of working all of that out.

Last month, I picked up some of the cutouts and decided I would try a bit of a ground/stop out and then see if I could use a tool to mark the tracing into the ground and create a drypoint plate of sorts. On the left I use lip gloss; on the right a waxed crayon.

Suffice to say I  felt so underwhelmed by this that I am yet to even attempt to etch them.  

And then one night for some weird reason I was awake and thought - I could emboss/de-boss the imagery of the cottage onto something else! Clearly my brain was trying to found a way to avoid all that etching angst.

So I put both parts through the etching press on different papers and thought - ooh I like that.

Something could come of that.  

So my mind then turned to what the background could be that the cottage appeared against?  Would I keep on with some sort of etching print? do a mono print? print a photograph? a watercolour wash?

I have progressed but not yet completed; but I am moving which is better than being stuck.

Liz mentioned the other week that she had never seen inside the cottage; so here are a few snaps from inside. It is tiny and cosy. On our first visit my Dad, Barry and I built every piece of furniture from IKEA after repainting every wall and the kitchen ceiling. 

One of my favourite photos - Barry's legs look so relaxed whilst he sits inside the cupboard fitting the drawer sliders!

The kitchen before.

and after.

The lounge room before.

and after.

Dad and I trying to work out the lounge room chair.

One of the bedrooms, after.

The sofa bed couch, before.

and after...

Ahhh, that gorgeous cottage of ours...