Sunday, May 29, 2016

A re-do

A while ago I was asked to make a special presentation book. The pages were simple printed from the computer pages but the cover was going to be nice. The story was that it couldn't just be presented in a plastic folder.

So I spent  quite a few days peppering the covers and then doing a 12-needle single page binding.  For various reasons, the book caused me grief; and I ended up unstitching it and then there were three attempts to get a Perspex slipcase that fitted. You know those projects where it seems everything that can go wrong, does?

I said farewell to it and was pleased to have finished it, and have it out of the studio and into the world where it belonged.


The book came back.

It had been sent away for approval of the contents and somebody higher up the line had said they needed to insert several more pages - at the front, the middle and the back.

And then they would need it quite quickly.

The poor local fellow just didn't even want to have to tell me. He was so apologetic! So I said that it was possible but I might need to do it differently (with memories of the complicated stitching still prominent in my memory) and we agreed we would have a go.

I re-printed all the pages including the new ones and together Barry and I set about doing perfect binding (a la our style, as opposed to proper and perfect perfect binding).

Here I am gluing the spine with the book held  in our very make-do system.

The glued spine after it dried.

And then the tarlatan glued to the covers.

Mary paring back the leather for the spine cover.

Attaching the leather cover.

So we then put it under weights and crossed our fingers, left it overnight and returned...

To find that two pages slipped out - they were heavier weight and the glue somehow didn't hold them.

It felt like the first book all over again - just when you think you are almost there, it falls apart. Oh my goodness.

So we tried a new approach, a last ditch effort, and measured up and sawed into the pages, to include string and glue to hold them again. I am always slightly anxious when I see a saw and a book in such close proximity; but Barry is so good with a saw.

And here are the glued in strings standing up before snipping. With the remnant of glue from having removed the leather spine cover...

We went on to add the leather spine cover again and hoped we had it.  Almost. The same two pages appeared tenuous even with this, so we then did some more gluing.

And then it held.

The book  has gone (again). It was collected and is ready for signing and the strings above are the last photo I have of it. The funnies thing about it, is that I never even photographed the final!

I think my subconscious just needed it gone.

The local guy was really happy with it and I liked how it looked; but boy I am OK if I don't see it again in a hurry... except at the award ceremony.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens." 

Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of The Wind)

I know talk of the soul can be difficult at times; but there is sense in here that there is a spirit or an essence or an energy attached to books and that that energy travels with them when they change hands and move between readers.

I felt this recently when I was asked to select a number of books for a display of First Edition books by Australian Women Writers.

We are once again showing part of this collection at our Celebration of Books Maleny.

As the collector laid them out on the table and I picked them up, held them, smelled, turned them over, looked inside; it really did feel as if I was having some sort of conversation over the years.

It somehow felt like the books held lives and stories well beyond the tale written inside their covers. That the books had borne witness to many things and many people, and retained an echo or memory of those times and places.

It wasn't scary or odd; but the sense of it all was very real.

Perhaps there is something to these fictional words...

This is the first in the Billabong series by Mary Grant Bruce. My grandmother read the series, my mother read them and I read them all as well. They were great childhood companions; and Norah was the best of characters - loyal, brave, energetic, interested, hard-working, helpful - a multitude of traits that made me love her. And here's a First Edition. Sigh.

The Celebration of Books Maleny is celebrating its 5th birthday this year and heralding women writers and readers.

You can find all the details around the workshops, artist book projections onto trees, the display of First Editions, the Big Book Club, the fabulous forum of female panellists, the book-based movies and children's activities all over at the website. Would be great toes some of you here!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Regional Print

Wow, my head is still spinning from a fabulously busy and energising few days with the Print Council of Australia (PCA) and the opening of Regional Marks - the exhibition of regional printmakers at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

I mentioned here that for the past year or so we I have been working with a great bunch of women to build and promote the profile of printmaking in our region, and we got to see the results of some of that hard work last week.

It began with the opening of the exhibition on Thursday night. What a night.  We had the amazing Judy Watson opening it, and the beautiful University Gallery was filled with interesting and exciting work. But best of all there was a huge crowd - almost the biggest the Uni Gallery has ever seen! Over 200 people came along and enjoyed the night and we were all just thrilled to pieces.  You know those nights when the atmosphere is electric and buzzing - we had one!

Judy's opening speech.
Photo: Barry Smith
The organising gang!
Photo: Barry Smith

My work A Place Among the Clouds I hanging

Photo: Barry Smith
And my diminutive piece A Place Among the Clouds III in place as well.

On Friday the executive members of the PCA undertook a couple of studio visits and a gallery visit.  They visited Steph, and Susan and Barry and I.  They had the most beautiful day and we enjoyed their company greatly.

Akky, Liz and Jan at Susan's

Photo: Tory Richards
Jan, Liz, Susan, Tory, Kate, Akky and Marguerite at Steph's

Photo: Steph McLennan
Me with Marguerite, Kate, and Akky (and Barry)

Photo: Tory Richards
 I mentioned it was a beautiful day...

Photo: Tory Richards
That night we all had dinner together, and yes I played table tennis! With Akky, John and Cathy.

Photo: Tory Richards
Saturday was another full day with the PCA Annual General Meeting held outside a capital city for the first time in ages (or maybe even ever). Quite a number of local printmakers attended as well, another sign of the strength of the local scene.

We then had a fabulous Forum - What is Print? with three guest panellists (Stephen Spurrier, Jan Davis and Russell Craig) facilitated by Akky Von Ogtrop. It was heartening to hear the discussion and the thoughtfulness from the panellists and the audience. We didn't get an answer, but we got some excellent ideas and understandings.

Photo: Tory Richards
And then we all headed to the Caloundra Regional Gallery for an after hours event with a great show and more chatting and planning for more all things print.

There is more still to come of course - but we have a bit of a breather at least.

2 June -   Make your Mark workshop at Caloundra Gallery with the Noosa Press Gang
8 June -   Making your Mark panel discussion by three local printmakers at Caloundra Regional
10 June - Letterpress Demonstration and Meet the Artists at USC.

Check out the Regional Print site for more information and updates.

Phew, glass of wine time now I think.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

New outdoor books

Barry and I have been storing some large sheets of aluminium (and some large sheets of rusting steel) in our carport for years.  Always with the plan to make some big books for the garden.

We finally got around to it this week!  After Barry prepared the massive copper sulphate etching bath for the sculptural pieces he has been commissioned to do, we had all this solution left over and couldn't bear to waste it.

Time wasn't all that kind to us, so we covered it and made our way back to it a week later.  The solution was pretty cool and quiet, so we added a bit more salt and copper sulphate and got it going again.

Barry prepared the plates and I put the designs on using shellac. We chose peace as our theme, and the full circle as our motif; each book has a full circle, but they are split, if that makes sense.

Me writing freehand with a brush and shellac.

Some lovely loose brush marks with the shellac.

We popped them in the etching batch and I love how the reaction occurred where the bare metal was; and the shellac clearly worked as a stop-out.

After the etching bath anda bit of a clan-up a shiny 'is'.

Some of the lovely marks with the sun shining on the metal, and then the marks without the sun - a contrast for sure.

These are the covers for the large book. It is 80cm high x 60cm wide (about 32 inches x 24 inches).

We only planned to do one book; but then in typical fashion we were highly excited and motivated and went on to make two more books. They are smaller, both being 60cm x 40cm (24 x 16in) but one portrait and one landscape.

Whilst I was busy all day Saturday with the Print Council events (will share more on that soon) Barry riveted the books together. Then today we pulled them open using this hi-tech approach and some brute strength.

Here they are from behind in the shade just outside my studio

Here they are in the sunshine on the turning deck. The large book say 'peace is every step' the landscape book says 'imagine peace' and the portrait books says 'dream peace'.

And here they are in the rock river below the house. We are pondering where to settle them; and thought we'd let them sit here for a while we work out where they belong.

It is so rewarding to finally actually do the thing we have talked of for ages.  We just love them and now we want to go make more!

Pop on over to Barry's blog for his take on things...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“One does not stand still looking for a path. One walks; and as one walks, a path comes into being.” 

Mas Kodani

Every now and again I need to be reminded that being passive doesn't necessarily move you forward. Sitting and waiting doesn't necessarily achieve the things you want to achieve.

A few other 'quotes' come to mind when I think about this: from a Canberra friend,  "Hope is not a strategy"; and "If it is to be, then it's up to me" - not sure who said that where or when; but both of those get used regularly in our household.

I like the way Kodani's quote suggests that if you take the first step - most often metaphorically not literally - then the way becomes clearer; a way forward appears and you begin to see where you are going and how you might get there. Whereas if you sit around waiting for the way forward to become clear, then it probably won't.

I guess sometimes the first step can lead you to a dead end; but in a way that too makes the path clearer - it is clearly not this one!

Perhaps this quote resonated this week as I have taken a step forward, spent time in the studio doing this and that - and the way forward is getting little bit clearer.

A steep step path in New Zealand!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Studio eclectica

I have spent  a few more hours in the studio, feeling like we are friends again.

I have tidied up a fair bit today as we are having some studio visitors on Friday and the next few days are rather full; so I can see some more surfaces which is good.

It has been a case of a bit of this and a bit of that but quite a few ideas are beginning to flow - an excellent sign.

I spent some time writing these names tags for Barry to attach to these beautiful cheeseboards - they have headed out as corporate gifts.  It is always so nice to see how the tags add value to his work and we make a pretty good team I think.

I started putting away more type. Some of the trays I collected on Saturday had lovely ornaments in them and so I sorted them out a bit and have put them in the ornaments tray.  I am excited about having a play with them all and seeing how they will decorate some simple text.

I started more in-depth work on the workshop I am teaching in June - Quietly and Gently at Wrapt in Rocky and set aside these examples of embossing with type,

And this double built up lettering.

The play with watercolour crayons continues and another two book covers are underway. No reference to nature this time just my own selection of colours.

And the latest addition to the studio - a fabulous type tea towel!

I have no idea if these phrases really do have their origins in the type world or not, but they work for me.

If variety is the spice of life, then my studio life has been rather spicy the past few days! It's good  to be feeling my way back...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Small steps

I begin by saying thank you to all those who have hung around with me on my blog for so long, and who have persisted in particular over the past months, where the blog has been in a fallow creative time.

Many of you know that my gorgeous mum died unexpectedly in December and I have been struggling to focus, and to settle since.  I have hardly dared to create.

In the creative space I have found myself attending a workshop; delivering a workshop; preparing for more; organising events; printing cards; buying more type; cleaning and sorting all my type; helping Barry with name tags and other projects, but I have barely let my head think about "What do I do, what do I make now?"

So I finished sorting my type on Friday. I now have 45 trays of lead type waiting for me to do something with them. It was all organised, sorted and put away, clearing beach top spaces that haven't seen the light of day since mid-December. And then on Saturday I collected five more trays of type and another press which kind of put paid to my senses of task completion; but that is yet another story.

Sunday was the day I said. I will go to the studio and try to do something, anything.  I will pick up paper and decide what to do. I will take the first small steps...

And so I did. There wasn't a lot of time in between commitments and appointments, but I made time. A good sign.

And I turned to the gentlest of things - the techniques I had learned with my friend Gemma back in February last year. And I decide to make some small journals, wiht watercolour covers.

 I dreamed up a peace symbol in my head, and was planning to use a variety of colours, when I thought no, go back to nature like Gemma did and choose your palette that way.

There were two tiny violets outside the studio door. Ta-da.

I played with my watercolour pencils to see what matched, and made a selection.

And got down to business - that most popular of adult pastimes these days - I coloured in.

All good so far.

I went and picked a red crucifix orchid flower from the book wall, and decided to keep going.

I used a dinner plate as a template and moved it to create an arch. Hi-tech stuff indeed.

And I made a couple of small books.

And then another one, using some left over printing trials.

They are such small steps, but I feel like I have re-acquainted myself with my studio, with the movements and feeling of making, and my head is almost ready to begin to dream bit bigger.

It is a busy week ahead with delivering work, openings, studio visits, panel presentations and more; but I hope I find somewhere in there a few more minute for making. Thanks for hanging in there.