Sunday, July 26, 2009

Just Fun

I keep a little list in my 'Favourites' of blogs and websites I should share with you on this blog, but I rarely get around to mentioning them which is a bit hopeless. So here are some book/bookbinding related sites I've been looking at recently:

Handbound Weekly is a blog that pulls together all sorts of makers of books and book-y things in the Etsy on-line community. It's a great place to browse and see what other book binders are selling, and it's the work of Cindy Leaders, who has her own blog here.

Paperiarre is a lovely blog about handmade books and things from Kaija in Finland. I'm at once of admiring of her evident style and covetous of her beautiful books! I hope she won't mind me saying that she's put ideas into my head about embedding objects in book covers or, to be more precise, she's shown me how it can be done. She also has an Etsy shop here.

And lastly for this evening, I was blown away by the sheer, mad, single-mindedness of Watarou Itou and his paper Castle on the Ocean... Crazy and beautiful, it apparently took FOUR YEARS to make. I'll never complain about my slow rate of output again!

PS., for all you Australian book artists out there, you may not be aware that Focus on Artists Books V has been announced by Artspace Mackay, for April 2010. There is a forum, workshops and an exhibition and you can find details on the Artspace Mackay website together with information about the Libris awards. I don't know why there hasn't been a bigger effort to publicise the event? It's a big thing in the Australian artists book world and yet I found out about it through a comment on Artist Books 3.0 and even then I had to search the internet to find out the information.

Fun and games on Blogger

In case you're wondering, I took the photo lying on my back at the end of one of my Pilates classes, looking up at the trees. It's the sort of thing you do when you're feeling well-stretched.

Anyway, I've been having fun and games with Blogger this weekend. Looking through the various threads on the Help pages I can see that other people are having the same problems: adding a blog to your "Blogs I'm Following" tabs only for the whole lot to disappear and for you to fall into a malaise because you can't remember all the URLs for them... then they reappear, magically, a bit later on. And discovering that you have a new fan, only to find that when you click on your 'Followers' widget you can't find any fans at all and feel very lonely all of a sudden. This blogging lark isn't for the faint-hearted, I can tell you. Thank you, mystery 9th follower of this blog: I'd love to know who you are but I can't see you so I shall send you anonymous good wishes!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update - book artists' book club

Thank you for the favourable comments! It seems the idea is good, so I'm going to propose the following and ask you to tweak it if you want to, and get back to me.

How about...

~ we start off now-ish and aim to have completed our books by Christmas, revealing all to our adoring public at New Year? That gives us slightly less than 6 months

~ we need to find something to kick things off and inspire us. Suggestions please! I throw into the ring a novel, Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg, ISBN:1860461670 and a poem, A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman (and yes, this is the poem that inspired my Gossamer Bridge book) but I'm very happy to use something else

~ my thought was to make an edition of our books (nothing like a challenge!) so that when we're finished we can each have one of everybody's books and there would be at least one complete set left over to exhibit. I got 5 positive responses from this blog plus a couple on Twitter plus me = 8 people interested, so perhaps 9 copies to make if everyone takes part

~ question: is it easier to have a team blog (i.e. we can all post to the same blog about the project) or a Ning community...? Tell me what you think. By the way, the name '' is currently available for a Blogger team blog

~ so at the moment what we need to do is agree a source book, a timescale and how we're going to communicate what we're doing with each other. By the way, I don't have email for everyone who's expressed an interest so it would be good if you could email me with your contact details if you want to take part

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Berrima Shopping Experience

There had to be a 'downside' to being at Sturt Winter School and that was its proximity to several delightful places specially designed to separate me from my money! One such was the wonderfully eccentric shop Peppergreen in Berrima. Naturally I had to go twice.

On the first visit I managed to walk away with only a hand-made lace doily to add to my collection. On the second visit my wallet fared rather worse and I bought 3 exquisite handworked bags and a ball of French linen twine in red, white and blue. Very patriotic.

'Bag' is too mundane a term to describe these items: they're the sort of handmade fold-over cotton, silk or linen bags that girls of a previous generation made to keep their special garments in, such as delicate underwear or silk stockings. For some reason there was an entire barrow full on sale and I picked up these for less than $30!

Don't be under the impression, however, that Peppergreen is cheap. No. However, things would have been considerably more expensive if the shop assistant had been allowed to get away with adding $12.50, $12.50, $10 and $7.50 up on her CALCULATOR and somehow arriving at the grand total of $157 dollars! She didn't take kindly to me pointing out her error and consequently was extremely snooty with me as I paid.

What I really mean, though, is that there are a lot of gorgeous items in the shop with gorgeous prices: I coveted some shiny glazed blackbird pie funnels but they were $65 each, while the equally enchanting white elephant pie funnels were over $100...

Having said all that, you can't fault the selection available and if I had more money I'd have been in purchasing heaven. Brass 1940's doorhandle sets, Victorian jelly and chocolate moulds, hand-stitched quilts and linens from decades ago and every variety of silver or bone-handled cutlery you could imagine. Large boxes full of assorted buttons or mother-of-pearl buttons or whole cards of buttons, drawers full of antique haberdashery, shelves of books, labelled bags of patterns for everything from tatting (did I mention I also bought Italian, German and Spanish tatting patterns and a 1940's red tatting shuttle...? Oops!) to model train making, rolls of canvas for making espadrilles and quantities of gold thread for bullion-work. Boxes of old dolls' clothes (I looked but sadly nothing I liked), a hat stand full of 1930s and 1940s hats, jewellry, furs, gloves, combs, paper patterns... I can see why the shop is a magnet for stylists and set dressers.

Just across the road from Peppergreens is the ostensible reason for our two trips into Berrima: the shop The Art of Bookbinding. Unfortunately we hadn't realised it was open Wednesday to Sunday so when we first turned up, on Tuesday, it was closed. When we came back we cleaned up on rolls of bookcloth, Japanese hand-printed endpapers, bone folders, book binders awls and headbands - or at least, I did! The bone folder and one of the awls are for a friend, but even so I managed to spend a fair amount of money (sigh). The owners, Hugo and Henni van Willigen, have a formidable reputation but they were very welcoming and offered telephone support if we run into technical troubles while binding something, which was nice. I was in awe of their bookbinding equipment, seen in the studio at the back of their shop, but then they are serious bookbinders, working with leather and gold tooling and lots of things about which I know nothing.

So there you have it: Berrima, shopping Mecca in the southern highlands, and blessed with the Gumnut bakery next door too which, in case you were wondering how I know, does the most magnificent vanilla slice and I bought one on each visit to enliven my evenings at Sturt and repel the cold!

Le Grand Fromage

How good does that look? YUM! Brie made by my dearest hubby, whom I sent off on a cheesemaking course for his birthday in April.

B-b-b-beautiful b-b-books a-and b-b-b-oxes... brrr

I've gone soft. Almost three years of living on the mid-north coast of New South Wales and now I wibble if the temperature dips below 18 degrees centigrade, so spending the last 10 days driving around southern and western New South Wales in temperatures that reached a high of about 9 degrees C on a good day felt rather b-b-bloody c-c-cold. I've spent most of this afternoon resetting my internal thermometer by sitting in a nice hot bath with a cup of nice hot tea and feel warmer, and I've put all my thermal clothing in the wash!

We've all had a good time in our different ways: darling daughter saw her paternal grandparents, several uncles and aunts and cousins, and went to stay with Daddy's youngest brother for a couple of days on a sheep station near Goulburn. Then some other (very obliging) friends picked her up and she stayed with them at Shoalhaven Heads for another couple of days until I scooped her and her father up yesterday morning and we drove back up to Coffs Harbour. Dearest husband had spent the week bearing up with noble fortitude under the heavy burden of five nights in the Sydney Intercontinental Hotel, although I should add that he worked VERY HARD and the fact that a couple of his delightful clients might be about to stump up some actual cash makes everything bearable.

Meanwhile I stayed at Frensham School in the southern highlands town of Mittagong, at the Sturt Winter School, partaking of Caren Florance's course Beautiful Books and Boxes.

I was doodling with scissors

I always think it's hard, as a tutor, planning courses. Unless you grill your students in advance you have no idea of their skills, interests or experience or whether spending a week in a room with them is going to be tantamount to torture! And the same goes for the students too, I daresay. Will your tutor be a patronising pain-in-the-proverbial or someone who will actually teach you something you didn't previously know...? I'm pleased to say, since Caren was the drawcard for me attending the course, that she's fun, funny, interesting and taught me a lot. Phew! Relief all round I think, for it was a good bunch of people in our group and although our skill levels and experience varied our enthusiasm and energy made it a good course and we all got on well (which helps).

A photopolymer print used as a cover with Japanese stab binding

Clamshell box with coptic bound book inside

Coptic bound book

Examples of stab bindings

Stab binding I'd done many times before, but it's no hardship doing it again. I bound a box full of little notebooks with hand-marbled paper from Venice and put an inner front page of music before the blank paper. I gave them all to the daughters of our friends who picked up Darling Daughter, as a small gift.

Caterpillar binding

Once I'd made the clamshell box I ran out of ideas for an hour until it occurred to me that Caren could baby-sit me through the process of doing a caterpillar binding. I'd seen pictures and loved it, and I have instructions in Keith Smith's excellent-but-intimidating book on open-spine bindings. Caren was able to point me at simpler instructions on the Canberra Craft Bookbinder's Guild website. and between the two sources I was able to understand how to start the caterpillars and use them to bind in the pages of the book. Hooray! I wouldn't have ventured to try it were it not for the course, and having now made two books I hope I've mastered the method and will use it some more...

Final exhibition

Here are pictures of what some of the other participants made during the week:

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Don't forget to tell me what you think...

Let me know what you think about the Book Club for artists' book makers, mentioned two posts down (here). Thanks!

Hatmaking with dinner plates

Last week I made two hats for darling daughter. The first was a lovely little purple Fedora which I stupidly spun (NOT rinsed!) using the spin cycle on my washing machine - which shrank it beautifully (sob). So I had to make number two and remember to let it dry unaided, which took several days.

This week I thought I deserved a hat for myself and so my lesson with Eileen on Wednesday was all about using a stack of plates to make a hat!

First, make the usual 'bucket' shape as the base. Then tie three or four plates of different sizes into the 'bucket' and work them with soap and water!

The felt will shrink around the plates and take on their shape

Twist the top around

Dry the hat... et voila!

It's surprisingly difficult taking photos of yourself with something on your head - my arms aren't long enough!

This is daughter's hat, version 2, complete with flower garland as a hat band

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Book Club - an idea

A call to book artists!

How does this work for an idea? I really enjoying bouncing my ideas off other people, I also enjoy bringing people together to do things and I really enjoy books: as objects, as art works, as stimulation. And I really miss my old book club in Bristol, UK.

If you're an artist working in artists' books, how would you like to join a book club with a difference? Members would take turns chosing a piece of writing (book/poem/play/whatever) that the group would use as a source of ideas for producing an artists' book, say every quarter or every six months. The internet can provide the connection between members, and we could write up/photograph/document our work through something like a joint blog or a Ning on-line group. Resulting artists' books would probably be radically different from each other but would have a common link through the writing that inspired them, and could potentially be exhibited as a group.

I'd be aiming to make things easy (no point in saddling ourselves with something that becomes a chore...). Easy to administer, easy to be a part of, and no sense of 'having to do something you don't want to do'. You could join and not do every book but pick the ones which take your fancy.

So tell me, WHAT DO YOU THINK? Answers and any questions would be very welcome, and if you think of anyone else who works in artists' books and might like to join it would be great if you could pass on this blog post and perhaps they'd like to get in touch.


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