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