Monday, August 31, 2009

Australia all let us rejoice!

Yes folks, I'm now an Australian citizen. Hurrah!

Pictures of me with the Mayor, Keith Rhoades

It's a slightly weird feeling, getting citizenship of another country, and it does mean a lot. This is the only way in which I have a legal right to stay in the same country as my children. Although I could doubtless spend a long time to-ing and fro-ing on my UK passport with my Permanent Resident's Visa (and unlimited travel), it's more reassuring to know that I have a legal right to re-enter the country rather than the country graciously allowing me back in each time. And I have a sneaky feeling that in these uncertain times it might be useful to have both UK and Australian citizenship. Who knows. But anyway, after jumping through all the bureaucratic hurdles put in place to keep out the undesirables, it's nice to have finally made the grade. I feel honoured and lucky, and you know me, I don't do things half-heartedly: I live here now and so I want to be able to participate and do things like vote. I don't know if I will ever feel that this is truly my home, but I am glad that I am allowed to stay and have equal rights and priviledges to the people who were lucky enough to be born here.

Thanks Keith, even if I do vote you out of office next time there are Council elections!

After the ceremony we went for a celebration breakfast at the Surf Club. My great thanks to Michael, Patrick, Ella, Carol, Julie, Dene, Bronwyn, Willis, Sharon and Flynn who all turned out to congratulate me! Bronwyn and Julie had a great time last Friday shopping for Aussie souvenirs...

I am the proud recipient of a great big yellow bag of items including, in no particular order, flip-flops (although apparently I now have to call them 'thongs', which is hard after a lifetime of thinking that a thong is a minimalist piece of ladies' underwear), caramello chocolate, 'Milo' (malted milk powder), a pair of salad servers with handles shaped like the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, 'Aeroplane' brand Mango jelly powder, Tim Tams (dark chocolate-coated biscuits with a chocolate creme centre definitely not like Oreos, if you're reading this as an American citizen - more like a dark choc version of a Penguin bar if you're British), a boomerang, a surprisingly tasteful beach towel in dark blue with the Australian flag on one corner, a foam stubby holder with my name on it (anathema to me as I prefer to drink my beer at room temperature, but never mind... admittedly rooms in Coffs Harbour tend to be a bit warm in summer, but I still don't want frostbite on my lips while downing a bottle of Coopers now, do I?), cake mix for Lamingtons (sponge cake with a chocolate icing which you dip into dessicated coconut - not really my cup of tea, but I know other people who will be delighted) and various other offerings. Thank you, girls! In fact, thank you everyone, and thank you Australia for having me.

I had a lot of fun (you can tell).

Friday, August 28, 2009


Wrapping paper from the Royal Sydney Botanic Garden's shop - very sophisticated photographic images on a black background. Yummy.

Is there a 12-steps program for paper addicts? My name is Sara and I am completely addicted to paper: old, new, clean, raggedy-edged, ruled, plain, graph, etching paper, wrapping paper...

I LOVE the crimson passion fruit flowers against that greeny background! And on the facing page in my portfolio a selection of blue & white papers

I thought you might like to see my portfolio case with sheets of the stuff waiting to be turned into something beautiful. It will soon be closed up while I go on my grand European tour...

The left-hand section is a group of hand-blocked papers from Venice, and on the right a lovely black/gold/red reindeer paper that I'm going to use for some Christmas notebooks...

Elizabeth Blackadder's flower watercolours - I love tulips and can't grow them here because it's too warm and humid

But oh dear, I've found myself plenty of paper shops on the way, including Shepherds on Southampton Row in London. This is a picture of their famous "paper wall" (I'm salivating as I type and wondering how I'm going to pack ALL OF THAT into my suitcase!). They have a 'new products blog' and an on-line shop... now that's dangerous.

I haven't located any paper merchants in Paris or Brussels on the basis that my lust for paper won't overwhelm me while I'm seeing friends and indulging in chocolate, but I'm remembering all the places I've been to before in Venice and thinking that I'll have to drop in again just to check if they have anything I need!

Hand-made Nepalese kadi paper. The white-on-white flower block print on the bottom with gold-leaf centres I've had for ages but I'm saving it for something special!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More house stuff!

There's more news about our house over at, just so you know. Today we were able to see the size of the office/studio building for the first time as we looked at all the reinforcing that's been laid out ready for the concrete pad to be poured (hopefully tomorrow). My studio is going to be fabulous.

Monday, August 24, 2009

One thing off my list

Wanton product placement - please note, Dell! Yesterday after I'd finished everything else I finished this bag and managed to work it down to the right size, which isn't an exact science in felting.

It's always interesting to see how things turn out because the dyes, the amount of fulling you do to the fibres and the different grades of wool all contribute to how much the colours end up mixing. And to an extent you want them to mix because that indicates how well your felt will hold together! As you can see, the raspberry colours of the background fibres have worked their way through the circles of pre-felt and muted the colours slightly, but I don't mind. This bag is much nicer than the first one I made...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Plenty of room

After ruining my etching plate - and yes, it is completely cactus and so sad that I can't even bring myself to photograph the state it's in - I have found it hard to do any printmaking. However, plans are afoot to start a collograph plate tomorrow.

In the meantime I consoled myself with a second bag for my mini-laptop: I made one with Elaine on Thursday but in a vile shade of yellow! I can't think what possessed me, but I found myself at her house with a bag full of inappropriately coloured wool skeins and no way of changing my selection so had to make the best of it... hopefully there will be someone out there who LOVES pale lemon yellow with turquoise, pink and burnt orange stripes, in which case I will be delighted to let them have the bag for a small fee. Today I redeemed myself. I dutifully made 'pre-felt' (very thin felt in lovely colours, made to be cut up and incorporated into a piece of wet felt), cut it into circles large and small and then managed to use them on a bag that is predominantly a dark raspberry colour. Yum.

Here's what it looked like when I'd just laid out the pre-felt circles. The finished bag is a bit pinker and less purple but I haven't photographed it yet as the light's gone and it's wet...

I've been thinking about the whole Etsy thing and how great it is that there's lots of room for people to set up their virtual shops and sell around the world. When I first thought of setting up shop I was concerned that my friend Jan might feel a little crowded by another book maker/seller in the same town. Amanda's been worrying about it too, as she considers setting up an Etsy shop, and I'm very sympathetic! But no need to worry, I think: we're all selling to different people. The person who likes Jan's gorgeous Gocco printed moleskines and assembled book works won't be debating whether to spend their money on one of her pieces OR one of mine. They'll like one or the other, or they won't know we're both out there anyway, or they might buy a piece of Jan's work on one occasion, and mine on another. In the meantime, hopefully more people putting up quality work raises the bar for everyone which gives us all a certain legitimacy in our efforts and promotes handmade items, which can only be a good thing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Encore merde

Alas, my plate is thoroughly, utterly, completely ruined... and I did such a nice drawing in the soft ground! Still, after a drink at Bar Fiasco I'm slightly more sanguine about it than I might otherwise be and am considering the possibility of doing a collograph to replace it.


Sometimes I am a complete idiot - not very often, I hasten to add, but today is one of those days.

Softground etching: lovely result, easy process, few golden rules, but one golden rule is to leave it in the acid for a short period of time because the ground is quite fragile and easily degrades. Putting it in the acid, making a phone call, dealing with several emails and then inputting my accounts probably wasn't a good idea, was it? Two hours later I realised my mistake and went back to find a very sad-looking plate. More anon after I've printed it anyway and discovered the extent of my stupidity!

House building

If you want to update yourself about the progress of our house...

... have a look here!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I've been having fun making coptic-bound sketchbooks as stock for when I open my Etsy shop at the end of October. There's something profoundly satisfying about clearing my work space, spreading out beautiful paper, making choices about sizes and threads and fastenings and then cutting everything to size. Shortly followed by sitting with the sun on my back, binding the sections and covers together while sipping coffee and listening to Beethoven string quartets on my little CD player! I feel very calm, very mellow, because the only thing I should be doing is what I am doing: making something.

I made seven sketchbooks, all filled with lovely BFK Rives 250gsm etching paper and bound with acid-free book board covered in different papers with a contrasting lining and sewn with those Danish threads I was lusting after recently. The fastenings range from buttons to beads, and I twisted matching cords from the linen threads so that the books can be tied shut.

All in all it was fun! I'm looking forward to my European trip so that I can collect some more beautiful paper, and also fill the hard-bound sketchbook I made for myself.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Set text!

Thank you everyone who has been in touch about the Artists' Book Club idea. There's always a pause while you try and work out how to kick things off, but while I've been busy with other things (root canal, sorting out our holiday, tearing my hair out about our mortgage...) I've also been reading poetry and I hope you'll like the piece of poetry I've chosen as the piece of text to inspire us for the first book.

I've gone away from my comfort zone in a sense because I don't often read poetry and I've been so busy recently I haven't read anything challenging at all. But while I was at the Sturt Winter School I picked up Ampersand Duck's beautiful letterpress book of Rosemary Dobson's poems and thought I'd like to read some of her work. Tracking anything down in Coffs Harbour has been a challenge in itself but today, amazingly, our local library had a volume of her collected poems and I chose the following poem:

Learning Absences (1986)

Being alone is also to be learnt
Long time or short time.

Walking the length of the house, shutting
The doors and the windows

No longer calling casually over one's shoulder.
Returning to find no trace

Of the other, companionable living -
Bread smell, the stove still warm,

Clothes on the line like messages,
Or messages written and left on the kitchen table:

"We need to keep watering the cumquat."
Or, "I have paid the milkman."

At night, at this season, lingering at the window
Not being certain where to find Halley's Comet,

And looking a long time at the darkening sky

Text taken from "Rosemary Dobson, Collected Poems", part of the Angus & Robertson series 'Modern Poets'. Published 1991, ISBN 0 207 16864 4. Text copyright © Rosemary Dobson 1991.

I hope you like it: I thought it had lots going on in it, and immediately started thinking of making prints before reminding myself that I'm supposed to be thinking about making a 'book'!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the following people are guilty of wanting to be involved:
Moreidlethoughts, Ampersand Duck, Jane Aliendi, Art & Etc, Barnacle Goose Paperworks, Precious Little Birdy, Amanda Watson-Will and of course ME, which makes 8 participants, which gives an edition size of 9 books each. We'll all get a complete set and there will be once complete set left over for exhibition.

Now here comes the tricky part... deadlines! I said 'New Year' initially, but you might want to consider this: the Libris awards are on again at Artspace Mackay, as part of the Focus on Artists' Books V forum in April 2010. These are Australia's premier book arts awards and only happen every couple of years so we might want to put the set of books in for the Libris awards - only trouble is, if we want to do that we'd need to enter them by Friday 4th December 2009!

Now I don't think we'd need to send in the completed books at this point, just photos and an application form (I'm not 100% sure because the entry forms aren't yet available, but they'll be out shortly). Usually it's a case of putting together some high-res photos on CD, completing the form and paying an entry fee - the books won't be required until probably March 2010. So what do you reckon, could we be adventurous and see if we could put something in for the Libris awards? It would be a great start!

What do I need from you now? Really just confirmation that you want to take part and an email with your contact details if I don't already have them (Carol and Dinah, I don't think I have email addresses for you so at the moment the only way I can communicate is via blogging!). I've registered a blog called Book Art Object (for no particular reason - just came up with that name - if you hate it you can register a different one and we'll use that) and was going to set up all participants as members of that blog so we can all post entries and pictures. At the moment it's completely blank and could do with some love and inspiration!

Blue sky thinking...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Be still my beating heart

This is perhaps only of interest to bookbinders among you, but look at all those lovely threads! They're Danish dyed linen threads from Amazing Paper in Sydney and they are GORGEOUS. Lurking in my studio I have a pile of newly torn paper and some book board waiting to be covered in beautiful paper. Having SOLD my little STOCK OF BOOKS I need to make some more, so for the rest of the day I'm planning to cover the boards, punch the sewing stations and do Coptic bindings with my new threads. Photos in due course...


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