Saturday, November 28, 2009

marbling marvels

I've been trying to gather together a few moments to write a fitting post of my time spent in a marbling workshop with the delightful Joan Ajala last weekend (but it's been one of those weeks....)

(my favourite marbled paper from the w.e. -
joan called this pattern 'flame' - and in margo's pattern book it was named 'wavy dutch cockerel')

I did a quick think and realised that its been almost 15 years since I spent a glorious week studying watercolour marbling with Margo Snape (where HAS that time gone?!!!) I always had visions that I'd hopefully continue to fiddle with marbling from the comforts of my rustic little Sams Creek studio – but the reality has been that I've had difficulty finding the resources, confidence or time to have a go.

So I was peachy-keen to really throw myself at the opportunity to spend a weekend reconnecting with the craft

The workshop has held in the small but sweet headquarters of the NSW Guild of Craft Bookbinders which shares space with the NSW Writers Guild in the parkland grounds of Rozelle hospital. It's a funny space – and I was strangely always aware of its past history as a psychiatric hospital (the staircases gave me the heebie-jeebies!)

In the Ralph Lewis Bindery, where we set up our trays, we were surrounded by all the paraphernalia of bookbinding – bookcloth, millboard, presses, type, letterpress.... I wish I could have had a really good look around....

(from my little corner of the room - there were many distractions!)

Oops – mind on the job Ronnie!

Apart from gaining access to specialist equipment the other (and greater) advantage of attending the workshop was gaining access to Joan's wealth of experience – and the first thing I noticed (after I stopped eyeing off all the booky stuff) was a magnificent booklet that had been produced for all the workshop participants – pages and pages of notes (paints, size, patterns, suppliers...) it is without doubt the BEST handout I've ever seen!

(paints and whisks... ready to go!)

Oops get the mind on the job – don't get distracted by the good looking notes

My marbling partner for the weekend was our ASC Guild Secretary, Vicki – and I couldn't have picked a better person to team up with – we rather quickly developed a supportive rhythm

There was only one fly in the ointment of a wonderful weekend of marbling:

The Weather

I've got to tell you right now the weather last weekend in Sydney was appalling – I mean really really really really YUCK! It was horribly hot (in excess of 40 degrees in parts of the city) Marbling in hot weather is NOT ideal – aside from almost dying of dehydration there's all the technical hassles....

our alum water kept evaporating …. our paints kept evaporating... our size kept evaporating.... our alumed papers kept drying out and buckling (despite that they were stacked under boards) and this made them crispy dry (not great for trying to smoothly lay in a marbling tray)... our completed marbled papers dried as we tried to hang them on the line..... whine whine whine...

still, when I watched Joan in action all this seemed also to evaporate!

(laying paint on the size with the whisk)

(using the 1/4" comb - first combing)

(2" bouquet comb pulled in a zig-zag motion)

(behold the results! - rinsing the marbled sheet)

Ooooo and to top off a wonderful w.e. My dear friend Julie (who graciously gave me a bed and delicious food for my visit) sent me home with her marbling tray, rinse board and combs.... I see marbled papers at last being created at Sams Creek.....

stay tuned....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

finding a free moment

Last weekend I finally got to attend the postponed paper marbling workshop with Joan Ajala in Sydney. Despite appalling heat I had a brilliant time reconnecting with the skill of watercolour marbling that I first encountered in a week long workshop with Margo Snape waaaayyyyy back when...

I'm trying to find a few moments to share a highlights of the weekend but life is conspiring to keep me away from the blog at present - so I'll just give the sneak peak of a sample I posted at Book Art Object

(the paper is a stormant design - I've created for the forthcoming book-art-object group project)

and when I can resurface from the mountain of pressing obligations before me I'll show a few more bits and pieces....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

something 'out of the box'

This week I've been making a small something for 'out of the box III' at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery later in the month - and yes I know the photos I'm plonking here are really, really terrible.... my long thin things are a total pain to try to take a quick shot of (and I'm too lazy to take a proper pic at the moment)

Ready Reckoner

The work I'm submitting is a 'book' of sorts - created from the pages of an old Ready Reckoner (and of course I've given the piece that title) - with percentage and interest calculations covering the pages (ahhhhhh remember the days before the pocket calculator - it was such bliss to get a calculator in later high school and hand in forever those dreaded logarithm tables....uggggh!).

The piece is a bit over 3m high/long but folds down neatly to fit into a small Aust Post gift box (which is the whole point of the exhibition!). The pages have been backed with tea dyed muslin (I don't like the harsh white of store bought muslin... by immersing it in a big tea brew the cloth develops a colour similar to the old book paper)

After creating a single long column of old pages and muslin, I collected images from which I carefully cut paper stencils - these were used to put all the images onto my 'book'


It's quite amazing how detailed and resilient a paper stencil can be - well you can see from my dodgy photos that I created stencils of various animals, and bugs, birds and butterflies (these are mostly at the top of the work) - and two focal images: a line of soldiers, and a large beetle.

After the painted images were dry I got out my trusty sewing machine - threaded it with red and then green thread - and sewed up a networking storm! (I DO so love a good network... as an image or an idea..... I've long had a fascination with diagrams of networks - like those explaining ecosystems or computer configurations or DNA sequencing.... )

bugs detail from toward the base

I hope that it gets a sympathetic hanging in the space - I'd like to have it pinned on the walls - with the top of the work as close to the ceiling as I can get someone to climb!.... but as the display will be out of my hands, it will be interesting to see what treatment it receives... not to mention what reception it gets!

ahhh well - that's the lot of the artist isn't it.....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

ars gratia artis

I have one week and one day to go until I'm finished with this Master of Visual Arts – my, it only seems like a couple of months (and a lifetime) ago since I started – these 3 years have passed by in a flash!

One part of me can't believe that I made it through – when I started the journey our boyo was in preschool (for one day per week) and girlie wasn't quite 3 – insane!!!!!! (at times my poor long suffering partner MUST have been tearing his hair out – living with an artist aint much fun...)

Next weekend I'll make the looooong (1400km) round trip to my Uni to deliver my work for marking the following day – I'll be presenting a selection of 'book' works – many of which I've posted here over the last little while (the two 'serpens volumen', 'verbatim' and the recently completed 'hora libri') or uploaded to my flickr account – as well as a folio full to the brim of large scale photographic works – pieces that I view as documentation of ephemeral sculpture/performative works... and with these I've only released a few over the next wee while I'm going to share some more of these – and perhaps will tell a little bit more about the making and thinking behind each....

for now I'll leave you with another of my 'carved' book works that will be making the trip with me -

ars gratia artis (art for arts sake)

this was actually my high school art text that I to return, way back in the 1980s... shhhh don't tell the school or they might ask me for it now!

and although I describe these 'carved' - they are in fact very carefully cut with a scalpel - a few pages at a time... it's a long process...

and talking of process and books - I've recently changed over my 'currently reading' list.... whilst I still have library access at the uni I'll continue to dip into the catalogue and gorge myself on the booky goodness....