Sunday, 7 November 2010

It's a book

This is not a book. It's a hippeastrum. I just wanted a cheerful photo to start off this wordy post.

It's a book is a video I tried to upload but obviously haven't yet mastered the trick. I don't want to swamp you with things to look at but my computer is going away for a few days and I'm not sure when I'll be back here. So I have a few more links for you that I've enjoyed, or found interesting or been bemused by.

I was interested and bemused by Irma Boom's absolute dislike of hand made books. She apparently hates them. Each to their own of course.

Here is an interesting video on traditional bookbinding. Hmm... I can hear my two very traditional binding teachers spluttering in shock. I was never taught to put on a leather binding like this but I know that this is a quick and relatively easy way to make a leather covered case binding. Sawn-in cords, false bands, trimmed edges. Again, each to their own. Having worked for many years with rare books I have had many occasions to curse the bookbinders, both ancient and modern, who in rebinding trimmed great swathes of foredge, head, and tail from books, often cutting into text and illustrations. There are even instances of spines being hacked off and the text block held together with the sawn-in cords, over-stitching and glue. However, I think there are things to learn from this video and I'm going to try it, just because I can; so watch this space.

Meadow Press has a nice set of photos of making an edition of paste papers. Go to the second item down on the left hand bar. Every time I see pictures of paste papers I long to get my hands into paint.

The University of Iowa has a collection of bookbinding models, covering African, Monastic, Medieval and Modern. This is a wonderful site with excellent illustrations. I found all these sites through the Book Arts Web, a brilliant source of everything to do with book and paper arts.

And this is a photo of native orchids in my garden. I hope you found something of interest in the links. I'll be back when my computer's holiday is over.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Pop ups and other artist's books

On my desk top I have a few favourite sites that I'd like to share. So I won't be saying much and I hope you enjoy these sites as much as I do.

The Movable Book of Letterforms, designed and constructed by Kevin Steele, 2009. Master of Fine Arts program, Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana US.  I love the music.

Kevin Steele's amazing book was the winner in the Pop Up Books Exhibit "Pop Up Now", an international exhibition of movable artist books through October 14th. 23 Sandy Gallery, 623 NE 23rd Avenue Portland, OR 97232. Unfortunately the exhibition is over but the video gives a glimpse of the excellent books, of which Kevin's was one.

Book + Art: Artists' books from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Duke University Libraries, curated by Christine Wells and Kelly Wooten. This exhibit is part of a semester long celebration of Book Arts done in collaboration with UNC Libraries. Start: October 12, 2010 | End: Jan 9, 2011 | Perkins Gallery.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mapping the World

Considering that I already have several metres of books precariously stacked around my walls in front of my bulging wall to wall bookcases, commonsense would indicate that I shouldn't buy another book until I find space for all the others. But yesterday I did buy another book, a big one. This one is called "Mapping the World" by Michael Swift, New Jersey : Chartwell, 2006.  256 p. : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 31 x 43 cm. (12.5 x 17.5 in.) Landscape in format, this is a coffee table book full of glorious colour plates of maps from the earliest times (cartographically speaking) - from 1200-1085 B.C. to the end of the 19th century. Michael Swift is the pen name of a London publisher who writes about cartography and while this is more coffee table style with brief captions rather than a learned look at maps, it is certainly a feast for the eyes. Michael Swift does give an introduction to the subject but, disappointingly doesn't provide an index. This is a serious omission (my cataloguing prejudices showing) but I'm in a forgiving mood, and I did find the book on the remaindered shelf, after all. As some of the maps depict 16th century marine animals - my favourite subject - I couldn't resist. The photos show the front and back covers. As with so many books cheaply published (and sadly many that cost the earth), this book is badly constructed. Machine sewn, the sections appear to be glued together, with a narrow strip of mull holding the book, which is large and heavy, and without careful use the text block will fall out of the covers.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Eating, gardening and reading

The eating was easy. I made a pavlova for last weekend's birthday lunch and here it is. Coming out of the oven it was puffed up high but the top cracks as it cools, leaving a crunchy top and a marshmallowy centre. In my family we just like to smother it in whipped cream and strawberries but passionfruit is served on the side for all those Australians who believe a pavlova has to have pash n'strawbs. Fruit salad is also popular but I think it's a bit messy for my pav. There is a huge conflict in Australia and New Zealand because country claims to have invented the 'pav', a dessert originally made for the ballerina Anna Pavlova. I don't care where it originated, just so long as I can keep making them.

In the garden I am very excited to see my first globe artichokes appearing on my one and only plant. This is such a beautifully architectural plant that I'd forgive it for not producing anything at all, but I am rather chuffed that these beautiful little chokes are growing fatter by the day. Now I'm torn between whether I actually eat them or let them develop into the most magnificent thistle flowers. For many years I daily drove past a paddock of neglected artichokes and I was captivated by the huge blue flowers in spring and summer. At last I have my own; and perhaps my garden isn't big enough to have a giant thistle spreading seeds everywhere.

Also in the garden we have two big lizards. One is an Eastern Bearded Dragon, quite big, very harmless, no photo so far. The other is also big, also harmless, and like the Dragon, loves to sit in the sun for hours on end. This fellow (I think) is a Blue Tongue Lizard, nearly two feet long, and we are thrilled to have them both in our garden. I took this photo this morning and I was about 4' away before he (or she) gave me a look and slowly moved away under some timber. I say I think he's a Blue Tongue but his very dark colour is making me a bit unsure, so if anyone has any better identification I'd be happy to hear it. By the way, a Blue Tongue Lizard has a very blue tongue.

I've had many months of migraines and then, to my dismay, sciatica - so I've had quite a lot of time on my hands when I couldn't really concentrate to read or do anything else much. So I've been playing with old paperbacks, something I did many years ago but had forgotten about. This is, I suppose, an altered book, and if I'd been feeling more capable I'd probably have tried to make it a lot more perfect. As it is, my faulty attention span has given it a few strange folds - but I rather like it. I think now I'd like to bind a book just for this purpose, and do some experiments with shape.

I've unearthed all my book binding books - what a treasure trove that I've been missing for the past 18 months. I thought I should tell you about one each time I post. I'm not very good at reviews because I seem to have an inability to be critical of everyone's work but my own but I'll get around that by telling you what I particularly like. The first is The Book as Art: Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, by Krystyna Wasserman with essays by Johanna Drucker and Audrey Niffenegger, c2007 NMWA. This is a substantial book, hard covered, lavishly illustrated, often with just one artist to a double page spread. Each artist's book is generously displayed with a simple description and the artist's statement. The essays by Drucker and Niffenegger are a valuable addition to the book, readable and fascinating insights into these two highly regarded book binders. Krystyna Wasserman's introduction to the book and to the National Museum of Women in the Arts has me determined to visit the museum if I manage to return to the US. I can't believe I've spent weeks in Washington DC and didn't know of the existence of this museum which houses over 800 artists' books! This shows 108 of those books, and thank goodness, has a comprehensive index. The listed artists read like a who's who of book artists I've heard of and many I haven't. The label on the back of the book tells me I paid AUD$110.00 for this book in 2007. Pricey, so unless you're obsessed with owning every last book, I'm sure this is one your library would get for you on Inter Library Loan. Do let me know what you think.

Monday, 20 September 2010

New books, some bargains and a gift

A parcel came from Amazon a couple of days ago with three new books. Too big for the letter box, they came with the Delivery Man, a favourite visitor who brings very desirable stuff right to my door. This time I had two books by Ricë Freeman-Zachery - "Creative time and space: making room for making art" and "Living the creative life: ideas and inspiration from working artists".  Feeling I needed a bit of inspiration, I couldn't decide which one to get, so bought both. They are very easy reading and good for dipping into, and as I've indicated before, I enjoy Ricë's style of writing. I certainly feel I need a bit of inspiration at the moment. You can see more about these books in the sidebar of her blog, Notes from the Voodoo Cafe.

The third book is "Miniature books: 4,000 years of tiny treasures" by Anne C. Bromer and Julian I. Edison. A miniature book is no taller than 3 inches and almost all the many books illustrated in this lavish volume are depicted in actual size. This is a coffee table book, very pretty, with lots of beautiful illustrations and a descriptive text. Nice to have in the book binding library and maybe I'll get some inspiration from this one, too.

With a good friend (and fellow binder) I went to a silent auction over the weekend and put bids on a few items. I usually look for things for the garden and I was pipped at the post for a wonderful fountain with a pool and carved fish. My bid was the same as the winning one but mine went in later so the first bidder got the fountain! However I did get a small metal box in a style I collect, and a little metal plate with three rabbits holding it up. I think this would look lovely at a birthday party with a heap of chocolate crackles on it. I'll do anything to have the opportunity to make chocolate crackles...

And this afternoon the wonderful Delivery Man arrived again with a parcel from Dinahmow. Three frangipani cuttings, ready to go into the ground or a pot. A most welcome and appreciated gift. Thanks, Di!

And a few links to blogs I've been reading this weekend: Rhonda (Canada) at My Handbound Books; Andrew (US) who does good book reviews and makes lots of books; and Ronnie, who is an amazing artist and bookbinder - and is an Australian. Have a look and enjoy them.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Fish indulgences

I've admitted to this before - I love the look of fish. Not enough to have one in a tank but if I did, I'd really want this fellow. His name is Strawberry and he's a four year old Giant Gourami, still growing. He loves to eat strawberries, hence the name. He lives in a large tank in a local plant nursery and is quite sociable, peering through the tank at visitors and scaring the daylights out of small children when he opens his huge mouth up against the glass. I couldn't find an image of a Giant Gourami eating a strawberry but here's one eating a tomato.
Drawing fish is a very unscientific activity for me. They sometimes start with a touch of fact but they go off into fantasy quite quickly.

I took the fish fantasy to great lengths when I tiled my shower with hand painted sea life tiles, made by my daughter Suzy Spoon. I was pretty sad to leave these tiles behind when I moved to the Central Coast, especially as Suzy has moved on in her artistic career, now working in film and TV.

So, speaking of the talented Suzy, may I put in a request that if any of my readers would like to help her with her non-profit business, here's how to go about it:

Suzy Spoon’s web program Iron Deficient Chef has been chosen as a finalist in the Voiceless People’s Choice Awards 2010. We need your vote to help Suzy win. Voting closes on 20 September.

Iron Deficient Chef, series two – SpoonCapers : a series of five-minute webisodes each containing a delicious vegan recipe and an important animal protection message.

After a successful series of six five-minute webisodes in 2008, SpoonCapers is ready to begin producing series two of the popular vegan cooking show, Iron Deficient Chef.  Each episode deals with a different ethical issue associated with what we eat – from the growth of the factory farming industry to the commercial kangaroo slaughter, live export and pigs in sow stalls, as well as providing the viewer with a delicious vegan recipe. “Iron Deficient Chef makes viewers aware of important issues about animal cruelty, and is delivered in a non-confronting way to maximize its appeal and reach a new audience,” notes producer, writer and host Suzy Spoon.

Voiceless is an independent non-profit think tank dedicated to alleviating the suffering of animals in Australia. Voiceless envisions a world in which animals are treated with respect and compassion.
The annual Voiceless Grants Program has seen over $1 million given to organisations for inspirational animal protection activities over the past six years. The People’s Choice! Award is your chance to be part of Voiceless’s work in funding projects that help animals in Australia. This $10,000 grant, awarded to the project which receives the most public votes, is funded by public donations throughout the year. Now in its fourth year, the People’s Choice! Award is your chance to have a say in what we do.
To vote for Suzy’s Iron Deficient Chef, please go to the voting page, highlight the 4th button : Series of vegan cooking/animal protection webisodes. You will receive a validation email. Please don’t forget to validate this to make your vote count.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Spring time in the Southern Hemisphere

Who doesn't love spring? The bulbs are popping, freesias, primula, azaleas flowering but in my part of the world there is also wild weather.  As well as severe wind warnings here in Sydney and the Central Coast,  other parts of NSW, Victoria and South Australia are in major flood, and in beautiful Christchurch, in New Zealand's South Island, they've had a serious earthquake. Spring in the Southern Hemisphere can be quite savage!

I was fascinated by this video of a book binder making a very traditional book and then subjecting it to a decaying process.  I can imagine that 20 years ago I would have been shocked by this; in fact in the years I was learning traditional bookbinding I probably wouldn't have dreamed of altering a book - we all know that books are sacred! - but over time I've come to appreciate the many ways of producing books and art and I hope there's not much that I wouldn't consider as legitimate, or innovative, or just downright hilarious. If you just want to see the book being made, watch until he finishes it and then switch off. But I'm sure you won't. I found this link on Dymphie's blog, always full of interesting books, art, news and links.  

Some book arts bloggers I've visited today have been Pam at Book Arts Studio , Elissa at Blue Roof Designs and Niko at Anagram for Ink. I'm sure, if you love fonts as much as I do, you'll enjoy The Scriptorium.

I'd love to hear from you - so please leave a comment.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Some sparkle, some inspiration and an award

I love a bit of bling, not so much to wear, but to look at, and in Auckland a couple of months ago I was introduced to this fabulous fabric and glitz store. Hundreds of rolls of fabric stood on the shop floor, some absolutely gorgeous, but the amazing effect was produced by the walls, covered entirely with beaded embellishments. I obviously have no idea what they should be called so the best I can do is say "Look at the photos."

I'm so far behind in my reading of favourite blogs that I have about a thousand posts to read. I think this will have to be my early morning activity for a while and now that the weather is improving I think I can manage to get up about 5.30 and get reading. Today I visited Notes from the Voodoo Cafe, where Ricë Freeman-Zachery just about always puts life into perspective for me. Ricë is a straight talker, absolutely true to herself, and today I really enjoyed her post I Want to be Your Flying Pig. If you haven't come across her, dip in. I personally believe that pigs are very superior animals and could fly; they just can't be bothered.

It's a while since I've seen a blog award but Louise of The Fig Tree has very kindly awarded me this Beautiful Blogger Award. Thank you so much Louise, I'm not sure I deserve it but I do appreciate the thought.
The regulations state the recipient of the beautiful blogger award must:
*Add a link and a note of thanks to the person giving the award,
*Pass the award onto the most beautiful blogs you love
*Share 7 things about yourself.
Seven things about myself, presumably that I haven't already told you.
1. I once had 3 pet rats.
2. I once had a pet scorpion. As scorpions live under a rock or dark place and only rush out to grab the live food you've given them - well, I found I wasn't really up watching that happen so I gave the scorpion to my niece.
3. I have been foster mother to baby flying foxes (Grey-headed Flying Fox), carrying the baby in my shirt for warmth and feeding bat formula from a tiny bottle. This is a bat with huge personality and there is nothing spooky or scary about them.
4. I collect Hippeastrums. And lots of other lilies.

5. I love photographing reflections. This is at Picton wharves, Marlborough, NZ
6. I love dogs.
7. I'm a current affairs junkie but Australia's hung parliament is wearing a bit thin with me. And with most Australians I imagine.

Now some links to favourite blogs:
 Dymphie at Papieren Avonturen; BookArtObject where you will find links to all the members of our group; Valerie at Acorn Moon; Gracia & Louise at High up in the Trees; Roz at Roz Wound Up; Jackie at Drawing a Line in Time; and Gail at Papergail. I'll try to add links each post because there are so many wonderful book, art, craft and life blogs that it really is impossible to keep up without we help each other.

Please comment if you like - or perhaps if you don't agree - with what I say. I love to hear from you.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Spring time

Just before spring launched itself with warm days and balmy breezes, the little red-headed boy had his 1st birthday. The weather was perfect for a day in the garden with Bat Boy & several fairies, all accompanied by fairy bread, chocolate crackles and huge bubbles. And of course a wonderful birthday cake.

Toes barely touching the ground, he loved his new hot rod and was heard to say "brooom brooom". Truly his father's son.

Spring has gone to the heads of the birds and the dawn chorus starts with the kookaburras, followed by magpies, currawongs and the smaller birds. Listen to some bird song here.The chook yard is popular with a family of Satin Bower Birds who appreciate the delivery of food each day, and I'm trying to keep the parrots at bay by putting out seed far from the chooks. Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are rife but I'd like to win over the wonderful Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, who are less sociable, at least in our garden. Or perhaps less greedy.

A favourite bird in the garden is the Tawny Frogmouth, often confused with owls but more closely related to the nightjars, and a night hunter. By day they sleep in our pear tree, very close to the action in the busiest part of the garden. When things get too noisy (usually from the sandpit where 3 children are playing), one of the pair will ruffle feathers, open one eye, and give us 'the look'. This is mating time so I imagine ours will have a nest somewhere perhaps a little more private. They mate for life so I hope they stay safe.

One other springtime delight is the appearance of Nodding Greenhood ground orchids which completely disappear for most of the year but suddenly produce flat leaves from which these tiny orchids emerge. They don't last long, but are just one of the ephemeral joys of gardening. This year the patch is bigger and another has appeared a few metres away. I'm told that if I want to move them I should wait until the leaves disappear and then dig up some tubers but I feel this would take away some of the mystery. I rather like the way they come and go with no help from me.

I've been very slow to post and I intend to bump up my frequency. Part of my problem is that I intended this blog to be about book arts - and at the moment I'm in a slump. So for a while I'll just try talking about things I'm doing, bookish or not, and add some photos as I go. Thank you to all those who have persisted in reading my posts, in spite of their irregularity.

I love to read your comments and would like to know what you think. I'll reply to your comments here and of course visit you at your blog as well.

Monday, 2 August 2010

BookArtObject is expanding

As many of you know, I belong to the BookArtObject collective, until recently a group of eight book artists, each of us making an edition of at least 8 books on a set theme. This meant we each received a full set of the books, and I can't tell you how exciting it was as each of these treasures arrived in the mail.
This is the cover of my book, set on the group theme "Learning Absences", by Australian poet Rosemary Dobson. A poem about loss, I chose to interpret it through the very personal journey of my parents, as my father drifted into oblivion after the onset of dementia.

The illustration on the cover is a reproduction of one of my Dad's oil paintings, one of my favourites among several that I treasure. I titled the book "Drifting: living with dementia".

The book is A5, very simple, containing photos of my parents in their 20s and then in their later years, Dad in his late 80s, Mum at 93. The text is just lists of words, describing Dad as we knew him for most of his life, and then as he was when in the grip of dementia.

I'm not sure that I'd want to do something so personal and confronting again, and yet I feel it was very therapeutic and in spite of thinking many times that I'd abandon the entire project, I was supported and encouraged by other members of BookArtObject, and my family and friends.

The group coordinator, Sara, has put a group photo of our books here but has also placed several more photos on her Artist Books 3.0 page, well worth a look to see the different approaches we all took.

The collective has now expanded to fourteen and I'd like to welcome the new book artists/calligraphers/printers. I'm sure you will get as much enjoyment from the challenges presented as I have. Follow our progress on the BookArtObject site and meet the new members.

Friday, 18 June 2010

A poem for paper lovers, book binders, printers, marblers...

PAPER WRESTLING by Claire Beynon

Pretend you're breaking in a horse
                                 don't be intimidated
let the paper know who's boss
                                 acknowledge its memory
encourage it to relax
                                 if necessary, walk on stockinged feet
tune into its voice
                                 don't mind its splutters and coughs
treat its fibres with respect
                                 rein it in, but not too much
                                 recognize the fact that it's breathing, too
place your wine on a bookcase
                                 kneel down in anticipation
caress its surfaces
                                 ask it what secrets it knows
                                 look at it against the light
take it to the trough
                                 have an old towel handy
make sure the water's not too cold
                                 you don't want any shocks
see that it's not too hot either
                                 lest your best intentions come undone
keep in mind green tea left too long
                                 lazily served in a wide-brimmed cup
wait for the sign that indicates it's time
                                 take the plunge and lunge
move fast or the paper will think
                                 it can get the better of you
handle it firmly, addressing it
                                 in low and patient tones
trust that with time and persistence
                                 it will succumb, may even let you in.

From: "Open book: poetry & images" by Claire Beynon
c Claire Beynon, 2007, Steele Roberts Publishers, Wellington NZ
ISBN 978-1-877448-15-7

Thanks to Claire for permission to post this poem which I found in her book of poems and paintings (details above) on my last visit to New Zealand. As an unashamed paper lover I felt an immediate connection with the poem and I hope it speaks as eloquently to my readers as it has to me.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

NZ North Island 1

Muriwai Beach
 Close to Auckland but a million miles away in atmosphere. A beach set on the edge of wonderful farming country, Muriwai is a west coast black sand beach, very unusual to a Sydneysider who has grown up with golden sands. Unusual but extremely beautiful - and treacherous as I think most west coast beaches are in NZ. The don't call it the 'wild west coast' for nothing.

One of the most fascinating places I visited 20 years ago on my first visit to Auckland was the Gannet Colony at Muriwai. In those 20 years, the gannets have expanded their territory from the rocky outcrop to the cliffs along the shore. I believe this is one of only two onshore gannet colonies in NZ, with about 1200 pairs of birds coming here to breed each year.

This time I was at Muriwai late in the gannets' season, and most young were out getting their own food, but some huge and apparently fully fledged chicks sat on the rock screaming for food, a parent making an unerring landing next to its own offspring to stuff fish into the gaping maw.

Two more pretty pictures of Muriwai, both taken from S&T's balcony. Not a bad view to live with.
A misty morning above and the big sunset below.
There are more - I took 2000 photos but I'll just pop in a few now and then. I feel I have two homes in New Zealand, the one in Picton and the one in Muriwai, and while the views are stunning it's the friends who take me in and care for me so lovingly that make both places feel like home.

Friday, 7 May 2010

NZ South Island travels

First of all, a photo to prove that Meg and I actually managed to get together for lunch at her favourite gallery in Nelson, The Suter.  Meg is the incredibly energetic weaver/blogger from Unravelling and we met a couple of years ago at a writers' retreat held in the Marlborough Sounds at The Portage Resort Hotel. I also met chef Maree Connelly at the same retreat, and while Maree & I also met for lunch, this time in Picton, I didn't take a photo. It was great to catch up with them both, though we do all meet frequently on Facebook. Picton is the gateway to The Marlborough Sounds - just gorgeous in all weathers.

I'm afraid it's been a month since I last posted. So to catch up I thought I'd progressively add photos of my trips to New Zealand and then bits of Australia, so today is South Island day. I stayed in Picton with my friends, the owners of The Portage, lazed, rested for most of the two weeks, ate good food, drank lots of NZ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wine, played with black poodle Anoop, and had a couple of trips out to the hotel by water taxi (see pic above) - and more great meals there. The hotel is more easily reached by water than road (long and windy) and there is something wonderful about zooming along in the salt spray between the hills of The Sounds. One of my most memorable moments was coming home late in the evening and seeing the entire Milky Way spread from one side of the Sounds to the other. Sheer magic.

Once at The Portage the views just continue to be wonderful. You don't have to do a thing - just be there. Can you imagine sitting on the verandah, glass of wine, fish & chips at hand, watching the sun set. Can you tell I'm pretty much in love with this place?
 After two wonderful weeks of this it was farewell to A, D & Anoop - thanks dear friends - as usual, it was a wrench to leave you all. But then, onto one of my other favourite modes of travel. The InterIslander Ferry which plies between Picton on the South Island and Wellington on the North. The InterIslander takes cars, trains (goods not passenger) and people and on most days is a very compfortable three hour trip. On a rough day, and I've only experienced one, it's not so good and when the seas are really too rough the sailing is cancelled. I love watching the cars rolling on board and the general busyness of the scene.
Sailing through Cook Strait is very beautiful, first with The Sounds on either side, then a short stretch with just the sea and vague outlines of land in the distance, then suddenly the North Island comes into view. Having said that, I think this is still the South Island in the next photo.
Once at Wellington I got a taxi to the airport, did a bit of hanging around and then caught a flight to Auckland where I was met, taken off to dinner in the city with my hosts S&T and finally, after a long day fell into my very comfortable bed in the house above Muriwai Beach - another gorgeous location! How lucky was I? More later.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Home, but going again...

I've had a marvellous 5 weeks in New Zealand, just home long enough to draw breath, open my mail, find two fabulous books from Book Art Object members, and pack up again to head off this morning into western New South Wales. Don't know where, just going. I did want to go to Longreach in Queensland but they've had a lot of flooding up there and I don't have enough time to make a real trip of it, so will stick closer to home.

When I come home I'll be finishing my edition of my book for Book Art Object and I'll show you some of my photos of New Zealand. But just for a teaser, please have a look at More Idle Thoughts where Di shows some photos of a wonderful exhibition we went to, including a photo of Di and me. We have been communicating by email and blog comments for ages but hadn't met until that day. Funny that we both live in Australia but had to go to NZ to meet up. Di has posted quite a lot of photos of the two exhibitions we saw that day, well worth a look. Mine will be coming sometime soon.

I'm off now, to load the car and go. Talk to you later...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Beautiful New Zealand

Fia has had a very successful 4th birthday party with friends old and new, and now can proudly say she's going on for 5. Nine delightful children, their very pleasant parents and a delicious birthday cake made it a very happy afternoon. I think she enjoyed the party more than getting presents, which seems like a nice attitude for a little girl to have.

I'm heading off tomorrow, first to stay with friends for a couple of days, and then to New Zealand. I had my first major bookbinding lessons at the Auckland Institute of Technology and Bill Downie, the first of two wonderful teachers, set a very high standard. I saw Bill and his wife on my last trip to Auckland and he remains one of my bookbinding heroes.

The first half of my month in NZ will be spent in the South Island in the Marlborough Sounds, at Picton, staying with friends of many years, who own The Portage Resort Hotel in Kenepuru Sound. One of the most beautiful places on earth. The Marlborough region is famous for its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines, and I'm looking forward to trying new labels developed since I was last there. I'll also visit Nelson, and track down some blogging and Facebook friends. Then I'll catch the Interislander Ferry, a 3 hour trip in a very large car ferry, hopefully on a calm sea, which will take me to Wellington, capital city of NZ, on the southern tip of the North Island. A quick plane trip will take me back to Auckland.

The second half of my holiday will be spent in and around Auckland with bookbinding friends, some of whom I met all those years ago at Auckland Inst. of Technology. We have a lot planned, people to see, places to go, and I hope a little book making thrown in. My hosts live at Muriwai Beach, another beautiful place - one thing you have to say about New Zealand, each place is prettier than the next. Do click on the link to see this wonderful beach and the Gannet Colony - just spectacular. I'm taking my new camera, lots of art materials, and just a few clothes. Something to do with priorities.

I'll be home on 30 March, with all batteries recharged I hope. I'm leaving my Secret Garden in the hands of my capable family. I'll be glad to get back to my garden but even more to see the little children again. And then I have books to make, and even more books...

Monday, 15 February 2010

One World One Heart give-away winner...

The winner of my Magic Carpet journal is Diana at Adventuring through Life - a really warm and gentle blog and one I'll be visiting often. Diana comes from Olmsted Falls OH, United States, makes beautiful earrings and bracelets and you may see these in her Etsy shop. Congratulations Diana, I hope you will enjoy using your new journal. I'll email you to get your address details.

At the last minute I decided to choose another visitor (both were chosen by a random number generator) to receive a magazine that showcases country Australia. This goes to Sandra, from Virginia, United States, who lives in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains on Thistle Cove Farm. Sandra, I'll email you too, to get your address.

Do visit both these blogs - they are delightful and heart warming. I'm so pleased that my gifts are going to such good homes.

I'm sure I've already said I was overwhelmed by the response to my journal. I had 490 comments and I would have gladly given every one of them the book. People generally put effort into their comments and it made me feel people were really talking to me. My intention is to visit all 490 visitors but I'd like to do that at a gentle pace so I can read, look at photos, visit shops and leave comments. I imagine this will take a long time but I'll do it. Thank you to all those who became following friends - I'll be visiting you too.

Thank you to everyone who commented, to Lisa Swifka of A Whimsical Bohemian for organising the event and to Eva (Lady Artisan) who alerted me to it. Now I have some emails to send - to Diana and Sandra.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Something that makes me smile

I thought this post shouldn't go by without a book photo. This is a tiny concertina I call Mardi Gras,  a very simple exercise in sewing pages into concertina folds. Quite cute, totally useless but pretty in a rather tizzy way.  Every time I come across it on my shelves I can't help smiling at the silliness of it, and we all know that smiling is a Good Thing.
The response to my One World One Heart giveaway has been overwhelming to say the least. There just aren't hours enough in a day to respond to everyone (at this time over 480 comments) but I will try to visit everyone over the next few weeks, or maybe months. I will certainly be visiting my followers to say hello.

Drop in on Monday 15 Feb at 6:00 p.m Sydney time when I announce the winner.

Monday, 25 January 2010

My Magic Carpet Giveaway 2010

14 Feb: Okay, this is the moment when I cut off comments on this post. Any comments past number 490 will not go into the random number generator. That sounds so unfriendly but that's the rules, sorry to anyone who makes a last minute visit. Thank you all for visiting, I hope to get around to everyone eventually and I'll announce the winner tomorrow at this time.

MEMO 13 Feb: this was meant to be my cutoff date, at 6:00 p.m. Due to an electrical storm the time has passed so I'm now going to extend to Sunday 14 Feb (Valentine's Day!!), still at 6:00 p.m. Sydney time. I will announce the winner in my blog and by email to the winner on Monday 15 Feb, 6:00 p.m.

I'm a Magic Carpet Ticket Holder 2010 - One World One Heart - join me in this adventure!

I'm giving away my Magic Carpet journal. With its luxurious paste paper covers, exotic 16 needle Coptic binding with Celtic overtones and 216 pages, it's just waiting to be filled with your thoughts, dreams and desires. And just one of my lucky readers will win this potentially magical book (you have to supply the magic, of course) simply by leaving me a comment on this particular post. What could be an easier way to become the owner of a Magic Carpet to your dreams? Please be sure that your email address is in your comment or a link that I can use to contact you. I'd be dreadfully upset if YOU won, and I couldn't contact you. The winner will be chosen by the completely impersonal "Random Number Generator". Apart from that, this exercise should be a warm and friendly experience allowing bloggers from all over the world to make contact with one another.
The hand made paste paper covers of my Magic Carpet journal.

While visiting Lisa at A Whimsical Bohemian I learned of her  project "One World One Heart", an event for bloggers world wide. Here is an opportunity to meet other bloggers and possibly win one or more of the many give-aways offered. Every contributing blogger lists a prize which will be given to one lucky reader when names are drawn on the cutoff date, which in my case will be at on Saturday 13 February at 6:00 p.m. [This is Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time which (I think) equates with midnight California time. I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm wrong.] I will announce my prizewinner on my blog and by email at 6:00 p.m. on Monday 15 February. Visit Lisa for a list of other participating blogs and check some out, leave comments and put yourself in the running for other prizes.

Just a note about the Magic Carpet book: The paste papers are my own and the covers are wrapped and non-adhesive. The binding is Coptic, sewn with 16 needles, using Irish linen thread, and embellished with a two colour Celtic stitch. The pages are torn edged, the paper is very basic cartridge, which makes it more suitable to writing in rather than water colours or other really wet materials. I'm rather fond of this book but feel that this is an occasion when it really is nice to be able to give away a favourite.
Lisa started One World One Heart in 2007, when she had over 85 participants. In 2008 this number was tripled, and in 2009 there were 911 participants representing 28 countries. The chance to win something is a great draw card but in the end, as Lisa puts it "it's about finding kindred spirits." Personally, I'm all for finding kindred spirits and as I've already found a few wonderful people through blogging, I'm sure this is a way to find some more.

Remember, a comment on this post gives you a chance to win this book. Visit other participating blogs and leave a comment for a chance to win their giveaway. Good luck and have fun. I hope you meet some great bloggers.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Book Art Object and some unrelated photos

Gardening is sometimes an excuse not to make books. At other times making books is the excuse not to work in the garden. Both are a reason to avoid housework.  First a cucumber photo -  one moment they are tiny, the next too big.  The girls love them.

We also have an great harvest of tomatoes, so totally different to the bought ones. This became tomato soup, which eaten cold was just fabulous.

 Now to something bookish...
About 6 months ago I joined a group called Book Art Object. The original idea came from Double Elephant and, in her words, (far more coherent than my attempt to explain) - "a group of artists interested in books and book objects is using different texts as a starting point for making a small edition of artists' books. This is the inaugural project and about eight artists are going to make an edition of nine books each; participants will get a full set of the books and the final set will be available for exhibition."

Originally one set of the books was to be entered in the 2010 Libris Awards but we later decided to work towards an exhibition later in 2010. The eight participants are Double Elephant, Amanda, Ampersand Duck, art and etc. , Ida Musidora, DinamowPrecious Little Birdy, and myself.

The theme chosen is a poem by Rosemary Dobson titled Learning Absences, 1986.  We have all come at this from different directions and I could see that it possibly concerned the loss and absence of another, perhaps through separation, divorce or death.  However, my primary feeling was something that concerned me personally, and that was the loss of the other person through dementia; the virtual absence of the other while still physically living in the home, and the heartbreak of living with and loving someone who no longer recognised you. I wanted to produce a tribute to my father, a loving, gentle and talented man who just drifted away from us. I wanted to do it for my mother, who never stopped loving him, even when he didn't remember her.

My head was filled with ideas, sleepless nights were a pleasure as I worked out my book in my head,  wrote pages of notes, developed text, made so many plans - but it was an emotional roller-coaster. A normally quite private person, I was about to make all my feelings public. That's where I came unstuck. The deeper I went into the experience the more panic stricken I became until I realised that what I was planning was way too big for me to handle, both technically, financially and emotionally. So I went back to Square 1, where I found I was out of ideas. Lots written down but I could no longer contemplate them because they weren't my Big Idea. Two months ago my mother passed away and I almost reached the point where I thought I would abandon the project altogether.

However, the wonderful Double Elephant, under extraordinary difficulties, produced her set of books and my copy arrived in the mail. An exquisite book, in an embossed handmade (of course) box - my spirits lifted immediately and I knew I couldn't drop out.

It has taken months for me to finally admit that I need to simplify, pare down, and - for goodness sake - make a book. Not only one book but an edition of at least nine! So, I'm again planning, drawing diagrams, making models and I think this time I'm on the way. I'm not ready yet to share any pics (I am a loner, after all) but putting this in writing is something of a committment. Now I'm still doing it for Dad and Mum but most of all I'm doing it for myself because you can't call yourself a book binder if you stop making books.

I recently bought a really beautiful, very tiny book from Eva at Lady Artisan. I bought it for a gift so I'm not about to show a photo of it but I'm very tempted to buy something for myself.

And for no reason whatsoever, except that I love the little buildings we have on our property, and because I'm so impressed by my son's ability to transform timber into useful things, I'm ending with a photo of our rustic garden shed.  I may well end up being the old-timer sitting on the verandah, talking about the good old days with my equally old friends. I can only hope...