Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Love Affairs

Just wanted to tell you about my latest love affair. Crinkly, sensuous, velvety, rippled, fragile, [w]holey, dare I say it, holy paper and show you a few photos of  of my love. And just for your information, not only did the paper enjoy its' bath, I put my thumb drive through the wash today and it works just fine.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

After The Bath / Desperate Measures

After I had finished drilling the other night I soaked the alphabet in water and tied it up in desperation. I was giving it a bath. It needed to relax, probably I needed to relax. A friend, Rosie, [link here and here] talking about the [w] hole thing, quipped that the process was getting violent. She mentioned drowning, shooting. Mmmmn, she had a point. Things were not going the way I expected or hoped. Not being able to saw through the holes was a blow. It's still not totally dry but some of what has happened I love; the wrinkling and curling of the paper, the new texture of the paper [it feels so much thicker, more substantial]. I love the bound edge curling back on itself. In fact it's the paper, that has so much vitality and life, that intrigues and moves me. The holes give it the sense of braille, another form of an alphabet.
After a bath the bound alphabet

Opening the pages

View through the holes

Curling pages

Water meets binding

Folded pages

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Day, Another Lesson

Spent most of yesterday drilling, and not for oil. I may have demolished John dremel. It wasn't too happy about what I wanted it to do. Clouds of smoke were rising from the book block, but the big drill, which I might add, weighs a tonne, held up to the job. The holes aren't as pretty and there are no scorch marks or the smell of burnt paper, but I was able to see if this idea works. It doesn't. But some more ideas came out of it so all is not lost.
Using John dremel, smoking paper
All drilled out
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Hidden Worlds

This is one of the reasons I am so taken with my macro lens. It is allowing me to see into hidden worlds. This photo captured the tiny air hole, covered with frost that my nemesis, The Moles [see previous links to the moles] use to breathe in their tunnels. Now maybe I am dreaming, or seeing things, or telling tall tales but there was this tiny, tiny area, completely different from anywhere near. A lightbulb went off; or was that the flash on the camera? Have to give them credit though. It's a beautiful place .
Entrance to the Mole World

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More From The Minimal Garden

It's a white world this morning, but until now our weather continued to amaze us. This has not been the November we dread. The other morning was a wonderland, thick hoar frost everywhere, soft, golden, slanted light and the pond frozen over completely. Wandering around the garden [note to self, put on your boots, your feet are freezing] I found one of my favourite stones perfectly capturing the light and frost.
Moon Rock

Monday, November 21, 2011

This One is for Matthew

When I was an art student I had a love affair with ortho film. It was a very high contrast black and white film. Then I moved on to photocopy machines where the image degraded with each copy until you got a very high contrast image rather like ortho. But in the last fifteen years or so photocopy machines have become so good that you can no longer get this effect, which is when I started to use the camera and computer. All this preamble leads me back to black and white and meeting Matthew Beale, a photographer, painter and friend whose photographic work continues to inspire me. Check out his web -site here, or his Blog here. I love how saturated the blacks are, maybe velvety is a better word. I always want to touch his photos.

And my love affair with echinacea continues. Every stage of this plants' life is a marvel. The emergence of the leaves to the forming of the flower head. The budding process with the formation of the crown to the withering away and exposing the bare seed head. A plant of great structure and beauty, it has wonderful medicinal purposes. Like so many I use it all winter to boost my immune system.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tilting and Twirling

Every night, the dog takes us for a walk. And while Zoe is busy hunting, J. and I are star watching. On those clear nights we watch in awe, the milky way spread above us. Sometimes we are ever so lucky and one of us will see a shooting star. It's the immensity that is so wondrous. That, and the fact that the light from the stars has taken billions years to reach earth. And here we are, 2 tiny specks with an even tinier speck [the dog] along with 7 billion other tiny specks, walking on this round blue ball, twirling through space with the rest of the stars and planets. Amazing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November Beauty

We have been having the most sublime November. Now, here in the Eastern Townships, November and sublime are not often used in the same sentence. Usually we spend our time complaining about the Gray and the lack of day light hours, the drizzle and even worst the freezing rain. This time around everyone is walking about with a smile, the smell of a BBQ drifts by, the terraces in the village are still open, it's bliss. In a ski town it is not politically correct to say, but I'm hoping this goes on 'till Christmas. The fire wood is stacked, the few precious plants are wrapped, the garden furniture put away, the 10 tonnes of duck manure is on the garden, the leaves are mulched, the double windows are on; we're ready. Just checked the weather forecast, snow tonight. Oh well, it's been great.
the last of the oak leaves

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The dominant ethos of my art collage days was minimalism, defined as work that set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts. And like any earnest student I embraced them fervently. These principals guided me for the first 10 years as young artist, mixed in with a dollop or two of conceptualism, add a drop of Arte Povera, etcetera, etcetera. Well you can see where this is going; a mishmash. But I still love and honor the core of minimalism, the search for the essence of the "thing". While I was preparing for the exhibition last summer, this was the guiding principle in the work; to strip away, lay bare, to reveal somehow the essence of the garden. An impossible task, but thrilling to try. Some of the photos I rejected using for the show as being to bare, to abstract; but now, I am re thinking that idea. I'll call these The Minimal Garden.
Tree Peony 11

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Building Bridges

My x-acto knife and I have become good friends over the past couple of days as I cut out more and more letters, and better yet, not my fingers. Because I am trying to use both the positive and negative shape of each letter, and keep the negative shape page whole, the process is definitely trial and error and tiny pieces of scotch tape. Must say that some of the mistakes look great but I really want all the letters to hang together, which is where the bridges come in as I connect white spaces. In the 1st photo you can see that I have finally gotten all the letters to connect. In the lower left photo is the page they are cut from [the negative shapes], and the lower right are some of the trial and errors.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Layout Ideas

I am still making maquettes for this alphabet. Every idea seems to generate more ideas, try this, mumm, try that...what about this. It's exciting, frustrating, and baffling. At this rate I will have 102 alphabets. Need to get clearer...HOW??? Ah yes, my tried and true method, sleep on it. Here is the latest ideas. Using a laser to cut out the letters, all the letters cut from one book block.
layout, need to put the bridges in so all the inner spaces don't fall out

letters cut into the book block

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The World of Wonders

This short video, Murmuration, by Sophie Windsor Clive, has been making the rounds on Facebook and I thought I would post it here for any of you who have missed it. It really is a beauty and I have a couple of links for any of you who want to know more about Murmuration.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

And here are the links to a fascinating piece in the Guardian:

and another in Wired [again thanks to Leigh for this link]

And because I have decided today is fun day, a treat for all the font, lettering, kerning ect. types out there. Another way to productively procrastinate. It's a game to help you learn to kern type. OK, so I know it's not for everybody, but I LOVE it. Thank-you Suzanne for this.
Kern Type, the kerning game

Monday, November 7, 2011

Notebook, Nov. 6.11

Letter B. The negative shapes are more interesting, except where the positive shape of the letter is bound.  Love the pages splayed open, the play of the cut words. Check font used by BBC. Check that off the list, ugly, even if it is a square. DECIDE : upper or lower case, and stick with it. Why not both? Try frame around each letter and maybe lose the interior of the letters.
 Love the pages splayed open

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From My Notebook

Nov. 4.11. Some elements I want to incorporate into this alphabet. The old books I have been collecting because the paper is so beautiful and the text is usually so elegantly set up the page. I want to use the negative and positive shapes of each letter. The letters need a certain weight and mass, they want to occupy actual space, 3 d. space not just as marks on paper. Considering: after the letters are cut, wet the paper, free it a bit, maybe bind the letters before soaking them, use the spine of the book, what about the covers---  encase the letters in them in later? Buy more x-acto knives and emory boards at the $ store N.B. do another A without the slice in it, problem with the negative shape then, but figure it out later.
Trials on the letter A

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Feeling Very Guilty

I have not started my second alphabet yet. And I signed up with a fine bunch of people over at A Letter A Week. Well I have thought about it, done some sketches, thought some more, bought old books a various library sales this summer, thought some more, procrastinated; well you get the picture. Now I am ready to start, still not sure quite where I am going but the only thing I'm sure of is that I will be breaking the rules. Maybe I should have warned them that I am not so good at following guidelines. Wandering through some of my books the other day I was reminded, again, of the work of Jacqueline Rush Lee. I love how she understands the physicality of paper. What it wants to do and be. I hadn't realized that she uses "used books" in her work. Here, in her own words "For almost a decade I have found myself drawn to the intimate, tactile, and symbolic qualities of used books. I am interested in how these recycled books come with their own histories of use and meaning and how they serve as potent vehicles of expression." How this will translate into my alphabet, I can only wait and see.

Volumes Series 2001-2003, Manipulated, soaked, dried books, Copyright Jacqueline Rush Lee 2010
I can't get her web site to work but here is the URL:
you might find her Facebook site easier:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our House at 8.31pm

One of the challenges about getting older is bedtime. I used to love working all night, sometimes I still do. But it seems, more and more, this is the way I feel.

Was it for this I uttered prayers,

And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,

That now, domestic as a plate,

I should retire at half-past eight?

~Edna St Vincent Millay

P.S  Forgot to thank Leigh for posting this poem last week, that got me laughing, then got me thinking.  Just love the line "That now, domestic as a plate'. Thanks Leigh