Saturday, April 30, 2005
To add insult to injury, every time someone rings, Best Beloved says 'Oh, we're pretty jolly. [Ampersand Duck]'s feeling a bit low, she's just got a coldy-thing.' 'A COLDY THING???!!!' I croaked at him, feeling more like Ampersand Toad, 'how dare you? I'm DYING!!!' -- at which he rang back crazybrave and told her that I was dying. I'm sure she knew what he meant. She is a woman of much sympathy and understanding. He told me after that that I was being a bit miserable, and my response was 'if this had been you, mate, you would have bitten off my head for taking you so lightly'. For it is one of the unwritten laws of the universe that sick men havest no sense of humour. And there endest the whining for today.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Every single time I've parked today I've found a ticket in the parking machine (you know: someone has paid for more time than they needed, so put the ticket back for the next person to use when they were finished. I tend to do this, so it pleases me greatly when the gift comes back) or the parking meter full.
I heard a gorgeous song on the radio by Madeleine Peyroux, ran to my favorite record shop and asked if they had it (thankyou, taxman!) and they had just sold out. Ten minutes later they rang me on my mobile to say that someone had decided not to buy their copy that was on hold, would I like it? Hooray! Now humming song constantly. Goddamn she sounds like Billie Holliday, until you hear the whole album and realise that Billie was a way better vocalist. Doesn't matter, Madeleine is still superb.
It's a beautiful day, again. 27 degrees, the radio said. But I'm hot and cold shivers, and the sunshine hurts my eyes. Bugger. Oh well, another day in bed can only do me good. This time, however, I will be able to read.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
I got my tax return (hooray! say my debtors, and yes I know who you are) and it was far more than I expected. Far more. Like twice as much as my accountant told me I'd get. Hmm. Looks good in the bank account, but I think I'll be confirming with the ATO before they decide I've been trying to fleece them and demand it back along with a hefty pound of flesh, as is their wont. If it is in my favour, I'm buying a few clothes.
I rode my bike into the art school, and it was a beautiful day.
I was given interesting, important work to do which involves both skill and thought (constructing some prints, i.e creating a 'patchwork' print edition by slitting and sewing together a number of prints), but then was hovered over by the artist who obviously didn't trust me to play with her precious work (while I'm bitching in parentheses, let me point out that the 'vision' of these prints belongs to this particular artist, but the hard work belongs to my colleague who made, proofed and printed all the plates -- and myself, who made and printed the digital images and am now constructing 6 editions of 20 prints each. Then Princess Diva gets to take them to the galleries and sell them for a hell of a lot of money.). I have been assured by my boss (who is not the colleague previously mentioned, but will be credited as being the printer of the edition anyway) that Princess Diva will relax and stay at home once she witnesses the magic of my craft, but in the meantime I will be hovered over like a vulture over a dying lamb in the desert.
Le puff, le pant. Did that last paragraph make any sense? Sometimes being an invisible art technician is fabulous, and sometimes it sucks. Only when the ego intervenes. Karma will prevail, I'm sure of it.
I'm trying to ride my bicycle as much as possible at the moment. Apart from the fitness benefits, there's also the beauty benefits, as Canberra is sooooooooo lovely this time of year. Except when someone ugly gets in front of you on the bike path and stays just ahead of you all the way. Like Pickled Walnut Man today, with small, tight shorts and very large lumpy brown muscles. Everytime I tried to overtake he would make a point of catching up and staying ahead. Did I mention ego? Relax, think about the autumn leaves. Breathe deeply of the crisp evening air. Try not to look at the weird shape of his legs. That's a girl.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Still a bit fragile from negating many, many brain cells yesterday. I think I'll just quietly mount some books (in the virtual sense). excuse the lack of wit today, I'm just not up to it.
This is a detail from a little book with an embossed letterpress cover. A lot of the books I make are fairly small-scale, as coptic binding gets a bit wobbly in large-scale binding.
Celtic weaving up close again, this one's a bit better than on "Mr Tangerine Speedo" (scroll down).
I've been really enjoying that orange Indian khadi paper, so here's a few variations on a theme (bearing in mind that I never make the same book twice, either the binding, or the paper for the pages, or the size varies).
This one I call Orange Cardigan as I used a nice big feature button for the tie which came from an old angora cardigan. This is one of my bigger books.
I called this Celtic Bronze as it uses celtic weaving on the spine.
Waiter, I've got a hair in my paper...
This is a bit like the embossed cover at the top of this post, except it's got ink on the type. This is a really sweet little book, but I'm just a sucker for square formats. Title?Buyer Beware.
Blue Moon. This has a really nice vintage button tie.
And lastly, the one called 'Pink Bits'.
Pink Bits has a unique monoprint and solvent transfer cover, with a coptic binding.
OK, that'll do you. Best Beloved just offered me a cider, and I gave him a return look that reminded him of a wounded animal. I don't think I'll imbibe for a while yet. Not until I can think without ouches.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Today I'm not thinking (when you drink your share of four bottles of red wine and follow through with a chilli-vodka chaser (with not even a sideways glance at a glass of water), there's absolutely nothing you can do but lie in bed with the curtains closed, hurling into a bucket periodically and groaning while your body does a wee bit of damage control. I'm up now, and in front of the computer, but only just. Best Beloved, who has been valiantly fighting a grin behind his fragile facade of sympathy (having been the designated driver and omitted to watch my fluid intake), tells me I'll feel a lot better tomorrow. But I know those braincells aren't coming back. No amount of fluid, chicken soup and custard is going to regenerate this tired old noggin. Or those wasted hours. Not even able to read! That's what bugs me the most).
Saturday, April 23, 2005
I think someone's just having a very silly time, which is always a good thing to do with Popes.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Resuming our scheduled programme, I have been making a lot of books lately.
I've finally found a way to watch tv again without feeling like I should be doing something more productive. (Actually, most of the time I don't watch live tv because most of it is shite; I'm catching up on taped shows and movies.)
Remember my wonderful workshop with Adele Outteridge? Well, these are the result of my getting a bit obsessed with the sheer beauty of coptic binding. The fact that you need no special tools is also a big plus. So I have set up a 'clean paper' working space in the loungeroom and can now get busy with my hands whilst watching stuff, or helping Bumblebee with his homework, or chatting to Best Beloved as he cooks dinner (such a Prince Among Men).
They're all blank books, and when I get my marketing sussed and my prices worked out, I hope to sell them. (Of course, if you really want any of these NOW, drop me a line.)
Anyhoo, here's a sample of the books:
this is what coptic binding looks like, up close. Lovely plaited bands of waxed linen thread.
This is one of the earliest books I made, and it is stuffed with lots of scraps of paper I had hanging around in my plan drawers amongst my really crappy early art school drawings. I used some leftover proofs from a print edition done late last year (monotype and letterpress), and whilst pulling out all the paper found a few more old prints which I will use for future covers.
Here you can see the inside pages; not only different papers, but different sized papers, which I think would make a really fun sketchbook, as bits of one drawing/writing/print would overlap onto others.
Another old print proof for the cover: monotype and solvent transfer. Used odd paper again, and played around with the thread and button tie -- this one has a button on the front, and an eyelet on the back cover, with the thread interweaving between the two:
I was listening to the Charlie's Angels soundtrack today with Bumblebee and remembered how much I liked the song 'Mr Tangerine Speedo', and for some reason thought about this sketchbook while I was listening. I've used all-new materials with this: fresh acid-free drawing paper and a gorgeous orange Indian khadi paper for the cover, with a grey-blue button for the tie.
'Mr Tangerine Speedo' features a celtic weave spine, which gives the book a bit more stability.
A different format -- long and landscape. Using fresh materials again, and white waxed linen thread.
This book uses 'rusted' paper for the cover, another thing I learnt from Adele. I used ferric oxide to literally rust the paper, and the effect is gorgeous, albeit not very acid-free! Not a book to last a lifetime, but nice for a couple of decades.
Another view of my rusty book.
And lastly (for this post, anyway: my dinner is almost ready):
(woops, sideways, Miss Jane) This is a little number I made quite early on, from drawing paper and black card. sometimes I think the buttons are a bit too much (can you tell I collect buttons?), and other times I think they're pretty funky. The best thing about them is that
you can wind the thread around the buttons anyway you like, with equal enjoyment each time.
So there you are. A new obsession. I'm just designing a swing-tag to hang off the books (which will be marketed under my moniker, Ampersand Duck). It is going to emphasise the fact that these books are hand-made, no machines, no guillotines. I think there's enough slick-looking sketchbooks in the world. I plan on keeping it real. Each book unique, all have their own personalities. A bit like cabbage-patch dolls (!) I'll pop more up when I get the chance.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
PS: Just the thought of God being the sort of dog-owner who would choose a rottweiler makes me glad to be agnostic.
PPS: Yay! I won the sweep for the new pope's name. Knew it would be something hypocritically soft-sounding.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Friday, April 15, 2005
EARTHQUAKE ROCKS QUEENBEAN
A major earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale hit in the early hours of this morning, with the epicentre in Queanbeyan, NSW.
Victims were seen wandering around aimlessly muttering, "F**kinell" and "Whadda carnt". The earthquake decimated the area causing approximately $30 worth of damage.
Several priceless collections of mementos from the Torana Appreciation Society and the Queanbeyan Progress Hall were damaged beyond repair.
Three areas of historic burnt out cars were disturbed.
Many locals were woken well before their welfare cheques arrived.
QBN Radio reported that hundreds of residents were confused and bewildered, still trying to come to terms with the fact that something interesting had happened in the area.
One resident - Tracy Sharon Smith, a 15-year-old mother of 5 said "It was such a shock, my little Chardonnay Mercedes came running into my bedroom crying. My youngest two, Tyler-Morgan and Megan-Storm slept through it all. I was still shaking when I was watching Jerry Springer the next morning".
Apparently though, looting, muggings and car crime carried on as normal.
The Red Cross has so far managed to ship 4,000 crates of Vegemite to the area to help the stricken locals. Rescue workers are still searching through the rubble and have found large quantities of personal belongings, which include benefit books, Canterbury shirts, jewellery from Priceline and bone china from Woolworths
***************** HOW YOU CAN HELP******************
This appeal is to raise money for food and clothing, parcels for those unfortunate to be caught up in this disaster. Clothing is most sought after. Items most needed include: baseball caps, tracksuit tops (his and hers), Shell Suits (female), white sport socks, sturdy boots and any other items usually sold in Op Shops.
Food parcels may be harder to come by, but are needed all the same. Required foodstuffs include, Fruit Loops, Steve's Kebabs, McDonalds, KFC, icecream and cans of Red Bull, VB, Bacardi Breezer, or Special Brew.
If you would prefer to donate money, 25c buys a biro for filling in the compensation forms; $5.00 buys chips, savaloys and gherkins, crisps and blue fizzy drinks for a family of 9; $10.00 will pay for a packet of Benson & Hedges and a lighter to calm the nerves of those affected.
PLEASE do not send tents for shelter, as the sight of posh housing is unfair on the population of the neighbouring areas.
********************* BREAKING NEWS*********************
Rescue workers have found a girl in the rubble smothered in blood.
When asked "Where are you bleeding from?" the girl replied "Queanbeyan"
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
'That's a gorgeous hat worn by Camilla. I wonder who it was made of, I mean, from.'
She then dug herself deeper by saying that another notable couple had been married in the Chapel, but couldn't remember who. After the ad break she quite happily said 'That's right, it was Edmund and Sophie.'
Actually, the classiest part of the whole 'link' concept (as if watchers of commercial tv couldn't cope with unadulterated BBC) was Kerrie Ann herself, in a very tight hot-pink satin dress dipped to show off her newly-ironed decolletage and a lot of rhinestones, sitting in front of a set painted bright yellow, with a plastic pot of roses and a plate of pink-iced fairy cakes beside her.
Clarsy, doncha think?
Monday, April 11, 2005
The second was thanks to Bumblebee's birthday. Every year I put on a fun party and go all out in the laziest way possible to give him a good time with minimal stress. We've done picnics in the park, a sleepover, a night-time back-yard fire, you get the picture. Anyway, this year I decided to make it really simple -- no party, just a cake brought into school and a trip to his grandparent's farm to go fishing with his grandad. I thought I'd just buy a cake. Easy. Then I decided to make a cake. Then I snapped out of it and went for the compromise -- buy the cake, decorate it myself. I've never known kids to reject a Woolies sponge, but I've known plenty to turn their noses up at anything fancier.
I decided to make a Rainbow Serpent cake. I had a basic idea; cut up a few sponges, lay out the shape, cover it in brown icing, then some coloured coconut, and then swathe it in lollies. Sounds easy, doesn't it?
I dropped B at school at 9am, promising to be back at 10.30 with his fabulous cake, which I hadn't started yet. By 9.45, this is what I had:
I had made a batch of beautiful chocolate butter frosting, but swiftly realised that it wasn't a big enough batch to cover the whole cake, and didn't have enough ingredients to make another batch. Fuck! I quickly whipped up a bowl of useless runny icing (you know, icing sugar, milk and cocoa) which I tried to smooth over the sides (having already frosted the top) but it kept running down the sides and pooling on the tray, and bits off cake would pull off with the spatula. Fuck fuck fuckedy fuck! My heart was racing with every attempt to hid the crappy yellow sponge and the cracks between the pieces making up the snake.
Bugger Bugger Bum Shit Poo. I was going to be the worst mummy in the whole world, bringing in a daggy cake that would scar him for life. We'd have to move schools, nay cities.
Finally, at 10.15, I ended up with a lot of grey hairs and this:
A long brown turd lying in a pool of runny brown mud. Time for some fast moves.
The only thing I could do was use lots and lots of lollies. I used the coconut (dyed with food colouring), I added lots of M&Ms to cover gaps and cracks, and then sprinkled the pools of icing liberally with hundreds and thousands. When I'd finished it looked like this:
Which looked a lot better, but still nerve-wracking. Would B think it was cool? Will I pass the classroom test? My heart was thumping, I was weak from nerves over that bloody icing, and the only silver lining I could see was that at least I could blog about it. I managed to get the thing into school intact (the part where I almost tripped on the step going in I could have done without).
And they loved it. "WOW, that's so coooool!" was the general cry; they ate every skerrick and then the little buggers scraped the tray clean of icing:
It was all over in 15 minutes. It took me most of the day for me to recover. Apparently they went wild for the rest of the day and who could blame them, with so much cocoa and food colouring? The teacher forgave me because it was the last day of term...
Next year I'm throwing another party, far less stressful!
Friday, April 08, 2005
Just been down at the first day of the Canberra Lifeline Bookfair. I spent my $50 budget within an hour, and may have to stand on a street corner in Fyshwick for a while to raise some more cash for my addiction. Still two more days to go!
This is one of the classier books I had to put back on the shelf for a more deserving home (with much reluctance, I tell you).
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
I'm sick of Australians experiencing culture vicariously. Give them the real thing. Call it 'Onwards and upwards: Pope John Paul's Last Tour'. Of course, it has to be a non-profit event, so when they pass the plate around it will all go to a good cause, like giving him a right royal send-off at the airport at the end, complete with wine and
What do you reckon? Not much time left, better get that application cracking before he starts to pong. On your bike, Archbishop.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Best Beloved just sent me the URL for this t-shirt. Apparently it's his birthday next month.
I told him that t-shirts like this, combined with those socks in bed last night (!!), are justifiable grounds for divorce.
I'd much rather he wore this (but it's sold out)
...into the balloons. This is the most awesome piece of random balloon art. Two gold teddybears with the rest of their balloon sticking out of their backs and held together by a silver balloon which forms an adjustable headpiece and sweeps upwards to a bobbing tip which one onlooker called 'phallic' but I think she was wishful thinking.
Made by Adrian the ex-public servant who plays with balloons and odd juggling accessories at the National Folk Festival. I happened past him while he was creating it and he gave it to me for Bumblebee, who hadn't made this festival this year because it was an Albatross Easter (see Glossary on sidebar). B loved it and wore it for a few days straight.
Last year he made us a small pink balloon bear suspended inside a balloon bubble. Placed on a shelf reverently, it lasted most of the year, contracting gently until it looked like a dead (but dry) condom. The hat seems to be shrinking at a faster rate, probably because it was worn lovingly to bed by a small boy.
Monday, April 04, 2005
For sale: Macintosh computer
-- Powermac 7200/120 (1996) 56 MB RAM, 400-odd MB hard drive (I think I've got that right! Lots of storage space for its time, and I kept upgrading the memory as I needed to make bigger books).
-- System 8.6, can take floppies and has an internal CD-burner plus a spare internal CD which can be hooked up.
-- Screen is Apple Multiple Scan 15 Display (colour), the mouse is a high-tech can-work-in-space thingy (doesn't need a mouse pad). Scussy connections.
-- It also comes with an Apple Colour Onescanner (i.e. a flat-bed scanner, which works remarkably well) and a modem (Geoport).
-- All manuals and disks still here for the hardware (except the scanner).
The best thing about this computer is that there is a shitload of software in it, some of which has disks and manuals and some of which doesn't. It contains Quark, Illustrator, Photoshop, Pagemaker, Acrobat, Microsoft Office, Toast, Solitaire till Dawn and a good selection of fonts. Plus various other little bits and pieces that I've probably forgotten about.
It is old by today's blink-and-it-moves-on standards, but I've looked after it well and it's not past a healthy working life for someone who wants to play with a bit of graphic design or art-making. Great for playing all those old games that you've still got on disk. Fun for the kids!
Anyone interested? I'm in Canberra, and happy to sell it for a song, especially to a good home. It's too capable to take out to the tip! Lots of life left in it, just don't have enough space to set it all up anymore.
If you know ANYONE who might be interested, please pass on the URL (Hint: If you click on the time below at the end of the post, you will get the URL for this particular post. Cut & paste it into your email/blog/whatever). And get in contact.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
We started with a trip to Braidwood, to visit Kate and Mick, my Auntie and Uncle who have a wonderful farm on the edge of the Monga State Forest. They bought about four huge paddocks full of rocks and transformed one paddock totally by building a house and planting a rambling (but very ordered) garden around it complete with huge vegetable patch, berry patch, orchard and lake (empty bar a puddle full of desperate yabbies, thanks to the drought). They have cows, a horse, a dog, ducks, geese and chooks. it is a glorious place with marvellous little nooks like this
We were there for a birthday party, and the kids had a ball running through all the paths and having treasure hunts and killing the lion pinata, which Lucky the dog found interesting:
And then he ran around like a mad thing, enjoying a reprieve from our back yard. When he had to have a break, he managed to find the greenest, juiciest coolest grass he'd seen for a long time (thanks to the drought). Oh to be a dog!
Anyway, just being there was extremely inspirational because I feed off other people's passions, and the amount of time and care put into that garden is phenomenal. I went home and spent time at my 'studio' (a desk in the corner of the loungeroom) making a kick-ass little book that I'll send off to the Noosa Gallery Book Exhibition this year.
But! Not before I popped into the new bookshop in Braidwood owned and run by Ingeborg Hansen and Phil Day (also of the Finlay Press). I always enjoy visiting them immensely but come away despondent, feeling like there, in an alternate universe, would be I. They have a lovely little house with a bookshop in the front that sells select and very literary titles and also artist's books, and a workshop out the back with a printing press, a letterpress and type and the time and energy to make gorgeous handset books in collaboration with serious and respectable writers. Still, I have a little nook in the corner of the loungeroom, cats on my lap while I work, a press and type (under tarps in the garage) and an excellent son who is the best production of my life. When he's older I will be able to get out into a cold smelly studio and inhale lots of kero and turps in order to make beautiful limited edition books. Sounds delightful, doesn't it? I must be mad.
Did I say equipment under wraps? Not all of it... today, I got a new toy! It's a nipping press, many thanks to Lawrence Finn of Gallery 451 who
Isn't it a thing of beauty? Mind you, my idea of beauty can be a little odd.
'But what does it do?' asked Best Beloved, as he (lovingly but exasperatedly) heaved it out of the car.
'Makes things flat' I replied.
'Oh, like flowers?' came the response.
No! I prefer my flowers in the round, like this
No, this will press things like book sections, postcards, collages, cover embossings. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Time to get back to the corner table...