My days of glorious solitude are up. Everyone came back, including Bernice Balconey and her brood of one, enriching my life with light and laughter. I do like days and nights of being alone, but only, I suppose, because they are precious and few. Mind you, I think the cats feel I'm short-changed when I'm alone, because they brought me presents of rats each day. They don't do that with a full household.
While they were away I cracked my printing problems, and the world is shiny and lovely again. I was in a bit of a rut for a while, which I tried to conquer by keeping busy in a chore sense, but nothing beats the thrill of solving an overwhelming problem. Makes me all light-hearted, which gets me through the manic obsessiveness of print production time.
It helps to have something I can listen to obsessively as well. I've said repeatedly that I print to the eclectic sounds of Machine Translations, but even they have to be given a break occasionally; a couple of years ago I was hooked on Kate Bush, last year it was The Postal Service and DNTEL, and now it's Joni Mitchell & Herbie Hancock and Eleni Mandell. I discovered Eleni on eMusic, and downloaded her more recent country-style albums (Miracle of Five, Country for True Lovers) and fell in love. But then I tried her first two albums (Wishbone, Thrill)... they'll all be on high rotation for the next few months. She's got a marvellous voice, sort of Lucinda Williams without the angst, and she's heavily influenced by Tom Waits without being Tom Waits, and I'm completely hooked.
Having a constant musical companion whilst printing is like having a studio cat, without the chance that it will jump up on the press and get mangled. It's soothing and stimulating simultaneously, if it's the right music. It has to have a sense of sitting in the background, but always be there with something interesting to offer if your mind happens to tune in for a moment. It's wonderful when you find something that works.
Here are some pics of my efforts over the last couple of days (when I haven't been kid-wrangling, like today):
This is a placement sketch to help my imposition (which way up poems go on the page, as I print four at a time, with another four on the other side of the page, to be folded down into a book section).
This is the poem, printed. I love this poem. For many reasons, one of which is that it mentions balloons. Hold that thought for a minute. (Apologies for the distortion in the scale of the type. It's photographed from an angle, not scanned.)
Because of the length of the book (over 40 poems), it would be impossible to set by hand unless I bought some new type overseas, and I can't afford that. So I'm printing the book using photopolymer (or Nylar) plate. This is what a whole book looks like, which gives a whole new meaning to the word STACK.
And this is what the plate looks like, on the press, inked. It's essentially a relief plate, like a lino or woodcut plate. It's soft plastic that is UV-hardened through a negative. Looks very similar to letterpress when printed... very similar but not quite the same to the trained eye.
Aahh... there's nothing better than a stacked rack -- of prints.
Today I spent the day with Bumblebee and his mate, making the most of my one full day between his arriving back from his dad's place and his going to Colonel Duck tomorrow for a few days. Everyone wants a piece of him in the holidays. he's never been to a holiday program.
We tried to attend the annual Balloon Festival (there's that balloon thought -- quick, catch it!), and got there about 8am, which is late in balloon terms, but not THAT late. We arrived to emptiness and nothing. BOOO to the new organisers of the event. There was a poor lassie singing on a stage, all miked up, singing to nobody, and no balloonists in sight. So the boys resorted to using their brand new phones. I enjoyed the nice reflections.
Later in the day we saw 'Horton Hears a Who'. I love the philosophical bent of the book, but they buggered the movie up with reactionary kangaroo plots and other stupid Hollywoodnesses. The animation was excellent, I have to admit. I wanted to poke my finger into Horton and feel it sink in, and my favorite character was Katie.
Afterwards I felt that the boys needed to run and jump and play, but all they wanted to do was loll and flollop.
So I gave up and took them home where they spent the rest of the afternoon adoring the cats in the garden and loungeroom while I worked. Sigh.
Tomorrow I drop B off in Cooma and head back to the studio to keep printing. I have to maintain the momentum now, or the book will never get done. And then I can spend the rest of the year practising the gentle art of bookbinding...