Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fizzed rhubarb

The other day I facebooked:

Ooh, how nice! I was just handed a ice-tinkly glass of gin and homemade rhubarb fizz. It's the nicest shade of pink.

And it was too. I drank it before I thought to take a photo, so I decided to recreate it last night.

Isn't it pretty?

It led to a flurry of people wanting the recipe of the fizz. I have to say that it's made by Best Beloved, not myself. That's why he's called Best Beloved. Apparently it's a recipe by Tasmanian preserving expert Sally Wise, from her book A Year in a Bottle. That title makes me think of the novel Brave New World, but Ms Wise is the only author to whom my partner has ever written a fan letter. And she wrote back, the saucy minx. He has all of her books.

So here it is (with annotations):

875g (1lb, 15oz) rhubarb, chopped
875g (1lb, 15oz) sugar
1 lemon, chopped
200ml (7fl oz) white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
18 cups cold water

Combine everything in a food-safe bucket*, cover loosely with a tea-towel and leave for 48 hours. BB recommends putting a colander or something over the fruit to keep it under the waterline in the bucket, as (especially when it's hot) the fruit can go mouldy.**

Strain (BB strains through basic muslin (cheesecloth), which he buys in bulk at the local haberdashery) and pour into very clean bottles*** and seal.

The fizz will be ready in two weeks. Chill well before serving. Open carefully.

GOES VERY WELL WITH GIN OR VODKA. Children like it too, but only if you can spare it.

Makes approx. 4.5 litres (156fl oz)

You can do this with other fruit as well, berries and the like.

* This is a bucket that hasn't been used for cleaning products, not a bucket a-la Mr Creosote. We bought a special food-safe bucket and wrote in large friendly letters FOOD ONLY on it. That seems to work, but I can't vouch for pre-literate children and cats.

** It can sometimes develop a weird-looking scum that looks a bit like mould but isn't. BB chucked a couple of batches until we could tell the difference. The colander thingy helps.

*** We use 1.5litre plastic soft drink bottles, washed and kept once we've finished with them. Don't overfill, in fact leave some space for the gas that will build up. Don't shake the bottles! Store in a cool place, but not the fridge (until it's ready).

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I finally finished my type sampler.

(If that doesn't load for you, go here)

I also wrote about it here.

That done, I'm going to head over to Crazybrave Zoe's for an unAustralian hot pot party. Australia Day itself was pretty good; I took Bumblebee to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy shindig but we left before it all got excitingly stoopid. Then there was an afternoon of fine press printing, and then the fireworks I mentioned earlier. Something for everyone, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When I get that feeling, I need textual healing

pages drying

The type sampler continues apace. Well, in slow paces as I predicted, since my darling Bumblebee returned and other things started intruding.

Like the new course I'm teaching this year that I spent the weekend writing. For a few years now I've been teaching a class called 'Book Design' (a title not of my choice. I'd rather 'the book as art' or something), and in an attempt to keep the letterpress equipment used, I've up to now structured the course in two parts: one semester of learning artist book structures and the other semester working with letterpress. Now the art school has come fully in line with the rest of the university and all our courses have been changed to electives to be mixed & matched to make a degree, so I took the opportunity to ask my boss if I could slip in a new course called Typography: text in art. And o yeah, it was approved. Huzzar!

So now, in what can become a Book Minor to complement a printmaking Major, there is a fully book-centred Book Design course and a separate Typography course. It's not just letterpress; I want to look at artists who incorporate text in various forms into their work, whether painters, sculptors, textile artists, glass workers, woodies or whatever. I've been picking the brains of my friends for suggestions and I'd much appreciate your suggestions too.

One of my long-term favorites is Xu Bing and his Sky Book work. A recent favorite is my good friend Nicci Haynes, who treats text as image, and it's not meant to be legible. There's so many ways of creating text: letterpress, inkjet, laser prints, hand-writing, sewing, scratching, engraving, cutting, piercing, typewriters, stickers... and more. That's what this class will be exploring, as well as things like sourcing text, acknowledging and attributing, and writing your own. Fun!

This is one of my pieces, called 'Blue'. It's text from a vintage copy of Little Women collaged on to an old pianola roll, making the lyrics to New Order's 'Blue Monday'. From the 2010 exhibition '3 Chords & the Truth'.

Unfortunately, because it's the first year that it's offered, and no-one at the school knows what it's all about, Typography might not run this semester due to low enrolments. But it will stay on the books, and might get going next semester if I keep talking about it. Book Design, however, has ballooned, and we're going to run two classes this semester! Wow.

We've also had a house full of visitors this week. Not only have I had studio visitors, including wood engraver Tanya Myshkin (who is setting a book), but we've had family and friends staying. I love having a spare room, it keeps the house full of energy.

It's taken me four days to write this post as things keep leaping out at me. Since starting it I've laid out a Henry Lawson short story in a scholarly edition computer setting (lots of intricate fiddly bits); gone to my ukulele group (we don't wear Hawaiian shirts, but I have special Hawaiian sunset undies to get me in the mood) and learned 'Yellow Brick Road' (lots of intricate fiddly bits) and 'Butterfly Ball' (violently hated by some group members, and thus to be only played sporadically); had dinner with Barbara Blackman (ex-wife of Charles, a Best Beloved family friend) and had a meeting about the new course.

I have been reading, too: Cold Light, by Frank Moorhouse (loved the Canberra connection), Un Lon Don by China Mieville (which is a young adult book using a lot of the themes of Kraken, and very enjoyable); Love by Angela Carter, and right now, One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper FFFFFFFFforde. A little bit every day is good for the sleeping.

Today I had to find my recipe for beetroot risotto for BB, so I might as well relink to it here. Next on my list is to go roller-skating in the temporary public rink in the city. Fun! I don't know when, but I'll get there. I have to vacuum the studio today, I had a sparkie in yesterday to put in a new light in the dark corner of the studio and a power point near the press, so there's drilled crumbs of stuff everywhere. And then I'll get printing, a whole nother page. I have to get this sampler finished so that I can get on with 'real' stuff, like the new Book Art Object project.

Here's a picture of the kitties to finish, to remind us of what is real in life.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Um, yeah. A vignette.

Scene: The Northbourne Ave/Antill St traffic intersection. I'm in the right hand turn lane, the only car at the intersection so far, and the full cycle of light changing is ahead of me.

The scraggy window-washer approaches. I have my window down, but the music up (Nirvana was on the radio, playing 'Heart-shaped Box'. I'm singing along). He says something.

I turn the music down. 'Sorry, what was that?'

He waves his squeejee thingy.

'No thanks!' I say.

'Yeah, it looks pretty clean already. Did your husband wash it?'

'Um, no. It rained yesterday. That usually helps.'

'Ohhhh. Yeah. Huh.'

'I guess you don't get many takers when it's been raining. Bad for business and all that.'

'Ohh, yeah, I guess so.'

'Don't worry, everything will get dusty again soon.'

'Ohh, yeaaah. Huh. Hey, I just wanted to show you that I bought this new squeejee, brand new. But the rubber's got a dent in it, so it doesn't work well already. Pretty fucked, eh.'

'You should take it back to the shop.'

'Huh? You reckon? I think I've still got the receipt.'

'Absolutely you should! Tell them it's bad for your business. It's your professional tool, after all.'

'My prof... yeah! Huh! I should do that!'

'You go nuts, mate. Good luck.'

The arrow changed to green, and I took off, leaving him looking thoughtfully at the dent.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Hello! My ears are a bit better after making myself do very little for a while. Then I got really bored, because I'd already given myself a really restful holiday, and I was gagging to get back to work just when the Doctor told me to stop. So I've been pottering around the studio, building up the stamina to really get into things.

This weekend was Summernats weekend, an annual rev-head car festival, and it traditionally makes a lot of noise - plus the dickhead population increases tenfold in our part of town, which is just near the festival venue. It drives BB crazy, so when he mentioned wanting to go to Sydney to catch up with visiting UK-based friends, I jumped at the chance to send him away and really start something solid.

Off he drove, leaving me with two straight days to be in my studio with the music pumped and the ink rolling so as to ignore the sound and smell of tyre burn-outs across the way.

I've been meaning to produce a type sampler for ages, mainly as a tool for my working process and to show people what fonts I can use, and because it's a huge endeavour to get a sample of everything out and arranged usefully, I might as well print a stack of them to give to people over the years.

Here's a few images from the weekend. There's more at my flickr site. I've been printing non-stop, have pulled over 500 prints and I'm just under halfway through! The rest will take a couple of weeks just because I have to juggle it with everything else. BB came home tonight and grumped about the kitchen being filthy, but I made no apologies, because there were better things to be doing all weekend. Voila:

drawn plan 1

Stonetop 1

Allsorts chase

Drying rack load 2

Padge rack

As you can see, Padge helped. I want him to give me a foot massage (they ache to buggery), but he's not very keen.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Stoopid ears

So apparently I cannot print today because I went to the doctor about feeling dizzy ever since New Year's Eve and lo! I have not partied too hard, I have Labyrinthitis. No, not a morbid fear of minotaurs or of walking into confusing spaces, but a viral ear infection that gives me dizziness and flu-like symptoms. I have to drink lots of fluids and rest and not drive too much, move too fast and according to my husband, this means not operating my press. Even a little bit.

Poo bum.

So I have gone through the pantry and found all the dregs of the Christmas treats: half a box of Roses, some gingerbread, etc, and am lying on the bed snorting at Kate Beaton cartoons. Here are some of my favorites:

Dude watching with the Brontes

Victoria & Albert

Courtly Love

Jane Austen transcends fandom

Yesterday I found a hard copy of her book in Paperchain Bookshop, but I didn't have my Christmas book voucher with me so had to leave it behind *sob*. I hope it's still there when I get the chance to drive over again.

I was in Manuka yesterday to see Albert Nobbs, which is a grand story about women that will be very popular in womanly circles. I certainly enjoyed it. Glenn Close makes a very good man, mainly because her hands aren't pretty. My biggest beef about any movie involving Barbara Streisand (only slightly off-topic) is that she always has a perfect manicure, no matter if she's playing a struggling dish-washing girl or a man or an ordinary woman. Ruins the illusion every time.


*more pouting*

Monday, January 02, 2012

Happy New Year

I couldn't decide. So I've put them all up.

Actually, my biggest new year's resolution is to Reclaim my Brian. Or even my Brain. I am going to cut down on Facebooking, pare down my game-playing, and start blogging and reading and writing again.

So you have full permission to nag me if I don't update at least once a week about something printy or booky. It's been far too long.

Oh, and I'll Remember to Breathe again too.

And a late online happy birthday to Colonel Duck, who was born on New Year's Day, the same day as his grandfather.