Friday, July 31, 2009

warming up

Studio cleaned -- check
Press de-rusted and serviced -- check
Bumblebee's corner sorted -- check
Grotty corridor/alcove thing outside studio cleaned of junk and plinths -- check
Grotty corridor/alcove thing swept and set up for food & drinks -- do tomorrow first thing
Alcohol bought -- check
Gorgeous woman cooking up a storm to feed my visitors -- check
Other gorgeous woman fanging down the highway to help out with food arrangements -- check
Son bribed prepped to help serve -- check
Husband getting takeaway tonight and buying more supplies tomorrow -- check
Picked out nice frock or something to wear -- later
Hot bath run to soothe shoulder I've pulled moving typecases -- soon
Parents have rung to apologise for not coming -- check
To assuage their guilt, parents have promised to ring special people I've forgotten to ring -- check
Bottle of wine opened, ready for Torchwood -- check
Remember to breathe

I don't feel ready, but I guess I am. I keep reminding myself that it's only 3 little hours, but it feels bigger than that. The best thing is that I thought my lovely little Vandercook wouldn't be finished in time, which was going to be fine, but as it happens I picked up my newly refurbished rollers today, and it's now fully functional. So tomorrow really is a press launch -- my Vandercook press, in mint condition and purring like a kitten when it is turned on. I'm very happy, and eager to get some printing done sometime next week.

Anyhoo, hope to see a few of you there. Sorry I've been such a stranger!

Friday, July 24, 2009

cut.paste etc

Still running around like a blue-arsed fly; just about to drive Bumblebee out to meet his father and do our fortnightly hostage-swap, which is perversely fabulous parenting Quality Time since it's a 90 minute round trip.

Just thought I'd share some relevant links, since I'm letting you down (still haven't recharged my camera to get the bloody photos off it): Double Elephant's account of being in my class at Mittagong (thanks for all the nice feedback, which I'll give you in person when I get the chance!), and a small account of the CUT.PASTE exhibition at ANCA (where my studio is) by Butterflyrocket, one of the participants. I'm in the show too (with some of my recycled books and boxes), and have almost entirely missed it. It's all about collage in a very broad sense, and finishes this Sunday. It comes with a funky zine catalogue, too! If you can get there, do, it's a great show.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

even more fleetingly

[wiggles finger]


I really will be back soon, right after I drop this bundle of stuff.

My brain is bursting with interesting things about books & printing, but my arms are full of forms, course outlines, new books and to-do lists.

Also, I forgot how HILLY Brisbane is, so I have very sore calves, front and back.


Friday, July 17, 2009


[waves hello]

Just nipping through now that I've unpacked from the Sturt Winter School in Mittagong and repacked for Brisbane. Most of the jumpers are gone, and I'm having trouble deciding what to wear, so I've packed far more than I should for the five days. I haven't hung out with the bibliographic set for ages, no idea how much they dress up for dinner, etc.


Sturt was fantastic, absolutely ripper. The group of gals (no lads this time) were imaginative and resourceful, needing very little in the way of intervention once they got into the swing of things, something I'm very grateful for because now I'm not as exhausted as I expected to be. I'm 2kg heavier and a candidate for gout, thanks to the vast quantities of boarding school food and self-administered alcohol, but that will work its way off when I start cycling again. Once I'm back from Brisbane. On Thursday. Or sometime.

I have got photos, but no time to upload them, or even to take them off the camera. They made some beautiful books, and beautiful boxes, so my course name was well chosen.

Sorry, must go. Need sleep.

[waves goodbye]

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Oh my, ephemera heaven!

I'm a terrible lurker. I'm a member of sundry lists and webgroups, facebook and other such stuff. I don't actually use them very much, and I'm hopeless at updating my activities or joining discussions. I get a lot of daily digests, so I can peep in on everyone else's activities when I get the time to cruise through, and I love reading the arguments but not joining them. There was a great thread on the letterpress list, titled KISS vs SOCK, about the pros and cons of lightly printing the surface (kissing) versus deep impression (socking it to the paper). I think there will never be consensus, there's too many sides, but there are absolute truths that emerge in these debates: that good design will always look better than bad design, and that constant deep impression under high pressure will eventually kill your press. Other than that, say the wise people, it's a free world. Sigh. Outcomes like that are so satisfying.

(image©Dick Sheaff)

Anyway, I actually started this to say that there's lots of interesting things that fly by in the digests, usually in the form of weblinks that are highlighted or slip under the radar on people's email signatures. Today I was led to this, an almighty EPHEMERA LOLAPALOOZA! Really well organised, including (and this is for Colonel Duck) a whole section on photos of people holding fish as well as a section on something called typotecture that makes my fingertips hurt. All with nice introductions and extra information. My goodness, it's such fun.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Sometimes I don't get cats. One minute they're fighting like cats & d... um, cats, and the next minute they're squished up inside a very small pet cushion cubby thing, being best snuggle buddies. Tuh.

Anyhoo, I'm putting out a call to any of you nice peoples who might have a copy of last weekend's Sunday Age, specifically the M magazine. Apparently there's an article in it about Zeichen Press, and Fran from the (American) ZP wrote to me on her Sunday, which was my Monday, and I missed it.

If you still have it, haven't wrapped your scraps in it or anything, let me know. Send me a copy and I'll scan it. Or even better, let Fran know directly and I'm sure she'll be suitably grateful. Maybe. She's a crazy chick, no telling what she'd do.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

sucking up with good books

Can anyone tell me why -- wearing my Blundstones all day and at no time getting my feet wet or going near moisture -- when I remove them, each big-toe tip of my sock is soaking wet? Just the tip of the big toe, nothing else. Mystery.

I've been cleaning the dark side of my studio over the last two days. The boys have disappeared for five days in search of snow and sand and grandparents and anything else they can find, including this:

Eagle boy
Found in a Yass junk shop on the 4th of July, which I guess is pretty apt. Bumblebee wanted to take it home, but was persuaded to buy a Star Wars toy instead.

So I am home alone! Having a fantastic quiet retreat without going anywhere, and spending most of it at Studio Duck, vacuuming dust, sorting stuff, cleaning the press. The press mechanic didn't come last week, but he rang me with a good excuse, and now we are meeting tomorrow first thing. So today I went to the sales and bought a vacuum cleaner just for the studio, and then vacuumed the floor, the shelves, all the dust and muck in and around the press, and also from the drawers and all the little shelves on the sides of my Printer's Stone (actually a metal table with a very heavy metal slab top). This was a huge job, because the lovely man who gave it to me was a carpenter, and the little shelves (in varying depths, to hold press furniture) were just full of sawdust and wood shavings, and the drawers had masses of sawdust mixed with screws, nails and washers that had to be sorted and removed before vacuuming. And now the vacuum cleaner looks like I've owned it for years. And years.

Before the boys left I went out to the (cough) hardware (cough cough) store* in Gungahlin and bought a whole heap of derusting thingies and some nice killrust paint in Deep [word redacted because of 2023 bot but lookie here] Red, and over the next few days I'm going to paint the sides of the Stone and the decorative bits of my standing press. Then I'm going to go away to the Sturt Winter School and leave everything to lose the fresh-paint smell, so by the time I get back it should all be gorgeous for my open studio. Well, that's the plan, anyway.

I've been reading a lot since uni went on holiday; one really good book I've read was sent to me by the author as a thank you for 'getting' her last book (such a pleasure for both of us!). It's Why She Loves Him by Wendy Steele, a collection of short stories. There's a lot of stories, as many of them are *very* short, except for the last sequence, from which the book's title comes. I find a lot of short stories want to tell you everything: they aim to suck you in and spit you out satisfied at the end but in a neat, encapsulated way. Wendy doesn't do this; she uses most of her stories as springboards to vault you off the page and back into your own head (this is why I loved reading Thirdcat's now neglected blogopera, because she also has this knack). There's a wide range of voices, social settings and experiences, and each story made me stop and close the book so that I could finish the story for myself before starting the next one. Some stories were so disturbing that I had to put down the book for a while, and do something *completely* different, because I didn't want to think about what the ending was! Damn good read, do yourself a favour, etc.

Speaking of Thirdcat makes me realise that I didn't ever talk about her novel, Black Dust Dancing, after I read it. Another damn good read, but you all know that by now, don't you? It's that way she gets into the inside of her characters, the way she tackles the big issues in small, sparse and completely accessible gestures. She really clinches those Big Decision moments in life, when you have to change everything to be able to hold your head up in the mirror and look yourself in the eye. Yes, I think putting Tracy and Wendy together in a blog post is the way to go. I hope they read each other!

I've just had a hot shower and washed off all the sawdust and lead dust and whatever else off me, now I'm going to have a nice glass of white wine and do something, anything that has nothing to do with Michael Jackson. Maybe I'll read another book. Oooh, how posh.

*Rant du jour: hardware stores don't deserve to be called that anymore. In fact, I think they've all stopped using the term, and now they're lifestyle centres or some such crap. I couldn't find screw-in chair legs, too old-fashioned to be in stock, I was told. Everyone just buys new chairs these days...