Bush Boro Book 2 – Finished, I Think

It is the end of April. The Bush Boro Book 2 is complete, or at least I am thinking it is. The color of the sunset the other night is similar to the colors of the book. It is an iron-filled sky with bits of brightness.

I chose eight folios and used six as the text block that gave me twenty-four pages to work on or at least be aware of as I stitched into them. The other two folios were used as the concertina binding/spine and the last one to act as back cover, foredge protector and tuck in cover. See below.

I never know how a book should be bound until I finish it. I like how this one can be opened and the whole “bush” explodes out.

All it takes is the release of the cover from the front spine flap. Here is more or less the title page. The one thing about working with these contact prints is that they are just lovely left alone. And most people do just that – let the beautiful image be the story.

I wanted more of myself in the book so chose to stay with the addition of prints. These are those small dry point etchings using an umber ink. They were trimmed and stitched to the page where there was not something just too lovely to cover up. The edges of the prints were toned with a watercolor wash. I worked on each folio individually but keeping in mind the previous and next one in the order I chose for them to appear.

After deciding on the binding format and using a three hole stitch with the knot inside the folio, I thought I wanted to drop the prints further back. So using my mix of cornstarch paste and PVA I brushed on small additional patches of the contact printed fabrics.

The final step was to create my own “tracking” through Australia’s bush mark using a watercolor I made from the soils of that country. In this case, Bachus Marsh Salmon, a cheery pinkish yellow ochre.

I was thinking of adding text in some way but decided it was more than I wanted or needed. Maybe the next Bush Boro Book will have text. There are enough of these folios to make another three books if I use this format.

But I could use all of them by tearing them in half and having them hinged in a way so as to make a long meandering path through the bush. And text could also meander along…..AND the whole thing could be flipped over to take another walk.

Binding that particular experience is going to be fun to figure out….maybe a small suitcase or back pack-looking thing….maybe a passport holder…..maybe….

This book like Bush Boro 1 feels good in the hands. I think that is essential in a book – that it feels good. It should be inviting to touch and require manipulation, more manipulation than simply turning a page. Anyway that is my thinking.

One more thing on my mind this week. I see there are more book releases on how to think creatively. Did we ever need assistance with that? Did we ever need to give someone else money to tell us how to assemble parts that are likely just sitting there in front of us. Sitting there with endless possibilities and little prompting required. Even if we made something totally pitiful in appearance at least it was ours, and not part of an assembly line of someone else’s ideas. I think that I am at a loss on this.

Or, I could join the fray. Get a couple sticks, one rock, some glue and for a fee tell you what to do with them. Maybe, maybe not.

Til later.


Week Two of Bush Boro Books

I am back in the studio working on the second Bush Boro Book. This time I am using earlier dry point etchings of Australian outback scenes.

Here is the first folio.

These pages were done with using the leaves a second time in the contact printing technique developed by India Flint. I had used them the first time on torn folios placed between wooden planks that were then wrapped with rags and steeped several hours in a bath with iron. Here is their first incarnation.

I tore more paper into folios and used them again but could not keep them in the bath for as long because I needed to get on the road. So they went from a sunny dashboard of two hours to a sunny window in my workshop area sealed up in a plastic bag. Color is less intense but still beautiful.

Because I wanted to stay with the theme of bush and stitching using prints, I ended up pulling out unsold small dry point etchings and then having to print more of them on my new XCut XPress machine. It was so easy and quick to do these.

I could print them close together because I am only using the image part..no borders. Even the one I wrinkled is usable because it will be cut into small images. See below.

Notice that I am still using scraps of the contact printed silks and wools from Beautiful Silks. I think my stitching is improving.

There was a question on one of the printmaking sites I belong to on facebook about stitching into paper. I was wondering how often I have done this and found quite a range of applications in my previous work.

In graduate school doing work that uses the local men’s clothing scraps with my presence among them being represented by the black stitched line.

A book about artist retreats and how exposed we are in the company of like kind.

A book using the words from letters between my mother and myself about leaving home.

Using the stitch to help emphasize the tenuous threads of friendships lost.

Each stitch representing a step on my scroll book about a daily walk.

And scanning in large graphite drawings to use as small prints in a book. Here the red stitching is used as additional interest and color.

I really had forgotten how often I threaded a needle to use as another way to make marks upon the page. It is very satisfying for me and since I come from a long line of women with threaded needles it comes naturally. Neither my grandmother nor mother were all that precise with their stitches and I suppose I also come by that naturally.

The second bush boro book will be bound somehow. I think eight folios is enough for it. I don’t want to do a coptic binding and try to find something more complex as a way of holding all that “bushness” together.  I will post when it is finished and periodically show images of new prints done on the press. Next I would like to make some dry point etchings with the intention being to watercolor them afterwards. No stitching involved.

The Things You Remember


Well that twelfth time teaching in Australia is over. I am back home remembering how wonderful it all was. Taking photos helps bring back everything around the initial reason for holding onto a moment. I can hear the students’ voices, laughter and rustling of tools and materials while they dip into places they never thought to explore. Above is a kangaroo family and the constant efforts to capture the essence of color and shapes of the magical Eucalyptus leaves. What time I had on my own was in pursuit of leaves, kangaroos and soaking up the experience of being there again.

Australian students are in a class of their own. I simply set up an idea to work around and they take off. They sometimes even have completed works based on that theme before I even arrive and are just getting started. This time I watched and recorded their hands, their collections of materials and their tools. Take a look here at hands.

Boat building.

Assembling small collections of books with memories.

Putting pieces together.

Spinning fine threads of paper.

Turning their paper threads holding secret words into sails for a boat.

Making compartments for more secrets.

Working on white line prints.

Presenting their finished work.

The beautiful pincushions!

And the things they bring to rummage through.

Inspiring isn’t it? To just be among them and their bits and pieces makes me glad I say, “Yes, I will come back and start all over again.”

Just one step over the threshold and I am busy trying not to miss a thing. On the door of one of my classes they posted this series of signs because I told a student she was not to think for a moment that she was having a “crisis of consequences” about her work. We all just need to take times like that as a reason to “pause for thought.”

Clever students. Busy students.  All they need in a class is to be let go so I can follow along after showing them a thing or two.

And here I am rushing to catch up and being sidetracked again by those oh so beautiful Eucalyptus leaves.

I will be back.





Getting Ready to Say Goodbye

I am sitting behind this lovely door of a cottage built in 1860. Three bedrooms, a sitting room and one step down to the dining area on the right and kitchen on the left.

Through another door with an old fashioned apron hung on a nail is the access to the bathroom. It is also the door that locks you safely in at night or while you are wandering about the town during the day. The bathroom, or “toilet” as they call it here is through another door off to the right through a small open entry way from the alley in the back.

The “back” has a lovely old table built around an over-hanging fig tree that is just now bearing fruit.


The only figs I have ever had other than the dried ones are here in Australia. I drew this one just before popping it into my mouth at my friend Anne’s house in Melbourne.

Anne is the most amazingly hospitable person for us from the US traveling in Australia. This time she was working very hard getting materials ready for the tutor of a workshop she was taking when I arrived. It was so much work and preparation but she greeted me, the tutor and her dear friend arriving from England. She even managed to get me to the offices of Treasury Wine Estates for a memorable encounter with a public relations manager who could advise me on which winery is responsible for the 19 Crimes wines we so enjoy at home and the vintner to contact.

This time I recorded Anne in just a general conversation among a group of us women after class sharing a delicious wine. Now I can hear her voice whenever I want to feel I am in her company. So thank you, Anne and Tony, for taking me in, getting me where I need to be and giving me the very best memories of Australian hospitality. I hope to never take advantage of your kind generosity. Thank you.

Today I went out to find gifts to take home, contact those at home wondering how and where I am. I thought I would have dinner out tonight but most places are closed on Tuesday night. Well only those that have an “all you can eat” menu which means batter fried fish with “veg” as they say here are open. I came back to the cottage and decided to pour a glass of wine…maybe two. I had a lunch earlier of olive bread, mixed greens, grapes and cheese.  That seems enough and I can always have a bit of Greek yoghurt with passion fruit later with that second glass of wine.

It is getting dark. It is 7:30 pm. My pajamas and a good book on the Kindle are waiting. Tomorrow morning I will post this on my blog while using the local library’s internet. I will have to copy and paste into the blog with the appropriate pictures. Then it is just two more quiet days on my own in Goolwa before teaching a three day class on Memory Vessels before flying back home to construct my own memory vessel of this wonderful trip back down under.