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.

Five Students – Three Days – Then More or Less on My Own

Reliving just one of the workshops recently completed in Australia. I am in the Botanical Studio at Beautiful Silks in Allensford VIC. There are are five students, myself and my hosts, Marion and her husband. The class is the first of two workshops about Memory Vessels.

We seem to always start with making watercolors from their collected soils/rocks/dirt from someplace special to them.

And once we talk about their hopes for the class, all I have to do is get them there. Easy. Here they are.

Trish and her pigments from France that she wanted to use in some book forms with mementos from her time there. And another book about her time spent in Norway. Here is what she wrote when the class was over.

“Your workshop was fabulous! More than I could have anticipated. Not only in new processes and techniques, but in stimulating the thoughts that go behind and beyond the work. It has reinvigorated my approach to my own work which has been put to one side while other things needed my attention and energy.”

It was very generous of her to say that and I look forward to seeing more of her work through emails that go beyond these few things she did in class.

And Ros who had a large pile of letters saved from an old friend named Tom, I think. They were the kind of letters that email just does not do justice to. They were philosophical and thoughtful. They deserved a special place. She gave them one. Made from scraps of silks turned into a fragile backpack.

Kaye wanted to work on her seemingly endless collection of bones from roadkill and pastures to create boats that would accompany her on a journey back to a childhood when she was more “girly” as she put it. An entire fleet that increased in size trailed after a bone representing her in a pod lined with a pink doily and heading from west to east.

Joy, a book binder, was recreating the trunks of old burned out trees and the stories of her past and perhaps theirs on the inner barks. So much intriguing materials to choose from. Her space just mushroomed out with the selections, thoughts and trees. Here are some of her choices and results.

That last image is of her sketchbook made from three covers of old salvaged books. Two are used for front and back covers of a portrait format book and the third is bound to the bottom of the back cover to create another book out the bottom back which is a landscape format. I thought it very a clever re use of materials.

And then there is Jillian who seemed to pull magic bits and pieces from her hand felted pouch and sewing case to make a small concertina book about her daughter’s childhood fairy friend and a pouch of her own inspirations from walks. I love her use of the shifu thread she made in class as part of the weaving in the stick that helps keep the bundle closed. And another shifu thread in a weaving for the small book cover.

And here is what Jillian wrote to me after the class was over.

Thank you for all your guidance. It was a very special workshop to be part of.
You have so many amazing skills but your ability to help students translate their ideas into something they can see and touch is truly special.

Very kind of her as well. But I learn so much from them. Not the least of which is to just get on with it. Use what you have to say what you need to say. Just pick up something and manipulate it into your desires.

After they were gone I did get on with it. A trip to the Southern Ocean to gaze toward Antarctica with a glass of champagne. I dined on some of the tastiest meals of the trip. And finished my stay there with botanical and indigo dyeing loads of things to send home.  Thank you Marion for asking me to be a part of one of the most beautiful places on earth, for the hospitality, for the students and for thinking I should do it all over again.

The Magic of Eucalyptus

I am back in Australia…back with the gum leaves of Eucalyptus trees. They are magic. I start at Baldessin PPress Studio in St. Andrews north of Melbourne and gather the leaves before my workshop on book bindings. I bring them back into my apartment and into the studio.

I sketch them.

My students use them in their work.

I make time in my schedule to do some dry point etchings and prints while at the studio.

And then I pack up and arrive at my next stop…another workshop….more gum trees.

And more trees are here with seductive shapes, colors and aromas.

And this workshop too, has gum leaf inspired pieces waiting to be completed into Memory Vessels.

Then it is me and the gum leaves. Adding more drawings.

And trying my hand at contact printing with those lovely leaves.

I will gather more at my next teaching stop. And again I have factored in extra days just to explore and try to capture the magic of these leaves. The ones I have gathered at this stop will be packed with the sketchbook. There is no way I can leave them behind.

I will be back next week and show you what comes next. I think it will be another white line print of the gum leaf since that is the class I will be teaching. Till then, can you smell the Eucalyptus from these pictures?