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.

Using the Stitch to Hold an Idea

While trying out my new XCut Press this week I put in a concertina folded strip of walnut ink on gelatin plate. I used two of the etched plates that I recently did with Australian subjects, the emu and some gum nuts. I also found an old wooden stamp of another emu. So for fun I just printed along the strip on one side only.

Anytime a concertina or accordion book form is used the viewer can’t help but read it left to right as a narrative of some sort. I added a few emu tracks along the way and when I was through playing with the imagery, it needed something else. Some sort of density….a thickness….a denseness.

So I went to the small pile of contact dyed scraps of fabric that I found at Beautiful Silks while teaching there last month. They were fun to do with  absolutely no idea how they would turn out. I just fitted them in between scarves I was making for friends and family at home.

The duller parts were perfect for tying into my theme of the bush. So now I have started a new series of books titled, “Bush Boro Books”. The paper was amenable to being poked with a needle and the thread is a four strand silk that I also acquired at Beautiful Silks. Here is the cover.

And another view of the book completely opened.

It seems that lately I have been using the “stitch” more often. The recently finished book titled, “Decenia Scrapbook” had it on every cloth page and often stitching through papers and other memorabilia.

I am not a very good stitcher. Sometimes it is all I can do to just thread the needle. But I like the marks it makes. I like the back side where you are not paying that much attention and the messiness of poorly placed stitches really shows how little care the sewer is actually taking.

When in graduate school there were so few of us working with textiles that they asked me to critique a new student’s work that seemed to be a statement about the heritage of women and quilting. The patterns were so familiar in the language of quilting and were of little interest or impact. But when I asked her to turn the work over and look closely at the marks that were more her own, perhaps she could look at the idea of women, herself in particular, and the use of cloth and thread as an identity in the world of art in a whole new way.

A few years ago I used the stitch in different ways with small scraps of cloth on copies of my white line prints. And then for a recent master class in Australia I went further and used the actual print itself to stitch through.

The students over there were so much better at stitching. Their work was wonderful. Here is a sample in Patsy Bush’s work.

So I am taking it one step further and adding the bits of cloth to the prints to turn them into a narrative of sorts. I have several white line prints I made while staying out of my students hair while teaching and think there are definitely more Bush Boro Books to make. I will post more as I do them and certainly will write about my next adventures with the new printing press….that wonderful little XCut XPress machine.

New Etching Press

I have been reading about this little die cut machine made in the UK for some time now. It only got my attention because print makers in England were showing how easily it can be used for a printing press. The bed is only 8.5 inches by 12 inches but perfect for my small dry point etchings.

While in Australia I was lucky to use one to do some leaf embossing because Wendy was kind enough to bring hers into class for me to try out. All LinCraft stores over there carried these in stock but most have sold out to printers and now need to be ordered.

When I returned home last week I ordered one on Amazon for less than $200 and today had some time to try it out.

I used my small 3.35″ X 4.5″ dry point etching plate that I purchased at Melbourne Etching where I like to get a small supply to bring home. I cut one in half to get this size and did my drawing and etching while at Baldessin Press. Here are the ten acceptable prints from there.

These of course were printed using a large etching press.

And here is getting the  XPress craft machine set up with a clear mylar sheet to use over my guide of where to place the plate and papers. I cut two thin felts to use to cushion the pass.

So the plate is down, the sheet of paper laid over and then the protective paper before the felts roll into place.

Pressure too light.

Pressure too much I think on the next three, but you know how you can convince yourself that they are “okay”.

Ink up the plate and try again at a new pressure of just a bit past the number four on the dial.

Now this is looking better. So I do another group using the same pressure, same paper that has been slightly dampened and kept between cotton linters, and am thinking that this is quite the little press!

The only fault I can find with these prints is with the drawing itself. My darks are too dark but those cute little gum nuts save those leaves.

And this is what I learned. They are right about not soaking the paper as long as you would for a larger press. The dial on the top makes it so easy to set the correct pressure for consistent results. And I will be getting a piece of counter top or chopping block cut to an 8.5″ X 20″ new bed to accommodate longer prints or a small grouping in a row. This is an excellent little press to take to classes and easily stored in the studio.

Even though I have a larger etching press to take larger plates and wood blocks, this little one does a good job with thinner plates such as the etching, plexiglass and sheet linoleum. Embossing is very easy to do with added cushioning on the bottom and top. It comes with two other plates beside the bed plate, one that is used in the die cutting and a metal one for something else that I wouldn’t use.

Now all I have to do is improve my drawing and etching skills, try some monoprints and maybe even a few collographs. This machine can do it all. Highly recommended and thanks to all of you who have posted your experiences on facebook and your blogs. To learn more just do a search on the XPress Craft Machine.