Being Home

I planned on having loads of sunflowers this year. Filled two beds with seeds but as soon as they showed their leaves the deer helped themselves. Now I have two beds full of cropped sunflower stems with weak looking leaves sprouting and a whole lot of weeds. Sunflowers are my favorite flower. They take over a professional bouquet just by being in the bunch. I can sometimes find them three to a bunch and three bunches for $10 at the grocery store. If they are not too sagging I will buy them all. Then I like to fill in the jug with whatever greenery from around the yard that the deer have not eaten.

The other day I decided to make cookies and went back to the “second best malted cookies I ever ate” recipe. This time I put a bit too much golden syrup in because you know how it is when the bottle has just a bit more and not worth saving til later, so you keep upending it and adding it to the mixture. Anyway a bit more flour and I could handle the dough enough to get it into the balls to roll into sugar before baking.

But this time I remembered what the baker of the best malted cookie I ever ate told me. “Keep it in the oven on low to make them crispy.” So after they were baked the amounted time and including the slamming to make cracks. After cooling I turned them all over and put them back on the parchment and into an oven that had been turned off. They stayed there for about another half hour, then came out and cooled completely to become “very close to the best malted cookie I ever ate”. They are so, so crispy!

And in the last two days I had time to revisit  white line wood block printing. Australia has been on my mind as everyone there is waiting for the programs to come out….and I won’t be on offer for next year.  So I finished my chest that holds all the thank yous from students over the years and then made this print again of Halls Gap.

And the block and print.

Not sure what to work on next. I think I will make a drawing for another white line print, but have it be something from around here in my own yard. Perhaps the Japanese stone lantern out front with a drooping branch of a Japanese maple and some hostas  that the deer haven’t eaten.

I can do the drawings upstairs while sitting with Lee and then come down to the studio to do the carving and printing. The tools and paints and papers are calling me. And they are just getting louder now that I have cleaned the studio out and got myself a bit organized down there.

I am still waiting for the grave digger. It has been rainy all week and to be honest he is not the most dependable digger I know. So we will see what next week brings. A hole or the yellow pages to find another man with a machine.

Next week I should have the long panel back from the framers.

Til later.

Being a Teacher Again

I worked on this box yesterday while letting a private student carry on with her first foray into dry point etching. The box holds every single one of the gifts and thank yous from Australian students over the years. It is 17″ x 11″ x 4.5 inches. Today I will try to figure out the lid and extra support for the base.

It was so good having someone in the studio asking questions for the last two days. She made the field journal exactly like the one I made….only hers is a lovely slate grey and sports a beautiful raku porcelain button I had in my stash. I did not photograph it…just got busy.

She also brought along her XCut XPress to try out while learning how to make her first etching print. I gave her a small  plate much like the one I use for my own etchings and told her to draw an image the same size as the plate. I showed her an older one of mine.

It took her the entire afternoon to adjust the etching and the inking to get something close to what she expected. I think she is going to love making small prints.

Not only did she make the field journal/box and learn how to do drypoint, but she took notes continually on whatever I was saying. We problem solved a binding issue on one of her artist books, discussed free computer programs that I use to adjust photographs of my artwork, and talked and talked. Her husband also suffers from dementia and sharing stories helped a lot. It was good for both of us and I look forward to her returning.

Demonstrating how I can change photographs with a simple program, I was reminded how much the purpose of piece of work can change its meaning. It can go from tactile object to the ghost of an illustrated idea for words.

Like this…

To this…

Doesn’t this second image talk to you about holding things together? Unraveling? Marks of age? It makes me want to put the feelings into words and will likely end up illustrating a poem. Wouldn’t it also make a great cover for a personal journal?

It would be easy to get completely wrapped up in making images like this on the computer. But then they just become manipulated pictures….anyone can do that. But having this essence of something you made by hand that shows your own way of making a mark seems to capture the soul of what you were thinking while engaged in the creating. It deserves to be thought about, written about, explored more deeply than just an interesting image.

Don’t you agree?

Anyway I will share what I write about it. And also show the finished Australian Gift Box in another post.

Til later.

Finishing Up Fragments and On the HomeFront

I am using the old dictionaries to find images to add to the fragments.

So many nice images. I am not so sure that newer dictionaries have all these illustrations. Anyway I have framed all but one of the Fragments pieces. Here are some of the other ones.

So now I have used up five frames that I had glass cut for last year. I do not really have a shop to send these to so they will just hang in the studio til someone comes along.

Last week Lee helped me chop herbs to make a seasoning to package up for Christmas gifts. It takes a very long time to chop by hand and then it has to dry for days before it can be put in jars. This one is rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic and sea salt.

We will make more next week after a private student returns home. She is spending a couple of days to learn how to make a personal field journal/box. Much like this one.

And I am filling in the third hand of Responsibility. Lee has trouble using the vacuum, sorting the recycling bottles, pulling weeds, and locating which drawer his underwear is in when he goes to take his shower in the morning. I now lay those out for him. I also have to load that pesky weeder eater cord onto the spool for him. But lately he has lost interest in cutting the grasses and weeds down. I can’t say as I blame him. And they are far enough away from the house so what does it matter?

While I am showing a friend how to make her field journal I think I will create a box for all the gifts and thank you books/cards from my Australian students. It will be fun to make compartments for each of them. Such treasures deserve a good place to be.

That’s it til later when I post the results of working in the studio this week.