Drawing and Drinking Stories

I am this far with the first scroll to put in a bottle and set free. Just about eighteen inches to go. Then I am thinking about doing some writing for a bottle. What about a short story? Wouldn’t it be fun to break open a bottle and find a story!

There is no shortage of wine bottles or paper here. And I can imagine that whoever receives these bits of me will be happy they found it. So much better having that thought in my head than someone giving a work to someone who really wished they hadn’t. This way I can continue to make up my own narrative.

But on the subject of wine and other spirits, I don’t think I have ever properly talked about my ever increasing set of books of collected labels and memories of those I shared drinks with.

I just finished putting together the fourteenth book, all ready for labels to be pasted in with comments. On the book shelf they look pretty innocuous.

I started in 2000 by peeling off the label from a bottle containing something alcoholic. Once stuck in I would write something about the drink and company I drank it in. There were to be no repeats of labels but repeats of companions was of course just fine.

Each book had to have the cover made using the bag that alcohol bottles are put into at the shops, or wineries, or distilleries, or….

So here are some of the first ones.

Liquor Control Board Ontario….nice bags. A bag from a winery visited in New Zealand. And Hanging Rock Winery in Victoria, Australia…..just across the road from the famous site and story of Miranda and her fellow boarding school girls that go missing.

And some others from Australia ( LiquorLand….love that shop name). Buffalo Trace right from the distillery in Kentucky. And the Sticks winery in the Yarra Valley that has since fallen a bit short of its hay day. The black one from YarraWood is the latest book filled with more blank pages than I think I can fill…..but maybe not. The first one is placed with the story yet to be added from dinner out the other night with a good friend who came down to spend a couple days with Lee and me.

That Pinot Noir was nothing less than stunning.  Thank you, David from the Copper Door for suggesting it.

And here are some other pages from the other books.

Seems I drink more in Australia or maybe they just have more new labels to collect.

A wine from two former workshop students who came here. Lin is now gone and I like how she is often remembered by me in the studio and when I peruse these books.

Others who have passed have their funeral papers kept in the book with the wine they chose for our last dinner together. John here got a page of remembrance in The Spirits Bar book as well. Some people you just like having a drink with.

And more pages.

And I can hear some of you more discriminating connoisseurs saying, “Why would she drink that swill?” Well actually I will drink almost anything in good company and it all needs recording.

I even cut apart a thin aluminum can to get it pasted in the book.

And favorite scotches….one because it is the one my friend, Moe, always brings down and the other because it is my own personal favorite single malt.

I can not tell you how many times I have sat in restaurants refusing to let the waiter take the bottle away until I have worked off the label. Or stuffed it into a purse to soak later. One time while teaching in Australia, I forgot that I left it soaking in the sink in a shared bath and flooded the whole place. No one suspected because I used everyone’s towels to soak it all up. And the label was easy to remove.

And when you are traveling, you must have tissues or napkins or scraps of paper to stick the label onto. When home they must be removed and given a place in the book, along with the story. I still find some stuck to papers that have been lodged into safe places and I have no idea who I shared the drink with….but I am sure it was good and so was the company.

It is an obsession to have this physical evidence of a shared conversation, a shared meal, a shared laugh.

Here is a couple of tips for removing labels….removing friends is not so easy.

Beer bottles invariably need to be soaked…it is a paste that is not the clingy plastic type and needs be be soaked for quite some time. You are forgiven if you just let the memory go into the trash with the bottle. Beer bottles can be tedious and so can the company for that matter, so just let it go if you do not have the patience.

Wine bottles need only to have their glass heated either for 20 seconds in the microwave, (remember not to put any metal parts in there and that includes those fancier labels with gold leaf on them). If not heated in the microwave then fill it with very hot water and take your razor edge to the side of the label and slowly peel away. I keep an old razor blade paint scraper in the kitchen for this purpose only.

Spirits bottles can have anything as an adhesive. If it won’t peel off when the inside of the bottle is heated with water, then start the soak. I personally find the soaking well worth the time on spirits bottles because I am quite sure that the company was worth the wait.

And I realize that because of iphones it might be tempting to just photograph the bottle and stick a copy of the image in a book. This is not the same! Your companions are worth more than this. The flavor of the drink and its linger on the tongue and in the mind are worth more than this.

If and when you make a book to house all this good time memory, remember to put in spacers to accommodate the addition of the thickness of labels.

That is it for today. Art Group was postponed again today, so I am stuck with the wine and no memory to go with it.

Til later.