Monday, August 29, 2011

making bookcloth...

I've started working on my second BAO project
with making my own bookcloth...

black cotton fabric wrapped and tied ready for discharge dyeing
(this looks strangely like a little voo-doo dolly if you ask me..)

fabric on the line drying
(hmmm strangely skull-like ghostly marks...)

I backed one piece of the fabric with wenzhou
(a thin but strong chinese paper)
to turn the cotton fabric into a useable bookcloth 

I'm trying out a new way to make bookcloth - instead of rolling adhesive onto thin oriental paper then placing fabric onto the glued paper (and what a delicate operation that is... corrrr! quickly quickly, smoothly smoothly... oh bugger! I've got a crease! oh bugger! the paper is separating from the fabric! bugger! bugger! bugger!) .... this time I'm trying vliesofix (fusible adhesive usually used in applique) to get the fabric and paper together as one.... so far - it's made the most perfect looking book cloth (and sooooo much easier than the old way) - but let's see how the cloth performs on the job before we pass judgement eh....


Sunday, August 28, 2011


Late winter 
and I'm very late to get started with pruning in the orchard
my stone fruits are in blossom already... 

blood plum

Boots takes the high ground as our pruning overlord
'meow - you missed that one'

 Abas apple before

30 mins and a lot of lopping later....

 Abas apple after

Oh how I wish I could take a big pair of loppers,
some secateurs and a pruning saw to all those things
that seem to clutter up my life...



Friday, August 26, 2011

feeling all artsy craftsy...

very wordy post ahead
proceed with caution ...

(found in the forest.... I'm not sure what it once was... baby wombat maybe?)

I read a wonderfully articulate post this morning on Alisa Golden's blog - Making Handmade Books
(If you're a handmade book lover and haven't discovered this blog yet you really should drop by - it's terrif)

(damn but I admire writers who can get their ideas across so well all without jumping on anyone else's toes -  definitely not one of my character strengths!)

I loved what Alisa had to say about the value of craft skills and the value of the DIY steam-punk craft movement 

I thought - 'What synchronicity!'

Last month I read Peter Dormer's small, quirky but totally fab book: 'The Art of the Maker'

In the book, (basically an extended essay... published 1994) Dormer argues on behalf of craft and craft skills - hoping to convince artists (and the arts industry) to engage in understanding the craft of their artform... oh and to have craft skills be recognised for what they are - tacit knowledge, not easily won by the maker, valuable and to be valued... (amongst other themes)

here's a little gem from Dormer's text:
"What is especially valuable about craft is that once it is possessed by the individual it cannot be taken away and becomes a massive addition to the individual's life. To know HOW is a much more powerful and enriching position to be in than merely to know OF something"
(emphasis mine)

the text is full of little gems like this that really resonate with me....

Then last week the ABC screened the show 'Making it Handmade' (you can still catch it on i-view - but only for another 2 days)

Amanda wrote a lovely post about the show and if you follow the bloggy path, you'll see I commented (in my usual manner) about some of the things I didn't quite like about the show....

In essence - I'm not keen on TV shows (etc) that emphasise all that I DON'T like about the art world promotion/adoption of craft in arts practice (which I left as comments on amanda's post) ...
But I'd like to reiterate -  it's the TV SHOW that I wasn't fond of, not newly emerging crafting creatures or craft communities --- hey - for any craft to have a future, new folk need to be interested and involved in sewing or knitting or calligraphy or bookbinding or working leather or wood or macrame or... (please put your craft here) .... without new folk getting excited about craft, there will be no future generation of crafters (expert or otherwise) and a craft and all its included skill set will be lost...

narrrr - what bugs me is when the media offers 'iffy' craft skills up to the general masses as an example of all that's exciting and cutting-edge and arty and valuable and (eeek) laudable about craft as art....  I've got to say the program  'Making it Handmade' was an 'A'-grade example of just that.

I'm no crafty queen - I believe wholeheartedly that one can be an advocate for craft skill without becoming precious, exclusionary or elitist - in fact if I look back, that very idea has been central to my arts practice...  add this to my long avowed arty ethos: successful art = the alignment of concept + process + materials...  and that pretty much sums me up in a simple artsy/crafty equation!

corrr I haven't written this much difficult stuff for a loooooong time..... 

I feel as stripped bare as those poor unidentified bones up above.

(I'm a maker not a writer!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

an encounter......

This morning here at the creek

'b-boy' (aka brimmer) and I were off to work in the forest...

'b-boy' thought all those trees looked a bit forbidding

 so he decided to head off home....

little did I know he was giving me a hint....

a short walk and while later in the Kooraban National Park

crackle crunch, crackle crunch
(is that a wallaby I hear?)

It's a fox 

being chased by 


(can you see them both?
sorry about the blur - but neither the camera or the photographer were prepared for an action shot!!!)

I don't know who was the most startled - the fox... the dingo...
OR ME!!!!

I had visions of my kiddies on the TV news saying
'a dingo took my mummy'...

a weird instinct kicked in
and I woofed at the dingo with all of my woofing might...


(what sort of an idiot woofs at a dingo?)

moments later b-boy gave his woofing reply from the home...
wooof! wooof! woof!

followed by sarah and brody dog in the home yard
woof! woof! woof! woof! woof! woof! woof!
 the whole pack of sams creek woofers were woofing away...
woof! woof! woof! woof! woof! woof! woof!

and the dingo ran away....

(not before I almost fainted from fright!)

oooo what a morning!


Monday, August 22, 2011


At loooooooong last I can announce
my 'paper wrestling' books are about to leave the creek

Rocky just has to say a final farewell
and they will be on their way in tomorrow's post....


permy circle...

this weekend
at the first south east bioregion permaculture convergence

 lucky for me, I'm obscured behind other folk on the left....
photo from geoff griggs....

lovely folk, 
good energy, 
inspiring ideas, 
terrific food!

On Saturday after food we listened to David Holmgren
I am utterly convinced that history will recognise David
as one of the most inspired thinkers of our age
(welllll - this is already occurring...)

It's not every day I get to meet someone whose words
I have read and contemplated over an extended period....

It took me until Sunday morning and the book launch of
'Permaculture Pioneers'
to slide up next to David and say 'howdy'

(he's enormously approachable, devoid of ego and all that - I'm just very shy)

This morning, quite coincidentally, I noticed a marvelous post
by the good peeps of Milkwood Permaculture
that included SPIFTACULAR images from

(from the 'lexicon webby site -
"The Lexicon project is based on a simple premise: people can’t be expected to live more sustainable lives
if they don’t even know the most basic terms and principles that define sustainability.")

the images/graphics and info from the project is simply brill!
now everyone can know in a single glance the basic meaning of all those weird terms like
'backyard pollinators', 'good food revolution', 'CSA', 'soil food web'



Friday, August 19, 2011

permy convergence...

It's been raining a soft delicious late-winter-melding-into-spring rain
good weather for staying indoors and doing slow tasks 
for me that's meant paperwork, more paperwork, some book-making work,
some slow binding (which I find very therapeutic),
planning for art works
and lots and lots of spring garden dreaming...

(hey who turned on the spring button? My earliest fruit trees have blossoms already!)

My garden has been sorely neglected since early last summer
 I didn't even get an autumn sowing started (eek!)

its the same old story we all tell
busy busy busy


Tomorrow and Sunday I'm heading into Bega town
for the South East Permaculture convergence

 (click to embiggen for readability)

If you read the poster you'll see that on Sunday David Holmgren is launching a new book.... 'Permaculture Pioneers' oooh excitement - it's all about little aussie permaculture pioneers.... including the south east's very own Vries Gravestein.... no points for guessing what my next book purchase will be!

Permaculture people are just about the very nicest most passionate people you'll meet anywhere around  - that's because permaculture is to its core rather a positive and proactive activity.... it's invigorating being around a whole mess of 'glass-half-full' people... no problem is too big that a permy won't optimistically try tackling it..... peak oil (peak everything!), climate change, famine, war, economic woe, poverty, inequality, GMO's, industrial agriculture, monsatan (no that's not a typo...), superbastards (masquerading as supermarkets...), idiotic politicians and policies, bugs on your cabbage... the answer is permaculture.

I can't wait to soak up the permy goodness (just like the ground is soaking up all the lovely rain!)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

in the wash...

Thoughts from my stint as arteest-in-residence at BBWF...

the good, the bad, and the ugly

the good

I loved the people (especially the school kids on school kiddie day, the festival crowds, the volunteers and the workers). I meet some truly astonishing people (and only a couple of those were the invited guests). I enjoyed the self-imposed challenge of creating various ephemeral pieces both on- and off-site and I particularly enjoyed quietly sitting and binding my long book for the masses.... intrepid festival goers would press forward and eventually ask "what ARE you doing?" - to which of course I could start talking about the history of books and book binding, the value of craft and slow work, the future of the printed word and books as objects, recycling and what happens to old books, the rise of the internet and the fall of the reference book and all things booky,

and so much more...

the bad

At one stage when I was setting up an ephemeral book work I looked up - there I saw 6 (count 'em) helicopters, 2 light aircraft, and 2 bigger jets high overhead.... the low flying helicopters, one after another, all in a row, seemed to be such an incredibly costly and pretentious waste of energy and resources. And talking waste - I would have liked to see waaaaay less of it (so much wasted paper, so much bloody plastic everywhere, so much unnecessary packaging, so much CRAP!) I would have liked to see more green waste disposal units (apparently there was one green waste compost bin on site... but I never found it...). And what's wrong with bringing your own cup? (I was given a strange look in the green room when I rolled on in with my caravan park cup...).  I really feel that festivals and indeed large (or small) events need to address their environmental impact and being carbon neutral should be standard practice.

(in the burnt banksia on whose branches I strung garlands of book hearts I enjoyed the chorus of five magpies....
an antidote to the less joyous noise of abundant aircraft

the ugly

Wellllll I promised all that I wouldn't talk about the one-legged mastabating man......
so I'm not going to go into the ugly details....


 and the winner is....

I can certainly understand why any arts residency is so attractive - my goodness but you can be productive when you don't have to think about all the things that make your little world go around (what to cook for dinner, paying the electricity bill, the dental appointment, the next committee meeting, what to put in the kids lunch box...)

and if your job involves interacting with the public - my goodness but the ego is stroked! ahhhhh how delicious to be the constantly told how 'brilliant' and 'amazing' and 'fabulous' you are (mmmmmmm I can feel myself basking in the warmth of my own wonderfulness!) Gosh it's seductive.

But I can see how if you lived your whole life this way you'd become a cardboard cut-out egomaniac!.... I feel terribly sorry for Hollywood and hip-hop stars - what an unreal world they populate.

give me my creek reality any day!

so would I do it again?

I don't know, I just don't know.... I really enjoyed my stint - far more than I thought I would (at 10 days, this is the longest time I've left my Sams Creek home since 1995, and the longest time I've EVER been away from our young kidlets... homesickness threatened to overwhelm me at times). Despite being dreadfully nervous that I'd make a total tit of myself, or that I'd be run out of town for crimes against books, or get lost trying to navigate the route to Byron Bay or.... ( insert any other silly worry here) - I quickly found the opposite to be true.


I suspect that I'm far too rooted to one place to be a happy wanderer. Not everyone is cut out to trip the light fantastic. Some of us are simple creek girls. Quite frankly, I'd be a different, not necessarily better artist, if I was constantly on the move. I'm not shutting the door to another residency, but I will, like this time, be looking at the opportunity closely and thinking about it deeply before committing.

Oh and unless absolutely necessary - I will continue to avoid the airport.

(ps I am finishing off a few arty 'bits' from my residency - expect to see at least one small zine, a very small photographic series, and possibly a blurb book or another 'surprise' in the next while... I'll keep everyone posted!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ahhhh home...

After a loooong journey north, 
a hectic time at BBWF both on and off site
and another looooooong journey south 
I'm home again 
(ahhhh home - my word of the day)  

 here's a couple of happy snaps 
I'll share more after I have a hot shower and a good nights sleep
you can see what I've already shared over here

mmmm just a few metres from my little cabin in Suffolk Park
(ps - click to embiggen the panoramas)

outside my cabin door - weird bush turkeys

 at Cape Byron - the most easterly point in the land of Oz

 at work (yes the sun is just coming up)

 more work at the (proposed) Byron library site

 at work/ at play at the festival site

late sunday afteroon - the festival is drawing to a close as the clouds are gathering

Expect to see more when I recover my senses
and complete some of the things started

(I feel some booky things coming on)

mmmm thinking about my pillow and my bed

ahhh home