Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Steam Train Letterpress Print. Flee, all is discovered!

I have been printing a lovely steam train print block.

It was originally a book illustration, from 'South Eastern & Chatham Railway' by O. S. Nock.
I printed the image (which is an electro copper half tone block) on my old proofing press. And I like the rather grainy quality it gave me.

I added the text, using 12 point Times lead letters. I tried lots of different phrases, but this is the one that seemed best!

It felt really good to give this fine old block a new, if rather eccentric use.
The mounted print is in my Etsy shop, and I hope it flees to a new steam-loving home!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Book treasure. The Complete Jujitsan.

I have really rather fallen for this handsome fellow I pulled out of a bag of tattered old books.

A fabulous book, entitled The Complete Jujitsan, by W.H.Garrud, written in 1914. The book has those wonderful instructions with LOTS of photographs typical of early exercise books,

 a magnificent picture of W.H. Garrud's Japanese mentor who has the best moustache ever,

and some great text, mentioning that even females can learn this useful sport!

 I love W.H. Garrud's expression - in fact, everything about him!
I photographed it quickly with my phone,  told a friend about it, and it turns out that her husband is writing a film script that includes as a character none other than W H Garrud! So I sent it to her immediately, before photographing it better, and before I got too fond of him to give away. A brief encounter, you might say.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Blue Moon. Be careful! Strange events!

There's a Blue Moon rising on Friday 31st July. The second full moon in the calendar month, a blue moon is a seemingly random event that is really to do with lunar months being 28 days, and our calendar months 30 or 31.
I wrote a collection of poems about the night of the blue moon, imagining the moon's light shining through the windows of an old map shop, and the maps becoming liquid, and merging in the silvery light. And what happens to them in the shop happens outside as well. Some very odd things happen.

They are published in seed packet form, with the poems on separate sheets, held together with a little full moon shape clip. The packet is individually letterpress printed. I've been trying different packet forms for a few years now, and have finally found the one I really like!

You can buy one from my Etsy shop http://etsy.me/1SmwClh or come and see me at the Bath Artisan Market on 9th August, or Outlaw Summer Market in Falmouth on 10th, 11th, 12th August.
In the meantime - take care tonight and enjoy - the next blue moons are in January and March 2018!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Letterpress, cakes & books at The Hours in Brecon

There's a great bookshop in Brecon called The Hours. It's an old building, crowded full with books, and at the back a cafe - a perfect combination. I have been letterpress printing for them.
I was asked to letterpress print some labels for the cakes! Unexpectedly precise printing for me, but rather fun, choosing a font, and some ornament. Dark brown was requested, very stylish!

I have used a lovely font called Bologna, which has one of the cutest ampersands ever.
And then cakes are labelled! I love the shining cake domes.

I was rather pleased with them, and the cakes are truly delicious.
Thanks to Nicky and Leigh of The Hours. If you're in Brecon, go and buy a book and then drink tea, eat cake, and start to read - what better way to spend a rainy Welsh summer's day! Here's a link to The Hours facebook page.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Letterpress printing. Fritz Eichenberg. Reflecting on the past.

A wonderful letterpress printing plate, all the way from Germany. Fantastic detail, and such a world of emotion expressed in that face.
The seller didn't have detailed information about it, but thought it might be from the work of a wonderful illustrator called Fritz Eichenberg. I will do research, but if it IS Eichenberg's work, I am even more inspired.Fritz Eichenberg was a German-American illustrator and arts educator who worked primarily in wood engraving. His best-known works were concerned with religion, social justice and nonviolence. I know this much from wikipedia - I will learn more! The block is a stereotype - created for making an illustration, perhaps for a book or magazine.

I have printed him a few times, but recently for an exhibition of ACEO art, where the artwork has to be 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. This means that he is not fully visible, just looking into the picture from the mount, and with a letterpress printed phrase, as if he was thinking.

I hadn't realised he was a monk until I printed him, and now he reminds me of a Cadfael figure reflecting on a long and varied life from the peace of his monastic cell.
He doesn't look sad, so much as reflective.
Such a fine image, it is a privilege to print.
I thought I would celebrate my return to the blog with this uncharacteristically wistful and reflective series of images!

The exhibition is at The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir, and then on tour during the summer. Here's the link for gallery.  

Friday, 17 October 2014

Orchid time of year

This is the time of year when the multitude of orchids on various windowsills in my house begin to flower like mad things. Here are are the kitchen orchids.

I don't know if it's the warmer environment, or the change of light - but I welcome it with great joy, whatever the cause. They are amazing.
I love their uncompromisingly stiff and glossy leaves, weird aerial roots, and long flower stems that need support but droop away from it to make their own shapes.

They are remarkably easy to keep. A light windowsill with little or no direct sunlight, some humidity ( a kitchen windowsill or a windowsill in or near the bathroom is good too), a little water, and regular misting. The results are fantastic.
When the flowers have fallen from the flower stem, don't cut it down until it has actually died and gone brown. Very often the next flower spike will grow from one of the nodes on this stem, so cutting it down means you have no possibility for flowers. And don't put your orchid in a ceramic or decorative pot.  Orchids like light on their roots, so keep them in clear plastic pots and enjoy the strange roots that drape over the edge of the pot, and sometimes turn into a flower spike.
When I am wealthy ( ha! as if being a poet is ever going to make that happen!) I am going to have a house with  massive North facing windows in the kitchen and the bathroom, and open shelves across them with row upon row of orchids, silhouetted against the light, and flowering like mad things.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A story in eleven tweets!

A rather different writing project, creating a story to be published in a series of tweets!
I was asked to work with an after school book group of children in Barry Library. The group aged 7 to 9 years and part of the Chatterbooks project, meet regularly to discuss stories they have read, but this time they were going to be authors.

I started by giving them an 'author' pencil, and I had made grids with 140 spaces to match the characters of a tweet, with the hashtags we needed added in as well.
The story had to be created in an hour, and the individual tweets had to be interesting in their own right as well as making a narrative. I admit that I had no clear idea how it was going to work! But we started in fine style and it was a noisy session with mad ideas flying around and lots of laughter.
Some library staff sat in on the session, and posed for a photo afterwards, looking rather like the usual suspects.
And then the story typed and tweeted!
I've just realised it doesn't have a title! But you can find it on the twitter feed of Vale of Glamorgan libraries, @voglibraries, with the hashtags #cbxweek and #lovelibraries or you can read it right here. You will see that, although I did guide the shape of the story, the content is pure 7 to 9 year old imagination, and I love the ending which is really asking for the sequel to be written. Enjoy!

Here is a haunted house story, with cow shaped slippers and spider skin swords Brace yourselves!

I opened the secret book and eight wriggling legs reached out and dragged me into the pages and then...

I found myself in a dark and gloomy haunted house. Six red eyes were staring at me, and then...

out of the shadows stepped a three-headed girl. I am Triple she muttered. I need your help. Its cold in here and...

I need three hats without me going into the dark cold weather, because if I go outside I will vanish into thin air.

I stepped outside. The hatshop was guarded by ghost guards with spider skin swords. I felt in my pockets, finding...

some bubblegum. Step aside I said, or I will blow a huge bubble & stick your swords together - forever! The knights replied

Bubblegum is our worst enemy, we will step aside. Enter the hat shop and buy your hats in safety.  Farewell. And so...

after buying three woolly stripy spotty luminous hats, I returned to the dark & gloomy haunted house to Triple, saying

Here are your stripy spotty luminous hats. Now can I go home for tea? Its chocolate fajitas, I don't want to miss them.

She said Before you go back, could you buy my spider eight woolly slippers shaped like cows - they must be size 4!