Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Next Project.

 Some time ago I tried my hand  collograph plate printing, but without much success. I found a couple of my already sealed bases from the previous attempt and decided to have another go with some of my pressed grasses combined with some mulberry bark and resists using my smallest butterfly stamp. Here I've adhered the grasses and bark to the already sealed piece of cardboard with an all purpose sealant.
 Once dampened with the sealant, the grasses decided to pop up and not lie nice and flat, what to do? I decided to cover the whole plate in plastic cling wrap and put it under my old trusty and very heavy book press seen below. It weighs a great deal, so if that doesn't flatten the grasses, nothing will!

 Success, nice flat Kangaroo Grass. I stamped my smallest carved butterfly onto heavy paper and cut out 3 copies to use as resists., sticking them in place with a tiny bit of double sided sticky tape.
                              This is the second plate all ready for tomorrow's printing session.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Shore Birds.

 On board a boat for a trip around Western Port Bay today, we passed a small island with a group of birds on the shoreline. They were mostly Pied Cormorants, with the odd Silver Gull and an Oyster Catcher in the background, but definitely no Curlew Sandpiper, the bird that I featured recently in my art work. As you can see from the notice no-one is allowed to land on the island and we were quite some distance away, so the birds are a little out of focus.
            There is an odd looking dark bird on the far left that I haven't managed to identify yet.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Playing Around.

Just for fun I stamped a few of the new rubber Stenocarpus flowers over the grey test lino image, still with it's ridges from the carving.
This is the idea that I had right from the start, a greyish under image with highlights strategically placed on top. Maybe 5 is too many however and should I make a few leaves to print in green too..........probably not!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Some Success, Some Not so Successful.

 Today I carved 3 versions of the Firewheel tree flowers, which turned out quite well. The ones at the top of the page are the first prints and the second and third are further cleaning up of the stamp.
 Not so successful was the Ulysses butterfly stamp. I chose that species of butterfly because of it's contrasting colours, and the fact that it occurs in the same tropical rainforest area as the Stenocarpus tree grows in.
I had a small piece of a different rubber variety to use, but it's so soft and buttery that I found it difficult to get good edges. Added to which, the veins of the butterfly's wings are really needed to break up the bright blue, but are very difficult to carve, especially with this very soft rubber. Not really usable I don't think. Back to the usual carving medium I think.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

More Lino Cutting.

Even with a cut finger I forged ahead and started to really get moving with cutting out the image.
 Here is the first print, just with a grey stamp pad, to see how things are looking. Over all I'm quite pleased.  The seed pods are a bit out of proportion, being a little too small, but perhaps they're a lot further back than the flowers!
 This is the piece of lino with the ink still on it. I left the blank piece of uncarved lino in the top right hand corner on purpose as I thought that I might carve something like an insect there, but I'm not sure if I will or not. Easy to remove it if I go ahead and don't like it however.
                                     Now to clean up all the ridges and bits that are too high.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Starting the Lino Cut.

 It's just a trick of the light, but where I have carved away the lino it looks as if it's raised above the drawing! I hope that I can manage to carve this image as the flowers are quite fine and delicate. You can enlarge the photo a little by clicking on it.
Here I've carved out 3 leaves and 2 of the flowers, but unfortunately I had to stop here as I slipped with the sharp cutting tool and cut one finger quite deeply. I'm usually more carful than that, but of course it is Friday 13th!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Revisiting the Pods.

   Earlier this year I carved several types of Stenocarpus pods for a little book that I was making.
          Each pod is separate, so can be combined to make different images of clusters of pods.
 This is a page from the book using 3 of the carved pod blocks. The paper in the book was coloured using a solution of mud, which gave this lovely ochre colour.
 Here are the 3 blocks that I used to make the more elongated type of pods seen in the image above.
You might wonder why I am reposting these pictures from January this year, but I am about to use the pods blocks again, however first I need to carve the leaves which will be reasonably simple, but the gorgeous red flowers are another level of difficulty! Watch this space!

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Hardest Part.

Having now printed several reasonable copies of my Curlew Sandpipers, the hardest part is writing the accompanying 'blurb' in just 150 words. All the prints will eventually be bound into concertina books, with gifted copies going to the State Libraries of Queensland and Victoria, as well as to the National Library of Australia. There will be digital reproductions made as well, so it's quite an undertaking for the organisers. The prints will be on display at the Firestation print Gallery in Melbourne from June 6th to 23rd, 2018 as well.
Various studios and organisations are taking part in the general project Here all presenting different ways of raising awareness of the plight of our over wintering shore birds.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Return to the Bird Prints.

 I really needed to get a move on with the 4 prints that I want to make for the  current Overwintering project. Here I've stamped my original rubber cuts onto paper and backed them with some rigid plastic sheets.
 I want to use them as a resist when I sprayed the background. You might just be able to see where the resists were as I sprayed the papers with a light grey iridescent paint. Click for a larger view.
 Now I can stamp the birds, Curlew Sandpipers, onto the clear backgrounds to give the birds white bodies without the background grey making them speckled. I've stamped the larger bird in the darkest colour, the medium sized bird a slightly lighter colour and the smallest bird quite a pale grey.
All 3 birds on the background now. Next comes the stamps of the water, but I think that I'll need to carve a few more before I start the final stamping for this project.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Backgrounds with Photoshop.

Sometimes we all need some interesting backgrounds for our artwork, and I always start with my collection of photos. I have taken many photos of tree bark, cut tree logs and so on over the years and although they are all interesting and varied, they aren't always suitable just as they are. The colour might be wrong for a start. The pictures below are all of tree bark except for 2 which show the cross section of a cut log.
 It is so easy to change the colour of an image in Photoshop and one of the easiest way is just to invert the colours, so that orange for instance becomes blue.  The bark image above is much more interesting with the colour changed from dull greyish brown to a jade hue.
      The cross section of this log looks more like an ammonite or shell with the colour inverted.
         Not so interesting is this palm trunk, but it could still be used as a background, looking like mountain peaks or rocks.
             Smooth plane tree trunks can be made more interesting with the invert command.
 This one is paper bark, and the flakes of bark make for a very interesting background once the colours have been inverted.
Another cross section of a log, this time changed to green hues. It looks more like contoured fields I think.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Very Fancy!

My favourite dessert if I'm eating out is crème caramel, but I have never been given one quite like this before! The toffee was nice and thick so that it gave a satisfying crack with the spoon, but on top was layered a shortbread biscuit, 3 tiny dots of milk chocolate custard with 3 honeycomb like pieces of something on top of that and decorated with a few little pieces of greenery, exactly what I'm not sure. It was all delicious, but I would have been just as happy with the basic crème caramel on it's own!

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

 This is the embankment running down from the Temple of the Winds to the 'tan' a running track that circles the Botanic gardens. You can just see the small temple at the top of the picture. The white columns of flowers are, I think, African Lobelias or white Echium and the pink colours are flowers of a succulent.
 Although I don't need to photograph another flower for the month, I couldn't resist these Tree Peonies in the Asian garden section. They are just so huge and delicate at the same time.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Oldie but Goodie.

On a clearing purge recently I took out my original trusty 1960s Singer sewing machine from the bottom of the wardrobe. I bought it in about 1962s as a demonstration model from a city shop, so I saved a bit of money from my meagre pay packet.
 It was a very innovative machine for its day, being (I think) the very first free-arm sewing machine made. It could do all sorts of amazing stitch patterns with the addition of plastic cams to the front of the machine. You can see the black disc behind the fly wheel in the photo below.
The machine can do free- motion stitching with the addition of a covered throat plate to eliminate the drag of the feed-dogs, and as with most of the old Singer machines it came with a ruffler and various other specialised feet.
 With the cams added it could so many decorative patterns as evidenced by the pages of patterns shown in the booklet. This is just one page spread of many!
 This is the box of cams, all present and correct, a shame that one corner of the original box has been broken.
I had thought to sell this machine, but I really don't think that I can part with it.  So many memories of things sewn with it, from my wedding dress, childrens' clothes and household items such as curtains, cushions and bedspreads to butterfly nets and shade cloths.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Flower for September.

If you have looked into my Blog from time to time over the year you will have seen a picture of a textile flower each month taken from a garden that I have visited during that month. Below are 2 strikingly marked Hellebore flowers from the Garden of St Erth that I visited last week.
Below you can see that I chose to work on a flower that has already formed seed cases in the centre, rather than the more complex stamens etc shown in the flowers above.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

52 Years in the Making!

I started this woollen quilt in 1965, having had no experience whatever of patchworking. I did make all my own clothes, so I had a lot of left over fabric which I carefully stored away. For whatever reason I decided to use some of the warmer types of fabric remnants to make into a quilt, without any idea of how to proceed apart from cutting triangles. As you can see, the triangles aren't accurately cut to size, so that the whole thing is decidedly oddly shaped!
I was recently persuaded to add a backing to the 'quilt' to at least make it usable as a knee rug perhaps. Today I did that, but it really was rather difficult with the odd shape of the item. Having made a fair attempt, I'll leave it at that, knowing that the Quilt Police will never get to see it to pass judgement! It's fun remembering what bits of fabric came from what garment made all those years ago.

Friday, 22 September 2017


 This is the garden at St Erth, Here which we visited in glorious sunshine today. Quite a contrast to our visit to Coombe Cottage earlier in the week. The daffodils here in the sunshine are all out and looking magnificent.
               However, these in the shade have a week or 2 to go before being all at their best and providing a wonderful sight.
                                  I've never seen a yellow violet before and it's quite charming.
Being in a frosty area the gardeners can grow the English Primrose which wouldn't grow well down lower in the Melbourne area. These at St Erth in a shady corner were doing very well.
Although not really yellow, these Gunnera shoots caught my eye. The plants had been cut down for winter and these prehistoric looking shoots were well on their way out in the spring sunshine.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Dame Nellie Melba.

It was a very cold and windy day yesterday for our visit to Coombe Cottage, the home of Dame Nellie Melba.
We did manage a walk around the garden, but the chilly wind soon sent us indoors.
As the original house that Dame Melba lived in is still used by the family, her great grandsons, the Lords Vestey, we were unable to see inside, but I thought these 'peacock' chairs on the porch and bought by Dame Nellie were fantastic!

Not far from the chairs is a huge and over a century old oak tree the branches of which spread over 25 metres. To help support such a length of branch, gardeners have spliced one branch onto another as a brace. You can see the smaller branch coming off the trunk and growing across to the left and joining onto a lower and heavier branch. Very clever!