Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Roll the presses....

Ready to print

It took most of yesterday afternoon, but I finished carving out the lino block I wanted to use to print my bookplates.

Oddly enough, I found this Celtic ornament carved into some brownstone that was capping off a stairrail in front of a very elegant private home near my hotel in New York City's Upper West Side. Liked it so much, I had to have a picture, and it looks quite nice here too.

This afternoon, I made 100 3.5"-square prints of this -- the type is set and will be run tomorrow -- which, surprisingly, took a little less than two hours. I could get real used to doing letterpress work.

Just what I don't need: more equipment to go along with yet-another new jargon collection. My brain already aches from everything I've had to absorb in the last nine days.

This morning, I trimmed, sewed, backed, and lined the spine on a lovely letterpressed text block of an original story (autographed even) by Philip Roth. I'm using some of my marbled papers from last week as the endpapers and cover, and also gold-stamping the title on the spine.

Case-building and stamping will be tomorrow morning's fun and excitement.

But now it's time to go home, pour myself a beverage, and fix some dinner....

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Saturday in the park....

Saturday in the Park

Central Park, that is....

Well, I eventually made it to Wilkes-Barre, PA (that's in the NE corner of Pennsylvania) on Thursday. My flight was an hour late leaving Chicago, and it turned out that instead of heading for Chicago when I left Calgary, my suitcase took the scenic route through Denver: it was delivered to my doorstep just after midnight that day.

Needless to say, by the time it did show up, I was exhausted, slightly hysterical, and altogether burned out.

Friday morning, I headed through the Delaware Water Gap to New York City, where I spent 1982-1985 in a very unhappy marriage, but where I went to design school and grew up a lot.

After taking my H&H bagels to Central Park Saturday morning, where I took this shot, I headed up to The Cloisters, at the northern end of Manhattan, and thought a lot about where I had been and what I had been doing in the 20+ years since I had last been there.

And then Sunday, I headed back to Wilkes-Barre, where I now sit typing away, to start two weeks of high-intensity bookbinding: this morning, I learned how to marble paper, and I'll start working on some projects soon. As I'm the only student, it's more of a mentorship program than "classwork," which suits me just fine.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

On the road

Grab your coat and grab your hat

I'm packed up.

Figured out what I want to enter at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival's knitting competition. Got lots of maps and reservations. Friends to have meals and visits with. Lots of fun, mixed with hard work.

Have been excessively hyper, and then calmed down. Got knitting to do in the evenings, 550 songs loaded on my iPod, a giant economy pack of blades for my Olfa knife, and shopping lists.

As much as I can be, I'm ready.

Next missive from the wilds of northeastern Pennsylvania....

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Let the second season begin!

Despite being a team that most commentators figured at the beginning of the year would have a hard time even making the playoffs, the Montréal Canadiens did not surprise me by finishing first in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League.

And they couldn't ask for a better (well better, assuming you want the Habs to win) opponent than the Boston Bruins, who the Canadiens beat eight straight times this past regular season.

(If you're wondering what a hoi polloi, pugilistic sport like hockey is doing in this terribly cultural and high-brow blog, keep in mind that I wrote my Masters thesis on making National Hockey League arenas more accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments. I've been a serious Canadiens fan since reading Roch Carrier's Le chandail de hockey.)

With luck, that series will be over before I head off for a jam-packed weekend in New York City, followed by two weeks of bookbinding classes with Don Rash, and then a trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

As up-and-down as the playoff run has been for Montréal, it's been a bit that way here as well. With 400+ applicants looking for $7.5M, when the Canada Council's Alberta Creative Development Initiative only had $1M -- later doubled -- to hand out, my pending grant fell into the majority that lost out. I'd feel better about not getting grants if there was some good, concrete reason (like it's a bad project or you write poor grants), but not simply too many people chasing very little money.

On top of that, the one project (The Zebra Book) that made the second jury cut for the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild won't be included in the national tour, although it will be included at the International Festival of Artists, held at Harbourfront in Toronto the end of October.

And last, but certainly not least, before I make like a hockey player and get the puck out of town, I am creating a fibre-based Artist Trading Card (ATC) to trade with Susan Lenz that will be included in her upcoming show Cyber Fiber, which will be on display at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, 808 Lady Street, Columbia, SC, USA from January 8 through 20, 2009.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Plugging along

Another "in progress"  work

I'm finally starting to pick up fibre projects that I put down awhile ago to get some books out the door, and the break has been productive. It's amazing how one's perspective changes when you haven't looked at them for awhile.

The picture above is a good example: the cords are about 1 cm (3/8") in diameter, and I'm going to use them as warp and weft to create a take-off of my family's tartan pattern for a project I've been messing around with for awhile.

Black and white are commercial Merino roving (I haven't spun any of the black yet), while the red is Corriedale: for the uninitiated, those breeds of sheep produce fleeces that are generally very soft and fine, with lots of crimp (the sheep equivalent of curly).

That quality, particularly in a processed roving, means that once you loosen the fibres up, it's very easy to spin them consistently and results in a very springy singles.

Straight off my bobbins, I ran them through my little I-cord machine (similar to Inox's seemingly now-defunct Strickmühle) and turned each bobbin into a fist-sized ball of cord, which, when I'm finished, I'll start warping a wooden frame constructed from canvas stretchers.

What I've found interesting in the spinning and knitting is the minor change in colour between the roving and the finished cord: the red is just slightly darker, while the white takes on almost a creamy overtone. I'll be curious to see what happens with the black.

And not that I'm counting, but two weeks' tomorrow, I leave for my adventure in the United States. I've got a seriously hardcore itinerary, particularly for my weekend in New York City, that I'm looking forward to implementing.

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