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Monday, 23 February 2015

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Work In Progress & Finished Book - Personal Histories Exhibition

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Finished Book

This book was made for the Personal Histories Exhibition. It was not the book I first intended to make  - I was going to use the Twinkle Story - however, I just could not make this book work. I wanted it to have a glossy cover but could not get any paper that satisfied all my requirements i.e. the look and the feel, printed well, and could withstand a bit of man handling (!) when gluing and using the bone folder. I was disappointed, I thought I wouldn't be able to take part, but one morning (lying in bed!) the idea for a new book came to me - it came from this blog post about one of my typewriter ramblings
Initially I didn't think the book would be suitable for the Personal Histories project, but then when I started to think about (really hard 'til it hurt!) I realised it was actually perfect. As I made the book and started to type up the Read Me that goes into the back pocket I realised how much it was a part of my personal history, much more than I had ever realised before.

Another thing that happened, was that everything seemed to come together really quickly. I already had all the paper and card (for the cover) - left overs from other projects. The 2 stamps for the images I used were from 2 other books I had made. That is not to say it was a really easy to make - there were the usual hiccups along the way, failed experiments and my printer breaking down.

There's No Such Thing Seagulls, Signatures and Covers Cut

All Covers & Signatures Cut

This is probably the simplest book I have ever made in terms of construction - not a hardcover, no gluing or cutting book board. The most difficult thing was all the typing. The typed text in the book pages was easy. I've come up with my own technique for alignment and measurement on the typewriter and there wasn't a lot of text. However! I decided to be put a short 'Read Me' at the back in pocket - it was half an A4's worth of typing. My original intention was to type it once get a good copy - scan this in and then print 10 copies (the book is an edition of 10).  My printer had other ideas....so I ended up typing all 10.

When I started I thought there is no way I can type this 10 times - I'd done a few practice runs - but in the end I managed it. I made mistakes but I learned ways to amend them. My RSA I typing training started to come back to me.  I learned to touch type in South Bristol College in the early 90's on an electronic IBM and got a distinction in my exam! I remember buying my little typing kit from WH Smith with the special pencil eraser and brush etc. Its weird to think now that stationery shops sold stuff like that.  I remember part of the training was correcting your mistakes and the tricks and techniques came back to me, I had totally forgotten about this even though I still have my certificate! Unfortunately the only photo I have of all 10 copies typed up is this awful one below. My hands were probably trembling after all the typing!

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Typing Text for Read Me

So not only did the book tell the story of part of my personal history - the making of it resurrected another part that I had forgotten about. I began to think about my long relationship with typewriters. The first typewriter I used was a very old Underwood (looking at photos it was probably a 1930s one).  My mother found some of my old  typewriter ramblings when she was doing a clear-out at home and posted them to me.  Looking back on it I was about 12 when I started playing with the typewriter.  I also forgot how much concentration it takes when you are using a manual typewriter - it was quite exhausting!

You may also notice my lovely grey felt typewriter pad in the photo above. Very good for muffling some of the loud tapetty tap tap that drives my boyfriend nuts! I got it from My Typewriter It was expensive but I looked all over and this seemed the thickest and best quality. It fits all my manual typewriters (5 in total now!).

It wasn't until I got right to the end of the book and had nearly finished that I realised that if it was not for the events described in the story I might not even be making books today. Then I felt a bit stupid in totally overlooking this and not realising it was such a big part of my personal history. The 'Read Me' explanation is similar to the blog post but slightly amended, with some other thoughts. If you've got good eyesight you may be able to read it from the photo below.

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Read Me

I can't fully remember how I first started to use typewriter text for my rubber stamps but I seem to remember it has a lot to with font snobbery! Why else would I torture myself with choosing a really difficult serif font to carve instead of nice plain Verdana or Tahoma. I carved the text for the cover using the same method I had used for Nest Building Perils & Pleasures - all the text in that book was carved by hand (I must have been mad).

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Text Drawn On Rubber

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, First Cut Rubber

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Text Stamp In Progress

I am really happy with the way the cover text looks and it printed beautifully with a Memento Grey Flannel ink pad.

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Text Stamp In Progress

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Finished Book

I used a 5-hole pamphlet stitch to sew it and decided to round the corners. I used an X-Cut 5mm corner punch for this. It did a good job on the thick 250gsm Somerset paper for the signatures and the Daler Rowney Canford Card (Dreadnought Grey) for the cover.

There's No Such Thing As Seagulls, Sewing Pamphlet Stitch

I am quite happy with the end result and it has been posted to the lovely Robyn Foster who is coordinating this exhibition. I would like to take this opportunity to also say thanks to Robyn for all her hard work and patience organising this. Sounds like a nightmare of a task!

You can see all the Work In Progress and Completed Book here.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Robin, Rubber Stamp Print

I've been thinking about making a Robin print for a long time and had a few requests for one.  After a visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall I was inspired again to make one and more importantly finally got round to doing it.

The first time I visited the Eden Project I thought the bird song was a recording, but then found out that the cheeky little Robins had taken up residence in the bio-domes.

Again strange things started happening when I was photographing the print outside - there was a robin in a tree above me. Something similar happened when I photographed my Goldfinch print. I wonder how they know? ;-)

Robin Moleskine

Here are some photos of the stamp in progress. I did a drawing from a photograph I took at my parents house in Ireland. I did some tests with my inkpads to make sure I had the right colours. I ordered 3 different inkpads trying to get the rust/orange colour right and finally ended up using one I already had -  Memento Tangelo - but stamping it twice to get the depth of colour.

Original Drawing for Robin Print

Original Drawing and Photograh

First Cut, Robin Stamp

First Cut - outline

Robin Stamp, In progress

Almost finished - Experimenting with colouring pencils

Robin Stamp, Nearly Finished

Nearly there - testing inkpad colours

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Pressure Printing, UWE, Bristol


This post is long overdue!  I did this course in July of this year, I posted the photos on Flickr and never got round to writing about it.

Here is a description from the UWE Website:

"Stratography or Pressure Printing is an innovative and experimental technique that uses a flexible plate attached to the cylinder of the press underneath the printing paper and is run through the press over an inked block. The pressure from the low-relief collage displaces the ink and produces beautiful, delicate, soft-edged qualities, not usually associated with relief printing techniques."

The course was led by the Lovely Angie Butler  seen in the above photo poised at the wonderful Vandercook Press. On the press is MDF with a piece of clear acrylic on top - this will be inked up. 


1. So first we inked the rollers.

Rollers Inked up Vandercook Press

2. Rollers inked up.


3. Then turn the handle to ink the block underneath.


4. Block inked up - the block is Type High.


5. Sheet of Acetate placed over the rollers of the press and inked up for registration.


6. Acetate Inked up


7. Registration


8. Registration marks on plate. 

In this case the plate is a piece of paper with some paper cut up to make a pattern. It looks really basic but the result is beautiful.


9. Putting the plate directly on to the rollers - using acetate for registration.

So the plate is placed directly on the rollers. The paper is then placed on top of this  - rolled over the ink block - picks up the ink from the block underneath and takes the impression from the plate.

If you look at picture 5 where the acetate is put on - the paper is placed in the same position - under the metal clips - and then you roll the press.


Finished Print

So here is my plate - surprise, surprise its a feather :-)


We weren't too sure how this would turn out because it had not been tried before. I attached it to the acetate with PVA which was little tricky.



Very pleased with the result. Angie was very surprised at the fine detail picked up by the feather. As always it was a really enjoyable course at UWE, great tutor with a lot of patience, extremely knowledgeable and excellent facilities. I would thoroughly recommend it.


One thing I really like about the process is - for every print you take the ink gets more and more faded. At the end you are left with an impression on the block of your image.


You can then remove the plate and take a print from the block alone which gives a lovely subtle affect - below.


2015 courses have not been all published yet but I suppose I will be back again like a bad penny. I've been going there since 2006 and have managed to do a course almost every year.  There is a running joke that they've run out of courses for me to do ;-)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Kodak Brownie 127

Kodak Brownie 127

This is my latest Camera! Got it for £2 at a car boot sale. This was the first camera I ever used when I was about 12 or so. Its made of Bakelite! I love it. Of great sentimental value.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Goldfinch, Rubber Stamp Print

Goldfinch Print

I've been making a new print. This one was in my head for a while. It was quite difficult to do, starting with an original drawing and trying to figure out how it will be cut and how I will print it.

Here is the rubber stamp ready to be cut.

And then finally cut and test print.

I've also printed it on to a Moleskine.

Goldfinch Moleskine

When I was photographing the print in the tree I could hear a Goldfinch singing away behind me. I haven't seen them on my feeder yet, but I hope the come soon.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Roni Gross, I See You Everywhere, Arnolfini, Bristol

Went to see this exhibition (curated by Nancy Campbell) today at the Arnolfini in Bristol with the Lovely Angie Butler

"I See You Everywhere showcases 25 years of Valentines published by the Artist Roni Gross under the imprint of Zitouna Press. These limited editions consider love and human relationships as they are articulated across society, from song lyrics to sign language, from hunting to horticulture........Gross made her first printied multiple celebrating Valentine's Day in 1989 and since then has used the annual festival to challenge the predicatble graphics and social constructs surrounding romance...."

Myself and Ms Butler had not met up for almost a year so it was nice to have a catch up and combine it with this exhibition. Beautiful letterpress work and gorgeous books.  Angie (being the expert!) was able to explain some of the techniques used.  

The exhibition runs until Sunday 2nd March. If you don't manage to catch it there will be a companion exhibition with works created for Halloween They Cast No Shadows (love the title) at the Centre for Fine Print Research (Bristol) in October. If you're a letterpress geek don't miss it!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Crow Friends

These are the crows I feed in the park. This pair are usually waiting for me and they make a racket in the trees when they see me walk past! I know its the same pair because the one on the right has 2 white tail feathers.  Ocasionally another crow tries to muscle in but they chase it off. I feed them meal worm which is nice and light to carry in my handbag :-) They fly down immediately after I put the food down and are getting cheekier all the time. One day after I fed them they flew after me and made a racket so I gave them a second helping.

I remember reading an article in the RSPB Membership magazine and it said that if you see two crows together they are usually a lifelong pair, if you see three its probably parents and their offspring (you usually notice that one of the crows is smaller and scruffier looking), more than three - are the crows who have not found a mate yet, non-breeding crows. So these two must be a lifelong pair.  I've noticed that they also take turns in acting as a look-out while one feeds.


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