Hello! It's been a while, hasn't it? Have you been keeping well? Staying busy? I have a few things going on at the moment keeping me out of trouble, such as designing a range of greeting cards. I thought it was about time I jumped back into the card-making business, since I've always had such a positive response to my cards in the shops, as well as selling them online myself. My aim is always to try and make something unique, because I think as an independent artist it's important to provide an alternative to the mainstream market. Perhaps something a little bit edgier than your standard greeting card design? As well as an emphasis on originality and craftsmanship, making sure the printing, paper and envelope choices are eco-friendly and beautiful quality. Well, that's my aim anyway! One of the types of card I'm working on has a big emphasis on pattern design - I hope they'll be really beautiful when they're done! I'm really excited about them, so I'll be sure to post some photos!
More excitement...my work is featured in a new book coming out in October, published by Laurence King in the UK - they do such gorgeous art and design books, I'm so happy to be in one of them, amongst such incredibly talented artists. The book is called Low-Tech Print: Contemporary Hand-Made Printing, you can take a look at it here. Above is the cover and a sample page featuring my prints. From the write-up on their site:
Featuring a global showcase of 100 of the craft’s most exciting and influential practitioners, Low-Tech Print is an exploration of hand-made printmaking techniques and how they are used in contemporary design and illustration. It examines the huge recent resurgence in the popularity of printmaking, with chapters on screenprinting, letterpress, relief printing and other printing methods.
Speaking of printmaking, a little while ago I was interviewed for an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Riso ceasing production of the Gocco and its consumables. They're still available in limited supply, but it's still such a shame... You can take a look at that article here if you like.
A couple of weeks ago I visited the art shop and bought a new sketchbook because the lovely, textured, brown krafty paper really appealed to me, and I got some white charcoal pencils as well. I spent a couple of hours one evening, watching The Walking Dead and drawing this portrait of Django Reinhardt on the first page. This gave me the idea to fill the book with portraits, and so a little project was born: Fifty Pages, Fifty People. Whenever I have some free time, I intend to work on filling this sketchbook with more portraits. I'm hoping you might have some suggestions for potential subjects? If there's anyone interesting you think I should draw in my book, please leave your suggestions in the comments!
And one more thing before I go... You might like to take a look at this site that features a fabulous collection of vintage stereo logos and typography from old records.
This is one of my favourite secondhand book finds this year - Volume 52 of the Penrose Graphic Art Annual from 1958. I bought it from the same market as the King Penguins I posted about a few months ago, & it's in nearly perfect condition! I can't quite remember how much I paid for it, but it was something like $28 - a super-duper bargain. I would love to collect more of these, particularly the late 1930s through to 1960, but they can be a little pricey. One of the best things about this book is that it's stamped on the front endpapers with "Hardwicke Knight Collection". Upon doing a little Googling, I found out that Frederick Hardwicke-Knight was a New Zealand author, photographer & collector who died in 2008 leaving behind a lifetime's treasure trove of amazing stuff. I feel honoured to own one of his books! You can see the man himself & some of his incredible collection here. How interesting!
I thought I'd better blog about something other than recipes for a change - it's been food, food, food lately! Must be the nippy winter weather & bracing seaside walks making me peckish! Here's my latest King Penguin acquisition, Woodland Birds. It's in beautiful condition, & is the first one I've bought that still has its dust jacket. Published in 1955, it was one of the last King Penguins to be released, & is written by Phyllis Barclay-Smith & illustrated by Peter Shepheard, who also designed the gorgeous cover. The colour plates are so beautiful, don't you think?
I've posted before about the June long weekend secondhand book sale. I go every year (they had one in March this year too). As usual, I went with Mark & Stevie, & left feeling like a pirate who'd just plundered the most amazing treasure trove ever! Stevie found this big stack of King Penguin books from the 1940s (all of them $5 or $7.50 each & in pretty good condition) & in a very civilised fashion with no hair-pulling whatsoever, we went through them, picking out favourites, divvying them up so we each got to buy a few. I can't recall all of theirs, but there was one about freshwater fish, another mushroom one, wild flowers, reptiles, one about ballet, children's art, Scottish costumes - lots! Here are mine, with a couple of plates from each. The covers, as you can see, are gorgeous, & the illustrations are as fresh & rich as the day they were printed. What an amazing range of subject matter the King Penguins explore, I think I might have to collect some more - I love them so much! Popular English Art, written by Noel Carrington, illustrated by Clarke Hutton. 1945.
I went to a secondhand book sale yesterday with Mark & Stevie, & this is one of the treasures I bought - a children's pictorial dictionary from about the late 1940s-early 1950s. I love that it's Australian & features some familiar images, such as the galah I included in my montage below & the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Stevie spotted the book first & knew I'd love it because of the incredible endpapers (above). I love the vivid colours & the weird juxtaposition of images.
Mark also found an amazing design book from the 1950s for me - I'll show you some pictures of that one another time. It's nice to rummage at book sales with friends who can keep an eye out for things you'll love!
In other news, I was interviewed for The Finders Keepers blog recently, where I talked a little about my influences & work process. If you're interested, you can read it here.
Before I get started singing the praises of Golden Books, I'm happy to announce that my contact page has just been freshly installed on my site! Come & help me test that everything's working & in order, by sending me an email. Just come & say hi, & I'll say hi back! I was going to put my info page up today too, but it's getting late & I have dinner to make (vegan leek & "feta" pastries!), so I'll make sure to do it during the week.
Now, down to business... I bet a lot of you grew up reading Golden Books. I love that they were such an accessible way to get kids reading & appreciating great illustration. Earlier this week, I was working on a picture, & it occurred to me that it was strangely reminiscent of the spine & endpapers of a Golden Book. It was purely incidental, but it just goes to show what sponges we are as children. How the things we read impact on us in such a profound way. Googling Golden Books today, I discovered this fabulous blog, sadly no longer updated, but it's a little gold[en book]mine of mid-20th century illustration. I've posted the merest snippet of what you'll find there, from some of my favourite illustrators, such as Richard Scarry & the amazing Alice & Martin Provensen. I owned this edition of A Child's Garden of Verses & a few of their other books. I wish I still had them!
Here are some of the gorgeous illustrations from my favourite book when I was three - Nurseryland Annual 1970 - an illustrated book of poetry.
I loved poetry when I was a young'un, & loved this book in particular because of the beautiful pictures. Google hasn't been very enlightening about the book's illustrator, simply credited as Hutchings, but what a talented artist - I love his use of textures. I thought these pictures were so magical when I was little, in fact I still do! I loved this book so much, it eventually fell apart. My mum repaired it with tape, which you can see in the third image. I could have Photoshopped that out when I scanned the pages, but I think seeing the repairs on this beloved old book is kind of nice!
Is it too early to make Christmas Balls? That's the question on everyone's lips, isn't it? Look at this glorious creation - a Giant Christmas Ball from a book I picked up at a secondhand book fair a few months ago, Fun With Wool by Michael Joseph, published in 1975. Being a 70s kid myself, this is just the kind of book I love, full of fun pics & projects.
I think I might make one of these big, joyous pom-pom clusters. Don't you just love the colour combo they've chosen? Just in case you want to make one too (& why wouldn't you?!), here's the accompanying instructions. There's plenty of info about how to make pom-poms available (if you didn't happen to spend your childhood rhythmically threading wool through cardboard rings), so I won't worry with that - here's the bit about the Giant Christmas Ball itself:
Materials: Orange, pink & violet wool; a ball of polystyrene 12cm (4.75") in diameter; pins 4cm (1.5") long.
Take two discs 3.6cm (1.4") in diameter, with a central hole 1cm (.4") in diameter & make 22 orange pom-poms, 27 pink pom-poms, 27 violet pom-poms, taking care to fill the central hole completely.
Pin the pom-poms to the polystyrene ball, arranging the colours as shown in the picture.
Crochet a chain of 120 stitches. Knot the two ends together & pin one end of the loop to the polystyrene ball.
I'm thinking an even bigger polystyrene ball would be great. I might use ribbon for the loop instead (I can't crochet), & make it more secure by gluing it around the circumference of the ball before attaching the pom-poms. And maybe using fine wire bent into a u-shape to attach the pom-poms might be a bit better than using pins.
Let's deck the halls with pom-pom balls this Christmas!
I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the other great images from Fun With Wool...
Well, I set my alarm for an indecently early hour on Saturday morning (& promptly snoozed through it) because it was the opening day of an annual secondhand book sale, held every June long weekend, that I never miss. Arriving an hour later than desired with two friends, we set about struggling through the dense throng of rummagers in the hopes of getting our grubby hands on some coveted treasures. Side note: Coincidentally, the three of us were wearing fair isle jumpers (or sweaters, if you like to call them that) & so inadvertently set a new book sale trend. We're thinking next year everyone will be resplendent in fair isle, but by then we'll have moved onto houndstooth or paisley or something.
These book sales are brutal. Secondhand book collectors are a particularly aggressive breed. After jostling through the masses, feverishly (& rather possessively) stooped over trestles piled with dusty books, I finally unearthed a few bargains that made the struggle worthwhile. Actually, it was my friend Mark who found this little beauty for me.