Tuesday, 18 March 2014

✳︎✳︎✳︎ L E T T E R I N G ✳︎✳︎✳︎

After a whirlwind canter around last weeks blog hop I'm back with "What I did at the weekend". Do they still make you write up your weekend memoirs in junior school on a Monday? I used to make mine up to make them sound more interesting and guess what? 
I still do. 

The sun shone and glittered over London town this weekend, accompanied by the sound of footballs, shrill squeals of delighted children, along with the hiss of opening beer bottles and the odd glimpse of a flapping sheet hung out to dry. I decide to get busy with some paper and pens and practising my lettering skillz. I wanted to try something out for a friend's new business as well as hone up my general thoughts about lettering and how I want to approach it. I want to prepare for this.

I  bought these letter cards at Paperchase which I quite liked, I wanted to buy the whole set but then in my usual miserly fashion, I thought I could make some. I think this about almost everything I see which makes me actually brilliant to go shopping with as I discourage purchases with my refrain. I enjoy buying less and living more as I pile on the years. I recite this when I look at Things I Want. My anti consumer chant.

I cut a pile of watercolour card into 110 x 70 mm pieces and set about freehand painting some borders. At this point I was simply doodling with no plan of action. I find this works for me, you may work better after doing a few sketches. I would rather dive in and make mistakes, I have learned so much from doing just that. The only thing I am going to lose is a bit of paper and I repurpose my mistakes into cards and labels so Nothing Gets Wasted. (another miserly chant)
A good sharp scalpel, a steel ruler and a cutting mat are invaluable, if you want to make any paper based items, buy these now. They last forever and make all the difference. When I was teaching at The Make Lounge (which has sadly closed) everyone loved the tips and hints I gave them about measuring well and cutting cleanly. The way you hold the ruler and the scalpel are quite important but not very easy to explain without you watching what I do. You will have to come to one of my workshops. I will let you know when they will begin. (still got a chimney stack to come down and a floor to lay)
I love watercolours, if you buy really good ones they last forever and you only need a tiny dot of colour to make a lot of paint and best of all, you don't need to rinse your palettes as a little water refreshes them and they seem to live forever.

Here's me painting on borders and trying not to think about the end result except when I decided to use some masking fluid. Then you have to think about 2 steps ahead.

Here's some borders waiting to be filled.

And here are my letter cards when I had finished. I was so engrossed that I forgot to take during shots. But I jumped in with the watercolour on a big brush with a beautifully pointed tip and then doodled them over with a few scratchy pen and ink lines...Some of them are badly executed but they are the ones I learned the most from. I'm not hiding them away, this isn't that sort of blog. ;-)

And here's some single shots of my favourites.

Yeah, they need work but they fuel other things...

It was a really great play around with some good old fashioned doodling and I relished it. I find that doing something like this really gets my mind pinging ideas around and now I have a whole set of ideas to practise. I want to get the paints out again but I have to knuckle down to some 'proper' work this week. 

I did a project similar to this in a junior school and I encouraged every child to draw me a letter which I then scanned and turned into a jaw dropping font for the school magazine we were designing. 
Here's a glimpse.

The kids loved it. I spoke to them about letter design and typography including showing them Jessica Hische's Daily Drop Cap which they all loved. Then they designed their own letters, the image above is just a glimpse into the huge body of work we did around that project. Apologies for the gloomy pictures in low light on a dark winter's afternoon. Wish I had taken better ones.

I do love a nice lot of pictures on a blog post and I am sure you all do too. Hence the endless images....Thank you for reading today, come back again soon. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

⊙ The day they let me loose in a paper factory ⊙

If you are new here then you are very welcome. 
Come on in 
Don't be a stranger.

The following is a piece I wrote whilst teaching a group of deaf Nepali girls how to make books a couple of years ago. We shared no common language, I taught by sign language and demonstrating and gentle tweaking on shoulders. The girls had been rescued from trafficking, they were learning to make crafts in order to survive. I volunteered to teach them and spent a couple of months in Kathmandu alternating between extreme home sickness and a propensity to stay forever. I did come home but I have never forgotten.

This is my homage to paper, dry soft skin and thin mountain air.


I'm being driven through Kathmandu in Nepal, in a taxi, seats furnished with bathroom mats and a very sweet, earnest driver, we swerve around school buses with drivers glassy eyed and leaning into mobile phones.
School girls with long, once white woollen tights scatter across city highways, over shawled and over wrinkled old ladies wander through heavy traffic. 
Vehicles suddenly go into reverse and one way means actually any way you like?
everyone shrugs and moves over
this would enrage the British, the rules; what about the rules?

A surplus of sadness pills in my stomach, that life can be so fragile, that this is it...here we are, all leaning like dominoes on each others ability to think clearly, to move in turn, to skim over imminent disaster like rice rolling in an oiled pan 
no mans land:
no rules land

Oil and water, I dream of them, I'm inhaling dust here,
this airless, dirtbowl of a city,
my feet are cracking open and I have callouses on my toe pads
I'm becoming old before I'm ready
the dust settling into my lines and widening the cracks,
the thinning and drying of skin and surface whilst everything still boils and rages underneath

I am still a volcano

I reach up and out and in
over and over
feet grinding into ground that could tilt into an emergency
I'm holding on to the sides of my yoga mat in a rush of electrical storm
in a gale of thunder cracks and dry lightening

evening storms canter around the valley like dice in a cup
drying up
rolling up
spitting me out at dawn
wide awake, I recognise a cuckoo's song;
it's Springtime in Kathmandu
I'm here, I'm here

I dream of an oasis, a sea, a pool? a wetness that isn't here
I'm landlocked
I never felt so far from the quench

We survive the journey to the paper factory on a bus racing 
car chasing, 
motorbike ricocheting 
piece of road, 
"the factory highway "

Lots of industry gathered in one place, 
past the Rose Garden Restaurant and the lone petrol pump.. 
I enter through the grey gates held open by a small walk on character part Nepali
verging on the role of oriental doorkeeper of some exotic brothel, a twinkle in his toes
a query in his eyes? He should be in the movies...He is in this one, mine.

And I'm in the paper factory, a huge hanger of a building
Wide open at each end and tables in the murky dark with workers all masked
breathing in paper dust all day. 
I'm glad to see a kitchen, lunch being prepared for workers, this isn't a sweat shop
this is a good business here.
A sign proclaims they do not employ children.

The production manager is a sweetheart, he indulges my over excitement and lets me roam the factory sighing and distracting his workers. I am spoiled, suffocated by choice, overwhelmed by colour combos and size and weight and colour.

sewn book blocks
I'm here to buy paper for book covers, these are the sewn book blocks that I have taught the girls to make. And below is the first stack that I dare to rifle through. It's too much, even for me who likes nothing more than fanning through reams of print and colour.
too much choice

It's everywhere, piled high, a laundry of assorted flora.

paper towers

paper carnation

Giant carnations of pink chrysanthemum, I am high on giant dry flowers.

paper dyeing

The garden is the dyeing department, a dip into green then a spreading and a sunbathe.

paper spreading

paper drying

die maps

The paper die cutting department, located in a leaning shed...a huge press and these paper dies looking like architectural room plans. I'm in love with their lines, their ability to cut precise sharp creases. The kiss of paper, the hiss of press.

die map

die map 2


dotty spots

my booty

And ladies applying dots of colour to boxes, labouring under a rare sunbeam that spotlights spots in the dreary dark.

These last sheets are some of my buying decisions. 
They are already attached to books...drying now in the quiet studio.

Here I am
Coating myself in ointments and creams
exporting paper reams and dreams of the sea.


The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight. And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here.

Majo Bautista / Tona Bell / Louise Best / Cathy Bluteau / Jennifer Bomgardner / Giova Brusa / Lindsay Buck / Beka Buckley / Joanna Caskie / Jonathan Chapman (Mr Yen) / Halle Cisco / Sarah Clare / Cathryn Clarge / Dawn Clarkson / Rhiannon Connelly / Jenny D'Fuego / Molly Dhiman / Ian Dudley / Ayisatu Emore / Akmal Farid / Monika Forsberg / Claire Fritz-Domeney / Louise Gale / Chrissy Gaskell / Julie Hamilton / Emma Hawman / Rachel Hazell / Holly Helgeson / Claudine Hellmuth / Kim Henkel / Sarah Hoffman / Joanne Hus / Paula Joerling / Beth Kempton / Julie Kirk / Eos Koch / Katie LaClair / Kristy Lankford / Michelle Manolov / Doreen Marts / Rosie Martinez-Dekker / Tori Mears / Maria Mederios / Lise Meijer / Debbie Miller / MaryJane Mitchell / Suzy Naidoo / Grace Noel / Hannah Nunn / Camilla Olsson / Jo Packham / Rachelle Panagarry / Monette Pangan / Melanie Paul / Nicole Piar / Jen Pitta / Liz Plummer / Julie Reed / Michelle Reynolds / Lisa Rivas / Angee Robertson / Natalie Ryan / Aisling Ryan / Elisabet Sapena / Kyrrha Sevco / Jamie Sprague / Elizabeth Steele / Terri Stephens / Juniper Stokes / Mary Tanana / Maike Thoma / Linda Tieu / Gabrielle Treanor / Tammy Tutterow / Deborah Velasquez / Jordan Vinograd Kim / Cat Whipple / Brooke Witt / Katie Wood / Amelia Woodbridge

Friday, 7 March 2014

⚛ The Greatest Show on Earth ⚛

I am running in circles and squealing at my decision to take a sign painting course....
A fairground art sign writing extravaganza.


I've been drawing and doodling lots of letter forms lately and whilst living in London I see some very splendid signs and handwritten notices. I have always been drawn towards 3D and shadow work in letterforms and when I was a teenager 3,000 years ago it was all I did when I had a piece of paper and a pen. I didn't know about typography or fonts then. Only album covers. 

As part of my commitment to learn something new every year (last year was doing my maths GCSE which I passed ..YAY but it wasn't very exciting, it was very useful when I had to work out how many materials to buy for my new workshop-more on that soon) this year, I have chosen to go on this sign writing course. Quite simply, I want to paint signs. I want to know what kinds of paints to use and how to use one of those sticks with a ball on the end for support. There must be a lifetime of learning to absorb. I am sure I will be full of terminology and lung damage from inhaling paint fumes after my week of study. Of course, I am not going to be an expert after a week but I have got some of the skillz needed surely? The course is taught by a very skilled traditional fairground painter and that is the style we will learn. In a working fairground yard with real life examples all around us. Can you imagine? What a thrill.

Here is a circus inspired picture  I made last year. I only had a box of cheap child's paints but I really got into using them, the pastels seduced me and I ended up raiding the local toy shop for a lifetime's supply.

The colours inspire me, I might see if I can make a pastel coloured circus style sign...lead myself away from the traditional style. I guess it will depend on the materials available.

I've been pinning HERE onto a circus/fairground board for inspiration...feel free to send me any via pinterest. 
I'm already worried about Ms and Os and Ss. I've stopped obsessing about building materials and I'm back on track thinking about Words. 
Delicious words, letters and swirls.

I can't wait. It's not until November so I have ages to decide which word I should paint first? 
Any ideas? 
What word or short phrase would you paint?