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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

I took today off work to attend Craft and Design as a career, Craft Victoria’s professional development seminar held as part of the annual Craft Cubed festival. I really should take days away from my corporate desk job to immerse myself in the big wide world that exists outside Docklands more often!

The speakers at today’s event included such craft and design identities as Beci Orpin, Hello Sandwich and Alexi Freeman. I was struck by the humility of all of them; each spoke of themselves humbly, of many many unpaid projects, and expressed genuine surprise when people they consider to be much more accomplished have approached them to work on a collaborative project. The value of collaboration was a key theme that shone through most of the narratives, with a consistent observation that collaboration results in outcomes far greater than the sum of the parts.

I was particularly impressed by Patrick Pittman, editor of Dumbo Feather, who spoke with eloquence and passion. For those of you who are not aware, Dumbo Feather is a quarterly print magazine that profiles extraordinary people through interviews. The magazine’s name is taken from the story of Dumbo the elephant, whose ‘magic feather’ helped him gain the confidence to fly. Ultimately Dumbo learns to fly without his feather – but it’s the trigger that pushes him to prove his doubters wrong.

Today I learned that for those making a career in arts, craft and design, the ‘feather’ of success isn’t anything magic, but hard work, persistence and jumping in the deep end and ‘doing it’.

If anything, the magic feather is the talent and passion these people apply to what they love – very inspirational.

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So today I was lucky enough to get a day off work. I had grand plans for what I would acheive, namely update my Etsy shop with the bits and bobs I’ve been working on lately.

Eight, (yes 8!) hours later, I am finally ready to sit down with a glass of wine and relax. Taking product pictures all day, setting up shop profiles etc has been just about as taxing as a day in the office!

Hopefully I will retain some of the ‘lessons learned’, and will be more efficient at photography in future (which will mean I don’t need to re-take a certain angle 5 times to get it right!).

Meanwhile – please do check out my Etsy shop – chock-a-block full of new goodies!

Today, the camera was my best friend!

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This is a little belated, but I’ve been meaning to post a few pics of the letterpress studio I’ve set up since arriving back home in Oz.

This pic sums up the studio space: letterpress cabinet housing my loose type collection, and shelves for furniture are set against the wall. Most other essential supplies (letterpress related or otherwise) are stored underneath the collections of coffee tables I’ve pushed together in lieu of a continuous work bench. One day, I tell myself, we’ll get a custom bench made with excellent storage built in!

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(Can you tell I’ve been playing with some iPad photo app with these pics??!)

The beam set in the wall provides a convenient magnetic board for pinning inspiration. To the left is my book press, (a birthday present from T), and further shelves storing paper, envelope, cello bag and twine supplies.

The Adana sits on the sturdiest table / bench we have at the right height for me to work.

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I love the silhouette of the Adana in this picture, looking out towards our balcony, through which lots of natural light floods my work space. If you look carefully, you’ll see a couple of pieces of paper stuck to the balcony walls.

These are pizza menus written by T for an evening with friends the night before I took the studio shots. It would be remiss of me not to include a snap one of the highlights from that evening (fresh fig, honey and goat’s cheese pizza. Devine.)

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Like many (crafty) youngsters in the 1980s and 90s, my mother introduced me to the fine art of cross-stitch, which I attempted once or twice with little patience and rare satisfaction. Partially complete cross-stitch swatches from my youth still languish in my sewing basket today!

I was recently introduced to blackwork, which is simple embroidery using black thread, through Sonia Lucano’s book, Made In France – Blackwork. I was immediately captivated by the possibilities of this cousin of cross-stitch, the book’s blurb hints at the goodness inside: “You’ll be seduced by this timeless and elegant form of embriodery.” Indeed I was.

A far cry from the fusty cross-stitch patterns of the past, Blackwork is full of contemporary inspiration and designs that translate effortlessly into the stylish home. (Okay, I am yet to embroider a tea-towel, but it’s not far off!).

PLUS I was curious to explore the mash-up of blackwork and letterpress. I finally got my chance to mash-it when my friend Ingrid had her first baby, beautiful Elise Grace, last month. I designed this card and matching envelope based on some of the themes in Blackwork, and was very pleased with the results.

Perhaps it will be my duty to introduce Elise to cross-stitch (or preferably blackwork!!) one day…..

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I could never have anticipated that my first post upon returning to Australia would disclose the acquisition of Heidelberg platen 10×15 press – but it’s true!  Just three days after landing I was sleepless with jetlag, and late night eBay browsing (‘just to see what’s out there’) led me directly to this letterpress, listed here in Melbourne! Good fortune in bidding fell my way – and whilst there’s a bit of work needed to get the machine up and running (a new single phase motor or transformer is in order) – my mind is spinning with the possibilities this addition will bring.

The letterpress delivery and installation was a sight to behold: firstly a remote controlled mechanical arm lifted the machine from the back of the delivery truck and deposited it in the garage.

Then our expert removalist (ably assisted by T) used two metal rods to set up a roller base, and rolled the press towards its destination.  T was comparing himself to an Egyptian pyramid builder! It was surprising how effective this simple approach was for moving a one tonne press!  I’m happy to report all fingers are intact.

Finally, the biggest crowbar ever and pure brute strength manoeuvred the press into position.

Fingers crossed it’s not too long before the Heidelberg is inked up and printing once again.

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…amazing to have an extensive collection of type faces to play with!

During my final weeks in London I’ve been going through an accelerated acquisition phase in the interests of expanding my meagre collection.  Here are the latest members of my type-face family.  No time for experimenting with it just yet – as packing has begun – but it will be a real treat to print with as soon as I’m back in Australia.

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I acquired my first set of type before I knew too much about letterpress, at the 2008 Handmade and Bound book and zine fair, held at St Aloysius Social Club near Euston, London. Amongst the stacks of gorgeous handmade books and awesome zines, I found this little beauty – a full alphabet of what looks like typewriter font, hand cut out of erasers!

How very impressive – I think this was the product someone’s college design project. Can you imagine the patience that went into crafting these?

PS: I will not be printing with these on the Adana!

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