Oh yes, there’s more!
Stay tuned for more tedious repetition of the same stereotype!
A bit short this month, but June is always busy…
Company Of Liars by Karen Maitland
The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and Other Stories by Yann Martell
Ripley’s Game by Patricia Highsmith (a re-read)
and dipping in and out of:
Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East by Venetia Porter
and about to begin
Travels In The Scriptorium by Paul Auster
More mixed musical magic…
Songs in A&E by Spiritualized
Cassadega by Bright Eyes
I, Flathead by Ry Cooder
Ichi-On by Sabu Orimo
Indepenant Intavenshun by Linton Kwesi Johnson
Years of Refusal by Morrissey
Takk… by Sigur Rós
Orphans by Tom Waits
The Good Child, Murder Ballads and Abbatoir Blues by Nick Cave
Maverick a Strike by Finley Quay
Kopernik by Kopernik
Anywhere I lay My Head by Scarlett Johansson
Blood Money by Tom Waits
I recently blagged a few old piano keys from Matt. I don’t know why I wanted some, but I was moved by the beauty of Matt’s FMP and his use of frames to stage a viewpoint. The dismembered piano was fascinating (you don’t think about the other end of the keys) and guess I just wanted to have some to look at, handle and be inpired by. Here are some images I took earlier this evening, presented as a series of Polaroids – please don’t ask why.
Each year, a group of students or an individual presents me with a gift as they complete their studies and progress on to bigger and better things. I’ve had a good variety of them over the years and not only to say thanks; when my first daughter (Uppercase) was born, one of my students learned to knit and made some very dainty scratch mits (too precious to use but now in the ‘Box of Treasures’ for later life) and on the birth of my second daughter (lowercase) I recieved a hand-made waistcoat (for the baby!) made from WW2 parachute silk (as before, but in ‘Box of Treasures 2′). I’ve had engraved pewter tankards (sat on a shelf above me as write this, filled with used scalpel blades!), a MUJI CD player (awaiting a permanent place, but used frequently). Wines, beers and spirits enough to keep a staffroom of lecturers happy for at least a couple of hours, music compilation CD’s as well as cards, keepsakes, messages and images, both handmade and digital. I have posters, manuscripts, books and a plethora of beautiful and interesting printed ephemera. And, of course, handshakes, bearhugs and the occasional kiss too (no tongues).
I could be forgiven for entertaining a certain amount of expectation as the academic year builds to its anti-climax, but I don’t. That’s because I am genuinely pleased when I can submit each student for their qualifcation, whatever their grades may be. I assume a great deal of responsibility for their success, and perversley, for their failures also, even when students have made the choice not to succeed. From these I have also received a fair share of unpleasant chariacatures, defaced photographs and other inventive farewells (my favourite was on a specially cleaned whiteboard in the studio a few years ago that simply said “Skinner is a w***er” and it still makes me smile!)
I don’t ever expect gifts from students however, and perhaps don’t deserve them, but it is always very moving when I receive a gift, no matter how small. This year has been no exception. Following a comment I made to a student a couple of weeks ago that does not bear repeating here (I’ve tried – it just isn’t funny anymore – trust me!) I was presented with a parcel wrapped in tinfoil. Within, a very elegantly crafted ampersand made from pastry! I take back that comment Aaron – you dohave a bright future in pastry!
(PS - a message to any student whose individual gift was not singled out here and who may feel personally slighted. I just thought this one followed other entries on the blog. A heartfelt thankyou to all students, past and present – may the force be with you…
It’s about six months in and time for another look at the state of the blog. We must always begin with the obligatory statistics:
A huge improvement on the first quarter, largely because Jake submitted the ampersand and letterforming entries to Notcot (where the big numbers come from) but the blog is generally getting about double the daily traffic than in the first quarter. Each day, there are a handful of clicks from Notcot and welovetypography, as well as regular clicks from artecast (brazil) alucinogena (chile) stumbleupon, twitter and the wordpress homepage (featured in the top 100 growing blogs, no less). If you put aside the two peaks in March and May (highest number of views on one day 1,228 — Tuesday, May 26, 2009, average number of views per day 54, most viewed entries Letterforming#1 (2230) followed by Ampersand (1487) - All statistics as of 9.30pm, Sunday 21 June), much of the site activity has doubled during the last few months.
I am pleased with the amount of external interest, as well as the kind comments many of you have left against various entries, but also from students and ex-students who tell me they are reading regularly but have not yet felt the desire to contribute. That’s ok. In your own good time.
It seems then, that the blog will continue. I have a number of current projects coming to fruition over the next month or so and will post more images of new work, work in progress (I have had some good feedback on the step by step projects) and one or two experiments. I will be preparing new teaching materials for the new academic year during the summer and getting to grips with Adobe CS4, so there will probably be some more digital work posted, as well as one or two rants about various design stuff. I will also post another competition or two for the Picture This area. Keep watching…
A few weeks ago I bought a few old hardback books from junk shops and car boot sales that were embossed or foil blocked. The books themselves were generally knackered, so I had few qualms about removing the covers ( the text pages will be used for something else…) From these I made rubber moulds, with limited success, as the heat from the rubber warped the covers, or destroyed them completely, separating the buckram cloth from the boards. I did manage to get two reasonable moulds though (note to self; use plaster next time) into which I filled with slip (liquid clay) and left to dry. I left them a little too long though, and they curled as they dried but this has added another interesting dimensional element.
To create this first one I brushed on an oxide (some leftover mix left out – I don’t know exactly what oxide this is) and then wiped it off with a damp sponge leaving the oxide in the embossed areas. Then they were given a dip in a clear glaze and refired.
The binding technique is called Belgian Secret Binding, and the pages are attached to the cover through the loops on the inner spine. I am going to attach some handmade paper with deckled edges to this in a week or so, but I was so pleased with this I thought I’d share it with you now. The beauty in these is in the surface texture and finish, so here are some close-ups.
The next covers are coated with iron oxide and wiped of as before, but not glazed. They are also thinner and have warped much more, however, when they are put together as a book they close up a little like a clamshell, so I will make maller, thicker pages for this one and the cover will enclose them.
And more close ups.
I will post images in the Projects section when they are complete…
Today I made a few sample covers using slabs of krank clay and have begun exploring coloured slips for decoration. I may feature them at another time if there is any demand.
It seems my adventures in letterforming have been of some interest, so I will post some more images as requested. The rubber one above is there to show the scale again, as well as to show the softness of the materials Mmm, rubber…
Backs and fronts , obviously. These are just the ones glazed with the Peter Beard Barium Blue (which is a bit of a favourite) I like the contrast between them. It reminds me of the analogy of the duck gliding serenely across the pond, whilst beneath the water the feet are furiously paddling away! In some of the backs you can see how they are constructed as well as the texture of unglazed ceramic. You can see these a bit larger if you click on them.
Another set, chosen for the difference between back and front, as well as a plaster one on the right which has been burnished with fake gold leaf (badly!) These aren’t the best quality images and they still don’t give enough detail on the surface qualities, so here’s a small selection…
No descriptions. These are here just to look at at the textures and details. The fourth one is also a taste of the next batch of letters that are raku fired…
Arms Length Self-Portrait Update
Well’ after much deliberation and several bottles of wine, I have decided to award Pippa the prize for my favourite arms length self portrait:
I chose this one as it a) seemed very uncharacteristic of her (she’s an ex-student) and b) it made me smile. Well done Pip, I’ll be intouch via email in order to send you your prize. It is this specially made hardback sketchbook, which I know you probably won’t ever use:
The ampersand is now glazed and fired and is currently sitting on my dining room table. I will be photographing it properly this time, and I’ve a mind to shoot on location at the beach (when the weather picks up again!) It is a very satisfying object to look at (even Mrs. Lestaret likes it) and even more satisfying to hold; it’s quite heavy and very highly textured, with sharp edges and smooth lines. I have plans to make a series of these – watch this space!
No new ‘a’s have been made since the Raku firing, but I’m still planning to make a glass and metal version before too long. There will be another post on this project when these have been done. I have made moulds of some odd peices of wood type though and made a couple of plaster casts, but I’m not quite sure how to progress with these yet. I may play with the plaster casts and see what evolves…
CD Design Update
On Friday, Jon Lawrence proudly handed me the first copy of ‘The Inbetween Worlds’. I intend to write an evaluation on the design for Jon to respond to now that all is complete.
The etching of my Dad (see projects) was exhibited at this years College Exhibition as part of the Evening Printmaking Workshop I did in September-December. I am very proud to exhibit my work alongside such creative and experimental colleagues. Many thanks to Nick for his excellent teaching and all his work in setting up the exhibition.
I’ve been trawling the car boot sales for old books with embossed covers and made some rubber moulds. So far I have cast a couple of plaster ones: (here’s one I broke earlier!)
and a couple of slip (liquid clay). I intend to use them as book covers using a technique called Belgian Secret Binding which allows for separate spines to be attached. Heres a sampler made from regular book materials:
I shall be exploring some glazing and firing techniques and hope to have some books made before the end of July.