Thursday, April 30, 2009

If I tweet does that mean I'm a twit?

In my other life I am called upon to teach Twitter to unbelievers. I am constantly asked "what is the point? I just don't get why anyone would be interested?" I struggle to answer this with anything nearly as succinct as the questions. My eyes roll towards the heavens, hoping to catch a glimpse of a good idea somewhere up there in my frontal lobe. My words begin before my brain is ready and the consequence is I look like Ray Charles and I sound like Ronnie Barker as Arkwright in Open All Hours. It's not pretty (especially as I'm a white female!) I'm thinking I'll just show you why I am liking it so much. Mind you, it took me 6 months before I stopped asking myself those same questions!

Firstly, I use Tweetdeck to view the tweets from my peeps, or more correctly, my tweeple. (No, I don't know why we need all these new terms.)
This is a screenshot of my Tweetdeck which I have organised into columns for my various interests. This is a much faster and more effective way of viewing a lot of tweets than looking at the standard Twitter screen which is just one long list in reverse chronological order. I find that with Tweetdeck I can quickly scan 25 tweets and easily pick something that truly interests me, or scroll on until I do.

I can hear the sceptic in you saying "truly interests me!!!???" right now. OK, here is a smattering of stuff I've learned, laughed at and been happy to find via my Twitter friends.
22 interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom via mashable
Slideshow of Turner Prize shortlist via ArtNet
Items for sale on Etsy tagged with Swine Flu via Etsy
Vindication for my innability to come up with a pat answer to the twitter question via notebookco
Boo is a good thing via Stephen Fry
In the US there are as many people earning a living as bloggers as there are lawyers via decor8
I wish I was going to Melbourne and the NGV via ngv
Up to the minute info on Australian artisan-made goodies and bargins via AusEtsyTeamDUST
My local paper tweets
There is only one town in NSW without a Twitter user - Gilgandra via OurPatch
Lots of gorgeous sketchbook drawings via Michael Nobbs

Ok, yes, much of what is on Twitter is innane, some is interesting, a few things are fascinating and occasionally they are big impact items. I think it is worth it. I feel more connected to my global art community, my Etsy friends, my Australian friends who I don't live near, and in a strange way, even my local community. It is not a high level feeling of connectedness. It is an everyday kind of connectedness, the kind we used to have with others before our lives and theirs became too time poor, too important, too busy. I frequently use the analogy of the school playground when describing what it's like to be on Twitter. In the playground there were 600 other kids and yet you knew what everyone was doing without talking to each one directly, someone would tell you something, you would over hear something else, you would bump into someone you didn't usually talk to, some how you just knew about everyone with no effort and little time input. For me Twitter is like that.

Follow me on Twitter! I'd like to follow you!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flaunt It Friday Flat Out Friday

For this one time only Flaunt It Friday has been replaced by Flat Out Friday! This unremarkable day is being brought to you by my L5 disc bulge and from the horizontal surface of my bed. (I don't think they are going to get any ongoing sponsorship deals from this!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ooh la la - a French Flaunt-It Friday

The last in my mini series of posts about books from my collection. These ones I WILL be pulling apart and rebinding when I figure out what they 'need'.
From the top (above) we have Muirhead's Short Guide to Paris from 1951. It is the style of travel book I love most with lots of fold out maps and floorplans to major buildings. It is also set out as a walking guide so it tells you who or what happened in a particular building on a street and then walks you further along it and points out the next place of interest. I have found the 'recent' history very interesting as it is almost 60 years old and Paris has changed so much since then. It has other little touches that send it straight to my heart too, like a ribbon place marker and the original owners name and address penned on the endpaper (DF Woodhouse, 229 Stanley Park Road, Carshalton, Surrey, England). It's a little gem! (Open in front below.)

The second book (open at back above) is really interesting. On the spine it is titled The Silent Traveller in Paris, written and illustrated by Chiang Yee. On the front cover this information is in Chinese calligraphy. Published in 1956, the book contains beautiful watercolour and ink illustrations that are both very Parisian and very Chinese. It is a different way of seeing Paris. Unfortunately the cover is in quite bad condition so I don't know if it is a good rebinding project after all. I will use the pages at the very least though and might add them to the last book I've got here A Month in Paris by Mrs Robert Henrey (on the bottom in all three photos).

This gem of gems is from 1954. Why is it the gem of gems? It doesn't have maps, or ribbons or much in the way of illustrations (other than the portrait of Mrs Robert Henery by Honor Earl). I haven't read it yet but I will... before I spend my month in Paris later this year!!! Yes, that's what it has - the perfect title! This rebound sketchbook will be mine, all mine!

And strangely these last two books must have been in the collection of the one person before I collected them too. They both have watercolour blotches of colour on their foredges. You can see it in this last photo. There is no paint on the pages, just splashed onto the foredge. I can almost imagine the quirky studio of an travelling artist...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Creativity Unblocked

I've always been interested in the subject of creativity and read a lot about it. I realise now I don't mention it here much at all. Why is that I wonder? I think it is because I leave it up to the experts.

I am reading this post over at Pikaland about creativity blocks. Amy has put together advice from 40 artists on how they deal with the problem. In reading through I realised (again! why do I keep forgetting!?) that we are all experts on ourselves! I am an expert on me! (Actually, I'm glad it's me. I'd hate it if someone else had got the job of being an expert on me.)

I haven't got through the 40 pieces of advice yet, and I don't know if I'm just going to repeat something that is already there, but I thought I'd write about my technique I have to break through creative blocks.

When I can't begin or when I can't progress it is usually my inner perfectionist raising her ugly-but-well-maintained head. I have become too precious about the project, sometimes it is just an idea but already I see it as sooooo wonderful that I could not possibly do it justice. I become blocked. I can't do a thing. My inner procrastinator (actually, it is rarely 'inner' - it is usually my outer coating!) is remarkably skilled at getting me to the computer to spend hours looking at the work others are NOT blocked doing. Or to the bookshop where I'm sure there MUST be a book that tells me exactly what to do. (There never is.) I waste so much time that I have had to come up with a technique to un-precious-ise my idea.

My solution is volume. Instead of beginning the one perfect work, I begin 7. Or 52. Or 3 if I'm being a bit lazy. How can you be precious about 7 paintings!? Well, you can, but to a much lesser extent. I can even convince myself sometimes that it is OK to have, say 2 of those as just pure experimentation. As I progress on my array of works, some naturally slip into the 'later' basket and others I become obsessed with, working at them until they are done. Ahh. Now that is what I was after all along - a little obsession to drag me to the canvas again and again.

If this technique doesn't work I know why. Again it has to do with volume. I NEED a quantity of art materials waiting in my studio. If I'm using up my last canvases, or the 2nd last sheet of my favourite paper, I can't work. I need an abundance waiting on my shelves. This too is a preciousness. If it is the last squeeze of paint from the tube, then I must do it justice, I can't waste it by making a mistake. I find that with a draw of paint tubes I can 'waste' any quantity of paint. And of course it has not been 'wasted' but has gone into something I loved making.

So I go shopping. When I prioritise I often have trouble putting studio time up high on my list of things to do, but I don't allow myself the sabotage of stopping myself from spending money on my supplies. I know from grim experience that there will be no point in putting studio time anywhere on my list if I'm not well supplied.

Now, one of the reasons I'm mentioning this here is purely selfish. I wanted to remind myself of this. How is it I keep forgetting?

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Foodie Flaunt-It-Friday

Wow, it's Friday again already and I haven't managed an in between post. Oh, well - I will be posting more soon because I'm on holidays from work for a couple of weeks. In the meantime and in the newly started tradition of Flaunt It Friday, here are some books I wanted so show you.
Modern Gelatine Cookery is one of my all time favourite finds, so much so that when I found a second copy of it I snapped it up again - thinking maybe I could bear to pull it apart if I had a spare! So far it hasn't worked out that way. Let me seduce you with some culinary temptations - just remember - every single one has gelatine as it's basic ingredient! Mocha Cream Eclairs, not too bad so far; Chicken - Party Style (illustrated page 8) and no, you don't want me to show you!; Lobster Royale, why would you combine lobster and gelatine? and Jellied Borsch. There are whole chapters on Garnishing with Gelatine, Skills with Gelatine and in the Low Calorie Recipes chapter there is Fingernail Treatment, in between Weight Control and Tomato Cocktail!
The book at the front (above) is Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book. It was originally published in 1958 and my copy is its 10th printing in 1968 and yes, it encompasses the finger food of the swinging 60's. I think it was actually the inspiration for the food in the movie Mermaids! We are called to Mix grapefruit and orange sections in these inviting ways (serving suggestion) and there is of course, Summer Pineapple Platter. But wait! There is more gelatine! including Different: a "salad-sandwich" which has grapefruit sections in lemon gelatine instead of the top slice of bread! I'd better move on before I forget and mention the Grapefruit-Cheese Squares. Oops! Sorry.
Far less confronting is the book at the back Giving a Party, How to Survive while your Guests Enjoy Themselves, a hefty hardcover number published in 1980. Ah, the dinner party era! And what good news! - you will survive while they enjoy themselves! (Somehow that is not my ideal scenario for my parties.) I'm sure it has some real gems in its 245 pages. Just flipping through (no, I haven't read it) I found:

Boiled new potatoes
This familiar vegetable can be omitted for slimmers but is a delicious accompaniment to salmon. Boil the potatoes in their skins half-an-hour before guests arrive, skin them and put them in a fireproof dish with butter and a lid over them for half and hour.
Hmmm. How exciting. (Are they sure the guests will enjoy themselves?)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Sometimes I buy a book...

...and then think "I can't pull this apart!"
I probably will 'one day', when the project is just right. But for now I keep these on my shelf and look at them occasionally - in amazement! So I thought, in the spirit of Flaunt It Friday and showing you something from 'behind the scenes' I'd showcase a couple of these books - Rude Health, Mainly for Wives and Ideal Marriage.
Rude Health, The bedside book of better body knowledge by Dennis Rooke & Alan D'Egville, published by Heinemann in 1948, asks "are you bursting with vim, verve, vigour and vitality? Are you mustard keen? Do you go about the world pushing buses over, swinging on chandeliers and leaping five-barred gates?" With chapters on exercise, the simple life, diet, alcohol, doctors, patent medices, mental health and sleep it is in in keeping with the genre of the time - bad jokes in poor taste, ah, but it is a little gem of a book!
But one of my favourite finds is Ideal Marriage by TH Van de Velde MD, published again by Heinemann - only this time the publishers name seems to be a pun!
And what a popular book it has been, not only with me! First published in 1927, my edition is from 1957. Check out the reprints!
It is a scientific look at the topic of sex in marriage. The chapters include "glimpses into the general human physiology of sex, notes on the sexual physiology of the adult woman, definitions, prelude and love play, sexual communion and hygiene of ideal marriage." The introduction begins "This book will state many things which would otherwise remain unsaid. Therefore it will have many unpleasant results for me." It was the first book of its kind. It contains "8 diagrams in colour," none of which is particularly informative about the subject.

Slightly more pointed is Mainly for Wives by Robert Chartham. When I first saw the title I wondered about the subject matter. Would it have patterns for aprons? Would it tell me how to throw a dinner party? Would it have a recipe for pickled onions? I had to turn a couple of pages before the subtitle was revealed: A Guide to Practical Love-making. Unlike the previous book in which the contents ran for 13 pages of fine print, below is the contents page for Mainly for Wives. Simple and to the point! No pictures at all. I love a book that professes to teach all about sex to the uninitiated without any pictures or diagrams! I don't know what I'll do with these books, but I'll think of something!

And while I was taking these photos I took one of a little corner of my studio. It's organised in and around some old trays that my dad made for his workshop. I love them!

If you click here you can view this image on Flickr where I've added notes to tell you what everything is. I hope you are enjoying these little forays into the studio for Flaunt It Fridays. Let me know if you are with a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Community Sketchbook Sketchbook

Last year I saw a note on Community Sketchbook about how the group wanted to make the jump from virtual sketchbook to analogue sketchbook. I contacted Shawna and volunteered to make the book. At the time I knew I wouldn't have much time to devote to the project and Shawna assured me they were in no rush, however, I didn't realise I would keep them waiting quite so long!!!

For details of what's in this photo click here.

They have been very patient! The book I chose to rebind for the project is titled Something of Value and I'm please to say that it has finally made it into my new book press!
I've been excited to try my book press out on a rebound book, and in spite of my best intentions, this is the first time I've tried it on one of my multi-signature rebound books. I already know it works brilliantly on single signature books and other minibooks I've made lately, but this is the purpose I most want to use it for, so I'm waiting with baited breath for the time when I can unclamp it in a few days time.

You may remember from a previous post about my book press, that it has an embossing plate as it's upper plate. The solution is to add a thick sheet of plywood under the top plate. This has been notched on the ends so as to 'lock' in place on the sidebars of the press. Without these notches the plate and consequently the bookblock too, rotates with the screw as the handle is tightened - not a good thing at all!