Saturday, 21 January 2012

Starting Work for Art Week Sales & Exhibits

My notebook box
On the assumption that our Village Art Week will be going ahead at the end of June, I need to begin creating the paper and textile books I intend to demo and sell. I need to plan what I am going to make, and when. I am notorious for writing lists and ideas and not seeing a complete project through; so I decided that initially on each evening in January, I would jot down my thoughts - for I could visualise what I wanted to do. Most evenings I have managed this. I brought my 'quilt journey' box into action, moving into it my current notebooks and word-whispers, a small box with pens and tiny paint box, my 'burnt sugar diary'. 'Quilt Journeys' (my 12in x 12in pages that will be linked into booklets) are ongoing, but my workroom is out of action, noted from time to time on Facebook. I suddenly realised that making sufficient textile books of this size was impracticable, they would take too long, cost too much and in any case are a personal record of aspects of my life. 

One of my finished fabric books (a gift for a grandchild in 2009)
Far better would be 6in x 6in (15cm x 15cm) which is a size I have frequently worked with. I had my theme - landscape and gardens, using my photos and my own word-whispers but adding collage from old books. Notes proliferated but gradually some parameters emerged, stimulated by the arrival of a catalogue from my favourite second-hand bookseller who specialises in my chosen subjects. Her special offer was enticing and a parcel soon arrived (I was determined that pages from these would be ripped up and used for stitched collage, but now they are here I just may have to keep one or two intact!) 

Second-hand books purchased for collage
I am keeping a diary, and have prepared a series of A4 cards outlining themes and tried and tested methods that will save me from endless experimenting. Time to begin - and then on Monday evening came a breakthrough: in searching for photos to match my poem-spills that I intended to use, I came to the conclusion that I find it easier to create words to match an image than the other way around. (Though it is immodest to say so, this ability comes from endless exercises when I was young, a technique I subsequently used when teaching my classes of eight-year-olds. Here's what you do - select an image or object at random and without thinking jot down some words, adjectives particularly; just whatever comes to mind.) I rarely change my poem-spills and word-whispers, though I may tweak them slightly for their look on the page. 

Tree image, cropped from a larger photo
Today I set this in practice: my dear husband Raymond and I took a picnic and drove a few miles in search of the images I wanted for a 'Winter Trees' book. Previously we would have sat eating out picnic and I would have looked at the scene and words would come into my head. Today I started from the visual aspect, looking for trees that could be cropped out of a larger picture, leaping in and out of the car into the strong wind, taking a photo and using the 'enlarge' facility on my camera to view where I could enlarge a section, even though the image was a long way off. 

Top road into village
I scribbled a few words, but will probably 'write to fill' - i.e. print the image I want to use, collect pieces of collage and any ephemera I want to use, arrange them speedily on the fabric background and assess how many words will be needed to fill whatever space I allocate within the layout for text.

Enlarging part of the tree
I have already today taken sufficient images for an eight-page paper and fabric book, and this last, as the light began to fade and we dropped down the hill into the village illustrates my point of 'photos first, words afterwards'. Click on the final image below so you can see it full-size - look at the horizon, can you see the portion I will crop and enlarge? And this is what I wrote: "Trees in groups, on the skyline, at a field's edge, in copses; bird-haunts, shelter, and fuel to keep us warm."  I type the text into a word document, click 'file, print, save as pdf' and then convert the pdf into a jpeg using Photoshop Elements. A sheet of images are assembled in another Word document, and printed in reverse onto 'Epson Cool Peel' image transfer paper. Look back through this blog for posts where my word-spills appear, and you will see what I am referring to.

Down the hill into the village
Dusk is imminent, but trees on the skyline can be cropped and enlarged
Here's the final image, trees on the skyline; I took lots more, but these that I have posted best illustrate what I am talking about, and the method that I will be using to put these first books together; not just one but three or four the same; batch-production saves time but each will vary slightly. And that's just one theme. I have others lined up.


  1. Fascinating. I look forward to seeing the end result.

  2. Making anything 'one of a kind' takes such time. I like your idea of several similar booklets, each with a few distinguishing elements.
    Reading this I pondered how it is I connect images and words: very often I'm writing to capture a scene or happening in the past and my words are meant to convey a 'picture' that doesn't really exist. [I'm making perfect sense, I;m sure!] At other times I do search for words to accompany a photo--either to elaborate the visual or to share my own feelings and responses.

  3. Ann, I fear you and I suffer from "always getting organized" to do something. I think you have taken it another step forward. Today I shall, take a step too. I will get all the thoughts and plans out of my head in into my planning journal. Then I will start the implementation as you did.

  4. I'm looking forward to seeing these books develop. They sound fascinating.
    I can understand your reluctance to rip up books - I seem genetically incapable of doing it. Last week I was in a charity shop and asked if they had any old, old tatty books that they felt they couldn't sell. I was shown about 40 sacks waiting to be collected! Most of the books were in really good condition, just a bit old and perhaps not so popular now. I was told the shop would get 2p each for them as scrap! I came away with an atlas, a Readers' Digest book of tours - both selected for me by enthusiastic assistants and a beautiful, little, soft leather bound volume of homeopathic formulations. I've no idea how old it is. I'm hoping I'll dare to do something with the first two, but number three? Would I ever dare deface it?
    Hope your week is bright, Barbara x