Thursday, 27 February 2014

first steps towards magpie book .....

Yesterday was Wednesday and I had in mind to do another Wordless Wednesday post however by the end of the day I could not focus.  Now it is Thursday, I have spent the morning exploring a little further and made progress with the first of my prints (or three small prints) towards the many that will  be produced to print my magpie book.

The day was spent here in my studio with Fiona working on our 'birds, feathers, nests eggs book'.  We had planned to collaborate on this last year but then mum died and Fiona and Barry were so incredibly frantic last year, and so the idea was put forward to this year.

After literally months thinking up dozens of potentially wonderful ideas - I started out think about the 'bower' bird seeing I am one, then the guinea fowl as I adore its patterns, next thought was along the lines of birds without wings and I yet may come back to that - before finally changing from I could do this to I will do this.

As has been our experience in the collaboration, we end up being increasingly mindful of the work being intrinsically our style of working, work that holds true with the body of our work already produced.  This is not to say we don't push boundaries and change and adapt, but we are keen to keep working in manners which sit authentically with us and not try out things just for the fun of it.  Having said that I think one of the books we will collaborate on soon will take us completely out of our comfort zone.

Because we were spending the day together yesterday working on our books Fiona and I both HAD to settle on a decision.  Mine was made on Tuesday!  I decided that I would work out the kind of book I wanted to make, decided finally on the bird I was going to work with, chose my colour schemes and so forth - and now it seems the next two months I will be very hard at work with printmaking.

There was much chit chat back and forth, sorting out where we are heading with our collaborative work, how we want to proceed, what next steps were etc and generally mentoring each other through the ideas we had arrived at for this particular book.  We spoke too about other projects we are both involved in such as 'Pieces for Peace  WW1 14-18' to be held in Belgium and also an International exhibition of artists' books coordinated by Robyn Foster here in Brisbane about 'Personal Histories'. We were both reminded of how incredibly fortunate we are to have this precious partnership where we can mentor, guide, encourage and also work together occasionally.  Finally we both got down to some work.

It was a fine day.  And now we can move forward with our books which will meet on World Book Day on 23rd April - our second anniversary.

Below are photographs of a few of the bits and pieces to do with colour and design, preliminary thoughts I have had about the book.  So many of them, I decided the only way to tackle this book which will be made with a combination of etching, engraving and embossing, was to start with the smallest plates.  Magpie eggs.  In fact it is the colour of these eggs which will set the tone for the book as I did not want this to be a black and white book.

I had previously prepared some small plates with marks and texture.
These I am using for my eggs.
More plates I have been wanting to use -
they will become the background of finer work.

Bringing bits together - may not use all the ideas I have.

I will be using engravings and open bite work to 'rough' up my pages. I don't want a pristine book.

Thoughts about my colour scheme.

Eggs blocked out and plate ready for aquatint.

Upon inking I knew straight away this was not going to work well.
I had already applied aquatint twice.

A very poor result.

Re did the aquatint (third try) this morning.
A much happier result.

Think they will work nicely when inked in the appropriate colours.

So - first small plates done. Seems like five hundred to go though now that I have made a start I am very excited.  I have had to put all the work aside till next week as the next few days I need to focus on the Maleny Printmakers Exhibition - and my Journeys along the Shore work.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thought processes. The result will be extraordinary.

    1. I hope so Jo! Thank you for coming in and having a look at this process .... think it will be a long one but I am keen and that is the first step always.

  2. Hi Susan- It's been a long while since I stopped by to see what you've been up to...I'm in love with these eggs and your thought process. I can't wait to see the final book!-Julie

    1. Hello Julie. Lovely to have you drop by. It is so hard to keep an eye on everyones' blogs isn't it ..... I spent so much more time last year but now that I am working more diligently, jsut don't find that regular time. I think this books will push me technically as I can see what I want, now jsut have to make the etchings work out as I want them to - hard happy work ahead.

  3. This is fascinating, this watching your process ... and I do so understand what you say about when the time comes to move from 'I could do this ...' to 'I will do this ...' I have so many ideas that I often find it hard to make this jump. Even after I finally decide on a solution, the other ideas keep nagging away at my mind and asking why I've forgotten them.

  4. Thanks Charlton. It is true for us all I think - so very many ideas and no chance of ever producing all of them. Sometimes we get lost because of those ideas and all of a sudden they cement into one. I love those moments. However, sometimes the head is a swirl of ideas and possibilities and you just have to make a conscious choice and settle on one idea and make it work. I think this is true for more than just artworks ..... x

  5. I love the idea of the magpie eggs guiding the palette of this book - and it seems there is an infinite number of possibilities from the shape(s) of the eggs too. It's exciting to see the assembled materials & first trials, and imagine where it will all lead by the time World Book Day arrives! Enjoy the process...

  6. Hello Lisa - thanks for your interest in this process. I think it is going to be quite an elaborate effort, but but making most of my images with etchings, I will be able to reproduce prints and so the effort will be rewarded beyond just the satisfaction of making the book. World book day will be exciting indeed and in March Fiona and I will spend time working or adding into each others' books too .... gently though, as always.


I appreciate your comments - thank you!