Friday, June 29, 2007

My sweet Arab

Isn't he a little beauty? Thanks Mags for taking the photos.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


You know how good it feels to be not very sick anymore? That's me right now, revelling in the joys of eating chewy food with actual flavour and crossing a floor plowed clear of crumpled tissues. But I am also playing catch up because while I was in survival mode for most of the last week, moving house and starting a new job in a zombie state of phlegm and chest spasms, everything else fell by the wayside. Not only paying bills and responding to emails but the blog and any activities worth writing about on the blog. So sadly this is nothing more than one of my all too frequent 'pathetic excuses' posts. But I plan to go printing tomorrow and love bombing the town with chalk poems this weekend so I will have lots to write about soon- tune back in in a few days.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Feelin' Frisky!

The frisket works! I went to the hardware store and bought my best guess at a new bolt and suddenly the Arab is getting frisky with the frisket. It just looks like it belongs there, swinging from edge of the platen, and so far in my brief experiments, it appears to do the job which I need it to. Some fine tuning from one of the helpful amateur engineers in my life might help it to work better, as the way it's sitting right now is going make printing paper more slow and fiddly than it should be. But at least slow and fiddly printing is better than inevitable inky paper jams.

Another happy printing development yesterday was the discovery that I can print vinyl stickers i.e. bumper stickers. A friend suggested making 'Addicted to Capitalism' bumper stickers and my mind ran off with the other possibilities afforded by printing sturdy waterproof labels. Experiments involving both white and transparent sticky-backed vinyl are extremely encouraging.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

So, Meliors, how's the letterpress?

Well, thanks for asking. It's ok, but I am frustrated by a few technical challenges. Mostly by the lack of a fitted frisket, which appears to be to blame for the Arab's annoying tendency to suck up into the rollers any paper bigger or floppier than a postcard.

A frisket has entered the building but it looks nothing like the one illustrated here, which was previously my sole source of frisket-identification. I, and everyone else who I accost at TKPT on the subject, have never seen a frisket in action, so we aren't exactly sure how to attach it to the Arab and what to do with it once it's on there.

But I know that you don't want to hear about my frisket problems, and I won't even start in on my money-down-the-drain tympan paper story. However I do think you should know that my card printing (and remember card is all I can print without a frisket) is in hiatus while the guillotines are being sharpened.

So printing, yes, I am doing some. Today I finished printing delicate little strips of Japanese tissue paper on the proofing press. The proofing press is not as reliably sharp as the Arab but expresses no desire to suck paper into an inky paper jam, for which I am grateful. I am making a flag book edition called Love Falls. It's an exhibition book, by which I mean that I have designed it for display rather than for handling. It hangs vertically on the wall and the flags fall down like a waterfall. I expect that people will be just as likely to read it from the middle outwards as from top to bottom, and for once, this poem is resilient enough for any kind of idiosyncratic reading.

Now that the flags are all printed, I'm going to set type for the covers, and by the time those are done the guillotines should be back and I can make some business cards. So I'm happily dividing my TKPT time between technical problem-solving and actual printing and it's all good.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Some people claim to thrive on next to no sleep. I am not one of them. I rarely have a problem with sleeping and I can rarely think of anything I'd rather do between 10pm and 6 am than sleep. So the past six weeks has been an interesting challenge to me, averaging 4 hours a night, and never more than 5.5. It's the kind of insomnia where you fall asleep like a cat (not like a baby, anyone using that cliche obviously wasn't a parent) but you wake up in a surge of adrenalin in the very smallest hours of the night and don't fall back to sleep.

Perhaps because of it's unfamiliarity, this pattern of insomnia was an exhilarating novelty for the first couple of weeks as I discovered that those hours of darkness are incredibly fertile for generating and developing creative ideas. Over the second couple of weeks the exhilarating creativeness took on a slightly manic tinge and I discovered that the middle of the night is also a suitable space for facing one's own dark shadows. In the last couple of weeks my creativity and self-reflection have begun to be overwhelmed by chronic exhaustion, and sleeping through the night has become my unswerving (but as yet, unmet) goal.

Everyone has tips about how to sleep and I am trying almost every suggestion except hot milk, as dairy doesn't agree with me. So far nothing has made me stay asleep, but with all the vitamins, minerals, herbs and flower essences I pop every day plus plenty of exercise, massage and meditation I'm continuing to function without physical or emotional meltdown. Readers may feel free to offer additional sleep-inducing advice through the comments function.

My favourite suggestion was from Silke, who's acupuncturist recommends singing to help the chi flow where its supposed to. It doesn't help me sleep, but singing Ka Waiata over and over in the middle of the night is a much more pleasant a way to pass the time than tossing and turning and cursing my whacked-out adrenal glands.

Oh, you might be wondering why am I not sleeping? Well, my last solid sleep was the night before Brad's funeral which happened to be the first night in a new housesit in town, and a couple days before I resigned from my job. I've experienced massive transitions on a number of fronts during this period of grieving for my beloved, brilliant, inspiring friend. I reckon I probably needed 20 hours a day of consciousness to process everything at first, but now it is just a bad habit. So today I'm off to seek professional help to ensure that I start my new job next week fully rested and ready to go.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Picture Postcards

Thanks to Liz and her gorgeous camera we have images! Here is the Addicted to Capitalism collector's edition (including envelope).

Read all about it below...

This one has my favourite text...

And this one has my favourite ornament...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Gift Economy

You too can be an Addicted to Capitalism collector! Remember those powerful pink cards I was making a couple of weeks ago? Well, the whole set of postcards has been launched and are yours to discover, collect, swap, buy, sell, give, trade, display, send, use as bookmarks or greeting cards, and otherwise enjoy.

Each card has one of the following phrases:
Drink Coffee- Capitalism's drug of choice.
Go Shopping - Capitalism needs your addiction
Sell Art- Capitalism values your creativity
Use Pornography - Let capitalism commodify* all your desires
Watch Television - A capitalist occupation.

The aphorisms on the cards came to me as I mused on how to price the books I plan to create with letterpress and how the work I want to make might fit into the art and book marketplaces. As I printed the cards I continued to wrestle with ideas about how to value my work appropriately and yet also share it widely. Finally I decided that I really want to give away most of these Addicted to Capitalism cards.

I thought about lots of possible methods to give them out and but settled on slipping them into library books because I love libraries and I hope that library users might be more likely to appreciate the gift of a thought-provoking, letterpress, kitchy-looking postcard.

And so, with the help of seven enthusiastic collaborators in four different countries, eight libraries around the world have been infiltrated and 160 Addicted to Capitalism postcards are secreted in books for lucky readers to find. Most will be found by random chance but a determined searcher could enhance their letterpress/art print/Meliors Simms book arts collection. There are plenty of clues to be found in past and future posts of this blog and those of my collaborators (e.g. Courtneyspondence) leading you to the libraries and the books where the postcards can be found.

I hope to hear from some of the folks who find the cards, whether by chance or otherwise. If one of the cards has come into your life, please share your story in the comments section.

For those who miss out on the library cards, or who particularly value the trappings of the art/fine press worlds, I have put aside 15 sets of cards as a limited 'collector's edition' which are signed and numbered, and housed in printed origami envelopes. These sets can be purchased for $NZ50 by contacting me through the comments function of this blog.

BTW I promise photos of the cards just as soon as I can borrow a decent camera...

*a thing that can be bought and sold or exploited within a market