Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beach Textures I

I'm away for three weeks, camping in Cape York, one of the most inaccessible and isolated parts of Australia (which is saying something!). I don't expect I'll have much, if any. internet access. I may suffer withdrawals, but I'm sure it will do me good. You dear reader, however, don't have to suffer without regular updates to Bibliphilia. Thanks to the wonders of Blogger-technology here are some posts I prepared earlier.

Since arriving in Cape Tribulation, one of the unexpected pleasures of this place has been falling in love with the beach. I've always been more of a forest person than a beach bunny, but now that I am getting my forest needs met so thoroughly I'm appreciating the wide open spaces of the beach more. I like the way the beach is always changing and I am facinated by the fine grained detail of those changes. For several months I've been making pictures for a photo essay called Beach Textures. Check back for installments every few days over the next three weeks.

Remember, even though the posts will keep coming, I won't be answering emails, moderating comments or checking my Etsy shop.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I went with friend to the monthly markets at Lync Haven just south of Cape Trib. It's a motel with bistro and a small wildlife park. I got to pet an adorably kangaroo, my first close encounter with these iconic and amazing Australian animals. Later, Scott brought one of their two captive pythons inside and let a small group of us get to know her.
Stroking a healthy python is a wonderful sensation. The sinuous power of her body was tangible. Her scaly skin was silky smooth and room temperature to touch. I couldn't get enough of her, and for the first time I understand the attraction of keeping a pet snake.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nautical Fortieth

Cape Tribulation is famous for its costume parties. I went to my first one last weekend dressed as a coral reef. My two favourite costumes were Kat's shark and Freya's jellyfish, but Rob's pirate and Pat's captain were runners up!

Coral reef Meliors and Pirate Rob -before we left home and the fake beard and moustache fell off. Note my apparently one-legged stance in support of the pirate theme...

Shark Kat stayed in savage character all night. Note the bloody bits of baby hanging off her front.

Coral Meliors meets Jellyfish Freya

Captain Pat takes a glass of bubbles with "Any one for deck tennis on the QEII?" Antoinette.

Mermaid Mel, Sailor Sally, Navigational Lights Deano, Seaweed Sarah, and (best pun of the night) Brittany Spear-Fishing Claire.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coral-licious Costume

So... this is what I did with my crocheted coral. I'm pretty proud of this frock!

Staghorn coral straps holding up the shelf reef

The white dress is an op shop find. The coral on the bodice is all my own. It's a little mind-boggling that six weeks of spending most of my spare time crocheting only resulted in barely enough coral to cover my not-very-substantial bosom. Though it looks a whole lot bigger covered in coral!

Sea urchin and clam

I wore the dress to a nautical-themed costume party where it was quite a hit. My chest hasn't had so much attention paid to it since Louise stopped breastfeeding 20 years ago! It seems hard for most people to resist touching the coral but I can't feel a thing through all the padding. And it was very warm to wear!

Spanish dancer nudibranch, daisy coral, brain coral, blue sea star

Nudibranch, blue sea star, vase coral, brain coral, anenome, etc

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Froggy goes a-courting

Surprise! It's raining hard here in Cape Tribulation. Even though its supposed to be the Dry Season, Cooper Creek is passable only to 4WD. The people aren't loving it as much as you'd think, but the froggies, they are having a big party! The croaking is so loud that Sarah could hear them in Hamilton, New Zealand (while we were trying to have a phonecall over the rain pounding on the iron roof, the frogs croaking and the insects singing).

On my way to turn off the generator before bed, I heard a particularly piercing croak from nearby, and soon found this tiny fellow making a noise much bigger than you'd expect from something not much larger than my thumb. I think he found corner between the glass of the tabletop and the jar of flowers an excellent amplifier.

See how his body puffs up all big between croaks and then all the air goes into his neck sac and his body gets tiny again! Sort of like the effect I can achieve with my belly with/without chocolate over the timespan of a few months. And he can do it with his breath every few seconds. Amazing!

(This is the first time I've used the flash on my camera. Shooting in the dark I couldn't see him at all to focus, so I'm quite thrilled with my accidental inclusion of his reflection above.)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Reef So Far

I've been crocheting up a coral storm, enjoying exploring form and colour. This is the complete crocheted coral reef so far. It's not very big. Crocheting coral takes a long time, and there's not much to show for it, sizewise.

As I crochet, I try to imagine what I will do with all this coral I'm making. Something to sell in my Etsy shop would be good. I play around with making one or two pieces into jewellery or packing lots into a glass jar like an aquarium. Unfortunately the glass jar, while kind of cool in real life, looks terrible in photographs, and Etsy is all about the pictures.

The trouble with marketing crocheted coral is that (a) I can't imagine very many people wanting to wear a big bright blob of crochet on their person and (b) it looks best en masse, not in piddly little doses.

At the moment I'm thinking that a single entry to the World of Wearable Arts might be a more appropriate forum for this upwelling of creativity than trying to flog bits and pieces on Etsy. I'm going to test my wearable art theory out at a nautical themed costume party (watch out for photos soon). But if you, dear reader, can imagine yourself or anyone you know wanting to buy some crochet coral, please let me know how you'd like it. I'm open to suggestions.

Mt Sorrow

Mt Sorrow seen from the intersection of Camelot Close and Nicole Drive

I've been living on the lower slopes of Mount Sorrow for nearly four months. Despite being in its shadow, and looking up every day at it, or at least its near constant cloud cover, I only made my first attempt to climb it yesterday. I started getting more interested in Mt Sorrow a couple of weeks ago when I started hearing rumours of a big slip from one of the ridges down on the other side of the valley from the Rainforest Hideaway.

Strangler Fig tangling across the track
Once Mt Sorrow was more prominent in my consciousness, the weather became drier and I found myself craving more in-depth rainforest immersion, I began planning how I would tackle it. Its a difficult steep climb, not for the faint-hearted or unfit and can be dangerous is bad conditions. I went alone so I could go as slowly as I needed to, without getting pulled along with anyone else's greater goal orientation.

I had a lovely time once I was on my way, as I didn't bother pushing myself to go fast or very far, and turned back after 2 1/2 hours as planned, even though I was only about 2/3 of the way up. The highest point I got to happened to offer a rare glimpse of the view beyond the dense canopy. With my binoculars I looked down on the tiny settlement of Cape Tribulation, and even recognised a couple of the cabins at the Cape Tribulation Farmstay. So I did better than the other walkers I met on the track who got to the lookout at the top and couldn't see anything because of the heavy cloud cover.

Taking lots of photos was a good excuse for frequent stops, but in the dim light (and with the shakes from hard climbing) only two of my pictures came out any good. Still, for those who will never even get to attempt a climb of Mt Sorrow, these will have to do you.

Ruffly fungi covering several fallen logs like a collapsed wedding dress. Each ruffle is about as big as my thumb.

Touched by Tenderness

A feature of the Etsy marketplace is member selected 'treasuries' where anyone can choose a bunch of items they've seen and liked. My Boob Book has been included in a sweet treasury called Try a Little Tenderness which was curated byartdecadence, another DUST team member.

Treasuries only stay online for a few days, but you can still see (and buy) the Boob Book here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Te Kowhai Print Trust Rocks!

I was asked to write a letter of support for Te Kowhai Print Trust, and writing it has made me horribly nostalgic for my darling Arab press and the wonderful workspace at TKPT and my dear little studio and working with paper and ink in general. Not quite homesick enough to go back to Whangarei and freeze my butt off when I can go swimming in the sea anytime I like (and indeed must swim often, as it is just so hot here- when Far North Queenlsland does spring it feels like NZ midsummer!).
Here's what I wrote, everyword of it heartfelt truth:

My involvement with Te Kowhai Print Trust (TKPT) began in January 2007 when I found out that their facilities included letterpress equipment. I had been trying to access letterpress printing for four years. TKPT was the only community-based organization I found in New Zealand with a complete letterpress workshop easily accessible to a novice printer like myself.

The letterpress equipment at TKPT includes a 100 year old Arab platen jobber press which is a delight to use. There is also a table top proofing press, a composing stone, and approximately 70 drawers of lead and wooden moveable type as well as a superb guillotine and almost all the other tools required to compose, set, proof and print text. The extent and quality of the letterpress plant is outstanding for New Zealand and Australia, and as far as I know, is unique in New Zealand in its accessibility (Melbourne boasts Australia’s only community-access letterpress facility that I am aware of).

It is particularly valuable to have all this available in the context of TKPT and the Quarry Arts Centre. The TKPT buildings are spacious, well-lit, and well supplied with work surfaces, as well as all the other things that make a studio functional including kitchen and bathroom facilities.

It is appropriate for letterpress activities to be undertaken in the context of other graphic printing at TKPT and other art forms happening around the Quarry, as letterpress is increasingly being adopted as an art practice. Internationally, letterpress is undergoing a revival in reaction to the facile ease and glib perfection available to anyone with a laser printer or photocopier.

The second half of the twentieth century saw a tragic loss of most of the letterpress equipment in New Zealand as a succession of new technologies overtook the printing industry. Tonnes of lead type and cast-iron printing presses were melted down as scrap or dumped as landfill. Thus, the letterpress workshop set up at TKPT is extremely rare and irreplaceable. I consider TKPT’s letterpress workshop to be a national treasure for New Zealand and a valuable resource for Australasia.