Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Hook Rug Kits

Joanne does this great job of organising small groups of very keen hook ruggers. They meet once a month and there is a link on this blog to hers which will tell you more than I can.  She has made some kits for sale though, that you should know about. $40 and the wool is rare carpet wool (the factory as closed unfortunately), you also get mesh and a tool. Go to Hook Rug revolution for more details!

Sebring Sprite

My friend Jay dropped by a month or so ago to show me his Austin Healey Sebring Sprite. The Sebring  was built in the late 50's for the Sebring Race in Florida and its hasn't got all that much in common with the production car. A heavily worked engine of about 1275cc and a huge Weber side draft carbie. No doubt a cam too. Lots of light body panels. Jay is a fan of primitive cameras too, so we set up a couple of pinhole exposures. Of course we drove it too and it really goes well. I had a standard Austin healey back in the 60's (also bright red) and they were a conservative car by todays standards and really quite primitive and FUN. But what a great drive. If you were pushing it you needed to be thinking! Mine maxed out at about 95-100 and it felt like it. This one has a hard top mine was soft. It felt like being in a incredibly fast shopping trolley. Being very small it clawed around corners amazingly well. Great Joy!! I just wish someone still made basic little quick cars without all the airbag and plastic rubbish.

What more would you want

Don't Be A Dancing Bear

Some rough drawings heading towards linocut stage

  Back in the 80’s and 90’s we used to do, and enjoy community arts projects. We would chase funding, run projects and then acquit the funding for the auditors. Pretty simple, and we got some regular pay for a while doing what we love to do - Art! Not so easy now. Often a director, curator, events manager, etc will soak up the money and you will be left with glib lines about how its good for the community etc, etc.  Working for a big nothing. This is a level of bureaucracy that has inserted itself between the art funding bodies and the artist.    Never stand between an administrator and a bucket of money, something I learned early as a college art teacher. The last person to get funded is the person at the edge - be it teachers, health workers, or artists. The middle soaks it up.
  I fell for this twice (putting work into “community arts” events locally) - never got more than a photocopy label, not even PR, or a web/media publicity plug, and then found out this was a publicly funded event.  I may have been less angry if everybody was in the same boat as volunteers but I felt completely ripped off.
  When I complained to our local arts committee I was treated to a display of complete rudeness from people who are not even professionally linked to arts - having made their collective living elsewhere and dabbling for a bit of a social life. Small towns!!
Don’t you just love working for nothing! We wouldn’t want wealth to spoil artistic imagination would we? Are artists just Dancing Bears?
  Seriously though, this kind of behaviour is not isolated. Its going on all over Australia. Its time to demand a fair go for artists. The National Association of Visual Artists is the peak advocacy body for artists and it is mounting a national campaign collecting signatures to push for paid fees for participation or use of their work. Artists need to reclaim control over their career in the culture of Australia.
  When you are thinking of any art event ask to see the funding sources. Ask about fees for services and use of work. If its not fair don’t do it. Remember something done for costs or free is actually being done at a loss. Intangibles don't pay the rent. In particular too, find out about publicity etc - just what are you getting for your involvement. Remember too that someones political connections to liberal or green causes doesn’t mean they will give you any better or fairer treatment.
  I was once asked to quote for printing (by offset) a very large run of leaflets - the paper for which had to be sourced from pulp processed in Sweden from regrowth pine. I asked what side of the hill should the trees have come from. At that point I bailed out but I did get asked to print by these groups for costs. That is, cost of materials but not my time! In other words Kodak got paid, paper companies paid, plate, ink and consumable suppliers paid but not the local monkey on the press handle. You can imagine what I said!
  We will be producing some campaign cards by Letterpress but you can help signing NAVA'S petition :  www.visualarts.net.au/ or http: //auxiliarymuseumtasmania.blogspot.com.au/p/fair-go-for-artists-now.html

The Mitre Cutter


   Another nice piece of equipment comes ‘home’! 
  This little hand, food, and occasionally small levels of alcohol operated machine will give us the ability to cut bevel edges so that boxes can be constructed around areas of type. Now, I don’t know how well this really happens. It has been said that prefect boxes of rules can only be made by using a block/plates. This means the rule is made in software these days. But I like the idea of printing using hand fitted rules that are slightly imperfect. Getting rules made in the first place will mean heavy packages from the US!
   It’s a really well build piece and after a bit of oil and some rubbing was working in top condition again! There is one about 30 kms from where we live, but no luck in trying to get it - so this one came from Idiana US  (I think). Shipping was twice the value of the machine. I love working with traditional ornaments and applying rules is a nice way of finishing a design. American industrial design in the early 20th century often looks clunky and over size casts but then when in use you find all the accuracy you need. It certainly works because here it still is maybe a century later.
  Still, its here no so away we go! I’m hoping to have a model small shop circa 50’s-60’s. I think that soon we will have a Ludlow machine ( a type castor) which will make our studio close to perfect. So there!

The scale on the straightedge is for rule length and the outer curved settings are for the number of sides (moving the cutting bevel).

Hard to find!

 The block of metal is a machined .918 reference to zero the device

 You can measure well into the block. A standard micrometer can only deal with edges

At lasting impressions we are still building our equipment list and supplies like type and paper. We use Van Son inks and slowly we are building the supplies as well. Occasionally I pick up a nice piece of equipment on eBay. But a warning - just go for Buy Now offers. Auctions are not true auctions on eBay - people use software to “snipe’ your bid in the last 5 seconds so that you can’t respond. Be warned! Nevertheless I always look at EBay for nice pieces of equipment. I did get this beauty recently.
 Type high gauges were prevalent in industry because they gave us the ability to have a rugged accurate micrometer in the press room. We use them because they can measure into the centre of a block (say), or various sheets of paper. Very handy, and much more useful than a simple micrometer or the newer electronic version, which can only measure in from edges. Letterpress works with the magic .918 (type high). Rollers are set to this height as are the platen packing surfaces. This device gives a a easy to use way of measuring that doesn’t depend on batteries. I have to leave my veneer gauge in the sun and let it warm up before using it to measure - but is it really?
 These don’t come up for sale very often but if your interest is in Letterpress try and get one. Another good example of German post war engineering I’d say. They generally turned up in any shop that had Swedish or German presses and they were the basis of quality control. You can measure paper thickness, measure blocks, type, etc, and underlay to get a level, perfect, set up.