Wednesday, June 10, 2015

More workshop prep

These books are some examples I have put together for my forthcoming workshop in Ballarat, all the paper has been made using the mould and deckle that will be made in class. We will have a theme for the artist book that we will produce and I am thinking along the lines of flight but we will do some brainstorming once the class is underway. There are still a few spots available but it starts in less than three weeks so I had better get back to making pulp!

Rainbow Wings
recycled abaca and mount board, shaped, embossed sheets Coptic binding

Natural
Mixed plant fibre with cotton paper and ginger-lily, nature printing, W binding

Gitan
Recycled mount board and abaca, shaped sheets and hand written text, toji binding
Snappish were having a sale on photo books so I made one of my artist books, I will be selling these in Ballarat along with the more expensive Blurb books that I put together that include my binding instructions. 
The new books, 20 pages hard cover (will be $15 each)

The other book, soft cover 32 pages ($40 each) with instructions for ornament, 2 needle Coptic,  oriental,  W,  piano hinge and long stitch bindings as well as notes on paste and scraper papers.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

CAS brooch show and some nature printing experiments

The Contemporary Art Society of Victoria has a brooch show opening on the 1st of June and since members get to enter for no charge I thought I should participate. I made three brooches from paper pulp pressed into carved plaster that I coated with shellac and graphite then acrylic paint then scraped back some of the paint.

Fossil 15#3

Fossil 15#2

Fossil 15#1
The fourth brooch was one of my experiments with nature printing and embossing. I inked up a parsley seed head with waterless block printing ink then made a small sheet of paper from recycled abaca and pressed the inked seed head into the paper and dried it on a sheet of fibro cement. I then gave it a few coats of shellac then sewed seed beads on. 
Seed
I tried a few different ferns as well as the seed heads and then I also printed onto some mixed fibre sheets I had made as samples for the workshop I am running in early July, Journey; an Artist Book from Go to Whoa.

Fishbone fern on recycled abaca



Friday, May 15, 2015

Back to work


My new range of cards available from Stonehouse Gallery, Alcove Artshop and Open Drawer

Fibre paper pack, available from all above and from etsy
 I have updated my website www.gailstiffe.info with instructions for making paper from the inner bark of the mulberry tree. This method also works beautifully with daphne, fig and hibiscus and many other shrubs. Here are the images.















Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mark and Betty remember Jean Newton 10/12/20 - 15/3/15

Betty Remembers:

Our family of Mum, Dad, Jean, Keith and myself were a happy family living in Hobart. We were all involved with StJohns Church where Jean and I taught Sunday School and were members of the PFA. We enjoyed many Easter camps and a most memorable one was when we walked to the top of Mt Wellington to see the sunrise. It was a beautiful full moon and snowing lightly.



Due to our age difference we had a different circle of friends but when we moved to Melbourne in 1942 we were loners for a while until we joined the Church and started playing basketball and tennis. I think the only arguments we had were when I would "borrow" her beautifully knitted jumpers since Jean was size 8 and I was size 16.


After my move to Perth in 1946 Jean and Mum made many visits with one or other of Jean's children. In the later years I was able to make yearly visits to Melbourne and spend quality time with the family.



Jean and I kept in regular touch and I shall sadly miss our weekly telephone chats.

Mark remembers:

One of my earliest memories is of being allowed to get up early in the morning and to share the parental bed with my mother and father. My favourite position was between the two of them – I would peacefully return to sleep, feeling safe and secure from the imagined beasts that can invade a very small boy’s mind. The practice of spending an hour or two in my parents’ bed continued until I was nearly six, at which time it was decided I was getting a little big and a little too old to continue to need such comforting. The warmth and love and security of those early morning communal sleeps will stay with me for the rest of my life.


While the day to day duties of running the household were clearly defined between Mum and Dad, from time to time there were projects that required extra labour and at which time the whole family including us kids were seconded to duty. One annual project that fell into this category was potato planting. This occurred over a two day period somewhere in mid to late spring where we would hire an old ploughman, with horse and plough to dig up the land that we had leased from the railways in order to grow a commercial crop of potatoes to supplement the family’s income. On these two days Mum’s duty was to cut the seed potatoes into smaller pieces to maximise the area that could be planted from the available stock of (expensive) seed spuds. Mum would work furiously turning a six foot high mountain of potatoes into an eight foot high mountain of potato pieces, while we three kids (Greg was just a baby at this stage, and took no active part other than trying to eat the occasional green potato) would come with our buckets and fill them up with the potato pieces and then go out into the paddock and plant them behind the horse and plough and hopefully quickly enough before the horse completed its circuit and came up behind us. These potato planting days are remembered fondly, even though they really constituted twenty or thirty hours of constant hard labour for the whole family. It was a team effort and the feeling of achievement at having successfully planted a two to three acre paddock over a two day period that made us feel so good.

One of Mum’s best abilities, apart from her cooking, was her knitting and every evening after the meal was finished and the kids had taken their rostered turn in washing and drying the dishes, we would sit by the open fire in our house or on the veranda in summer time, where Mum would bring out her piece of knitting and spend an hour or two every evening producing a jumper or a scarf or some booties for the family or a friend. My recollection is that I received at least one and sometimes two new jumpers every winter from Mum’s hands. They were always beautiful warm woollen jumpers using the best materials. Later, as a teenager, I formed a bad habit of losing jumpers, much to Mum’s annoyance but I do remain eternally grateful to Mum for the love and thought she put into those jumpers she created for us.


If tennis was the day-time sport that dominated our lives, Scrabble was the evening game that did. Dad and I sometimes played cribbage, and later in life a bit of chess or draughts, but Scrabble was the family game that we all played on a regular basis. Mum and Dad in particular played Scrabble even in their later years on a very frequent basis and were quite accomplished players. They evenly matched their knowledge of words and would come up with some real beauties. If Dad had a slightly better ability to come up with an unheard word before, then Mum’s strength was her ability to pick out the triple letters and triple words. Many a battle was enjoyed between the two of them and sometimes with the involvement of my sisters or me and my visiting friends and the games were always played in a spirit of friendliness and happy rivalry.

Mum was in her late fifties when Dad died. This was, of course a very traumatic and sad time for her and it was a time when the whole family had to rally around and support each other. Mum and dad had raised four children and taken their circumstances, from that of a strictly working class background to a higher plateau on the social level with their children all educated to fill professional positions and they had also created a beautiful home on a couple of acres at Mt Evelyn which had a connection with Dad’s family going back sixty years where they had planned to spend long and peaceful years together. Unfortunately fate is not always determined by the pans of mere mortals and Mum’s happy retirement with Dad was certainly abruptly ended by his sudden departure.

After his death mum devoted herself to looking after her elderly mother, Nan , who had lived with us since her husband had died twenty years earlier. Nan was born in the 19th century and had lived her life with almost puritanical self-denial and hard work. As a result she lived to a grand old age of 95, the last for which Mum was her main companion and carer. Mum selflessly cared for Nan day in and day out for those fifteen years denying herself a lot of pleasures such as travel or mixing with others of her own age or socialising. It is a measure of the importance with which she valued the family and also a measure of her sense of responsibility that she was able to perform this caring duty so diligently.  Jean Newton is truly a woman of outstanding qualities.

10/12/2014


It is nearly twenty years since I wrote the previous words about Mum for her 75th birthday. During that time of ageing she remained independent, strong and clear-minded, right to the end. She was warm and hospitable, always happy to see us. She suffered a lot of pain over the past decade but complained very little.
Family was everything to her and she passed away with her beloved family around her. She loved my family of ‘Sydney Newtons’ as much as my brother, sisters and their spouses and families in Melbourne.  She will be sorely missed and very fondly remembered.

Mum's history derived from interviews by Janice from 2004


Agnes Jean Newton was born in Battery Point, Hobart in 1920, first child of Vera and Ted Winters and eldest sister to Keith and Betty. She attended primary school in Hobart, enjoying mathematics and poetry recitation. Jean was dux of Hobart South school in her Merit year, then went on to Zercos Business College for a year.

Jean’s first job, aged about 15 was with Kodak camera company, starting at the counter, moving up to the cashier’s job and then into the office. After war was declared in 1939 she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air force. She left Kodak and joined Number 6 Wing of the Air Training Corps Hobart.
During Jean’s youth and early twenties in Hobart, Jean’s social life revolved around the Presbyterian Fellowship Association and St John’s Presbyterian Church. She also loved holidays and weekends with her girlfriend Doreen McKay on Bruny Island.

 In 1942 when her parents left Hobart and moved to Melbourne, Jean remained in Hobart for a while but later gained a position at Number 1 wing of the Air Training Corps on the ‘North Island’ in Melbourne. Here she remained until some time after the war, unable to seek work back at Kodak due to manpower regulations. Ultimately she obtained a secretarial job in charge of six girls in an office section of the Hide and Leather Board. She was working here in the late 1940s when she met her husband Lance at a Presbyterian Cricket Club dance at the Northcote Town Hall. Lance played cricket for the Church team and Jean attended the same Church.

After marrying at the Queens St Registry Office in 1947 and honeymooning at the Grand Hotel Healesville, early married life began at Jean’s parent’s house in Mansfield St, Thornbury but in 1949 they were able to purchase a war service home in Mt Evelyn. Jean had three children in less than four years (Gail 1948, Janice 1950 and Mark 1951). Their fourth child Greg was born in 1958. At Mt Evelyn Jean and Lance made many close friends, including the Blundens, Hardys, Millards and others from the tennis club. Jean held a number of secretarial positions at Dunlop Bayswater, Wiggins Lilydale, Turner’s bulbs Silvan, an Architects firm in Melbourne and at Dr Hardy’s surgery, Mt Evelyn. She received excellent references from her employers. She also played tennis, studied flower arranging, gardened and undertook voluntary work at the Kindergarten and High School.

Her husband Lance retired in around 1976 and sadly died suddenly of a heart attack in 1979. She missed him terribly for the rest of her life. Jean enjoyed travelling but  only managed one caravan trip north and a Pacific Island cruise with husband Lance before he died. Since then she has taken children and grandchildren on trips to Sydney, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania and a Murray River Cruise and travelled by herself on a bus trip to the outback and to visit Jo and Roly Hall in Port Macquarie.  After her 80th birthday, she had the opportunity for a wonderful overseas trip to join Greg, Kathy and family in Dublin for Christmas.    

 Somewhat shy and nervous in early life, Jean grew in confidence as she got older and proved her mettle raising four children, managing paid work and housework, playing in the family tennis team and much more.


She was a wonderful sister, wife, mother, grandmother, worker and friend. She was an excellent cook and she and Lance enjoyed entertaining friends at home. For many years the family had its own tennis team that was formed to play in the Upper Yarra district and much enjoyment was gained from competitive tennis. Jean displayed remarkable fortitude in coping with the devastating loss of her beloved husband and in overcoming two fractured femurs in 1994 and 2007. In 2000 she moved to live in a unit at Cherry Tree Grove Retirement Village at Croydon. There she made many new friends and lived happily until 2013 when she moved to live with her daughter Gail and her husband Mike at Glen Iris. Although somewhat restricted in mobility she continued to enjoy life right up to the day before she passed away. Sadly at age 94 she fell and fractured her femur: she was admitted to hospital but overnight suffered a heart attack and died the following day.

Throughout her life she was very close to all her family in particular her sister Betty even though they lived on opposite sides of the country, they spoke at least once a week and Betty visited Jean as often as she could. Betty would love to have been here today but has recently undergone surgery that prevents her from travelling.

Mum's 94th birthday



Thursday, March 26, 2015

RIP Jean Newton 10/12/1920 - 15/3/2015

My mum passed away last week and I would like to share a few pictures and some of the words from her funeral. Here she is on her 90th birthday looking very regal and on the right as she was when she first met my dad in the mid 1940s and a small one of dad not long before he died in 1989. 

I would also like to thank all of those who sent cards and flowers, came to the funeral and/ or sent their best wishes, it is very much appreciated by all of us.


















My Sister Janice's words: 

More a Martha than a Mary, Mum demonstrated love by practical action: knitting, cooking, visiting, cleaning up, joining in film productions, fancy dress. She taught us to be honest, accepting and cooperative by example.

When I experienced a child leaving home myself, I appreciated how hard it must have been for Mum to accept that we were all basically out of the family home before we were 18 and Mark and Gail went overseas for considerable lengths of time. So I want to thank her for letting us go, but for making it clear that we were definitely not forgotten and always welcome back.  My Mum was my number one fan and supporter and I will miss her terribly.'
My words:
 What can I say! Mum had a very full and happy life, she loved having the family around and was a great entertainer. She was also very forgiving. I can remember when television first came in; Jan and I snuck out of the house and walked up the street to watch television in one of the shop windows. Mark knew we had gone but we promised him a liquorice strap if he didn't tell, so he waited until we were back and he was sucking on his liquorice, then he told mum. I don't recall any punishment but no doubt we were told not to do it again. Both mum and dad were very keen that we get a good education and one of their principles was that we not have a television. They waited until Mark had finished high school before purchasing one.

I remember one time in the 1970s when I was heavily into Women's liberation. I upset mum by saying that we shouldn't celebrate Mother's Day because it was a patriarchal plot for keeping women in their place or some such bunkum. I only ever didn't see her or send a card that once and am quite happy to celebrate Mother's Day these days.
We have already talked a bit about tennis, but it was a great part of our lives, especially when we had the Edenhurst team, which always had at least four Newtons in it. Because of that, mum was responsible for at between four and six afternoon teas, so Saturday mornings were always busy with cakes baking and benches loaded with slices of bread and fillings and a bit of a chain gang combining them.
What mum wrote on my 50th birthday

I was so pleased that we were able to have mum living with Mike and I after she found it too difficult to manage in the retirement village. For that I must thank Mike. He has been extremely supportive, and in fact I believe it was his idea that she move in with us. We started talking about the move about two years earlier, but mum was fiercely independent and wanted to stay in her unit as long as she could. We made some changes to our place, turning Katy and Jenni's rooms into a small apartment for mum and she moved in about 18 months ago.
Although she was becoming frail and finding getting around quite difficult, she still washed her own dishes and made her bed each day. Last Wednesday we went to see the second Hotel Marigold movie. She quite enjoyed it but thought it was a bit too loud and couldn’t understand why I’d cried. I still find it hard to believe that she is gone, but I am so glad that she went quickly and hardly suffered.
We will all miss you mum.
Our wedding 1977


 The grandchildren all took it in turns to speak:
Katy: Jean doted on her grandchildren and we were all very lucky growing up to have such a close and loving family. Grandma was the cornerstone of this strong family bond and her role in maintaining closeness and disseminating family news will be sorely missed. We would like to honour our beloved grandmother by sharing some of the reasons that we are all so thankful to her.

With her first great grandchild, Francesca
Mary Jean: Grandma was a strong, kind and hardworking woman. She took life's challenges in her stride, carrying on without fuss and accepting all the changes that she lived through. We will miss her grace, generosity and no-nonsense attitude.

Walking down Elizabeth Street, Hobart about 1942, the back reads 'How do you like me?'
The first photo we have of mum
Jenni: Grandma was smart, multi-talented and a great teacher. Many of us had our first cooking lessons, knitting lessons and board game indoctrination from Grandma. Even at 94 years of age, she kept her mind sharp with regular games and retelling old memories. I think she would be proud of the strong role she played in making us the formidable scrabble and Rummikub opponents we are today.


 Sandy: For the older grandchildren, memories of Grandma are particularly entwined with time spent at Edenhurst in Mount Evelyn. Grandma created such a warm and comfortable environment, allaying our fears of creepy-crawlies in the outside loo, taking us to the Lilydale mobile library and keeping us entertained with the dress up box in the back room. The house and its grounds were the scene of many imaginary adventures and early filmmaking endeavours.

Katy: Grandma always made a big fuss at Christmas, ensuring the day was special for the whole family. There was a true magic in the Christmases celebrated at Edenhurst and beyond. In fact visits to Grandma always had a type of everyday magic as we knew we would be well looked after and there was always something new to see, do, or talk about.

 Mary Jean: Grandma was so generous to her grandchildren and always ensured that she treated each of us equally. She planted a tree for each of us in Mount Evelyn and later a rose bush each at her unit in Croydon. She was also a great mother to four children, instilling in them good values and the same hospitable, down to earth nature that Grandma had. We are eternally grateful for her amazing work raising her children to become our great parents.

Jenni: Travelling with Grandma was a highlight for us all. We each had a turn travelling with her to new places throughout Australia, seeing local attractions, visiting friends and family and developing life-long memories.



Sandy: We always ate well with Grandma, who was a great cook and always let us lick the bowl and wooden spoon after many a sponge cake. Her pavlovas, rhubarb pies, roast dinners and gravy were highlights of our visits. As were the seemingly endless supply of Splice, Drumstick and Magnum icecreams she stored away as treats for us and other visitors.
Katy: Our shared enjoyment of classic movies and cups of tea became a weekly tradition. I loved visiting her every week and watching another episode of Downton Abbey or selecting another Bogart movie from the collection. Grandma was one of my closest friends and I will miss her terribly.
Mary Jean: At the age of 94 you have left this world and whilst over the years your body aged, it is inspiring to see how your mind and spirit had stayed strong. Thank you for blessing us with your presence and may we meet again!

Jenni: Grandma had strong opinions and one hell of a sense of humour. I am proud to think that I have inherited even a small portion of her strength, cheekiness and wit along with my genetically-superior scrabble skills. While the sense of loss will fade with time – I will always miss you and remember you with a smile.
Sandy: Grandma, we love you and will deeply miss you. Thank you for all the wonderful memories we have of you and the values that you instilled in us.  I know you’re with Grandpa and Nanna now and you are at peace. I now look forward to sharing these memories of you with my own children as bedtime stories.