Bloomsbury

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I am currently reading a library book published by Bloomsbury, and there are two things I know about Bloomsbury from first-hand experience. One is that they publish some excellent fiction—the calibre of writing is of a consistently high standard—and the other is that the last page of the book, after the acknowledgements and any other endmatter, is ‘A Note on the Type’. I wish all books would have this! My current book is set in Adobe Caslon, and I am given a brief but exceedingly interesting history of the typeface.

Supreme

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I’m attempting to tidy my office, and while it’s relatively easy to vacuum the floor and straighten my desk, the digital filing is not always so easy. In theory there’s nothing to it: my problem lies in the quantity. I have used the ‘oh it’s not in the way I’ll do it later’ excuse a little longer than I’d like to admit. But in the process of cleaning up I found this. The art deco Supreme building, built around 1930, is in the main street of the NSW town of Glen Innes.

1936

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This 1936 is a little out of the ordinary. I like its hand-drawn qualities—the variation in the thickness of the strokes, the way the tapering 1 works with the stylised 9 so that together they have a design aesthetic while still being legible.

Miniatures

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Recently, in response to encouragement from my book group to enter work into a local miniatures show, I turned my hand to making a miniature book. Although I don’t work on a particularly big scale, it certainly proved challenging to work so small. The result was Spark, a concertina book in a matchbox-sized box, inspired by Dante’s quote: ‘A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.’ You can find details here.

Caged M

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I don’t know what this m doing here, trapped inside and looking out, but I feel a little like it today. Sydney is doing its all-or-nothing weather thing, and today it’s bucketing down. The sensible course of action would be to stay indoors and keep dry: but I have things to do which involve going outside and braving the elements. From a typographic and design standpoint, I like this scripty m, and would like to know what it’s story is. I saw nothing around it to give any clue, although the building did have a security camera and alarm—perhaps to make sure the m doesn’t make a break for it.

Barbed wire

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Here’s another detail of the Catherine Hill Bay jetty barrier. It’s pretty intimidating for anyone trying to climb over it, but I love the sculptural aesthetic: the shapes formed by the strands of wound barbed wire, the shadows of those vicious teeth along the top of the gate, the dramatic blue and tones of steely grey, the stark brutality of it all.

Jetty

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Catherine Hill Bay is a coastal village south of Newcastle, on the southern peninsula that forms the opening to Lake Macquarie, and is significant for the coal and rutile mining that was carried out in the area. The large jetty, used to ship the coal, is now abandoned and closed—very seriously closed judging by the amount of barbed wire and corrugated iron used to deter trespassers. It hasn’t stopped the graffiti however, which is a dramatic sight.

Kembla

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Frederick Thomas Wimble was best known as an ink maker and printers’ furnisher, supplying the printing trades throughout Australia and New Zealand through his company FT Wimble & Co. He also produced fonts, identical to American and British ones, but with Australian names. Examples of these are Canberra Old Style (Century), Jenolan Old Style (Goudy), Wimbles Scholastic (Century Schoolbook) and Oceanic Shaded (Antique Shaded). Kembla Open Face, his re-naming of Caslon Open Face, is my favourite—if only because it makes me wonder what it was about the steel town that inspired the naming choice!

Dingbat earrings

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I’m currently working on my submission for the Personal Histories Artists Book Exhibition which will be held at the Redland Museum in Queensland later this year. In sifting through the material that I’m using as the basis for my book I have come across all sorts of things I had forgotten about. One item is this pattern for making dingbat earrings. This now-mottled and deteriorating bromide (remember them!) came complete with instructions and fixings.

Seat of knowledge

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Two weeks in an enclosed airconditioned environment, with the usual handful of snifflers and coughers. Mix it up with the lunchtime throng of sneezers in the shopping centre across the road. Yet I survived unscathed, patting myself on the back for maintaining excellent health! Then, on the weekend, I dropped by the travel agency, and in the split second that I let my immune guard down, I knew (too late) I would be leaving with more than the flight information I had been seeking. If only I had stopped a moment, when I had the chance, at this seaside surf club seat of knowledge: perhaps I would have learnt the cure for the common cold.