Special Letters Unit


Once again, my visit to the gym coincided with the screening of Sesame Street. I really didn’t feel like going, but I was richly rewarded for my choice of the treadmill over a few more minutes of the crossword and another cup of coffee because Special Letters Unit: The Missing M was screening. This Law and Order: SVU spoof is impressive in its attention to detail, from the alphabet-themed intro and scene-punctuating chung chungs, to the mugshot of the Letter M complete with height scale. While all the characters are readily identifiable, the depiction of Munch is nothing short of brilliant.

Red and white


My friend gave me a pair of lava earrings. I quizzed her about her choice—wondered if it was because she knows I am so taken with Haleakala, Mauna Kea and Kilauea. She said that was partly the reason, the other factor being that the graphic blackness of them suited the designer in me. But that’s only half the story of her considered gift-giving. The other was the package it came in: a carry bag, massive in proportion relative to the gift within, but perfect nonetheless. Red sans serif upper case city names repeated over and over on a white background.

Paper trees


This year has been fairly quiet in the lead up to Christmas, but my book group had a good turnout for our last meeting of the year, where we ate too much chocolate and home-made fruit cake, had a bookish Secret Santa, and, in the wake of our first group exhibition, talked about possibilities for next year. These paper trees were made for each of us by Julie Bookless, who, with her usual perspicacity, matched the colour and paper of every one she made to our bookmaking personalities. Julie constructed the trees using the first stage of the Turkish map fold.

Large upstairs room


The sign on this door is just too fabulous! In fact, I’m a little stumped as to what to say about it, other than to wonder why it was deemed necessary to label a room in a building that is hardly large enough to get lost in. Maybe I’m being too harsh: this is a community centre, and we all like to be given clear directions for when we turn up for something in a place we’ve never been. And I didn’t get lost—that would have been impossible—but I was certainly diverted.

The number 6


I’ll just come right out and admit it: I’m a sucker for Sesame Street. I went to the gym mid-morning today, and all the treadmills and cross-trainers had their tv screens tuned to Sesame Street, proudly brought to us today by Big Bird and the number 6. Six goldfish, six meatballs on a bed of spaghetti, six singing blackbird puppets: who could ask for more! Sesame Street is imaginative, entertaining and heartwarming. All that, and you can learn to count, too. The number 6 here is Univers Extra Black and the bird is from the Wiesbaden Swing dingbat set.



In proofreading, w.f. stands for ‘wrong font’, but that can hardly be applied here, even though my pavlovian response is to look for where to make the correction! Every country town most certainly has its butcher, baker and candlestick maker, but the kind of store I gravitate towards is the double-fronted outfitters—women’s clothes on one side, men’s on the other, recessed doorway in the middle allowing maximum window shopping. This clothing store was even wider, with four windows and two doors, and the vignetted, gold-outlined signage appeared twice. The letter shapes were almost the same but not quite, and I particularly liked this F, which was much more elongated than its counterpart above the other doorway.

Glass M


I know almost nothing about stained glass, whether it be coloured glass as a material, or the art and craft created from it. Working with glass seems to me inordinately difficult, and although I once learnt how to make glass beads, I am much more at home with a sharp blade, a bonefolder and a few sheets of paper. Somewhere in the back of my mind, in that receptacle that stores trivia, is a snippet of information about beer bottles: that brown glass protects beer from going off by filtering light absorption, but green glass is fine for beer with a lower hops content. None of which has much to do with this stained glass window, which caught my eye for the mix of design styles and glass textures, not least the M on an opaque white oval.



There’s something a little wonky going on with this lettering. The letter shapes are not quite right: the thickness of the strokes varies, the middle stroke of the E juts out a tad longer than the bottom stroke, the leg of the R doesn’t quite support the bowl. The kerning would benefit from some fine-tuning too. But the letters have character—no pun intended, although perhaps I should say they have personality! I like this carefully painted but not perfect gold and red word—perhaps for the very reason that it isn’t perfect—as well as its reflection in the building across the road.

Ice works


Today is shaping up to be another scorcher, but unfortunately all that’s left of this ice works is the name on the front of the building, so no relief from the heat will be found there. I doubt the words were always painted icy white, and while I would like to think that whoever chose the colour did so by design, the cynic in me suspects that the signage was painted over to make it disappear, the easier to lease the premises for other purposes. Meanwhile, the ice works might not be able to help me keep cool today, but I’m going out for lunch, and the pub serves a mighty fine cold beer.

Chuck Close


I knew of Chuck Close, but until I saw the current exhibition of his work at Sydney’s MCA this week, I had no idea how absolutely amazing his work is, nor of the depth and breadth of his skill as a printmaker. I think I’m doing well when I manage a two-colour woodcut, but that pales to insignificance when compared to his 84-colour or 113-colour woodcuts. Or his 126-colour screenprints. Not to mention the thousand-plus watercolour pigment squares he painted, scanned and manipulated until ready for use. Or that phenomenal mezzotint, Keith. But what impressed me most were his working grids, like the template for the etching of Philip Glass. The editioned etching and the spitbite grid hung side by side, the grid as superb as the finished portrait.