Rich fruit cake

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The easter show would not be the easter show without cake. The arts and crafts pavilion features row upon row upon row of sultana cake, marble cake and various classes of fruit cake, all baked to exact—and exacting—standards. No use of ring tins, no rack marks, no packet mixtures, no icing. In fruit cakes, nuts must be cut to a size that doesn’t interfere with the cutting of the cake. Cakes can be round or square, but must be 20 cm. No trimming, smooth sides, evenly browned, fruit distributed evenly, moist but not heavy or doughy. More rules than you can poke a stick at! What intrigues me is the judging. Each of these cakes has a small wedge cut out of it for tasting—but after a few mouthfuls, how is a judge able to distinguish one bite of cake from another, especially when they are made using the same recipe!

What Katy Did

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I am extremely honoured to be the winner of the 2014 Biblio-Art Award. The Biblio-Art brief was to take an existing book—my book was What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge—and to create an artwork which both used and referenced the book in some way. I chose to make an artist’s book, and there is more about it under Artist’s books.

The edition I had to work with was quite old—I’m not sure of its exact age, but it was produced by Purnell and Sons, a family-run printing company that was based in Somerset, England, from 1839 to 1964. Typographically, it was not particularly easy on the eye. It was set in Times on 10pt leading. The type size, as close as I could measure it, was 9.5 or 10pt, making it a little too tight for comfortable reading. Book typesetting has come a long way since then, and typefaces like Electra, Janson Text, Garamond and Caslon, with a little more air in the leading, are used more effectively.

Arts and crafts

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I enjoyed this year’s Easter Show more than I anticipated, not least because I won a couple of ribbons for bookbinding! In the ‘cased-in binding’ class I entered a quarter-bound, square-backed cased-in book with slipcase, and in the ‘any other style of bound book’ class I entered a coptic book. The arts and crafts competitions began in the nineteenth century and were held ‘for the ladies’, the main categories being scone and fruitcake baking, preserves, crochet and knitting. These categories have grown to include—to name just a few—cake decorating and sugar art, paper tole, woodwork, lacemaking, felting, embroidery, painting, calligraphy, sculpture, parchment craft, toymaking and quilling. This year’s display was an impressive testament that arts and crafts is alive and well.