Typing and Tipping

A weekend away enabled us the opportunity to talk face to face about the next stage of the book; this included making some firm decisions regarding the content and form, we were also able to discuss the practicalities of production. The decision to place the historic information on the tip-ins was confirmed, we will use the same colour stock and size as the record cards in Recovered & Recorded, this will help reiterate their connection. However there are concerns about the thickness of the book and our ability to sew them on the machine, therefore T suggested photocopying the typed pieces instead. (T to undertake type tests).The cover design was confirmed, and blue trace will be used and accommodate all seven dot locations on the front only. (P to test different dot size). To enable interaction with the pages, we will explore the idea of perforating the french-fold (P to test using perforation wheel).

Following the above the tests, it was found that despite using thin paper for the tip-ins, sewing with the machine (even manually), was too difficult, therefore we need to find either an alternative binding method or add the tip-ins afterwards using either tape or pva. The perforation wheel is adequate and seems to work best after the paper has been folded.


Decisions, decisions

aerial deskFurther to a week or two of activity developing our own practice, a pre-arranged FaceTime discussion was an opportunity to discuss our individual progress, and confirm specific aspects of the project along with the logistics of production.

As we like there to be a reason behind each decision we make, we will produce an edition of 11 books, as we received 11 completed questionnaires. The sequence of the book was confirmed as objects appearing in geographic order from north to south.

sketchbook kept

Each component part that will make up the book was then discussed in detail to try to ascertain and approve each element. The stock for the tip-ins will be trialed – blue typewriter on a thin manilla card, one final historic fact is still required – T will research commemorative spoons as an alternative solution. As we were unable to come to a conclusion regarding the text colour, test prints will be carried out next week of different combinations before making a decision and the pages printed for T to collect in two weeks time at a face to face meeting. T will start to produce the illustrations prior to receiving the printed pages as these are drawn individually onto the white adhesive labels. We both agreed, that whilst the ink and extender patterns she had produced with the garden fork left the paper feeling waxy, as they would appear inside the French fold, we would retain this idea.

The front cover was discussed at some length, the concept will be based on a diagramatic representation of the geographic locations. Tests will be carried out to develop this idea. Finally it became apparent that as we have received the tracing paper we will need to test the binding technique, preferably a long running stitch using the sewing machine. The next stage will be to commence production.

Layers of mark making

Having received copies of P’s text pages, I have begun to explore the process of making with more focus! I have selected imagery to make use of, sourced larger scale self-adhesive paper, and gathered a series of blue media to draw with including wax pencils, tape, an assortment of writing pens and a dip pen with blue Quink ink.   I have re-read extracts from the returned questionnaire to provide ideas for image placement,  and am begin to refine how these objects will be viewed through layers of tracing paper.

I have begun to explore using carbon paper as a dry alternative to mono-printing and have trialled this by using a series of drawing tools to imply the action of digging. I read a little around the history of garden tools, and have started to use my hand held garden fork to transfer carbon onto the tracing paper and self-adhesive labels to suggest a nod to how each object was found. Whilst this produces some interesting mark making, the tone of blue is limited to the colour of the carbon which be be too strong for the text? As a response, I have spent some time adding differing amounts of extender ink to blue relief ink and have produced some monoprints with the garden fork onto the self-adhesive paper and tracing paper surfaces.

Layers of mark making have started to emerge within the illustrations of each kept objects. The first layer will be a pale blue monoprint, made with the garden fork on a part of the inside surface of the tracing paper page.  Each object will then be recorded as a contour line drawing using the dip pen on the self-adhesive surface.  This will enable a degree of choice around which drawings are selected to be cut out and presented within the book.  Prior to cutting, carbon paper marks will be produced on top of each object providing a second reference to the act of digging. The objects will be positioned inside each page with some reference to where they are now kept, and will also be be glimpsed behind the text which P has produced.


Back to Blue

on screen blog

Further to our Facetime discussion, the project has now started to pick up pace; whilst I produced the original Letraset text pieces in March, very little has been done with them since, so with T now starting to develop the visual imagery I needed to look again at how the pieces could be used. The majority of the type layouts are landscape which initially seemed awkward when working digitally and placing within the portrait format; at first I started to reduce and enlarge certain sections to fit the space but I quickly realised that this meant I lost the hierarchical structure that had been generated from the pre-determined system when working with the Letraset. Therefore I made the decision that all the text would have to be scaled in proportion, the downside to this was that the type is restricted in terms of size, and appears quite small on some pages.


Having seen the colour palette that T is using, I also made the decision to change the type colour to blue. The initial scans that I had made of the type had been produced without any forethought – and I had a total of 15 different variations, rather than select seven individual phrases – I worked instead with the idea of sequencing, so a phrase appears on one page and on the next is overlaid with another phrase, therefore continuing the theme of layering and depth. I rarely produce books digitally, preferring to work directly on press, however the nature of using Letraset has meant that this part of the book will be printed digitally with T’s visual elements offering an opportunity for each book to be individual.

At the moment we are working independently of each other to develop type and image, the next stage is to print out the texts onto the tracing paper then send to T – she can then work directly on to the texts before returning the pages for binding. This method of working is similar to , where we were both developing our own work in response to each other’s.

Putting an end to inactivity



Five weeks and two cancelled meetings later, a pre-arranged Facetime meeting enabled dialogue and decision making.  The title for this project was confirmed as Kept, and the number of stories clarified as seven, with P providing a possible addition/alternative, if required, in response to a recently recovered hand forged nail. This project will document responses to questionnaires through text and image and focus on alternative finds to broken pottery.  Both P and I are keen to make a third response around the theme of Recovered Recorded, possibly as a pair of books, to catalogue only the hoard of blue and white broken china pieces found in P’s new garden and at my mum’s allotment.

Having previously agreed on the page size, format and three components of content for this book, P has begun to research each of the given postcodes to collect historical facts about each specific location. In conversation it was agreed that these snippets of additional information could be presented within the book as Tip-In’s, possibly echoing the record card presentation style made use of within the Recovered Recorded. I have begun to explore how to make the illustrations within the inside of the tracing paper French-fold format and have started to work on top of self-adhesive labels so that the object can be viewed clearly from one side and becomes only a shape/shadow from the other side.  These need to be refined further, and experiments using mono-print, carbon paper and tape are planned.  P will send the text pages to be printed onto tracing paper so that the scale and placement of image can be resolved next week.

Belfast Sinks to Rusty Keys


Our regular Facetime meetings are becoming an invaluable way in which to ensure the projects’ momentum is maintained; this week we both had a focused set of questions that we were able to discuss and subsequently form decisions about. The book’s format, size and substrate were confirmed – we will work with the French-fold format and experiment with the idea of a heavy-weight trace – the translucent nature of this paper could suggest the idea of layers, with glimpses of type and image appearing in different forms then changing as each page is turned. Through further discussion we recognized that there are three elements to the book – fragment of a story (developed using Letraset type), images (T will work on the idea of contour drawing and map symbols to develop imagery of the found objects listed within the questionnaires) and historical facts and information (this relates to the sites where the objects have been found) – additional research into these sites will be required. In terms of composition, one of these elements will be hidden within the French-fold of the book, T recognized that all respondents had kept their found ‘treasure’, so it was suggested that the image of the object should be the item to be contained (kept) within the fold. Further references within the questionnaires offered the idea of a limited colour palette of blue (and possibly green). Whilst the book will have to be printed digitally (due to restrictions of some of the design processes we have used), we agreed that some form analogue/hand-crafted element was needed to ensure each book was in some way unique.

Kept: Colour, Pattern and Stories of Times Past  

In response to ideas generated by the book structures P produced, I have begun to re-read written responses within the returned questionnaires.  Drawing upon the process of inductive coding, ideas have begun to emerge around colour, pattern arrangement and stories of times past.  Several responses record local industry or points of interest which could be included within the hidden inside pages of the book structure P has produced. I have been reminded of working methodologies employed within the original Meeting in the Middle project which referenced social history discovered through on line local history groups.

The majority of questionnaires record that found objects have been kept, with one participant noting that they were ‘too beautiful to throw away’.  The idea of giving value comes to mind and the challenge of how to realise this visually.  Several answers include references to pattern arrangement which has begun to inform page layout ideas exploring the use of edges, negative shapes and repeating patterns. Postcodes and specific locations are recorded which has led to some investigation around map markings and the idea of using types of lines to trace the outline of each found object. Whilst considering map markings, I came across a contour drawing challenge at The House of Illustration which provided further context about this style of observation which may afford value to each object.  I have begun to make line drawings informed by this which I intend to develop using selected map markings.


Predominate colours are noted within the questionnaire as blue and translucent green glass which I will begin to explore as shapes within the line drawings.

Taking on board suggestions by P, and the notion of revealing information, I have begun to consider what if these illustrations were produced on translucent surfaces so that some information and imagery may be glimpsed through from one page to another.






Finding, Filing and Formats

bits in bags

Whilst the Facetime discussion helped to rationalise the development of the project, it’s interesting to note that our independent research and exploration of media and techniques has led to the consideration of making two further books based on the same theme as our edition recovered and recorded; this is an unusual direction for our collaborative practice to take, and perhaps highlights the potential that we have identified within the subject matter plus the opportunity to develop our creative practice in different directions.

formats open

In the first instance, and in response to the ‘questionnaire book’ I have worked on producing a set of dummies to send to T that explore and reflect the idea of discovery. Six different formats have been produced and these will form part of the discussion at our next Facetime meeting. Secondly, I have started to take a far more pragmatic approach to the ongoing findings of pottery pieces within the garden by photographing, recording and cataloguing the fragments by date order.

As a side note to T’s last post, and the question as to whether or not we use both collections for the ‘collection book’ – could part of the process be to compare and find potential similarities within each set? Research into the property itself should also be given a priority.

Questionnaires & Collections


A pre-planned FaceTime discussion last week, offered the opportunity to comment upon each other’s new practical work, share making processes, and exchange design methodology in order to clarify next steps of this project.

P talked through the making of her text pieces in which she had selected phrases from the returned questionnaires.  The media made use of has restricted style and scale of text and provided translucent surfaces to make use of.  The subsequent layered pieces have the potential to link to the notion of the pottery fragments being found at different layers within the earth in P’s garden.

Having been given a collection of broken pottery pieces found in my mum and dad’s allotment, I made use of this, alongside the text pieces made by P, to inform my first practical work.  Interested in developing more refined visual work, I started to catalogue all the different plates in my kitchen by tracing around them in response to one of the returned questionnaires.

As the project has developed alternative ideas are emerging.  One idea is to respond to the returned questionnaires.  These provide given starting points, snippets of others’ stories and found imagery in a similar way to our previous project in which we documented sewing secrets. There may or may not be connections across one or more questionnaires, but the interest is in documenting individual voices.  Having made use of The Small Publisher’s Fair in November 2018 to hand out the questionnaire and gather feedback on the project from visitors and participants, it would be interesting to present their responses next year at the fair.   P has already started to explore the potential of these questionnaires by selecting phrases which I could interpret visually, or I could re-examine the questionnaires independently to select visual imagery.  During the face time discussion we shared potential ideas for the format of this book which P will develop.

The second idea is to respond to the found collections of pottery in either P’s new garden or a combination of my parents allotment and P’s garden. This could become a second book in which the structure, text and visual imagery is more complex.  This may involve further research both to collect stories about either P’s house or my parents allotment or about the china pieces themselves.

Towards the end of the discussion we agreed to respond to the returned questionnaires in the first instance as we have the content for this book.  We agreed to develop the book structure and visual imagery independently and meet again via Facetime after four weeks to exchange ideas with a view to working together to construct part or all of the book within the Easter holiday.

What if they were all plates?


In response to experimental text pieces produced by P this week, and my own interest in exploring visual imagery, I began by tracing all the different plates in my kitchen! The slight differences in size created multiple overlapping lines which reminded me of patterns formed when using a spirograph.

Having documented multiple plates, I spent some time reading about dinnerware and plates in particular. I read about earthenware which is ‘prone to chipping’, stoneware which is typically used in ‘everyday place settings’ and porcelain which is used in ‘formal dining settings’.  These phrases may  be interesting to draw upon as the project develops.    I discovered that there are eight traditional types of plate, ranging in diameter from 140mm to 500mm, and noted that the outside edge of the plate is often decorated with a pattern. I am interested in re-examining the found pottery pieces to search out edges – as if in a jigsaw when the outside edges are found in order to assemble the rest of the picture.

In response to this research, I selected different types, and sizes of plates from my collection, and recorded 1 charger, 1 standard plate, 1 dessert plate, 3 side plates and 1 saucer.  In consideration of multiple pieces, I traced all remaining pieces from my Grandmother’s tea service: 1 cake plate, 5 cups, 6 saucers and 4 plates. Multiple lines becoming darker in tone were created by tracing round every individual piece of china. Having traced the outside edge of plates, I am now beginning to connect these to the found pottery pieces.


Whilst exploring the shape and scale of plates, I am still keen to make use of colour and pattern in some way and took a series of photographs documenting a second recovered collection of pottery pieces.  These were found by my mother and father in their allotment.  By documenting them in a similar way to P, I was drawn to the simple geometric patterns on some of the pieces which I may explore further.