Oh dear, look at the dust...and the cobwebs. This old place hasn't been taken care of for a while...let me grab a duster, hang on...there, that's better - get out spider! Days and days spent plodding away at this book job. I have taken the air twice in eight days, (unless you count collecting the bins). One tramp through the woods and a rare trip into civilisation to visit the Witney Wayzgoose. Yes indeed.

According to my Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a Wayzgoose is 'an annual dinner, picnic or beanfeast especially one given to, or held by, those employed in a printing house. 'Wayz' ('wase') is an obsolete word for a bundle of hay, straw or stubble, hence a harvest goose or fat goose, which is the crowning dish of the entertainment '.

Anyhow, here we had a lovely collection of small presses and bookbinders, many of who I had seen and some of whom I had had the privilege of meeting at the Fine Press Book Fair, back in rainy, dull November last. (As opposed to rainy, dull July, now). My first mission was to find Alan Brignull, the Founding Father of Adanaland. I have it on good authority that they don't have websites in Adanaland, though traces of it can be found through the all-seeing Google. (Nearly) everything that Alan produces, including his wonderful stamps, is beautifully printed on an Adana 8x5 press.

We shook hands, I was introduced to his nice family and we exchanged gifts - I am afraid my offering was a m
ere jar of jam, from my plum-fest last year. I was thrilled to received a packet of goodies from the Rambling Urchin, the mini-sheet published by the Hedgehog Press. All letter pressed, with a gorgeous variety of ornaments and a miscellany of fascinating snippets.

The envelope was charmingly addressed to 'the Great Stabber' - (needle felt meets letter press!) Cotswold Gent asked if he was 'the only bloke who read my blog', and this is proof that he is not alone - although in a distinct minority. (I clumsily got a bit of red printing ink on the envelope. Bad me). And this time I just had to buy his latest stamp editions 'Women of Adanaland' - all the images are from original little Adana blocks. And purchased in a most satisfying way from the Adanaland stamp machine. Coin in, handle pulled - ker-clunk - stamps out.

And with them, a little box of Adanaland matches -

At the stall next door I spotted a booklet illustrated by my old life teacher, Annie Newnham. She grounded me in everything useful I needed to know about how to draw figures. The most important thing, which became ingrained in my own style, was how to sense the rhythm and flow of a body, how to really look and love the unconscious, graceful poses into which the most seemingly ordinary of people fall into when they are waiting for a bus or chatting over coffee. I soaked up her teaching in over two years and never forgot them. She pulled my figure drawings from being tight little pencil daubs sat in the middle of an white page, to being big, bold charcoal statements, full of expression and joy. Thank you for that, Annie. So I spent a little of my pocket money on buying the illustrated Ted Hughes poem 'Comics'.

And moved on to admire the working press further along. (This is where I picked up the smudge of red ink which besmirched my lovely Adanaland envelope).

And on to say hello to nice Graham and Cathy, down from the North with the Incline Press. While admiring some of their latest editions -

I sensed a 'personality' next to me. A small, beady eyed, lady of advanced years, holding herself upright with two walking sticks. Graham was talking her through one of their newest publications, beautifully illustrated by young artist Rose Harries.

Her opinions - for she certainly did have opinions - were being carefully considered. She was definitely someone.

When she slowly left the stall and was safely out of earshot I asked Graham who she was:
Beth Cooke, a well respected artist, still painting and exhibiting today. I can only hope that I am still wielding a paintbrush, if I am lucky enough to reach that kind of age.

I came away regretting that my time is so - squashed - right now. I know I haven't managed to get any of my Adanas printing as they should (my fault) and now I am all stocked up I could be doing so much. But a grand day out, and an opportunity to pick up a horde of little printed treasures; so many of the stall holders ask such reasonable prices that it would be rude not to.

These events happen more often than most people know, so if Alan would like to keep me up-to-date with when and where they are being held in the UK, I will advertise the dates here - and you too can visit Adanaland and other magical letter press kingdoms. With pocket money at the ready.

Confessions. I am not just illustrating. I am mainly - 90% - illustrating. On the edge of things I am also house-working, needle felting, gardening, cake making, meal cooking, eBay selling, Etsy-ing and occasionally sleeping. But all in small doses around the book job. I am weary, grumpy, and run down; I have to go to the dentist next week to sort out my gaping, niggling back molar cavity. So apologies for lack of returned emails, lack of blog visiting and comments. It's the juggling thing and I have picked up too many balls. But they are almost all up in the air...for the moment.


Christy/Tiddly Inks Digitals said...

I am a long distance admirer of your illustrations on Etsy and I have enjoyed stopping by your blog once in while to enjoy your lovely writing as well.

If you don't mind, I added your name to a little art award that gets passed around. :) You can find the details on my blog.
Thanks and I truly love your style. It is very endearing and touching.

Susan Mitchell said...

I can sympathize - when there is no work, it can be scary, but when it comes, it seems to all come at once and can feel overwhelming at times.I feel the same way - worn out and needing a break, but still I would never exchange this job for anything else, as I sure you wouldn't. And I feel so happy to read that you are busy and doing what you love. I am looking forward to seeing how this book turns out - I am sure it will be lovely.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

What an excellent day that must have been, I don't see the red ink though, it must be very small, or I am jsut not seeing it because I am dazzled my the other things. You are awfully busy.....take care of yourself and good luck at the dentist. I always enjoy your blog immensely.

Anonymous said...

You'll pick up dearie and thank goodness you've the sense to know when to ease up. Keep breathing! Love your writing and creativity, keeps me going.

Anonymous said...

Who needs websites in Adanaland when we have you to do our publicity for us like this? Thanks for all the kind words — glad to hear you had a good time and caught the bus home safely.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

We are glad to see you resurface and even more glad to hear that you are busy! You should be, we find you quite talented and love hearing of your adventures! Even if they seem fairly pedestrian to you!

And, sincere condolences on having to visit the dentist. Not a favorite activity of mine.

auntpearl said...

Sounds like you had an absolutely lovely time. It is always fun to get more treasures.

Just wanted to stop in and say hello.
All the best.

Anonymous said...

Oi! He's not the only bloke who reads your blog

*waves arms*

best wishes from London
the type nerd

Gretel said...

*waves back* to Type Nerd - yes, I hadn't forgotten you! but you chaps ARE in the minority...but none the less valued for that. :)

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

Hey, all work and no play...squashes the creative spirit...so I am happy you got out and about for a bit. And thanks for letting us tag along on your adventures.


Frances said...

You juggle beautifully and generously. Without what I read here, I would never know that these wonderful printers are still printing.

On stamps ... how I wish that Donald Evans had not fallen out of that Amsterdam window, so many years ago.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gretel,
I'm so glad you made the time to show us these little gems! What lovely treasures there are at these events. I like Annie Newnham's figures, what a great teacher she must have been. I had a fantastic life drawing teacher at one time too called Esme Clutterbuck - now there's a name! It's so inspiring to meet elderly artists like Beth Cooke isn't it? That's how I'd like to be one day, still painting right up until the end!

Merisi said...

Oh, sweet Lord,
up to your hair roots in work, and you still manage to write and illustrate such an informative and delightful blogpost! Bravissima!!! :-)

I shall dream from now on that one day I shall be able to come and visit Adanaland. So kind of you to offer to keep us up to date! That little box of matches is adorabel, and the presses and their products simply have me swooning, no make that drooling all over the keyboard. Quick, a towel!

May you find a little island of peace and relaxation every now and then, even before finishing that big book job!

Unknown said...

I just found your wonderful blog and I have visited a few times. I featured your blog on mine today, to let my friends know what a wonderful place this is. If you get a chance please stop by. Karen

Anonymous said...

Keep juggling...one by one the balls will dissolve away and you'll find yourself some spare time to take a well-earned breath.

Love your visit to Adana-land. Never forget you were the one to get me back into wood engraving, and getting a press, an' all. Now I've gone and entered some prints for selection to a big exhibition, for the first time ever....I blame you entirely! ;-)

OldBagNewTricks said...

I'm there beside you juggling, shuffling, step-ball-chaining. Ah, but it is such a delight to come to your blog and visit a bit. I much enjoy the book/print fair. Thank you. Oh and I am very excited to be coming to London in September. I'm jumping up and down with glee.


Dana and Daisy said...

Eric Gill's Essays on Typography... makes for good light reading! lol!

Oh how I wish I could have been there!

d. moll, l.ac. said...

I know you are terribly busy, but I've given you an award, you can come pick it up at my blog.....

Anonymous said...

This surely soudn like an excellent day :)

kate smudges said...

Wow... you must have had an amazing day. Adanaland looks to be a special places. I'm taken with the little matchbox.

I hope the illustrations are soon done and you can spend more time on the things that you love!!

Happy weekend to you!

Joanne said...

I am a fan of Adanaland & was delighted to receive a letter in the post last week.