bookmarks the whole lot
You probably remember me making my edition of 100 bookmarks for the Booksmarks XIII project by Sarah Bodman. In the meantime my full set with one bookmark for every participating artist reached me.

bookmark melanie alexandrou

bookmark by Melanie Alexandrou

bookmark lesley crawley

bookmark by Lesley Crawley

bookmark Kathleen Furey

bookmark by Kathleen Furey

bookmark sumi perera

bookmark by Sumi Perera

Sarah already mailed us a list of participating venues, which lists places in the UK, USA, and Australia. She said the webpage will be up and live soon. Unfortunately at this moment I don’t have anything to link to. So I decided to just snap some images myself; above you can see some of my favourites, though it was really hard to choose: So many beautiful bookmarks!

with child

“With Child”, by H. Kurzke, paper size A4

And while I am showing off images, I thought I’d also show you the print I made for the competition in Japan. As you might remember, I was fretting out about this one. Well, I still won’t comment too much on it now. It is a print made from 4 different plates, the first is a stamp of a heart, barely visible in the finished print, the second a kitchen litho print with pairs of eyes surounding the main image, third is a lino cut of a female skelleton, and the third a monoprint, where I put the paper onto an inked up plate and then pressed the paper onto the plate with a pencil. Due to the monoprint in the end, each print is quite different from the others. Here is a detail:

with child detail

“with child” by H. Kurzke, detail of print, print size approximately 10cm square

These are of course all old news in a way, but in the past 2 weeks I didn’t get much work done.

[Imagine a photo of a nice English garden party here, please. I was so busy, I failed to take a single photo the whole day.]

Last Saturday, a week ago, we had a big celebration here in our house (or rather the garde) with all our family from Germany invited, and many indeed visiting. In a fit of madness -which I thoughtwas a particularly clever phase until living through the result- I had arranged with my sister to start on a joint, brief vacation on Sunday. Yep, the day right after the celebration. I had everything planned out: A marquee (I keep thinking “tent”, but learned quickly that I shouldn’t say so, unless I want to spread happiness and laughter among our hired personal for the day) was put up on Friday and put down on Sunday early in the morning. I not only hired a caterer to make and serve all the food, I also hired the complete porcelain and cutlery we needed, so that everything would just be taken away and we could leave.

All this indeed worked but was a lot more work and required more effort than I first anticipated. I had made sure that the marquee would be taken down on Sunday at 9 so that we could leave soon, but only on that morning realized that I had to get up really early to take down all decorations before that. And that is just one details where I was completely ignorant of how much work would go into that until I had it on my plate. Already the week before the event I essentially stopped working, and instead went into party-preparation mode. Although food fortuately wasn’t my task anymore, a plethora of things needed to be arranged.

I think despite various things not working out as planned, it was a fairly good party. At least I hope it was. I can hardly remember now, and everything seems to melt to a blur when I think back. After having all family come by on Sunday once more, saying good bye’s for a couple of hours, then packing our suitcases (we thought we would have plenty of time on Sunday morning, and in all fairness, I forgot only a few things which we could easily buy at a Morrisons), I sat down in the car beside DH, kids in the back, excited to go on a beach vacation with their cousins, heaved a big sigh of relief, and felt ready for vacation indeed. Half an our later, I said to M. “I think, my hangover is finally kicking in.” It didn’t occur to me that it could be anything else, and didn’t seem the slightest bit strange to me that I had not felt it in the morning.

When we arrived, I told the same to my sister who was already there. She was surprised “I didn’t think you drank that much yesterday.” “Well, I must have”, I replied. I didn’t count what I drank, but I had a glass in my hand pretty much the whole time, having had a drink with most of our guests. It still seemed perfectly reasonable to me that this was a hangover. I drove with my sister to a supermarket in the next village, by now shaking violently, while picking items from the cooled shelves. When we came home again, I announced that I felt a bit sick by now, to be honest, and needed a little lie-down. I took my temperature, and was surprised to see it raise until very little shy of 40 degrees. I could hardly believe it. I didn’t seem to have any other symptoms: a hangover with fever? – unlikely. Too much stress? – maybe. I took some ibuprofen, went to bed early, and really expected to be all fine in the morning.

Far from it, unfortunately. During the night, as I became more and more aware of a pain and swelling in the throad, it became clear to me that it must be a tonsillitis. Which a nurse who agreed to see me pretty much right away confirmed. She asked whether I maybe have had too much stress recently? – Apparently it was a rather bad case and did look like I have had it for a longer time, apparently without really noticing / showing due to high stress levels.

When is a good time to be sick? My sister and her husband pittied me for getting sick just when I was to go on vacation, but I didn’t feel too bad about that. I guess that is the difference between being self-employed and being eligible to fully paid sick days. Anyway, I was aware of my body telling me to take it more slowly, – but how?

I was determined to get better soon. The rest of the family went to the beach and tossed in two bottles for me and my project message in a bottle while I stayed a day in bed.

On Wednesday I was feeling well enough to go to the beach myself, free of fever thanks to ibuprofen (and no additional paracetamol which I took, too the past 2 days), and I was beginning to feel much better. The weather was beautiful, too, and we spent the day at the beach and I tossed in some bottles, too, that day. I hope they will have a good journey!

And the next day we already drove back, the first day I was without fever without medication. Now I try to take it a bit more slowly, but it’s not easy. Being in the studio to get work done is actually the most relaxing I can do at the moment. But I have been sick too many times in a row now, I really should find a way to wind down a little. It is surprisingly hard to do, since the moment I step out of my room, I have two (heavy by now) children literally clinging on to me, asking me to do this and that. When I lie down, I have two kids jumping around on me. But they have been surprisingly tender and caring while I had a fever. They kept feeling my head for temperature, remarking acurately “you are very hot”, “you are warm, but not as much as yesterday”, … it was really heart warming. On Friday they had their graduation ceremony from preschool, a little more than a week and they will go to school. I am rather proud of how far they have come!

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Corner Chomper

corner chomper

my new toy

I bought this corner chomper recently and it reached me today. I have no real sane reason for buying it. I have been wanting one for a long time, but I don’t really know what I will be using it on. Of course I immediately tried it, and it is amazing, it does not even take force. I imagined I would have to lean on the hande to cut through the notebook, but actually none at all.

excercise book

exercise book I made a couple of years ago and still had lying around.

two corners chomped

two front corners chomped

four corners chomped

all four corners chomped

I quite like it :-)

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Been making things

My apologies for being so silent and not having posted anything in the past couple of months (edit: weeks. It feels like months, but it actually was just a couple of weeks.). As you might have expected, I have been quite busy. And I actually made a couple of things, too. As intended I turned from printmaking back to making books, well, slowly.

So, let me see, what have I done since the last blogpost…

miniature suitcase by H. Kurzke

I made a miniature suitcase, making the buckle was the hardest thing!

I made a couple more bottles for my project message in a bottle. The one I like best is the one you can see here, I named it “Small World – The Suitcase”.

miniature book by H. Kurzke

Here you can see (among other things) the miniature book that I also made to go with the suitcase. Of course it has some content which I will keep secret until someone finds the bottle.

mini book in bottle by H. Kurzke

The bottle just before sealing it.

Then I travelled to Ulm to visit my sister and get a glimpse at my youngest nephew.

baby foot, photo by H. Kurzke

aw, baby foot

And of course I used the chance to dispatch a bottle into a new river. It ended up to be the river Blau which discharges into the Danube. The day was just too hot to go far with the little baby.


Throwing a bottle into the river Blau in Blaubeuren, near Ulm.

When I came back, I made three gigantic boxes. In the picture they don’t look so big, but the basis has a format of about 45cm square, and it turned out I had to use a mix of papers to cover them, because I just didn’t have enough of the same paper to cover or line even one of them. They are now sitting in an what used to be a shelf and is now a chest of drawers boxes in the kid’s room.


big boxes and my foot for comparison

And back to making books:

pamphlet by H. Kurzke

1-quire tacket binding with an embroidered design on the cover. (I should have taken a thinner thread for the embroidery…)

I have also been making a variety of pamphlets in preparation of a bookbinding workshop I am going to give in December, above you see just one of many I made to try out different designs. I am rather exited about this opportunity at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and have since been investigating and perfecting some ideas for variations of the pamphlet stitch that I thought would be interesting to writers. Here is a link to the booking page and workshop description. Non-members are welcome, too.

Last weekend I then travelled to the coast in Lincolnshire, Mablethorpe, to be precise. Of course I out some bottles into the sea there. You can read more about the dispatch on the other blog.

Throwing Messages in Bottles into the Sea in Mablethorpe

Throwing Messages in Bottles into the Sea in Mablethorpe.

When I entered my studio today, I pulled out the sewing frame. It is about time that I used it again, it had literally gathered some dust. I mentioned before that I have bought some jute twine to try for supports, and now was the time.

setting up photo by H. Kurzke

setting up

I usually just made kettle stitches at the head and tail when binding on raised support, but wanted to try something new today. So I pulled out the K. Smith book. I very much like the Herringbone stitch, and Smith combines it with packed souble cords for changeover, so I decided to give that a try.

Working on the frame was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. – It really HAS been too long! I enjoyed the familiar pull of thread in my hands, and the repetitiveness of stitching up a book. – I have no covers prepared (or in mind) yet, I’ll still have to find out what to make with this textblock. As you can see in the photo, the packing didn’t work so well. I am used to packing on the middle signatures, but since you only get a chance to pack every second signature for the changeover, I found it rather hard to get them to spread evenly, therefore I guess I will end up coverering them.

textblock and photo by H. Kurzke

bound textblock, herringbone stitch with packing on double cords as changeover

The twine worked beautifully so far, by the way. I am looking forward to using it again.

Have you really read through this long blogpost until here? Thank you a lot for your interest, and I wish you a wonderful and creative next week!

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A Book for a Change

Message in a Bottle No. 72 (Take 2)
I made a teeny tiny book today to put into one of my bottles. It measures about 4mm x 5mm and has handwritten text in it.
Making a book, even if it was just a small one, was a welcome change from a lot of printmaking recently. Since I have been complaining so much about it, I probably owe you a status update: I finished a print by now, and send it off to Japan yesterday. I am not sure whether it is my best yet or total crap. Maybe I’ll talk about it another time, for now I am just happy to leave that experience behind me…

And I guess, I might make some books in the weeks (days?) to come. Of course I am also still working on 346, the book about my hospital stay in 2011. I am currently rewriting and re-formatting the text since I decided after the second draft that I need to radically change its form. Instead of a series of postcards, it is now going to be a scroll that sits in a box and has to be cranked forward and back to be read. I really hope to finish that book soon! I am eager to show it off and let people read it. But it has to be ready first.

Have a nice week, you all!

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Printmaker’s Block, Litho and Ink Experiments, and Twine Trials

drypoint and monoprint

H. Kurzke, drypoint and monoprint, 1/1, “arches”

Still no progress with my print to enter into the show. I am suffering from a lesser known but just as severe form of writer’s block: printmaker’s block.

In interviews with artist’s the question of how they overcome the blank paper and lack of ideas is often asked. Arrogant as I can sometimes be, I always had thought it didn’t effect me. Indeed I have not experienced this before. It is not like I do not have any ideas – I have plenty new ideas and fill pages of my diary and sketchbook with reminders of these seemingly so wonderful things to do. Problem is just that even if all these would be brilliant, and I could make them come to life all today, this would still not answer the question what to send to Japan. The approaching deadline (my personal save line was actually last weekend) doesn’t make it easier. Graaaah!

Up until now I just never had to deliver something specific on a deadline. So when I thought I didn’t have a problem with creative blocks, it was just a matter of not encountering such a deadline before. And truth is: I do not have any concepts in place to deal with it. I am currently just spirralling down into doing nothing at all, it seems.

Well, to give myself a break, I bought art materials, and then allowed myself to play a little with it. I already showed you some pictures of the kitchen lino woman with hat, here are two scans now.

litho print woman with hat

H. Kurzke, Lithographic print, woman with hat

I also tried a little more drypoint in combination with a monoprint, an idea I had during my print workshop in April (seen on top). The monoprint (all that is not black) took an amazing and crazy lot of time. Essentially it took me a full day to just make two prints.


my worktable while making the monoprint. With the paint tubes on the table and rags and brushes and rollers I felt really like a “proper” artist

In the past week, I had the crazy idea to indeed make a kitchen lino print for Japan (by now I have given up on that idea), and thus experimented a little more systematically. Here is the inked up kitchen foil for a sample page, experimenting with different pens and resists (the frame and the word “sampler” were made with a brush dipped in melted butter). If you take a closer look you will notice that I cannot write mirror skript quite as well as I would like to…

sampler alu

preparing a kitchen litho sample print

And here is the print in my sketchbook. Silly me is delighted beyond sensibility about the coincidence that the kitchen lino book has exactly the same format as my sketchbook.

sampler book

look, my sketchbook and my printing paper has the same format as the book!

Also I have been thinking and experimenting with expanding my product line for Büchertiger Supplies. I now added Fil Au Chinois professional bookbinding thread. Fil Au Chinois is the line of lush linen thread (lin cable) made for sewing leather which I like to use for exposed bindings. That thread is beautiful but too strong for conservational and professional use. I still have some small bits of German Bookbinding Thread which I intent to keep in my inventory (but it will take a while until I restock).

Fil Au Chinois bookbinding thread

new bookbinding thread now available at Büchertiger Supplies

And today a sample of Jute thread reached me. I am wondering and going to experiment whether it will serve well for binding on cords. It is completely natural, I love the colours it comes in and the rough look it has, and – not least – the tin!


yummy jute twine

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Lithography - first trial
While still searching for something to enter into the show I mentioned in my last post, I decided to try non-toxic alu-plate lithography at home. Find out more here. I bought the book, by the way, and can very much recommend it. – And it works! Much to try out now.
Lithography - first trial

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Searching for a new Print

Not quite blank pages, but not getting anywhere either, it seems. I am urgently looking for a new thing to print and enter into a print competition I foolishly agreed (and paid for) to enter, and now I am drawing one blank after another, wrecking my brain what to print…

Some drafts from my sketchbook inspired by architecture this morning:
trying hard

trying again

and again

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Studio Time: Making new copies of Absences

stone piles 1

stone piles, photo by H. Kurzke, July

I have had a little studio time in the past four days or so, and I thought, I’d just show you what I did.

My book absences was selected to be exhibited for the Sheffield Book Arts Prize. What is interesting about this prize in Sheffield is that it is open to all. There are a variety of prices and awards to win, among them also a publicly voted prize, and all visitors were allowed a vote. I very much appreciate this approach, allowing for the unexpected and entrys from less established and less academic backgrounds. Until last time, 2013, all entries were exhibitied. The response 2013 was overwhelming, though, both for the space, the organizers and the visitors who had to decide which of almost 500 entries was their favorite. So this year they decided to reduce the number of books in the show to 200. While I understand that the number has to be that small for this to work, I am also sad that this means that there are gatekeepers now, people who decide which books will be shown and which won’t.
Well, all that being said, I am very happy that absences will be on display and available for votes from 7th October – 31st October, in Sheffield at Bank Street Art.

Absences is made completely by hand, stencilled, handwritten, and is an open varying edition. Books are essentially made to order. I am saying “essentially” because I like to have a small amount (like 1 or 2) ready made. And I have more prepared in various stages. And so I had one to send to Sheffield for the exhibition, but also made two more for my stock here.

First Day (Sunday)

stage 1 gesso

First step: applying the gesso

The first thing to do is of course to apply the gesso, onto which I then write the story. You see here the various stencils placed onto ready cut and folded paper, ready to take the white ground. And then it needs to dry.

Some of you might remember my beach sketches.  I made them essentially while the blog was on hiatus, so it is quite likely that you missed it. – I brought shells and stones from the Lincolshire coast last summer. I had them sitting in my studio, and while I was waiting for the muse to kiss me, I started to build piles of them (like the one seen above). A little later I made sketches from them, first for my messages in bottles, and then for a little folded book. The idea was initially to make it a daily sketch to start off work in the studio. It felt great every time I practised the habit. It calms down my mind, and helps me focus on my work, and forget about the noisy children on the floor below. But well, things slowed down fast, and this is by no means a daily thing. Well, I did one last Sunday:

beach sketch kleiner
Beach Sketch

I then got out some already prepared and dry accordions and wrote the story:

stage 2 text

Step 2: Adding the text

I also added some minor decorative bits to already cut to size Kraft paper covers. – The protective layer of craft paper that you see in the pictures above will become covers for future copies, too.

Second Studio Day (Monday)

stage 3 pressing

stage 3: pressing in the covers and books

I make the book mostly from scraps, and the boards I had lying about in the studio were extra thick. So after cutting them to size, I then first sanded down the edges to make them a little less chunky and bulky.
Then cover and put in the acordion. To be as gentle as possible to the writing, I put the covers under pressure seperately rather than the folded book.

Third Studio Day (Tuesday)

stage 4 title

Step 4: Adding the title. The one on the left is done, on the right one I am positioning the stencils.

Next the books need a title which I also stencil on with white gesso. And now this needs to dry.

 Fourth Studio Day (Wednesday)

stage 5 number and sign

stage 5: all that is left now is my signature

Now all that was left to do this morning was to add the impressum, number and signature. And now on to the next project which is once more print related:


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100 bookmarks done

The joy of editioning

Done. I just finished signing and numbering the 100 bookmarks for bookmarks XIII. Ah, the joy of editioning. Sure, making editions can be very tiring, repeating the same action over and over. I am one who likes to move on quickly, usually, having solved a problem there is no sense in doing it again, or is there? Well, editioning can be so satisfactory. It is like: Look, I have not made one lino print, I made 100. And now they are lying in this big neat pile looks so nice on my desk.

The desk itself looks less nice. In the first image you can see black, non-healing cuts on the cutting mat. It has suffered from 100 bookmarks being cut from the same template on the exact same place.
Well, on to writing on their back. I have the chance of giving my contact details on the back of the bookmarks, and so probably I should. I guess I should cut a stamp for this…

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Me at the Writer’s Studio

at nws

me this morning at the writer’s studio – look, they have a type writer on the sideboard. I wonder whether it is in a usable state

I am currently sitting at the writer’s studio, trying to find my way into working on 346 and on a text about my message in a bottle project. Instead, as you can see, I am blogging, but well, blogging is writing too, right?

Sitting here, I realized that I have not told you about the writer’s studio yet. – I have been a member for maybe two weeks now, and I am still trying to figure out how everything works. Essentially the Nottingham Writer’s Studio is a community of writers of all kinds that share some facilities near the city centre. I found them while I was browsing the internet, and the thought of having office space outside my home office and meeting other writers was immediately appealing.

It took me a couple of days, and a shift in self perception to apply, though. Up until now I have not really thought of myself as a writer. Of course I was aware that a lot of what I did involved writing, but since I am not writing novels, and am not published by a publishing house, somehow, it just never occured to me to say I am a writer.
When I was asked during the application process at NWS what kind of texts I am writing (fictional, non-fictional, novels or poems, …) that was when it really hit me how much writing I am doing all the time. From advertisement texts for my thread, over snippets that describe my art, writing that is part of art, instructions, blog-entries, … And I currently do have a lot of writing projects of different nature living partially finished on my computer waiting to be finished. Which is getting increasing hard to do at home with the children’s ability to open doors developing, as well as their ability to get into fights and and their seeking out Mum who tries to work next door for mediating even though Dad really would be on duty. And due to not exactly soundproof walls (it feels like I am sitting in the children’s playroom trying to work) I find myself mediating even if M. is there before I am.

Apparently on weekends, the other members of the studio are home, though, maybe even enjoying a day off. Today I find myself completely alone here. I am not exactly sure whether this is a good or a bad thing. Right now I find it a little spooky, I must say. Well, I’ll try to get some of the more pressing work done now… Talk to you soon (for example about rapidographs)!

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