Entries in words (70)


Looking the Right Way

A while ago, a friend shared this pebble alphabet by Belgian designer Clotilde Olyff. Amazing! I said, assuming the image was Photoshopped. But no, it turns out that Olyff, a typography designer, spent 14 years collecting real, actual pebbles off the banks of rivers and beaches. That is dedication!

Here is an extract from Jan Middendorp’s essay Lettered (2000) about Olyff’s alphabet of stones:

Clotilde Olyff is no reader. She is not at ease with sentences, and not particularly fond of words. She is troubled by letters when arrayed for battle, preparing to strike the reader as useful information or gripping ideas. But she is positively in love with the letter as an individual, fascinated by the infinite possibilities in suggesting its forms, eager to discover its features in the faces of strangers. Even though she makes a living by creating and re-creating letters, the way we perceive these forms continues to fill her with wonder.

Is it our obsession with communication that makes us look for the alphabet in the simplest of forms – circles, triangles, squares? Does it take a particular type of madness to comb the beaches of Les Landes in search of letters created, so casually, by the forces of nature and time?

The pebbles Clotilde Olyff discovers are the product of chance, yet they seem made to be singled out; to be recognized as faces … typefaces or human faces. Like a child pointing out oddly-shaped clouds, Clotilde Olyff shows us that nature can imitate art, instead of the other way round – if you look at it the right way.

The entire natural world is full of wonder indeed – if you look at it the right way.


Blue Skies Go On Forever

Here’s just a little fancy for the day, because it’s perfectly apt for this morning’s blue-feathered sky. Blue skies and sunshine always make me happy.


Weigel’s 1501

Knowing how I love paper ephemera, a friend of mine bought me this quaint 1950s sewing pattern from an op shop (thrift store) a little while ago. I had never heard of Weigel’s Patterns, but their office and factory address – as printed on the reverse – would have been situated twenty-minute’s walk from my home.

Everything about this design is fantastic: the simplicity of the front; the mish-mash of fonts, the strange alignments of the typesetting, varying types of rules, and halftone illustration. Perhaps it is simply the fact it is a relic from a bygone era that makes it so appealing, because no one typesets like this anymore. Have you seen a modern-day pattern envelope? Practicality and clear reference photographs notwithstanding, they are very ugly!

Don’t you just love that the zip is called a ‘slide fastener’? The word ‘zipper’ or ‘zip’ as it is commonly used in Australia, was actually coined in 1923, by the B. F. Goodrich Company of America. They used the slide fastener on a new type of rubber boot, and referred to it as a ‘zipper’ – and thereafter the name stuck. The word itself is onomatopoeic, meaning it was named for the sound the fastener makes when it is used – a high-pitched zip! [Wikipedia]

This pattern is actually my size, so I think it would have been rather fun to have a blouse made for me – if only all the pieces were there. As it is, I may use the blank tissue inside in my mixed media artwork one day.


The Lost Book

A little while ago I briefly glimpsed this picture somewhere on my computer; it took a moment for the image to sink into my consciousness, and by the time I thought to pause and take it in, I had already clicked on. I searched high and low in all my folders (or so I thought) and couldn’t find it until now, when I found it by chance. So I thought I’d better share it immediately!

I have not read this book myself in fact – I just really liked this illustration. There is a lovely light touch to the pencil and ink line drawing, in nice contrast to the serious literature, and the minimal colour palette is appealing. I have a strong suspicion that the colour has been applied in Photoshop, as the watercolour brush looks a little too mechanical, and there are too many sharply defined corners, but that does not detract from its delicacy.

This book has been lurking on my computer for so long (since June 2012) and the url I saved – storybird.com, a pretty name for a blog – has unfortunately expired.


Decoding Thoughts

Psst She Said, Helena Turinski 2015Psst she said.
The Pistols aren’t revealing secrets.
That which was once thought forbidden forever is trapped in conversations.
The first thing you’ll need is a pen to decode thought
and make your own word play
for there are no secrets here any more.

I really love assembling my random poems. It’s such an exciting and serendipitous process that evolves rapidly as I snatch up cut-out words that seem to fit whatever I am weaving under my hand. I never know where a poem is going to go either. I haven’t actually ‘written’ any for a while because I have such a huge backlog of poems that I have yet to turn into collages.

The words obviously inform the pictures, but sometimes the pictures themselves add an extraordinary power to one’s perception of the poem, such as in this image. The women were cut out from some innocuous advertisement, although for what I can’t recall. The blackness of the figures adds such a sinister tone, especially with the highlighted white teeth, as does the gun pointed directly at the smiling woman’s head; the metaphors are obvious. The strange and stark contrasts make me chuckle – that’s what society is like sometimes – but we should never ignore the undercurrents.