Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

I reached the venerable age of 60 this weekend, and despite the allergies which I have not-so-fondly dubbed "catarrh" I really did enjoy the small party Mr. B planned for me. Exotic flowers arrived from friends. The weather cooperated so we were able to barbecue on the deck, and my mother arrived with dozens of home made cupcakes. Apparently my dad wanted her to make a cupcake for every year of my life. I am so grateful she stopped at 48. Despite sending extra cupcakes home with nearly everyone, we still have far too many.
If the sight of that much dessert wasn't astounding enough, I did have another surprise that left me momentarily speechless. Mr. B, after listening to me go on and on for several days about meeting Lucia Harrison and getting to see her wonderful books, took it upon himself to find her, and to purchase copies of three of her beautiful maps of the inlets in the South Puget Sound. The prints I now own are from the drawings called South Puget Sound Maps in her portfolio. Lucia was interested in the names the indigenous inhabitants had given places here in the Sound. Before painting the maps, Lucia kayaked the the five inlets of South Puget Sound, recording her observations of plants and animals, and combined painting with journal entries on each page. She has recently put up a website. Do take a look at it for yourself. My words really cannot do her work justice.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Color is Your Town Today?

We finally have a few days of warmth and clear sky, and we are all reveling in it, stealing as many minutes in the sun as we can. I have lived many places, but the best places have always been near the ocean. The water in the Sound is different every day, and I never tire of watching it. This evening it is lazy and quiet, like we are. It is a perfect evening for dinner at the chippie on the dock.

So what color is my town today? Blue, and blue, and blue.
With diamonds.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I have always taken pride in my ability to remember things, but these days I sometimes feel my aging brain is so full I have to delete memory in order to have room for anything new. Normally I find this utterly frustrating, but this week old age did me a favor.

Last year I took a little workshop after Wayzgoose to learn how to fold a little book. And yes, I have totally forgotten the name of the workshop. I realized as I was in the workshop that this book, when unfolded, looked like a little altar, and of course my brain whizzed and bounced around as I figured out just how I was going to create this gem of a piece. Pages could be folded this way, and that way... designs on one page would seamlessly meld into other designs... oh it was going to be really gorgeous. Isn't it funny how all great ideas are perfect little gems when you are viewing them in your mind's eye? Well this one sure was.  I got home and dove right in, head first. And after working on it for a few weeks, I gave up in frustration. I hit a roadblock in the design, and I just could not figure out how to make that little book/altar work, so I put it all into a tray, labeled it, and sadly put it on the shelf, where it has been sitting for nearly a year.

Then a few days ago I thought I might look at it again. I know I set it aside because whatever I had planned was not going to work, and I was stuck. But for the life of me, I don't remember what that plan was! This is so funny, but so useful, because I can look at it with fresh eyes now. And this makes me happy. I put a lot of hours into that thing, and I was a bit bummed that  I was stuck with no idea how to get unstuck. I am so glad I set all the pieces and supplies (Aha! THAT'S where my little metal ruler went!) into a tray before I shoved it onto the shelf. All the pieces are there, no hunting for that particular color of silk or scrap of painted paper.

There is a lot of hand stitching on this, and it will probably take the better part of the summer, but this time I know how to finish it, and I've learned a lesson. Set something aside for awhile if it is not working. Maybe a little memory lapse is just what you need to get past your first idea and on to a better one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another Little Book

Wednesday evening was the preliminary meeting for the organization of a new group: Puget Sound Book Artists. I really love our little Book Arts group, but it is, and shall by choice always remain, an unstructured, informal group of friends. PSBA is planned as a more formal organization, and I am excited to see where it is headed. We were invited to bring a piece or two of our work to share, and I bravely decided to bring something to represent the "rank amateur" faction. I brought the accordion-style Dream Book I made several years ago (I'll post photos later), but I also wanted to try something new.

I decided to construct a book from Gabrielle Fox's The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books called the Non-Adhesive Accordion book. I was interested to see how I could use the prints I had chosen to cut up for this project in an interesting way. At this point I guess I need to back up a little. Mr. B's brother Mike died unexpectedly on Dec. 25, 2008, and we have been given the task of dealing with the contents of his house. That meant everything-pots, pans, antiques, collectibles- was packed into a pod and sent to us from Arizona.  He was an artist who, in his early days, had done a lot of printmaking, and I am here to testify that anything he didn't sell, he kept. Consequently, as I was going through things, there were huge stacks of very large etchings on gorgeous paper, and the etchings were not really things we wanted to keep. Maybe one for posterity, but not fifty copies, you know? So I had the idea to recycle the prints by cutting them up to make books. I think Mike would have liked the idea, and I am sorry he isn't around to see how his work has been given new life.

So here are two versions of this little book. I loved making it, and Ms. Fox's directions are clear and easy to follow. Of course I had to add my own stamp- in this instance I added nubby texture to the front cover by indulging in my current passion for evenly-spaced grids of seed beads.

The book is made of a strip of paper folded accordion-style, whose ends slide into front and back covers. I made the covers from poster board, over which more paper is folded. All the pieces fit together and hold each other in place. The spine is another little piece of folded paper that slips right into the cover along with the folded pages.
I like the way the beads play off Mike's textured prints.  Cutting the long strip from the edge of the print made it look like some sort of landscape. I envision someone writing or drawing on the blank  paper at the top of each page.
Perhaps a poem about being lost in the desert?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Bookbinding Workshop

Today I had the good fortune to be able to take a book binding workshop at King's Books in Tacoma from my friend Mitzi Lindgren. We made soft cover books using a binding method known as sewing over tapes. The binding method works well for journals because the pages open flat.

The book we made consists of 8 signatures of 4 folios each. The binding features decorative sewing that can be left exposed, and the cover is attached to the text block by making slits in the cover and pulling the tapes through, so no glue is used. Needless to say, since I am a rank beginner at this, my first attempt is far from perfect, but I had the best time, and I will be making several more of these books at home.

Already my little brain is working out variations. I can't help it. It's what I do! Mitzi discussed the possibility of including beads somehow in the binding. As I was sewing, I got so caught up in that train of thought, I sewed two signatures together and was starting on the third before I noticed the tapes I was supposed to be sewing over were still neatly stacked on the table. Fortunately I was able to slip them under my stitching without having to "unsew" everything.

If you ever get the opportunity to take a class from Mitzi, please do. She is organized, logical and patient, which I certainly appreciate, but she is also creative and fun and so generous with her knowledge. I really can't wait to get started on my second book.