Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

In this household, many traditions are honored. Each with its own special food, and its own ways of bringing light to dark winter nights.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Watch This Space

Lately I've been cleaning here and there, working on this and that, hunkering down in this blustery November, and trying to get a few winter projects set up. One project near the top of the list is another chair for the Northwest Furniture Bank's 2012 Chair Affair. I painted a chair for last year's auction, and had such a fun time doing it that I threw my hat (or chair) in the ring again. I had a surplus chair from Mr. B's office set aside, and a complex collage in the planning stages. Then the chair mysteriously disappeared in a weekend clean-out. No culprit stepped forward. Sigh. Plan B. I have a new chair, and it's a nice sturdy one, but not the same style, so my Islamic tile design isn't going to work. I am, however, using the same collage material (security envelopes) and I know I will have just as much fun.

Another project, prompted by the studio tidying, uses this crazy paper. I had been given a stack of black pages from a photo album- headed for the recycle bin after a theatre props department purge. I took another look the other day, and thought hmmmmm... what if I cut the pages down a bit, folded them into signatures, made a book, and filled the missing photo spots with something new?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another Workshop

Yesterday I got to attend another fun workshop at King's Books given by Mitzi Lindgren, and this time, my mom and one of my sisters attended too. What a fun time we had. In this workshop we made little single-signature books using decorative embroidery stitches to attach the soft covers to the signatures. As usual Mitzi had organized lovely kits with lots of helpful instructions to take home. We learned six spine stitch patterns, and chose four of those to sew the books. In the photo above you can see my four books. The covers are made from that wonderful Cave Paper made from flax.

My background is in fiber arts, and I consider myself a fairly accomplished embroiderer, so these little stitch patterns were familiar and really fun. For the first book, done in the chain stitch, I stuck right to the instructions, as you can see below.

But I can't help it- I am one of those people who can't follow a recipe without adding my own little pinch of something else, and after getting my bearings with the first book, the next three definitely had Kim stamped all over them. The book below is The Twist (Exit Backward and Link). Yes, it sounds like a cool dance step, but it is a variation of backstitch with a little twist, or loop, forming the links. I found that if I ignored the directions, exited to the left instead of the right, and wrapped the waxed linen thread a couple times, I got this interesting variation of the variation, and I really like it.

The third book used the Bow Tie, which is a simple running stitch with a little couching stitch "pearl" in the middle of each stitch. Perfect place for a bead, of course, and if you know me, you know beads will be used. I think you could also put four beads on the running stitch, then couch that little pearl in between the second and third bead, which would also keep them nice and taut. The only issue here is that if you are using waxed linen thread and a book binder's needle, you must use a large hole bead, and you will probably have to either remove the needle each time and just thread the bead directly on the linen, or switch out to a narrower needle when a bead must be attached. I managed to thread the bead by hand, thanks to the stiff waxed thread.

The last may look complex, but it started out the simplest stitch. It is The Laced Dash, simply a running stitch down the spine, and then the rest of the thread is brought back up and laced under each running stitch, alternating from side to side. My variation again uses beads on the lacing part of the stitch, and then I simply wound the thread around each running stitch instead of just slipping under it. It's an easy way to spice up a very simple stitch. This time the holes in the beads were so big that the tapestry needle I used went right through them.

It was a great workshop at a wonderful bookstore. If you're in Tacoma and haven't been to King's Books, shame on you. And if you ever get a chance to take a workshop from Mitzi, go for it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

This bookbinding post is about sewing over snakes tapes.
First, there was the black hemp paper. I love hemp paper because it is so nice to stitch on, and so when I found a sheet of black hemp, I bought it, thinking black hemp...metallic thread...maybe a little iridescent paint... This is how hare-brained schemes are hatched. I would make a little black book using painted fusible webbing and metallic and silk thread and it would be great. And it was great.

...until I began poking the holes to stitch the signatures. Hemp is very fibrous paper, and in the best of situations, the little holes one pokes have a tendency to close back up. Add the black color to the mix, and the holes for the sewing stations simply disappeared. That was problem number one.

Problem number two began when my friend Roberta put this ball of recycled sari yarn on sale, 50% off. I don't knit, but I bought it anyway. This leads directly to problem number three, in which I decide to use this gorgeous yarn as the tapes (or more correctly raised cords) over which I sewed. Oy vey. This yarn might be fine to knit with, but when you cut it into short lengths it has a mind of its own. The yarn came alive, snaking and curling every which way, no matter how I tried to tame it. I gave up trying to find the holes I had carefully punched in the signatures, opting to get the first signature sewn fairly evenly and then just line the others up and hope for the best. I unsnarled giant knots about once every 3 minutes. Little pieces of sari silk fuzzed off and caused further snarling, both vocal and threadly.

I realized, to my horror and amusement, that the catchy tune I had begun humming was I Will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor. Where the heck did that come from?

And finally, somehow, I had tied the last knot. I have no cover yet, but that adventure couldn't possibly be as -ummmm- eventful as today's, could it?
Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The View from Here

Like most creative people, I wear many hats. I have the day job(s), the family obligations, the crazy harebrained idea hat (beanie with propeller) ...and then there is theatre, the one that, when donned, engulfs me in a world of paint, light, endless rehearsal, endless stage sweeping, and a fair amount of cursing at times. This is by way of explaining my radio silence, as it were. I have been painting a set for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which opens this Friday. And this is the view from here:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A William Morris Exhibit

 If you have a soft spot for all things William Morris, and live in the Tacoma/Seattle area, you are in for a treat. Currently on display at University of Puget Sound's Collins Memorial Library are portions of the private collection of Jack Walsdorf, one of the world's leading authorities on William Morris and the Kelmscott Press. This exhibit is free and on display until Friday, October 14.

Walsdorf, a librarian by profession, began collecting William Morris books in 1966 while working in the Oxford, England public library. He wrote a book about the pleasures of collecting titled On Collecting William Morris: A Memoir. An interview with Walsdorf can be read here.

William Morris founded Kelmscott Press in 1891, with the intention to revive traditional book arts and typography. The books of Kelmscott Press, modeled after designs from the 15th century, are known for their distinctive illustrations and intricate borders. Morris used only red and black and some blue inks, and he designed three typefaces for use in the Kelmscott books: Chaucer, Troy, and Golden, all largely medieval in style. Kelmscott books reawakened interest in book design, and were imitated by fine presses and commercial printers in England and the United States.

A lecture by Jack Walsdorf will be held in the library on Wednesday September 21, Room 020 from 7 to 8 PM. The lecture is preceded by an informal reception in the exhibit space beginning at 6 PM. Seating for the lecture is limited to 50.

Please check the Collins Memorial Library web site for current library hours.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Accordion-Fold Books

On Tuesday my friends Lynne, Rochelle, Randi and I got together to set up a little display of accordion-fold artist books at the Parkland-Spanaway branch of Pierce County Library. The display case isn't large, but we crammed as many books as we could in there. As always, I am amazed at the talents of my friends. I think each of us looks at the collected work of local book artists and thinks that same thing.

Now, with the formation of Puget Sound Book Artists, we have expanded our group of friends even more. How lucky we are to be able to learn and be inspired by such talented people.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Studio Sunday

This is one of the handiest studio gizmos I own.  Actually this is the smaller cube- I have a much bigger one that is best for photographing  larger items. In my part of the country, relying on natural light isn't always an option. These light cubes improved the look of even my point-and-shoot digital snapshots so much, that I was a convert after my first try.

If you are interested in taking great photos of your books, I recommend Laura Russell's blog, found here. Laura is the owner of 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland Oregon, a great place to visit if you get a chance. And her blog entries about photographing your artist books are simply the best.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What Color is Your Town Today?

Today, my town is Olympia, Washington, home to Harbor Days, which for 37 years has celebrated the best boat ever- the tugboat. To say I have had a lifelong love affair is not telling the entire story. I once actually bid on a tug, wondering at the time how in the heck I would bring it up from Argentina if I was to win the bid. At age 20, you cross those bridges when you come to them.

Owning an Argentinian tug was not in the cards for me, but my love of tugboats has never waned.

 So today my colors are the colors of the Creosote. Green, white, black, salted wood, a sprinkling of rust. She needs a bit of sprucing up, but she's beautiful where it really counts. I can identify with that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Work in Progress

Before I sew this one together, I thought I would photograph the pages.
The paper is black hemp, and what looks like paint on the pages is actually fusible webbing (Wonder-Under by Pellon) which has been painted, then cut into shapes and fused to the paper.

Because my stitching is visible on both sides, I planned (loosely) each fused shape so that the stitching would make some sort of sense, front or back. I do use the term "make sense" in the very loosest manner. Let's just say it had to make sense to me. Below is a group of pages in sequence so you can see the fronts and backs:

And another group:

The book will be sewn over tapes. The tapes will be some crazy cord made from spun silk ravellings from Nepal. And when it is finished, I will take a more formal portrait, I promise. 
-- And if anyone wants to know a bit more about painting fusible webbing, let me know. It's an interesting technique, and I'm happy to share.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Studio Sunday

Weather may be frightful on the east coast, but here in the Pacific Northwest we are finally having a bit of summer. So today, the studio is al fresco.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Star Tunnel Book

As a child, I was a paper doll fiend. I carefully cut them from magazines, bought them with allowance, drew my own, and played with them endlessly. In my twenties, that love for small things had evolved into building dollhouse miniatures. In my 40's, I had drifted into painting theatre sets, which, like paper dolls, are a bit ephemeral, and like dollhouses, are pretend rooms for make-believe stories.

The moment I first laid eyes on a tunnel book, I knew that it was paper dolls, miniatures, and theatre sets all rolled into one. I have yet to produce one of my own yet, but believe me, the sketchbooks are full of plans. Big Plans.

Most Star Tunnel Books are based on a multi-layered accordion fold. Each fold is a slightly different width, with the smallest in the front and the biggest at the back, so the images have a three-dimensional look. The layers are held together at the front fold, often with a pamphlet stitch, and the books can be read by turning the pages, or, if the front and back covers are opened so they face each other, viewed like a piece of sculpture.

My friend Rochelle shared this particular book (circa 1950's ?) with our little informal book group. It appears to have four layers to each page, giving a wonderful depth to each illustration.  One would need to plan a book like this before embarking on construction in order to get the different layers right. I have been trying to figure out how one might plan illustrations in Photoshop, and then simply print individual layers on separate papers to get the 3-D effect, but at this point "concept stage" is as far as I have got. Someday....

I had written this blog post this morning, then had to rush off to a children's book class I was going to observe. (It was wonderful, by the way, but more on that tomorrow)While there I had the chance to photograph this star book, part of the instructor's collection. This book is not also a tunnel book, but I wanted to include the photos because it was such a nice example of the star book format.

This book incorporates pockets instead of tunnels in its pages. I believe it is a book about Mah-jong tiles. Here you can see how the book could be read by turning pages, or enjoyed sculpturally.

If you are interested in some instruction for building a book with this format, I suggest Bookworks, by Sue Doggett (pages 118-119) or
The Art and Craft of Handmade Books, by Shereen LaPlantz (pages 50-53). Ms. LaPlantz does discuss this format in her well-known Cover to Cover, but I think better instructions are in the Art and Craft book.
Now, go make one!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oh That Streetcar...

This blog is mainly about my personal art, but which post of mine has gotten the most hits, according to Google Analytics? It's the one with the set photos for Streetcar Named Desire. Ha! Go figure.

Actually it is not surprising to a person who has ever faced an empty stage with a new script in hand. How many photos of Streetcar sets did I google, panic-stricken, after we unexpectedly parted company with our set designer? Lots, that's how many. Mega-lots. Fortunately Mr. B's brother, (recently Emmy-award-winning) Greg Carr, was persuaded to design our set, and he, too, looked at every other set design he could find online.

So, hello all you theatre mutts and scallywags. We were inspired by the great sets of others, and you are welcome to be inspired by us. Next up on my scenic artist docket is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Tacoma Little Theatre. This morning I was madly googling "how to make liquids glow in the dark" and I can't wait to try out what I have learned. I'll post pictures in October.

And now back to my regularly scheduled program...

Monday, August 8, 2011

What Color is Your Town Today?

Well, OK, this was last week. Posting has been sporadic this summer, what with one thing and another. Last week I had to go in to the office early, in order to catch a ride to Seattle with Mr. B, in order to look at woodwork at a restaurant being updated, in order to assess scratches..well, you get the picture. Suffice to say we hit the highway as the sun was coming up, and I had my camera.

I tend to forget how fleeting the spectacle of a sunrise is.
And is orangeish-blue a color?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Wedding!

We've been a bit busy here getting ready for the wedding of my son Joe and his lovely bride Anna. But as of last Saturday, it's a done deal, marriage has occurred, and we can now sit back and look at all the photos. Those of you familiar with Pacific Northwest weather know that there really are no days of guaranteed sunshine, so we did appreciate the perfect weather more than you can imagine. The town of Anacortes is pretty, the day was perfect, and we were even graced with a visit from two tall ships, the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, who staged a cannon battle in the harbor that afternoon. Good time had by all. Now I need some sleep!

My nephew Jake (left) and my other son Sam (right). Two handsome guys.