Friday, December 7, 2012

Finished. Whew.

I like my new job. I really do. But the hours are long, and the commute is horrible. Old job: round trip commute of 2 miles or less. New job: round trip commute of 76.8 miles. On the freeway. Three, sometimes four days a week. That is two hours per day commuting on a GOOD day, nearly 4 hours commute on a terrible day. This makes studio work a struggle sometimes, but I am determined to move into a more rigid schedule of studio time because there are ideas in my head that really need to get out. Ok, end of pathetic little whine.

Today I turned down work and even declined doing a good deed so that I could spend a day in the studio, and here is the result. My latest book finally finished! These shots are just quick snaps because I was too excited to drag out the light cube and do a formal portrait.

The pages are made from some theatrical scrim that I washed all the sizing out of- so it is very gauzy and floppy. Because of this, I wrapped each of the three signatures in a lace paper I had purchased last year. I tea-stained the white lace paper to make it closer in color to the scrim. I also hemmed the lace paper and put a picot bead edging on it to give the book a bit more weight.  I wish I could tell you what the cover paper is, but I am not sure. I know it is handmade, and I think it is from Nepal. It is lovely, but a bit fragile, so I coated it with acrylic wax and laminated a piece of thin kimono lining silk to the inside to strengthen it. That paper absorbed the acrylic wax nicely and it worked well as a glue to laminate the silk. The spine has an extra piece on the outside connected only by the binding stitches. It is some handmade paper with a high cotton content that I also tea-stained. And I sewed a little guinea hen feather to add to the flyaway feel.

I have to thank Mary Ann Moss for the binding stitch. I have been mulling over her latest class offering, and when I was reading the class blurb, the binding stitch she will be teaching caught my attention. Hadn't I seen it somewhere? Hadn't I shoved a bookmark in a page at some point? Yes I had, and that stitch was going to be perfect for this book. Of course I changed it up a bit. If you want to learn this stitch, I can't think of a better way than to treat yourself to Mary Ann's class. Then come back here and you'll be able to figure out what I did.(click on photo for larger view)

Sewing signatures made of scrim is quite fiddly, and I do not recommend it for beginners, although once you understand the sewing pattern, this binding stitch is very satisfying. I did make a little practice book using the stitch before I started the larger amended version, but I also can't recommend doing what I did. Because as you can see, mine was not so much little as it was tiny.
Details: signatures are sumi rice paper, cover is cave paper that has been coated with acrylic wax varnish. Binding thread is Gutermann silk sewing thread.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Breaking Radio Silence

I am alive here. Truly!
This new job has caused my daily routines to fall completely apart, so adjustments are being made. The Plan is to work in the studio most Thursdays and Fridays. Ahem... that is the Plan. So far, Thursdays and Fridays have been spent playing catch-up with all the daily thisses and thats that do not get attention when one is busy working 9 or 10 hour days plus commuting to and from the Big City. Plus, we redid my studio, and that project is nearly finished. "Nearly finished" means I have no door yet (not terribly important in the Grand Scheme) and still have a small pile of stuff that does not yet have a home (which I am getting really good at Stepping Nimbly Over). I DO have a very lovely bedroom closet organizer, thanks to Mr. B, which I will show you as soon as I go through my photographs. Teaser: Big shelves to hold my paper!

Meanwhile, I have been working when I can. Here are some pages that will be sewn into signatures soon.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More SoDo PhoTo

Lots of textures and smells in this part of town. The place next door to my office smells like hot metal casting. Fish mingles with barbecue mingles with tacos. The parking lot of Starbucks World Domination Headquarters (my name, not theirs) actually does smell like coffee on some days. My building (the boring one at the bottom) is one of the less colorful on the outside, but inside is humming with activity. Been to a Nordie's Rack lately? Wave to the the fixtures. We probably made them.

Back from our lunchtime walk. Time for a little dog-nap.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What Color is Your Town Today?

So sorry about the long time no post. I have a new job, and for the last four weeks it has eaten up all my time. There are many reasons for this: first, it is a complete change from anything I have ever done, so every corner I turn, figuratively speaking, I am faced with yet another steep learning curve. Teaching myself Excel, Outlook, and rudimentary Power Point on the fly is no mean trick for a woman of a certain age, let me tell you. PLUS, the challenge of a lifelong Mac person (ME!) who suddenly has one of those "not-a-Mac" devices foist on her... well, let's just say yikes and leave it at that. Second, I am working for the same company, and in the same division as Mr. B, so work sometimes spills over into after-hours, because we get to talking, and then before you know it we are both reading email or whatever at 8 PM because there is no uninterested party to say Ahem, Stop Working. And third, the commute is rough. Even at 5:30 AM, the freeway can get crowded and slow on the way into the SoDo district of Seattle, south of the downtown, barely south of the stadiums, and getting home is worse.

So what color IS my new, adopted, sort of step-sister town?
Somehow I always think of Seattle as the color of a pair of well-loved Levis. Overall impression of blue-green-gray, but when you get closer, you see the patch of color. A rain-washed red here, a weather-beaten burgundy there. A lavender bush full of bees, a marigold, a taxicab, a warehouse painted Karl Larsson green. SoDo is a busy, quirky part of town. Mr. Cody Coderson has been coming to work with us, and he and I have done a little exploring up and down First Ave after lunch. The necessity of the Dog Walk is a great excuse to get out and look around a little bit..

More color later...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Paste Paper

A friend in LA and I had a bit of a paste paper binge a few weeks back. We were both in our respective ends of the country, but we email each other every day, so it was almost as if we did the project together.  I had never played with paste papers, and her experiments made me want to try some. Wow, it is a lot of fun!

My method of making paste paper is 1. Wait for some good (meaning not raining) weather.  2. Mix up a batch of paste. 3. Paint paint paint paint paint. 4. When it's all gone you are done. 5. Clean up.

The good weather is necessary so I can put all the freshly painted paper out on the deck to dry. I used paper from old sketchbooks, just painting over the sketches. The books belonged to Mr. B's late brother Mike, who filled tablet after tablet of life drawings- all mostly lightly drawn, so there wasn't much to cover up. Some pages he had covered completely with red conte crayon, and sketched with white chalk. that red made an interesting background for the paste. Here are some of my favorites.

 This one below was painted over commercially-printed scrapbooking paper.

This one was pulled rather than combed.

The one with the dots looks a little more complex because it was actually painted over an etching. See those short texture lines in the dots? That's the print. The dots were made by stamping into the wet paste paint with a round sponge. 

It's hard to tell in a photograph, but the light color of paste paint below is actually a coppery-bronze. If you haven't added metallic coloring to paste, do it next time. The results will make you quite giddy. And last but not least, how could a faux painter ever play with paste paints without dragging out all the wood graining tools. I mean, seriously. You should have known THAT was going to happen.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wow. What a Week.

I turn 62 tomorrow. This, in itself, is no big deal. Just a birthday, maybe a dinner out. Maybe an ice cream cone. Since my brother turned 60 last Wednesday, Mr. B and I decided to treat him (and ourselves) to a birthday dinner at our favorite little bistro downtown on Friday.

We were having a sad and stressful week, since a good friend had suffered an unexpected major cardiac disaster on Wednesday, was on life support, and was, Friday afternoon, being moved to another hospital to undergo bypass and arterial aneurism repair surgery in an effort to save her life. We planned to head to the hospital right after dinner (as we had every night), but tragically, while Char's surgery was successful, her heart was not strong enough to recover from all the trauma, and she lost her brave battle to survive a short time before we arrived. We miss her terribly, but I know it is going to take awhile for it to really sink in, and then we will miss her even more.

A thing that you learn about Life, and Death, and Loss, and all the rest, is that life really does keep on going, and it can, does, and should keep us going right along with it. It's our job, when we are left behind, to live out our lives, and to care for our loved ones and love our friends, and to honor the memories of those who are no longer with us by finding some good in each day.

Which leads me, in a way, to the surprise birthday party Mr. B pounced on me yesterday. A carefully planned, sneaky, giant bash of a surprise birthday barbecue for a person (ahem, ME) who has made it very clear that she hates surprises and never, EVER wants anyone to pull that kind of nonsense on her birthday. I am usually pretty savvy about Things Going On around here, whether I choose to let on or not, but I am here to tell you that I was so very in the dark about these big plans that I didn't even catch on when my sisters and mom, with whom I had spent the day shopping and Birthday Lunching, deposited me in my driveway filled with strange cars. I didn't figure it out until I was getting out of my sister's car and saw some friends walking up my steps carrying a present. And even then I didn't realize that my family had all known these plans for weeks. Wow. Am I totally losing my Miss Marple skills? Oh who cares. It was a lovely party filled with so many of my most favorite people from family, work and theatre. You haven't truly experienced the Happy Birthday song until it is sung to you by a choir of theatre mutts in multi-part harmony. It fills you with joy. I still can't quite figure out how Mr. B pulled it off, but I forgive him totally for breaking my cardinal rule of no surprise parties. I had a blast, and I hope everyone else did too.

Which leads me back, in a way, to the death on Friday evening of my friend Char. She would have been at that party yesterday. She would have found another hilarious crazy corny birthday card and handed it over, laughing along with me. She wasn't there, but her absence was a reminder that we need to be good to our friends, indeed to Be Excellent to Each Other, because you just never know.

Charlene Kay Darling

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tiles. And Elvis.

I did clean the studio. Honest. And then I messed it up again.

Every time I leaf through that happy little Havana tile book I want to carve some stamps, so this week I did just that.

No particular project in mind for these, just stamps to add to my growing collection of hand carved lovelies, which are usually a bit more organized in this drawer. It has been busy around here- lots of teaching, a graduation to celebrate, a bit of political fundraising. (Who knew they had to eat so much pie?)

And my every-Thursday-afternoon date with Elvis.

Monday, June 4, 2012

PSBA 2012 Members' Exhibit

Artist’s reception: Thursday June 7, 2012 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm

In addition, there will be a discussion with the book artists in the exhibition on June 20, 2012 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. We will open the display cases and each artist will have the opportunity to share his/her inspiration, working process and use of materials. I can tell you from my experience last year, that this discussion was The Best. Many books have moving parts and pages that cannot all be seen without turning the pages. If you are curious about one or two of the books, June 20 is the night to show up. I'll be there. Please join us.

“The interdisciplinary art form of the book as art has always intrigued us and we are delighted to bring this 2nd annual exhibition to Tacoma.  Books by nature are intimate, interactive and engage the reader.  The exhibition features over 30 artists, some well known and others emerging.  The artists have used a variety of structures and moveable elements with an array of materials ranging from handmade papers, photographs, fabric, thread, wire, decorated paper, and found materials.  Themes include nature, literature, politics, social issues, family and personal history. “Once again, we are delighted by the number of talented artists who entered the exhibition.”  Lucia Harrison, MalPina Chan, Debbi Commodore and Randi Parkhurst, curators.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crossed-Structure Binding Guestbook

Puget Sound Book Artists, of which I am a proud member, is having their second annual members' exhibit this summer at University of Puget Sound's Collins Memorial Library, and I somehow volunteered to make the guestbook for the exhibit. And so, with much trepidation, I did make the guestbook, and handed it over this afternoon. The anxiety was all self-inflicted and silly, really. I look at the vast talent of my fellow members and quake in my boots sometimes, but I am old enough to know there are occasions you just have to jump in and do it. So here is what I came up with.  The soft cover book was bound using a variation of Crossed-Structure Binding, originally designed by Carmencho Arregui, a Spanish-born bookbinder who lives and works in Italy. I had wanted to try this style of binding the minute I first saw it, and I am happy with my first attempt. The cover paper is hand made from India, and the signatures are simply pages cut down from a sketchpad, then printed on my Epson printer. I tried and tried to determine if the cover paper had a definite grain, but if it did, it was not apparent to me, so I took a chance and cut the front and back covers so the printed designs were perpendicular to each other, just for contrast. Normally I would never do that, but this time I did not have issues with warping. The added rectangle with the beading was beaded first, then glued to the front cover.

Signature pages were cut to standard legal size- 8.5x14 inches- and I worked out the design for the lined pages on Photoshop, printing half of each sheet so each page was lined on one side and blank on the other. Binding thread was dark brown hemp, sewn with a doubled thread.

Next project: Clean the studio. Again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Color is Your Town Today?

Ha!  Ask me tomorrow. Today I am busy cloudgazing.