art, art retreats, bloggy stuff, fiber art, Rebel stitching, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Latest news from moi

Suddenly I feel like Miss Piggy today. Couldn’t tell you why.

A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I stopped paying to have my blog ad-free and the ads are pretty disgusting, so I may break down and upgrade to a paid account. I hate to do it, because between that and paying for my photos to be hosted on Flickr, that adds up to over $100 per year. I can’t really let the Flickr account go because I have linked most of my photos to that account. That would be an enormous amount of work to correct that. Plus, I really am attached to my domain name. I’ve had it since 2005. The thought of letting it go has become more intolerable to me.

I am going to convert this over to more of an artist website, and my postings to Facebook and Instagram should appear on the sidebar. But that will take a while. Maybe over the winter break. I’ll have made a decision about whether the cost is worth it by October.

^^^Pablocito, studio assistant, and the reason why there is aluminum foil everywhere. (He doesn’t like it.)

I took a week’s vacation at home in late July because it was slow at work and I have a lot of vacation time built up. It was marvelous. Really, I almost preferred it to traveling.

The first thing on my agenda was to warp up this “new” Beka rigid heddle loom for a sakiori workshop later that week. It was not anywhere near as simple as I thought it would be, and by the time I rewarped it and got the tension right, it took three days and some help from a friend! However, now I know some things I should and shouldn’t do with this type of loom. For one thing, I doubt that I will put three yards of warp on it again.

This patchwork from Jude Hill’s online class (see below) really scratches an itch for me. I love that it is portable. The only problem is my hands can’t take as much hand sewing as I would like to do. My sewing machines (plural) are a constant pain in my ass to keep running and maintained, but I did abuse them pretty badly when I was doing the denim and t-shirt quilt projects. It still amazes me that you can buy a new cheap machine for as much as it is to repair one.

Anyway, bitching aside, I LOVE making these little “puzzle pieces” and putting them together in different ways. It reminds me of my favorite toy growing up, which I think was sold by Tupperware. It was like Legos, but with tiny little pegged pieces in different shapes that could be pushed into a plastic grid. I constantly played with it sitting on the den floor, and I still have a box with the pieces somewhere. It drove my father nuts because he was always stepping on them.

Later that week when I felt like dealing with warping a loom again I caught up on the Rebecca Mezoff/Sarah Swett “Fringeless” online class that I began LAST SUMMER, and by the end of the week, I had this Mirrix loom warped and ready to go. The warping method produces a four selvedge tapestry that is ready when it comes off the loom, no sewing in ends or hemming edges required. To be honest, it was pretty easy once I got the hang of it.

Then on Saturday, I went to the sakiori class that was taught by Dawn Hummer of Saori Song Weaving in Chapel Hill, and sponsored by the Triangle Weavers Guild in a great space that they rent on an ongoing basis in an old school near Durham. I didn’t really learn that much, and I don’t need any encouragement to cut loose and play, but it is always good to hear how and why other artists do what they do. I got to see Saori looms and how they work, and that was really cool. It was fun and that was the whole point. I decided to make some pieces to use as book covers. Here is the first one. There is room on the warp for many more.

In other news, I’ve had to learn how to live without air conditioning for a few days. I hope it won’t be much longer. It is good for me to be reminded not to take this for granted. Work is revving back up with the fall semester classes beginning in only two weeks. The Tapestry Weavers South retreat is in nearby Elkin, NC on Labor Day weekend, so I have that to look forward to. After that, I doubt I will be able to afford any other art retreats or workshops because I am going to have to dip into my savings to pay for the Ireland trip before January, and to be responsible I will pay my savings back. It will be totally worth it to go back to Ireland, where I belong.

art retreats, book arts, Focus on Book Arts, Nature printing, Oregon

Focus on Book Arts – Surface Design on Metal and Paper

I have so much fun with Leighanna Light’s techniques that I decided to take both of her classes at FOBA this year. I took a break on Friday because I have finally learned that I cannot go full charge for five days at an art retreat without falling apart before the end. Kathy went home. So that was the day I roamed around town by myself and took photos. Susanne and I sent three boxes full of stuff that we bought or no longer needed for classes back home by Priority Mail. I repacked everything and left the suitcase with one wheel in the garbage can.

On Saturday, Judy joined my class, so it was nice to reconnect with her. She gave me an accordion flag style book she made with her handmade paper and photos she took of the textures at Yellowstone National Park. Such a nice memento of our time together there. I’ll post a photo later. Also sitting at our table was Virginia Sumner, attending her first art retreat. She was kind enough to give us a ride back to the MAX line station so that we didn’t have to lug bags too far. You can check out Virginia’s artwork here. I love making new friends at art retreats, even though I didn’t try very hard at this one.

^^^On Saturday morning we concentrated on the techniques that would have to dry for a while. The first thing we did was make gesso photo transfers on metal. It’s a very simple technique but I always have problems with any kind of photo transfer. I think that I will try to rub a little more paper off.

^^^I had some extra tin so I played with gesso and stencils again.

^^^We went out and picked leaves to do leaf prints on copper and brass. This is a technique that Leighanna developed. The brass turned the copper a bluish color where they were stacked – or was it the copper turned the brass blue – aw heck, I’m mixed up, but it was cool. I think that the brass is the bigger piece.

^^^We spent the afternoon painting and stenciling and stamping watercolor paper with gesso, let them dry, then painted over them with dyes and chalk paint. I could do this for weeks and I don’t know why I don’t do it more when I am at home. I am resistant to getting paint on my hands and I hate gloves so I guess that is it, but if I am somewhere else in a workshop I am happy slapping wet stuff on paper and getting it all over me. I kept going back and adding more color here and there.

^^^The following day we tore our papers into signatures and bound them into a book with a canvas cover with a longstitch binding. I can make three more books with the extra signatures I made.

^^^Then came the tough decision – what metal plate to use on the cover? I would have been fine with several of these. It helped to cut down the leaf prints into smaller sections. Once I did that, one stood out and I went with it.

We attached the metal with a metal punch and little nuts and bolts. I originally bound the book with red thread to give it a pop, but after I attached the plate I rebound it with black thread. Part of the look was to hang ribbons and yarns and odd bits to the threads hanging off the spine. I like that kind of thing, but I didn’t go for it with either of my books. I preferred the simple look of the plain black thread on the spine, so I brought the ends of the threads to the inside as in a pamphlet binding.

I still need to glue the back and front papers to the cover, but I’m very happy with the results I had in both workshops. I don’t expect to come home with something that I am so satisfied with, because the idea is that I am learning and playing, so this was great.

Susanne and I flew back on the redeye from Portland to Greensboro late that night. PDX is a great airport, with good shops and restaurants at normal prices. I end this series with the amazing banh mi from Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen, which I washed down with a “Made Marion” marionberry cider from 2 Towns Ciderhouse. I will miss the food and drinks in Oregon.

art retreats, book arts, Focus on Book Arts, Forest Grove, Oregon

Focus on Book Arts – The Construction of an Art Book

My first class at Focus on Book Arts was with Leighanna Light, titled “The Construction of an Art Book.” Susanne and Kathy joined me for this one. For two days we collaged, painted, and stenciled a strip of canvas that was folded and glued into a book. We also stenciled onto metal pieces and applied chemicals for a “faux etching” effect.

^The process

^Painted canvas strips drying

^Photo by Leighanna Light

^^^My book and each page spread

^Faux etching with stencils on copper and tin

^photo by Leighanna Light

^Leighanna with the students’ books

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, Mixed media art, North Carolina, North Carolina beaches

Ancient Wisdom


A couple of weekends ago, Susanne, Sandy, and I went to Topsail Beach for a long weekend. Sandy hung out by himself mostly while Susanne and I took a workshop with Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller called Ancient Wisdom. We stayed at the Jolly Roger Inn and Pier. The weather was a bit chilly and cloudy and it rained really hard one night but we got out on the beach a little. We had oceanfront rooms and that was nice.

We drove down on Thursday evening and ate dinner at the Beach Shop and Grill. With that name we expected hamburgers and hot dogs but it was a very expensive and wonderful restaurant. Sandy saved us by picking up the check. He had crab cakes that were divine. I am not sure that there was any bread in them at all. Susanne and I had shrimp and grits and I think that they might now be number one on my list of favorite shrimp and grits places.

In the morning, we indulged in doughnuts from the Fractured Prune. At this point I knew that there was no hope for my diet. When we went back to the hotel room, Susanne and I walked on the beach and picked up stuff, as you do, and after we went up to our rooms this guy showed up drawing fabulous runes on the beach in front of our hotel. Our own personal installation artist.

Friday afternoon was spent cutting our windows into bookboard and wrapping the covers with plaster gauze. They had to cure overnight.

When we got back to the hotel, the artist had finished.

Then we drove to Wilmington and ate dinner at one of our favorite places: Indochine. The rumors of its demise during Hurricane Florence are not true, thankfully.

The next day was dyeing day! Leslie had eight different natural dye pots going in her backyard and we spent most of the day dipping our book pages in them. What a great opportunity for overdyeing! I have never had access to so many colors at one time so I went nuts. I could not tell you the combinations on a lot of my pages, but I used indigo on most of them. Turmeric, avocado pits and skins, black walnut, and turmeric made good combinations too. Other dyepots held madder, yellow onion skins, red cabbage (which fades to light gray) and blueberries (also light-sensitive and fugitive). Honestly, I never guessed that you could get such beautiful natural dye results on paper.

We forced ourselves to stop and paint our plaster covers so that they would be dry by the time we bound our books the last day. I cut my mica too close to the edge because I was thinking that the plaster would be covering it. Stitching it that close to the edge ripped out through the sides so i improvised. Those sea oats were picked up off the road after the hurricane, by the way; no illegal picking of sea oats happened here. I scratched and stamped circles into the plaster to honor the art work I had seen on the beach – this is still a work in progress.

That night we ate at Sears Landing in Surf City near the bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway. This is a place where I will definitely return. All the weight I lost and more came back by the end of the night.

After dinner we went to Quarter Moon Books and Wine Bar  where the three of us and Pam, a friend we met at the workshops down here, had drinks and listened to some great acoustic music by The Doug McFarland One. (He is a hoot.)

On Sunday we bound our beautiful colorful signatures with longstitch (for using as warp for weaving later) and then put the whole shebang together with coptic stitch.

We didn’t have time to do the woven binding but I drilled holes in the back cover and I am working on embellishing this book further now.

Thanks, Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller for another exquisite workshop experience! Also to Bee Shay for spending her lunch teaching a few of us to wrap stones with macrame stitching for hanging. What a sweet weekend it was.

art retreats, book arts

Email to the Triangle Book Arts group

(Posting the email below since I think it got blocked as spam to the Triangle Book Arts group. So many links, and it would be a shame to waste the work in putting it together! Anyway, some others might find it interesting too.)

Hi everybody,

I came home from the TBA Holiday Party so happy, and believe it or not I am NOT a party person so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

A lot of you were interested in the three books that I brought. Each was constructed in a workshop and I promised to send information about those workshop teachers. I am an art retreat addict, which is why I still drive a 1996 Chevrolet.

**************

Leslie Marsh is a book artist and natural dyer who lives on Topsail Island. She teaches workshops all over the country, and now she lives here in NC! Her website is http://www.leslie-marsh.com/. I plan to take the Ancient Wisdom II class March 8-10.

The book with the leaf and indigo printed pages is from her Zhen Xian Bao workshop that I took in June this past year. Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about it:
https://slowlysheturned.net/2018/06/12/zhen-xian-bao-by-the-sea/.

Ruth Smith did the research to bring this book structure to the States. A link to a PDF about the structure is here:

http://www.foldingdidactics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/zhen_xian_beyo.pdf

**************

I took another class in this structure at Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon. This book arts conference is held in late June every two years. For its scope and quality it is one of the least expensive art retreats out there and well worth the trip. Here is a link to FOBA and a link to my blog posts about classes there:

https://focusonbookarts.org/

https://slowlysheturned.net/category/focus-on-book-arts/
(Keep scrolling for the posts about the actual classes I took. But Forest Grove is a pretty cool little town, about a 30 minute drive west from Portland.)

I save up for and do everything I can to attend this one every time it is held. This year I hope to take at least one more class from Leighanna Light, but the calendar is not up yet. The sneak peeks are up.

*************

The little box/book with the tiny books inside was constructed in Sharon Payne Bolton’s “Hertel” class, part of the Stamford, Connecticut “Talk Story – Eat Cake Create” art retreat. This is another great art retreat for mixed media and book artists.

Here is the link about my experience in the class with photos of other students’ books:

https://slowlysheturned.net/2018/10/14/talk-story-eat-cake-create-art-is-you-movement-stamford-ct/

The art retreat info: https://www.eatcakecreate.com/ which should be updated for 2019 soon.

Sharon’s workshops: https://www.sharonpaynebolton.com/workshops-in-the-works-coming-soon

***************
The deck of painted playing cards was painted in the 52 Card Pick-up workshop by Seth Apter and it was held here in Greensboro back in February. He also is a educator for Eat Cake Create art retreat and holds workshops in smaller venues all over the country. Helluva nice guy, too.

My thoughts, with a lot of other personal journaling you might want to skip:
https://slowlysheturned.net/2018/02/10/saturday-morning-coffee-pot-post-96/

Seth’s web site: http://www.sethapter.com/

All these instructors and retreats have Facebook pages.

I hope you enjoy going down these rabbit holes! Have a great wintry weather weekend!

Laurie

art retreats, Blather, depression/anxiety

Art retreat and class mania

I must remember to talk to my therapist this week about how crazy it makes me to see all the art retreat workshops scheduled for the following year that I cannot attend! Seriously, this is what I opened our first session with. I think I know what she will say but I need to hear it, repeatedly.

There are three that are definitely on my schedule: the Leslie Marsh/Kim Beller book workshop “Ancient Wisdom” that Susanne and I switched to March after Hurricane Florence caused so much damage and ongoing pollution from the flooding coming downstream on Topsail Island, and Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon, which happens every two years and I will manage to attend it one way or another even if I have to have a car wash and a bake sale on the street every weekend. (That won’t happen, HA! I barely cook for us, and any sweets coming out of my kitchen will get gobbled up before ever making it out the door. And, have you seen my car? Not good advertising.) We also plan to have a retreat for Tapestry Weavers South in Elkin, North Carolina, next September but that is well within driving distance and shouldn’t cost too much.

I suppose that there will not be time or money for any other art retreats. Sandy doesn’t care to come to these (although I think he would enjoy taking a class) and we need to do a trip together or it is not fair to him. Plus, I really enjoy our trips together. We travel together well and it is great for our marriage and will give us memories to talk about when we are in the nursing home.

Here’s another development. I get approached occasionally to teach a workshop or class and I nearly always turn it down. I am not confident enough to teach and my people skills are raggedly for sure. My past experience in teaching made me miserable. I couldn’t figure out how to balance the needs of those who wanted to move faster and those who needed almost constant confirmation of what they were doing and re-explanations. I did these for free to lower my anxiety and make sure these folks were getting their money’s worth in the sense that I was using them for guinea pigs in trying to decide what the timing should be and what worked and didn’t work.

Each time I never offered the class again, and I swore to myself I would not teach again. Then, because I craved the same kind of group experience at home that I travel to art retreats for, I tried hosting a tapestry “play group” in which I emphasized that I would not be teaching but I could offer guidance. What happened was that some people showed up with incredible ideas and work and self-initiative and others showed up with unfeasible ideas that would not work for a beginning weaver, or looms that they wanted to use that I was not familiar with and were not good choices for the kind of tapestry they wanted to do. It was not their fault – they were trying to do it on their own as I asked but it made me very anxious. One guy showed up with an advanced design that I would be challenged by myself, no loom, and followed me around with his cell phone talking about it while I tried to help others. I didn’t get to play with tapestry myself, which was the WHOLE PURPOSE of the group. So I ditched that idea.

My friend Amanda, who owns our local downtown yarn and fiber supply shop, Gate City Yarns, is putting together more classes for the coming months/year with a group of fiber teachers and asked me to participate. Because I really like this group of folks, who tend to be on the funky/edgy spectrum, I went to the meeting last Sunday afternoon, even in the throes of intense anxiety, and was part of the discussion. What I may do, if I can get my shit together and test this idea out BEFORE I do it, is do a two-part workshop where we weave a small tapestry to use as/on a book cover and make a planner for the coming year. If I do it, it will probably be the weekend after Christmas, since I have the whole week off beforehand to make myself crazy worrying about it. But the difference is that Amanda would support me – I would not be on my own – and she is very sympathetic to my situation. I’d be more inclined at this point to do something with books or fabric, but it needs to tie in with what Amanda has to sell, understandably.

Gosh, I think that I might adore Amanda.

I’m thinking that I will provide signatures printed with a light dot-grid pattern and have them punched and ready to stitch, and then the students do a simple long-stitch binding with old book covers or bookboard in class. Then we could attach the tapestry to the book covers and embellish or weave on the spine binding. People could get started on the tapestry in the first class and we could bind the book. Then they could finish weaving the tapestry at home, and we could cut it off at the next class, finish the edgings, and attach it to the book cover(s), then play with a closure and weaving on the spine, if there was time.

It’s crucial that I figure out the timing of this and leave it open enough that if someone can’t finish in class they know enough to finish it at home. Also, I’d probably need to provide some of the supplies such as frame or foamcore board looms and awls and needles and waxed linen for the book part.

You might ask, “Laurie, why do you continually return to an idea that you obviously do not enjoy?”

And I would say, “Retirement, my friend. I am staring at the possibility of retirement in the next ten years and it would be good to have developed some kind of way that I could make a little cash for groceries and supplies and travel and enjoy it. If I practice and learn instead of giving up, maybe I WILL enjoy it. Who can say until I try? I have a studio art degree. I’ve taken more workshops and classes than I can count at this point. If I push through this, my choices might open up into a world of delight. If not, then I haven’t really lost anything.”

Plus, I have a very good job that exhausts me mentally. This is not the fault of my department. It is the fault of being employed by a large organization that is ultimately controlled by politicians who think that education should be run like a business, with people in the higher levels making decisions without understanding or caring about the consequences at the lower levels. At one time, I swore that I would not work for a large org again. However, there is a security issue that can’t be denied, especially for someone with my anxiety problems. I daydream about early retirement constantly but it is unlikely that I’ll be able to do it. Our hope continues to depend on the lottery!

Amanda has a stitch and bitch style gathering that meets on Friday nights but I am usually so wrung out by Friday evening (or half-drunk from beers with faculty after a late afternoon department meeting) that I come home and crash for the night. I think that I will make an effort to put these nights as a definite recurring requirement for my schedule from now on and try not to make excuses not to attend. Often the anxiety build-up at the end of the weekday gives me a headache and I use it as an excuse to crash and burn at night. This is why I only get stuff done on the weekends, for the most part.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going to a Triangle Book Arts gathering in Raleigh. I am going. I am going to this group event. I know that it will be fun. It is an open studio, and I am going to work on a prototype for the book part of this class for Gate City Yarns. Also, I’ve been reading about dot journaling and I want one for myself.

I get this way EVERY YEAR when art retreat announcements begin coming out. CRAZEEEEEEEE. Oh well. Time for another cup of coffee and I’m going to work on printing out these dot grid papers.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts

Talk Story – Eat Cake Create – Art Is You Movement – Stamford, CT

There are so many different names for this collection of superb art retreats organized by Sallianne McClelland. I tend to still call all of them Art Is You because I’m a stubborn old gal, but this particular one was called Talk Story in Stamford, Connecticut. When I saw that Sharon Payne Bolton was teaching and her class was scheduled over our two day fall break at the university where I work, I busted out my tired old credit card and headed north. Here’s a link to the blog post about my previous class with Sharon.

I did not take many photos of the class or the event itself, and that for me is a good sign, because my brain is totally in the present moment and focused on what makes me happy. And God knows we women needed a lot of that last week. Another great feature of Sallianne’s retreats is that she feeds us well. The Sheraton hotel food was excellent. Most importantly, though, is that these retreats are welcoming communities. Many of the attendees have taken classes with the Art Is You family (and they do seem like a family) for years and have developed lasting friendships across the states. This was my first AIY retreat on the East Coast, and Sallianne had pronounced it the last one in this location. There was such sadness and outcry over this that she decided to schedule another one in Stamford in 2020. In the meantime, she has other West Coast and midwest locations in play, and I hear that she might do one in the south.

This art retreat addiction, especially for Art is You and Focus on Book Arts, is the only thing that makes me regret not being rich.

Anyway, the class that I took from Sharon Payne Bolton was called HERTEL, based on a box structure that she designed. One of the boxes had a piece of book cover with the word HERTEL on it and she has a story about someone buying it from her for a good friend of his with the last name Hertel. It was a two day class and she had not taught it before so she was nervous. She is SO dedicated to providing everything you needed, right down to tools and aprons, so that you can come to her class and not bring anything at all if you wish, which is super great when you are flying. I was able to fly with only carry-on luggage. Plus, instead of having us cut all those little pieces of bookboard and paper text blocks for little books, she did it.

I told her that if I could swing it financially, I would be her groupie and follow her around like a stray puppy.

We built the box on the first day, and spent the second day further embellishing it and building little books to go inside. She had Apoxie Sculpt (which I immediately ordered online after the class was over) and encaustic medium and moldmaking materials for us to use. There was a plethora of gorgeous papers, leather scraps, ephemera, and baubles to attach. She taught us coptic stitch for single sheets on the second day, which I have done before but I needed a refresher.

Work space:

In progress. The “Inspire” pin is a gift from Maria. It might go in another book.

My book, outside and inside:

Reva and Kathy’s books:

A better shot of Reva’s book:

David’s book:

Maria’s book:

I think that this is Eileen’s book:

Four people had to leave before we took photos. I wish I had taken photos of everybody’s books because they were all so different, especially some of the ones that left early.

I will add more photos later. My box is at my office this weekend, but I want to show you more of the little book with the key embedded in the cover.

Once again, I came away with not only tons of inspiration, but many new friends that I hope to keep up with at future art retreats and on social media. And five “new” cigar boxes for the studio!

art, art retreats, dyeing, fiber art, Georgia, Lake Waccamaw, National Parks and Monuments, tapestry, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South Retreat

I’m taking a personal day to recharge after a particularly sweet and inspiring art retreat weekend with members of Tapestry Weavers South at Epworth-by-the-Sea on St. Simons Island.

It is a lovely venue and the price was very reasonable for three nights and all meals. We were lucky that even though most of the Southeast US was getting pummeled by thunderstorms and flooding, we only had a few light showers and the temperature was perfect. On the last night we enjoyed the veranda next to the river and it was lovely – not muggy at all and I didn’t notice any bugs. The sunsets were nice too:

^^^Just outside my window

The greatest value of this retreat was the talent and encouragement of my fellow tapestry weavers. I’m not kidding – if you are a tapestry weaver in the southern U.S., I recommend that you join this group.

I left for the retreat with just a vague idea of what I might do, and a fairly neurotic state of mind about my weaving break. I was also worried about sitting for the long drive and the workshop in general, but I met April Price near Charlotte and she drove the rest of the way, so I was able to adjust a rolled-up towel under my legs, hips, and back frequently. That helped so much, and I am grateful for her willingness to drive! April organized the retreat and did a wonderful job.

I left the retreat with a warm feeling of making new friends, and the beginning of a small tapestry on the loom that I am excited about. Some of my artist crushes were there and we got to know each other. I was encouraged to continue my tapestry diary that I dropped at the end of March and was given a few suggestions on how I might proceed from here.

You are likely to see more from me on the subject of Tapestry Weavers South, because I suspect that I’m going to break my vow of getting involved in group leadership and help out with this one. Just in a minor role that I’m comfortable with, though.

Jennifer Sargent was our featured artist and she shared a slideshow of her work and critiqued the pieces that other weavers brought. She gave me very positive feedback on my own work.

We honored Tommye Scanlin with a lifetime membership and an emotional celebration on the last night. She was my first teacher that was an actual tapestry artist. We figured it out that was in 1991! She is loved by so many people.

I decided to work with the abstraction of a favorite photograph of rain on Lake Waccamaw, using my naturally dyed silk/cotton threads from India’s online class. It’s interesting that I return so often to this family place at Lake Waccamaw for art inspiration. Even the threads are wound on driftwood sticks that I picked up on this shore.

April was kind enough to go with me to Fort Frederica National Monument so that I could get a stamp for my National Park Passport book. The deerflies were pretty bad and we were short on time so we decided not to walk to the actual fort, but it was a lovely park. The 42d Regiment of Foot battled with Spanish forces there in 1742 so I was especially interested in visiting. That was our regiment when we were 18th century re-enactors. We drove around St. Simons Island, then we stopped in Savannah and ate Crabcakes Benedict at Bar-Food, which I highly recommend. Just as we were driving into Charlotte, the bottom fell out and I have rarely seen such a hard rain. I thought that I might have to spend the night at April’s house but we looked at the radar and I made a good decision to drive home. I wonder how many inches fell in that half-hour?

art, art retreats, book arts, Focus on Book Arts

Focus on Book Arts 2017

Susanne Baker and I attended our third Focus on Book Arts at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon last week. It was recommended to us by my friend Judy Strom, who I met at Journalfest in Port Townsend, Washington in 2009 and we have met up at FOBA ever since. We love this retreat/conference for many reasons:

  • The selection of workshops is perfect. There are 1-4 day workshops over the course of five days. You can take all five days or just one day. There are always classes for advanced, serious bookbinders, and classes for beginners, and lots of levels in between. There are structural classes, historical conservation classes, and playful, creative classes.
  • They keep the class sizes small.
  • The instructors are excellent and often known nationwide for their work.
  • It is completely run by volunteers, who are passionate about this event.
  • Forest Grove, Oregon, is a lovely town and Pacific University, the first university founded west of the Mississippi, is a historic campus of great beauty, with manicured lawns, towering redwoods, and flower gardens. Honestly, I have checked out the real estate ads and the job listings for this place quite a few times.
  • It’s about 30 minutes west from Portland and another hour going west will get you to Cannon Beach.
  • I ALWAYS meet the friendliest, most interesting people there!

This year, Susanne, Judy, and I took a class in beginning embossing from Janice Fisher on the first day. I couldn’t get any good photos – embossing is hard to photograph, and when I’m into what I’m doing, I don’t remember my camera. I did better later. My main takeaway from the class was that embossing paper is so much simpler and easier than I ever guessed, and you can do it on almost any kind of paper with as little as a stencil cut out of an old manila file folder and a popsicle stick. Janice was very into recycling and repurposing ordinary objects for embossing.

On the second day, we all separated to go to different classes. Judy went to a different class every day. Susanne chose a four-day long class in twined binding taught by Roberta Lavadour, and she was in heaven the whole time. I chose a two-day class by Jennie Hinchcliff called “Collecting & Keeping: Chinese Thread Books.” I was hesitant about choosing this one since it involved some origami, but I LOVED IT. LOVED IT. LOVED IT. It’s too hard to show you how much fun this book is without taking a video, and I’ll put one up in a few days when I have some help.

We built two small learning books on the first day, and on the second day the third book encompassed what we learned. It was turning very hot and we were in an older building with no air conditioning, so the glue dried very quickly. I ended up hurrying a bit too much at the end and glued down my insides facing the wrong way, but it still works just fine. (I was very lucky to go to a room the next day with AC when the temps rose to 97 and 99. Judy ended up in the room I was in and she’s pretty tough, but even she had to leave the room to finish her class project.) I would like to take another class from Jennie.

The third class was the one I was most excited about – Leighanna Light’s “Lily’s Book.” I had taken a class from Leighanna in 2010 called the Vintage Metal Deck that fascinated me, and I’ve wanted to take another class with her since. I love her textures and her palette and her expertise with attaching things to each other.

For this one we brought a large piece of heavy gessoed canvas, then used gesso to stencil and stamp all over it for texture. After brushing on a base layer of paint or ink wash, we tore the canvas into pages for the book and played with Leighanna’s assortment of acrylic mediums and Venetian plaster. We glued down cloth and paper and other stuff, laid the pages out in the hot sun to dry, and kept on layering and painting the pages until we ran out of time (see top photo). Then we did a simple longstitch binding (thank God for my Japanese screw punch – those pages were thick). The next step for me will be attaching more stuff to the cover and spine. I brought some of my metal deck cards from the 2010 class and one of them just happened to be perfect for the cover. I’m eager to work in this book some more but have had some challenges getting back to it yet.

If you’d like to read about my previous trips to FOBA, you can find those posts here:
FOBA 2011
FOBA 2015

Next post: Photos from Forest Grove