art, book arts

Painted Papyrus Book Workshop

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20210731_132327_0720210801_162246The reason I was at the beach: Dan Essig‘s rescheduled Painted Papyrus Book workshop at the home of Leslie Marsh in Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

We made two books: one with the papyrus showing on the cover, which is finished and I’m happy with, and one with the papyrus as a base.  We covered the one with papyrus as a base with crumpled Cave paper, then painted with several layers of milk paint, then sanded or rubbed off top layers in places, then buffed it with shoe polish. The smell reminded me of my daddy on Sunday mornings.

I didn’t finish the second one because I was NOT happy with the endband binding. It was a hard technique to learn anyway and then I was having vision problems. I’m going to take what I did out now that I got the hang of it toward the end and redo the bottom, add the endband at the top, then glue and stitch the covers together.

Of course, since it is Dan’s workshop, we received pieces of mica to include in our books. I was lucky to get a piece with some great black and rust inclusions so it will be featured on the front cover of the second book.

Leslie’s studio, which has been featured in the magazine What Women Create, is the inspiration that made me start ditching my plastic bins in favor of old cigar boxes and baskets.

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book arts, dyeing, Nature printing

Natural dyeing on paper

Posting these photos before I forget again! It’s been over a week since Susanne and I pulled these bundles out of a dyepot with black walnuts and a bunch of leaves we didn’t use inside the bundles. We didn’t put a lot of effort into this – it was just fun.

Susanne tried a long roll of handmade hemp paper wrapped around a copper pipe. I rolled commercial papers that I think were cotton based around copper pipes with various leaves, and a small stack of watercolor scrap pieces with sheet metal and grape leaves layered between them and bound with rubber bands between two small wood pieces.

We had some successes and some disappointments – I really expected prints from the fig leaves – but all of it was fun.

art, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina beaches

Leslie Marsh’s Nature Bound workshop

I do not have many photos from this workshop, a sign of excellence for me. It means that I was so much in the present moment that I forgot to take photos. It is generally hard to get into one of Leslie’s workshops because they fill quickly, but someone canceled and I took their place. Leslie Marsh has a beautiful home and studio on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands at Topsail Beach.

A trademark of Leslie’s book workshops is natural dyeing. She studied with India Flint and developed her own techniques of eco-printing. I particularly like Leslie’s method because she skips the mordanting step and puts everything in the dye pot. When we wrap our papers and fabrics with leaves around copper pipes, all we need to do is wet them and bind them tightly to the pipes. Then she pops them into her potion and they come out transformed. I have found that I do not like the mess of natural dyeing and so this is like heaven for me – the magic without the prep and clean-up. I am not fussy and precise. I enjoy the surprise.

This particular workshop was special because it definitely took me out of my comfort zone. We learned Leslie’s method for her metal book covers, which involves liquidified solder! Leslie is a wonderful, patient teacher and gave each of us individual help as we used these tools and methods for the first time.

We spent a cold Saturday preparing the dyed and leaf printed papers and wool felt, and metal covers for our books. Then we spent Sunday binding the books with coptic stitch, which I do so seldom anymore that I always need a refresher. The second photo of the finished book was taken by Leslie.

I took a little while during the lunch break on Sunday to visit the beach and collect some shells. I love the old worn out ones with holes in them. Sandy mostly stayed in our room at the Jolly Roger because he was sick on Saturday, but he revived on Sunday and drove around exploring while I finished my book. Our room was oceanfront, and I was really impressed with these surf fishers who were out there even late at night. Because he was sick we didn’t eat out Saturday night but we had appetizers and dessert at the Beach Shop Grill on Friday night. Their crab balls are exquisite. Expensive restaurant though. We couldn’t afford to eat there often if we lived nearby.

Anyway, I would take every workshop from Leslie Marsh that she offered if I could.

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, 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, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina, North Carolina beaches

Zhen Xian Bao by the Sea

This past weekend, Susanne and I went to a wonderful Zhen Xian Bao book class at Topsail Beach, NC, taught by Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller. The first day we spent natural dyeing with plant materials and indigo on paper and fabric. The next day was spent constructing the book, which is made with glue, scissors, and folding. The book structure is a traditional Chinese thread book made for the purpose of holding embroidery threads, needles, and the odd bits that might be kept for different projects. Ruth Smith researched this extensively and published books about it, and it is being taught by artists in the United States now. I took a class on this structure at Focus on Book Arts last summer, which I absolutely loved. Kim and Leslie put their own spin on it by adding more layers and the natural dye/shibori element. Of course, Leslie acknowledged the instruction of India Flint in her teaching of eco-printing techniques.

The big dilemma in making this book is that you have to sacrifice some images that you might love to be on the side that is glued down. The biggest one for me was the big box that makes the base and the cover. Both sides had their charms, but I had to pick one. The other can be seen on the bottom of the lowest box when the book is opened. I thought about embellishing the cover further, but I think that I will leave it alone other than brushing some Dorland’s wax medium on it to make it a little stronger and more weatherproof.

above: unbundling, trying out cover sides and the finished cover

I added the 70% silk/30% cotton thread to every bundle. I now have some dark and bright indigo threads to add to my tapestry, once I get them untangled. One groups of the threads I laid inside a bundle made a portrait of two humans. Fortunately I was able to preserve this image in the bottom of one of the boxes near the top.

More photos of the dyeing/bundling process:

Update: I don’t do Pinterest too much – too overwhelming and I don’t need another rabbit hole. If you are into it, here’s a great board on the Zhen Xian Bao book structure.