art, book arts, collage, North Carolina, Wonderfulness

Re(f)use Exhibition at Artspace

Even though this Triangle Book Arts group exhibition at Artspace in Raleigh, North Carolina is much better seen in person, as any book art exhibition is, I took a few photos yesterday when Sandy and I visited. Book arts are so interactive – in many cases over half of what is there is inside a book! In the show, there were many forms of books, some folded books hanging from the ceiling, some hanging on the wall, others were sculptural, and others invited you to explore inside them. One even invited you to add to it!

All were constructed from materials “reused” that were at least 80% “refuse.”

There were many that I wanted to photograph but a camera just could not do them justice. Susan Leeb’s “Catalogue of Nostalgia” installation using an old library card catalog cabinet and cards could have easily soaked up an hour of my time exploring its drawers, but I gave up trying to photograph it.

Here are photos of my two books in the exhibition. “Flow” hung with a group collaboration and was difficult to photograph because it was very long and the lighting was odd. However, I loved the shadows cast on the wall by another hanging book, “Holy” by Lisa Gilbert, so maybe the lighting was perfect. First two photos are details of the front and back of “Flow.” Then the bottom, then a page in the middle.

Here’s “First the Seed,” opened to its first page. I really have to write in this book when it comes home. It’s like the book that refuses to be finished.

See the shapes on the wall cast by the holes in “Holy?” After this photo is a detail shot of “Holy.” I really love this idea of combining a piece with light and shadow.

I love the shadows cast by Barbara Livingston’s fascinating “Renovating the Library” also.

Kathy Steinsburger’s “East:West” really got to me, pictured along with other works along the back wall. Again, those shadows!

By the way, the other gallery exhibit with encaustic collages by Jane Wells Harrison is well worth the trip also. It made my husband and I both want to play with encaustic. I especially loved the map imagery encased under the wax.

The exhibition is on the first floor gallery on Artspace through March 3. You can see other photos by clicking on any of these photos to go to my Flickr page. There are too many to post here – I know I posted too many as it was.

book arts, Mixed media art, Reading, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This was a busy week. First, here’s the tapestry diary as of last Sunday. I haven’t worked on it so far this week so it will be a simple narrow entry for the entire week and I’ll weave it as soon as I am done here.

On Tuesday, I went to Seth Apter’s 52 Card Pickup class at Betty’s Creative Studio here in Greensboro, NC. I had not known about Betty’s before I saw Seth’s announcement on his “The Altered Page” Facebook page, and that was a welcome surprise since I was trying to figure out how to go to Lexington, Kentucky to take a joint workshop with him and my favorite book arts teacher, Dan Essig. As usual, there are way too many things that I want to do and sometimes the knowledge of this is overwhelming, since of course I can’t afford it all or take the time off for it all, especially between January and April. And yes, he is as nice as you have heard.

This was a nice break from work, since it was fairly mindless and relaxing. We learned his process for making textured painted backgrounds on a deck of cards that had been painted back and front with black gesso, plus two slightly larger bookboard pieces to use for covers. Messy fun!

The idea was that you would collage one side of the card and journal on the other side. The cards are not bound so you’d pull out a collaged card to suit your journaling mood or subject for the week. We didn’t get around to much collage. I got a little overwhelmed with the free stuff that was being passed around to choose from, since I’m trying to use or purge this kind of thing from my studio. There are still so many boxes of random papers in there!

This is a method that I will reuse, although I think that the next batch of papers or cards will be less busy so they will be easier to write on.

I started out the gate with some serious sinus problems and so I stayed home from work on Monday. I’m pretty sure that cleaning out and trying to repair the vacuum cleaner was the main cause, because I am getting over it too fast for it to be a cold. All that diatomaceous earth from the carpet flea treatment sandpapered the inside of my head. I made it known publicly that I would not be offended by the gift of a new vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day. Sandy, however, is Mr. Fix-It in his imagination and sometimes he does actually accomplish some of these repairs that he says that he can do, so I’m giving it until I get my year-end kickback check from Costco and then if it is not fixed I am buying a new one. I can’t keep up by using the attachments on the hose!

The rest of week I had my head down catching up on work, dealing with a lot of grids and spreadsheets, so that will show up in the tapestry diary entry for the week.

Sandy ended up going to the City Council meeting without me and speaking, among others, in opposition to the way the city is treating Cafe Europa. Sadly, I don’t think that much will come of it, but there are some passionate people on Jakub’s side so I hope that my pessimism turns out to be wrong.

Last night I finished watching “Godless” on Netflix, which I highly recommend if you can take violence that serves a purpose in a very well-written story. I have been a big fan of Merritt Wever since watching her play Zoe on “Nurse Jackie” so it was great to see her play a badass on this one season Western series. I thought that it was a touching story of redemption, with the twist of a town full of very strong self-reliant women. Sandy found it very sad, but he liked it enough that he watched it again with me.

I finished “Run” by Ann Patchett and am now reading “Straight Man” by Richard Russo, which is pretty hysterical, especially if you have had the experience of working in a small college or a dysfunctional academic liberal arts department. Not that ours is that bad, but much of it rings true.

I was planning to cut back the fig tree hard, like by half, and set up my little greenhouse this weekend, but it appears that it is going to rain for four days. Oh well. As long as it is not flooding, I will not complain about rain. It is time to start seeds and I’m going to give that another try this year. We’ll see how the tomcats in the house behave. If I can get a few weeks of good behavior from them then I can set up the greenhouse and move some seedlings out there.

Tomorrow I hope to write about the project that I’m doing in India Flint’s Bagstories group. It has been such a joy.

book arts, coffee pot posts, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

This time, with a full pot of coffee! Who knows where this might go?

Yesterday I made a sudden decision to get my hair cut. Nothing drastic, just what Mr. Robert at Leon’s Beauty School describes as “my annual shearing.” I love Mr. Robert. Anyway, it looks healthier and bouncier and it will probably get curlier again because the weight is off. However, when I looked in the mirror this morning my first thought was of Snape looking back at me.

Since I adore Alan Rickman, I suppose that is not altogether bad. I won’t dye it black, though. Maybe this summer I’ll do a wild color rinse. I’ve wanted to do that for a while.

I need to lay off the electronics late at night. This is an addiction that has to be addressed immediately. Even melatonin is not working for me. Last night around 1 a.m. I gave up and finished “The Loving Cup” by Winston Graham, the tenth in the Poldark series. Then I went to my bookshelf with the intention of choosing something less fluffy, and picked up “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller. I bought it because I knew it had been banned for decades and it was the number one bestseller the year I was born. But after the first dozen pages, I realized that I am not wasting time on it. I hated it. I flipped through it for another thirty minutes, reading excerpts here and there. It will go into the stack to sell to the used book store.

The antidote to this is that I am also reading “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, but small bits at a time. All right, I’ll confess – it is my bathroom book. I want to keep a novel in the currently reading list, so taking a cue from “Big Magic” I’m going to read Ann Patchett’s “Run” next. As I finish novels, they are going to the used book store or the Little Free Library down the street. There are a few that I will always hang on to, like my Lee Smith, Joseph Mitchell, and Wendell Berry books. And any autographed books. But the book purge is going to happen and happen big. I already donated eight books on book and paper arts to the Triangle Book Arts member library.

I caught up on my tapestry diary for the week, weaving most of it yesterday. I thought that the rough brown yarn in the middle would be interesting to weave with, but it ended up falling apart as I wove. I think it may have been jute. So the rest of that will go in the paper bits bin for the next papermaking session. I hope that I’ll get to a little of that this year.

I have work in two shows right now – a first for me! “98% Water” is currently in “A Strand, A Shape, A Story,” the Tapestry Weavers South exhibit at the Folk Arts Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, North Carolina. I have two books, “First, the Seed” and “Flow” in the Triangle Book Arts show “Re(f)use” in Artspace in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Flow” is hanging as part of a collaborative work led by Barbara Livingston, and it is definitely my favorite of the two books I submitted. I will photograph it when I visit the show. Both shows are incredible, and the book arts show will twist your head about what a book can be. Opening reception for Re(f)use is on Friday, Feb. 2. I don’t know if I’m going yet. Feeling a bit shy and a lot agoraphobic about it.

Okay, time to get to work in the studio.

art, book arts, collage, Upcycling

Flow


I finished the insides of the panels for the Flow book today. Tomorrow I will finish the back sides, which will be much simpler. I messed around with laying them on the floor and switching them around to make them “flow” better. I can already see what I will change in the process for the next book, but I’m going to finish this one and send it off.

When it hangs it needs to be ten feet long so I’ll have to do math tomorrow!

art, book arts, coffee pot posts, collage

Sunday morning coffee FILTER post

Random stream of consciousness writing is what I categorize as “coffee pot posts” since they usually happen on weekend mornings when I have time to drink a small pot of coffee. At first it was an exercise to simply write until the coffee ran out. Today it is a pot AND filter post.

I started saving my used paper coffee filters made by If You Care back when I realized they were not breaking down in the compost pile and are made of high quality paper. I buy these from Deep Roots Co-op in Greensboro because I am committed to buying recycled products when possible. It is most ecologically sustainable to use the reusable washable filter that comes with the coffee maker, and that is mostly what I do, but that’s not what this post is about.

Anyway, I am working on an accordion style book that is supposed to hang on display in the Triangle Book Arts group show in 2018. The book’s theme is “FLOW” which is turning out to be rich creative ground for me, almost too much. As I started thinking about the back side of the pages and the connectors, these coffee filters came to mind. I knew that they took markers well so I decided to do ink washes on them.

I found out that some of them have wonderful resists to the ink. Next time I pull any out of the compost I will set them aside to see if it was the compost effect.

Now the problem is too many ideas. This might be a good problem to have if it helps me make a unified body of work, but as someone with panic disorder it can stop me cold. I will try to focus on getting this one book finished over the next three days and jotting down the other ideas for later.

book arts, depression/anxiety, papermaking


My mood was so dark yesterday that this morning my shadow had a shadow.

I feel better for the rant, though, and that the weekend is here. Here’s another photo from my walk to work:

Sounds like Irma might take a path to the west, but of course, nobody can accurately predict a hurricane’s path this far out.


If we get high winds, I feel sorry for my neighbor across the street. Look at all the black walnuts on his tree, hanging over his house. It’s gonna sound like hail on his roof. Of course if the wind is high enough some of them might make it over here too. I’ve been collecting some. There are lots of black walnut trees around here. Almost every part of the tree makes good fast dye.

On Labor Day, I cooked all the corn shucks I’ve been saving in my freezer with soda ash so that I can break down the fiber for paper pulp. I’m going to try to make some very rough textured paper this weekend, but there is SO MUCH going on around here!


I pulled this book that I made in 2013 off the shelf and decided to work it some more for an exhibit with the Triangle Book Arts group this coming winter. It’s called “First the Seed,” and the cover has a seed catalog print gel transferred onto handmade paper, with some dried “whippoorwill” field peas in a mica window on the front. The pages are handmade paper from both recycled green office papers and recycled handmade papers with different plant materials in them. I decided to use it to showcase the seed packets that I have hoarded for years. I feel like they need to be framed, either with this rough corn shuck paper I’m about to make or with drawing frames in ink around them. I can’t add too much more paper to it or it won’t shut. I’m not satisfied with the front cover either.



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

book arts, cloth weaving, depression/anxiety, papermaking, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Saint Patrick’s Day


Thinking about Ireland. Aching for it. I wish that I had the courage to throw everything to the wind and take a chance on trying to move there. Like, NOW. This is a photo that I took on the Burren in May, 2012.

Since I last wrote, spring came and then left.

When this weather system came roaring through, I had cluster migraines all day. I always feel concerned for the farmers when we have these false springs.

I read “Long Quiet Highway” by Natalie Goldberg this past week. It was time for me to read something about Buddhism. Do you ever wish that you could get back a feeling that you treasured and you don’t understand why you can’t? I don’t understand why I don’t care about certain things that I once cared about. It occurred to me months ago that maybe I should get out one of my many books on Buddhism or mindfulness or simplicity but I didn’t care enough to do it until this past week. I want to care. I want to care about cooking and gardening and even watching TV and movies again. I want to feel present again. I guess this is depression. I feel so lazy and blah. Anyway, Natalie’s book is excellent and it stirred something up that needed to surface. Let’s see if I can get moving forward.

The book also made me want to go to New Mexico. I think that Sandy and I will go there in September, if we have the money.

I meant to go see Natalie at her stop at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on Sunday, but I started making a book and that took me into a time warp and I forgot.

It was the first book I have made in many moons. I didn’t have a real plan. My sewing machine was in the shop and so I got out the denim paper that I made last spring and a piece of the recycled denim woven cloth to make a cover. A couple of scraps of old pajama pants decorate the front. This one is for me to experiment with stitching on paper. The paper is very soft so if I make another book with it I will need to reinforce the signatures where the pages are folded and stitched to the cover.

I just picked up my sewing machine and I look forward to some frustration-free sewing this weekend.

art, book arts, fiber art, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving, whining, Wonderfulness

Tapestry Weavers South Show, plus a general update

It’s been a busy time, but after this week I should have more time to devote to this blog as well as my artistic pursuits. I work at a university and graduation is tomorrow.

Since I last wrote, I made a travel journal for a friend who is retiring from the University, I began weaving on “Cathedral” again, and the 20th Anniversary Show of Tapestry Weavers South opened Tuesday night at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center.

It is incredibly impressive for an unjuried show. Member weavers from Florida to Virginia to Oklahoma participated. I submitted “Labyrinth at Healing Ground” and here are a few other photos – I will upload the rest to my Flickr account. It was hard to choose because there is so much goodness in this show. What an honor it is to share a gallery with the artists of Tapestry Weavers South!

Also since I last wrote, the anti-inflammatory meds have started to kick in and I am feeling better and sleeping a little more. One reason I am not happy about the meds is that this is a time of year when there is a lot of celebrating, not to mention STRESS, and I am supposed to limit my alcohol intake. People, I love a beer or two at the end of the day, and I love to try different brews. Yes, I am one of those beer hipsters. Untappd has become one of my favorite apps. Plus, hello, vacation time? It is coming soon! So it is good and bad. It is good that I should be able to walk without pain, not so good that I will have to go to a great craft brewery area and be careful about drinking. I will take lots of Tums, believe me, because I can’t see me having this kind of self-control.

With less than two weeks to go until our big trip out West, I am not actually present in the moment most of the time. Anticipation is coursing through my veins.

The nice thing is that I will have a house-sitter who the cats are used to and they love her. There will be no worry over my critters, except for what the little hellions might do to Susanne. She set up a lot of her studio here last month and has been hosting a few classes here until she gets moved to her new place.

I have a very busy day on Saturday. First the Deep Roots Market annual owners’ meeting (which I feel obligated to attend after the Julia Sugarbaker style rant I delivered to the Board of Directors nearly a year ago), then LEE SMITH, one of my very favorite authors will be at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, and then I have an appointment with my massage therapist late that afternoon. In between I’ll be getting the kitchen ready for the guy who Sandy hired to paint on Sunday. I have a feeling that I will disappear to my studio space at the church that day.

art, art retreats, book arts, National Wildlife Refuges, North Carolina, Pocosin Arts Center

Pocosin Arts Cabin Fever Reliever

I spent a few days last week at Pocosin Arts Center in Columbia, North Carolina. My friend Susanne, who was involved with them when she lived in the area, scooped me up and took me to a four day class with Daniel Essig, “The Altered Mica Book.”

Dan Essig is one of my favorite artists and I’ve taken three other classes from him. If I lived a little closer to him I’d probably bug the crap out of him all the time. It’s good to catch him in North Carolina, and his classes fill quickly. He and I connect on the “cabinet of curiosities” type work. I love searching for quirky or even ordinary objects and squirreling them away for my own little museum. Maybe I should have been a Victorian. My house is full of pebbles and shells and feathers and sticks.

We stayed with some artist friends of Susanne’s whose house was on the Albemarle Sound. It was filled with art and antiques and musical instruments and books. Piles of patchwork blankets for the beds, of which Carol said that she made one per year. We didn’t get to spend much time there, but this was a special place and Carol and I would be good hangout all the time buddies if we had a chance, I could tell.


Susanne and I took a lunchtime walk on the riverwalk at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge center in Columbia on the Scuppernong River on the first day, where we saw a pileated woodpecker. That gave me a focus for my book in the workshop. My work almost always has a theme around place, and so I gathered stuff from the boardwalks and the bushes and the grounds and the refuge center to compose a book about the refuge, with Woody as the main character.

In the evenings, we gathered for a happy hour in the center’s gallery and then joined the other attendees at the Old Salt Oyster Bar down the street. We didn’t buy the meal plan for the retreat in an effort to save money, but their buffet looked delicious. We ordered off the menu and ate at the bar. I have to say that their gumbo was incredibly rich, some of the best I’ve ever eaten. The fried oysters were cooked perfectly, crispy, plump, and juicy. If you are planning to vacation near the Outer Banks and go down Hwy 64 to Manteo through Columbia, you should definitely give this restaurant a visit.

Here are some shots of the workshop and the books we made. We worked on them right up to the last minute and took home supplies to keep going. Dan’s workshops always leave me inspired and more skilled – if you are seriously into book art, I highly recommend that you study under him.

Each of us made a small book bound on an accordion fold to teach coptic stitch and to experiment in.

Some of my mica pages, pre binding. It is difficult to photograph mica! I still haven’t gotten a successful photo of my favorite page with the bee, cicada, and snail shell encased in windows.

Covers: We played with power drills and woodburning and nails and hammers and chisels and glue and paint and shoe wax and wire and ink. Fun stuff.

I want to call this guy Senor Seagull for some reason. Maybe Don Seagull?

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Old thesaurus pages were in the background of several pages. I tried to pick the words carefully.

Anyway, I would like to go back to this retreat next year if possible. It’s at a bad time of year for me, though. I managed to get things done to take a couple of days off, work overtime ahead of time, all that, then I came back sick as a dawg and was home from work for another three days. Thankfully I’m recovering now and will get back into my studio this weekend, because I’m full of sweet inspiration.

Oh, and by the way, this blog will celebrate its eleventh birthday tomorrow. How about that!!!