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

Focus on Book Arts 2015

On Tuesday evening we left the beach to go to the Focus on Book Arts conference at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, about a 90 minute trip toward Portland. Pam arranged for us to stay with a friend of hers, Nel Rand, who lives in Cornelius, only about 15 minutes away. So not only did the travel improve, we had the privilege of making a new friend, who is a fabulous artist and writer as well.

Our class, “An Intimate Atlas,” was a three-day map-making experience with Jill Berry. I’ve taken a lot of great book workshops, and this one ranks up there with the most enjoyable I’ve taken. The synergy of the women in the class and the instructor was perfect. There were no whiners and no neurotic meltdowns. Jill gave us techniques and prompts and it was amazing to see what a dozen different women did with the materials. I was already acquainted with some of these from Jill’s book  Personal Geographies, and had done a few of the exercises in a journal. In this class we each made six different maps and a book to contain them as pop-ups! I was surprised at how easy the book structure and pop-ups were to do. Therefore, I HIGHLY recommend this class to anyone who love maps and would like to do a bit of introspective play with watercolors, markers, and stencils.

Jill has an excellent slideshow of all the different maps on her blog post, but here are some photos of just mine.


This was my favorite, based on Wendell Berry’s poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” which was copied on the white paper in white ink and then painted over with a grey wash.


This hand map is about creativity and teachers, the past and the future. It is not quite finished in this photo because I have added names since this was taken.


Here is a travel spread. On the left is my trip to FOBA in a game board format, spiraling into the center. I struggled the most with the heart map, because my heart has been hurting and closed for business lately. I made this “Hearchipelago” of islands places where I have lived and visited that I loved.

A spread of the last two maps – At the left is a map of Marietta, my hometown, circa 1972 or so, of all my hideouts. At the right is a map of our house from Diego and Pablo’s point of view.

The outside cover and spine of the book.


Here are classmates dripping lines onto papers with walnut ink to make the back of our maps. I really loved doing this part.

Susanne and I connected with Judy Strom, who steered us to FOBA in 2011. She is from Montana and we first met at Journalfest in Port Townsend, where we took two classes together. Judy is one of the main reasons I want to visit Montana, because I don’t get to see her enough. She was taking a class in the room next door.

We made another new friend, Kathy Dickerson, who I look forward to spending some time with on another trip to the PNW. Here we are hanging out in Urban Decanter on Main St. of Forest Grove on our last hot (upper 90s!) evening in Forest Grove.

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

Art-is-You Petaluma, Days 4-5: Far East

As with the other class, I was so completely engrossed in Sharon Payne Bolton’s Far East class that I didn’t get many process photos. However, I took a lot of photos of her books and my classmates’ books for inspiration and they are on my Flickr page. The photo above is of the front cover of my book. Here are a couple of shots of the spreads in it:

I felt like I have so much more to learn from Sharon – she was an amazing teacher with boatloads of patience and imagination. I hope that I’ll be able to take another class from her. Art-is-You Petaluma is moving to the spring next year and spring retreats are nearly impossible for me to attend.

Collaging and binding frenzy!


Stencil area


This rainbow ended in this lovely lady’s tutu.

I said goodbye to Anne, my roommate who ran a terrific store at the event, boarded a bus for San Francisco, and took the red-eye back to Greensboro.

And as you can see from the dates of these posts, I’ve been too busy since to blog about it until now. I’m starting to feel a little less frenzied now and I’ve got more to write about. Later.

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

Art-is-You Petaluma: Day 3, Cornerstone Gardens

Roxanne took this photo of me on the second day of our class, when we went on a field trip to Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. The task before us was to sketch and take photos of the many unusual sculpture gardens on site, and I went a little crazy on the photos. In this photo, an olive fell out of the tree above me on my sketchbook so I decided that it was asking to be included. I used my watercolor pens and it came out pretty good in the end.

I saw a lot of tapestry designs in these photos. I was going to say that the eucalyptus garden was my favorite because of the smell and the concept (three walls formed from a fallen eucalyptus tree) but then I remembered the lines and shapes of the agaves but then I remembered the beautiful grassland paths but then I remembered the reflections in the pool with the lily podlike structure…oh well, you get the idea. More photos at my Flickr site.

In the eucalyptus garden


Took lots of reflection shots here

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

Art-is-You Petaluma 2014: Days 1-2

Tuesday, September 23 was a traveling day for Sandy and me, but we took off in different directions. He went home to Greensboro, NC, while I headed further west to Art-is-You Petaluma, a retreat that I also attended in 2012 and enjoyed so very, very much. On the way there I flew over Utah, which was probably the weirdest landscape I’ve ever seen from the air. I couldn’t stop taking photos. I’ve already posted one but here’s another:

I ate fish tacos at the Sheraton bar and wiped out that night. Dramamine on the bus ride dropped me like a rock. It was Albie Smith’s last retreat for teaching and that made it very hard for me to choose my classes. In the end, I went with two other instructors whose classes I’ve been daydreaming about, because they would be new for me. Hopefully I will get back in contact with Albie when I move to Oregon. Another great reason to head to the PNW!

Mixed Media Natural Journaling with Roxanne Stout was my first 2-day class. I love her style. She is every bit as sweet and talented as I suspected that she would be. The first day we decorated small glitter jars and mostly prepared backgrounds in our watercolor field journals. She had lots of different paints and pastels and fun little add-ons like beads for us to use. We did a few drawing exercises during the class of grasses, twigs, and leaves. It was a lot to take in.

(photo by Roxanne Stout)

(photo by Roxanne Stout)

Honestly, I was so deeply involved in the making of my journal in the classroom that I didn’t take a lot of photos of my own work, but there are photos of my classmates’ work on my Flickr page. I did manage to pour a cup of white wine on my new friend Jodi’s expensive camera AND her journal at the end of the class while taking photos. I was absolutely mortified, but fortunately the camera survived and Jodi was very gracious about the whole thing.

art, book arts, critters, dyeing, Family, Lake Waccamaw, Nature printing, whining

Lake Waccamaw etc., May 2014

Sandy and I spent a couple of days at Lake Waccamaw at my cousin’s house last week. It was a busy week despite being on vacation. We spent one day reading and playing in the water and the next day we went to Wilmington briefly and I did some eco-printing inside because of the rain and the midges and mayflies. When the workers began cutting back the bushes at the house next door on Friday morning we both decided to split and go to Marietta with Mama.

The full moon was beautiful the first two nights. The third night there was a tornado warning for a few minutes but most of the weather shifted to our northwest. Thank goodness, since there is no good place to take cover in the lake house.

I walked around the yard between storms and collected as many different fresh leaves as possible, combined them in a folded accordion book with some metal pieces that I’ve collected, and steamed the book, then immersed it in a dyebath with privet leaves and flowers and bald cypress needles in lake water. I figured that the bald cypress needles and lake water would provide enough tannin to create a mordant.

The problem was that I used too much metal and to me it spoiled a lot of the individual prints. The ones I like the most are simple. Also, part of my goal was to identify which leaves made the best prints, and for the most part, I couldn’t tell you. The Virginia creeper and Rose of Sharon leaves made nice prints:

There were other vines that I liked and the oxalis stems and bald cypress needles made nice lines. The flowers on the shrubbery and privet flowers worked well too, but very subtlely.

Mama transferred from the rehab center to my sister’s house for a week, and then we met my brother-in-law halfway on Friday and took her home. It’s been about a week since she went home and although she is still weakened, a physical therapist is coming to her house three days a week and she has a little more paid help to assist with light housework and yard work. She also has an amazing community around her that supports and loves her. I’ll go back down there this Saturday and stay the night.

I hate all the driving but I’ve found that books on CD makes it much more bearable. I decided to listen to Newberry Medal winners that I never read, because they are a little easier to follow while driving. Anything more complicated causes me to skip back to see what I missed, IF I missed something, when I am distracted by something on the road. Last week Sandy and I listened to Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and this week I will listen to Holes by Louis Sachar.

We came home to a huge pile of hardwood shredded mulch in our driveway. The problem was that I ordered compost. We are using part of the mulch to put on our paths but it was disappointing since I thought that I’d be planting more in raised beds this month. Oh well. Actually, last week really sucked for the most part. A friend died, my sister’s cat was bitten by a poisonous snake and died (I loved that cat and everyone is wrecked over his death), my laptop got a bad virus and didn’t come back intact after wiping the hard drive, and our basement flooded. I’m looking forward to that week in June in Gatlinburg, studying indigo dyeing with Rowland Ricketts at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.

However, even though the kittens are almost a year old, they are so much fun. We put carpet down in my bedroom and it looks and feels so much better. Still reorganizing and getting rid of stuff and it feels good. We celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary and ate a delicious brunch on Sunday at Sweet Potatoes on Trade St. in Winston Salem. Best shrimp and grits that I’ve ever eaten and I do not made that statement lightly.

Will try to do better with the blog posting but between work and Mama’s illness it was all a little too much.

art, book arts, dyeing, fiber art

Chad Alice Hagen’s Felt, Resist Dyeing and Bookmaking Class

Whee, this was better than Disney World. Seriously.

Chad Alice led us through finishing prefelted needle-punched merino wool batts, then we clamped fun metal and Lexan and wood stuff to folded pieces and dyed them, and took them off, and reclamped, and dyed them, and took them off, and reclamped, and dyed them. All in all we used nine colors in the dyepots and most pieces went into three dyepots before the sun went down on Friday.

^^^After the second set of dyebaths.

^^^Look at her beautiful pieces. She is showing us how they were folded and what “tools” were used for the designs.

^^^After the final darkest dyebaths.

^^^Probably my favorite piece. I didn’t put it in the third dyebath.

^^^This is my favorite large piece.

Then we picked a piece for a book cover, cut it down, embellished the flap with stitching and beads, then glued thrift shop leather to the inside cover. She taught us a simple longstitch binding but I still learned a new way of doing it. She taught us how to do two different closures but I didn’t get around to mine – I’m still deciding what I want to do about it.

This was my second favorite for the book cover, so I chose it. She said not to chose our favorites.

Here’s an example of taking a mistake and working with it. My first two middle stitches on the cover were too loose. I could have gone back and rebound and tightened them, but instead I decided to do a twisty thing to them. Longstitch is versatile like that. Chad Alice showed us an elegant way to finish off the final knot for the binding on the inside of the cover.

The back cover.

And voila!

book arts, Visual journal, Visual journal 2013

Visual journal, December 4, 2013

Alas, my only working camera has not yet appeared. It occurs to me that I did not check under the sofa or between the cushions, where other lost items have turned up in the months since the Boys moved in. There is hope. Meanwhile, I’m still using old photos.


I bought an assortment of yarns from a tapestry weaver’s stash at the Torpedo Factory during our trip in November. Will I ever have enough storage room for yarn if I don’t use up MY stash before buying other people’s stashes?


Binding the oak bark clay book.

book arts, critters, Visual journal, Visual journal 2013

Visual journal, December 3, 2013

Oops! I didn’t take any photos today, and I left my only working camera in the office. I’ll make do with previously taken photos.

Miss Lucy is very sick again. She spent the day at the vet having diagnostic tests and xrays and fluids and shots. This photo is from 2006. We’ll know more tomorrow about her condition, but right now we know she has a couple of infections and a lung and possible kidney problem.

Another book photo – this is a wee art book about the La Pointe Indian Cemetery that I visited this summer.