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

buying local, Focus on Book Arts, Forest Grove, Local food, Marvelous meals, Oregon

Forest Grove, Oregon, 2017

Susanne and I love Forest Grove, a beautiful small college town in the middle of rolling farmland with the backdrop of the Coast Range on its west and only a thirty minute drive from Portland to its east. We discovered it through our three trips to the Focus on Book Arts conference we went to in 2011, 2015, and 2017.

The first place we went when we got there was Maggie’s Buns, which I’ve written about before. They had an abundant and delicious lunch selection. I had their veggie lasagna, which rivaled my own in texture and taste, and I am very snooty about my lasagna. I’d go back just for it, but we all tried each other’s salads and they were wonderful too.

I took a photo of the ceiling at Maggie’s Buns this time because if I’m ever able to look up long enough to do it (neck issues) I’d like to paint the acoustic tiles in my bedroom like this.

The Wednesday evening farmers market downtown is one of the things we love about Forest Grove. When we go, in late June, there are abundant fresh cherries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and all kinds of vegetables. This time there was a baker, Slow Rise Craft Breads whose breads are made from local organic grains and wild yeast. Oh, the complex flavors from that bread. We bought some Face Rock Creamery smoked cheddar cheese from Urban Decanter to go with the Slow Rise rye levain and rolled our eyes in pleasure for the rest of our time there.

We didn’t make it to the King’s Head Pub this time, but we did buy Cornish pasties and almond shortbread from the Great British Bakery at the farmers’ market. The pasties were better than the ones I ate in Cornwall!

^^^Goofing around. We’re sitting on an old Cadillac seat at Waltz. Look closely and you’ll see that the photographer caught my beer just as it was spilling out of my glass.

Susanne talked to a street fiddler who invited us to a bluegrass jam that evening just a couple of blocks away at Waltz Brewing, a very small brewpub in a renovated garage. The garage door was up, there was seating on the sidewalk, and the weather was perfect. We munched on our goodies from the market, petted the local dogs, drank ginger ale and porter, and enjoyed the music. We enjoyed it so much that we skipped the conference lecture again the next night and went back to hear a blues guy play guitar and sing to a karoake machine. I bought a growler of Coffee Porter with To the Roots Espresso (from a local coffee roaster) to keep back in the dorm room fridge.

We were invited to a potluck on Sunday with a group of folks who are developing a co-housing community, which I was quite interested in, but we didn’t have time, it was roasting hot, and I can’t even think about doing anything like that for at least several years. I was curious, though.

Forest Grove has a community edible garden program. Plots with veggies and berries had signs that invited you to help yourself. One was in front of Forest Grove Community School, which also had lovely flowers and artwork.

On Friday evening, we went to a Hawaiian restaurant – a new experience for me but a trip down memory lane for Susanne, who spent a year of childhood living in Hawaii. At Kama’ Aina, Susanne had manapua (sweet bbq pork in dumplings), I had shoyu ahi poke. Poke hasn’t made it back to North Carolina yet, but my bet is that it is the next big foodie thing. Very much like sashimi, but with different seasonings. We also blew everyone away with our garlic breath the next day after sharing garlic furitake fries. Just when you think that you can’t make fries less healthy, somebody decides to fry them with butter and garlic and sprinkle them with sesame seeds and flaked seaweed. God, they were good.

We were sorry to leave Forest Grove, but not sorry to leave the dorm, which was not air conditioned and had no fans. The temps the last two days we were there got up to almost 100 degrees. Pacific University is a lovely campus, though.

^^^From the garden in front of the Forest Grove Community School.

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

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

Focus on Book Arts 2011

My friend and paper mentor Susanne and I flew out to Oregon to attend the Focus on Book Arts conference in Forest Grove at Pacific University. Despite our friends’ warning about the rainy weather, it was beautiful and I didn’t have to open my umbrella once. The cooler temperatures were such a relief!

Judy met us at the Portland airport and as I thought would happen, Susanne LOVED her! So we had a trio of three amazing women for most of the trip. We arrived in Forest Grove late on Wednesday, just in time for the Farmers’ Market on Main St. held each week from 4-8 p.m. Good idea for a farmers’ market here in Greensboro.

We picked up cherries and the sweetest “Hood” strawberries for snacks. Also some marionberry creamed honey. Creamed honey is new to me. The town is small but just big enough for me. There was not a lot of time for exploring, but we both enjoyed a funky little bakery coffee shop called Maggie’s Buns and bought art supplies from The Accidental Bookmaker.

My first class was Jill Timm’s “The Amazing Dremel,” a class that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years, actually. I found it on the Internet and thought that it would be very helpful, and it sure was. The first thing Jill had us do was work with glass, because it tends to be the most intimidating surface. After that, we all settled into it. She provided a large number of bits and wheels and by the time the class was over we all felt totally comfortable using a Dremel or rotary tool.

I was most happy with two samples picturing Guido and Miss Jazz, which is not surprising, but since I was really after learning about this tool for woodworking I was surprised that I enjoyed working on glass and ceramic tile so much. The flexshaft attachment was very helpful because it was lightweight and allowed me to hold the tool more like a thick pencil. My hands did hurt at the end of the day, but I don’t plan to use this tool for hours on end in real life so I am pleased with the potential of what I’ll be able to accomplish with it.

The next two days Susanne and I both took Patti Glass’ “Caterpillar Book on Cords” class. I went forward with an “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” theme, since Patti had beautifully printed copies for our text blocks, while Susanne used a copy of her paper weaving and a large snakeskin in black and white. I was anxious and went overboard with the image transfers and I did not like most of my wooden covers. I plan to sand and carve out the butterflies with my Dremel tool – hooray for new skills!

The caterpillar stitch is complicated and requires patience, practice, and a lot of concentration. Susanne and I are still working on finishing ours. I removed my stitches and completed the headband. This week I am going to redo the stitch you see in the photo.

Next posts: Portland and texture ideas.