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Sunday, March 30

a little break

We took a few hours out of the day to travel south to Colden for Maple weekend. The maple syrup places all over the state have open houses this weekend and we always mean to go and always somehow forget. But today the air was soft and the sun was warm and it just seemed wrong to stay indoors. So off we went. Dog. Sandwiches. Tea. Vitamin water. Pears. Cameras. It was restorative and fun. I think they call the houses with the boiling equipment "sugar shacks". If they don't they should.

I took some pictures, a few of which seemed pretty good to me. I am definitely going to use some of my pictures on the books.

I've made up postcards to hand out at shows about this blog. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the blog has on the business. At least I'm having fun with it.

Well, break is over and the attic calls...

Can't wait til morning. Pancakes with brand new, pure maple syrup.

What diet?

Friday, March 28

a decision about Kenan

I was checking the website of one of my favorite shows, 100 American Craftsmen at the Kenan Center, and saw that they had the slide show up of this year's artists. Nice touch. If you click on the slide show, it opens up into a full screen and you can navigate through from there. I was interested to see which of my images they would choose and I was happy to see a book. Usually they use my cast paper bowls.

So, as I'm clicking on the pictures, I see the work of a paper artist I admire from Rochester, Raphaela McCormick. We met at the Clothesline Festival there a couple of years ago. She does amazing vessels and sculptures. You can see her work on line at:

I enjoy making my cast paper bowls and vessels, but they are a small part of my booth. I noticed that my fellow book artist, Susan Soleil is not in the show this year (I think she has moved to the Carolinas). So, for Kenan I am leaving the bowls home and concentrating on the books.

It's good to be able to focus like this. It gives me a clearer picture on how I want to approach the Kenan show. Now all we need is the right weather. Last year was crazy hot for that time of year and it hurt us all in that cavernous arena with no A/C.

You can click on the link for Kenan to see the slide show. Some beautiful work there. I am always grateful to be included in this group.

Tuesday, March 25

miniature book how-to

My miniature book pins are very popular with librarians, teachers and book club members and also with those who just like unusual jewelry. They are actual books with 30 pages inside, a decorated cover and a pin on the back. I'm going to show you how I make them. There are those who would call me crazy, but I'm not going to share all the little tricks and details. In my mind, a greater appreciation can come from seeing what goes into that little 2 inch bauble. So here we go.

First you assemble all your materials:

Tiny book boards, handmade paper for the cover and spine, a stack of interior pages, glue, scissors, bone folder, advil.

The first step is to glue the covers to the paper, leaving room for the spine.

Then you glue the coordinating material that will be the spine over the boards

The book, at this point, looks like this:

Then you glue the edges of your pages

and wrap them in the paper that will be the inside of the covers. Now you have a cover and an insert:

You glue the insert into the cover

and there is your little book. At this point, I usually wrap each one tightly in waxed paper and put it in the book press. That helps it glue properly and the press makes them nice and flat and square.

Now you can embellish the book if you like. Sometimes, if the paper is special I leave it alone. You can do a tiny torn paper collage, glue on a charm, a picture. The word tag is very popular. This is a simple combo of torn papers, a word tag and raised paint dots..

There you have it. When I have a collection of them ready, I'll post a group photo.

Saturday, March 22


My perfect, beautiful, much missed man-child is visiting his Mom this week, so the studio door remains closed. Even if the most we do this week is watch old movies together and visit family, I am smiling.

So, here's a smile for the art fair artists who don't have son-shine on them this week. In one of the forums, the question was asked "do you call yourself an artist?"

Now the topic of what is art and what is craft and are you an artist or a craftsman or an artisan blahblahblah, often gets tossed around for those who need to ponder such things. The answer I loved was "I only call myself an artist at art shows. As in 'where is the artist parking'?"

Something beautiful about that.

Back to my boy.

Sunday, March 16

we interrupt this blog....

...for a public service announcement.

Have you seen this woman? In concert?

We had the honor of seeing k d lang perform last night. I play with the word "art" in this blog a lot. Last night I saw, heard and felt it. Amazing. Never before has a singer been able to bring tears to my eyes with one note, sent over the auditorium, pure and strong and from the soul.

Art. Beauty. Poetry. Soul. Everyone has their own interpretation. But I know it when I see it.

Saturday, March 15

assembly line

When I think of "production", this is the image that comes to mind:

But for a craftsperson, it's a different sort of thing, albeit just as tedious at times. For instance, I stockpile book covers

Just cutting the boards and gluing the papers is a yawner, for sure. Then they have to sit in the book press for a day so they stay nice and straight. The fun part is when I actually assemble the book and add the (hopefully) artistic elements, but that is still a few weeks away. So, I plug along.

The miniature books that I make into pins have a different set of tasks.They go into the book press, just like the big ones, but I assemble them first. The challenge there is to have everything organized so I can pull the colors and textures I need without a lot of searching. When your work is just an inch and a half, every element is important.If I have an interesting assortment at my fingertips, the designs just sort of leap out at me. This is what I came up with. It cracks me up that the whole operation fits into a 10 inch square basket.

Now, if I could organize my house this well. Or even half as well. Actually, if I could organize my house at all....

Sunday, March 9

The Drudgery Report

Ah, yes, this is the time of year I wonder what the heck I'm doing in this business. The snow is piled up, it's cold in the studio, few shows have been confirmed yet, I can't even remember what it's like to be in my little canopy selling things and goofing around with my customers. I also have forgotten just how I did some of the things I loved last year. I stare at the paper, turn it over, put some other pieces on it, move things around like a puzzle and it is like looking at a foreign object.

I face this every year. The re-learning period. It's as if December is the end of the year, the season and my ability to create anything. Eventually, it comes back. The first few items are clumsy and forced. Then I remember one little thing, then another. A cartoon light bulb goes on over my head. I remember some more. When I'm lucky, in the process of trying to remember, I invent. That's the best part. Having to force your brain to see something, often helps you see something new. It's a rush.

But, for now, I am covering book boards. Choosing papers that will look right with a collage piece on them, others that will stand alone. Deciding whether to use a certain paper on a large journal or a small one or, maybe, a frame. Saving the best of the scraps for my miniature books. Tossing the tiniest pieces into a basket for my collage cards. I'm accumulating "canvases" that will later become, hopefully, artful work.

It is drudgery, surely, but I like watching the boxes fill up with these squares of promise. The festive basket of collage scraps pleases the eye. Sometimes, a new paper I am experimenting with works so well that it actually makes me laugh. The TV is on. I listen to the women on The View, The Food Network (cooking is my second passion), every so often a Lifetime movie.

And the hours pass, the room doesn't feel so cold, the book covers pile together in rainbow stacks, the collage scraps spill over the sides of the basket. I begin to remember. I begin to get excited about what I'm doing.

Spring is coming, then Summer. My first show is just 7 weeks from today. In Virginia. I can almost feel the sun on my face.