Mini Mixed Media Cards workshop at Studio Place Arts

Mixed Media Cards workshop supplies

This past weekend I taught a Mini Mixed Media Cards workshop at Studio Place Arts in Barre, VT. This workshop was a condensed version of a workshop I’ve taught before. My students had to keep up with a faster pace and they did a great job!

Mini Mixed Media Cards workshop

We started with a discussion of different methods of attachment – eyelets, roller adhesive, ribbon, etc. Next, we worked on a simple method of image transfer – the trusted blender pen. It may be stinky, but it works so well.

Handmade cards

We moved on to carving rubber stamps by hand. It takes some time to get the hang of carving technique (you don’t want to direct the carving tools towards your hand while you work). One of my class rules is that no one bleeds – thankfully, this is a rule that folks seem eager to follow.

Student hand carving a rubber stamp

I shared some stamping tips, such as coloring directly on a stamp with water-based markers. We also talked about the properties of dye and pigment-based stamp pads.

We then worked on three different pop-up techniques. My favorite of the three is the spiral – it’s so easy to execute, yet it looks complex.

Handmade pop-up card

Lastly, there was a brief discussion of collage – how to work with color, pattern, texture, and shape. I brought a ton of materials and tools for the students to play with – fibers, handmade papers, laser vellum, recycled papers, embossing powders, and decorative scissors.

At the end of the workshop, there was some free time for people to experiment with the different techniques they had learned. I appreciate having the opportunity to see how folks progress at this point. It’s the art therapist in me that loves it – process work is so fascinating.

Going to Focus on Book Arts!

Focus on Book Arts logoRegistration for the Focus on Book Arts conference opened up this week and I’m thrilled that I can now say that I’m going! I was afraid to commit to saying it until I had the registration confirmation. This will be my fifth time attending the conference.

Not surprisingly, a number of the workshops are already full. This includes Jill Timm‘s fantastic The Amazing Dremel workshop, which I had the pleasure of attending several years ago.

I had a difficult time making my workshop selections – they all sounded so good. I finally settled on the following:

Sharpening and Maintenance of Tools for Book Arts with Jim Croft:

People learning about sharpening and how to shape specialty knives People obviously do great work without knowing much about sharpening, but knowing how to sharpen and how to shape specialty knives gives you one more ability to overcome the abrasive nature of paper, leather, and paperboard. The blade that can shave any wood for many hours without sharpening will be lucky to last one minute on binder’s board. I cut binder’s board with a utility knife for 27 years before I got a board shear. I also trimmed book edges with many styles of blades and cut into book boards of all ages to reback broken hinges and spines. All of the above require more time spent sharpening than actual working time, which gives one a lot of practice and therefore “long term” maintenance comes quickly. One should be paid for sharpening anyway, but when it’s two thirds of one’s labor, it becomes much more of an issue. We will be using sandpaper for sharpening, but water stones will be discussed as interest demands. Sharpening is “simple” but easier said than done. Three words: 1. Establish 2. Angle 3. Polish.

I was gifted a large paring knife several years ago and it desperately needs to be sharpened. Hopefully, I’ll come back with something that’s actually usable.

Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book with Karen Hanmer:

The girdle book is a medieval binding featuring a long extension of leather that could be attached to a traveler’s belt. The leather extension terminates in a decorative knot. In this workshop, students will construct a girdle book on the foundation of a typical Medieval binding: text block sewn on double raised supports; wooden boards shaped all around with special attention given to the inside spine edge to match the text block’s natural shoulder, then laced on and pegged; sewn headbands; covered in vividly-colored leather; strap and pin closure, simple bosses at the corners. This is a fast-paced workshop for students who already have some experience with traditional binding.

I’ve taken two workshops with Karen before and they were fantastic. I’m looking forward to developing my skills further with regards to traditional bookbinding. I just hope that I can keep up with the pace of the class (I tend to be slow).

I highly recommend attending the conference if you can. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Hedi Kyle will be presenting one evening – this is sure to be amazing.

If you’re thinking about attending but need more convincing, shoot me an email. I’m more than happy to share my experiences with the conference.

Worktable Wednesday

Today I worked on completing the last of one of one of my Book Arts Improv editions – it was a book from last year (embarrassed). The book was Superhero Handbook. I had one book remaining to complete in my edition of four books and it was bothering me that I hadn’t yet finished it.

I didn’t even have that much to do – the basic flag book structure was done. I just needed to print the flags and add them to the book.

Today was the day to cross the task off my list.

Flag book structure without flags

I printed out the flags…

Printed text on paper for flags for flag book

…cut them out into flag shapes…

Cut paper flags for flag book

…and attached them to the base of the flag book.

Flag book in process

Handmade artists' book by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof Designs

Now my brain can rest.

I really need to get into the habit of completing editions within a short period of time – it seems easier and more efficient that way.

How do you handle working in multiples? Do you complete editions as needed or all in one batch?

If you’re interested in seeing the book in person, it will be showing in the Book Arts Guild of Vermont‘s annual member exhibit at the SEABA Center Gallery during the month of April.

Hello Hedi

Hello Hedi logoThe 23 Sandy Gallery currently has a call for entries for HELLO HEDI, a juried exhibition of book art inspired by the work of Hedi Kyle. The exhibition will be on view at the gallery from June 5 – July 25, 2015.

One of the cool things about the show is that it coincides with the Focus on Book Arts conference. The artists’ reception is on June 26th, the Friday of the conference.

Laura Russell will be jurying the exhibit, while Hedi will be choosing the awards. Here’s a blurb from the 23 Sandy website about the exhibition:

…this is more than just a structure show. No blank books, please. We are looking for works that honor Hedi’s paper transformations with smart stories, strong concepts, focused contexts and excellent craftsmanship. We are open to works that adapt her structures, or works that expand her ideas and continue that sense of discovery that has long inspired us all. This international juried exhibition will also feature books by Hedi herself.

I am hoping that Hedi will attend the reception – she’ll be presenting at FOBA the night before, so she’ll be in the area. I don’t have anything in particular to talk to her about, it would mostly just be me being a total fan geek.

If you’re interested in submitting work for the exhibition, you have until March 28, 2015 to enter. Visit the 23 Sandy Gallery website for more details.

Worktable Wednesday

Today I worked on a custom project for an expectant mother. A couple of weeks ago, I bound this photo album for her and she wanted some hand-stamped images included on the pages.

I cut out pieces of brightly-colored cardstock and used my own hand-carved stamps to decorate them. The paper mats will be used for journaling.

Hand-stamped papers

Hand-stamped papers

You can see the results below. I’m happy with how it turned out!

Photo album page with hand-stamped paper mat

Photo album page with hand-stamped paper mat

Photo album page with hand-stamped paper mat

Photo album page with hand-stamped paper mat

This was the first time I worked on the interior pages of a blank book for a customer. I enjoy custom projects for this very reason – someone gets to design a book just the way she likes it and I get something new to challenge myself.

If you have a custom project in mind, I’d love to hear about it!

Hedi Kyle to speak at Focus on Book Arts

Focus on Book Arts logoI recently found out that Hedi Kyle will be speaking at the Focus on Book Arts conference this June! Her informal address, Four Decades Under the Spell of the Book, will be presented on Thursday evening.

I am so excited – I have great admiration for Hedi and her contribution to the world of book arts. I took a workshop with her at the Garage Annex School a number of years ago (pre-blog) and it was fabulous.

Here’s the blurb on Hedi’s talk from the FOBA website:

This talk begins in the early 1970’s when extraordinary developments concerning the book and its future life took place. Today, craft people and artists are turning to the book, recognizing its role as a carrier, a container, unique as an object of unsurpassed function. Hedi Kyle will share her experience and participation in the movement to rediscover the book, recalling early experimental stages in book conservation, paper making and book art.

As if the FOBA conference weren’t already cool enough, this talk makes attending that much more special.

You can read more about the event on the FOBA website.

Mad Scientist workshop

A few years ago, I took an awesome workshop with John Brickels, a Vermont-based ceramic artist. It was his Mad Scientist Workshop and it started at 3:00 a.m.

Yes, you read that right. We were working in clay in the middle of the night. That’s what mad scientists do.

We also wore lab coats while we worked. I loved it!

Clay is a bit out of my comfort zone – the goal was to make clay robots. John made it really easy to get to work. He prepared large clay tubes for us to use and had lots of templates for cutting out gears and nuts.

Being me, I decided to make a bookworm bot. I used one of the tubes for his body and put a gear on his head for a hat. He has screws for eyes and nuts going down his back. Oh, and he’s got a belly button. That was absolutely necessary.

Here he is, busting out of a book:



We worked on our clay robots for a few hours. After we were done, we marched down the street in our lab coats to a local diner where we ate robot pancakes. It was awesome.

I’d love to be able to attend the workshop again, but next time take my niece and nephew to join in the fun. I think they’d have a blast.

If you ever come to visit my studio, you’ll see that bookworm bot has a prominent perch on the windowsill in front of my work table.

If you’d like to learn more about the workshop, check out the video below – it will entice you to travel to Vermont and take the workshop yourself!

Worktable Wednesday

Today I worked on another custom order baby book. This one is a photo album and has heavier weight pages.

Photo album covers and pages

The cover of the album is covered in green bookcloth and each folio of pages is wrapped in a brightly colored paper. This is not only decorative, but it also serves to add space between the pages for the addition of photos.

Punched photo album pages

The album was bound in a double needle coptic stitch, which allows the pages to lay flat when the book is opened.

Handmade coptic photo album

I used six different colors of waxed linen thread for the binding, to add more punches of color.

Handmade coptic photo album

Handmade coptic photo album

I have some more work to do to complete the book – I’ll be doing some custom collage work on the inside pages.

Book Arts at Haystack 2015

The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts has a bookbinding offering during its fifth summer session from August 16 – 28, 2015 – Paper Engineering: Making Pop-Ups and Sculptural Books with Carol Barton.

The workshop seems fantastic, as you can see in the description below:

Discover the magic of the sculptural book through explorations of three-dimensional and pop-up forms. Participants will learn a variety of pop-up structures, beginning with simple cut-and-fold pop-ups and progressing through a series of more complex glued constructions. The workshop will also explore sculptural bindings, the carousel, and tunnel book formats. A lesson on adding lights to pop-ups will be included. Slide shows of historical and artist-made books will be presented. An ideal session for anyone who likes to play with paper.

I’ve taken a workshop with Carol before and I highly recommend working with her if you have the chance.

By the way, Carol has a new book, Land Forms and Air Currents. The accordion book stretches over 150 inches when fully opened and incorporates scans of her original watercolors with floating pop-up additions. It’s really lovely.

Many thanks to Carol who granted permission for use of her photos!

Worktable Wednesday

Today I worked on a custom baby journal. I love custom orders!

Journal covers and pages with punched holes

It was bound using a double needle coptic stitch with waxed linen thread. This type of binding creates a braided effect on the spine.

Coptic binding in process

Coptic binding

The cover paper is a handmade paper by Richard Langdell. It has wildflower petals in it – it’s quite elegant.

Handmade coptic journal

Handmade coptic journal

Babies seem to be really popular this time of year. I have another custom baby book that I’m working on, that one being a photo album. Stay tuned to see the progress of that one!