Mixed Media Cards Marathon

Yesterday I taught a Mixed Media Cards Marathon class at Studio Place Arts in Barre, VT. I had a wonderfully enthusiastic group of five women who joined me on an adventure through a number of mixed media techniques. I don’t think we had room at the table for more than that – you should have seen the fabulous mess we made!

Mixed Media Cards Marathon class at Studio Place Arts

I consider cards to be folios made out of card stock – just a few steps away from becoming a book. When I teach this class, I like to emphasize that all of the techniques can be applied to bookmaking.

We started with collage and made mini quilts using security patterns from the inside of business envelopes. After that we moved on to a quick and dirty image transfer using Chartpak blender pens (stinky, but awesome). I’m getting dizzy just thinking about that room full of xylene.

We then jumped into hand-carved stamps, one of my most favorite things to do. I shared my stash of stamp inks, both dye and pigment varieties, and taught everyone how to use embossing powder on stamped images.

stamping with a hand-carved stamp

The last thing I showed them was a number of pop-up techniques. I managed to get through three of the techniques without incident, but the fourth one kicked my butt – that darn floating platform. I still don’t know what I was doing wrong, but I couldn’t get the card to fold up properly – I was so embarrassed!

Handmade cards

After all of my yakking, there was free time for everyone to play with the piles of materials and tools that I had brought with me. I find it fascinating to see which processes folks find most interesting. I have to admit, the amount off stuff I offered was probably a bit overwhelming – rubbers stamps, collage materials, recycled papers, handmade papers, fibers, decorative scissors and punches. I can’t help it, I like to share.

I’m looking forward to my next class – paste paper, here I come!

Website redesign

In case you didn’t notice, I recently did a quiet relaunch of my website with a fully responsive design (a.k.a. tablet and smart phone friendly). I am thrilled with the new look!

Here’s what my website looked like before…

website screenshot

…and here it is now:

website screenshot

I think that the new look is much more modern and user-friendly. I tried to carry over some of the colors so that the new website would feel a bit familiar.

I’d like to give a shout out to my web guru, Jason Lemieux of Vernal Creative. Thanks so much for making me look so good!

Worktable Wednesday

I spent today preparing for an upcoming (this Friday) workshop at the Vermont Art Teachers Association‘s fall conference. I’m teaching Keith Smith‘s Diamond X binding from his book Volume II Non-Adhesive Binding: 1-2- & 3-Section Sewings.

Making the kits takes some time. There’s cutting the leather and paper…

Pile of paper

…and getting the thread into a big fat knot while trying to cut pieces off. This seems to be a trend with me, big fat knots.

Bookbinding supply kit and thread

Then everything goes into shiny bags. I like shiny things.

Bookbinding supply kits

Then I start the furious dumping of stuff on the table. On the left, you can see my workshop checklist – it’s very handy when I get into the “I need this and this and this” phase. You can also see my very large sewing poster – I find it easier to demonstrate bindings on a large piece of paper – I can mark off the sewing stations, which makes it easier for folks to follow along.

Messy worktable

I’ve been slow in preparing for this workshop because I’m still recovering from the Weston Craft Show (which was awesome). There are piles of stuff in the entryway of my house that need to be cleaned up. My hubby is a saint for not complaining.

Weston Craft Show recap

This year my booth for the Weston Craft Show was located in the basement of the Weston Playhouse. I was thrilled to have this new space – it was huge!

Here’s what it looked like after bringing in all of my stuff, but before starting to set up. A bit of a raw space, but workable.

Piles of tubs and craft show booth supplies

I was indecisive about where to put things, so I ended up being pokey during most of the set up. Once I settled on the layout, however, things came together quickly.

Piles of tubs and craft show booth supplies

Piles of tubs and craft show booth supplies

Blue Roof Designs craft show booth

After the first show day, I came to dislike the naked space in front of my shelves. That evening, I drove to Rutland and picked up an area rug to fill the void. I think it did a great job of defining the space.

Blue Roof Designs craft show booth

I was happy that I had very friendly booth neighbors during the show. I do like to chat. Overall, it was a great show and I look forward to returning next year.

Here’s a shot of my “craft show carcass”, the remains of a booth post-craft show. Somehow it looks like less than I came with, if you compare it to the first picture.

Piles of tubs and craft show booth supplies

I’d like to give a shout out to the fabulous potter Andrea Trzaskos who was kind enough to help me pack up after the show. You rock!

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

I recently saw the traveling exhibit Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. The exhibit commemorates the 2007 bombing that resulted in the loss of a vibrant cultural and literary community in Baghdad. The exhibit has been traveling the world since 2012 and includes artists’ books and broadsides by artists from 26 countries.

The exhibit at Goddard included a small selection of the total works collected for the exhibit, which numbers at approximately 260 artists’ books.

Upon entering the exhibit space, I was immediately taken by the piece My Poem Becomes Theirs by Helga Butzer Felleiseh. It consisted of long hand cut vellum panels that gracefully cascaded down the wall. Her hand work is amazing.

The next piece that caught my eye was a collaborative book created by students at the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. Witness Al-Mutanabbi contained prints that focused on a variety of themes, including freedom of expression and violence as a method of censorship. The book showed the wide variety of responses to the bombing.

In general, I found myself attracted to the letterpress broadsides, which usually don’t draw my attention as much as artists’ books do. It’s probably due to my use of the Dartmouth letterpress studio – I have an increasing respect for the art form.

Overall, it was a powerful exhibit and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see it in person. If you’d like to see the exhibit, check out the exhibition schedule and if you’re lucky, maybe it’s coming your way. They have dates set into 2016.

If they’re not going to be in your neck of the woods, you can view pieces from the exhibit online.

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit

Open Studio Weekend recap

As you can see below, I had a lot of help getting set up for Open Studio Weekend. Wiggum is a very motivated assistant.

Standard poodle sleeping on the floor

This is definitely a classic “after” shot – a pristine worktable surface.

Clean studio worktable

During Open Studio Weekend, I don’t restrict my books to my studio – I take over the hallways on the first floor of our house for my production work.

Handmade books on shelves

Handmade books on shelves

Handmade books on shelves

I display my one-of-a-kind pieces and artists’ books in my studio.

Artists' books on shelves

And a bunch of other books take over the top of my flat files. Inflatable Jerry French approves of the setup.

Handmade books on display

Yellow Open Studio Weekend sign and mailbox

My heartfelt thanks go to the wonderful folks who came to visit me this weekend. I had a great time talking about my work and sharing my studio secrets. If you couldn’t make it, just contact me and we can set up a private tour.

Just give me time to clean first. :)

Worktable Wednesday

  Clean studio worktable

There was no bookbinding going on in the studio today, so my worktable was quite clean. I spent much of today working on preparing my studio for this weekend’s Open Studio Weekend.

I decided to be honest with the state of my studio and show you what it looks like before I clean. It actually isn’t as bad as it has been in the past.

Blue Roof Designs studio

I’m a well-organized slob. I put things into boxes in an effort to contain my piling habit. The result is that I end up with piles of neatly stacked boxes instead. This is what lies hidden behind my studio door:

Piles of crates and boxes

While my worktable may be clean, the space next to it is far from it. I’m really good at dumping stuff on top of my flat files. Notice how inflatable Jerry French looks on in disapproval.

Piles of stuff on top of flat files

I’m also good at dumping things on the floor.

Boxes on the floor

I have no idea what’s deep in here, but I think it’s stuff I need for this weekend. This is going to be fun.

Full plastic tub on the floor

The truth is that I won’t be going through most of the boxes before this weekend. They will be hidden away in the office across the hall from my studio. The door will be closed and the mess will not exist for two days. After Open Studio Weekend, the piles will return to my studio in some configuration.

And now that you’ve seen my “before” pictures and know my dirty little secret, you’ll have to come back to see the “after” pictures later this week!

Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Handmade coptic bound journal by Elissa Campbell of Blue Roof DesignsWelcome to the 2014 Book Arts Guide to Vermont Fall Open Studio Weekend

It’s time for my annual nod to the many book artists participating in Open Studio Weekend. Some of these talented folks are also members of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont, an organization I hold near and dear to my heart.

I created the Google map below, which includes all of the studios to help you plan your travels. Unfortunately, the book arts studios aren’t very close to each other. By the way, I’m studio #91.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the purple Vermont Studio Tour Guide. The colors of the studio numbers in this post match the colored markers in the Google map below.

There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

First stop is #2 Meta Strick. Meta really is a Jackie of all trades. She does wonderful mixed media work, including dolls that have a book component. It’s quite wonderful to read the “history” of each doll. She has a great philosophy that you can make anything into a book. Meta has lots of fans, so don’t be surprised if you get to her studio and it’s mobbed. Perhaps pick up some coffee and a snack before you head on over?

Next stop is Shelburne Pond Studios, where you’ll see #17, Lyna Lou Nordstrom. She is a wonderful printmaker, focusing her work on the painterly aspects of monoprinting. Her techniques include the silkscreen process, collagraph and solar plate etching.

The last stop is #90 Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio. Kelly is a letterpress master, carving many of her designs in linoleum for her beautiful gift wraps (which are totally frame-able). She was lucky enough to intern at the San Francisco Center for the Book and packs a one-two punch, also being a bookbinder. Kelly’s studio is about 1.6 miles from mine.

If you do go to any of the studios, share your experiences here and I will live vicariously through you. If you have any pictures, I’d love to see them…you can even do a guest post on my blog!

Make that Book Arts Tour map bigger!

Vermont Open Studio Weekend – Eastern Washington County Artists

Vermont Open Studio Weekend 2010Vermont’s 22nd Open Studio Weekend is just around the corner (October 4 & 5)! If you’re planning on visiting my studio (you know you are…), you can visit other great artists within a 20-ish minute drive of here.

There are 11 studios and galleries participating in eastern Washington County. Artists are offering exhibits and demonstrations of pottery, woodworking, painting, and more.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the purple 2014 Vermont Studio Tour Guide. There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

Here’s the rundown of who’s who (click on the links to learn more about specific artists):

I created the map below to help you plan your travels. Because the studios are so close to each other, you can visit quite a few of them within a short period of time.

Have fun!

Make that map bigger!

Wonderful Wednesday

When my phone rings at 9:00 a.m., odds are that it’s a telemarketer. I quickly tell Mr. or Ms. Talker that I’d like to be removed from the calling list. I usually waste no time.

Good thing I didn’t launch into my shpiel today, because this was not the usual call. One of my customers called to tell me that she had a bunch of bookmaking books and supplies that she wanted to give to me (she was a teacher). Then she drove from an hour away to drop everything off – I was floored by her generosity!

The collection of books included many titles not already in my library, which is amazing because I have a lot of bookbinding books. In general, the books were teacher-focused – this is perfect for me because I’m on the Vermont Arts Council’s Teaching Artist Roster and I’m always looking to improve my teaching skills. I was especially thrilled to see a copy of Paul Johnson’s A Book of One’s Own, a book I’ve long had on my wish list.

Pile of bookbinding books

In addition to the books, I also received supplies and a number of kits for both bookbinding and papermaking. I’m looking forward to working on some of these with my niece.

Pile of bookmaking & papermaking kits

Whatever I decide not to keep, I’ll be giving those away to folks in the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. I figure that the least I can do is pay it forward.

Many thanks to Carol for the wonderful gift!