Gocco is mine!

It’s official. I am a panic shopper.

Yesterday the Riso Kagaku Corporation announced that it would stop making Gocco printers in June 2008. Many of you are saying to yourselves, “Whazza Gocco? Never heard of it.” Check out this link to the Save Gocco website – you can see one in all its plastic glory.

Yes, it looks like it’s made by Fisher Price, but it’s no toy. Gocco is a self-contained screen printing unit. You can use it to both burn master screens and to make your prints.

I have wanted one of these for soooo long. Then I read the Riso announcement. Then I ran over to Etsy and bought myself a new toy from a supplier in Japan.

I would like to add that today was only the second time in my life that I have submitted information to Wikipedia. Check out my addition to the Gocco entry.

Maybe this isn’t as much of a crisis as I fear. Riso threatened to do this once before in 2005. People were sad. A “Save Gocco” campaign was started. Then in 2007, the happiness spread – Paper Source became an official distributor of Gocco printers and supplies in the United States. All hail Paper Source! People danced in the streets.

So perhaps all of this hoopla is an attempt to get people to buy more printers. It worked on me. Don’t care – I’m a sucker happy owner of a Gocco machine.

Supplier Rave – May Arts Ribbon

I love ribbon. I really do. I would drape my walls in ribbon if I could afford it. No, I would drape it on myself.

To clarify, I love most ribbons. I hate hate hate wired ribbons. When they get smushed they look really sad. One of my favorite manufacturers and my primary supplier is May Arts. There are many reasons to like these folks:

  1. They make fabulous ribbon in tons of colors, patterns, and textures.
  2. Their prices are affordable.
  3. They have a low minimum order.
  4. They have great customer service.
  5. Their shipping is speedy.
  6. They’re always willing to send you samples.

So there you go. Six reasons to pick up the phone, give them a call, and get yourself a catalog. I have been ordering from them for years and have never been disappointed.

The KA line is described as “Woven/Iridescent” by May Arts.

May Arts Ribbon - KA line

I use these ribbons on the majority of my photo albums and the texture and color really adds a touch of luxury. It has 30 yards on a roll and is made of 60% nylon and 40% polyester. It also comes in several widths. This stuff is the silkiest ribbon I have ever felt – a step up from your typical satin ribbon. I love love love it and it’s definitely my favorite ribbon of all time.

Many of the colors have multiple tones woven in, so depending on your angle, the predominant color can change. The last time I bought this ribbon, I paid $12.00 for a 1.5″ width. At $.40 a yard, you can’t pass it up.

May Arts describes the KN line as “Solid/Two Tone”.

May Arts Ribbon - KN line

I use these ribbons primarily on accordion books and on occasion, I’ll use them for photo albums. The edge of these ribbons tends to contrast more than those in the KA line and the colors used are bolder. This ribbon has 50 yards on a roll and only comes in one width – 3/8″.

The texture isn’t as silky as the KA line, but it’s still smooth to the touch. I’d describe it as having slightly more texture than a satin ribbon. The last time I purchased this ribbon, I paid $10.00 per roll – only $.20 a yard.

The prices I’ve quoted are wholesale, so if you want to order from them, you’ll have to provide them with your business ID. Please note that the prices I’ve quoted may not still be accurate as of now and they don’t include shipping.

In general, their prices have not increased drastically over the past several years. Their shipping prices are quite reasonable and if you’re buying multiple rolls, it doesn’t add much to the overall cost. I hereby give these guys the Blue Roof Designs “Blue Ribbon of Fabulousness”.

Of course, the ribbon is made with May Arts ribbon.

Completed accordion books…music to my eyes

I decided that I would get two dozen accordion books done in time for Open Studio Weekend. You can see the start of my work in this post. I already had quite a few in stock, but sometimes I get an urge to set a deadline just so I can experience the feeling of having met it. Now I have a whole bunch of accordion books.

Pile of handmade accordion books by Blue Roof Designs

I love this picture of them all stacked up, ready for the bows to be tied. Obviously, this satisfies my love of piles (haven’t I mentioned that before?). Sometimes, I like to see how high I can stack them before they fall over, kind of like Book Arts Jenga. Except that I really don’t want to knock them over.

Below you can see some of the finished books. I acquired my bow mastery while working at Paper Source in Cambridge, MA. One of the best things about the job was that people would buy gorgeous papers and ribbons and then have you wrap their gifts for them. I could wrap presents all day long.

Piles of handmade accordion books by Blue Roof Designs

If I ever get kidnapped and they won’t let me go unless I tie a perfect bow, I’ll be home by dinnertime. And I’ll definitely be eating farfalle.

Open Studio Weekend – recap

I survived Open Studio Weekend!

Well, most of me did. My feet have seceded from my body and are now hitchhiking down I-89, looking for a new place to live.

Vermont Open Studio Weekend sign

I had so much fun meeting people – everyone who does the tour is so friendly. You never get people in a bad mood. I only wish that more kids came – their eyes are so wide and they always ask the best questions. They’re like sponges. I envy them, still able to look at everything with fresh eyes.

Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to blogging about something other than Open Studio (only a year until the next one!). I have achieved a clean studio and I am so proud. I also know that by this time next week, it will no longer be quite so sparkly.

Cleanliness aside, my studio does not look like this on a regular basis for practical reasons – I need space to do my work. Where the shelf units are is where I usually have my cutting station and my desk. I move these out of the studio so I can make room to display my work.

It’s a dilemma I face every year – how can I display my work and yet still stay true to the functionality of my studio? The bottom line is that I have a small studio and I need to work with the space I have. I explained it to visitors like this – my studio is like a kitchen work triangle – things are within arm’s reach, making work more efficient.

Handmade books on shelves at the Blue Roof Designs studio

Even if for a short time, I do like seeing all my work set up on shelves in my studio. It makes me feel more professional and it gives me a chance to reflect on my body of work. I can remember how much I’ve accomplished in the last year and I can make decisions about what I want to discontinue doing and what I want to develop further.

If I ever move into a bigger studio, I might consider having a small gallery section where I can always have my work on display.

Handmade books and cards on display at the Blue Roof Designs studio

One of the advantages of coming to my studio during Open Studio Weekend is my seconds/discontinued items section. The majority of these aren’t really seconds, but more like orphans. They’re the remainders of a discontinued line and I just want them to go to a good home. They need some lovin!

The discounts on these pieces are usually at least 50%, which makes my work available to people who may not otherwise be able to afford it. At times, it can be hard to reduce prices, but in this situation, it’s win-win. Sometimes you just need to move inventory to make room for new work.

I am happy to report that many of my orphans are now with happy families.

Open Studio Weekend update #2, AKA: The Value of Snacks

I’ve made some progress over the last few days with regards to my preparations for Open Studio Weekend. Here’s my revised to-do list:

  1. Clean my studio (meh)
  2. Choose item for visitor raffle
  3. Purchase snacks for visitors (good snacks = happy visitors)
  4. Make scrap bags Make more scrap bags
  5. Make a whole bunch of accordion books (only 12 more to go)
  6. Finish print local map for distribution by Montpelier Watershed Artists (almost done – a big thanks to Jennifer Boyer!)

What? The studio isn’t clean yet? Well, I’ve been too busy dealing with snacks. You may be laughing, but the snacks you choose can make or break your open studio.

I’ve really done a lot of thinking about this. My first instinct, when it comes to snacks, will always lead me to cheese (drroooollllll). However, think about how cheese looks when it’s been sitting around for seven hours. Stinky. Gross. Sweaty. Ew.

Then the mind wanders over to chocolate. Ah, but when one eats it, it gets all melty and then you have to worry about sticky chocolate hands touching your work. Do you really want to be a member of the Gooey Hands Police? I thought not.

The one thing I’ve heard over the last 4 years is that folks want nutritious snacks. They’ve been driving around a lot, have often eaten fast food for lunch, and they feel yucky. They want a good-for-you munchie.

This led me to the discovery of Perfect Snack #1: baby carrots. They’re a vegetable that doesn’t act like a vegetable. They don’t leave crumbs and aren’t sticky. Perfect.

Then there are those who want something sweet. Okay, but as I mentioned earlier, I fear sticky, gooey snacks. This led me to Perfect Snack #2: Fig Newtons. Sweet and cookie-ish, but still fruity and sorta healthy (I get the fat free ones). And they’re pretty crumb free. Score.

For whatever reason, I have determined that in order to have a successful snack scenario, you must have three options. I needed a salty option to complete the snack puzzle. This led me to my last choice: Triscuits (reduced fat). Not entirely crumb-free, but flavorful and not too dry. Besides, I need to have snacks that I like to eat. When you’re not looking, I’m almost certainly (and oh so delicately), cramming a Triscuit in my mouth.

Add some spring water and apple juice to the mix and you’ve yourself a bang-up spread. A diverse selection of munchies with a high yum factor and a low risk for messiness and/or damage to your work.

Accordion books

This weekend I worked on accordion books that are 4.5″ x 4.5″ in size. An accordion book is often made with one long piece of card stock. It is folded repeatedly, like a fan, to form the pages in the book.

The colored slips of paper sticking out from the stack of covers in the image below are used to connect two pieces of card stock together. I use this technique so that the accordion book can have more pages.

Accordion book covers by Elissa Campbell

I often refer to my accordion books as “candy” because when I make them, I often play with more colorful and fun papers than I usually do. With my larger scale work, I tend to use more “serious” materials. I couldn’t really tell you how I qualify a paper as “serious”. I just know it when I see it.

In the image below, you can see that I glued ribbons on to the covers – these will be used to tie the books closed. (Without the pages glued in, those covers remind me of bodies on an operating table, but less gross.) Tying the bows on completed accordion books is really satisfying for me. It’s like wrapping presents for people. Plus it’s literally my act of wrapping up the process.

Accordion book covers by Elissa Campbell

In the last image, you can see one of my completed accordion books. The pictures in the book are of my niece, the biggest peanut ever. Well, she’s more of a co-peanut, along with my nephew. The green stripe in the middle of the book is the hinge that I talked about earlier. I think it adds a nice burst of color.

Accordion book by Elissa Campbell

Open Studio Weekend update #1

Yesterday I had my first official “Oh crap!” moment with regards to Open Studio Weekend. I have one week left. My studio looks like a bookbinding bomb hit it. There is paper everywhere. I took a picture of my studio and asked my husband if I should include it in this post. He shook his head.

That’s never good.

At least I have accomplished a few things, as evidenced by the number of things crossed off my list.

  1. Clean my studio (meh)
  2. Distribute tour maps to local establishments
  3. Update signs to direct visitors to my studio
  4. Submit press release for Montpelier Watershed Artist group
  5. Submit calendar listings to local publications and online event calendars
  6. Choose item for visitor raffle
  7. Purchase snacks for visitors (good snacks = happy visitors)
  8. Make scrap bags Make more scrap bags
  9. Make a whole bunch of accordion books
  10. Finish print local map for distribution by Montpelier Watershed Artists.

In the image below, you can see the signs that are used throughout the state for Open Studio Weekend. If you’re driving around Vermont on Memorial Day weekend and see a gazillion yellow signs on the road, now you know why. All of the participating artists use the same signs, each customized with their studio number (I’m #242 – a palindrome studio).

Vermont Open Studio Weekend signs

I’ve heard that some folks drive up to Vermont and drive around until they find a yellow sign and that’s how they start their tour. I wish that I could tour other studios and yet still be here to meet people in my studio.

I’ll start that cloning research next week.

Supplier Rave – French Paper Company

Yay! Today I get to buy paper.

As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m going over to the French Paper Company website and I’m going to buy me some paper. There are a lot of reasons for me to love French Paper.

Speckletone is my longtime love. I use the text weight for my journals and the 80 lb cover for my photo album pages. It’s such a lovely paper, nice and smooth. French Paper claims that Speckletone was the first recycled paper to include visible flecks. I’m inclined to believe them. They wouldn’t lie to me. Liars don’t make paper.

I also love Frostone, which I talked about in this post.

Ooohhh, and I also love their Pop Ink Patterned Papers.

Okay, all of the papers rock. They’re also environmentally friendly. They have used water to power their plant for the past 84 years. And they’ve been making recycled papers since 1953. They also have great customer service. If your order arrives damaged, they’re always quick to remedy the situation.

Annddd…they have the best sense of humor. Below you can see the lovely surprise I received with not one, but THREE of my orders last year.

Inflatable Jerry French

It’s the one, the only, inflatable Jerry French (he’s the Big Cheese). Inflatable Jerry has become one of studio mascots and he guards my bookboard. Maybe I’ll have a contest and give away a Jerry as the prize.

But wait, there’s more. Before I received my first inflatable Jerry, I received a Jerry French action figure. I call him Little Jerry. Not to be confused with Little Jerry from Seinfeld.

As you can see in the photo below, he kinda looks like a monkey. In a suit. With a comb-over.

Jerry French action figure

Okay, so he’s creepy, but he’s still THE MAN. Do you have an action figure of yourself? Do you? Do you? Didn’t think so.

Don’t worry, I don’t either.


Okay, you got me. This post is not about scrapple.

I just like saying scrapple.

I went to college in Philadelphia and actually ate the stuff when I was there. I did not know what was in it at the time, I swear. The stuff actually tastes good until you know what’s in it.

I don’t like to throw things away. I’m a saver. It drives my husband nuts. This is especially true when I’m working in the studio. I will save the smallest scrap of paper because I can’t bear to part with it.

Piles of paper scraps

I have a plastic tub to house these treasures. Then the tub gets full.

And I get cranky because things get all smushed.

At this point, I have two options:

  1. Make cards – This is a great way to use up yummy paper scraps.
  2. Make scrap bags – Part with your dear friends and share your scraps with the world.

Once a year I endure the trauma of option #2. I make batches of scrap bags for folks to purchase during Open Studio Weekend. As I go through my scrap tub, I will inevitably have these moments where I look longingly at a scrap and think, “I remember you. You are so pretty. I glued some of you to a book. I’m sorry that you didn’t make the cut. Please don’t hate me. I changed my mind. You can stay.”

After going through enough of these moments, I finally grab a bunch and start sorting. In the image below, you can see what my work table looked like today.

Piles of paper scraps

Ah, the memories. Scrapple. [Focus, Elissa, focus]

Lucky me, I was able to engage in happy pile-making for a few hours. Even though it looks messy, the piles are organized using a highly scientific method of looking at scraps and putting them in a pile. It’s a skill that took years to develop.

I’m hoping to have around 20 scrap bags done by next weekend, 24 if I’m lucky. It’s a little known secret that if you visit me at a craft show and ask me if I have any scrap bags, I will likely have a few hidden under the table. So if you can’t make it to Open Studio Weekend and want to see one, just ask for one at a show.

I’m always happy to pull one out of my scrapple hat.

Countdown to Open Studio Weekend

I woke up this morning and went down to my studio – in the image below, you can see what greeted me.

Blue Roof Designs studio

Ugh…Open Studio Weekend is less than two weeks away.

I now admit the following – I am the Queen of the Traveling Pile. If I’m done with something, I’ll probably put it somewhere impractical. Then I’ll need that surface for something and the pile moves somewhere else, joining with other items along the way. Soon I have every surface covered with who-knows-what.

In the photo, underneath that smear of paperwork, is my large format rotary trimmer (sorry, my sweet!).

Cleaning my studio is now inevitable. Don’t get me wrong – I love having a clean studio. Doing what it takes to get it done, that’s another story. I’m looking for some elves who are willing to take on a low paying gig, so if you know any, give me a call.

This past Friday, I met with other artists in my area who are also participating in Open Studio Weekend. We decided to call ourselves the Montpelier Watershed Artists. I don’t what it is about having an official name, but it makes me feel so much more legitimate as an artist.

I have been coordinating the newly-named group for the past three years. This is such a great group of people who really want to share their work with the community. If you come by my studio during Open Studio, you should definitely visit one of the other nearby studios. Local maps will be available at individual studios.

In the coming days, I’ll be working on my list of a gazillion things that need to get done for Open Studio.

Here’s the beginning:

  1. Clean my studio (meh)
  2. Distribute tour maps to local establishments
  3. Update signs to direct visitors to my studio
  4. Submit press release for Montpelier Watershed Artist group
  5. Submit calendar listings to local publications and online event calendars
  6. Choose item for visitor raffle
  7. Purchase snacks for visitors (good snacks = happy visitors)

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. If you have any suggestions on where to start cleaning, please let me know.

I need all the help I can get (especially if you’re an elf).

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