Category : Vermont

Book Arts Guild of Vermont meeting: Lake Champlain Celebration and “Show & Tell”

This past Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont.

The meeting had two components:

  1. Discussion of the B.A.G. Quadricentennial Book Project
  2. “Show & Tell” of resources, tools, etc. that you have found useful or interesting in your bookbinding work

The Vermont Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration will last throughout 2009 to mark the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s discovery of the now-named Lake Champlain. Events will be held all over the state – you can view a schedule of the events on the Quadricentennial website.

The Book Arts Guild of Vermont will be working on a collaborative book project that, once completed, will be on display at the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center through the summer. Based on the themes of The Lake, The Land, The People, participating B.A.G. members will create three 5″ x 5″ panels with one representing each of the themes. Depending on the number of participants, the panels will be assembled in either one large flag book or three separate flag books, one for each theme. Our panels are due on April 1st (no kidding!), so I need to start brainstorming.

I was quickly struck with an image for the lake theme – I envisioned a fish, one native to Lake Champlain, face-forward and staring right at you from inside the lake. I believe he’s thinking, “Hey you, come and get me!” I’m not really sure why that particular image came to me, but clearly it must be done. The fish told me to.

The show & tell portion of the meeting was fun. One of the members, who had studied bookbinding in England, brought a cool-looking drill.

Mini bookbinding drill

It’s the cutest thing ever. You push down on the top repeatedly and the screw tip drills down. I’m guessing that this drill resembles the insides of a Japanese screw punch, but this one is cooler because you get to see the mechanics at work. For some reason, I think it looks like a syringe for giving shots to naughty children. Unfortunately, this drill was purchased in England from an unknown source.

I did a quick Google search and couldn’t find one like it. Meh. I’m such a sucker for cool-looking tools. If anyone knows where to get this drill, please let me know.

I promise I won’t immunize anyone with it.

The state of craft in the state of Vermont

As I mentioned in this post, I resigned from my full-time job of 4 1/2 years. I am definitely going through a period of adjustment, trying to figure out what it means to be a full-time artist (what it seems to mean so far is that I get to clean my studio and sort through the evil piles that accumulated during the holiday season. Meh).

An obvious concern of mine is how the timing couldn’t be worse for a career shift – as you all know, the economy sucks right now. On top of that concern (for me) is how the nation’s financial picture is affecting the world of craft. In general, artists tend to live close the edge, financially-speaking. It must be even harder now for artists to stay in business. As much as I would love for artists to be eligible for bailouts, it just ain’t gonna happen.

On a local level, I’ve become very aware of how not just artists are struggling, but arts-related businesses are as well. Yesterday I had to drive to Shelburne, VT to pick up my inventory from the Shelburne Craft School Gallery, which recently closed after five years in business. I really loved the gallery’s visual presence…very elegant. With their skill, they could make an old sneaker look good.

Frog Hollow also closed their Manchester gallery last year. Their Burlington and Middlebury galleries were hit hard by declining economy and they are in danger of being closed as well. As a frequent visitor to Church Street, I can attest to the significance of Frog Hollow’s presence there – they are a highly visible representative of the amazing talent of the residents of this state. That’s the thing that really breaks my heart – when a gallery closes, it’s not just one business that’s impacted – all of the artists exhibiting their work there are affected as well. Frog Hollow alone claims to represent over 250 Vermont artisans in their galleries – that’s a lot of businesses losing income.

Now if only the state of Vermont would invest money in promoting Vermont craft in the way it has for the maple industry…

Vermont Hand Crafters show wrap up

It’s been a week since the end of the Vermont Hand Crafters Fine Craft & Art Show and I’m finally getting around to doing a recap.

With the economy the way it is, I expected to have fewer sales than in previous years. I did, however, hit my anticipated income so there weren’t any surprises. I am not good with surprises.

I really enjoyed myself this year. I have been in the same-ish spot for the last three years and my neighbors have been pretty consistent. My booth location has become a craft show equivalent of “home”. It’s so nice. Another bonus this year was that I got to eat contraband cheese. I’ll just leave the details to your imagination.

Here are a few shots of my booth.

From one angle…

Blue Roof Designs craft show booth
…and from another.

Blue Roof Designs craft show booth
This is what I saw for four days from inside my booth (that was a quiet moment in the aisles – it was more often crowded):

Vermont Hand Crafters craft show
And yes, the Sheraton’s carpet is really that ugly in person. New to my booth were some acrylic display pieces. Here are some shots of the risers:

I love how such a simple thing as acrylic can make for a seamless presentation. I had previously used wooden cigar boxes for my display. I got more comments on the cigar boxes than on my books. The boxes are now retired.

And now for my favorite shot, which I affectionately refer to as – “Death of a Booth” or “Craft Show Carcass” (note the collapsible crate I mentioned in this post):

Picking it clean and packing it up until the next show…which is in 1 1/2 weeks. Oy. Back to the studio.

Last minute crazies

This evening I packed up my van for the Vermont Hand Crafters Fine Craft & Art Show. I have a packing list that I’ve developed over the years and it has proven invaluable.

Right now my van seems to have a lot of extra room leftover. And I have more stuff now than I did last year. Something magical is at work here. And I like it.

Now I’m working on all of the last minute details, like printing business cards. I feel like I’m running around like a crazed wackadoo, but my husband actually told me that I seemed calmer than I have in past years. Was he wearing his glasses when he said that?

I have always had a love for plastic tubs of all sizes, but have a special fondness for plastic shoe boxes. They are the basis/rock of my organizational system in my studio and are great for packing up craft show inventory. The Rubbermaid SnapTopper is my most most most favorite shoe box of all time. It is the perfect size for my large journals.

I also have these collapsible plastic crates that are over 20 years old – I got them when I went away to college.

Yes, you can get a rough idea of how old I am now.

Anyway, these crates have held up really well. When you have limited space in your booth, it’s helpful to be able to break them down. The majority of my inventory is in those four crates in the image at right – probably around 55-60 photo albums.

And now, a crate-related story.

One day when I was on Church Street in Burlington, I happened upon an art fair. I had just dropped off some inventory at a nearby gallery and was carrying one of my crates. I visited Dug Nap’s booth and he offered to trade me some of his artwork for the crate. His work is great, but there was no way I was parting with my blue foldy baby.

Sorry Dug.

Countdown to Vermont Hand Crafters…

As I mentioned in my post earlier today, I’ve been working like a mad woman, trying to get ready for my first craft show of the season (this weekend) – Vermont Hand Crafters.

I just tallied up my recent work and here’s what it looks like:

  • 23 photo albums of various sizes
  • 18 journals
  • 37 accordion books
  • 1 custom order album
  • 1 guest book
  • 1 Bridal Suite box (still in progress)

And all of that while working at a full-time job. And taking 2 business trips. And being sick. And not eating nearly enough cheese.

Handmade photo albums by Blue Roof Designs

I was somehow able to make just about everything on my wish list for production. I only have to finish my Bridal Suite box and I’m all done. As I look at these images, I’m able to stop and appreciate what I was able to accomplish.

Handmade accordion books by Blue Roof Designs

And now I’m done stopping. I wonder if I can make some new cards before I start packing the van tomorrow…

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth…

Vermont Hand Crafters logoI haven’t written a meaningful post in a while. Bad me.

I’ve been in the studio for countless hours getting ready for my first craft show of the season, which opens this Thursday. Vermont Hand Crafters will be holding its 56th annual Fine Craft and Art Show on November 20th – 23rd at the Sheraton Conference Center in Burlington, VT. I have been a juried member of Vermont Hand Crafters since 2004 and this will be my fifth year doing the show.

If you come to the show, I’ll be in the Emerald Room, booth number 7.

Needless to say, it’s been a tough few weeks. I’ve been working very late nights and have been sick on top of that.

Getting ready for shows is hard when you work full-time. I hope to write a post later tonight about the work I’ve been doing.

We’ll see…the best laid plans…

Artisans Hand annual sale

Artisans Hand logoArtisans Hand Craft Gallery, located in Montpelier, VT, was the very first gallery to sell my handmade books.  The gallery only features work created by Vermont artisans and our state definitely has a wealth of talent. My work has been exhibited at the gallery for about 5 years and it has been wonderful experience – everyone there has been very good to me.

Starting tomorrow, November 7th and lasting through November 9th is Artisans Hand’s annual birthday sale. Everything in the gallery will be 20% off during the sale. If you are looking for a deal on my work, then this is the sale for you.

There will also be a birthday party on November 8th from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the City Center next to the gallery. Bummer I’ll be out of town!


Vermont North by Hand

Vermont autumn foliage

I love Vermont this time of year. If there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me, it’s the colors of autumn foliage. I am guilty of driving at an irritatingly slow pace, staring out of my car window like I’ve never seen trees before.

Of course, I’m also guilty of cursing under my breath at people who do the same thing when they’re in front of me in traffic. Especially if I’m late for work.

The timing couldn’t be any better for a studio tour and Vermont North by Hand is doing just that this weekend, October 4 – 5, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The drive in this area is beautiful – I drove into East Topsham last weekend to buy paper from Richard Langdell, one of my favorite paper makers/masters. I make several trips a year out to his studio and showroom (which is truly drool-worthy). Richard’s studio is stop #13 on the tour and if you’re even remotely near the area and love paper, then you must make a visit.

As an added bonus, you get two artists for the price of one when you visit Langdell Paper. Stop #12 (at the same address) is Sarah Green, Richard’s wife and owner of Mountain Ash Design.  Sarah uses many vintage and repurposed fabrics in her work, which includes aprons, billfolds, quilts, and my personal favorite – pot holders. Only she calls them HotHolders™. She has the best slogan ever: Because you’re not the only thing in the kitchen that’s hot ™. Love it love it love it. Sarah is what I would refer to as a Beefcake Textile Specialist – meaning that she features fabrics printed with hunky men in her work. Who wouldn’t want a studly half-naked man in their kitchen? Well, now you can have that with Sarah’s work.

If you can’t make it to her studio during this weekend’s tour, you’re in luck – the Mountain Ash Design Etsy store is open for business.

Aldrich Public Library’s 100th Birthday Celebration

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Barre, VT at the Aldrich Public Library’s 100th birthday celebration. I was originally called to set up a display of my work and to demonstrate the bookbinding process. While this seemed appropriate for a library, it also sounded not-so-fun. I asked if it might be more fun for party guests if I did a free hands-on activity for kids – my offer was quickly accepted.

Display of handmade books at Aldrich Public Library

I arrived early with more than enough time to get set up. I used half of the table to display my work and the other half for the activity.

If I had to do it over again, I would have left my work at home. I didn’t sell anything and it didn’t matter. What upset me was not having enough room for all the kids that came over.

Kids making books at Aldrich Public Library

The table stayed neat for about 2 minutes once the doors opened. I had a steady stream of kids throughout the day – almost all of them girls (and they were so cute!). As you can see, my pictures are a bit blurry, but that’s what the day was like. It seems you can’t go wrong when you have stickers on hand.

Kids making books at Aldrich Public Library

The creative process of children amazes me. They create with such enthusiasm and freedom from self-doubt and criticism – I wish I could do that. It’s all about having fun, not “Does this look good?” They made the most interesting choices – ones I most likely would never have made. It was inspiring.

The staff told that my workshop was a hit, although I’m sure they said that to everyone who had volunteered their time. What meant most to me was when the party was about to end and the little girl next to me at the table said, “I wish this would never end.”

Can you hear my heart melting?

Carol Barton lecture at UVM Special Collections

I have been one busy monkey.

As I mentioned in this post, Carol Barton was coming to Vermont. Well, she’s come and gone – hence the busy monkey.

I had the best time. I am exhausted, but feeling very fulfilled. I will be writing a series of posts through the week about my experiences with Carol.

First let me say that I was very excited about the pop-up sign that I made for Carol. Unfortunately, I arrived at the airport 5 minutes after the flight arrival time – I was not able to have her come off the plane and see her name in boingy letters. I found her in baggage claim. I greeted her and handed her the sign, explaining my original intentions. Not as dramatic. Meh.

On Friday, Carol and I did some touristy Vermont things – Ben & Jerry’s tour, eating cheese samples at the Cabot Cheese Annex, (the new Tuscan Hand-Rubbed Cheddar is amazing!) lunch at Al’s French Frys, and walking on Church Street.

We then headed over to the Special Collections Department of the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont for Carol’s lecture: The History of Pop-Up and Movable Books. The library set up a nice display of both handmade (in a case) and commercial pop-ups (these could be handled).

Display of pop-up books at University of Vermont

Carol discussed how moveable books have had long history in medical texts. She showed slides of pages of human bodies where you’d lift a flap and see one’s inner organs. Or you could peel away the skin and muscle to see bone. There was also one that showed the birthing process from start to finish. I would have never imagined that such things existed.

Carol has spent a lot of time visually documenting moveable books/pop-up texts – including ones that are no longer accessible by the public. She ended the slide show by pulling out a copy of The Lookout, which she opened up while we were still sitting in the dark. Seeing it lit up in the dark was pretty cool.

Carol Barton lecture at the University of Vermont

Carol showed images from a plant in China where pop-ups are constructed (they manufacture her instruction manuals) and talked about how she was conscious about employee working conditions when choosing a manufacturer. The room the employees work in is immaculate (much cleaner than my studio). She said that she’s spent time in the factory and eaten in the cafeteria with the employees – this particular plant treats its employees well and pays them fairly. All of the gluing of pop-ups is done by hand – there are no machines putting those pieces together. It really gives you a new perspective on those intricate Robert Sabuda books, doesn’t it?

Overall, I’d say the lecture was a success – 40 people came and they seemed to enjoy themselves. The Special Collections department is interested in collaborating with the Book Arts Guild of Vermont for future lectures, which should be a great partnership.

Carol Barton signing book at the University of Vermont

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