Category : Way Cool Stuff

Something to be thankful for

Two kids coloring in handmade books

As a birthday gift, my hubby and I gave our niece and nephew a field bag that each of them could use when exploring the outdoors. At the last minute, I stuffed one of my journals into each of their bags. We handed them their wrapped packages after arriving on Thanksgiving Day.

They each opened their bags and found the journals. To my surprise, they tossed the bags aside and started drawing in the books. By the time we headed home, many of the books’ pages were full of scribbles and my heart was full of joy.

This is what I’m thankful for.

The Paper Place’s Great Origami Giveaway

The Paper Place origami giveaway imageThe generous folks at The Paper Place just announced their second insane giveaway…the prize? One of each of the origami packs they offer onlinethat’s 75 packs!

Um, mine please.

You can enter the giveaway here. The contest runs from 11/15 – 12/15, with the winner being chosen at random.

The Paper Place is located in Toronto, Canada. If you don’t live nearby, luckily you can shop online. I’m a sucker for their Chiyogami paper (a.k.a. Yuzen). If you’re not familiar with Chiyogami paper, it’s a Japanese paper that has each color silkscreened on by hand.

In addition to their fabulous paper selection, they also offer workshops – the Tsutsumi Gift Wrapping workshop looks particularly fun.

The search options on their website are awesome – you can search for Chiyogami by color, pattern, or color and pattern. This makes it all too easy to spend money I don’t have. Not that it’s ever stopped me from doing so before…

By the way, the contest winner? That’s me.

You can congratulate me now. 🙂

20+ Years of French Paper Promotions

I’ve never been shy about proclaiming how much I love love love the French Paper Company.

In addition to making fabulous papers that I’ve been using for years, they’ve also been an inspiration for branding. They set a high bar – their design is infused with a style and humor that I really appreciate.

This video documents over 20 years of the French Paper Company’s promotions. I have several of them, but I’m really hoping that one of their rocking snow globes magically shows up at my door.

Or a Cream of Meat poster.

20 + Years of French Paper Promotions by Charles S. Anderson Design Company

from French Paper on Vimeo


Artisans Hand annual sale

Artisans Hand logoAs I’ve mentioned before, Artisans 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.

The staff at the gallery is so fabulous – they have always been very good to me. If you’re a Vermont artist and have thought about jurying for the gallery, go for it – you won’t regret it.

My work has been exhibited at the gallery for about 6 years and in Elissa years, that’s a long time!

Starting tomorrow, November 6th and lasting through November 8th is Artisans Hand’s 31st 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 – prices will be lower than at any of my shows this season.

Time to get shopping!

Peggy Skycraft is so cool

I mean seriously cool.

Peggy Skycraft has been making the most gorgeous marbled and painted papers since 1970. She is considered a master marbler and if you look at her work, you can see why.

I became acquainted with Peggy’s work when I worked at Paper Source in the mid-90’s. From the moment I saw her papers, I just wanted to dive into them, the colors were so rich.

Fast forward to 2 years ago. I was planning a trip to the 2007 Focus on Book Arts conference in Forest Grove, Oregon. As I usually do before I travel, I did a web search on bookbinding and paper resources near to the conference. It was then that I discovered that Peggy’s studio was within driving distance of the conference. After exchanging some Emails, Peggy and I spoke on the phone. She told me that not only could I come for a visit, but I could stay overnight in the apartment above her studio. I felt that the offer was more generous than I could have hoped for and we set a date for my visit.

After my conference, I drove out to Peggy’s studio. She and her husband Jack welcomed us with open arms. They gave us a tour of their lovely rural property and fed us dinner.

Then we got the tour of the studio. Holy crap. Her studio is so ginormous, I can’t even begin to tell you. I’m pretty sure that the square footage of  her studio exceeds the floor plan of my whole house. I was so in awe of just being in Peggy’s presence that I was too shy to ask if I could take pictures of her studio. I become suck a starstruck dork sometimes.

After the studio tour ended, it was getting late. Peggy told us that she and her husband would be retiring, but we could feel free to go through her paper drawers and pick out what I wanted and we could settle up in the morning.

I’m thinking – Are you serious? How could I possibly even deserve the chance to go through your paper drawers? I am not worthy!!! So off they went. And I stood in the studio for a bit, stunned by what was happening. Then I came to my senses and looked at her paper.


I imagine that choosing amongst her papers is similar to being asked to choose your favorite child. It just isn’t fair. Unfortunately, a limited budget will always bring you to your senses. I made a pile of paper happiness for myself and went to bed.

The next day, Peggy and Jack made us breakfast. Even though I was there, it’s hard to believe that things like this really happen. Afterwards, I paid for my paper and we were on our way.

I will never ever ever EVER forget that trip. EVER.

Fast forward to June 2009 when I attended the Focus on Book Arts conference. Super-sadly, I was shut out of both sections of Peggy’s workshop New Techniques in Decorative Paper: Cold Batik Papers & Surface Magic (you snooze, you lose). I was totally heartbroken.

Although Peggy wasn’t part of the vendor fair during the conference, she did have a stash of paper in her car that she brought out for me. I bought 6 sheets of paper. Making choices was just as hard as it had been 2 years previously.

Hand-painted papers by Peggy Skycraft

Bookbinding bad habits – a giveaway

While I was teaching my workshop at Studio Place Arts last night, I realized that several times I prefaced a technique with the following:

This is how I do it. You may take another workshop and they’ll tell you that you have to do it a different way. I’m not sure how I learned to do it this way…it could just be a bad habit I picked up along the way. However, it works for me and my books have always turned out okay.

It seems I have quite a few bad habits [a.k.a. not done using widely-accepted technique]. The biggest one is that when I glue covers, I put the glue on the board and not on the cloth or paper. I wonder if I saw someone do it this way once and it stuck with me. Regardless, it works for me.

In light of my naughty bookbinder behavior, I have decided that I want company. Up for grabs – a bunch of goodies from the French Paper Company. Besides making rocking paper, this company has the best promotions ever.

Promotions from the French Paper Company

Including in the prize are the following items:

  • One inflatable Jerry French (read this post for more information)
  • 3 sample books for the Speckletone, Dur-o-Tone, and Muscletone lines
  • Paper Specs

As I mentioned earlier, what I want from you is validation – I want to know that I’m not the only one ignoring the rules. Reply to this post telling me what you do that’s not-quite-kosher.

Don’t worry, I’m not judging you.

The deadline for entry is October 15, 2009 and the winner will be chosen at random – it has to be random, otherwise I’d be judging you and I already told you that I won’t do that.

Let the confessions commence!

The Sketchbook Project Library

The Sketchbook Project Library logoAfter about a month and a half of studio avoidance, it seems that I have conquered the demon. Not only have I made books recently, but I have also created a fully-unrealistic production schedule to get me ready for the holiday season. Things are back to normal. So of course, I had to throw something into the mix to add some drama.

Welcome to The Sketchbook Project Library. Here’s the scoop:

Sketchbooks offers a glimpse into an artist’s life, which is why we want to make a publicly accessible library of sketchbooks that people can browse, peruse, and check out. We think that this sketchbook collection has the potential to open a new line of communication between the artist and the viewer, since the experience of making and viewing are both so personal. Anyone can sign up to receive a sketchbook. Before joining our permanent collection, sketchbooks will be exhibited at select galleries across the US.

During the months of October and November (smack in the middle of craft show season), I will be working on a Moleskine journal using their randomly-assigned theme of “Danger, danger” as my muse. I have lots of ideas swirling around in my head, most of them involving pop-ups and others being just plain ridiculous.

I haven’t kept a visual journal since I was in graduate school for art therapy. I’ve wanted to get back into it…I’m hoping that this project will have a long-term effect on my daily creative practice.

After all of the sketchbooks have been returned, the library will then go on tour, including all submissions. There is no jury. All you have to do is pay your entry fee and you’re in. That’s the best part about this project – it acknowledges that all visual expression has merit.

That’s also the best message I could give to someone buying one of my journals – it doesn’t matter what you put in the book because it all has value. Everything about you and your experience has value.

I hope I can put my markers where my mouth is.

Puzzle piece update #3

Welcome to today’s State of the Cheese address.

There are now 3 coats of paint on my wood puzzle piece provided to me by the Vermont Arts Council as part of their Art Fits Vermont project.

Here’s what it looks like:

Painted puzzle piece shaped like cheese

I can’t take a decent picture to save my life. The color is a subtle swiss cheese yellow. The surface is no longer streaky so I don’t need to add another coat. But I’ll do it anyway. Then I’ll add some sealer.

I figured out a few things about this piece. I have officially named it Cheezle. Thank you long drive to Burlington for giving me that gem.

I also now know where a book will fit into the piece, pun intended. I’m not going to give it all away now, but let’s just say that there is some very silly haiku involved. I should have the piece finished today. Well, I hope I have it finished today because puzzlePALOOZA is tomorrow.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Puzzle piece update #2

Yesterday I continued working on my wood puzzle piece provided to me by the Vermont Arts Council as part of their Art Fits Vermont project.

Wood puzzle piece carved like cheese

I started with a primer. I should have used white primer instead of clear because it would have cut down on painting time later on. That’s what a logical person would do. I used what I had.

Lesson learned.

Next, I spent most of my time pondering the following questions:

What is the essence of cheese? Can one even really capture its glory? Cheese just is.

Mixing yellow paint

So went my inner dialogue as I mixed a paint color. Here’s the final color:

As I mentioned earlier, white primer would have helped with paint coverage. Here’s my very streaky, non-happy, inconsistently-covered cheese slice:

Puzzle piece cheese - one coat of paint

Needless to say, this cheese needs more coats of paint. Hopefully, it will look cheesier tomorrow.

Puzzle piece update #1

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been busy working on a wood puzzle piece provided to me by the Vermont Arts Council as part of their Art Fits Vermont project.

I started by tracing the puzzle piece. I then drew and cut out the cheese holes.

Paper puzzle piece template

After tracing the cheese holes onto the wood, I started to cut the holes out. I used my Dremel to cut my holes because, well, I just wanted to play with my Dremel.

I started by drilling small holes around the edge of my outline.

Drilling pilot holes in wood

Then I drilled a second set of holes, making it easier for the piece of wood to break off.

Drilling pilot holes in wood

Mission accomplished.

Broken piece of wood

I used my Dremel’s sanding bit to smooth out the rough edges and to better define the cheese holes.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Wood puzzle piece carved like cheese

I’m hoping to get some painting done today. With the time I have left, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get the book component added until after puzzlePALOOZA.

Tune in tomorrow for another update!

Pin It on Pinterest