Category : Way Cool Stuff

My race to puzzlePALOOZA

Art Fits Vermont logoI am a last minute girl.

I hate it.

The Vermont Arts Council distributed 9,500 wood puzzle pieces to individuals and groups across the state as part of their Art Fits Vermont project. I received one of them several months ago.

My puzzle piece has stared at me in my studio while I worked on various projects, suffering from the knowledge that it was not my first priority.

Until this week.

This coming Saturday, July 11th, the Vermont Arts Council is having a big, fat party at Battery Park on the Burlington waterfront – puzzlePALOOZA.

There are a couple of things about the event that hold particular interest for me:

  • The Arts Council is hoping to set the Guinness Record for the World’s Largest Puzzle.
  • There’s a parade with representatives from all 251 Vermont towns to carry puzzle pieces on the ½ mile route down Main Street.

I want to be in a parade. I want to be part of a Guinness Record.

I have needs.

So here I am, with 4 days to finish my puzzle piece. I can do this, right?

Here’s the piece as I received it:

Wood puzzle piece

Each morning, I’ll take a picture of my piece to show you my progress. I will tell you that I’m working on a cheese theme – the puzzle piece looked like Swiss and I like cheese, okay? I’m still trying to figure out if I can work in something book-ish.

My Dremel (Stan) and I have spent a chunk of time together today. I sure did miss him.

Stay tuned for my race to the finish.

Passport to Your National Parks program

So obviously, I love books. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by how attached I’ve become to my National Parks passport. The passport is a small, spiral-bound book that not only gives you an overview of all the National Parks across the country, but also allows you to document your visits to each park.

From the National Park shopping website:

Spaces in each region are designated for you to collect rubber stamp cancellations at each national park site you visit. The cancellations, similar to those received in an international passport, record the name of the park and the date you visited.

I’ve had my passport since 1995. Amazingly, I will have visited over 100 parks after my vacation to California (over 20 of them are from Washington D.C. – it’s really easy to rack up a lot there). This count only includes parks visited from 1995 on – not the parks I visited while I was a kid.

The passport program started in 1986 and I kick myself when I think of all the other parks I could have collected while on my travels. This is how addictive this thing is.

Google it – you should see some of the websites devoted to this. I imagine that once this thing is full, I’ll buy another one and do some kind of bookbinding hack, therefore creating a Frankenpassport.

Claire Maziarczyk’s Pastepaper Quilts exhibit

As I mentioned in this post, I recently took a trip to Claire Maziarczyk’s studio in Niskayuna, NY. I also promised to post about her exhibit Pastepaper Quilts at the Robert and Dorothy Ludwig Schenectady Jewish Community Center.

This is what Claire had to say about her work, as written in a handout she provided to gallery visitors:

Many of the images in this show are a compilation of many years of creating one-of-a-kind sheets of paper. Many of the patterns included in this show were produced at the end of the work day, or the end of the run of color during a typical day of production… Some are simple experiments others are an attempted to recreate the feeling of those 16th century bookbinders. All of these papers are combined with a love of quilt patterns, an interest in Feng shui, Polish paper cut outs and the Shaker belief that humans are not perfect.

I can really identify with that last part.

Paste paper quilts by Claire Maziarczyk

Paste paper quilts by Claire Maziarczyk

Paste paper quilts by Claire Maziarczyk

Paste paper quilts by Claire Maziarczyk

This last piece was so interesting. The design was based on principles of Feng Shui and the concept of Bagua. Here are some details from her handout:

This piece is made up of nine, fourteen inch squares representing the Chinese secrets of Feng Shui. Each piece in the nine square grid represents the colors, shapes, and elements of the feng shui system. While the overall shape of the bagua is eight-sided, it is divided in a way that creates nine pieces. The center is a square which represents health. The five elements represented are fire, metal, water, wood, and earth. Each element is associated with a basic shape.

Paste paper quilts by Claire Maziarczyk

Claire’s color and pattern choices reflected these two concepts and offered some fascinating connections between personality and natural elements.

Here’s a breakdown of the qualities associated with each square:

Top, left to right:

  1. Prosperity: Colors – purple, green, gold, and red
  2. Fame: Color – red; Element – fire; Shape – triangle
  3. Love and Relationships: Colors – pink, red, and white

Middle, left to right:

  1. Family: Color – green; Element – wood; Shape – rectangle or columns
  2. Health: Colors – yellow and earth tones; Element – earth; Shape – square
  3. Creativity and Children: Color – white; Element – metal; Shape – round

Bottom, left to right:

  1. Skills and Knowledge: Colors – blue, black, and green
  2. Career/Life Path: Color – black; Element – water; Shape – free-form
  3. Helpful People/Travel: Colors – grey, black, and white

I was particularly drawn to the last square in the middle row – “Creativity and Children”. It seems so appropriate that both of these ideas would be represented by white (purity, innocence) and a round shape (no edges, no beginning or end).

I appreciate that Claire took an effort to detail the influences of her work.

Visit to Claire Maziarczyk’s Studio

As I mentioned in this post, I was planning a trip to Claire Maziarczyk’s studio this past Saturday.

I had the BEST time.

The trip to Niskayuna, NY was about 3 hours and 20 minutes each way. Overall, the ride wasn’t that bad – apparently I had brought just the right mix of CD’s for the trip. It’s just that last hour when you’re almost home that it seems like every minute is about 100 years in length.

Claire is such a sweetheart and you can tell that she really loves her work. I asked her lots of questions – ones that I’m sure she has answered a thousand times over – and she did so with a smile on her face. It really does make a difference when you meet the maker of a handmade object – it totally transforms how you look at it.

I keep trying to figure out the right words to describe my visit, but instead I just keep looking at my pictures. I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Well, except to say that I love looking through other people’s paper drawers.

Here are some pictures of her studio:

Claire Maziarczyk's studio

Claire Maziarczyk's studio

Claire Maziarczyk's studio

Paste papers by Claire Maziarczyk

Claire Maziarczyk's studio

It was hard picking out paper to take home with me – every time I thought that I had everything settled, I’d find yet another “most beautiful paper ever”. I finally selected 15 sheets to join my paper family.

Here are some pictures of the paper I bought (a.k.a. Meet my new babies):

I am also a proud owner of one of Claire’s swatch books. Now I can drool over her papers from the comfort of my own home.

In my next post, I’ll talk about her exhibit Pastepaper Quilts at the Robert and Dorothy Ludwig Schenectady Jewish Community Center.

My sweet little orb

Last Friday I went to the Artisans Hand Craft Gallery annual winter sale, as I mentioned in this post. I got there in the afternoon and had already missed the early day rush.

As I sifted through the handmade treasures, I found a basket full of orbs made by Alan Paschell, a ceramicist from Calais, Vermont. I’m not one who is easily won over by quotes, but I couldn’t resist the one I discovered.

Alan Paschell ceramic orb

Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it, except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book. — Thomas A. Kempis

Well, as a bookbinder, I just can’t say it any better than that. The orb is now mine.

Is Yudu the new Gocco?

As I mentioned in this post, I am newbie owner of a PG-5 Gocco machine.

Gocco is a self-contained screen printing unit. You can use it to both burn master screens and to make your prints. It’s damn nifty. I wanted one forever. I got one. Life was good.

Then Amanda at PaperLust rocked my world today. I read on her blog to find out that just this week, Provo Craft unveiled its new Yudu personal screen printer.

In fact, the Yudu just became available for sale today exclusively on the Home Shopping Network. They’re selling the machine today for $279.95 with free shipping and handling.

So just what is this Yudu thingie? Well, it does essentially the same thing that a Gocco does, with some interesting differences:

  1. Gocco screens measure 3.75″ x 5.75″ for the B6 and 6.5″ x 9″ for the B5, while the Yudu 110 mesh screens measure 11″ x 14″.
  2. When you burn a screen on a Gocco machine, the bulbs are not reusable. The Yudu has a built-in light box so you can reuse the same bulbs for additional screens.
  3. Gocco screens are pre-treated with emulsion, whereas the Yudu screens come without it. You have to manually apply an emulsion sheet each time you burn a screen.
  4. Gocco screens are not reusable for new images. Yudu screens are reusable – you can clean off the emulsion and reuse the screen for a completely new image.
  5. To burn an image into a Gocco screen you must use a carbon-based image. For the Yudu, you don’t. You can print your image on a transparency directly from your inkjet printer.
  6. Using the Gocco, you apply ink to your screen and then print directly from the machine by opening and closing the top. With the Yudu, you have to use a squeegee to print your image.

So what is my problem? Well, I just spent way too much stocking up on supplies for my Gocco (which I haven’t yet used). While I feel it was a worthwhile investment, I am oh-so-easily distracted by shiny new things. And goofy product names.

Other than that, this Yudu dealie looks interesting. It’s brand spanking new, so there’s no way I’d buy it hot off the press, so to speak. Plus I still need to use and kill off the supplies I already have for my Gocco. The Yudu seems like it has potential for the future.

However, I’d like to be sure of a few things:

  1. The kinks have been worked out.
  2. It has longevity as a product.
  3. It has good reviews from users.
  4. There’s a wide variety of ink colors and accessories readily available.
  5. It’s affordable.

Of course, none of this stopped me from getting a Gocco, even knowing that they weren’t making machines or supplies for them anymore.

I showed the Yudu video to my hubby when he came home from work today and he had an interesting comment. Yudu’s light box uses bulbs that are a standard size that can be bought in any hardware store. He pointed out that the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 has effectively banned the production of  incandescent bulbs by 2014. There are some exceptions to the ban, but he suggested that it might be worthwhile to find out what kind of bulbs are used by the Yudu before getting sucked into another Gocco fiasco. Wise words.

If you’re interested in more information about the Yudu, there’s a really interesting conversation going on in the Etsy forums. A rep from Provo Craft is involved has been very open in answering everyone’s questions.

You can also watch demo videos on YouTube. I’m fond of the following video, where I learned that one should think long and hard about consuming champagne while demonstrating a new product.

Just say no.

Artisans Hand annual winter sale

Artisans Hand logoAs I’ve mentioned before, Artisans Hand Craft Gallery, located in Montpelier, VT, holds a special place in my heart – it was the very first gallery to sell my handmade books. The gallery exclusively features work created by Vermont artisans, which is great. All of the folks there are so sweet and it’s clear that they value the work and the artists they represent.

Starting on Friday, January 30th and lasting through February 8th is Artisans Hand’s annual winter sale (just in time for Valentine’s Day shopping). The sale offers items from 10% – 20% off, with each artist setting their own discount.

All of my work in the gallery will be offered at 20% off during the sale. As an added attraction, artists have brought in their seconds, experiments, and discontinued pieces and are offering them at discount prices during the sale. I brought 8 photo albums to the gallery today, mostly orphans from discontinued styles.

Being an exhibitor at the gallery has its perks – I got a sneak preview of the work that has been submitted by other artisans. I already have 2 pieces of work by Jean Meinhardt and was drooling at some large vases she had brought in…I already have a small vase and methinks he wants an older brother. Her glazes are really lovely.

I plan to be at the sale on opening day – hope to see you there!

Keep your hands off my vase.

Artisans Hand Craft Gallery
89 Main Street, City Center
Montpelier, VT 05602
(802) 229-9492

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