This summer it final feels as if I am getting this work/life balance thing down, okay honestly I am still a bit heavy on the work side, but this summer I am managing much more studio time for projects I want to be working on. There are still not enough hours in the day, but I am balancing out production work for clients and festivals like these lovely things
All of which will be making their debut at the Miller’s Park art fair at Chautauqua Institution on July 2nd and Bookfest in Buffalo on July 8th.
I’m also finding time to squeeze in work on a huge new installation and experimental new things, here’s a peek at the installation, women hold up half the sky
More to come on this soon!
I’m also hoping to check in here more often. I miss writing about my work, and I really feel that loss when I look back. Writing here helps me understand the cyclical nature of making, the natural ebb and flow of my year. It also helps me to see, I have been here before, this too shall pass, and most of all encourages me to find growth, change and renewal in my studio life.
It has been a really crazy week, not only is it finals week, I have also been teaching a workshop at a local elementary school. Today I gave my final exam of the semester and my sculpture students presented their final portfolios. Most of them are graduating so we had a pizza celebration and talked about their future plans. I’m excited that it is almost time to disappear into my studio for the summer. I decided to take a bit of a break from marking this afternoon and play with some kozo scraps instead.
Not exactly sure where I am going, but I have been thinking about the ghostly leaves of beech trees that hang on through the winter, the fine kozo I sew on reminds me of those leaves.
I haven’t shared a tutorial in a while so I thought I would share the class I taught at WNYBAC recently.
You might remember a while back that I took a workshop on gelatin printing, and how much I enjoyed it. Well because of that new love I ended up with a LOT of printed papers, and so of course I created a binding for them. I had also had rattling around in my brain for a while an idea to create a binding where the cover was primed canvas – so you could paint or decorate it to personalize it. So I took both elements and threw them together using a long stitch, into what I am calling an “art” journal, pre-primed for creativity!
Begin by using the gelatin plate to print both sides of all of your paper – we printed multiple layers on both sides at the workshop. You can also print your canvas cover of you like! If you have never done any gelatin printing you can find all kinds of tutorials online – but fair warning – its addictive!! Leave all those papers to dry – we took a lunch break – they dry pretty quickly
Next prepare your signatures. I like to randomly mix and match my papers. Fold them in half so they are 6×4.5 inches, and nest four sheets together to make each set of signatures.
Use the guide to punch 6 holes in each of the sets of pages
Measure 4.5″ in from the front edge of your canvas cover, fold to create the front cover.
Lay the guide next to this fold to punch the holes in the spine of the book, fold the cover again, next to the guide to form the back spine/cover.
Thread a needle with an arm’s length of thread, in the workshop we used crochet cotton. You can wax the thread with some beeswax if you like.
Begin the sewing, go into the first sewing station in one set of pages from the outside to the inside, leave a small tail to tie a knot later in the binding, at this point only sew the pages NOT the cover
Next sew from the inside out through the second station/hole in the pages and out through the first row of holes on the spine
Then sew back into the third station/hole through the spine of the cover and the pages, so now you have a long stitch on the outside of the book
Sew along the spine in this way until you get to the final station, this time sew only through the pages – NOT out through the spine, and pick up your next signature. Laying it on top of the signature you have been sewing, sew into the second signature through the same sewing station
Sew back down the next sewing station, out through the pages and the cover through the same row of sewing holes you used for the first sewing
sew down the spine again, attaching the second signature using the first row of holes until the last sewing hole on this signature, again, only sew through the pages NOT out through the spine. Tie a knot using the tail of the thread and then pick up the third signature, sewing into the signature from the outside as before (see step 10). Then sew out through the second sewing station in the next row of holes and sew down the spine as before, this time sew through the final hole out to the spine
Sew down from the last sewing station in the second row of holes and down to the last hole in the first row of sewing stations
On the inside of the spine, do not sew into the signatures – but sew between the first and second signatures
Sew over the thread that connects the first and second signatures and back out through the same hole
Then sew back up to the second row of stitches – giving you a pair of anchor stitches on the outside of the spine, sew into the book, and pick up the next set of signatures
Sew this signature all the way down the spine as with the previous two signatures, at the end repeat this same procedure, giving you a pair of anchor stitches at each end
On the inside pick up the next signature, and sew down the spine as before anchoring this signature to the third row of holes
Sew to the last station, sewing out through the spine, and then take the thread down behind those two anchor stitches, making a chain or link stitch
Go back down the same hole and pick up the next signature, sewing it into the same row (3rd) of holes on the spine
Repeat the chain/link stitch at the other end of the book, and then pick up your next signature on the inside, moving up to the 4th row of holes in the spine
Continue in this way until all your signatures are sewn into the book and then tie off your thread on the inside of the book
When you have completed the sewing all that remains is to make the closure for the pen. To do this wrap the cover around the book and measure out how long it needs to be.
Divide the width of the book into 5, and then cut out every other piece like this
turn the two attached pieces under to form loops attached to the flap which wraps around the book, the take one of the discarded pieces and sew it to the front cover between these two loops, and slide a pen/pencil to hold the book closed
So I ended that last post wondering how the Universe could top that – here’s the answer. Long time readers may remember way back in 2012 I spent a magical weekend on Martha’s Vineyard at the TurkeyLand Cove Foundation. (If you haven’t been reading that long, you can find out more by clicking here and follow the journey on the next couple of posts.) That residency marked the end of a magical year where my internal landscape shifted and I finally moved into my own skin as an artist. It was a tremendous gift that has continued to grow over time. The work I started there propelled me into the world of book arts where I have found amazing new colleagues, continued to grow, learning new skills and I think I have flourished there!
This past weekend, Kitty gathered together the 100 women who have been blessed with a residency at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence RI, for a FREE weekend of bonding and sharing. Yes – you read that correctly – FREE. We arrived from all over the country on Friday and after checking in to a ridiculously luxurious suite, we gathered for cocktails and dinner. After dinner we were treated to a Q&A between Christina Bevilacqua, Conversationalist-in-residence at Trinity Repertory Company and Kyna Leski, Professor of Architecture at RISD about Kyna’s book The Storm of Creativity. It was the perfect start as it gave us a common vocabulary for our experiences which came up again and again as the weekend continued. I purchased a copy of the book, and then had to resist the temptation to stay up all night and read it. It is a rich book worthy of being savored and I am looking forward to finishing it.
Saturday gave us an opportunity to share the work we began during our residencies. Like many of the other visual artists and writers I was able to set up a table of my embroidered books and share them with everyone. It was some awe inspiring company to be in! In addition to the ‘show and tell’ tables, there were table talks, where this amazing group of women shared their projects, Women like Christina Campbell who created project peace, a knitting pattern/project that focused on bringing peaceful intention into the world, or Paula Francis who is increasing the gross national happiness quotient of the USA by walking across the country and talking to people, or the artist Susan Porter who makes the most beautiful colorful journals, or Melissa Burch who talked us through our heroines journal, well you get the idea I think – it was incredible! The day sped by – ending for me with a thought provoking discussion of conducting research with students – that description does not give you any idea of how wonderful it was – seriously – wonderful. Then there was just enough time to get cleaned up and dressed for dinner in the ballroom. And it was a day that kept on giving with mind blowing after dinner entertainment by singers and performers who had also been residents at the tree house.
Sunday there was just time for a bitter sweet breakfast,a few tears and a group picture before it was time to make the 9 hour drive back home. It will be months before I can process all of the information buzzing about in my brain, but I have to say – if you put that room full of women in charge of the country for a year the infrastructure would be fixed, there’d be healthcare and food for all, and things would get DONE. Until that golden day I look forward to seeing all the great things they do, and I am so proud to be one of their number. Thank you Kitty and the board and staff of the TurkeyLand Cove Foundation for everything, for changing my world and for loving us so hard! If you are a motivated woman reading this blog – apply, there’s still time to make this year’s deadline – I promise it will change your life!!
So much is going on right now! Last weekend I got to meet some great new artists when I was invited to exhibit with them. It was really invigorating to chat with some new faces at the opening last Friday. The show is up through April 15th at Sensory Winery if local folks want to grab a great glass of wine and check it out.
I also have a solo exhibition opening this Saturday. I just finished hanging the work today. This was a really unique opportunity, a new gallery, LMNOP Gallery (in Sherman NY) offered me complete creative control to hang whatever I liked however I wanted. It’s a mixture of old and new work. It gave me a chance to look back over a decade of my work and reflect a bit on my journey from being a very serious art student to where I am today, wherever that is?!
As if this wasn’t marvellous enough, the universe threw me a complete curve ball. I was astonished to find out a local art organization is giving me their distinguished artist award. I am so honored! Wow!
I don’t know how the universe plans to top this, but I say bring it on, I am ready for my close up! Thank you to all my supporters who have stuck with me on my journey, this would be so much harder without you in my corner.
I am a huge fan of Lisa Sonora and her work. Picking up her book The Creative Entrepreneur changed my life. It was the first time I understood that I could turn what I loved doing into a sustainable way of life. What a journey I have been on since then!
And speaking of journeys, each year Lisa also generously creates a set of journaling prompts which she shares for free! This is my 4th year working with them, and every year my experience gets richer! This year I am a bit behind as our youngest has been receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic and life has been a bit chaotic, but I have been working on the prompts in the hotel. Here’s a glimpse at my journey so far this year, once again I decided to use my page meditation method to work through my ideas.
I have a lot coming up in the next month, so I am looking forward to a week at home getting caught up with housework and grading for my students, and a little studio time too I hope!
I’m planning to scan some of these and put them in my redbubble portfolio if anyone is interested in prints. And if you want to join the thousands who are journaling with Lisa Sonora you can find more about the project here.
Over the holiday break from school I sat down with the checklist from Alyson Stanfield‘s Art Biz Blog and tried to analyze my studio practice from a business perspective. I was pretty happy with the results, except in the area of communication. I really have a hard time connecting with people – even people who obviously care about and support my work. I collect emails, and I think about creating a newsletter or something to connect with others, and every year I don’t follow through. I reach out to curators, which is terrifying for me, and then after the first contact or two, I loose momentum. I realized this is really holding me back, and I know over the years I have let opportunities slide through my hands. This year I am resolving again to try and work on this a little more.
Then I saw that SARK was giving away a week long seminar on succulent business practice. FREE – SARK. Yeah I was blown away. So I signed up for that too. On the second to last day there was a session on money. Like many artists not only do I struggle with connecting with people, I also have a love/hate relationship with money. I have to say that the week long seminar has really shifted my attention. I had a really powerful experience during that money seminar. I hope that I can keep building on the energy of that experience. And in what I am sure is really a coincidence but sure feels like divine manifestation, an unexpected series of checks showed up in my life this week. (Unexpected only in that I rarely check in with galleries who carry my work, and I had sold some work at several of them over the holidays – yeah those people skills again). I decided to invest a little of that money in one on one business counseling through the seminar. And yes, I am terrified!
As usual over the holidays I also got way less work accomplished than I thought I would. I really need to manage my time better this year as I have two solo shows and several group shows with new galleries or artist groups coming up. (Again, maintaining those relationships, those people skills need to be a focus) I also want to spend part of my summer back home in the UK, so I have taken on a lot of workshops and an extra course at the college where I teach to help offset all the costs of traveling and the lack of summer income. Just writing that is making me . queasy.
Okay. I really have to get back to work now! If you have any tips on connecting with the people who support your practice, send them my way. And as part of this “people” revolution this year – I pledge to actually post a little more often. Or at least to try.