Joy in troubled times

So many of you who follow me on other social media know I spent all of August swanning about in the UK. I spent time with artist friends in their studios and homes, and then a couple of marvelous weeks with my parents, sisters, their families, my hubby and my son and his partner just vacationing and catching up. I hadn’t seen my dad in person for 11 years, it was time! I also got to reconnect with old school friends and my hometown. Along the way I also visited tons of cathedrals and stately homes and ate all my favorite British foods!

I had a bit of a visa hiccup on the way back to my real life in the USA, and ended up missing the beginning of classes. I feel like I have been running to catch up since my feet touched back down! Not only did I have to scramble to get on track in the classroom, I also needed to hang work in three exhibitions!

This one women hold up half the sky at the Weeks Gallery

This one, phloem/ Xylem, in a Kozo Exhibit at Wnybac

And a small solo exhibit of my blackout poetry.

I am teaching at two different universities this semester, so I get to spend quite a bit of time listening to audiobooks in the car. This week I finished braving the wilderness by brene brown. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I’m going to recommend you get some tissues before you start. It’s one of the most powerful things I have ever read, and the uncomfortable message is one I really needed to hear right now.

Like so many others I am struggling in the current political climate. I live a pretty blessed existence. I make enough money, I am living my dream of being an artist. I get to see my children and grandchildren often. I have a strong loving relationship with the man I love. It’s taken me a long time to get here, and I am frequently surprised by moments of pure bliss in my daily life. But my joy feels wrong with so many struggling.

I’m making a commitment to being present in my community, and to managing my resources so I can give more. And to counting my blessings.


More leafy fun!

It’s less than a week until I leave for the UK to spend time catching up with family and friends. I have a ton of work to finish before I go, more on that later this week. Today I started work on a special gift with eco-printed pages.

First the rummage in the garden

Then bundling all the leaves and papers. I use ceramic tiles to keep the bundles tight and submerged.

Then off to the dye pot. And this was the beautiful result. I used a dusty pink commercial dye in the pot to tint the edges of the pages pink.

Next up binding and custom covers for this project and so much more! Okay enough procrastinating, back to the studio!

Tale of a tooth

So, as I shared in my last post, on my way home from my workshop last week I broke a tooth, so my week started out at the dentists. I ended up needing a surgical extraction as the tooth had broken below the gum in my jaw. So my plans for this week we’re slowed to a snail’s pace while recuperating. I did start work on a project I have been thinking about for a couple of years after seeing Kevin Steele’s books at PBI.  

I started with this accordion book form, those are Kevin’s PBI handouts under the book

Then I bound it to look like this

I want to add a black work binding to the spine, so next up was adapting a black work design from a period painting by Holbein

And then testing the pattern on some scrap paper

So now I am ready to translate all these sketches into the finished book, although I am going to wait to cut into the fancy paper until I am feeling more the thing. 

On Monday I am starting a big restoration project, and teaching a kids workshop. I can’t believe it is almost time to go to the UK. Time flies!!

2 festivals and a workshop

What a busy week! It started Sunday with a perfect afternoon at Chautauqua Institution, warm sun, gentle breeze off the lake and lots of vendors set up for an afternoon of local shopping. I got to visit with lots of friends and move some merchandise, a fun afternoon! 

Hot on the heels of that was the fourth of July holiday and some family time. I often have a hard time keeping track of what day it is in the summer, but a holiday in the middle of the week really messed me up!

Wednesday I headed out to a new teaching venue. The Springville Center for the Arts is housed in a beautiful old church.

I’m teaching a month long class exploring different ways of manipulating and playing with paper. We started out doing some eco-printing. Here’s my sample

I made this one using some heavy cotton paper I use for etching. After soaking the paper in a bath of water containing a little alum, I make a sandwich of leaves and paper, with a ceramic tile on the top and bottom of that leaf/paper sandwich. Then tie the bundle with some gardening twine or big rubber bands, you want the bundle snug so the leaves make contact with the paper but not really tight. Put the bundle in a large pan and cover with water. I added old coffee grounds to the water, but you can use any organic or commercial dye. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least an hour. Some people just steam their bundles, but I never have much success that way. Then unbundle and rinse in cold water. I hang mine on the washing line to dry.

Because I knew we were going to make a mess, we opted to work outside rather than in their classroom space. The workshop participants made some gorgeous papers. We used a RIT dye in denim blue instead of coffee, and I used a big turkey roaster crock pot to cook the bundles. We also discovered that clover from the garden added a bright yellow to those papers.

We also tried dyeing some paper using some other traditional dyes, tumeric made a gorgeous brilliant yellow, onion skins make a beautiful ochre and beets with vinegar in the bath gave us a delicate blush pink. 

We also experimented with dip dyeing using some commercial dyes. We really accomplished a lot in a short two hour class, and cleaned up just ahead of an incoming thunderstorm! Next week we are going to try some monoprinting techniques.

On my drive home I was eating some almonds in the car when disaster struck, I broke a tooth. So Thursday was an emergency trip to the dentist. Not fun. 

Today I spent the day at Bookfest at WNYBAC. I had a fabulous day despite the stupid tooth catching up with friends and I managed to sell enough books to cover my dental bills, win-win!

This was my last festival of the summer as I am heading back home to the UK at the end of the month.

Tomorrow I need to finish up a commission and finish my entry for a book exhibit. Monday that tooth is coming out, it broke below the gum and can’t be saved. And then I need to clear the decks of some restoration work before switching gears to finish an installation. How does summer fly by so fast?


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. 

And now back to work!

Heading to summer break

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. 

Can’t wait to finish up my grades and dig in!

art journal tutorial

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!


Want to make one – here’s what you will need:

  • 48 sheets of paper, 6×9 inches, (grained short)
  • A piece of pre-primed canvas 6.25 x 16 inches
  • awl, needle, thread
  • gelatin plate, speedball ink, brayer
  • this guide for punching your holes


  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Use the guide to punch 6 holes in each of the sets of pages
  4. Measure 4.5″ in from the front edge of your canvas cover, fold to create the front cover.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 IMG_20170503_185920034
  8. 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 IMG_20170503_185941981
  9. 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 IMG_20170503_190010825
  10. 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,  IMG_20170503_190026441and 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 IMG_20170503_190052704
  11. 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 IMG_20170503_190113302
  12. 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 spineIMG_20170503_190243656
  13. 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 IMG_20170503_190312719
  14. On the inside of the spine, do not sew into the signatures – but sew between the first and second signatures IMG_20170503_190330830_HDR
  15. Sew over the thread that connects the first and second signatures and back out through the same hole IMG_20170503_190350970
  16. 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 signaturesIMG_20170503_190404519_HDR
  17. 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
  18. On the inside pick up the next signature, and sew down the spine as before anchoring this signature to the third row of holes IMG_20170503_190603576
  19. 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 IMG_20170503_190624068
  20. Go back down the same hole and pick up the next signature, sewing it into the same row (3rd) of holes on the spine IMG_20170503_190715483
  21. 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 IMG_20170503_190733979
  22. 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 IMG_20170503_190944518_HDR
  23. 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.
  24. Divide the width of the book into 5, and then cut out every other piece like this IMG_20170422_150455965
  25. 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 IMG_20170424_094239674
  26. Done! Enjoy your new journal!!