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?

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Where did January go?

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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.

Being a student

Last weekend I took a workshop at WNYBAC with Jill Kambs. I have done plenty of printing and book binding, but never any gelatin plate printing, and I rarely make books with words, so I thought it would be great to try a new way of working.
I really tried hard to work fast and to pick materials I wouldn’t ordinarily choose, although I did cheat and work mostly in black and white. I swapped colors with others at the workshop, picking colours like peach and pink I would never usually pick. I was amazed by the delicacy of the prints, the texture. After about an hour I had a heap of prints, that looked as if they had been made by someone else, but sort of like me.
Once the prints dried, we selected and bound them into little pamphlet stitched books. Since I had worked in such a random way it was a challenge to make any sense of the images I had created. Deciding what went with what was a tricky process, mostly accomplished by eliminating the ones that didn’t fit. I managed to make 2 reasonably sensible compilations but I also had a lot of extra prints that made no sense with each other!
The last step was to do some simple Xerox transfers of text selected by Jill. Again working with someone else’s choices was hard for me. Words that speak to other people’s practice don’t always speak to your own.

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Here’s the final product, I keep taking it out and looking at it. I can’t believe I made it honestly. It is subtle and delicate. Needless to say I’m pleased!

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I’m so glad I took the workshop, and I can’t wait to try more gelatin printing. I hope I can keep the freshness working in my own space.

Summer week 5

This week finally feels like summer, something has subtly changed and I feel the weight lifting. The week began with a journal workshop with a summer reading program. We made paste papers using natural materials and then  made nature journals using a simplified stab binding. Here I am at work!

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Tuesday I hosted a wonderful group of creative ladies at my studio. Together we made recycled long stitch journals, drank tea and coffee, and had fun! Here they are at the end of their workshop with their finished books.

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Today I needed to go to Chautauqua Institution to make some small changes to those chalkboard menus. It was a glorious summer day here with a brisk breeze off of the lake, just perfect! After that I took in a lecture at the hall of philosophy on ethics in the visual arts. I ended my morning by looking at the shows at the Strohl And Kellogg galleries. I saw some fabulous art, and I returned home refreshed with the well filled.
This afternoon was spent doing paperwork, cleaning the studio again and getting work ready for this weekend’s festival, “A Stir of Artists” in Bemus Point. Hope this beautiful weather holds!

Summer week 4

Most of this week was spent on production binding for the 4th annual Bookfest at Western NY Book Arts Center. I also experimented with a few more long stitch word bindings.

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Yesterday I spent a great day under my tent at Bookfest. I met some wonderful new people, saw some old friends and past professors from my time at UB, sold a few books and taught a mini workshop. If you are looking for the tutorial, it should be up later tonight.
Today I am exhausted! I did a few paste paper experiments for a workshop tomorrow and added some type to a few more brown paper lunch bag journals (another festival next weekend).

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Now I am laying on the couch in the air conditioning, and I think a nap may well be in my future!

2014 in Review – a tiny bit late

This year has been one of the most active of what now feels like a career as an artist. SO MANY amazing firsts happened this year, and all of them were linked to an amazing group of colleagues and friends, so to ALL OF YOU – thank you so much!

It is hard to know where to begin so I am going to start with collaborations and then go to some personal milestones. I curated or helped put together some exhibitions including the women create biennial with my amazing enabler Jennifer Schlick!

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Then March became April and my hometown was invaded by two waves of British artists in an event we called Colonize, with an exhibition across two galleries, workshops, lectures and lots of community building. None of which would have happened without help from Wendy (SCI) & Bruce (Basement Arts Project) and all the artists involved. Not only did we get to be on the radio – we also became video stars and front page news!

we made the FRONT PAGE of the local newspaper!!

we made the FRONT PAGE of the local newspaper!!

I also put together this exhibit for the Dykeman Young Gallery – and then I was asked to become a part time curator at the 3rd on 3rd Gallery, and created these two shows to round out the year.

FRESH PC show-Poster

I’m looking forward to playing with new artists in the gallery in the coming year!

I was also able to share my work through workshops, here in my own studio and at a few other places, like WNYBAC, The Morgan Conservatory and CBA in NYC. To everyone who signed up to take a class with me – an enormous THANK YOU for giving me the opportunity to travel and share my work and meet such amazing artists!! I REALLY hope next year provides some similar experiences for me!

Of course I did also manage to squeeze in (not enough) work of my own. It seems this year has been a bit bogged down in large slow projects, but of course I made plenty of books, some beautiful commissions, and got to play in my art journal frequently.

just learned this french stitch - so pretty!

just learned this french stitch – so pretty!

back view of the tiny book

my table display at bookfest

my table at WNYBAC’s bookfest

OH and I was completely sidetracked by sewing on all manner of things and learning how to put needlelace on leaves – I am pretty sure there is more of THAT to come

magnolia leaf with needle lace bars

magnolia leaf with needle lace bars

photo by Jennifer Schlick

photo by Jennifer Schlick

I exhibited a bit, and I also managed to fit a small solo show in, along with many trips to hospitals and doctors as members of my immediate family struggled with health problems.

Thank you for indulging my trip down memory lane, here’s to a very happy super healthy art-filled new year for us all!

NYC – Day 2

I hope no one out there was waiting with baited breath for me to finish the tale? Life this year has a way of laughing at my best laid plans. Oh well, for those who do want to hear the end of the tale, here we go.

I was first into the building on Sunday morning (after another delicious bagel) and was glad I had an extra pair of student hands to help navigate all the keys and alarms. I think I am not really cut out for big city life!

On day two there is a lot of folding – twenty two signatures, and then all those signatures needed to be punched at quarter inch intervals. Once that task was completed we created a book block using a french link stitch over two tapes, leaving a space in the center of the binding which would hold the embroidered design.

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Really creating the book block takes more time than the actual embroidered binding – especially once someone has worked out the sewing chart! What is so exciting for me as a teacher is seeing how every participant takes an idea and then sets about making it their own and brainstorming ways to incorporate the new knowledge into their own practice. It makes prepping for a class, and travel, and airports, and noisy hotel rooms all worth while!

After class I just had time for a quick visit with Esther Smith and a college friend who lives in Brooklyn before a terrifying taxi ride to JFK to fly back home again. It was a wonderful break, and much of the snow was gone by the time I got back, an added bonus! I wish the class hadn’t been in the middle of the semester – I felt like such a traitor not going to see a single museum, but hopefully I’ll be back soon.