more frugality

Those of you who have been reading a while know I have a hard time throwing any scrap of paper away – this holds true for paper left over from cutting pages for larger or custom books. I end up with bins & bins of paper scraps. Every once in a while I like to take those scraps and make them into odd little books, using whatever is lying around. That’s what I did this weekend. (Well actually not all weekend – and this is why I need to GO AWAY on retreat – as it was unseasonably warm I did some gardening, and some laundry, and then my son’s friends were over so I made dinner – you get the idea.) I had a really hard time settling down to anything “important” so I opted just to play with stuff. So here are a few pictures, nothing very exciting, just little books from leftovers using some of my favorite bindings. Enjoy!



Here’s my submission for Bound – an exhibit being organized by another one of my online Brit friends Louise Atkinson.  It is another adapted blackwork binding. This is the kind of project that makes me wish for more hours in the day – there’s so much time invested in this little book, hours of cutting & folding the signatures (thank heavens for Sheila my intern), then two straight hours just to punch the holes in each signature! Then the whole thing was tacked together with an invisible thread to keep the tension even, otherwise I find it quite hard to keep the pages evenly spaced, the book is long and gets kind of unwieldy on the bench!. Last but not least (after painstakingly drafting each pattern – which is equal parts fun and frustration) I get to do the really fun part – sewing the beautiful exposed binding. In this case it took sooooooo many hours, not even going to tell you – but believe me when I say A LOT!! Hope you agree that the finished project is stunning, elegant, but detailed. I am in love with these!!

I love how it curls!

busy doesn’t even come close!

Wow! I am so busy I don’t even know where to start…

This afternoon I will be found hanging the Women Create exhibit. Thank heavens we have a true professional to help us – thanks so much Colin! It is amazing to watch someone do what they do – seeing Colin reflect on what should go where and move the art around in the space was so COOL! I can’t wait to finally get everything up on the walls and cross that off my mental to-do list.

I am putting the finishing touches on the Occupy(ied in) Suburbia piece and packing to go to Sweden. And doing the shopping and cleaning to make sure my family survives while I am gone. I designed a new postcard to take on the trip with me. What do you think? It was hard to narrow down a few images that represent what I do as an artist!

Plus I am making sure that all my teaching materials are all set for next week – so that I can enjoy my trip and make the most of this huge opportunity.That means finalizing an exam and making sure all my studio students have materials for their upcoming projects. They are working with paper and wire to create self portraits right now. Thank heavens I am not teaching any new courses this term – I would be going nuts – it is hard enough just tweaking an existing course right now!

Not to mention working on a piece for the 15th Leeds International Contemporary Artist Book Fair – I am sending one of the new blackwork embroidery bindings as this year’s theme is “bound”.  It is a very large book and I can’t wait to get some pictures of it as it progresses.I am incorporating little lacy doilies to enhance the reference to Victorian collar ruffs. I think it is really going to be quite spectacular when it is finished!! (Which has to be soon!!)

Life is bustling and full to overflowing – off to have my coffee and get started on my very long list of things I still need to-do before Tuesday arrives!!

Occupy(ied in) Suburbia 102

So here’s some more pictures of the project taking shape – I am very happy with how it is turning out. My projects are so time consuming there is a period between idea and final object where I get really discouraged and despondent, as the hours of labour add up but no forward progress is evident, but then there is a tipping point and suddenly I can see it revealing itself, then the excitement is renewed. I am back at excited now!

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books, books, books

Back to functional books for a bit – trying to decide if I have time for some holiday sales. Anyhow, here are some scrap jotter/journals, I love making these, I get to play with textured chords and beads!! The inside pages are post-press scrap from a local printer, the outsides bits and bobs of papery stuff from the studio over recycled board covers. Recycling rocks!!


fabric scrap journal

In the July/August edition of Cloth Paper Scissors was a great art book by Ro Bruhn. It was eclectic, colorful, truly fabulous. I wanted to try my hand at something similar. I have been a sewer all my life, some of my earliest and happiest memories are sitting on the back steps embroidering with my mum. I have bins and bins of fabric that was too pretty to throw away and now my daughter is a fashion designer the bins just keep on growing. I really loved all of Bruhn’s printed fabric and papers, maybe someday I will have time to try and make something like that too, but for now I settled on adapting her structure to use what I had on hand and put plain 80lb sketch paper in the signatures. I always have a really hard time binding on fabric. I want the bindings to be pristine, and with a fabric spine what you get is a bit organic (a nice way of saying sloppy). So here’s what I finally made.


I took some pieces of interfacing about 9.5 by 14 inches and added scraps from my fabric stash to cover them. Then I added some ribbon & lace, a little embroidery, (when I make the next one I will do more hand sewing, with this one I was just anxious to get to the end and rushed!), some beads and grommets and finally some vintage paper illustrations glued & sewn on by hand. I backed each one with a scrap of upholstery fabric to make them sturdy enough to protect the paper. I also made a longer, narrower strip to act as a spine/closure. I made some really chunky signatures from the 80lb paper, 20 sheets of 12×9 for each fabric wrapper, then I was ready to assemble!

I sewed the fabric wrappers to the spine using my machine, so the binding wouldn’t be the only thing holding then three pieces together, then I used a simple pamphlet stitch binding finished off with a button on each set of signatures. I really wanted the buttons to add some dimension so I opted to change the binding from the directions. Sewing through the fabric and all that paper was a nightmare! 20 sheets was way too many! For the next one I would definitely do more sections with fewer pages, live & learn! I entered through different stations on the outside so I could stagger the buttons and use much larger ones.

The whole process would have been much easier without such hefty paper! Anyway! I finished off the closure with one of  Tony’s amazing ceramic buttons and a hair tie elastic.

My version is not as detailed or colourful as the original, but my mind is whirring with the possibilities for this. I love the challenge of a new technique, I was so psyched to work on this, I am sure I will be adapting and modifying it many times in the near future.

Of course I am busy thinking about ways to make it more textured and monochromatic and to add text, but for a first try I think it is not too bad! I was also thinking about applications for three separate books in one binding. Happy, happy!

Here are a couple more views of the finished project.

Art in the Woods 2011

Busy day of preparations & packing as I am setting up for art in the woods tonight. I am exhausted already as I went to a midnight showing of the last Harry Potter movie with my oldest daughter last night! I won’t spoil it for any Potter fans by telling you what I thought. So if you are in the Jamestown Area come on out and see me and the other artists this weekend. Mention you read about the show on my blog and I’ll give you a 10% discount on your purchase. Here’s a sample of the lovely new books I’ll have with me.

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I also want to thank my friend Tony who made the fabulous ceramic buttons you’ll be seeing on some new books I am making. Thrown in at the end there is a little sneak peek at some other work going on in the studio right now. This is in progress so it may not look much like this when finished!


Palm Leaf Book Mantra

I’ve been posting most of my new books over at tumblr, but today I finished up this little palm leaf style book. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages, but couldn’t figure out what to do with the form. Then the great folks at Allegany library donated by way of CCAC a whole box full of discarded cards from the old card catalogue, so now the pressure was on, a form I wanted to make and a box full of cards to make it with! Then I had a brain storm, what if I made a little book that served as a mantra reminder. Right now I am working with “It is good to be alive” to remind me to be here now glorying in the moment, to count my blessings, to remember that just to be is one of them! So here’s the result. The book itself could use some more work, I didn’t get the chords completely even, and I just used scraps from the bench for the decoupage, so nothing too stunning there. Of course I didn’t PLAN where the holes would be! I tried stamping and hand lettering for the mantra pages, I am not happy with how they all turned out, but – it is good to be alive – so I am running with it!


I have been in a bit of a fog for a while now, not exactly spinning my wheels but just wrestling with my work. A new installation is slowly growing in the studio, but we are at logger heads at every turn. As the stress of teaching winds down into the open days of summer I am hoping that I will be back to work soon. In the meantime I have been making books. Just being immersed in the simple materiality and technical work of binding is a safe outlet for all that stuck creative energy. I am trying to remember to live in abundance, and to be grateful for the work I am given, and to stop being whiny and jealous of other artists. I am trying to honor the creativity that creates with me and through me and get out of the way with my silly ego and my crazed monkey mind.The universe is a big generous place, some days I just forget.

And speaking of generosity, I was just notified of this amazing giveaway, head over to find a generous soul hoping to foster YOUR creativity with an art journaling giveaway. I am so grateful to have a studio full of supplies and inspiration and a family willing to live with my vagueness when working and the insane schedule of an independently employed person! Sometimes I forget that not everyone has stuff to make art with, or a space all their own to make art in, or a family who understands that art is who they are not just what they do. In fact I am so full of gratitude for all my many blessings,( regardless of whether I feel lost on the road right now or not) that I have decided to join Kim. Leave a comment on this post by May 21st and I will give away a whole mess of ephemera from my stash, enough to fill a catalog envelope to the brim! Spread the word, share the wealth!

completely digest-ed!

Wow! that took a LONG time, I think I have a minimum of 50 hours into this one, but I am mostly pleased with how it ended up. I am not thrilled with the way the stitching looks open, but I am super happy with how it looks all folded up, which of course I forgot to take a picture of before I dropped it off at the Center Gallery in Olean today. Maybe if I remember I  will do it when I get it back! So here it is, in all its glorious altered insanity… Digest-ed.