Unexpected inspiration

I have been working with a group of adult students for a couple of months. We have just been trying all kinds of arts and crafts together, playing really, exploring. Anyway a few weeks ago they wanted to make masks, so we started making papier-mâché. As I was looking at those layers of paper a crazy idea came into my head, what if I used book text and then did a blackout meditation on top. I wasn’t really sure it would work, but that’s the joy of it right? Here’s the end result. I like it! I like it so much I decided to try doing a dress using the same techniques, stay tuned!

A rather late new year.

This year I am beginning my year the same way I have started the last two years with the great blog prompts from Lisa Sonora. It’s been a very slow start as I have had the flu and then bronchitis and I am still getting caught up.
In past years I have used an old book as the foundation for my journal, but the book I thought I might use this year was  just not the right size or scale or something, it didn’t feel right. Instead I decided to use random formats of watercolor paper as a basis for my journaling.
Working on individual sheets has been a different experience. I started out with 30 randomly sized pieces of watercolor paper. Next I added a layer of collage. I pushed myself to work with brighter colors than I would usually use. It was a good game plan, but after I added additional layers of paint, printing and tissue, many of the pages ended up being in my happy beige range! A few brighter ones survived, but not many.
The final layer on each page was the stamped quote of the day, and I was able to use the reverse side to journal.



This weekend I bound together the finished pages. I’m still behind but I think I am going to use this technique for the rest of the year, maybe making monthly books.
I have a much less hectic teaching schedule this semester, so I am hoping to get better at guarding my studio time, and posting more regularly here.



So hopefully there will be more to come soon. Thanks for hanging with me!


So much is happening here at PBI it is a bit hard to process. Everything is intense. Bookbinding in the mornings and making paper in the afternoon. Hardly time to think, so much to learn. I am not sure I will ever be a great paper maker – but I have enjoyed learning and trying, but the sewing – oh the sewing. I am in love.

All the models in the binding class are (loosely) based on historic examples from the manuscript collection at the Uppsala University Library. The originals have held up well over the last 600 years. It has been amazing to see the images of the collection. I hope one day I’ll be able to see the books in person!

Tuesday we learned this binding – a long stitch with weaving.

here's the spine..

here’s the spine..

link 2 bird cver-web

and the cover

Wednesday night we were working late into the night in the studio when Adam Larsson showed me this image from the collection at the library at Uppsala. Well, that was it, I had to figure out how that long forgotten anonymous seamstress had mended that book, and yep, I had to fix the hole in my parchment too. I am so happy. Here’s the result.

a close up of my attempt

a close up of my attempt

One of the images we saw had a split spine, so I decided I wanted to try that as well, so here’s the whole book. It has some issues, but as a trial it is not so bad.

and the whole book

and the whole book

Session 1 is over, and today everyone is catching up on laundry, and I imagine like me scribbling down ideas and dreaming about the work they will do when they get home to their own studios. It has been an incredible experience so far – how lucky I am to be here! Can’t wait to dive into the next session…

paper swap

paper swapBadge created by Artwork by Egmont van Dyck

I am excited to be a part of the paper swap being organised over at Woven Letters. I was super excited when I discovered my partner, you can meet her here at her blog lucky dip. She has posted a picture of what she is sending me, I was tempted to peek, but turned back at the last second and didn’t! I really like her work, we have some shared sensibilities and I’m looking forward eagerly everyday to getting my post, although as she lives in New Zealand so  I’ll probably have to wait a few more days! I am sending my packet of paper off to her tomorrow, I hope she likes what I picked! I’ll take a quick picture later before I put everything into the envelope!

Last night I had one of those incredibly vivid dreams of a new piece of work, I can still see it in my minds eye, and I was wondering if finished work ever delivers itself to anyone out there in the same way. It doesn’t happen to me very often, and of course bringing the piece into this realm is another thing altogether, but I’m sure I can’t be alone in this experience – right?


torn bk

I guess that I have always had an affinity for damaged and discarded things, just recently this book I made several years ago found its way back to me – it went on consignment to a new gallery that ended up folding before it even got off the ground… but anyway – It was one of the few pieces of art I actually made when I was writing my Master’s, a book about falling apart, the quotes are from a book on depression, I will have to go back through my sketchbooks to find the title, I don’t remember it… Its just a simple stab binding, the pages were from a sketchbook, tea-dyed and crumples into disrepair, and dried in the airing cupboard of my flat in Newcastle.


the doctors, the demons and the fathers all begin to sound alike

fly like schrapnel

but sometimes  for some people the story is torn. All the bits of life’s evidence that must be sifted, digested or passed over instead fly like shrapnel


looking at this book I see I haven’t moved very far since then…

When I set of to do my Master’s degree a few years ago, I thought myself so intrepid, but the reality is that I am not really a scholar, but a suburban housewife, I was overwhelmed by the work load and by the realisation that no matter how fast I ran, I would never catch up to my tutors & professors who were so far ahead. I was lonely in a city I had never lived in, and although I got to spend a lot of time with my family back in England, I missed my husband and kids much, much more than I expected to. I did pass my degree, but the most important thing I learned in that year in Newcastle was that I wanted to have my husband and family in my life. A lesson reinforced today by the death of  the wife of a friend. What makes it especially sad is that they didn’t meet until they were well into their middle years, they have had so little time with each other. So tonight I am counting my blessings with gratitude and reminding myself to slow down and live in this now, who knows how many nows we have left to us.


So…  I am still disappearing under a mountain of gowns, not much to say about what is happening in my studio today, as not much is happening, except for sewing! Instead I leave you with a little inspiration. My January issue of Art News arrived Tuesday, I wonder where it has been all this time? and from the pages I gravitated towards these two artists, Diana Al-Hadid and Amy Myers.

and also thanks to this blogger for showing me the amazing work of Phillip Beesley! This installation is absolutely unreal!!

another ill spent weekend!! lol!

Friday was our hometown holiday parade, somehow it is always on the absolutely coldest night of the year.!! It was 14 or something like that, bone chillingly cold, but still hordes turn out to watch local business and civic organisations bring in the holidays, this year we were also treated to a pre-parade concert by the 10,000 maniacs. After the parade the official tree is lit at City Hall. Then I took my own hoard of teenagers plus their friends to Pace’s Pizza for delicious food and to get warmed up again. The parade is always a chance to catch up with old friends, and see so many people I rarely see for much of the year. It was especially great to see some of my oldest daughters friends home for the parade. Its a hokey tradition, but I feel pretty wonderful about the community I live in on this magical night!I should also mention that my youngest daughter was a participant, dressed as the tin soldier, in the parade, helping out the DJDC by greeting parade goers and getting her picture taken with lots of excited little children!

Saturday I spent another wonderful day in Buffalo, and saw so much incredible work I had to stop looking my head was spinning!! The Albright Knox is always cool, the work upstairs had its moments, and my favorite paintings were still on display downstairs, Milton Avery’s yellow cow and the beautiful Ben Shaun… then we headed across the street to the incredible new Burchfield Penny Museum, wow what an incredible space, you can take a video tour on line at their web site… My favorites were works by Michael Zwack, a multi layered painting with a feel of paisley… Ben Perrone and Kathi Roussel. Then we visited some galleries on Elmwood, and did a little shopping for the holidays. It was an exhilarating day.

Sunday I played the inevitable game of catch up with household chores, but I also somehow managed to squeeze in time to actually get some work done, I am really on a roll right now, feeling very replenished from all that goofing off!! My batteries are dead in the camera, but I’ll post pictures later…