Saturday, March 13, 2010


This is an old spread from a journal I made when traveling in France in 2003. The spread is composed of scrap paper that I picked up off the street and pasted into my journal to remind me that Paris isn't much different than most American cities. Looking at this spread reminds me that what I'm doing these days isn't that much different.

A note on my desk says, "I prefer containment". I don't know where that came from, probably something someone said that tickled my fancy. I'm a big one for recording bit and pieces of conversations so be careful what you say in my presence. At this point I'm relating containment to putting art and words between the covers of handmade books. I've made another video for you, this one of a new book that I made over the past 2 days. It took me about 20 hours to make the book plus a few hours to gather the materials. Bookmaking isn't quick but then making any kind of art journal is never quick, whether one starts with white paper and adds paint and collage and photography and text, or as in this technique... sewing junk paper together to make pages on which to write later.

I've taken 2 online classes, one from Mary Ann Moss called Remains of the Day, and one from Patty Van Doren, called Wall Calendar Journal. I offer no comparisons and make no recommendations. I learned lots from both very talented women and now that I've made several books on my own I know that I will develop my own process and product that will be both derivative and uniquely mine. I'm not against copying in order to learn, but after I learn the techniques shame on me if I don't branch out on my own.

We'll see where this goes. One thing I got from both classes is that it's okay to sew on paper. AHA! Back when I was teaching sewing I'd have my beginning students use an unthreaded machine and a page of lined notebook paper to practice sewing straight. You've never seen such perforated paper and so much improvement in an hour. Of course at the end of the day I spent another hour cleaning the dust out of the sewing machines, but it was a worthwhile exercise. I never considered sewing on paper as a studio method. Where have I been?

Now I'm back at the sewing machine for hours at a time sewing paper and fabric together to bind books. Thank you, Mary Ann and Patty. FYI: Use machine darning thread or embroidery thread in your bobbin. Both types are finer threads so you can get 2 or 3 times as much on your bobbin so that you won't have to fill the bobbin so often. I use Zwicky brand. For sure, it feels good to get back into my books, my visual journals. I'm not turning my back on paint and glue or to working in large format but I seem to find the most pleasure inside books. I love to read. I like to touch books, to turn pages, to flip the pages and watch the color and text fly by. I'm continually thinking about how to turn bits of art into books. So for now, that's what I'm doing when I'm not mopping floors or pulling weeds or chopping onions for tonight's soup. Here's the video.

The book was made following Patty's guidance and used an old wall calendar as the base. I selected a variety of paper: vintage and new ledger paper; old books, including one of my mother's high school textbooks; sheet music; new wallpaper from discontinued sample books; church bulletins; painted paper; magazine images; and lots of other paper from my collage bins.

I discovered a few things as I was working.
I prefer new paper over vintage.
I like creamy yellow new-ish ledger paper with anything.
I prefer my own photographs rather than magazine images.
I prefer photos that tell a story or or a bit quirky rather than pretty scenes.
Keeping materials loosely corraled is important to the way I work. I watch for unusual contrast of color and image.
Seek repetition of images with a contrast of size: large bird+small bird, bird+nest.

Because of years and years of studying and making art the elements and principles of design come automatically and yet are important to name... Balance. Line. Shape. Emphasis. Movement. Repetition. Unity. Color. Contrast. (There are more, depending on whose list you're reading.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cook Book - Food Book Video

I've made a video of my latest Remains of the Day journal which I mentioned in my last post.  Go here: ROD Cook Book Journal Video to view it.

Although I've lived in Oregon for 47 years I still have my Arkansas accent which I'm aware of only when I hear a recording of my voice. Oh well, accents are interesting.

I've decided what to do with this journal... I'll include my more personal recipes and tell how I got them and from whom. For instance, I wrote about Election Day Chicken, a verbal recipe given to me on November 8, 1960, the day I first voted. We lived in Oklahoma City at the time and various homes were opened in the city to serve as voting places. I walked to the end of the block after a day of teaching, so anxious and proud to be able to vote. The most wonderful smells emanated from the kitchen and I asked the homemaker, "What's cooking?".  The recipe was simple and the dish turned out so good that it's been a favorite ever since, one I make most Election Days.  And then there's the curry recipe I got from a friend who's a transplant from India, and Novella White's Pecan Pie which my family swears is the best ever. Novella was my best friend's mother.

I think this will turn into a family treasure which my grandkids will fight over for who gets possession when I die.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Something this much fun should be celebrated.

Crafts have a bad rap. I had forgotten how much fun I have using my technical skills in the studio. I’ve been busy as can be making another Remains of the Day art journal, this one about FOOD. As a former home economics teacher and a lifelong rather good cook (so my husband proclaims and he’s sticking to his story as long as it produces a few good meals every week) I have a love affair with good food, whether it comes from my kitchen, one of my friends’, or a favorite restaurant. It’s natural that I spend some time writing about the food in my life.

Once I decided to make a book about food I started collecting all sorts of related ephemera: labels from cans and bottles, recipes, photos, fabric, grocery bags and receipts, advertisements, and restaurant menus. I built my basic pages from menus and grocery bags and added all sorts of ephemera with my sewing machine. I typed a page of cooking terms and printed it on vellum which I then cut into strips and folded them in half to use to finish the edges of some of the pages.

Believe me, it’s addictive to make pages for these books but there’s a limit to the size of such a book since I’ll be adding writing and recipe cards and photos and it’s already quite fat at 22 pages divided between three signatures.

The cover is made from a Trader Joe’s paper bag. Both the cover and the inside of the cover were cut from one bag and a sturdy piece of light card stabilizes the inside. I did lots of machine sewing all over the cover and added handles from the same bag. That’s recycling, for sure. So far this book doesn’t have a tie but when it’s finished I may have to add something to keep it closed.

I work on my books at a rather small table which quickly becomes way too messy so I went hunting in the store room for something to corral the mess. I found a large tray that was once used in the darkroom, 2 small plastic boxes, a plastic shoe box, and a long drawer divider. The 2 small boxes (for small bits and labels) fit perfectly in the shoe box, leaving room at the back for larger paper to stand. And the space in front is large enough for magazines and full sheets of paper. Alongside the big tray is the long tray for strips of paper. And at my feet is my big cookie jar of ribbons and a tote full of fabric scraps.

Stay tuned. I intend to make a video of this book before long.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...