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.)


  1. your book is beautiful, what a great job on the pages. I really like how you mixed the pages with paper.

  2. Love the new book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and processes with us.

  3. Love this one Jo. I like the calendar pages, they seen more substantial. As always, beautiful work.

  4. Jo, thank you for sharing your wonderful journal.

    I know what you mean about taking what you learn from a class and running with it. I seem to take bits and pieces of each class and incorporate it into my style of doing.

  5. Love your latest journal, I'm taking the same class with Patty but have been sick the last few days, so I get to it sometime soon I liked her ideas!

  6. Thanks for sharing your online class experiences and your journal. Your video adds a lot to the post when you can see the whole book. One of these days, I'll try making a video. Very inspiring!

  7. I love what you are doing in your journal and hearing about your discoveries... happy spring to you. roxanne

  8. hello Jo, I have been away teaching a workshop- down in Eugene OR-on design,composition etc. and so I like the 'new' things you listed and how important design elements and principles are-- wonderful book by the way.


I appreciate comments and questions.

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