Thursday, April 27, 2017

Finale of the Artist in Residence 2017 Portfolios

Today was the last session of the Artist in Residence series on Artist's Books.  The subject today: portfolios.

These are fun to make, and very useful indeed if you're a productive artist needing to store your work interestingly, instead of in drifts under the worktable.

I brought in some of my own to show the techniques and the uses


We had a continuous stream of both participants who got seriously into the work of making their own portfolios, and visitors who wanted to examine the demo table of my own portfolios, complete with my own artwork stored in them.  It was a happy madhouse!  my main job was to keep the work area uncluttered enough so that people could work, and I ended up bringing in another table for supplies.  

There were more books not pictured here, since they were still under way as I snapped pix. Participants created their own portfolios from cardboard, mulberry paper and glue, hinging them, and punching the cover so as to insert ribbon ties. They had a great time using stencils and stamping, as well as selecting from a great range of mulberry paper colors.

I noticed a gender division: several men examined the finished portfolios I brought with interest, but it was women who dived in and made their own.  One was a true beginner who struggled until she got there, then said, right, now I'm going home to make more.  No idea how to do this before, but now I do.

This is why it's such fun to offer sessions like this!


Friday, April 21, 2017

AIR 2017 Week Three, and a thanks to a great artist whose earthly life just ended.ife just

This post is a humble one, since Week Three of the Artist in Residency 2017, stitched signature book was yesterday. Then today came the news of the death of  Magdalena Abakanowicz. She, a great figure in art, who dealt with many setbacks in the male oriented art world, came through triumphantly, with great works and decades of achievement.

She was a fiber artist, using fibrous materials to create her shapes, and they were cast in metal.  But the male art world in Europe at the outset, dismissed her work as not art, because it was created in fiber..

Never mind, who knows her critics now, but the world knows her!  Nowadays nobody likes to admit they were dismissive of her work, all like to think she always knew her power.  Twas ever thus.   You're unlikely to see any admissions in her obituaries. 

Unforgettable power surrounds her human forms. Go here
The figures that link shows you, were lent to Princeton University Art Museum some years ago, and I forced all my students to go there and experience them, and take their kids and everyone! 

I feel honored that she was a fiber artist, though you see her works cast in metal.

And down to my little part of the art world, yesterday's Artist in Residence Session Three, stitched signature books, at least that was the plan.

So here, many choices of materials and ideas

 leading to some very intense work yesterday, learning to create a stitched signature book, and work an interesting stitching.  Jill is a stitcher, and has done calligraphy, so this was a chance to create a book for her own use

 My handcut stamps came into play, and more than one person wanted to examine them in case she could give it a try.  Always a great outcome.

And one participant simply went her own way, old friend, who has attended my drawing classes and taken part in community arts. She's an artist, who selected some mulberry paper strips, went off and drew some flowers in fine black ink, and is deciding how to assemble and display the results.  

She took a couple of pieces of daylily paper to continue the work at home, and left me in a very mellow frame of mind.  A real artist never looks for the instructions! she looks over the material, considers how it will work for her, and does that.  So glad Carol came yesterday.  It was a treat watching her process.

This was a much quieter session than last week, but was at least as valuable in the ideas exchanged and explored.  Program directors love numbers to participate, but art doesn't always run along those lines. 

Next week: portfolios, and I have a couple to finish before then, to show off, also some materials to assemble for people to use.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

AIR 2017 Artists' Books, Week Three coming up tomorrow!

Tomorrow is Week Three of the four week Artist in Residence series for 2017.  We'll be doing exciting things, learning to stitch a signature, to make a personal blank book, and I'm bringing in items to add to it.

There will be a treasure trove of my handmade paper pieces, useful for gluing into your book as decoration.  And I'm bringing in a selection of my handcarved stamps, plus archival inkpads, so that you can decorate without tears!  The paper goes home with you when you use it for your book, the stamps come home with me to the studio.

I'll be bringing in my own handmade books, too, with some new additions, to study and browse over.  Plus reference books.

2-4 p.m. in Plainsboro Public Library. Last week was busy,  you'll enjoy this week, too.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Two Artist Books and How They Happened

Among other new creations, here are two artist books I'm happy about.

One is made from the daylily paper I made from foliage growing in my yard last year, with the addition of a beaded fringe donated by a friend who had leftovers and thought I could use it.

The construction was: first glue pages together at left edges.  Then stitch over the gluing to secure the paper.  Then add the trim, using white liquid glue.  Press under heavy weight overnight.

This book is a work in itself, doesn't really need further content.  It's the book concept, not a literal book to write or draw in or read.  It's wonderful to handle, so alive.  The front cover is painted with copper acrylic paint. The shape of the paper dictates how the paint lies, so really the design is all about fluid dynamics. As much art is.

The other is a hacked cover from one of those ancient notebooks you get at booksales, pages removed, and the cover and spine painted with liquid acrylic metallics.  The design on the cover is a piece of leftover acrylic paint from the dish, dried out into great shape.  You can make this happen by stirring your leftover paint into interesting shapes then letting it dry and peeling it off.

Next Thursday's book making session will be about stitching and inserting a signature into a cover with a spine. A signature is a block of pages. New learning but designed with beginners in mind.

The little notebook will be my sample to show, for people to learn from, so I have to finish it now.

Friday, April 14, 2017

AIR Week Two the Accordion Book

This week was a hectic one, with continuous occupancy of the chairs and materials, and great excitement as the participants created their first accordion book.  We borrowed the large accordion book made by the local artists' group, and designed by me, several years ago, and I failed to get a pic, because when you're totally busy with teaching and demo'ing, sometimes photos get a back seat!

The Chinese postcard accordion book was really appreciated and several participants are thinking about making something similar from cards and other items currently sitting in a drawer and never looked at.

 Before the arrival of participants, finished books, reference books, and some materials in the process of being unloaded

 This is my own book in progress, originally as an accordion book, but now changed after redesign, and currently being pressed flat, you'll see it in a day or two.  It's now quite different.

They covered the back and front covers with library-donated mulberry paper, choice of colors, and created the internal pages, then the folding.  Finally they inserted a button front and back, and secured with ribbons.  The buttons were paper fasteners, worked a  treat.  And some people stenciled designs on their covers.

They took off so excitedly, with their creations, that I don't think I caught a picture of any of the finished products!  but a friend was there and did get pix of me at work with the group. There were a number of skills to learn here, and the group did very well with them.  One thing that I love to see is when one person who has just got the idea turns to the person next to her to show her, too!  This is teaching at its best, where you quickly dispense with the original teacher and pass on your new knowledge to another student. There was one very young participant, assisting her mother, too, though the series is really for adults. In fact she did well, and her mother was her teacher. I had everyone sign their completed book to show they were pleased with it.  

We also had a number of lookers at the completed books, just intrigued with the idea of the artist's book and what it is, and observing how the participants were totally engrossed in their creations.

And I had a surprise visit later, at home, from one participant, bringing with her a friend who wanted to know how her daughter could learn!  I gave her my card and referred her to this blog, since her daughter is not home at the time of the residency sessions.  The sessions don't usually run into my home hours!

Next week yet to be decided!  some experiments in the next day or two.  It's important to stick with the sort of book people can make as total beginners, and feel happy with completing in a session. So that takes a bit more thought.  But it will be fun.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Easter eggs, wip

The Easter eggs, now dry and ready for painting, and here's their bronzing effect, first stage  in painting

 You'll notice some book work in the background, more prep for tomorrow's AIR artist book session. That bowl with the paint in it, I leave to dry, then the paint can be peeled off and used in other artworks.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easter Eggs 2017, and concertina/accordion books coming up

So it's that time, when I blow and decorate a bunch of fresh eggs for Easter.  I make one for Handsome Son's collection, one for mine, and a few for other people.  My lovely cleaning family gets one each. Six this year, and today I emptied the eggs, so they have time to dry out before I decorate in a couple of days' time.

You know how to do this, yes? take a skewer, work it through one end of the shell, move it around inside a bit to break up the yolk and white, make another hole in the other end, then blow hard to get the contents into a bowl.  You notice I chose white eggs, better for a decorative background than brown, which a lot of eggs are these days.

In the background, three empty shells, foreground three remaining eggs. Resting on an ancient hand knitted cotton dishcloth. The reason for the skewer rather than a needle, is that it's easier to blow through the hole it makes than through the tiny opening of a needle point.  You might have to start with a needle hole, though. The better the egg the harder to get through the shell, so you have to work at it a bit, trying not to crack the shell.  Then rinse it out, blow out the water from inside and leave to dry.

 Egg contents ready to freeze, empty shells looking on respectfully.
The contents are six good eggs, so what I do is freeze them flat, in a ziploc bag.  Then when I need an egg I can just break off the size I want to cook with. I freeze it on a plexi board at first, to make it stay flat in the freezer, then remove the board.

I decorate in different ways each year, and since the eggs are empty and have clean shells, they last forever.  The Dollivers will no doubt get all togged up in their hats and dresses and insist on taking part in this, but I did the egg blowing in secret. Hard enough with two cats assisting.

 Here's part of the collection as of last year. In the left foreground eggs from my late dear cockatiel Emily, decorated and sitting in a Wedgwood cup and saucer. You don't blow cockatiel eggs, since they dry out naturally. Further back the Boehm bunny.  And various porcelain eggs among the handpainted ones. A couple of eggs which a good friend had in her collection came back to me after her death, and I added them back in to mine, at her family's request.  

 Then tomorrow is Week Two of the AIR 2017, this week accordion books, which I often refer to as concertina books, originally a joke, but now it's become interchangeable!  Same thing, and a lot of fun to make.  Simple construction, but endless scope for artistic playing.  If you're local, do come.  2-4 p.m. at Plainsboro Public Library.  Only two more weeks after this one, don't miss it!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Back to Basics -- Books, Bread, Birds 6WS

Totally out of bread I finally heaved a sigh and set to work to start a giant loaf.  Ready here to start rising, covered in this cloth, in a warm place on top of the oven.  When it doubles in size I can start thinking about baking it.

And here's the very frequent visitor, this year the first of this species for me, a red bellied woodpecker.  Mrs. W. also comes some days.  

He's here three times a day, getting all his squares in, I guess. I'm hoping for nesting, since he always flies back to the same tree opposite the house.  He is so hyper alert that I can't, despite many tries, get a pic, so Peterson's Guide has to show you what I mean, and how exciting he is to see.  His fleeting visits are very much like making art, long waits, then great brief excitement!

Meanwhile, thinking continues about next week's AIR 2017 presentation, which will be about accordion books.  This is a  very simple mechanism, but it can get as complicated as the artist wants, and I anticipate people learning quickly how to assemble one, then spending time on decorating and generally enjoying making it their own.

It involves covering the entire table in ideas and going from there. Much thought goes into making these presentations flow nicely and be accessible to beginners, great when it works!

Here's a souvenir type book:  postcards from my granddaughter, this being part of a string of Chinese postcard images from her trips there, and her messages are all preserved on the back. 

No postcard is injured in the course of this creation.  The fun of this is in selection, and deciding on which will be the cover, which the back.

Then I assembled another while I was at it, not accordion, a signature book with a few note pages in the middle. Tied with a hand dyed crochet thread, in a double lark's head knot with added knots to keep it secure.

This is a collection of handmade items sent to me from friends, and a great way to preserve and enjoy them instead of having them stacked somewhere.  Judy, Asha, Catie Ann, Heather, you're all in there!

And I'm collecting items for a later week, when I will present found object books, where you incorporate unlikely ideas in your book. I will be collecting some of them out of doors, probably.  In fact I'll start as soon as I finish in here!

Art has taken many forms today.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

AIR 2017 Week One, the x book

The weather was amazingly helpful, despite a day of torrential rain, thunderstorms, lightning. It let up enough for me to load the car, get to the library and safely unload, before opening up again. Then at the end of the afternoon, it repeated the performance, making things much easier than they might have been.  I did have all my materials and precious handmade books in plastic boxes carried in plastic bags,taking no risks.

Donna S, the gallery manager, made a great poster for the event

Here are some of my own books, the two nearest the camera being the style I taught today, as well as those two little ones further back.

 And a couple of the reference books, the one in front being my all time favorite, very well designed and presented, and cheerful, too.

And the afternoon went great.  This week I started, assuming anyone would not have done this before with what we used to called the x book until a new electronic device came out with the same name. Now, if you want to google on it, better look under book made from a single sheet.

Two people stayed the entire time, working away and leaving with their own new creations, and other people looked over their work, and at the display of books I'd put out.

On the right there is the sample I made and opened, and the student picked her favorite color for her own book, and she's numbering her pages before folding.  She ended up making two books and attaching them together, with pamphlet stitch then a fancy embroidery type of finish.

I love the total absorption here!  This lady used a stencil to design her cover, and ended with a lark's head knot and a section of an earring at the end of the string, to finish it off.  Both students learned the pamphlet stitch and did a very creditable job on it.

I had made a couple of samples (and brought bigger ones with me to work on myself, but never got the chance, a nice problem, that), and had created one with the page numbers on them.  What I did was fold and make the book, then, quick, number the pages as they came, eight in all, then open the sheet up.  This makes it much easier for a learner to understand how to do the folding at the end, so you don't end up with a locked up bunch of pages!  The page numbers are not intuitive, don't sequence the way you might think.

So, very good afternoon, and I think  the same people will come back to continue next week.  Hoping that the weather will not deter other people, too.  I was amazed to get anyone considering the elements out there.  They were so happy with their creations, and the first lady to arrive, after she'd got started, helped the next one to start, always a great thing for the instructor to see.

Next week: accordion books.  This will be great fun, and I'll unfurl the giant one we made in the library artists group a couple of years ago.