Friday, June 22, 2018

Prospero's Books

I recently spent 5 days in Idyllwild, CA at their Art Center taking a class from Andrea Matus DeMeng , intriguingly titled Prospero's Books. We had an ambitious plan to make 4 different books and decorate a wooden box to hold them all in just 4 days! It was a busy and creative time and I didn't finish everything there. I am still not really finished, but here is my version of Prospero's Books so far.



Prospero's Books: The Book of Harsh Geometry, The Book of Mirrors, The Primer of Small Stars, and The Book of Architecture and other Music.

A different arrangement of the books.

The Book of Mirrors, coptic stitched with folded signatures and single sheets bound together.

A page spread in the Book of Mirrors.

The Canadian binding was used for the Book of Architecture and other Music.

A page spread from the same book.

The Primer of Small Stars is of course a small book bound using long stitch.

The case bound Book of Harsh Geometry resonates with me as Geometry was my most difficult class in high school. I barely passed. I also find case binding difficult so they work well together.

Page spread from Harsh Geometry.

The Book of Water, long stitch binding.

I used plastic sheets to create this book's pages as I wanted the contents to look like water.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mica Book

Making a book with mica pages presents some challenges. If you use natural mica, you can't glue or tape it as the top layer will simply pull away and leave the rest of the mica sheet unattached.  There is also the issue of binding a single piece of mica without a center crease to sew into. One solution is to use Keith Smith's Sewing Single Sheets method, but I don't like sewing if I can fold instead. So, to make my book I used Beauty in Use's slot binding method shown in Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner's  Woven and Interlocking Book Structures. The pages vary in size and width, with the bound edge and bottom squared up. This gives the book an irregular top and fore edge, which I like.

Hope you enjoy!


Preparing the binding strip.

Mica ready to have the corners cut.

In the middle of adding the mica to the binding. This method uses slits cut into the paper as well as the corners of each page. They go in opposite directions and make a perfect fit when bound.

The finished book. I love this kind of mica with red, blue and black inclusions. It looks like ancient writing or a secret star map.

A top view of the book.

The end.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Lila's Watercolors

I mentioned in a previous post that my daughter, Lila has an Etsy shop selling watercolors. She has no formal training, but loads of talent. She has just created a Patreon account to raise funds for creating webcomics. As a proud mother and fellow artist, I want to support her endeavors. If you check out her offerings and want to support her artistic journey as well it would be much appreciated. Here are some samples of her latest paintings.



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Shows to See in SD

I am honored to be included in the Mesa College Gallery juried show "Art That Cuts" opening April 12. There was a write-up in the San Diego Union Tribune that you can read here. I created a new piece for the show that went through some revision before making the cut. Below you can see some of the missteps I took along the way to the finished piece.

And now for a bit of art philosophy... When I make a piece of art, especially something new, I have to make lots of decisions about size, color, structure, etc. Yesterday I finally started working on a book structure that I have been putting off. It occurred to me that the decisions I made were probably not the same decisions I would have made had I worked on it sooner or later. In other words, the art I make is time and place dependent. I make certain decisions today that I may not make tomorrow or yesterday. Making a specific piece of art is temporal as well as physical. Okay enough philosophy. Onto pictures...


My first idea was the branches at the top of this image. Then I tried the curving shapes in the foreground. I didn't like either one.

Next I tried the curve running across the folds instead of being defined by the folds. I didn't like this either.

Next I sketched ideas for cutting the triangular sections above. I finally decided on the shape on the left that looks kind of like a dragonfly wing. This is a cut out that I have used before on a different spiral and I was trying to avoid repeating myself, but I couldn't come up with a better way to fill the space.

My final cut paper has the wing shapes cut out along the central spine of the piece.

Here is the finished folded and sewn piece titled "What Remains."

It looks best in motion.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Embossing Adventures

I don't often do mixed media, but when I am in the mood I like to use Seth Apter's techniques for painted backgrounds. I recently bought some of his new embossing powders. They will emboss stamped images, but that isn't what he made them for. I have been playing around with the Vintage Beeswax which gives you the look of an encaustic finish without using real wax. Seth says the only difference is that real encaustic pieces are matte finish and embossing powder is shiny. To create that matte finish, he recommends covering your finished piece with matte medium. This works well, but what if you don't own matte medium or you want some of the shine back in your piece?

I was playing with the Vintage Beeswax over the weekend and wanted to edge my piece with Staz-On ink. I got carried away with the color and wanted to knock it back a bit. I thought of using rubbing alcohol since Staz-On is solvent based and something unexpected happened! The alcohol removed the ink but it also made the embossed layer go matte! It turns out that the alcohol removes some of the embossing and turns it matte as well. To get the shine back just reheat the layer, but it you want a quick, inexpensive way to get the matte look, just use rubbing alcohol.

Here are some pictures of the results.


Matte finish from applying rubbing alcohol.

Shiny finish using Seth Apter's Vintage Beeswax embossing powder.

My ATC made with Seth's background painting technique and one of my dress forms. The bottom of the dress is shiny and the top is still matte from the alcohol. I just reheated the bottom half to bring back the shine.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Talent Runs in the Family

My daughter Lila just launched an Etsy store. She just started using watercolors a few weeks ago and has no formal art training, just a mom with a fully equipped craft room and lots of innate talent. It doesn't hurt that her grandparents are animators, her maternal grandmother is also talented and I will take a little credit as well. Of course, I have little talent for painting. Mine, as you know, is all about folding paper. Here are some pictures of her work. I hope you will take a moment to check out her store.




This one is mine, so back off!

Monday, January 15, 2018

In Which I Revisit Spirals

I put spiral play on the back burner for much of the second half of 2017, but as the year was coming to an end, I was folding a piece of origami paper diagonally and it reminded me of how I start folding a spiral. The only difference is that spirals use trapezoid shaped paper and this was a square. I decided to try folding it anyway and it worked well. I was journaling about the experiment and wrote "I wonder what would happen if I folded a rectangle corner to corner and spiraled it?" So I did that too and recorded my results in diagrams and samples. Here are the results.


The first trial using origami paper. This photo shows the model closed.

Here is the model open.

There are two ways to crease the diagonals with the rectangle. Here is version A where I scored each side of the center line from the top of the horizontal line to the bottom corner of the next one. This creates different angles on each side of the model, but it still collapses.

In version B I just scored with the center line folded and creased from the top to the bottom of the longer edge of each horizontal section. That means the diagonal angles are the same on each side, but where they end differs. It looks very much like version A, but is easier to score and collapse.

Here is the model open. I like the way the leaf shapes cross each other in this model. It is very dynamic.