Dec 202015
 
The book I made in the workshop.

The book I made in the workshop.

I like Drum Leaf and similar types of bindings. I’ve read as much as I could find about making them, and I’ve seen a video of Tim Ely making one, but mine sometimes have bumps where I don’t want them and other unintentional features that displease me. When I saw that John DeMerritt was going to be teaching a Drum Leaf workshop the week I was going to be at the San Francisco Center for the Book anyway, I jumped at the chance.

John turned out to be funny and nice, and made the class a delight. By this day, I was so tired I glued some of the wrong pages together and even managed to … ugh … slice a finger and drip on my book. Fortunately, it was on the end page and was not going to be visible once the book was finished. But my classmates were going to see it. I was embarrassed. But John turned this into a light-hearted moment too. (Among other things, he told us he used to have a sign in his bindery that advised, “Don’t bleed on the work.”)

It was such an educational class. There were a few times when John would show us something or share a tip, and that one thing alone was, to me, worth the tuition in itself.

We made the spines out of Cave paper. John had us pare the paper along the sides, using our scalpels and sanding blocks. I must say, it had never occurred to me to pare paper before. He also taught us a handy trick for turning-in the cover papers over the board edges using a little squeegee tool, which creates a neater edge when gluing.

We also were given nice materials — aside from the Cave paper, we also got handmade Saint-Armand papers for the covers, and enough materials to make two books. Yum.

There are piano hinges in front of the wing that open out to reveal much more inside.

There are piano hinges in front of the wing that open out to reveal much more inside.

Immediately after the workshop, Paul Johnson was back to give a talk about his work. He showed us his amazing, big and long accordion-style sketchbook, which he invited people to spread out around the room (alas, I didn’t get any photos of it). He talked about his father, who’d been a talented amateur artist, and showed us slides of some of his father’s drawings. He talked about his own work and about how the environment in which he’d grown up — in the shadow of the nearby cathedral — had influenced his work throughout life. Afterwards, we were invited to go up to a display of his magnificent sculptural books. I did get a few snaps of these, but they barely convey the complexity and size of his wild, multi-layered creations (for one thing, most were so big when opened out that it was impossible to get more than detail shots in that crowded space). I noticed later, after downloading the pictures, the childlike looks of wonder and joy in the faces of my fellow adult attendees as they circled the display. As I say, the photos don’t do them justice.

Close-up of one of Paul Johnson's Books

Noah's ark (opened)

Noah’s Ark, unfolded.

Close-up of Noah's Ark

Close-up of Noah’s Ark.

PS: Twenty years ago, John DeMerritt and Dominic Riley made a video about the history of bookbinding that was shown on San Francisco’s Public Broadcasting Station. I thought I’d post a link in case you haven’t seen it. It’s a half-hour long, but is much fun. Around the six minute mark they transition into historical costume…

 

 

Dec 062015
 

Paul Johnson with his ark folded

A few months ago, I discovered that Paul Johnson, one of my all-time favorite paper artists, was going to be coming from England to teach a few workshops at the San Francisco Center for the Book. It was going to be in November, right around the time I was going to be in S.F. anyway for the usual medical reasons. Books are the best medicine, thought I! I signed up for two of the classes.

And then I discovered that John DeMerritt was going to be having a Drum Leaf binding workshop as well, during the same week and when Paul Johnson wouldn’t be teaching. Hmm… one of my favorite bindings with a master bookbinder…? I signed up for that too.

My first workshop day was foldable piano-hinge screens with Paul Johnson. I’d never thought of making piano-style hinges with paper beads before, which is essentially what these were. You roll the paper around a skewer to form the hinge in a bead-like fashion. When they’re done, you string them back on the skewer and attach to the screens. Very nifty.

This was mine:

foldable pianto-hinge screen with cat and bird designDay two was little toy theater-style pop-ups, along with some similar things. This was one of my projects from that day:

Pop-up Card

And that was supposed to have been the end of my time with Paul Johnson. I hadn’t signed up for the weekend workshop on pop-ups as well. But I was beginning to regret it. One of the lovely people at the workshop on the second day had signed up for all of the classes. As we were leaving, she told me that her hands were getting worse, and Paul Johnson was getting older. Who knew how many opportunities she’d ever have to do something like this again? Which, given my own circumstances, echoed what I was thinking inside.

As it turned out, there was still a slot left for the weekend. It became mine.

Next post: Drum Leaf bindings with John DeMerritt and a talk by Paul Johnson.

Paul with ark open

Dec 202014
 

I’m back from my latest medical excursion to the city. Actually, I’ve been back for a while, but upon my immediate return I succumbed to the virus du jour. It’s taking me a while to get my strength back. Hence, the extended silence. I went to see yet another neurological specialist. He doesn’t know what I have either. But at least he wasn’t an arrogant scum about it like the previous one. He actually seems to want to help. He’s also communicative and will answer a phone call, which, I’ve come to realize, is highly unusual. It seems I might never know what I have. But they’ll monitor its progression.

However, there’s more to a trip to the city than just medical stuff. There’s the scenery along the way!

Obviously, nothing says manly bar with “NO Grill” better than badly kerned Papyrus. Or at least it does if you’re in Willits.

I actually enjoyed the view from my Daly City motel.

What can I say — when you live in the sticks, having a streetlight outside the window is a welcome change of scenery.

Then I paused in Marin on the way back up. The motel scenery is more bucolic here.

Unfortunately, however, a convention of search and rescue professionals coincided with my visit. They were all fitness freaks. My room, I discovered, was directly above the treadmill. Let’s just say it was not as peaceful as the view would suggest.

And, of course, all throughout I dragged my sketchbook (and too many art supplies) with me.

Duck-with-stethoscope

The sketchbook especially comes in handy during medical visits. This time around wasn’t so bad, but the visit before last I saw a different neurologist. That one, unlike this respectful new one who answers phone calls, was an arrogant quack. Among other irritations, he twice walked out of my appointment for around 45 minutes.

The first time he left, I was at least still dressed. The second time he left me lying on the table, mid exam, in the paper gown. And didn’t return, again, for the better part of an hour. It didn’t appear to be for an emergency. He offered no apology.

At some point while lying on the table I realized my appointment wouldn’t be resuming any time soon. Again. So I got up and, after making a phone call and chatting for a while, got out my version of crayons and a coloring book and began to doodle. It really does help pass the time.

I call this spread “Medical Waiting Room.”

 

May 162014
 
These aren't the cat's.

These aren’t the cat’s.

Hmm… it seems if a gal mentions her physical maladies on her blog and then disappears for several months, some kind readers will begin to worry. Thank you to those who’ve contacted me, and apologies if I still haven’t gotten back to you! I haven’t forgotten.

Yes, things caught up with me. Ours is a dual-degenerative-malady household (triple if we include the elderly cat — his pill dispenser has its own spot between ours). Things, alas, get “interesting” from time to time.

There was also an out-of-town jaunt to a Big City Academic Medical Center somewhere in there too. (Short answer: whatever I have, it’s rare. But they don’t know what I have.) A similar excursion is coming in the near future. It’s likely to be as futile as the last, even as the tests they plan to run seem ever more exotic.

Fortunately, there’s a great art supply place with a mind-numbingly huge paper selection not far from the Big City Academic Medical Complex. It’s also staffed by incredibly nice people. I discovered this when I, dead tired, drove away and left my cane standing in their parking lot. They took good care of it for me until I could return the following day. In fact, they were all so nice when I came back, what could I do, but buy some more papers to thank them?

One day when things were becoming particularly overwhelming, my dear friend Shirl showed up and whisked me away to one of our favorite haunts, the delightful Dollhouses, Trains and More in Marin County for some toy shopping. She knows what soothes my heart. The minute I saw this precious little empty store counter, I knew I wouldn’t be filling it with Fimo candies.

Candy Counter

Candy Counter.

She also urged me to get this lovely tableau for the studio. How can you not love someone like that?

Studio Tableau

Studio Tableau Close-up

But life goes on. I’ll be back soon to tell you about some nifty laminated papers I recently made, my latest plaything-journal-sketchbook, and my progress on the Book Art Object editions. I’m also working on some sketchbook models with an eye to putting together a workshop. Let’s just hope things stay relatively “uninteresting.”

Mar 182011
 
Home is in that orange-shaded portion of California.
http://www.crew.org/science/pgaall.html

Days before the terrible earthquake in Japan, I’d had a conversation with a friend about the massive subduction quake that we are overdue for here in our part of the world. He’d taken a class from a famous geologist who specializes in earthquakes. He talked about how it will be around 9 on the Richter and how the shaking will go on for minutes, not seconds as in most earthquakes. The tsunami it will unleash will wipe out some of the lower-lying towns almost instantaneously. We will be cut off from the outside world for weeks afterward due to damaged highways and bridges, likely with no power and maybe no water. I expressed my desire to be long gone when this event occurs. The thought is too horrific to contemplate, even as we live every day with the knowledge that it could very well happen here at any time in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. And then…

When I moved to Humboldt County in the late 80s, I became friends with a woman who had two girls, the younger being 2 at the time. We were in the same anthropology class that required spending a chunk of the semester at the zoo watching the primates for a term project. I remember us meeting there. My friend spread out a blanket and we worked while the “baby” napped, then we took her around the zoo to look at the animals when we were done. While still a student I wound up living just behind them. We became good friends and kept in touch over the years. The toddler at the zoo is now a married university graduate. She’s incredibly smart, creative and quirky in all the best ways. And bilingual too.

Kyoto

She is currently living with her husband in northern Japan, working with a cultural exchange program. After the earthquake, there were a couple of tense days here in California as we waited for news. Even her friends in Japan started posting notes on Facebook, wondering if she was ok. She doesn’t live right on the coast, but isn’t that far from the epicenter. She’d mentioned visiting Sendai before. It was, to put it mildly, an unnerving experience.

At last, she was able to get a line out–she and her husband were ok!

I’ve been to Japan once, many years ago to Kyoto. I arrived not sure what I’d think of the place, and left enthralled. Thinking about what’s happening in that country now is painful.

Before the quake, I’d planned to briefly mention Japan in my next post. I have a link to something there that relates to a current project. Next time…

Nov 072010
 
All Trains Go to King’s Cross St Pancras ©2001
The other day I discovered that one of my old Underground paper mosaic collages is being used in an interesting online exhibition at the musée historique environnement urbain.
This link will take you to the beginning of the London section of the virtual exhibit. If you roll your mouse over the pictures and follow the arrow that appears on the right, you’ll eventually get to All Trains Go to King’s Cross St. Pancras. It’s being used to illustrate the tube-like nature of the deep level tunnelsThe main site  for the virtual musée (in English or en Français) has links to all kinds of exhibitions on aspects of urban life.
By way of background, the picture was based on a photo that I took several years ago at Manor House Station on the Piccadilly Line. The title comes from the announcement on the electronic sign. They’ve since “refurbished” the station. I haven’t seen the cleaned up version in person, although judging by the glossy, bright pictures, I suspect I wouldn’t actually like what they’ve done.
Oct 112010
 

I’ve been away. I had to travel to a big University of California medical campus for what turned out to be some ok help from one department, and some patronizing and dispiriting non-help from another.

Alas, feeling down and wanting to console myself, I did a little shopping. Large universities, especially ones with big science programs, have bookstores with esoteric goodies. Coming all this way, at least I could pick up a few petri dishes, slide holder cases and watch glasses for later. I have some slides at home and was wondering what I could sandwich between them in the semi-translucent holders.

I think some of the petri dishes will become “cards” for friends. I’m trying to figure out what to use to write inside them that will suggest fuzzy and/or semi-translucent blobs of cultured bacterial matter. Suggestions are welcome.

The student checking me out at the bookstore asked if I was doing an experiment. “No, I’m an insane artist and I’m going to use these to make bacterial-looking birthday cards.” His face brightened considerably.

Aug 082010
 

I went down to San Rafael to see the Art of the Book exhibit at Donna Seager Gallery before it closed. It was wonderful and truly inspiring.

I also found it reassuring. I often feel insecure about the little imperfections in my books. It was enlightening to handle work by some of the book artists I admire most, and to see that theirs, too, splay or have stitching that is not quite perfect, or windows that are just a tiny bit crooked. It’s good to be reminded that those little idiosyncrasies can add character and warmth to a piece.

The show has come down, but is still online (via the link above). Note that there are two pages of pictures.

I also got to stop at California Carnivores in Sonoma County, my favorite plant nursery of all time. It was quite hot during the trip home. It wasn’t safe to leave my new babies in the car when I stopped for coffee, so they came in with me. For some reason, people stared.

May 022010
 

I trekked to the Bay Area last week. I’m still getting settled back in. I went to an evening workshop with Sara Burgess at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Her papercuttings are divine, and I figured mingling with some knife-happy, paper-crazy folks outside of my isolated corner in the Redwoods might be just the thing.

I also reconnected with a few old friends along the way that I don’t get to see nearly enough. This was good, but also sad. So many people I care about are going through such hard times–major economic insecurity, unemployment, frightening health stuff…

As for the workshop, my hands did not want to cooperate. Not to boast, but I used to be able to wield a scalpel or X-Acto with a fair amount of skill. Not so much anymore, alas. But the show-and-tell of Sara’s work alone made the night worth it. The books she makes from her all-white scherenschnitte-style papercuttings are exquisitely intricate. She fashions some of the cut pages into map folds that pop out when opened. She showed us one multi-layered carousel book that looked like delicate layers of lace. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of her cut paper work online, but she says that she plans to put more up on a site she has just started, White Papers Press. You can already see a few examples of her work’s complexity there.

These snaps are from my drive home. I went slowly and stopped a lot on the way. The rain made it particularly scenic.