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Friday, May 27, 2016

Reflections on an Award

I was so honored to receive the Philip J. and Maria Stern Memorial Award for Work in Sculpture at the 19th Annual Newburyport Art Association Regional Juried Show. This is Spirit Book #82: Soaring Serenity, which I completed in the winter of 2015. I never have a sketch or a plan for a Spirit Book and the way they come together is always a bit of a surprise. In this case, it was a most pleasant surprise. I had been disappointed in the Tsasho paper from Bhutan that I ordered from New York Central as it was much lighter than the swatch, but it turned out to be just perfect for this book. The cradle was a gift from Anne Mulvey and Donna O'Neill, a butterfly bush root and stem dug from Donna's garden. The book and the cradle seem like they were destined for each other.

The juror was Karen E. Haas, Lane Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Part of her task, in addition to choosing the works for the exhibit and awarding the prizes, was to write commentary about each of the award-winning pieces. Here's what she said about mine:

This inventive sculpture combines several natural and artist-made elements in companionable and harmonious ways. The found piece of driftwood acts as an elegant support for the handmade book, which is embellished with what could be fallen stars, and together they form a fairy tale-like arrangement of disparate textures and forms.

When I spoke to her at the reception, she was wonderfully open. Her first words were that she hoped I wasn't uncomfortable with her connecting the piece to fairy tales. She said she had been working a lot with fairy tale imagery in photographs. I told her that I was totally comfortable with people interpreting them any way they want. I've heard references to fairies, elves, and the Lord of the Rings as well. The only time I bristle is when I am asked if I intend for people to write in them. I was surprised that she was concerned about my reaction. As an artist, I tend to feel that I am the one taking risks in exhibiting the work. It's good to be reminded that I am not the only one. She also said that it took her some time to come around to accept its categorization as a sculpture but that the more time she spent with it, the more she saw it as such. I feel that the Spirit Books are both artist's book and sculpture and it was especially gratifying to have it awarded as such.

The exhibition at the Newburyport Art Association in Newburyport, MA continues until June 4. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11-5 and Sunday 1-5. You can read see all the award-winning pieces and read Karen Haas' commentary here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Book Arts Tuesday-An End and a Beginning

Spirit Book #86: Hallowed Beginning

This is the last Book Arts Tuesday post on the blog and it seems appropriate to announce it with an image of one of my newest Spirit Books called Hallowed Beginning. It is named for the birch bark cradle which was gathered on the first day of spring. The birch represents beginnings as do the quiet sunrises of circles and rays on the pages.

The end of Book Arts Tuesday represents the beginning of new things, the biggest of which is a series of youtube videos called The Joy of Making Books which will offer instructions and ideas for making simple handmade books. The videos will be short and sweet and have close up views, unlike the Making Books with Children videos I previously made. I hope to have the first ones up sometime this summer. The ending part of that is that I have stopped teaching workshops in order to focus on the sharing online. I will be posting soon about how I came to making the changes in my work and schedule as part of my 65th Year series. 

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Studio Sunday-for Mother's Day

Flower arrangement from Floral Design class (week number 11 of 12) at North Shore Community College with David Eng. Calligraphy with Speedball C-4 nib and my first go with Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleed Proof White. Such a joy to work with. Look forward to sharing continuing efforts with the white.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Closing Day at Mercy Center

Meet the Artist 
Tuesday, May 10
1–4 PM

Mercy by the Sea

167 Neck Road, Madison, CT

It was a real treat to meet some of you at the opening reception. If you are in the area and have the time, please stop by on Tuesday. I'd love to meet you in person. Sorry I didn't post this sooner. I thought I had.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Book Arts Tuesday-Alex Appella's List of Books That Teach Bookbinding

I am a big fan of Alex Appella's work with books, as an artist, a binder, and a teacher, in Argentina. Her most recent blog post is titled The Miracle of Book That Teach Bookbinding. Here's how she introduces the books:

aka Where It All Began (For Transient Books)

Bookbinders are curious folk. They are generous with their knowledge, and they are usually quick to share and exchange experiences, successes, and ravenous mishaps. The best illustration of this being the Book Arts List Serv (found at This online forum of bookbinders, book artists, book lurkers, conservationists and regular humans has been a world wide meeting point for over 20 years. I can't imagine where bookbinding would be (or wouldn't be) today without this resource.

It's no surprise, then, that a lot of bookbinders write books on how to make books. And even less surprisingly, the books bookbinders write about how to make books tend to be really good. There are many out there. Today I pay homage to the mainstays in our studio. The books that have made us the binders we are today.

I am honored that Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet is included in the list. I so appreciate Alex's kind words and that fact that she is sharing the book on another continent. You can read the post here. When I get overwhelmed by the connectivity of the world we live in, I think of sharing like this and I am glad to be a part of it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

May Day Book to Make and Share

We celebrate May Day every year starting early in the morning at a gathering on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge, MA. We dance and sing from song books are distributed and collected throughout the morning. My favorite is the Padstow May Song which is traditionally sung on May Day in Padstow, Cornwall. Here's a little accordion book for you to print, fold, and color. Part of the refrain is the centerpiece of the accordion and the complete lyrics (at least what we sing in Cambridge) are on the reverse side.

1. Print the pdf. If you want to color in the flowers, I think it is easiest to do that before you fold.

2. Fold the paper in half so it is long and skinny like a hot dog with the writing on the outside.

3. Fold the folded piece in half so that the calligraphy verse is on the outside.

4. Take one layer, flip the edge back to meet the fold, and crease.

5. Turn the paper over and do the same on the other side.

6. Your book is complete. Happy May!

Print the pdf here.

Here's a fan book project using the same verse from from 2012.
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