Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paper Frenzy in London

There we were, fresh off the plane and standing in the lobby of our hotel near Buckingham Palace, when we learned our room wouldn't be ready for a few hours. What's a girl to do, except go paper shopping? Never mind that we hadn't slept on the way over, or that we could use a shower and a change of clothes .... musn't waste this opportunity! So off to Southampton Road to visit Falkiners Fine Papers, also known as Shepherds Bookbinding, for a paper grab. My husband was happy to walk over to the nearby British Museum while I shopped; he was longing to see the parts of the Parthenon that were missing on last year's visit to Athens.

This is one fabulous paper and bookbinding supply store! They have, literally, everything you could want ... hundreds of beautiful decorative sheets of paper, delicious paper for the text blocks, quality hand tools, pastes and glues, sewing thread, large wooden equipment, all located on two floors and with floor to ceiling paper racks. Amazing! There are many sheets of decorative paper stored on ladder-like bars, and even more sheets to buy, stored in large sample books at a counter and organized by type of paper ... Japanese, hand marbled, utility papers. You can settle in with a nice long list and a pencil, and just keep writing in your selections until you run out of room on the sheet.

I surrendered once again to the sirens' call of the hand marbled papers .... gorgeous big sheets, very nice quality base paper and reasonably priced, all made by Payhembury Marbled Papers in Cambridge. I have not seen these before in the U. S. or my other travels; they are exquisite, using an interesting color palette very different from the French, Spanish or Italian papers. Lucky for me, several of my selections from the books were out of stock at the store, so that left room to add from the Japanese screen print collection as well as some lovely little screened prints that will be perfect for endpapers.

My prized find of the day, however, was beautiful red sewing thread. You know how hard it is to find linen thread in a good red color here; I was so excited to see it I bought several "hanks" of it. The thread is 18/3 weight and unwaxed; although I haven't measured, there seems to be a generous amount in each bundle. Now my decorative spine bindings are going to be so much more colorful!

The staff there is very helpful and graciously allowed me to leave my purchases there for two weeks while we went off on our cruise, giving me the perfect excuse to return before we left for home. A great way to spend our first day in London!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Could Have Written Sooner

Heaven knows there were enough post boxes around, but who had time to write? We're just back from almost three weeks in the beautiful British Isles: England, Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Guernsey and the Normandy beaches in France. There were so many things to see and do, including lots of side trips related to books and paper, art and architecture. I'll be posting here over the next few weeks about our adventures; hope you'll enjoy this vicarious tour!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

S C C Workshops

There was more fun to come in Pittsburgh, where I returned for my annual week long workshop at the Society for Contemporary Craft. I first began teaching at SCC when I lived in Pittsburgh from 2000 to 2005; this organization is so well run, it is a pleasure to work with everyone there. Many of my students there have been coming since the beginning, and this was, I believe, our sixth year to hold the week long bookmaking workshop. So, lots of friendly familiar faces, lots of laughs, lots of great coffee from the 21st Street shop across the way, and breakfast at Pamela's almost every morning make for a fantastic environment.

Our projects for the week included four decorative spine bindings, a Japanese stab binding, the Butterfly binding, a rounded back Bradel binding, a box construction with loose fitting lid, the Blizzard and Crown books, a cereal box journal, several french fold booklets, and orizomegami, or tie dyed paper. Above are a few photos of our paper and box work. On Saturday, I taught a separate class on constructing a leather journal sewn over colorful leather tapes.

We're already making plans for next year's workshop at SCC, so watch for details. It will be in June, 2011 and it will be fabulous!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Q S D S Workshops

The first week of June marked my return to teaching at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium in Columbus, Ohio. This was my second time to teach at this event; I was last here in 2006. This year's offerings included a three day workshop on silkscreening and fabric books, and a two day workshop on silkscreening and a wall hanging/palm leaf book.

Silkscreening fabrics took up the first half of each of the workshops. I had encouraged students to bring in pages of their own handwriting or letters, and printed pages from old books and other publications. There was tremendous variety—old birth documents, children's writing, poetry, quotations, pages from random publications, scribbles, intricately drawn illustrations, and . . . Sitting Bull.

One student had found a great photo in an old magazine; we turned it into a screen print, and SB soon became our mascot for the first session. Students and their friends were screening him on everything they could find, including the shirts off their backs. It's all part of the infectious enthusiasm that comes from the speed of this medium .. once you've made the screen, you can get the image onto anything you can get on the print bed, and right quick, too. Instant gratification!

In the second workshop, our new mascot became Bob the Dog, the pet of one of the students. Bob had been through quite a lot and certainly deserved his own screen. By the end of the workshop, he was also the subject of a fabric based book and turning up on shirt backs everywhere.

The QSDS experience is always fantastic. In addition to top notch instructors and classes, there are many exciting activities in the evening hours ... presentations by artists about their work, artist vendor night where you can get some gorgeous stuff to use in your work, a hand dyed fabric sale, a mini quilt auction, ice cream by the pool .... the list goes on. One of my favorite parts is the long hall where vendors keep shop hours every day, so you can stroll down the hall any time and pick up that fabulous hand dyed fabric or extravagant button that just makes your piece sing!

Good news for all you fabric buffs in the Cincinnati area: Becky Hancock of St. Theresa's Textile Trove has reopened shop on the first floor of the Pendleton Arts Center. Hooray! The hand marbled fabrics I got there were breathtaking. Now I must make some bookcloth!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Isn't She A Beauty?

Gosh, where are all the posts about my adventures in making books for the last few months? Oh wait ... I guess I forgot to blog. Thanks to all you loyal readers who have checked in periodically, and let's get this train back on the track.

Since I last left you on the streets in Paris, I've been traveling mostly in the U.S. There were fabulous classes in Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh, and both sessions of the Book Arts Coterie here at my studio have all since taken place. During the July fourth weekend, we dashed off to New York for a fantastic wedding at the Vanderbilt estate. Preparations are now underway for our next trip to Europe, visiting the British Isles for several weeks. Life is good!

Meanwhile, I have to share this recent addition to the studio, a vintage book press purchased from another book artist in the Chicago area. It's a great size, it's cast iron and unbelievably heavy, and .... it's RED! What could be better than that? It's in excellent condition. I've wanted an older press for awhile, and have looked for one in the junk stores, flea markets and antique stores around here without success. This one turned up on a book arts bulletin board, and was worth the almost two hour drive to pick it up. Moving a book press down a flight of stairs from the car to the studio is character, if not muscle building experience; now it has a home atop my grandmother's treadle sewing machine in the library area of the studio.

Stay tuned for photos and reviews of the summer workshops ... after taking a break from teaching last summer, it was fun to be back in full swing this year. There were also new tool adventures, new friends, new projects .... all of which you'll see soon.