Friday, January 19, 2018


Happy 2018! I'm looking forward to this year! The New Year in Raleigh will begin with a new exhibition of our local book artists, the Triangle Book Arts Group I have two pieces in the show. One is a piece titled East:West. It is a bridge book, created from used tea bags, twigs, walnut ink, string, quotes from the I Ching and paraphrased articles from the NY Times on China. This book was first made in 2011 and recycled for the exhibition of books from recycled things...

sticks and used teabags.... about 40 inches long by 24 inches tall and 6 inches deep

from above the path seems risky...

Close-up of the text; NY Times on the West side, I Ching on the East side
This piece will be exhibited in the group book artists' exhibition Refuse, January 26 - March 3, 2018, at Artspace, 201 E. Davie Street, Raleigh, NC. All works are 70% recycled materials. 

the show card

Participating artists are:

Kathy Bayard                                                              Betty Martinez
Patrick Beggs                                                              Carolyn Maynard
Mary Beth Boone                                                        Laurie O'Neill
Chuck Cave                                                                 Martha Petty
Mary Blackwell-Chapman                                          Audrey Pinto
John Davis                                                                   Dana Palmer
Elisabeth Effron                                                           Melinda Rittenhouse
Lisa Gilbert                                                                  Steven Silverleaf
Steve Godwin                                                              Kathy Steinsberger
Beth Grabowski                                                           Helen Spielmai
Janet Guertin                                                                Debbie Suchoff
Robin Harper                                                                Gwen Van Ark
Betty Haskin                                                                 Louanne Watley
Delia Keefe                                                                   Emily Weinstein
Paul Keene                                                                    Mary Yordy
Susan Leeb                                                                    Andrea Zietlow
Barbara Livingston

Monday, July 17, 2017

Paulus's Cairn

   These two weeks I am teaching The Storyteller's Muse at Penland School of Crafts with the amazing Mary Ann Zotto. Our students are so amazing and talented and generous in following our wonky lead to tell their stories and paint their dreams. I cannot say how awed I am by them. However, this post is about a beautiful place I visited the day before my class started.. a place that feels like its own book. It all begins with my the first book teacher, Paulus Berenshon... 

   In 2002 I took my first formal book making class with Paulus Berensohn (May 13, 1933- June 15, 2017)  A longtime resident of the Penland community in the mountains of North Carolina... just beside the incredible craft school, Paulus led many artists to find their own way... with both clay and books.. but especially in life. The Penland craft school honored him a few years ago by cutting a walking trail in his honor through their beautiful mountain woods. All along the way walkers have left their own version of books gone to nature... as Paulus wished we all would do.

Let your own life be filled with books of some kind, stay close to the earth.. however you can, and never fail to tell your stories.

Friday, March 3, 2017


It's been too long since the last post, I know. The monthly posts were in hibernation I suppose.. and perhaps still are. Here is a poem for the past winter. I'm sure it will go into a book at some point...

The garden plot
goes fallow,
sprigs of weeds
and twigs
and leaves blown in
and last year's crop
now detritus and decay.

the dark soil underneath
is using this time
to replenish,
to awaken
with the Spring.

Hello, I'm back. Sorry for the white-out... Books have been made during the winter... but all blank. so no need to photo for the blog. A trip to Japan over Christmas and New Years was it's own book.. below are a couple of photos of books in the round.

Tunnel book of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Paper cranes on the Philospher's Path, Kyoto, Japan

In case you've missed some blog reading, check out Rachel V. Mills' blog; Rachel's House. This is the link:

Monday, October 31, 2016

October: Sunday In Bed All Day Watching Netflicks

        Color: Black & white
        Image: None (disregarded using the Wild Card option)
        Layout: Centered on the page
        Paper: Single color
        Structure: multiple openings
        Text: None
        Technique: Digital
       Adjectives: Narrative, miniature, photographic

   October's book is titled Sunday in Bed All Day Watching Netflicks. The book structure is a single-leaf folded book that has multiple gate-fold openings. The single sheet of paper folds down to a miniature book, 2 inches by 2 inches. At it's largest, the book is 4 by 4 inches. 

The title is the only text in the book. It was digitially printed onto a sheet of white Cranes® 100% linen paper with a Brother® laser printer.

The images are photocopies of a piece of crumpled wax paper, printed on the front and backside of the single sheet of paper. The black and white imagery resembles bedsheets. This uses the wild card substitution for the criteria of no image. 

As the pages unfold and refold on themselves, the narrative is simply the beginning, middle, and end of a day wasted (or not, depending on one's point-of-view).

The changing imagery of the bed sheets illustrates and describes this narrative.

This is a story where nothing really happens except someone laying in bed all day passively watching others' stories. It is a story about the simple act of existing... of making an impression by just being.

And as the pages are folded and unfolded, opened and closed, the book returns to its beginning...

like the mythical Ouroboros, the snake eating his tail... from the Creation myth of the perpetual eternal cyclic renewal of life.

Early alchemical ouroboros illustration with the words "εν το παν" ("one is the all"). From the work of Cleopatra the Alchemist (Greco-Roman Egypt).

November Artists' Book Ideation Cards:
Color: Favorite
Image: Collaborate with another artist
Layout: minimal or restrained
Paper: Neutral
Structure: Single sheet binding
Technique: High tech. (letterpress, printmaking, typewriter, etc.)
Text: Collaborate with a writer or poet
Adjectives: Strange or exotic; complicated or confusing; futuristic

Sunday, October 16, 2016

September: The Ghost Story

  Artist book Ideation Cards for September:
Color:  Least Favorite
Image: Abstract
Layout: Centered on the Page
Paper: Transparent, Translucent
Structure: Codex: pamphlet, multisection binding, board book, stacked folios, etc.
Technique: High tech: letterpress, printmaking, etc.
Text: Self generated
Adjectives: Scientific or research-based; serious; mystical or spiritual

the cover

   The book for September is titled The Ghost Story. All of the Artists' Book Ideation cards drawn were used.  The cover paper is a group of photopolymer prints of photographs.. of old houses and ruins, a lonely old boat tied up to a stone on a shoreline, some old family photographs dating back to the early 1900's. All of the photopolymer prints allude to the ghost-like remains of what once was a real and vital life... now just a memory or shell of the past life.

front cover close-up (the artist's grandmother, 1911)

   The story is actually two narratives. Because the adjective cards drawn included scientific and research-based versus spiritual and mystical, this artist decided to write two different books within The Ghost Story. 

Title page
On the verso (left side) of each page spread is a conversation between two women about an unexplainable experience with a ghost. On the opposite side of each page spread is a brief excerpt of an actual scientific study on ghost phenomena which was found on the internet.

inside pages, the story... and the research findings
The Image criteria card prescribed abstract imagery... sweeping, swirling brush strokes of silver metallic ink (least favorite Color) on each page... met this criteria and also illustrated the ghostly apparitions.  
and more...
Page criteria stipulated an element of transparency, so each digitally printed page was coated with a layer of Future Floor polish, making the book pages themselves have an ephemeral ghostlike quality.

close-up of the transparent page and high tech (digital) technique
The book was bound as a three-hole pamphlet with hard covers to follow the Structure stipulation that the book be in a traditional codex format.

structure: codex as a single signature pamphlet binding...
This is The Ghost Story:

                     The Ghost Story

(a conversation between Freida and Kathy on the morning of September, 6, 2016; and scientific data on ghosts collected from the internet)

Pages 1-2:
Did you ever hear if the Chateau was haunted? Have you heard any ghost stories about the place? -F

According to a 2005 Gallup poll, 37 percent of Americans believe in haunted houses, and according to a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll, 45 percent believe in ghosts.

Pages 3-4:
Ah, no. Umm, not specifically haunted. No. But it’s an old place…over 300-400 years. There must be lots of stories. But I’ve not heard any… specifically… No, no ghost stories. -K

…infrasound at or around a frequency of 19 Hz, has a range of physiological effects, including feelings of fear and shivering. -Vic Tandy, Journal of the Society of Psychical Studies

Pages 5-6:
Well, something happened last night that was really strange… And also to Louis. Ask Louis what happened to him. He told me all about it this morning. Anyway, something odd happened to me during the night. -F

Carbon Monoxide: In 1921, Dr. W.H. Wilmer published an article about a haunted house in the medical journal the American Journal of Ophthalmology. The family who lived in this haunted residence, called the H family, began experiencing weird phenomena when they moved into an old house—hearing furniture moving and strange voices in the night, feeling the presence of invisible specters. They report being held down in bed by ghosts, feeling weak, and more. As it turned out, a faulty furnace was filling their house with carbon monoxide, causing aural and visual hallucinations. The furnace was fixed, and the H family went back to their lives, without ghosts.

Pages 7-8:                   
What happened? -K

Shane Rogers, an engineering professor at Clarkson University, has spent the past few months touring reportedly haunted locations looking for not-so-paranormal activity: mold growth. Preliminary research indicates that some molds can cause symptoms that sound pretty ghostly—like irrational fear and dementia. … So far in the data collection process, “it’s hard to say whether that’s a contributing factor or not, but anecdotally we are seeing these [toxic molds] exist in places that are haunted., April ’15

Pages 9-10
Well, I might have been dreaming, but it seemed so real. I don’t think I was dreaming. I woke up and there was a strange man in the bed… next to me… and I couldn’t move. He was taking up most of the bed. -F

A team of researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland were particularly interested in not the appearance of ghosts but rather the sense of feeling you’re not alone, especially in individuals who had recently gone through traumatic experiences or suffered from a psychiatric condition. The team set out to see if it was possible to recreate a similar experience, only not in a spooky abandoned house but in a controlled laboratory.

Pages 11-12
What?! -K

Phosphorus could also be the agent responsible for ghostly figures and unexplained lights that flit across the bogs at night and inhabit swampy graveyards. In 1993, microbiologists found that bacteria can make phosphane and diphosphane. In swampy areas, where archea make flammable methane, this could lead to flares of light and the appearance of ghostly sights. -

Pages 13-14
I wasn’t scared at all. Really, I wasn’t scared at all. Anyway, I asked him, Who are you? But he didn’t say anything. So I asked him, Can you talk? and he shook his head no. I asked him, Are you dead? and he nodded yes. I asked him, What happened to you? and he put his hands on this throat… like this. I asked him, Were you killed? and he nodded yes. I asked him, When? and without speaking he indicated ’65. I asked him, Was it 1965? or 1865? He didn’t say anything. Then I asked him, Are you lonely? He nodded yes. -F 

“Our experiment induced the sensation of a foreign presence in the laboratory for the first time," neurologist and lead researcher Olaf Blanke told the Telegraph. "It shows that it can arise under normal conditions, simply through conflicting sensory motor signals.”

Pages 15-16
Oh wow. I’ve never heard any ghost stories like that happening here. But who knows, this place has been lived in over 300 years… peoples’ stories, lives… Sometimes at night there’s a certain feeling in some of the rooms…and there’s always some creaking, a bang here and there… but it’s probably just wind. - K

Dr. Priyanka Yadav of the Somerset Medical Sleep for Life Center in New Jersey explains that the phenomenon of sleep paralysis occurs when there's a disconnect between the mind and body as people enter or exit REM sleep. -NBC News

Pages 17-18
Well, ask Louis what happened in his room last night. He experienced something too. He told me about it this morning. -F

They first analyzed the brains of 12 patients with neurological disorders who had experienced some sort of paranormal experience involving an “apparition.” According to the press release, the majority of the patients were epileptic. MRI scans revealed that on a neurological level, three regions in the patients’ brains had significant interferences: the insular cortex, parietal-frontal cortex, and the temporo-parietal cortex.

Pages 19-20
I will. I can say I avoid the Pink Bunny Room and won’t sleep in there. …The first time I was here I had this really creepy feeling when I was in that room… I won’t sleep in there.  - K

The Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine is decidedly less fantastic than either Julavits’s or Marvel’s creations, but it's nevertheless a fascinating place. Founded in 1967 by Dr. Ian Stevenson—originally as the Division of Personality Studies—its mission is “the scientific empirical investigation of phenomena that suggest that currently accepted scientific assumptions and theories about the nature of mind or consciousness, and its relation to matter, may be incomplete.” -The Atlantic

Pages 21-22
Don’t tell Nancy! She's sleeping in the pink room! -F

Division of Perceptual Studies-affiliated doctors and scientists at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine have reviewed and analyzed thousands of cases. Before his retirement in 2002 and later death in 2007, Dr. Ian Stevenson logged more than 2,500 cases, publishing his analyses in a number of scholarly texts from 1969 onward. -The Atlantic

book cover close-up, photopolymer print of an old boat moored on the Loire River
Epilogue: Several weeks after the conversation...which really did happen, this artist texted F. for permission to use the conversation for the monthly book. She got a text back as follows...

I'm very excited about The Ghost Story!! I do have to share these pictures with you--I took the first one when we were all outside (the last night at the chateau), but I don't believe I took the last two, unless I triggered my phone and also the time stamp on the last ones was about an hour later---??? -F

the turret room (where the ghost appeared.) Photo taken by F.

an unexplained photo...

an unexplained photo...

Whooooooooo! and Happy Halloween!

The Artists' Book Ideation Cards for October are truly challenging...
Color: Black & white
Image: None
Layout: Centered on the page
Paper: Single color
Structure: multiple openings
Text: None
Technique: Digital
Adjectives: Narrative, miniature, photographic
Remember, one card may be omitted as the wild card option, and two adjectives may be omitted. Good Luck!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August: Or Not

Color: Primary
Image: Traced, re-drawn, lifted from outside sources
Layout: Across the folds or gutters
Paper: Neutral
Structure: Historic
Technique: Hand drawn or painted
Text: Process of erasure
Adjectives: formal, transparent, impressionistic

the front cover with the title, Or Not
   The book for August is titled Or Not. As specified by the Artists' Book Ideation cards, the structure is based on an historic book structure known as a palimpsest. Or Not is a palimpsest of last month's book, The End of the World is Near!. On the front cover, the lone image is the tiny red elephant... seen on the cover of End of the World is Near! as the logo of the United States' Republican National Political Party. The remainder of the cover of End of the World..! has been whited out, painted over, and erased to form the new book cover for Or Not.  In the new book, the red elephant symbolizes the mascot of a mythical circus, and is now printed on a bright yellow balloon. As specified by the ABI cards, primary colors were hand painted onto the neutral-colored text block.

first page spread... our own circus collaged from a '60's little Golden Book
 All of the Artist's Book Ideation cards specifications were met... The text was generated by a process of erasure from the the 1960's Little Golden Book, Dr. Dan and the Circus. In addition to hand painting, imagery and text were taken from other sources.. cut from the Dr. Dan and the Circus book and then collaged across the page spread to form the narrative of this modern-day parable.

The Circus poster and the circus workers?
making up the rules...
The narrative is expressed in a formal yet impressionistic manner, as specified by two of the Adjective Cards drawn. The overpainting of the pages gives a transparent quality not only to the actual pages, but to the layers of meaning hidden in the childlike story. As the protagonists begin their circus, they organize and set up a society with rules and laws. In this circus, the rules are: don't ride horses, down swallow fire, don't even think...

everyone has a part
Yet, it's clear that each person is important,

the basics of life in the circus...
and the way to a successful circus is to look, laugh, shout, and make anything.

The best circus ever!
Resulting in the best circus ever... a story that doesn't end but continues...could that mean life everlasting?

the back cover... the trick is successful relationships

   Martyn Lyons states that a palimpsest is a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused for another document. The Mirriam-Webster dictionary states that a palimpsest means an old document in which the original writing has been erased and replaced by new writing. It also means many layered, and something which has changed over time and shows evidence of that change.  The early palimpsests were often created as a means to recycle book materials.. saving the time and money of acquiring precious and hard to get velum or papyrus. But sometimes they were created as a means to sanctify non-religious or pagan transcripts.. not by merely burning, but by rewriting holy scripture and words over the offending script. So, that's what this artist did with the pessimistic book The End of the World is Near!... whited it out, covered it up, picked out a few good parts, and rewrote it as the parable of a circus as Or Not.

Artist book Ideation Cards for September:
Color:  Least Favorite
Image: Abstract
Layout: Centered on the Page
Paper: Transparent, Translucent
Structure: Codex: pamphlet, multisection binding, board book, stacked folios, etc.
Technique: High tech: letterpress, printmaking, etc.
Text: Self generated
Adjectives: Scientific or research-based; serious; mystical or spiritual

Andrea Z.  sent in this description of the book she made using July's Artists' Book Ideation cards:

Andrea's August book, Statistics

Winston Churchill once said: "I only believe in statistics that I doctored myself". With statistics we pretend to understand and explain nearly everything. They lead us to believe that they make things more transparent but in reality they mostly prove what the creator wants to people to believe.
I took the prompt "transparency" and the idea that you can find statistics for nearly everything and play with it. The paper is semi-transparent vellum. The last page contains a map of the USA with all fifty states. Each preceding page only contains the states that are relevant for the respective statistic. I picked unusual topics like "states where it is illegal to hunt with a bow shorter than 28 inches (Montana and South Dakota)" or "Top 10 states with the highest rate of summer Olympians per resident in 2016 (Surprise: Rhode Island)"
All drawn Artist's Ideation Cards were used: Primary colors red, yellow and blue on neutral paper, a layout across the gutter, pamphlet (historic) binding, and a transparent process of erasure lifted from outside sources.

Statistics: transparent vellum pages and hand drawn imagery and text...

Thanks Andrea, for that fascinating and funny book! And thanks to Matthew E. for the title to this month's book, Or Not. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

July: The End of the World is Near!

Color: Muted or pastel
Image: None
Layout: Across the folds or gutters
Paper: Single color
Structure: Codex (pamphlet, multiple section binding, perfect binding, board book, stacked folios, etc.)
Technique: low-tech (typewriter, rubber stamps, stencils, hand lettering, solvent transfers, etc.)
Text: Abstract, non-verbal, gibberish
Adjective: Pessimistic

newspaper on the cover boards with grafitti-like title text
   The book for July is titled The End of the World is Near!. All of the Artist's Ideation Cards design prompts drawn were used, though this artist wasn't keen on using the pessimistic adjective card. Because of that issue, it took some time to come up with the content of this book. In the end, the impending deadline forced a choice, and the reality of creating a book based on all of the mess of lunacy that's happening in the world now and always.. was begun.. and quickly took over the process.

front endpaper and first page
   The background paper, a pen and ink drawing of a black splatter, was the initial jumpstart for the book. This paper painting was found in the artist's paper stash (while cleaning and organizing about 500 sheets of prints, paste-papers, marbled papers, and other decorative papers) just days after the shootings in Texas, Florida, and bombing in Nice, France. It seemed like blood was splattered all over the news, and the horror and tragedy was on the minds of much of the world. This 24 by 20 sheet of white paper with a single splatter of black paint mirrored the metaphorical dried blood all over the news. Like the tragic prophetess Cassandra in Greek mythology, who foresaw the sacking of Troy but was not believed, the world alternately relishes the retelling and yet denies the obvious fore-shadowing of these tragic events.  We constantly hear, what was the reason for such violence? What was the answer to end such tragedy?... The answer seems a static of indecipherable gibberish with fate continuing to repeat itself throughout history, just as the tally marks are repeated across the pages.

second page folio spread
  The paper was cut into four equal sections which were folded into four folios. The folios were assembled and bound as a codex using the drum-leaf method. The abstract nonverbal text is the splatter pattern and the overlay of tally marks in pastel marker that cover each page. Tally marks date back to the Paleolithic era between 25,000 and 35,000 years ago. oh dear.

third folio
   The epitome of pessimism was the prophetess Cassandra in Greek mythology. One of the daughters of King Priam of Troy, Cassandra had been given the gift of prophecy by Apollo. However when she spurned his love, he amended his gift so that no one would believe her revelations, even though she spoke the truth. Eventually the people of Troy put her in prison so they didn't have to hear her constant pessimistic ranting. oh dear.

last page and back endpaper

the back cover, the Obituaries page...

   There's no happy ending to this book.... that's how pessimism works. However, shining light on the shadows of the world helps them to resolve into a less dark place..  creating not just optimism but the beginning of the work to create a positive outcome.

The negative of pessimism is hope. 

 The Artists' Ideation Cards for August are:
Color: Primary
Image: Traced, re-drawn, lifted from outside sources
Layout: Across the folds or gutters
Paper: Neutral
Structure: Historic
Technique: Hand drawn or painted
Text: Process of erasure
Adjectives: formal, transparent, impressionistic

Andrea Z. sent in her book created with the July Ideation cards:

The title of my book is: Dark words / Dunkle Worte.
The main prompts for this book were the categories “pessimistic”, “hand lettering” and “across the fold line”. The latter led to the idea of searching for the same words in German and English that are both pessimistic and dark. When you open the book you see the German word on the right and the English word on the left upside down. Read the English words by turning the book over and starting at the opposite end. Examples of the text are: Blood / Blut; Fall / Sturz; Murder / Mord. I wrote the words across the fold with a brown pen and a child-like handwriting to emphasize that many words trigger bad early memories.
I chose Nideggen paper and stained it with diluted acrylic paint as well as black and sepia ink. It's sewn, cased in, and covered with paste paper. 

The entire book is dark and pessimistic in its appearance, the colors, the content. My husband said although he likes my books, next time I should be more cheerful…