Saturday, March 31, 2012

Magnetic Attraction

   What is it about magnets that is so attractive? Is it the magical pull and push of an invisible force? Is it the sweet little clicking at the point of contact? Or is it something else? Depending on the "magnets," it could be something else! And that's where the story comes in.. and where this week's Book of the Week sits soundly on the shelf.
  The book is covered in handmade paper I made at Penland School of Crafts one hot July afternoon.. It's the color of the sky there... with flecks of dark blue pigment and fluffy white cotton. The spine is lined in Japanese kimono cloth of handprinted silk..  I imagine the soft flowing robe, a symbol of beauty and grace, as I affix it to the paper cover, adding strength with it's tight weave and adding interest with its complex design.

   The binding of long-stitches, kettle stitches, and chain stitches refer to movement.. positive and negative... and to change. The crosses refer to change.. the lines refer to moving forward and backward.. and the chain stitches? ...connection, of course. Chain stitches remind me of a hug...

    Inside the book are pages of marbled paper.. the ultimate magic! and some stickers from a jigsaw puzzle catalog. Don't you love the way jigsaw puzzles have a place for each unique piece? Just like us, there's one place where we fit just right... where we snap into place with no effort at all... like a magnet.

   And the point of connection, where the magnet hits the metal plate, is snug behind the fore-edge flap and the front cover edge.. glued with Gorilla Glue® behind the kimono fabric. When the book is closed, the magnet goes "Snap!"

   Magnetic Attraction is a book of contrasts, and of differences, and of blending those differences together into one vessel. Like a group of Japanese drummers, the individual beats become one in a push and pull motion.... seen, heard, and felt in the magnet closure.
Swinging Back
Moving Forward

Striking the Drum
   May you have your own form of magnetic attraction in the coming days.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pralines, Cupcakes and Beautiful Gates

The book for Week 12 is Pralines, Cupcakes, and Beautiful Gates. It's a painted canvas cover with tacket binding and a button and macrame cord closure. 
Recently I visited the beautiful city of New Orleans, Louisiana. For four days I was immersed in the culture of this very unique American city. New Orleans is a book of incredibly diverse history, culture and art. To an artist, New Orleans seems to be based on art.. from its cuisine, to its music, to its architecture, to everyday life... its all one big art project.. by the individual and also the community. I got a chance to walk along the sidewalks of Magazine Street... look in the yards, beyond the iron fences and gates, and past ancient storefronts of vibrant modern-day commerce. I ate dinners with the locals, listened to the jazz blues music in open-air park festivals, watched parade preparations, and listened to the stories of the people born in this very unique city.
The original Pralines and Cupcakes store on Magazine Street

The Garden District
I imagined living in one of the century old "doll houses" that line the lush tropical streets... handmade craftsmanship in every board.. and the stories and histories and ghosts..
Easter Basket Pages

Easter Basket Houses
Gentle pinks and yellows, turquoise and greens, the houses sit like decorated Easter eggs along the shady sidewalk... like the marbled papers within the book.
Beaded Fence
And because it was almost St. Patrick's Day.. many of the fences and gates were decorated with strings of green beads... as the local New Orleanians picked their outfits, created their floats, and practiced their marching for the St. Patty's Day parades. Parades are BIG in New Orleans. Think of the floats as pages of a book...and within each float are more stories of the people who created the floats and how that came about and what they mean... like beads of a rosary... and those hanging on the fences...

The gates remind me of the covers of a book, protecting the precious pages within, but also presenting a welcoming and beautiful ornament for entering. I just love iron gates and fences.
Cross Hatch Gate
So I made the binding of the book to reflect those gates...
Tacket Binding and Macrame Cord Closure
And I made sure there were pages of vibrant colors mixing.....

...just like the people of New Orleans.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Circus

When the circus comes to town, it's magic.  The animals, the acrobats, the clowns... it's a visual spectacle of the imagination.. all the wonderment of a magical dream world.. and it never gets old for me. The book I've made for Week 11 is based on a box of animal crackers.. those fun boxes with a string tied on like a little pocketbook, full of adorable animal cookies. Once, these fun cookies were in every grocery store, in their cute little box with the ribbon handle. Now, they aren't so common. Once I found the old fashioned cookies, I bought a half dozen boxes.. I've been eating them ever order to empty the boxes for the books I make from them. Believe that? 

So what is your favorite part about the circus? The clowns, the elephants? the acrobats? the food? 

 Circus tent stripes line the spine, and a longstitch binding hold the sky blue pages in place. A magnet on the edge snaps shut for the closure.

There's something missing in this book.. where are the circus stories?


Sunday, March 11, 2012

What's in a Name?

The book for week 10 of the Book-A-Week challenge is called What's in a Name? It's one of my FAVORITE book structures.. its a two-signature pamphlet book with a pencil holder pop-out AND a folded card case for holding business cards and charge cards and stuff like that... I LOVE THAT BOOK! I love having that pencil holder pop-out to whip out your pencil when the need arises! So efficient!

Inside the book is the folded card case and a couple of cards sticking out for you to see...

And the note pages have signature covers of natural dyed paper and button closures.. just to keep those notes extra private... hummmm.

I carry my own card case and note book everywhere. It's full of addresses, names, phone numbers, grocery lists, and anything that comes up when I'm out and need to remember something. So when I meet someone who gives me their busisness card, I have just the place for it.. and a place for my stash of business cards to give out.

What's in a Name? I think there is A LOT in a name...the stories of how people got their names, and the untold stories of how those names affected those people... folklore of name meanings, and family connections based on names.. firsts (Srs.) and seconds (Jrs), thirds (IIIs) and even fourths (IVs).. I knew of a fourth, (his real name was Ben) who's family called him Ivy.. get it? And there are times when names get changed.. so do the people change too? What's in a name? So much!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bryony's Book

The book for Week 9 is Bryony's Book. The definition for bryony "is any Old World vine or climbing plant belonging to the genus Bryonia" ( For me Bryony is a friend. One who makes everyone who knows her feel good.. who is sunshine and kindness and giggles even on the worst of days. We all should have someone like that in our lives, right?

I made the book for week 9 over a series of weeks... It has a painted fabric cover with a ring of chain stitches and a chevron of longstitches as the binding, and a paperbutton clasp and red macrame cord... The paperbutton is a photograph of my friend Bryony and her lovely smile. The papers inside are blank.. so far.. but the mouldmade Italian Magnani velata paper is creamy and lovely to feel. It's my favorite paper! I've included some of my marbled papers to separate the sections.. how can anyone not love marbled paper! 

So why this book on this week? This week marked the occurrence of our Leap Year... I didn't realize February 29 was happening.. that it's a Leap Year!.. and on Wednesday when I realized it.. thought of all those folks who get to celebrate their REAL birthday for a change.. and for the rest of us, the FULLNESS of this year, with the extra day and all... and in a way, every day can be that extra day.. the one we can make beautiful and happy and full of smiles (even when things aren't really all that great) like my friend Bryony makes all her friends feel. 

So, enjoy your coming year in all its FULLNESS.. and may you feel like you always have an extra day of good things to fill in for the others.