Sunday, July 29, 2012


   We never really know where the journey will take us. That's the archetypical hero story. Like most folks I'm fascinated with this story, which is why I've titled this week's Book of the Week Highway. 
The original highway... taken at Penland School of Crafts
   I'm taking a wood block printing class at a crafts school in the North Carolina mountains and used this image taken in 2005 (at the same location) as inspiration for my first wood block carving exercise. Seven days later and the image is carved and printed, the text is written and printed on the letterpress, and the accordion-style book is assembled and posed in it's natural setting.
The afternoon sun shines like gold...
This is the story...
Two-lane highway
winding through
iron mountains

Stretches out straight
at the place

Gold grows
and the world

A pastepaper cover on Highway
   Who knows where the highway leads or what is met along the way. When coming to this golden place I always know I'll be challenged and surprised.

The real thing and the book Highway

Monday, July 23, 2012

Soul's Kitchen

   What is it about storytelling that mesmerizes us and also spins us into a vortex of imagination? Paulus Berensohn is a potter, a journal maker, a dancer, and an extraordinary man. This weekend I attended a workshop on a mountain in North Carolina where Paulus led an equally extraordinary assembly of book artists, writers, and visionaries in creating handmade journals and telling our stories.
Paulus, author of Finding One's Way With Clay
   A film crew from Australia came from the other side of the world to make a documentary of our friend and mentor... who recently won an award from the Smithsonian Institute as a phenomenal teacher... as he lead one of his workshops on making and keeping handmade journals.  In addition to leading us in making pastepaper,  covering book board,  assembling our folded papers and sewing the coptic bound books.... he had each of us spend time in front of the camera (and our fellow workshop participants) telling our stories of (what we considered) our significant life's work. Yet, we all had to include how this one man changed our perception of the world... and most importantly of ourselves. There were plenty of tears.. as well as laughter and love, dancing and accordion music, delicious food, and communion of spirit.

   If you are interested in reading more about Paulus, read his book Finding One's Way With Clay or one of the many articles written about him. Also, there will be an "online Journal" of the filming quite soon and eventually the documentary will be available. As soon as I have information, I'll post it on this blog so you can see more.

   Paulus initially called our workshop "Soul's Kitchen" and that is what I have named my book of the week for week 29. Soul's Kitchen is the book I made in this incredible 3-day workshop.
Pastepaper and a photograph of orchids for the cover....
All the journals of Soul's Kitchen
Holding Zan's doodle "Everything is Indeed Reaching Out to Everything Else"
   One of our workshop participants shared her 30-foot piece that started as a doodle and became a poem, a symbol of transformation and an incredibly beautiful piece of artwork. Her own journals were equally beautiful. She taught us all how to make a string ink painting. I made a string ink painting in my own Soul's Kitchen. It's easy to do.. just dip a 6-inch length of string into a cup of ink, then hold it over the paper and let its end lay in a curl over the paper.. then drag it across the paper. But be sure to relax! and let go of your need to control the string.. just pull it ...maybe dance a bit as you do!
So fragile when we begin to grow...
On the last day we gathered in a sewing circle and sewed up our books. Paulus calls the needle the "silver sword."
Joy, Paulus, and Debra in the sewing circle...
Our classmate Joy led us in singing the song, "When I Was Young." I wrote the words on the very first page of Soul's Kitchen. 

When I was young
I was the sun-
shone through the trees
onto the ground.

When I was young
I was the mountain-
knew all the birds
had my own vision.

When I was young
I was the river-
flowed through the mountain
down to the sea.

When I was young
I was the ocean-
held all my friends
throughout the end.

I am I am. I am I am. I am I am. I am I am...

   So over a lifetime, our small group has come to know the importance of keeping a beautiful journal, our Soul's Kitchen, and living a poetic life with all the dreams, poems, blessings and challenges recorded there. And thanks to Paulus, each of us has felt compelled to share this with others, as I am with you.
Pastepaper page of Soul's Kitchen

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week 28, Wild

The book of the week for week 28 is titled Wild. It's a Platform Panel book structure which was taught by fellow book artist Ann Clark at our Triangle Book Arts Guild a month or so ago.
Two wild kittens on the cover of Wild
The Triangle Book Arts Guild is a very low profile and eclectic group of book makers, printers and book artists who meet every third Monday of the month to share information, ideas, and the love of book arts. For the May meeting we learned about printing using an old retrofitted pull-type "knuckle-buster" credit card machine. Sixteen of us carved a 2 x 3-inch linoleum plate each, and printed 16 prints of our carved plate to share. Then we cut the accordion-folded card stock strip to create the swivel panel accordion book on which to paste the prints.
Swivel Panels of Prints
It took awhile, but I finally got all the pieces put together, the covers glued on, and the book finished this week. I spread it out in the backyard and noticed many of the prints had the theme of something wild.. I put my own print on the front cover as the title piece and also on the last panel of the book. I named the book Wild because my carved panels are pictures of my two kittens, Charlemagne and Louis, and the carved word "WILD."
Prints of flowers, leaves, a dog, trees and kittens... make up the book Wild
   My husband calls the kittens "monsters" but they're really pretty cute. Like most kittens, they're full of energy; they jump and climb and play a lot. I caught Charlie climbing the brick wall in our laundry room last week.. He was as high as my shoulder.. hanging off a vertical brick wall. Louie is fascinated with a certain paper ball and chases it all over the house growling as as he carries it in his mouth. He sounds really intense when he has his paper ball, but most of the time Louie is very sweet and gentle.
Wild Louie Lamour
He loves to be petted and purrs like a little motor boat. He's the big brother... at 4 months old.
Wild Charlie
Charlemagne comes when you call him Charlie. He's two weeks younger than Louie and half his size. He has very funny looking fur and tufts that grow out of his rather large ears. He loves to wrestle with Louie and he copies everything Louie does. He has a squeaky little meow that's more like a mew.

Kittens turn on and off rather quickly. Like the swivel panels of the book, the kittens can be full of wild energy one minute and fast asleep the next.
Louie asleep on the rug
Charlie.. trying to stay awake....
That's how it is in nature... a cycle of ups and downs.. and like wild kittens, everything has it's time.
Have a good week and stay cool!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

You're Invited! Come Celebrate Our Wedding

   Do you ever have the feeling when you are traveling that every tiny thing is significant? Do you find yourself saving ticket stubs and napkins? Do you hoard coffee stirrers and sugar packs? Do you pick up all sorts of odd brochures? Do you stuff your pockets with pebbles and put leaves and flower petals in the pages of your check book? I have to admit I do all of these things. The book of the week for this week is a travel journal titled You're Invited! Come Celebrate Our Wedding. It's an accordion book with pockets and a few pamphlet-stitched pop-outs in some of the valley folds..... And inside the book is filled with all the ephemera of a recent trip to a wedding in Helena, Montana.
Four days of hiking, trying new restaurants, sightseeing, visiting friends and meeting new ones
For any trip, a most important necessity is a map of the area you're visiting! If it has some of the interesting landmarks noted for you, that's helpful too! For the cover of this book I chose two elements: a map of the city and a cut-out from the invitation to the wedding we were attending which prompted the trip.
   Think about your favorite trips. Were they filled with planned events and a full agenda of awe inspiring sights? Or were they meandering Zen-like treks into uncharted experiences or meditative retreats? Was good food involved? Shopping? Fishing? Sports? Friends and loved ones? Our trip to Helena was all of those things... except fishing unless you count seeing the live mermaid at the Sip and Dip Bar and Restaurant. The book You're Invited! is my point of memory for much that we saw and did on our trip. Below are a few of the photos that go with the book... The brochures, the postcords, the take-out menus, the ticket stubs, the feathers, leaves, rocks, and sticks collected are all stuffed in the pockets of You're Invited! Come Celebrate Our Wedding.
City of Helena, Montana from Mount Helena
Wild flowers on the hiking trail
Following a path into the forest
Taking a break on the Continental Divide
The Wilderness at Beartooth
A Rainbow
A wedding marks a new beginning, but it also signifies a journey of a lifetime between two people. A family begun. A marriage is its own sort of travel journal; each day is a pocket to fill with assorted experiences. Congratulations and best wishes to all who are on that journey.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 26: Pop-up Sampler Surprise!

The book of the week for last week is Pop-up Sampler Surprise! It's made for a  class I'm teaching at NCSU's College of Design. We'll make a flat back board book based on styles of art, using pop-up and movable elements as a visual.. I've tried to make my sample book simple so the students can incorporate the their own ideas and imagery without any influence..
A flat back book with pastepaper covered boards
Title Page

So, we'll start with the Box Pop-out.. one of the simplest of pop-out structures...
And then expand that to Architectural Origami (or Origamic Architecture) which was developed by Masahiro Chatani a Japanese professor of architecture.. To practice making some intricate origamic architecture and read more about it, check out the book, Pop-up Origamic Architecture, by Masahiro Chatani.
Stairs are an easy starting point...
After boxes, the next easy pop-up structure is the triangle or "V fold. As most pop-up structures, this element crosses a fold, in this case the centerfold of the folio.
Oh Asia!
And then things can get more complicated! One of my favorite pop-up structures is the Triangle supported pop-up because there is some cooperation involved when two or more pop-ups are used.. and they look silly when they move!
Buzzzz Buzzzz, sweet flower
With all that moving around, the next structure is the Volvelle or wheel... a very old movable element dating to books in the 12th century.
Taking in the sun flowers
And that leads to the next pop-up.. The Tab. It's really fun! wink, wink..
Tab pushed in...
Tab pulled out!
After Tabs we'll explore the Platform. It's one of the most common structures.. just a folded plane parallel to the page which is held up by three or more "posts" of folded heavy paper. It can be a solid plane.. like a table top, a magic carpet, or a beach blanket, or can have cutouts like a well or window frame... More platforms can be stacked on top and different size platforms can be protruding through cutouts.. Like most things, the platform can be complex or simple.
A girl and her kitten, at the beach
The last pop-up structure we'll make is the Prop. Very simple and similar to platforms, the image isn't folded because its base attaches to one page and rises from it parallel to the other page.. very similar to a Box pop-up, but with glued-on posts to keep it box-like and popped out. Some people like to use photograph cutouts as Prop pop-ups, but I like to draw things like cars...
Watch out! ...pop-ups are addictive...
So that's the plan for the class at NC State.. I'll post some pictures of the books the students make in a few weeks. 

To see some earlier book structures from of a class I taught to NCSU design students this past winter (February?), read the post "Andy's Book." If you are interested in learning to make pop-ups for cards or a book, check out books by Carol Barton: The Pop-up Paper Engineer, Vols 1-3, Duncan Birmingham: Pop-up Design and Paper Mechanics, Mark Hiner: Paper Engineering, David Carter & James Diaz: The Elements of Pop-up... and any other books you can find on the subject. 

In Joy!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pop-up Surprise!

The book for week 26 is a pop-up book titled Pop-up Surprise!. This post is the part where the book is closed. That's why you can't see it. Tomorrow's post will show the book! Promise.