Sunday, October 28, 2012


   The Book of the Week for week 43 is titled Positions. It's a book about growing up... and is based on the 5 body positions of classical ballet. "Positions" was written by Rachel Steinsberger in 2005 as an assignment for a college creative writing major.
Tutus and ballet shoes on the clay tile covers..
   The book covers are small clay tiles, 3 by 3 inches wide. In applying the underglazes I've layered about 10 different colors in some places... That's how it is in life anyway... so many layers to make up the whole picture. The pages are thick handmade cotton paper which has been tinted pink. It relates to the dress code in my own daughter's ballet school: black leotard, pink tights, soft pink ballet shoes. Pink hand-moulded paper seemed the perfect choice.
Pink handmade paper and a story of growing up
   Positions is about the molding that happens as we grow.. that learning to be part of a group, to follow directions, and to work at something long after you are ready to quit. It's also about the joy we get when we are moving in sync with the music. It starts with a little girl, about 7 years old... Chapter 1 is titled First Position 1992.
First chapter, First Position 1992
In this chapter the little girl describes a sweet pink-faced college student teacher telling the little girls to suck in their "jelly bellies" and "jump over the river."
I was having fun.
     The second chapter is titled Summer Camp 1998. It is about the time in life when comparison is first evident. Second position is pretty painful. The chapter begins, "'Marcia's Medicine' they called it." It was not intended to make one healthier...
At ballet camp, the students (all exceptional) were separated by "talent" the first day.
   Third position, the third chapter, is blank except for the title A Place to Grow 1995-2000.

   The fourth chapter (fourth position) is titled, Snow and Steel. It's about a young adult making strides in accomplishments, about dedication to a goal and about determination. It's also about the push to independence that can be scary, cause harm, or failure... or a sort of success that will feed your confidence and set your life choices for the rest of your life.
...the most complicated and painful yet useful position.
 The book ends with the chapter on the fifth position, On to Level 5, 2004... This short chapter alludes to the transition, accomplishments and subsequent life into adulthood... The back cover is another little ballerina with her knobby knees, 'jelly belly', and pink tutu.
In first position...
   When we see the little book Positions, it's easy to view it as adorable and precious. Yet the story includes not just the joy of experiencing new things, but the discomfort, the disillusion, and the hard work of growing up. Like the little clay book, the story is kind of hard, yet the last chapter is left open to the bliss of dancing to the music of a full life.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Book Carousel

   This week's book of the week is The Book Carousel. This is the last of a series of books made for the class that ended last Monday, Tunnel Books and Carousel Books.

A vintage marbled paper from England and my own pastepaper allude to the historic medieval tombs revered so long ago. The Book Carousel is a very distant relative of those parchment pages with birch wood and gold-tooled leather covers. It has a sort of buttressed roof.. which reminds me of a cathedral I visited in France a few years ago.

Inside the 5-panel carousel book, each page is dedicated to a type of book structure...

A shelf of cord-bound books...
Japanese-style books...
Longstitch books...
and Pop Up books!
So, that's The Book Carousel. A sort of shrine to books. 

Some other books made in the class...

Christina's A Snowman Tossing Flowers into a Black Hole tunnel book.

Kat's Bug on a Flower in a Cartoon World tunnel book
Rua's I Want to Visit Mars When I Grow Up tunnel book

Nancy's ABC's of Grandkids tunnel book

Kat's Bugs of the Dirt carousel book
A variety of sculptural books.. all filled with things we love or find fascinating... or are just silly.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's New?

Coptic Books in Making Your Mark
  There are four book arts classes in the Raleigh (NC) area starting in November and running once a week until mid December! I've listed them below in case you live in the area and want to have a ton of fun making books and playing with paper and such.

...otherwise please forgive the infomercial (is it the time of year?) and check back Monday Oct 22 to read the latest Book of the Week Challenge post.

At Pullen Art Center (919-996-6126):
1. Making Your Mark: Illustration and Content in Book arts

In this fun class we’ll make books and decorate papers utilizing four surface design criteria: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Prospective. All levels from beginner to advanced book artist will enjoy and learn in this class, and we will leave with at least four new books, paste papers, touch drawings, and lots of ideas! A supply fee of $50 is payable to the instructor.
Thursdays, Nov 8-Dec 20 (except Thanksgiving); 6:30-9:30 #130708

Contrast (Touch Painting Inks): Making Your Mark

2. The Book of Change: Exploring the Longstitch

This class explores a variety of exposed long-stitch bindings with pastepainted watercolor paper covers. Inside the books we’ll incorporate more content-related elements including writing, windows, pockets, fold-outs, and transfers. Among the bindings we’ll explore are the Italian Longstitch, Buttonhole stitch with a Window, Cross Hatch, and Kettle/longstitch with a Chain-stitch circle or Chevron. All levels will enjoy this class, but especially those who love sewing!  A supply fee of $30-45 is payable to the instructor. Tuesdays, Nov 13-Dec 18; 6:30-9:30 #130709
Longstitch book: The Book of Change
At Cary Art Center - Cary, NC (919-469-4069):
Between the Folds: The accordion book is based on a folded paper spine and is a simple book structure that dates back thousands of years. In this class we’ll explore many variations of this structure including the double concertina, the piano hinge book, the hidden hinge book, and the stiff leaf binding. We’ll incorporate our own painted and printed imagery, collage, and typewritten content. We’ll make pastepapers and marbling. We’ll have fun and work hard! Supply fee of $35-50 payable to instructor at first class. Bring your own apron and cutting mat. Mondays, Nov. 5- Dec. 17 (no class Nov. 12), 6:30-9:30pm. (#62440) 

Hidden Hinge Book: Between the Folds
Silly Pop-up Cards and a Book: In this class we will create a variety of delightful and fun paper engineered cards and pages. We will learn how to bind the pop-up pages to create a delightfully animated book, and if there's time... we’ll make extras to use as holiday cards. Additional $25-35 supply fee is payable to instructor on the first class. 6 Wednesdays Nov. 7-Dec. 22, (No class Nov. 21)  Please bring your own cutting mat. (#62746)
A hardcover book: Silly Pop Up Cards and Book
Pull Tab: Silly Pop Up Cards & Book
Pull Tab: Silly Pop Up Cards & Book

This class will be so fun!

and silly!

In addition to the supply fees, tuitions are between $85 and $120, depending of Raleigh City or Town of Cary residency, so it's a great deal for 6 weeks of fun....and cool books and papers to take home too! All levels of book artists are welcome. So, hope to see you!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hungarian Rhapsody

   Music has the ability to capture one's emotions... to enmesh the imagination in an auditory narrative and to create an environment of it's own. This week's Book of the Week, Hungarian Rhapsody, makes tribute to the power of music.
Pages from an old music book illuminate the script of song
Whether listening to Bach, the Beach Boys, or Notorious B.I.G., music has the unequivocal ability to shanghai the senses. As a child my first piano concerto was the duet, "Chopsticks" (The Celebrated Chop Waltz by Euphemia Allen.) My friend Sandy and I pounded away at our two parts again and again... and again.  The blending of the harmonies was one of the few times we weren't arguing! The book Hungarian Rhapsody is based on the piano hinge book which was developed by book artist and instructor Hedi Kyle. I've utilized chopsticks as the binding rods (serendipity!) and strengthened the spine area of the pages with marbled japanese paper.
Hinge pins of chopsticks are woven through the pages and cover ribbon loops
Open the book and the pages move a bit awkwardly.. a bit choppy for a book. (heh heh) The book structure seems to be taking over the imagination and demanding attention... Perhaps I've made the hinges too tight. Or, perhaps this is how the piano hinge book plays.
Some hinges are a bit tight...don't want to accommodate opening and closing
Though some of the pages have a bit of tension and want to spring up, some of the hinges work perfectly and lie flat and smooth. Like the musical notes on the pages, the book pages tend to rise and fall in a rhythm all their own.
A concerto of harmony
This is the first time I've made this book structure and I wasn't sure I liked the structure when I finished the book. I like my books to look good and feel good and this book didn't act as expected. Hungarian Rhapsody is awkward visually and physically. Still, that awkwardness has captured my imagination and I'm forced to relate to the book on its terms ...much like music affects the senses.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

If These Walls Could Talk

   The book of the week is titled If These Walls Could Talk.  It's a hidden hinge book... and I'll teach this structure at Penland School of Crafts in a few weeks for the 1-week course I'm teaching, "Once Upon a Time." The class concentrates on incorporating content into handmade books. I thought the hidden hinge book would be a nice structure for exploring themes on secrets, hidden things, and mystery.
If These Walls Could Talk hidden hinge book 
 When you open the book you see the first hinge... a house of watercolor paper with the word memories written across the roof and some actual memories written in the windows. The tyvek spine strips (which act as half of the hinges) are folded accordion-style and threaded into slots cut in the centerfold of the signatures. It's true!
Open the book to Memories Memories Memories...
There are four gatherings of pages (signatures) and therefore four hinges. Each signature is hinged with a watercolor house which names the chapter title on the roof and some examples written in the windows. The chapters are: Memories, Hidden Things, Ghosts, and Secrets... I've listed some examples. What would you put in the chapter titled Hidden Things? What about the chapter titled Ghosts?
Hidden Things: Keys, love letters, whiskey...
The last chapter is titled Secrets. "Don't tell your mom. Don't tell your daddy. Don't tell the children. Don't tell the neighbors. Don't tell Grandma. Don't tell the cops. Don't tell anyone."
Secrets can be hard to keep.
   For many years I've mourned the deconstruction of some of the historic homes and buildings in my community. As a building ages, the lives and activity that bustled within become part of the bricks and mortar. The aura and energy of a place become interwoven with the materials within... and the space begins to have a sort of soul. The North American Indians had a similar personification and reverence of their burial grounds. I mourn when a local building is torn down, because the stories of the place, the ghosts and the myths of that place are lost forever. It's a part of progress, I know, but it's hard to accept the loss too.

    If These Walls Could Talk is partially a book about personal experiences, but it is also a journal to catalog buildings being renovated or torn down. is a local webpage I like to read that showcases some of the historic architecture in the Raleigh area that is still thriving and some long gone. There are extensive descriptions of the buildings and their histories described, as well as photos then and now.. Folks write in with anecdotes of things that happened at these buildings... and in a way it seems like the walls are talking. As you look at the buildings and the places of gathering in your community that have a history, are you giving them their proper reverence? Can you hear the stories of the ghosts, or imagine the things hidden in the walls and under the dirt? Can you remember the community that met and lived within, the stories told, the celebrations and losses? Can you hear the whispers of the secrets? Look at the walls of the place where you live. What would they say 100 years from now... if walls could talk?