Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oyster Love

   All over America the past week has been filled with the preparation for and celebration of Thanksgiving Day. Families have come together.. in many cases traveling many miles... to give thanks ... to share the Thanksgiving commune in love and friendship. Thanksgiving is a time of family and friends. I love hearing all the traditions and stories which are unique to each family. In our family a bushel of fresh oysters is as much a necessity as the twenty pound turkey, the pumpkin pies and the afternoon football game on TV playing in the background. This week's Book of the Week is titled Oyster Love.
Oyster Love.. a family tradition.. 
     Oyster Love is a stiff leaf book made of pastepainted watercolor pages and india ink that is bound with black silk handmade bookcloth.

When the oysters are roasted, they pop open!
Hand cut pages have scalloped pastepainted edges
The story is written with india ink on the pages...
The story goes like this....

Oyster Love

Some folks love oysters
battered and deep fried
to a golden brown.

Some folks love oysters
raw and runny and
tasting of the salty sea.

Some folks love oysters
served on fancy china plates
with shell shaped hollows.

Some folks love oysters
on saltine crackers with horseradish
and fiery hot sauce.

Some folks love oysters
covered with spinach and cheeses
and browned under the broiler.

Some folks love oysters
roasted on an open fire under the stars 
and lit by the autumn moon.

Some folks just love

My husband found a tiny pearl in an oyster this week and gave it to me!
I am so thankful for all I have been given this year ...and always.
I hope you are too.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Secrets Secrets

Secrets. Everybody has them. ...some are hidden from our own consciousness... some are part of our family history.. some are silly gossip.. and this time of year some are about PRESENTS!!! Secrets Secrets, that's the title of this week's Book of the Week.
Cover paper of natural dyes: walnut, brazilwood, osage orange, and cochineal
Letterpress type on the title page
Letterpress type reflects the diaphanous nature of secrets. When hidden within a secret the truth becomes a delicate cobweb, flimsy, and sometimes distorted. Secrets Secrets is a hidden hinge book...also called an accordion hinge book... that's housed in a hardcover case. Six gatherings of pages, called signatures, are threaded onto two accordion folded spine strips. Inside each signature is a watercolor paper "pin" that is threaded through the mountain side of the accordion spine pieces and holds the book together.
Marbleized pages and a watercolor paper pin threaded through the accordion spine pieces

Pull the pin up to read the secrets...
On one paper pin are written the words "Tell" and "Don't Tell." To see the words the pin must be pulled up. A Japanese marbling technique, suminagashi, is used to coat the pages and the hinge pins.  The fluid, imprecise nature of the marbled paper alludes to the shapeshifting nature of secrets. The brown accordion hinge strips are painted with pastepaints... scratched through with a comb to imply confusion and conflict.

Pen and ink doodles and fold-out pages...
Fold-out pages serve to hide the text, sheltering from prying eyes those secrets too personal to share.. and sepia ink doodles around stray ink blots illustrate the secrets of the subconscious... What do they say?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Want to Go to India

   This week's Book of the Week is titled I Want to Go to India. It's true. I do. The book is a slat book, which I was told is one of the oldest book structures. The slat book originated around the area that is now India and Nepal and was passed on to the Chinese via the Silk Road. Examples of chinese strip books on bamboo date back to 250 BC. This slat book is made of varying sized pieces of bookboard covered in my pastepapers then tied together with waxed linen thread. Two antique brass buttons are threaded onto the binding threads for wrapping and securing the folded-up slat book.
A slip of kozo paper presents the title: I Want to go to India
   When the slat book is unfolded, it resembles venetian blinds. Because this slat book is made of varying sized slats with folded paper pop-ups attached, it looks beautifully ornate... very complex. Which is how I envision India.. full of flowers, beautiful colors on everything, a diverse population of many layers... noisy and full of ENERGY!
Folded paper pop-outs hold the words  
 The slat book can fold up to set on a table or stack into a bookshelf, or it can be unfolded and hung on the wall as a piece of art.  Charlemagne the kitten is fascinated with anything that is paper and especially this book! ...Oh dear, fore-shadowing of an embattled Christmas tree...
Temptation of the pretty paper and pop-outs!
The pastepaper pop-outs each have a strip of kozo paper on which is written the brief text. On page one, "I want to go to India. Ride elephants."  
"Ride elephants"..did I really say that?!
When all the pop-out elements are opened the book resembles a flower garland.. something I imagine I would see in India.
Page 2, "and walk along the river..."
Page 3, "and pray in an ashram on a mountain top."
Travel to an exotic country always includes a large part as the unknown.. then expectations become pointless and the events and articles of reality are wondrous. Despite the simplistic statements in this book, that is the journey I seek.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fresh Catch!

Where to begin... on a personal note I've just returned from a week teaching at Penland School of Crafts in the North Carolina mountains... Like sometimes happens in life, it was a perfect moment in time.
Quiet after the snowfall
Ten book arts students (men and women of all ages and backgrounds), my assistant Elizabeth and I gathered for introductions at the Penland Books and Paper studio Sunday night, October 28, 2012.
Through this door... so much fun!
The class was titled Once Upon a Time and included both book making techniques and writing.. with a few surface design/illustration techniques squeezed in... The first day we painted pastepapers... and wrote a batch of collaborative zines based on the process of an Exquisite Corpse. Zines are small self published editions of stories, articles, or other content-related information that are simply bound (such as by folding, staples, or pamphlet stitch) and reproduced by photocopier. An Exquisite Corpse is a method by which a collection of words or images is assembled as a collaboration where each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence. For our zines, everyone started their own zine then passed it to the right for their neighbor to add the next page of the story. With each new page, the zines were passed to the right and the stories continued by the next person.. until all 12 zines were done. I covered my collection of the 12 zines with pastepaper, sewed them with the pamphlet stitch, and strung them onto a macrame cord of waxed linen thread as this week's Book of the Week... Fresh Catch!
Fresh Catch of zines

The titles of the 12 zines of Fresh Catch are: 1. Once Upon a Time, 2. The Journey, 3. Penland in a Snowstorm, 4. Trees Stand Naked, 5. Been Zine, 6. The Little Old Lady at the End of the Road, 7. 24 is My Lucky Number, 8. Stretching My Brain!, 9. Craven Potters Crack Pottery, 10. A Clear Midnight, 11. Margin of Error, and 12. The Night of the Enchanted Guillotine.
The Night of the Enchanted Guillotine...
The zine Once Upon a Time begins... 
'One night while 
Luann was 

She woke to a 
shadow moving beneath
 her bed.
Page 2 & 3 of the zine Once Upon a Time
'...but the shadow 
was just her 
house slipper. 

Now that she was 
awake at 3 am, 
there was no going 
back to sleep.
Page 4 & 5 of the zine Once Upon a Time
'...For she realized there
 was only one
 slipper and 
so the other
 must be 
on the foot
 of the one
legged monster
 in the closet.
And so she
 asked him 
to give it 
back and
 he did if 
she gave him 
her pillow so
 she did and
 he turned into a 


So zines can be a bit fishy.. because they are usually fast and 'dirty.' That's why I strung them up and call the piece Fresh Catch!

Read more about Penland School of Crafts at and read more about zines at

My grateful thanks to Elizabeth, Sarah, Martha Sue, Louis, Kate, Pat, Savanah, John, Mary Ann, Jean, and Liz for your collaboration on this Book of the Week. It was an incredible week and I already miss you terribly!
Our Buladean...  valley of gold