Monday, August 30, 2010

Suzanne Cannon over at Quietfire Designs has put together some great instructions and kits on several styles of bookbinding.  I've never been lucky enough to attend one of her classes on the west coast but I have taken advantage of the opportunity to work through several of her bookbinding kits.

One of the kits I've tried has been an exposed spine book or Coptic stitched book.  It was called the Pipe Organ stitch and was done over cords which were then threaded through the cover of the book.  I made a small change in adding some old buttons that I had to hold the cords.  Here is the original.  Here is a photo of my book with buttons.  The paper came with the kit.









The second book I tried was the Caught in Canvas Journal bookbinding kit.  The covers were made with 6" x6" canvas and the signatures were sewn over leather tapes.  I used an image transfer and texture on my canvas to make multi media covers.  Here is a photo of my finished journal.





Here is a link to the original kit and other samples shown.


The instructions were really easy to follow and all the basic materials were provided in the kit.  With the instructions and sewing templates it will be quite easy to use them as the starting point for other journals.


I really wish I was closer to Suzanne and Quietfire Designs because I'd love to learn how to make the Copper Etched Journal.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I am so easily distracted.  I sat down over an hour ago to write a quick post and upload a picture.  That was all I was going to do.  While I was making a quick edit on the picture, I thought "I really should post that to the ning group  Lovin Mixed Media (which is a fantastic group by the way.  Gary is incredibly creative and shares wonderful techniques) because I'm new to the group and I haven't shared any work yet.  While I had the picture up on the screen it seemed a reasonable thing to do because I have a terrible memory and who knows when I'd be likely to think of it again?

Sooooo, I went to Google Reader and opened the site I wanted and was immediately caught be a posting, more like a rant, about abstract art.  What caught my eye was this:
I was happily reading the front page of LMM as I do every day. And I found miss Butlers piece there, having never heard of her I read on while sipping a nice cup of coffee. First thing was boy she has a lot of grants and awards,must be a great artist. Then the pictures invaded my screen..ok I am not going there again. To each it's own,remember the modern art thread I made lol. nope not this time,let that bear rest...for now. No, what made my toes curl the wrong way was this:



"Working larger than I have in recent years, I’m engaged with the slightly off-kilter, the not-quite-right, the un-straight line,discordant color, and awkward alliances. The visual language derives loosely from ideas inspired by everyday objects and imagery, like ships-in-bottles, car dealer flags, construction materials, mind maps, fireworks, floor plans, the number eight, Lily Pulitzer dresses, geometric motifs from my father’s old paintings, vomit, cage-like
crosshatched lines, and, of course, art history"



So.."I’m engaged with the slightly off-kilter, the not-quite-right, the un-straight line,
discordant color, and awkward alliances" uhm..yeah. granted it was early in the morning so my brain was not yet in full gear..I read the same thing again,later that day...yeah no..WHAT are you saying there? So I read on..

"The visual language derives loosely from ideas inspired by everyday objects and imagery, like
ships-in-bottles, car dealer flags, construction materials, mind maps, fireworks, floor plans, the number eight, Lily Pulitzer dresses, geometric motifs from my father’s old paintings, vomit, cage-like crosshatched lines, and, of course, art history""



Well, once I started reading that, I just had to finish and then go to my ning group and see what the follow up discussion was like.  It seems it is a well worn abstract vs realism in art debate with a sidebar on artist statements and philosophies. I had to admit that I couldn't really understand what her description actually meant so I had to go and look up her artwork as well.  And that lead to her her CV because it was there on her site.  It wouldn't be art work that I would choose because I find it jarring rather than interesting but then that is what she seems to be saying. 

By the time I actually posted my picture and wrote a description (and by this time it wasn't feeling anything like art) the hands of the clock had been quite busy in their rotations.

And that was a fairly quick return to task for me.  I just took one side trip.  Well, maybe two if you count the artist's site.  Maybe three if you count her blog as a separate site.  I'm just glad that I didn't really like her art or I might never have gotten back to my real goal.

I find it hard to believe that a few short years ago I was a very on task person.  Now I have the memory span and focus of a goldfish.  Not good.

Back to point.  The picture I am going to post is the result of a mixed media workshop I took at Sarnia Craft Supply, our local craft shop, that involved painting with acrylics.  It was my first time trying to use this medium to create realistic flowers and I still need a lot of work.  

I can't draw or paint - realistically. I know, I know, everyone can draw in some form or another but I have trouble with getting objects to look realistic. What I envision seldom appears on the page. I just can't seem to get my hand to draw what I want. I can trace or copy, however. When it comes to painting I haven't yet grasped the concept of building up layers to create the shading that I want.





This was a large canvas, about 24" x 36". To begin with, we prepared the canvas by adding a small box to the back of the canvas as a recess for the poppy pods and then adding a thin, smooth coat of Frescalina to the entire surface. This is a texture substance that accepts paint like a fresco. We used heat guns to speed up the drying process.

I used a large template and graphite paper to trace the poppies (they were taken from the Altered Art magazine, I think). Thicker layers of texture were added around the poppies towards the outer edges of the canvas. We used sea sponges to dab on our background colours. I was using ochre, and raw umber and raw sienna. I liked the earth toned background.

The instructor walked us through the painting of the poppies. She was doing a canvas as a demonstration so that we could see how she used the colours for shading. Her poppies looked a lot better than mine and I did have to get her help in rescuing a petal on the large poppy. To me it still looks like it is bending out rather than up when I first look at it. We actually sanded the poppies to bring back some of the lighter colours that were underneath and add a distressed texture to the canvas.

I found that the leaves and stem were much easier to shade, though I think I'm most pleased with the bud or poppy pod or whatever the green thing hanging down is. I like the subtle shading on that. I can see the depth and shape of it.

We used large foam stamps (I chose the diamond pattern) to stamp a painted design on the canvas. I also had some finer flourish stamps that I used to embellish the areas around the actual pods and the text. I added more Frescalina to the area around the text and stamped the flourishes into the texture medium. When you look at the canvas you can see the embossing.

The quote was supposed to be painted with a script brush but my hand is just not steady enough for that -- not if you want to read it that is. I ended up using a paint pen.

Finally, to add an extra touch we put sizing on several areas around the poppies and when the sizing was tacky we added gold leaf and burnished it.

So I didn't actually draw the poppies freehand - I used a template. The entire group did. Though maybe others could have drawn their own poppies, it made it easier to coordinate the instructions for shading if our poppies all had petals opened in the same way.

I had a great time at this workshop and Melanie was a very, very patient instructor. She's also a very good painter.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

As I promised, and this is as good a place as any to keep a record of the lessons and techniques I've learned for future reference ...  here are some photos of my early workshops in book making.  The results are mine and do not reflect on the excellent efforts and instructions of the workshops and class teachers.

Another disclaimer before the photos appear.  The fluorescent light in my workroom did not help in taking these pictures with the digital camera.  I definitely need to work on technique.  Now that all my excuses have been made, here are the photos:


Even though it's really hard to tell, this is a three hole pamphlet with a paste paper cover.


You can see what I mean about the light.  It just gleams on the paste paper surface.  The next photo is of a five hole pamphlet.

Once again the stitching is caught in the glare of the light but this pamphlet has five holes.

The next booklet is a stab binding and it uses an embroidery stitch - the lazy daisy stitch, to hold that pages in the book.



These were the easiest of the starter booklets and while these were quite small in size, roughly 3" by 4", they could be made in just about any size you want. 

The next booklet I tried was in a workshop with Louise Grantham of CBBAG.  I went to the Bindery in Toronto and took her workshop on the Dos a Dos.  It was a lot of fun.  She put an additional challenge in the project by adding some cut and fold work in the cover and come decorating spine stitching from Keith Smith's book.  Here is a sample of what we did.





The Dos a Dos, as you can see is a book divided into two parts with each part opening in a different direction.  The cover is folded like a
 Z
There are two signatures, or sections of paper in each part of the book so the sewing on the spine is not straight like the pamphlet books but done in a zigzag pattern like a row of z's    zzzzzz    They connect the two signatures together through the cover.

Enough pictures for one night.  I'll record more history another time.
I've discovered that I need to establish goals or heaven forbid ... even deadlines .. in order to complete any art.  if I don't do that, I'm full of good intentions, I surf the internet and look up all kinds of references, get inspired in a million different ways, end up ordering books, downloading .pdf files that are just sooooo interesting that I can't wait to try them, get caught up in blogs of incredible work by others who've obviously found the time to actually do something,  gather supplies that I know I'm just going to need from the hardware store or art supply and at the end of the day, the week, when ever ... I don't have much to show for it in the way of finish creations.

Now, all the above mentioned things come together for me when I take a class.  The inspiration, the tools, supplies, instruction and deadlines all appear in the same place at the same time and a finished product is guaranteed.  The only problem is that not many classes in things that catch my fancy are available in my local area.  Accommodation costs can make out of town classes a bit expensive as a frequent alternative.  I am trying to find out if there are any like minded individuals near by as the "buddy system" might work for me as well.  I'm just not a great joiner -- it's so hard to take the first step.

I was lucky enought to find a bookbinding class being offered in a town only 60 kilometers away from me.  It's offered by a master bookbinder/restorer who is a member of CBBAG.  I have been able to take Bookbinding Part I and II, the Leather Workshop and I'm signed up for Bookbinding Part III in November.  Now that is one interest that has me captivated though I don't seem to do too much when I'm on my own.  Shhhh, don't tell Dan that!

I'll post some pictures of my efforts from those classes and a box making workshop that I took with Don Taylor (also from CBBAG).
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