Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Coptic Stitch Book

My obsession with paper has been well documented on this blog. I teasingly introduce myself in my bookbinding/paper classes as a paper whore. I hoard paper and will buy paper products just in case I might need something. Rather than create projects from the materials that I have, many times I will shop and buy new materials for a new project. The problem with this type of attitude is that my supplies start to multiply and there have been occasions where I have bought duplicate materials.

Unfortunately, not all paper is created equal. I have favorites. Some paper will probably never get used because I like it too much (I almost said "love" and realized how silly that would have been). Some materials will be saved for special occasions or for special people and I will gladly use those materials when the time arrives.

Yet, I have some materials that I have that I just don't realize why I bought them. I had one project that was for a friend's daughter who loves pink. As a matter of record, I hate pink but I have a surplus of pink book cloth and paper. When I am in these situations, I tend to use these materials for mockups or practice sessions.

I am making a mockup of a coptic stitch book. I was going through my stash of materials and came across these two papers. The brown bamboo pattern was a little too large for most of my projects but I think that it will be OK with this 6" x 9" book. I am using the yellow/orange striped Thai paper as a paste down on the interior of the book. Hopefully, the two papers won't look garish alongside each other.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Just so that I can go on the record--I hate wolves. I have never liked them. I always viewed them as predatory animals that stole and devoured small dogs and children. When I realized that one of the themes of my artist's book swap was wolves--I cringed.

After some deep soul searching and lots of editing, I came up with these three paper cuts. I sure hope that my swap partner likes them because I certainly agonized over them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Project Finished

Did you ever have one of those projects that just took forever to finish? The project was supposed to be a journal for a friend who asked for a handmade journal for his birthday. Of course, he told me that his birthday was the following week. The pages were Crane Letra and were sewn on tapes. When it came time to case the book in, I measured on three separate occasions to ensure that the boards would be the correct size. When I test-fitted the case, it was 1/8 inch short. The problem is that I didn't trim the signatures and decided to leave them as is. Or course, the boards would be too short.

I put away the project for a couple of days out of frustration. I've learned never to work on a project while I am frustrated. Usually in an effort to finish, I rush things and ruin materials--I can't tell you how many cases I have ruined with glue/paste stains because I was rushing.

I came back to the project the following weekend and measured again. This time I compensated for the extra width of the signatures only to realize that I misread the markings on my board trimmer. When it came time to dry-fit the text block--once again, I was too short.

I finally came to finish the book this weekend with the advent of the three day weekend. I measured, wore my glasses to check the markings on the board trimmer, and voila--I have a finished journal.

The end sheets are green Fabriano paper. The decorative paper is a marbled paper from Rhonda Miller whose work I absolutely adore. The book cloth is a green velvet paper that is lined. After all is said and done, I am quite happy with the finished product.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm Back

It's been a long couple of months and there has been a lot to report. First of all, my apartment was burgled again. This time, since they couldn't find much to steal, they trashed my studio for fun. All of my neatly displayed storage containers were strewn on the floor. They only thing left standing were the wire shelves--only because there wasn't room to pull them down.

So, every waking moment when I wasn't working, I was reshelving, reassembling, and reorganizing every single item in my studio. Do you know what it is like to have to chase around on your hands and knees trying to find all of the eyelets, brads, beads, and hot fix crystals in a 12 x 12 room? Yeah--that was my life.

More importantly, one of the two items that was stolen was my digital camera. It cost $200 which isn't a major expense for others but it was for me. I am happy to say that I treated myself to another camera for my birthday.

I am working on other projects which I will share with you shortly but I did want to check in to say hello and that I will be back to blogging.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This is the cutout that I am working on as an ad campaign. This is the basic cutout shape. There will be overlays of text but the theme is for an AIDs Awareness Campaign called "Know Your Status."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Art Journal Challenge (Two)

Here is a piece that I am adding to my Art Journal Challenge Page for the second week of prompts. The prompt is Negative. When I think of negative, I think of negative space in cutouts so I decided this simple cutout to show both the positive and negative space.

I haven't figured out how I will use this cutout but it will make its way somehow into this week's journal page.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Cutouts

After working on my emergency Mother's Day Card crisis, I decided to develop of series of Garden Party cutout cards. Here are the first two in the series. These are just the prototypes and not the color combinations that will ultimately be used. These are folded cards that are 4.25" by 5.5". I will have either 4 or 5 in the series.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Art Journal Challenge

This was my entry for Week One of the Art Journal Challenge. The prompt that I chose to use was "Scribble." I used one of the watercolor pages that I had specified for this challenge. This is a matchbook page that folds backwards and tucks into a one inch turn-in. The valley fold of the turn in will be stitched to an accordion spine that will then be cased in.

The pages are 90 lb Arches cold pressed watercolor paper. I usually would have used 140 lb but I wanted something that could be folded so I opted for the lighter paper. The paper curls more than I would like but that is what you give up for flexibility.

I layered fives colors of watercolor for the background. I based the colors on the brads that I already had. I wanted the colors to coordinate. I then attached the brads in random order being sure to try and not place two brads on the same color next to one another. I then took embroidery floss and scribbled between brads. I used five colors of thread (one strand each). I originally was only going to use four colors (red, dark purple, light purple and navy) but decided I needed a lighter color on top and added the yellow.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

First of all,
Happy Mother's Day to all those who qualify.

I received a frantic call this morning at 10 AM. Please keep in mind that Sunday is the only day that I have off from both of my jobs. I normally sleep in (which is 8 or 9 AM since I normally wake up at 6). I leisurely treat myself to a diner breakfast and aimlessly enjoy my day.

Instead, this morning, I received a frantic call from S (who is one of my truly good friends in NYC). Here is how the conversation went:
S: Dude, I need a Mother's Day card, bad.
Me: Go to the store and buy one.
S: No really, I need one of your cards, really bad.
Me: It's Mother's Day already.
S: I know--I'm a total shit.
Me: Why did you wait til the last moment.?
S: Stop being my Mom. Can you make me a card? Don't you have one around.
Me: Nooooooooo. I make cards to order. You know that.
S: Just throw something together for me, pleaaaaaaaaaaase.
Me: Why don't you just buy one from the store?
S: You always make cards for my Mom. If I don't give her one of your cards, she will know that I waited until the last moment and then I have to sit through the entire brunch hearing how bad of a kid I am.
Me: Alriiiiiiiiiiight. When do you need it?
S: Well, brunch is at 1. Can you bring it to the city by then.
Me: Excuse me? Don't you mean--can I pick it up on my way to the city?
S: Oh, ugh, yeaaaaaah. When do you think I can stop by and pick it up.
Here is what I came up with.
Option #1. The design is from a Dover Publications of Floral Stencils. I cut out the design and backed it with red moire paper for the buds and petals. I used a patterned Florentine paper for the leaves and stems ( I wanted it to look like variegated foliage). There is text weight white paper on the inside that reads "Happy Mother's Day."
Option #2--This is the same card as above showing the white liner as the background.
I don't really know which one I like better but I think that they turned out OK considering it was a rush job. S better be bringing some Godiva chocolates in the near future (He is a Regional Manager for Godiva). Oh, the things we do for friends.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Commission

Here is another commission that was done in addition to the Wedding Album mentioned yesterday. The Japanese Silk book cloth covers the back boards and continues onto the cover of the cased in journals. The decorative papers and French Marbled sheets that coordinate with the end sheets of the album and the red silk book cloth. The pink book was for the bride and the red wave book was for the groom. The text blocks were the lined journal text blocks from Hollanders.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wedding Album

Here is one of the commissions that I was working on. It is a wedding album for a young couple. The colors of the wedding were deep red and ivory. The pages are hand torn and are Folio (250 gm) Antique. It is a beautiful paper to work with and is great for album pages. The indentation that you see on the front cover is for a 4 x 6 photo from the wedding. The covering is a Japanese Silk book cloth.

(above) The album from the front view.

There are two folios per signature and these are sewn onto an accordion folded spine with 6 mountain folds. The last signature has three folios. This amounts to 25 pages for photographs (if using the front side only) or 50 pages if you are using fronts and backs (which is not recommended for a photo album unless there are interleaves and it isn't recommended in that case either).

(above) The album from the side view.

The endsheets are a beautiful French Marbled paper that has a gold iridescence.
(above) Endsheets and hand torn pages.

The finished dimensions of the photo album are 12" by 12" which will allow two 4 by 6 photos per page (in either orientation) or one 8 by 10 photo (in either orientation). The accordion spine allows for the the album to expand once the photos are added and the extra long ribbon will keep the album shut should it splay open once it is filled.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Haven't Fallen Off the Face of the Earth

Hello faithful readers,
No I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. I have been extremely busy though. The theater that I am working at has opened its new show and it is called "American Idiot." The show is based upon the Green Day album of the same name. To say that my life has been chaotic is an understatement. I am also still working my day job and teaching two mornings each week as well. My class ends in two more weeks so life will be a little less chaotic very soon.

On the creative front, I have been doing some commission work, and some private swaps on swap-bot. I have also signed up to do a one month Art Journaling Challenge. The nice thing about this month' s challenge is that it is stress free. You get the prompts on Sunday for the entire week and you work a page(s) as you have time. I plan on working on one page per week. Also, I am working on the pages in a loose format and will then bind them when I am done. These pages will feature a new layout based on a different according spine binding. Each page will fold backward like a reverse matchbook. I have been developing some non-traditional sized books and journals and this new design will be featured in that collection.

Finally, here is the card that I designed for the Opening Night of American Idiot. It features the artwork from the album and show.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2010 Egg Decorating Contest Results--Part 2

Designed by Sam. "Olive You". Winner Best Decoration Category (Under 12)
Winner of Martha Stewart Award for Best Overall Design

Design by Amanda. Second Place--Best Decoration (Under 12)

Design by Amanda. Third Place--Best Decoration (Under 12)

Design by Rafael. Winner Best Technique Category

Design by Thomas. Second Place Best Technique Category

Design by Rafael. Third Place Best Technique

Design by Belinda (Under 12). Winner Best Use of Color Category

Design by Michael. Second Place Best Use of Color Category

Monday, April 5, 2010

Egg Decorating Contest Results

The following decorated eggs were awarded prizes in the Second Annual Egg Decorating Contest.
Winner Best Painted Egg--Design by Marcus. Handpainted using watercolors and sea salt.
Winner: Best Use of Dyes: Design by Holden (Under 12)
Winner: EggHeads--Little Orphan Eggie: It's A Hard-Boiled Life. Design by Jill (Under 12)
Second Place: EggHeads--Eggbert by Jill
Third Place: EggHeads--Wicked Cool by Mary Beth

Monday, March 29, 2010

Second Annual Egg Decorating Contest

It's time for the Second Annual Egg Decorating Contest. All entries are due by Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm. All eggs must be designed in 2010. Photos of all entries should be submitted to or The categories for this year are:

Egg Heads
Best Fine Art (Other than Painting)
Best Decoration (under 12)
Best Use of Natural Dyes
Best Technique
Best Use of Color
Best Use of Office Supplies
Best Religious Egg
Best Painted Egg

When applicable, three winners will be designated in each category. The winners of each category will be eligible for "The Martha Stewart Award for Best Overall Design."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Class

This past weekend, I took another class at The Center for Book Arts. The course was called Short Cuts and was taught by one of the most generous and talented artists that I have met through classes. The class was taught by the amazing paper cut artist--Beatrice Coron. Her paper cuts have recently appeared at MOMA and I fell in love with her work by viewing it up close and personal at Kate's Paperie where she did Halloween Window Displays. Much to my pleasure, she is one of several artists who was chosen this year to provide artwork for Arts for Transit Program. Her poster is currently being featured on several of the subway lines. I purchased her artcard through the Arts for Transit store.

I thoroughly enjoyed her class and will definitely repeat it when it is offered again. The beauty of the class is that there are four components (black and white cutouts, color cutouts, cutouts for stenciling and paper engineering). Beatrice allows students to pick and choose the elements they want to pursue. If a student wishes to delve deeper in one component, Beatrice allows that student to do so. It is that type of learning that I appreciated the most--both as a student and as a teacher.

You see, I hate taking classes in the creative arts. I hate getting compared to what other people are doing. I am not overly creative on the spot. I love to think about what I want to do; I plod along. Other people are much more free-form when it comes to creating and they create some wonderful things that I could never do on the spot. I like to go home and experiment with what I want to do and will usually create some nice projects based on what happened in class.

The two projects that I concentrated on were color cutouts. The assignment was to take inspiration from artwork/pictures that were published and then to turn them into paper cuts. In class, I was working on a Little Mermaid poster from a advertisement for the Broadway musical. In order to perform the colored cutouts, you are required to make several copies of the cutout in different colors. Theoretically, you are supposed to cut out all versions of the cutout simultaneously. I didn't have adequate knife skills to do that so I cut my out in batches of two. I didn't quite finish the poster in class so I am still working on it at home.

The project that I did complete was done at home. I took the advertisement for the Lion King musicals and turned it into a paper cut. It was almost cheating because the advertisement is already very similar to a paper cut. I had to add a few connections for it to work. I prepared two cutouts of the image-one in black and one in grey. I mounted them slightly apart as to create a shadow. I mounted them on yellow orange card stock to mimic the actual poster.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Art Journal Swap--Part Two

Once the text block was complete, all I had to do was prepare covers and endsheets. The structure is very easy to construct because the boards can be prepared separately. One pleat of the concertina spine is then attached to the board. The end sheet then covers this hinge.

Here are the materials that I used for this project. Davey Board, a metallic swirl paper, and marbled paper from Rhonda Miller (who was featured last Friday on Paper Fridays).

I used a five station pamphlet stitch to sew the pages to the concertina spine. As with any pamphlet stitch, you must decide where you want to place your knot. Since artwork was going to be featured on the pages, I didn't want the knot to interfere with the artwork so I decided to hide my knots in the back of the concertina.

Here is the front of the book. I can say that I am not quite pleased with my choice of paper for the covers. The small metal brad-like features of the paper aren't very amenable to handling. Some of them were rubbed away when I was burnishing the paper. I would probably use a different paper if I were to do this project again.

Here is the book opened to the front endsheet. I was hoping that I would have the perfect project in order to use this paper. This paper was grain long so it was an excellent choice for a taller book that didn't need a folded endsheet. I love the surprise you get when you open up this journal.

Here is the book in a horizontal position. You gotta love that marbled paper.
All that I have to do now is to art journal my entry for this journal before sending to the next person. I can't wait to get started. Unfortunately, I won't be able to share the results with you until the swap is completed--I don't want to ruin the surprise for the other artists.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Art Journal Swap--Part One

I joined a new swap on swap-bot for Art Journals. There are a total of five participants. Each of us is to start a journal and then send it to the other members so they can add content. Each of us is allowed to set our own theme. We could either make or buy a journal.

I decided to make my own journal. My theme is "Tell Me About Your City." After taking a class in Accordion Books and after reading the great blog by Dennis, I decided to do a concertina spine book. An accordion book is a book based on folded paper where the folds themselves become the pages. A concertina is a folded book where the folded pages become a part of the structure rather than the pages.

I called my book a Butterfly Accordion Book. The book is comprised from an accordion folded spine. The pages are long pages that are folded in quarters that fold to the center of the book. In other words, you fold a page in half and then fold the outer edges to the center. The center fold is then sewn onto the mountain folds of the concertina.

I chose 140 lb cold pressed watercolor paper for the pages and oak tag for the concertina. I have five pages for the book (one page for each participant in the exchange).

Here is one page of the journal. Each of the quarters on the left side will be folder inwards towards the center valley fold.

Here is a shot of the concertina spine with four of the pages already sewn to the mountain folds of the concertina. I had already sewn on four of the pages before I realized that I hadn't taken any pictures for the blog.
I found it easier to clip the sewn pages together while sewing the remaining pages. I also put a piece of paper between the clip and the paper so that the pages wouldn't get marred in any way.
Here is the fully opened page before it was folded and sewn onto the concertina. The beauty of this structure is that there are so many options when choosing a format to art journal. There are four continuous pages when the page is opened full. Once folded toward the center, the outer pages can be used as two sets of continuous pages or one outside page/two separate facing inner pages/one outside page. There are so many different configurations that the artist has so many options to play with.

Tomorrow, I will show you the casing in process.

Just a note: Dennis' blog gave a great tutorial on making a photo album using this concertina structure. My idea was based upon his tutorial and the class at The Center for Book Arts taught by Barbara Mauriello.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Japan Journal

This is the last set of pictures for my Japan Journal. Next week's Journal Monday will continue with my Art Journal.

The Japanese love their neon and nighttime in Tokyo is absolutely stunning.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Paper Fridays

Today's entry features hand marbled papers by an artist in Canada. Rhonda Miller provides some of the most beautiful papers using classic techniques and patterns. As you already know, I am something of a paper hoarder. I collect papers of all types. I also believe in supporting independent artists in their endeavor through etsy and other venues. Rhonda's store always has something wonderful to covet and the price is very affordable.

I only know Rhonda through our interaction on etsy and she is a personable and giving artist who is always willing to listen to your requests and suggestions. He has custom made some papers for me when I asked her to combine several color combinations for a project that was in progress. Not only did she meet my request but she did so at her own expense--even though I bought the papers she supplied.

I highly recommend her shop to you and hope that you have a chance to visit it often. You can also follow her excellent blog here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

From My Library: Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz

First of all, I must say that this book has one of the longest titles on my shelves--Cover to Cover: Creative Techniques for making Beautiful Books, Journals & Albums. The book was published in its first softback edition in 1998. For some reason, it has just now been brought to my attention. This book was one of those suggested books when I purchased something else.

Unfortunately, these books are like boxes of corn flakes--the insides are all the same but the covering is different. Many of them begin with bookbinding basics: equipment, paper, grain, etc. They then go into types of books and are usually followed by a gallery of some sort.

This book falls within that realm. The subsequent chapters are: Pamphlet Stitch, Basic Codex, Stitches, Stab Bindings, Fold Books, and Combination Books. Where this book stands out is the discussion of Unusual Bindings and a chapter titled "Presentation Counts."

I find it difficult to follow directions in a book. I am much more comfortable seeing someone perform the machinations or being taught them. Once I see someone doing it, it is much easier for me to follow along in a book. The problem is that bookbinding is a three dimensional art form. Stitch patterns are very difficult in a two dimension format like print. For those people who can follow a book like this, there are numerous examples and illustrations. Many examples are made specifically for this book by the author to illustrate the different types of books. There are also numerous examples from other book artists throughout the book as well.

All in all, this is a very good reference book to have on your shelves.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Only in NYC

Yesterday, I visited a local high school to talk about my hobby--Paper Arts. I described myself as a paper artist and amateur bookbinder. Here was one of the verbal exchanges:

Eager Student: "Do you make a lot of money doing that?"

Me: "Not particularly, but I enjoy doing it."

Eager Student: "No problem. I wanna put $20 on the Jazz to beat the Lakers."

Teacher(rolling her eyes in embarrassment): "He's a bookbinder--not a bookie."

Later on during the break:

Teacher: "I wondered by he got so excited about you coming to visit. I told him that we had someone coming who makes books."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Day Card/Spreading the Love

Here is the first manifestation of a Valentine's Day card. I am not totally pleased with it yet but I am still working on it. I am doing some cards in non-traditional colors this year not because I am being all artsy fartsy; I am doing it because I want to use up some of the cardstock that I have leftover. I am so over using red because of Christmas.

Also, I will have many Valentine's cards left over this year. Some are handmade, some are store bought, and some are like kid's valentines. Rather than have them waste away--here is what I propose. If you know someone that could use a little cheering up around this time of year (recently alone, permanently alone, etc), please send me their address via PM. I will send them one of these Valentine's Cards signed with the following--You are loved. Signed Cupid. It will be totally anonymous with a postmark from NYC. That's it. I pay the postage and handwrite the sentiment. No tricks, no gimmicks, no advertising. I do this in memory of those that I have loved in my life. So, let me help you spread some love. This will be on a first come, first served basis as long as the supplies last. I will mail out the cards as I receive the names. The last day that I will mail out will be Thursday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Japan Journal

The is the next to last entry in my Japan Journal. This features a small shrine that is smack dab in the middle of a large industrial area outside of the Hotel Okura. I got lost leaving my hotel and ran into this small but serene setting. These pictures really represent many of the wonders that I love about visiting Japan.