Friday, May 31, 2013

On My Bookshelf

To begin, I hate when people claim things are "authentic" or "definitive" because rarely are they ever. Going beyond the title, this week's book is True Vision: Authentic Art Journaling by L.K. Ludwig. Another point that I would like to get out of the way--there is no particular way to create a journal, scrapbook, or art journal. The process that each person takes should be deliberately their own.  Having said that, what I do find helpful is when other people share their techniques and creative processes with others. More importantly, when people SHARE their ACTUAL PAGES with others is the utmost form of teaching.

From the Introduction:

Each page of this book is packed with material to inspire you. Along with incredible artwork from some talented artists and guidance on various common art journal themes, you will find a journal prompt running down the right-hand side of each page spread. There is also a fill-in-the-blank prompt or a question, related to the content of each chapter, posted on the bottom left corner of every page spread. The prompts are there to assist you when faced with a blank page, when you are looking for a place to begin, or when you simply need a new ideas. Several gifted artists provide a closer look into how they work or how a particular work developed. 

This is a great resources for anyone interested in journaling, art journaling, scrapbooking or understanding creativity. Full of great ideas, techniques, and beautiful examples, this is a must have.

Sample Page

Full Disclosure: Neither nor the author have provided any compensation for this review. This book was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Art vs Craft

One of the concerns that I have struggled with is the concept of artist vs craftsman vs crafty. For me, an artist is someone who starts with nothing and creates something (as in the fine arts, sculpture, painting, etc). A craftsman/woman/person is someone who develops a single style of creating and perfects it (as in a woodworker, metalsmith, etc.). A crafty person is someone who delves in arts and crafts making something that isn't necessarily professional or meant for to be sold.

It seems to me that well meaning people will say--"Oh, you are so crafty." They mean it as a compliment but if you consider yourself an artist or craftsman then it isn't the compliment that it is meant to be. If seems that crafty people are considered hobbyists rather than professionals.

Because I work in paper, people tend to place me in the latter category. I smile and then inform them that I am a paper artist--I make things out of paper. For the longest time, I considered myself a craftsman working in paper. Once I started bookbinding and box making, I started calling myself a paper artist. When I was awarded my first solo show in Japan, I was still humbly calling myself a craftsman until a fellow paper artist told me that I was shortchanging myself by doing so. Her argument was that anyone can make things out of paper but what I was doing was creating art.

So now, I am on the quest to bridge the gap between being crafty and being an artist by taking every day crafting supplies and using them to make art. The example above is a page from a signature that I am binding into a book. The cutouts on the side of the page are made from a craft edge punch.

To get the cutouts to align, you must first trim the foredge of the signature, separate the signatures into leaves, then punch out the foredge. The leaves must then be reassembled in the order they were trimmed or the cutouts won't align.

Once the signatures are sewn, they will be bound in a traditional hard case. I have another punch that I am experimenting with which is a Celtic knot pattern. I will cover that case in Kelly Green leather.  The pages are 4" by 5.75".

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NY Journal #18

Front Cover
Back Cover
This is the final post regarding my Sketchbook Project. I decided to cover the sketchbook with a paper cover made from an old Manhattan street map.

The cover wraps around into the front and back of the chipboard cover.

Inside Front Cover

Inside Back Cover

I am very happy to have completed one of my 2013 goals which was to finish this project in time for it to be sent on tour. One goal completed and still others left to compete.

I will be sending this in the mail today and I will be a little sad to see it go but I will always have these blog entries to remember my little book.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Connectors and Making a Stencil

Yesterday, I shared the above card with everyone and a couple of people asked me what I meant about connectors and removing connectors in order to make the card. Therefore, I decided to provide you with the process that I used to make the above card. In other words, how to make a stencil.

For a stencil to work, each letter (or part of an image) cannot make a complete loop or circle. In other words, there must be a break in line for it to work.

Below is the word "Believe" in a basic font. As you can see, the "B" and the "E"s are complete loops--i.e., there are no breaks or separations as there are in the other letters.

If I were to cut out the letters as they exactly are, I would end up with this:

There are times when I would use the above--especially if I am using a beautiful liner paper with a pattern that I would like to showcase. The extra space in the letters "B" and "E" would provide more open space to view the paper.

Yet, this isn't the idea that I wanted for this particular project. So, to be able to get a stencil effect, I needed to "break the loop" that connected all parts of the "B" and the "E." To do this, I simply used white out to break the upper stem of the downstroke where it connected to the "B" and the return on the "E" where it connected to itself.

After the first trial, you can see that I didn't quite make a complete stencil. I didn't realize at the time that I needed to also separate the bottom on the downstroke where it connected to the bottom of the "B." Below is the final illustration that was used to cut. The arrows indicate where the connectors were removed to make the stencil used for the card.

I hope that this helps clarify the concept of removing connectors. In a future post, I might be able to explain the process of adding connectors or removing islands.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 20

This week, I wanted to make a card to support a friend of mine who was having problems with her faith. She hadn't lost her faith but was struggling to listen to the messages that were coming her way. I wanted to make a simple card to affirm her choice to believe.

This is a simple cut out card made on scrap orange card stock. I had to remove some connectors so that they letters would not connect. There were two connectors removed from the letter B and one each for the letter E. I printed out the font in the word that I wanted. I then took white out to remove the some of the brush strokes so that all of the letter would not connect.

The card is line with yellow lined scrapbooking paper.

Friday, May 24, 2013

On My Bookshelf


This week's book is one of my favorite books dealing with Art Journaling: Creative Wildfire: An Introduction to Art Journaling--Basic and Beyond by L.K. Ludwig

As I have explained in numerous posts, I am really interested in the creative process of other people--especially artists.  The book is divided into the following chapters:
  1. Gathering Fuel: How to Get Started
  2. The Tinderbox: Page Surface Techniques
  3. Build a Fire: Using Imagery
  4. Bursting into Flames: Creating Meaningful Content
  5. Feeding the Fire: Adding Details
  6. Keeping the Fire Burning: Fueling Your Creativity

Don't let the fire analogy fool you--this is a book full of ideas, techniques and instruction on how to start and develop your own stunning journals. There are plenty of examples and how-to guides but most importantly, for me anyway, are actual journal pages from the author and other contributors.

This is a great book for those interested in journaling, art journaling, scrapbooking, paper arts or in the creative/artistic process. Definitely recommended.

Page from contributing artist:
Teesha Moore p.93

Full Disclosure: Neither nor the author have provided any compensation for this review. This book was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NY Journal #17

This is the final page--the colophon--for my Sketchbook Project. I wanted to add something handmade so I did a quick cutout of the Statue of Liberty and simply titled and signed the book. I didn't know if I wanted to provide contact information since you have that option if you go online to view the book so I decided to provide the web address for my blog.

I am going to miss this project and sharing it with you. All I have left to do is make a wrap around paper jacket and I will be able to send the sketchbook back to it's home in Brooklyn before it goes on tour.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I have been asked to participate in a juried art show and I have been having a hard time trying to create something that I would be proud to submit. There are two categories of pieces that are being requested--those from established artists (who have had major shows in the United States) and those who are non-established artists who have not. I clearly fall into the second category.

The concept of the art show is Dreams. I decided to submit a piece similar to the above--what I am calling The DreamScape Series. This is DreamScape1. The pieces will be dedicated to my nights of insomnia when my brain just doesn't seem to want to escape to sleep. My description for the catalog will read:

"Dedicated to that time of night when my brain tries to fall asleep but refuses to let go of the day's thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is a cutout silhouette based on a lone existing childhood photo and represents my insomniac mind as I try to fall asleep and dream. Are these thoughts inside my head, dreams waiting to happen, or just rambling ideas waiting to be mounted on paper?"

The silhouette is mounted on hand marbled paper featuring metallic acrylic paints.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Iron Craft Challenge #10--Instant Art

This challenge was dedicated to "the home." We were supposed to make something for the home or something that utilized a home in its design.  I was at a loss for this challenge and I was going to make a "We're Moving" card but got busy with "The BarMitzvah" that I wasn't able to complete it.

Two of my friends where having a joint housewarming party and I needed a quick gift for each of them. They are moving into a two bedroom apartment and I wanted to give them something for their room that was related but different.

I had these two greeting cards in my stash and decided to double mat them in the same colors and then give them away. Both of the cards deal with friendship so the content and design are related. I am glad with the  that they came out and they were received with much graciousness.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Week 19

Today's card is another printed card using Duplex Card Stock. This fits in a standard business sized envelope (#10). While the card is serviceable, I am not totally delighted with it. The black ink is too dark against the lemon yellow side of the card stock. I should have used some version of green ink to contrast and complement the opposite side of the card which is a lime green.

I love this font (Betsy) but I am not too pleased with the ornamentation--I don't even know if the ornamentation is even centered.

For those of you who make your own cards, this isn't one of those cards that you would send to people you care about. This would be one of those cards that you would send someone who would appreciate the acknowledgement of getting a card but might not appreciate a handmade card.

More importantly for me, it is the process of simply creating something TODAY that is important. I feel a hole in my soul if I don't create something every day which is why I love having weekly challenges (a card a week, a book review a week, the Iron Craft Challenges) to get me motivated to make something new every day.

Friday, May 17, 2013

On My Bookshelf

Today's book really was just pulled off the shelf. I have been so busy getting the materials ready for the Bar Mitzvah prayer books that I simply pulled something off the shelf and dumped it into my messenger bag. I didn't even look at the title until now.

This was a book in response to my lack of holiday paper crafting. I usually don't decorate or design for the holidays other than for Christmas. This was one of those books that was recommended to my by the bot when it realized that I had bought every other paper cutting book on their site.

This is done in the German style of paper cutting and uses those motifs quite readily. I purchased the book in hopes of designing some more of my own Halloween styled cuttings. It is a good reference point but in reality it is only a reading book rather than a craft book.

Full Disclose: Neither nor the author have provided any compensation for this review. This book was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waxed versus Unwaxed Thread

In the video discussed yesterday, the author utilizes waxed thread. I am not a big fan of pre-waxed thread. For me, the thread gets sticky and gummy and clogs the eye of the needle. If I am doing smaller projects, I do not use waxed thread. On the occasions that I need to use waxed thread, I usually wax my own thread with a beeswax block. The only time that I really use waxed thread is when I am sewing multiple signatures in a text block where the thread will be hidden along the spine in the final product.

Now, some notes regarding threads and needles (all images are from Hollanders where I purchase all of my sewing needs).

Observation #1: For thread, the small the number, the thicker the thread. 18/3 refers to the size and number of strands. So 18/3 is a large thread made from 3 strands which is much larger than 30/3.

Observation #2: For needles, the smaller the number the larger the eye and circumference of the hole it will make. In other words, a number 1 needle will have a larger eye and make a larger hole. This is important to consider when sewing. Your needles should match the thickness of your thread. 

For example, a number 1 needle should be used for 18/3 thread. You can use a #3 needle but threading the eye of the needle becomes more challenging; yet, a #3 needle might be preferable if you want a smaller hole in the paper or if you are using delicate paper. You should always match your needle to your thread to your paper.

Observation #3: If you find that you need to wax your thread, you can run the thread against a block of beeswax rather than use pre-waxed thread. If find that this is preferable since you can control the amount of wax on your thread.

Observation #4: My preference of thread is Irish thread. I have never had a problem since I have been using it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5 Hole Pamphlet Stitch

My life right now is dealing with 100 prayer books for an upcoming Bar Mitzvah. I am hand sewing the books using a 5 hole pamphlet stitch so I thought that I would share the experience with you. Rather than trying to explain how to do the basic stitch, I found a great video that explains the process quite well.

Instead, I decided that I would share some other insights with you based on the video presentation.

Insight #1: Rather than mark the pages with a pencil, you should use a punch guide--especially if you are doing multiple books (as I am). As a rule, I don't like marking the pages in any way.

How to make a punch guide: Take a scrap piece of paper and cut it to the height of the pages on your book. The width of the paper can be anything as long as you can fold it vertically.

Fold the page in half in parallel to the long side.
Marking the punch guide
Mark the center point on this crease (the page was turned 90 degrees for illustration purposes). I simply fold the page in half along the short side to find the center and mark it.

Mark the center point on the crease

Working from the left side toward the center, find a spot towards the left edge no shorter than 1 inch from the left edge and mark a point along the crease. 

Mark the left hole
Mark the right hole
Split the distance between the left mark and the center by creating a crease by having the two marks meet.
Fold the left hole mark to meet the center mark and crease
Do the same for the right side.

The final punch guide
Use the punch guide as a basis for punching your pages/signatures.

Insight #2: The maximum number of pages should not exceed 10 pages of text weight paper. If your paper is thicker then you should use fewer sheets. If you want to use cover stock for the cover of your booklet, keep this in mind when sewing your pages.

Insight #3: You can use any number of odd number of holes. The number of holes depends on the height of your pages--the taller your pages the more holes you need.

Insight #4: You can start sewing on the inside or the outside but just remember--wherever you start sewing is where your knot will end up.

Insight #5: Knotting your thread. In the video, the author does not knot her thread on the needle. Traditionally, the thread is knotted on the needle so it doesn't fall off the needle in the middle of sewing.

Thread the needle.

Threading the needle
Piece the thread.
Pierce the thread
Pull the thread toward the eye

The thread clears the eye of the needle.
 Pull the knot to the eye of the needle.
Pull the thread to the eye of the needle

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Idea Book

Pop Up Valentine's Card
Valentine's Heart Accordion Book

A couple of people asked me about my idea book that I mentioned in an earlier post. I have a handmade "moleskin" type of book that I purchased from Leslie Herger at Comfortable Shoes Studio. The pages are approximately 3 and 3/8ths by 5 and 3/8ths. It has the classic black leather cover, elastic band, and accordion pocket in the back. The pages are ivory and medium weight.

I usually carry it in the breast pocket of an outer coat or in one of my pockets when I am wearing a hoodie. These are two examples of my idea doodles as I like to call them. I have a minimum of a 20 minute commute on the subway coming into and from work so I always like to have some place to jot down my ideas.

The doodle on the left is for a tri-fold pop-up card that I am working on. You might recognize the "LOVE" and "U" letters from the Valentine's Snack Bags that I designed for a Iron Craft Challenge earlier this season. The ideal is that the outline of the word LOVE will be cut from the card itself so when it is opened it will pop up from the crease.

The doodle on the right is an idea that I have been working on for some time. It is a heart shaped accordion book. The problem that I am having is getting a flat side on the hearts so that the pages stay connected without throwing off the shape of the heart too much.

Every time that I need some inspiration, I will look in my idea book and remember projects that I have been meaning to work on.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Week 18

This week's card is another in my NYC series of cards. This is a postcard made with Duplex paper with purple on one side and Columbia Blue on the reverse. The words New York City are Gocco printed in black ink and the Statue of Liberty is overprinted in a dark purple.

I think that the image is a little too small for the card and will enlarge it for future runs of the card. I will probably make this into a bi-fold card as well.

Do people send out postcards anymore?

Friday, May 10, 2013

On My Bookshelf

I have always been interested in the creative processes of other artists so I was very pleased when this book came across my computer screen. This book highlights an art project  by Darren Di Lieto when he challenged artists to send him Mail Art. He shares over 200 individual pieces in this book. For those people who love mail, paper, illustrations, fine art, graphic art or the creative process--this is a must have book. Absolutely fascinating on what people can do with a finite space and limited resources.

Who wouldn't want to receive this in the mail?
Full Disclosure: Neither nor the author have provided any compensation for this review. This book was purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Quick Binding--Japanese Journal

Completed Book

Did you ever have one of those weeks where your mind was totally settled on crafting/creating but your schedule just wouldn't allow it? My entire week has been like this. I barely made it for the Iron Craft Challenge but I put a project together that I was really pleased with.

I didn't get home until 1:30 am this morning and I didn't have a project to share for today's blog entry. I went to sleep hoping for some inspiration through osmosis and when I woke up at 6:30 am this project popped into my head.

This was a project that I had thought about for months and had added it to my personal craft journal as something to complete in the future--well, the future was now.

The finished book is 4.25" in width by 6" in height. I took 18 pieces of scrap Crane Letra lightweight paper (text weight) and fold the 8.5 " by 6" sheets in half to create the text block (18 sheets of paper). I took two sheets of Japanese paper for the front and back paper covers. I used a half inch turn in for the covers and glued the first and last pages of the signature directly to the paper covers.

This is a Japanese Journal in the true sense of the word in that the open ends of the pages are actually sewn together in the stab binding leaving the folded edge as the foreedge.

Detail of the front paper cover
The stab binding is a traditional four hole binding. I did not know how to finish the final knot so I just tied it to the front of the journal since I was using a thin bookbinding thread. Once bound, I simply added a bit of glue to the foreedge of the cover to secure the endsheets (which are the first and last pages of the signatures). In the above photo, I realized I didn't take a picture of the covers so I gently separated the pages so I could take a picture. I then re-glued the sheet for the finish product below.

The glued front endsheet.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NY Journal #16


This is the last full page spread from the NY Journal. The only page that I have left to complete is the colophon and I still have to cover the outside of the journal.

This spread is dedicated to the advertising associated with New York City. NYC and advertising have always seemed to go hand-in-hand as evidenced by the popular TV show--Mad Men. With the neon and bright lights at night or the modern billboards, advertising has been a way of life here. My favorites are still the hand painted billboards that were found on the side of tall buildings in NYC. Most of these original designs have been replaced with the new style of wallpaper billboards that are floated on top of the surface of the building or have been adhered like plastic wallpaper.

The new trend in advertising is sidewalk advertising where the same style of adhesive advertising is plastered on the sidewalks. Now, you literally have to look where you are going.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Iron Craft Challenge #9--Love Postcard

For this challenge we are asked to visit the sewing notions of our local craft store or the sewing supplies at home. I knew that I wanted to do something with string art especially since I knew that I had loads of embroidery thread lying around in my studio. Of course, when it came time to locate it, it was nowhere to be found.  I substituted bookbinding thread instead.

I had all kinds of grandiose plans for this project but fell behind because there is filming of a major motion picture happening at our theater so I have been working nights again.

I had these postcards left over from another year and decided to embellish them with string art hearts. These are made from watercolored hot press paper. The sentiment is ink jet printed on the front and the word love is gocco screen printed on the back.

I cut out a paper heart and used it for the outline to punch the holes for the string art. Unfortunately, the heart is a little too abstract for my tastes but I couldn't figure out how to make it more pronounced. But under the circumstances, I am please with the way that it turned out.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week 17

This week's card is more about the envelope rather than the card. The envelopes are made from old A & F catalogs. The liners are made from pages that have no photos.  The card is a simple printed card made from Duplex card stock which has this chartreuse and lemon yellow combination.

The card is printed in an olive green ink and the corners have been rounded to add a little touch of the different. For the me, the attention to the small details can transform something from ordinary to special--surely, the card would be fine with black ink and 90 degree corners but taking that little extra time and thought can make it extraordinary.

Friday, May 3, 2013

On My Bookshelf

This week's book holds a very special place in my heart: Creating Books & Boxes by Benjamin D. Rinehart. This is actually my second copy because the first copy was so used and tattered, I wanted a second copy for reference purposes. When Ben came to The Center for Book Arts (where I take classes), he signed this copy of the book on the title page.

I have to say that this is the one of three books in my library from which I have completed every project--either in class or on my my own. The instructions are clear and precise, the illustrations are well done, and the projects are very approachable.

There are very many aspects of the book which I appreciate but one of the most significant is the explanation of how to make non-traditional boxes--mainly, triangle shaped boxes and circular boxes. Ben also offers techniques to decorate surfaces including photo transfers, paste papers, and Japanese Paper dyeing. There are many techniques that I have learned from Ben, either in class or from the book, that I still use today especially his technique of covering a box from a single sheet of paper (which I have illustrated on this blog on several occasions).

If you are interested in bookbinding, box making, or any type of paper arts, this is a must have reference book for you.

If you are interested in taking classes in bookbinding, box making, printing or any other of the oeuvre of paper arts, you should visit The Center for Book Arts in here NYC (click on the link above to go to their website). They have evening and weekend classes for those who want to visit for the night or weekend (what better way to spend the weekend in NYC--seeing shows at night and taking classes during the day). If you are interested in more extensive classes, they have multi-session classes as well.

Full Disclosure: Neither, the author, or The Center for Book Arts have provided any compensation for this review. This book was initially purchased online without a personal perusal before purchase.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

NY Journal #15

 I have to say these these are a pair of my favorite pages. For some reason, this modern dusty rose coloring is very attractive to me. A true dust rose coloring is a lot flatter and subdued but this version really catches my eye. Maybe, it was my mother's dusty rose china pattern that inspired me. Who know, but all I know is that I like it.