Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fifth Annual Beyond the Book

The Fifth Annual Beyond the Book: An Exhibit of Book Art and Collage
Honan-Allston Branch
Boston Public Library
300 North Harvard Street
Allston, MA

March 26-May 7
Opening Reception: March 26, 2-4 PM

I'm happy to have two Spirit Books in this exhibition of work selected by Marjorie Kaye of Galatea Fine Art in Boston. Thanks to Curator Ronni Komarow for beginning this wonderful tradition and seeing it through in great style for five years!

I won't be at the reception but hope to attend events which will be scheduled later.

Bookmark/The Kitchen Madonna

I've been a longtime fan of this book by Rumer Godden. When I first read it, it was the touching story of an odd boy who makes a kitchen Madonna for Marta who takes care of him and his sister while his busy architect parents were at work and misses her childhood home in the Polish Ukraine. It is a wonderfully unsentimental story of love, but also one of creative problem solving and using recycled materials. It's a great companion to the Flowers from the Collage Box project.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Flowers from the Collage Box

It's spring! I see snowdrops and crocuses, welcome signs of the season and the many flowers to come. These accordion books use papers from the collage box to create flowers from the imagination.

The book above started with a piece of recycled copy paper folded in half with the writing on the inside. The bottom started with the front or back panel of a grocery bag cut in half the long way.

My collage box is probably my favorite thing in the studio. When Jean Van Hutl in an interview in The Artful Parent asked me if I could encourage parents to do one bookmaking activity, what would it be, I answered:

The thing I would say is that every house needs a collage box filled with bits and pieces of paper. Mine has been a source of hours of joy for me and those who come to my workshops. I cut up any interesting paper that comes my way- wrapping paper from a package, paper bags, the inside patterns on security envelopes, origami paper, art papers, etc.--into squares about an index finger long (no more inches). I find that the smaller size wastes less paper and seems to stimulate creativity in a way that large pieces of paper don't.

Written Directions

In Spanish



Planting a Rainbow is a vibrant and beautiful book of collage flowers by Lois Ehlert.

The Parts of a Flower
Flower parts worksheet with a link to print a worksheet for students without the names.

Flower Parts
This site goes into more detail. I like it because it illustrates the parts with photos.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

South Carolina School Library Conference

My trip to the South Carolina Association of School Libraries was wonderful and proof that Southern hospitality is alive and well in Columbia, SC. I felt so welcome and met great people. The children of South Carolina are lucky to have such dedicated librarians in their schools.

The pre-conference workshop was fast-paced and fun. The librarians worked with kids from 3 through high school so it was a diverse and lively group. As usual, we used grocery bags, cereal boxes, and used copy paper. We made at least seven books, five from the grocery bag. It's always hard in a two-hour period to get in as much as I'd like without being overwhelming but I think we did well.

On the day of the conference, I gave a talk called The Community of the Handmade Book from Ancient Egypt to Your Library. I originally put the word "community" in the title because it was the theme of the conference but the more I thought about it, the more appropriate I decided it was.

Although reading is a personal and private activity, I always do feel a sense of community when I sit down with a book—with the writer of that particular book, with authors through time, and with the rest of the world of readers. And the same is true for the making of books. In workshops, there is always a great feeling of togetherness as we all work on our books. With educators and librarians, there is also the community of purpose, knowing that what takes place in the room will be shared many times over with children.

After viewing books through history and around the world, a small collection of artists' books, and lots of examples of books to make with kids, we closed the session by making two simple books, each from a piece of recycled copy paper with writing on one side.

I did have time to do a little exploring of the city of Columbia. My hotel was in the Vista neighborhood which is full of restaurants and art galleries. SCASL was so kind to make sure I had company for dinner every night and I tried the local dishes of she crab soup and shrimp and grits (twice each) which I loved. The gift basket that was waiting for me in my hotel room contained a package of grits which I look forward to making at home. I got lots of advice about preparation.

I love old buildings, cemeteries, and trees and had lots to inspire me. The State Capitol Building was a short walk from the hotel and a beautiful building. The grounds had massive southern magnolias, palmetto palms, and blooming redbuds. I couldn't help but gather a small amount of material for possible use in a future Spirit Book. Across the street was Trinity Church Cemetery—old and beautiful.

View some of my photos from Columbia, SC.

Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Cross

For St. Patrick's Day, I wanted a project that wasn't about shamrocks or leprechauns and had traditional roots in Ireland. I found this in The Year in Ireland: A Calendar by Kevin Dannaher. The book is out of print but can be found on half.com and other sources.

Young girls and small children wear on the right shoulder "a St Patrick's Cross", consisting of a single or double cross formed of pieces of narrow silk ribbon stitched to a circular disk of white paper, nicked at the edge, and measuring from 3 to 4 1/2 inches in diameter. At the ends of the arms of the cross a very small bow or rosette is stitched and one a trifle larger at the junction of the arms; the more and the brighter the colours of the silk, the more handsome is considered the St Patrick's Cross.
Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society 1908

I made my cross from a piece of white shirt cardboard. I used pieces of plastic bag instead of silk ribbon. Even though I make an effort to carry a bag with me shopping, plastic bags do seem to multiply. I went through my bag of bags before I took them back to the supermarket and selected ones with color to make the ribbons and bows. I cut narrow strips and tied them into bows. The plastic bag I used for the center wasn't long enough to tie a bow so I just shaped one. I stitched the plastic ribbons and bows onto the circle but you could also use a stapler.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Photographer in Old Peking

I just got this wonderful out of print book through half.com. I was revisiting some of my old books to prepare for my talk at the South Carolina School Library Association and spent some time with Chinese Traditional Bookbinding by Edward Martinique. He had some illustrations from a magazine article by Hedda Morrison that appeared in the Canadian Geographical Journal in December 1949. I wasn't able to track down the article but did find her book, A Photographer in Old Peking.

Hedda Morrison was raised in Germany and in 1933, at age 25, went to Beijing to manage Hartungs Photo Studio. She lived and worked in China until 1946 and recorded the time and place through her black and white photographs. She photographed temples and palaces, street life, art and crafts, and food and entertainment in Beijing and also ventured further afield in China. In the book-related department, there are pictures of papermaking, bookmaking and selling, seal carving. The photographs are introduced by her straightforward text which gives a sense of the world she saw around her and reading between the lines, the open and intrepid spirit that she brought to her life in this foreign city.

Two places to learn about Hedda Morrison and her work are the websites of:

The Powerhouse Museum
in Sydney, Australia

Harvard-Yenching Library in Cambridge, MA

Butterfly Stick and Elastic Book

Here's a great book to get ready for spring. Vicki Bilton from the UK made this butterfly book with her students. She used a flexible straw instead of a stick and used the bendy end to attach a head and antennae. Delightful!

Stick and elastic written directions (English and Spanish)

Video directions

Friday, March 4, 2011

10 Tips for Raising Readers

I was pleased to be included in Sarah Farthing's article, 10 Tips for Raising Readers at thegoodstuffguide.com. I do believe making books can be a key component in developing literacy and a love of reading. Not to mention all the fun!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

PoeTree at Rhythm of the Home

I'm very pleased to be able to share this project with the readers of Rhythm of the Home, a lovely quarterly online magazine of crafts, recipes, stories, and celebrations of the season. With four sections—Warmth, Play, Celebration, and Connection—there's lots to savor and inspire.

PoeTree at Rhythm of the Home

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bookmark/ A Freewheelin' Time

This week's bookmark was chosen for a sad reason—the passing of its author Suze Rotolo. Susan, as those of us in the book arts community knew her, was a book artist. We were in several exhibits together and met some years ago at the Center for Book Arts in New York. Although I knew her only briefly, I felt an artistic kinship. When I read her book, I was filled with admiration for her as a person and a creative woman. Here's a previous blog post I wrote when the book came out:

Susan Rotolo is a book artist who was Bob Dylan's girlfriend in the early 60s when she was know as Suze Rotolo. She has written a warm and generous memoir about those days called A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. While it is very much about a time and place and a certain group of people, there is much that speaks to the journey of growing up and understanding one's place in the world as a woman, an artist, and a human being. She concludes the book by saying "The creative spirit finds a way."

Susan's Book work

NY Times obituary

Guardian obituary (I think this is most complete)

Rolling Stone remembrance (by a friend and more a sense of her as a person)

Her own voice on Fresh Air with Terry Gross