Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wish Scroll for the New

I live buy three calendars—the one where the seasons change on the solstices and equinoxes, the traditional Celtic calendar where the seasons begin at the midpoints between, and the school calendar. After sixteen years of being a student, four years of teaching swimming for the Boston School Department, twenty-plus years of teaching bookmaking, and twenty-three years of kids' education (two six years apart), the year starts in September.

This Wish Scroll (which is based on scrolls from Ethiopia and one of the sixteen projects in Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet) contains wishes for the new. The idea is that if the scroll is worn, the wish will come true. You can make a scroll for yourself or one for someone else.

For directions and a chance to win a copy of my book, Handmade Books For a Healthy Planet,
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Arts Tuesday/Herb Book

The herbs are abundant and fragrant this time of year. While the flowers are modest, the shape, texture, and colors of the leaves bring interest to the garden. This month's project, an index card accordion herbal, focuses on the leaves. The book is currently decorating a side table in the dining room and also can be used to identify herbs in the garden for novice gatherers.

See the complete project at

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wish Scroll at the Book Nook

There is something satisfying about planning ahead although it happens most often with expectations from outside myself. I spent an enjoyable hour making a sample and planning the logistics for a Wish Scroll workshop which will be part of the Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 3, at the Book Nook at River's Edge in Ipswich, MA. We'll be making a Wish Scroll for the holidays and I'll be signing Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet which would make a great gift for teachers, parents, and grandparents. Actually for anyone who loves books. The Book Nook, part of the River's Edge Gift Shop, is a cozy and charming and has a good selection of titles. Hope to see you there!

Book Arts Tuesday/Bhutanese-Nepali Folktale Project

Bhutanese-Nepali Folktale Project
I am thrilled to be working on the Bhutanese Nepali Folktale Project which is part of the The New Hampshire Humanities Council statewide literacy initiative called Connections.The project's goals are: to create a bilingual picture book that supports English language acquisition of new Americans from Bhutan, to preserve a traditional tale in the mother tongue, and to present a story for children from all cultures to read. I was invited to get involved by the Literacy Coordinator, and wonderful writer, Terry Farish.

The project began by recording stories from the community. You can hear all of the stories here. The one that was chosen for the book project was The Pumpkin Husband told by Hari Tiwari (pictured above). The first meeting I attended in Laconia, NH was the one in which the story was chosen. Dal Rai, who is doing the illustrations, was there and left with the assignment to prepare a watercolor of a scene in the story. I took some iphone photos of some traditional fabric with the idea that it might be useful in the page design. In addition to decision making and lively conversation, we were treated to delicious soup and noodles prepared by Ambika Sharma.

My second visit was to an ESOL class where Hari told her story once again in Nepali and it was recorded by consulting folklorist Jo Radner. Dal brought us a watercolor painting and several drawings. I was fascinated to see the power of his drawings on the class. Many of the refugees have only memories of their homeland and his pictures gave them visual reminders of the life they left behind. A picture of an ox in a field with a basket muzzling its mouth sparked a lively discussion of farming and basket weaving.

At home, I scanned in Dal's painting and experimented with a design for the illustrated pages. The background is a scan of the Resho paper from Bhutan that I use in my Spirit Book workshops. The border around Dal's painting is from traditional fabric woven in Bhutan.

Bhutanese-Nepali Folktale Project

As the book will be bilingual, I did some experimenting with the page design for the text pages. I found some Nepali writing online as an image and used it for a test. The English is the standard dummy text used in printing. (You can find out some interesting facts about the origin of here.)

Bhutanese-Nepali Folktale Project

My third visit, last week, to Laconia was another visit to Ambika's where we scanned fabric including her beautiful wedding sari.
Bhutanese-Nepali Folktale Project

Bhutanese-Nepali Folktale Project

It is a privilege to be part of the project. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Studio Sunday/Shelf 2

On the left is a stack of tins which contain pennies that I use as weights. I learned this trick in a boxmaking workshop with Barbara Mauriello where I made my first and last clamshell box. I really have a hard time with precision. The tall brushes are rarely used. I use the small cheap painter's brushes (to the right) again recommended by Barbara. And I use glue stick for all my recycled projects. The pink tin contains push pins and the tarnished silver cup (a baby gift for my now 26-year-old) is filled with stones. Scattered around the studio are things from the past, inherited from my parents, like the Hummel figurine.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Arts Tuesday/International Dunhuang Project

The Bookbinding section of the International Dunhuang Project is a wonderful resource. Here is a little bit of background about the project from the website:

Little was known of the remarkable heritage of the Silk Road until explorers and archaeologists of the early twentieth century uncovered the ruins of ancient cities in the desert sands, revealing astonishing sculptures, murals and manuscripts. One of the most notable discoveries was the Buddhist cave library near the oasis town of Dunhuang on the edge of the Gobi desert in western China. The cave had been sealed and hidden at the end of the first millennium AD and only re-discovered in 1900. Forty thousand manuscripts, paintings and printed documents on paper and silk were found in the cave itself. Tens of thousands more items were excavated from other Silk Road archaeological sites. These unique items have fascinating stories to tell of life on this great trade route from 100 BC to AD 1400. Yet most were dispersed to institutions worldwide in the early 1900s, making access difficult.

Rightfully they pride themselves on sharing the book structures of which there are many forms as well as the texts. There are photographs, diagrams, and thorough descriptions and explanations. This is from the section on Stitched binding (xian zhuang).

There are a number of booklets in the Dunhuang collection that have been bound with thread. The most striking aspect of these books is the fact that they appeared at such an early period. The colophons on some of the booklets tell us that they were copied and bound during the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907), some six hundred years before the emergence of mature thread binding books in the Ming. What is also surprising is that there was a whole variety of stitching techniques already being applied. It would be interesting, therefore, to have a look at some of these different techniques in order to understand the nature of this development in bookbinding.

The information is also available as a downloadable pdf. Thanks to Colin Chinnery for the text and Li Yi and Colin Chinnery for the diagrams.

International Dunhuang Project/Bookbinding