30 January 2010

Paint-Sample Album

Tonight I made one of the books out of Re-bound--the paint-sample album--with an eye towards doing it in the book arts workshop I might teach at my son's school (if anyone signs up for it!). It took me about an hour and a half from beginning to end, so if I want to do the whole thing in one session for the workshop, I am going to have to prepare some of the materials ahead of time--probably cutting the paint samples and sheets would be the obvious thing to do. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to get them familiar with using a paper trimmer though; maybe I'll figure out where I can fit that into an earlier class and just save them until we are ready to assemble the book. That's a good idea . . .

I didn't have the right hardware for the top so had to use brads until I can make a list to get the right stuff. It looks pretty cute and I think everyone will like the hinge on the top cover. I made some mistakes and judgment errors, which is good--I'll be able to point them out in class and use them to demonstrate certain things.

It was fun to go start-to-finish on something. Having the possibility of leading this workshop in front of me is doing wonders for my activity in the studio. I always did work better with deadlines!

28 January 2010

Instant Book: "There is a Pleasure . . . "

When the Muse visits, she blows in, makes herself at home, and refuses to leave until she has said what she's got to say. Goodness!

Yesterday I followed Esther K. Smith's instructions for making an instant book; I used a sheet of 8-1/2 x 11" brown kraft paper. So cool! I realized that the acrylic skin weaving I did (that was not at all to my liking) actually looked great on the front cover, so I glued that down with Matte Accents. Then I thought that the skeleton leaf that came packaged with wood-grained chopsticks that I put in my stocking this Xmas (I'm pretty much responsible for my own stocking stuffers and table presents) would be the perfect thing to put over the weaving, and that turned out to be the case. I put a very thin streak of Matte Accents along the spine of the leaf and adhered it to the weaving.

Then I searched for a nature quote and found part of a Lord Byron poem: "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, there is a rapture on the lonely shore . . . " I quickly decided where to put the words on the pages and wrote them in with a white Bruynzeel pencil. I'm happy with the writing, surprisingly enough. I wanted it to look rustic and as though someone had written with something they'd found on the forest floor.

Then I used the set of leaf stamps by Hero Arts that I so miserably failed at using last night with the Jacquard Castaway stamp pad (don't use Castaway on brown kraft paper) and stamped using Archival Ink Sepia. I had no problems or doubts about which image to put where. I am very pleased with the result.

23 January 2010

Acrylic Skins for Weaving

Tonight I prepared some acrylic skins to use in demonstrations for my upcoming Book Arts Introductory at my son's school (if it makes!). I made a fiber skin (using Liquitex Blended Fibers; Jerry's Artarama didn't have the Golden version in stock) as well as three fluid acrylics skins (Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, and Burnt Umber Light, all Golden). My plan is to cut up the colored skins and weave them together as a cover ornamentation, which is an idea I got from the Woven Ticket book in Re-bound.

All the skins are done on sheets of glass that I got at the local hardware store.

So these can dry until Monday morning, as I don't think I'll get a chance to do anything again until then. It will be interesting to see if I can, in fact, weave them together. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with the fiber paste skin. Might turn it into a small book, as I bet I could get a decent signature out of them, and use them as pages, or use as a front cover for a larger book.

09 January 2010

My Fears

I am having problems getting going after my return from the vacation. Some of it is that I am still thrown off--and terribly disappointed, wounded--from something personal that happened at the end of last year with people I had been sharing my creations with, people whom I thought were friends, safe. I may be mistaken, but now I believe there were things going on that I wasn't aware of and that were purposely kept from me, and frankly I feel like a little child who was told to take her toys and go home. It was the first time in years I had opened up like I did, and boy do I feel it was a mistake. Right now I can't see doing that again for some time.

Part of my problem is in my head. I need to clean up my workspace, and that is frustrating because I have so little space--I want big tables, I need to spread out! But that's not possible for the time being, and when I look at issues of Where Women Create and see what some make do with, I know very well that's my head coming up with excuses. I could do it, I'm just afraid.

So, I pulled out Kelly Rae Roberts' Taking Flight book this evening and browsed through it again. And I thought, why not go ahead and write down my fears? I know from therapy for a previous experience that those things one thinks one cannot say hold power over you. You can say anything--and you MUST find a way to say those things you think you can't. Otherwise they rule you.

I was going to write them down in a journal, but then I thought that there was no better place to do this than in my private blog. An oxymoron, I know, but no one who knows me "in real life", personally, knows about this blog, so it is private in that sense.


I'm afraid that what I make will be cliched and derivative. I'm afraid that everyone who knows me, beginning with my husband and family and ending with my friends and anyone they know, will think it's boring or pointless. I'm afraid that people who know me will pity me for wasting my time with this. The best thing my husband has ever said about anything I've made is, "You could flog this for something" (about my Magic book). When I think about this whole creative thing, it really brings it home to me in a way that has never been so apparent before how much I crave and require others' approval.

And really it's down to two people--my husband and my mother.

Regarding my husband (we've been married 15 years), much of the last few years has been establishing an identity for myself that does not include seeking his approval for things. (I am sure he would be shocked if he read this--this is entirely my problem, not something on his part.) I do admit that I am deeply disappointed that he displays no curiosity or interest in this new aspect of my life, but he's never even asked why I find this rewarding or what I enjoy about it or why I feel so compelled to do it and collect all this stuff. Just no interest. And I refuse to grovel after it and offer something that wasn't asked for . . . but it's not my nature and it's really hard to not seek approval. Why isn't my own approval enough?

As for my mom, who has recently embarked on creative explorations of her own, I feel that if I did these creative things over family stuff, she would disapprove and think it was selfish. I don't know why--perhaps because she never did anything like that when I was growing up and saved her painting for retirement--but she has always to me seemed to be very clear about her duty and responsibility, and to not live up to that was due to laziness of character or selfishness. Not that I would neglect my family! But something makes me uncomfortable, maybe something instilled in me. Some of it has to do with women's roles, I know.

I guess that's mainly it. It has been a little disappointing how my family has reacted. My cousin who lives in town has never once asked me about what I'm working on or done recently either--no interest whatsoever. Finally I got tired of showing her my stuff since I might as well have told her when the last time I'd gone to the bathroom was for all the interest she had in it. It definitely makes one unsure about the worthiness of one's creations. No one that I've ever made anything for has ever come back to me and asked for something else for themselves or a friend, and many things that I've made for people I know have never been used.

So I have to find a path where my own approval--or at least license to play--is all that's required, regardless of what anyone else thinks. That's hard, especially for a woman! It's not what I wanted to have to do. But I guess it is what is required. If I turned around tomorrow and sold all my stuff on eBay, I'd feel i'd cut a part of my brain out of my head, thrown half of my self in the trash. I can't do that. I have to find a way to not need or hope for others' permission, where my permission is all that's important. Big job.

07 January 2010

Brainstorming Likes

In the interests of thinking about putting something personal into my art rather than having it be simply well-executed, I'll go back to the beginning and think about what I like at the moment:

--small glass bottles
--iridescent and interference colors, things that change as you look from a different angle

That's where I paused. Interesting--nothing very organic there, all hard things. Pretty, cool (rather than warm) things.

I don't think any images I like come to mind--too hard to get everyone else's stuff out of my head. But as I write that, I realize I do really, really like architecture plans and blueprint drawings, so that's something. I also love maps. So back to the bulleted list:

--architectural plans and drawings
--beautiful handwriting

Not bad for a new beginning!


I did have a neat idea for a piece sneak into my mind over the holidays--a portrait-oriented landscape, mainly fields and hills, with a shadow of some animal in the sky falling over part of it. You can't see any of the animal itself, only the shadow on the ground below. Overall effect would be of menace juxtaposed with beauty, hovering nearby, lurking. It sounds more like a straight painting piece, and I'm not a painter, so I'd have to figure something out, but I like the concept.

Plans for the New Year of 2010

I feel a need to reset myself and figure out what I want to do with all this stuff. I feel very strongly that it is IMPORTANT for me to break through this barrier I have set up for myself that is prohibiting me from truly making my own pieces. When I look back at the things I've made over the last year and a half, I do see a very strong presence in those pieces I did early on, before I got . . . self-conscious, or something, whatever it is. I love the water piece I did with the glass star in the sky, and I love the Magic book I made. I also enjoyed the over-the-top romanticness of the watchmaker's tins that I did for a recently married bride and her parents.

But for some reason, when I sit down to think, "what do I want to make", I am met with a complete void of thought. No colors, no words, no images, nothing. That's why I feel it's so important to break through this and not walk away from it, because that's just not right. It needs to be faced and dealt with. The question I have to answer is what is the best way to do that.

One thing I have considered is that I may be putting too much pressure on myself. It is okay to take pride and enjoyment in following someone else's project plans, and for that reason I plan to make some of Tim Holtz's Christmas Tags once I get settled back into the house. I'm also going to try to not save every single possible moment for art but use some time for cooking for myself & others and generally try to keep a balance without getting wound up about doing so. By now I have gotten to the point where I don't feel I have to apologize for having time to myself during the day, because my being available that way allows us to raise our children as we think it ought to be done--without babysitters, afterschool care, forgoing extracurricular activities. So okay.

The one other possibility I have thought of is that perhaps I just can't "create" this way--I need to be able to give into the obsession and not stop for picking kids up from school, fixing dinners, doing bedtimes, etc. In that case, I'd have to wait a long time to make anything! I think I can find a way to manage that, if necessary.

I think that when I relax a little, whatever I want to explore will come out. Now I'm open to it--even more, finally aware that I have been avoiding it. So I'll continue to do stuff and wait for whatever I want to explore to knock on my door, which will be unlocked and inviting.