the Big Crafty

I'll be at The Big Crafty on Sunday selling Two Sisters calendars, note cards, bookmarks and t-shirts, PLUS a selection of original paintings on wood. The Big Crafty is an indie crafts fair in Asheville that happens twice a year. I always look forward to being there to show and sell my work. What a treat to see old friends as well as to meet new people in the midst of a festive, low key event. It will put you in the Holiday spirit- in a GOOD way! Above are a few of the small paintings I did just for this show.


Mail Yourself

The first weekend in November I taught 2 classes at Gallery Shibui in Raleigh, NC. Cloth Books was on Saturday and Mail Yourself on Sunday. In Mail Yourself we created small accordion books that can be used as cards to send to family and friends. I also taught an origami container structure that can be filled with a small card or accordion book. Each person had time to play around with the different structures and complete several projects. Check your mailbox- you might be the lucky dog that receives one!

Alice Southwick, owner of Gallery Shibui and generous soul, is moving her book, paper and teaching studio to Rebus Works this month. Rebus Works is a wonderful gallery and frame shop in the Boylan Heights neighborhood in Raleigh run by Shonna Greenwell. It's worth a visit if you are in the area.


cards, dogs and smelling roses

Much of my studio time over the last couple of months has been creating 3-d work, but I've also tried to fit in time to paint on paper. I usually let the idea define the media I choose to work in. Over time I have found that there is a natural rhythm to my choice of media. If I've gone a while without working flat, I swing back that way. Sometimes deadlines and commissions make media choices for me, but I try to keep my schedule loose enough for flexibility. One way I satisfy my interest in drawing and painting is to create cards that I mail to friends. It gives me great joy to communicate with people this way- it's the hand in this age of multi-tasking and machines- the same thing as slowing down and smelling the roses for both the sender and receiver. A bonus is that these cards often duplicate what I gain from my daily journal practice- time to draw/paint/collage without filtering and editing. The images that come are often the seeds for later work. The first photo is a Thank You card I made for a friend. This led to 2 paintings of the same dog (Lucy Brinkley) for American Folk Art and Frame.


Sometimes it doesn't come together- Part 2

Back in July I started work on a crown that gave me some trouble. I wrote about my struggles with this crown in a July 22 post. I have had the wire armature sitting on a table in the studio since then. Well, one day last month I walked in the studio and found myself picking up the armature. What made that day different from any other? I don't know, but once it had my attention I was off and running. It's the first crown that incorporates one of my paper mache animals.
The name of this piece is A Bird in the Head is Worth 2 in the Hand. I used book pages, gesso, gouache, graphite, cloth, shellac, and thread. It is on display at the Penland Gallery's current show The Barns :2009.

Sometimes it does come together.



My friend Terry Taylor has a new book out this month- ECO BOOKS. Here's the low down-

ECO BOOKS:Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin
Terry Taylor

Here are projects for the “pages”: 40 innovative book-making ideas using recycled and green materials! More than just earth-friendly, they’re also beautiful, clever, and witty, stitched with traditional binding techniques. Egg cartons, wood, beer cans, and cassette tapes morph into covers, while brown bags, coffee filters, and discarded newspapers are transformed into pages. Create a boxed set of cereal box books, an exposed stitch sketchbook out of cardboard and remnants, and even a faux leather journal made from teabags.

In addition to how-to drawings, close-up detail photographs, and simple stitch diagrams, a gallery of eco-books from an international roster of artists provides inspiration.

140 pages

You can purchase it from Lark Books


Goodbye Dolph and Jessie

We finished our class with a group shot (photo 1) and a toast to a great week.
photo 2: class show and tell



I'm finally getting back to Dolph's class. It was a frenzy of activity the last day and 1/2 of class and I didn't get a chance to make a post. Immediately after my assistant duties ended on Saturday I left for a walk across Scotland- Fort William to Inverness. It was fabulous, but that's another story. I'm eager to show the results from our week with Dolph.

My last installment had Dolph with his cover almost finished. He wanted to add a round piece of poly carbinate to act as a window over the cut out circle. Inside this window he planned to put a red paper airplane. He cut the poly out with scissors and used tiny nails to hold it in place.(photo 1) Next he put wood glue on the back of the wooden front cover (photo 2), placed the paper cover onto the wooden cover and clamped it all together.(photo 3) 30 minutes later the clamps came off and he repeated the gluing process with the back cover. Another 30 minutes and - Voila! (photo 4)


Milk Paint

Milk Paint has a short shelf life so Thurs morning Dolph mixed up 4 colors for us to use the next 2 days. He coated his wooden cover with black milk paint using a dabbing technique instead of "painting". After the black was dry he brushed it lightly with steel wool and then applied a coat of blue using the same dabbing method. ( photo 3 ) Once this was dry he sanded it using 4 x O steel wool. ( photo 2 ) The transformation was magical. The cover went from a sandy, chalky, feel to a smooth, silky finish with a slight shine to the high spots. ( photo 3 )


Wood Covers

Today we worked on the wood covers for our books (photo 1). Dolph demoed using the scroll saw (photo 2) and the dremel (photo 3) to sand away layers of the plywood we are using for covers. There is lot's of action in the studio. Tomorrow Dolph breaks out the milk paint!



Today Dolph demoed a technique he developed using graphite and shellac. Using a mixture of ground graphite and liquid shellac he painted onto a board that he had embellished in different ways. After the graphite had time to dry he used a dry rag to polish it up. The raised areas burnished nicely with the end result creating a beautiful metallic look. Even subtle marks come alive. The class dubbed this technique "dolphite".


Tomato Fan

Dolph started out the morning giving each of us a TOMATO FAN, celebrating the "Ripley Tomato". From there he moved on to demo a text block bound with tapes. We sewed a sample text block in preparation for our first book. We spent the afternoon tearing paper and designing the book we will bind tomorrow.


Dolph Smith at Penland

This week I'm assisting Dolph Smith (photo 1) 7th session at Penland. He is teaching a class called "Shake, Rattle & Roll". Here is the description from the catalog-

This class will search for a book niche somewhere between pop-up and built. We will consider the book as tool; the book as display case; the book as container with storage space and windows, perhaps with movement behind the windows; the book as three-dimensional sculpture with three-dimensional illustrations; and we will explore the elements of sound and touch. We will attempt all of this using wood, copper, found stuff, milk paint, graphite, and who knows what else? It will all

work out.

Photo 2- Dolph and Jessie- his wonderful wife of 50 years.

Photo 3- Zennias that Dolph and Jessie brought from their farm in Tenn to grace the book studio.

It's a full class and we are looking forward to an exciting week.



This week I have been completing work on a project I am involved in with BookWorks in Asheville, NC. Here's the specifics:
2009 Small Book Exchange

12 BookWorks Coop members will each make 15 copies of a 3 x 3 x 3” artist’s book on the topic of Cabinets of Curiosities. Two copies of each member’s edition will go to each of two boxed sets (boxes to be made and donated by Gretchen Winger, Gwen Diehn, Laurie Corral, and Dan Essig), one to be raffled off and the other to be sold to raise money to support artists’ residencies at BookWorks. One other copy of each person’s edition will be silent-auctioned at BookOpolis. The drawing for the raffle will happen at BookOpolis, September, 25, 2009.

This is my third year participating in this exchange. It's fun, but I always forget that making 15 of something is TOTALLY different from making 2 or 3 of something. I learn a lot about myself and the way I work- very valuable.

My "book" entitled Digestives consists of "crackers", laminated Reader's Digest pages, inside a cracker box. My statement reads: Reader's Digest Condensed Books are cabinets of easily ingested curiosities. Munch, munch, crunch,crunch - page by page - goes down smooth.


Shameless Self Promotion

Want to learn how to make cloth books? Come join me-


Sometimes it doesn't come together- Part 1

Over the last 2 weeks I have been working on paper mache animals and a crown entitled The Dissimilator. I was excited about the crown idea. First I made the armature out of binding wire and wrapped the base in fabric. (photo 1) Next I cut out the "pages" from a double sided paper. I painted the pages with an image, but didn't like what I had done. I repainted and reworked the idea, but still wasn't happy. (photo 2 and 3- blue spots are painter's tape temporarily holding the pages in place.) After hours on this I decided to abandon the crown all together.

That point is always a hard call. My general philosophy in the studio is to stick with something I'm struggling with. I might need to give it some space, but usually pushing thru and wrestling with the ideas and materials leads me thru the struggle to a successful piece. Paying attention to that tension is important. Every once in awhile there is that piece/idea that can't be redeemed no matter how much time or energy you give it. Success then is the recognition that it's time to move on, that what you received from your time wasn't in a neat package. Knowing the difference between the two- sticking with or moving on- is part of what goes on in the studio. "Am I connected to this piece? Is there anything that intrigues me? Do I just want to throw it out the window." Experience tells me that there is often good "stuff" in the works you want to abandon. Sometimes I am too close to see what is there until there is time away.

What I realized with this crown is that after 3, 4 then 5 days of time away, I didn't want to abandon it. I'm intrigued by the shape and desire to work at it a bit longer after a break. To be continued.


Birthday Project

It was my birthday this week. Instead of a party, my friends, Mark and Beth, helped me construct a cardboard booth like Lucy's in PEANUTS. We put it outside the Penland dining hall at lunch. For 5 cents you could get 2 minutes of psychiatric help and a prescription. My husband, Dan (a psychologist in real life), stood in for Lucy. There was a lot of laughing going on!


The Past 2 weeks

I have been working on more paper mache animals as well as environments for my journal books. The first photo shows a grouping of work in my studio from last week's open house. Next is a paper mache dreaming bird. The third photo is the latest journal book in it's environment- an altered napkin holder. The book can be displayed in the holder open or closed.