Last post was in November – then Thanksgiving and after that my exhibition at iMPeRFeCT Gallery ended. There was work taking it down etc. and December was busy – someone stuck some holidays in there and now it’s 2022. Decorations are down, it has snowed, and now it’s very, very cold outside.
First snow 2022 – A perfect time to get back to work.
I’ve been working on various projects and I had signed up for a workshop online with the English artist Alice Fox. It’s dealing with rusty dyeing which I do a lot of but I love her work and wanted to take this workshop with her. Also I can sometimes use a kick to get me going.
So, last Friday was the first day and mainly Alice gives how to’s and and suggestions on experimenting – then you have the week to work on it before the next set of information. You can get feedback via the web.
I did a lot of tests on different types of papers and fabric. Was happy with some and others not so much. But one thing I’m trying to wrap my head around is when I’m learning something and experimenting, don’t just put the results in a drawer but do something with them. So… I decided to make a book of my samples and as they were all different sizes I had to work with that. The result is different than my regular books and it added to the project.
The top paper on the front of the book is much thinner than the others and I like the way the wrinkles add texture, contrasting with the rest of the book. After all this is a book of experiments!
Front Cover and Open Book
It has an accordion construction with the tallest pages in the front, decreasing in height as they go to the end of the book – they also vary in width. Reading it like a regular book there are three different spreads as you turn the pages.
Third spread with earlier pages peaking out and the final closed book
We also worked with dying fiber this week, but that’s a post for another day!
The final book in the project (from the previous post) is a “Never Ending Book” in that it can double back on itself in a circular fashion, thus “Never Ending”. Constructed like the others, only with seven sections rather than eight, the paper pages are then covered with fabric in a crazy quilt fashion using bold stitches, resulting in a very textured piece.
Fabric and spines in place
Two sections have enlarged spines to accommodate extra pages (I may have enlarged mine a bit much) and the front and back covers are slightly padded. Once the stitching is finished the book is filled with the additional paper pages (not sewn in at this point) and is stuffed with leaves and/or onion skins – I added rusty objects as well, and the whole bundle is compressed between two tiles, tied and placed in a dye pot with boiling water.
Before and After
I used an iron pot and added tea bags. The hardest part is leaving it alone for several days with out peeking. This morning I lifted the bundle out and removed the tiles.
Then the unwrapping begins carefully, opening each page to remove the dye materials and setting the book and loose pages aside to dry.
Drying (The dark bit in the first image is the main book structure. More pages in the second.)
All is currently pretty soggy but I’m excited with the results. Some of these pages were tests and I will now dye some additional pages and then assemble the finish project! That will take awhile and will be in a future post! This has been a very fun project with lots of fodder for future projects.
As a break from all the cold and snow of February, I’m taking an online workshop with Australian artist, India Flint. Titled “February Project 2021” it’s basically making folded books from found materials, dyeing them, adding pages and just generally having fun with people all over the world. Her gentle way of explaining things warms up the coldest day.
Here are a few of my early books.
The first red book used a mixed media experiment I had done on watercolor paper. The paper was much too thick to fold as shown so it turned into an accordion book with added fabric to reinforce the folds. It has been put aside for now.
In the second picture, the top left book was also a bit thick for the suggested folding but I was able to open it up and expand the spine. Pages of color have had extra blank pages sewn in creating a small journal/sketchbook. The remaining books are similar but without the need to increase the spine. Some additional pages are in signatures, some fold out to make larger areas to work with. The small bundle includes the books shown in the video below.
These have been dried and are waiting to be finished.
Other artists have stitched fabric to their pages before dyeing them or have added pages from previous dye experiments resulting in a most wonderful range of books —all so different, interesting, and inspiring.
This simple structure is addictive to the point that a solicitation that arrived in the mail yesterday is currently being pressed into a small book. Best use I can think of for junk mail!
And… there are still lectures and video, unavailable until the scheduled week, but listed as a tease of things to come.
A wonderful winter break from all that’s going on. Thank you, India!
I was tearing some large sheets of Arches 300 lb. watercolor paper to work with next week and remembered a little sketch book I made with that paper several years ago. It’s a simple accordion structure and I wanted to have it to sketch things in my garden. Wanted heavy paper so I could work on both sides of the accordion pages. I hadn’t worked with paper that heavy and my watercolor didn’t take to the paper very well. It made an interesting texture but wouldn’t do what I wanted. I was busy and set it aside.
Today I remembered reading (John Pike’s book, “Watercolor” that had belonged to my mom) about heavy watercolor paper having a sizing on it that might be washed off, so… I washed my paper. Just a simple run through with slightly warm water and then gently sponged off with a clean soft sponge. When the water first hit the paper it beaded up like crazy but after the sponging, nothing! No rubbing or soaking, just a gentle sponging to remove the excess water. Then laid on paper towels to dry.
Also did a quick test strip—just rinsed and sponged half the strip. When dry I took a brush full of watercolor and swooshed over both washed and unwashed areas. On the blue sample I also did a dab of color on each side.
Mystery solved! Now I need to rinse my book without making a mess or messing up the existing sketches. A job for another day. But I did wash my prepared papers today!
Thought I’d share this as others might run into the same thing. I’ve studied watercolor formally years ago in school but then I used lighter weight paper that I stretched on a board. Since then I’ve used water color blocks of about 140 lbs. as I mostly take them for quick sketching. Other than my early work I’ve been mainly self taught in this media and missed this bit of the watercolor world! Always something…
Spring has come, all of a sudden everything is green… and magenta and yellow and violet—Philadelphia has a very wild burst of color when spring arrives. I’ve been busy working on a new set of paintings but I spell it with stitching.
My latest “rabbit hole” is a fiber book based on my grandmother, her mother, and her mother. Using many bits and pieces from their collections of saved fabric, lace and trims—my grandmother was the youngest and as all this was passed down it ended up with her and then to me—I descend from savers or some might say pack rats. All three women sewed so there is a wealth of scraps.
Slowly the pages have been taking shape as things are rearranged and reassembled. I learned to print photo’s on fabric—that was a big break through… my dyed fabrics make an appearance as does my stitching. And finally I made a commitment on a cover. So here is the cover and the pages for each woman.
The cover is piece of canvas dyed with tea and rusty bits. It is stitched and has self ties. When untied it reveals a pocket with a photo of me with what I thought was a most wonderful hat when I was four years old.
Three generations of women, all “Stitchers”, although I don’t think they would have used that title.
Other pages and spreads consist of fabric and buttons and feathers and prints and lace and … some are still in the works…
These women have inspired this book but it isn’t necessarily about them but rather about women in general, things that were important to them in their time and that belonged to them in their time.
Spent the afternoon a few weeks ago in the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. Didn’t have a lot of time but we walked around, some photography and I collected leaves of Sweetgum Trees. I love their long pointy shapes and when I got home I made this little book of leaf prints.
I haven’t made the cover yet but I’m thinking of a series of leaf books from travels this summer. We’ll see…
In the mean time I did make a sketch book from watercolor paper… and did start working in it. Small sketch of hostas in our back garden.
A simple cardboard cover, closed with a rubber band, with accordion pages of Archers Watercolor paper. My plan is for the simple cover to contrast with a plethora of sketches inside. This is a start.