Friday, September 25, 2015

Seager/Gray Book Art Exhibition in Brooklyn

The Seager/Gray Gallery of Mill Valley has curated a show, "Ten Years of Artists' Books" at the Brooklyn Library. Donna Seager has been championing artists' books in her galleries for a decade now: giving talks, bringing books to art shows, to Codex, and having regular book art exhibits in the gallery she shares with her business partner Suzanne Gray.

A full catalogue, with images and descriptions of books by twenty-four artists, may be viewed online here. (Click at the right edge to advance.) I am happy to say that my letterpress printed, perpetual haiku book/calendar Days Made Strange is included.

It's a visually interesting and tactile collection of handmade artists' books, altered books, and book-related art.

Artists: Guston Abright, Jody Alexander, James Allen, Islam Aly, Doug Beube, Macy Chadwick, Julie Chen, Cathy DeForest, Marie Dern, Jessica Drenk, Arían Dylan, Casey Gardner, Alisa Golden, Andrew Hayes, Meg Hitchcock, Charles Hobson, Peter Koch, Lisa Kokin, Jacqueline Rush Lee, Sandi Miot, Elizabeth Sher, Seiko Tachibana, Danielle Giudici Wallis, Kazuko Watanabe

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sacked Out: from Bag to Pillow

My friend Celeste took a trip abroad this summer and brought me back a sack. Not an ordinary sack, but a sack with letters on it. Not just letters, but find-a-word style. I wondered at first if there were any words in English other than the ones that were printed with red circles around them. The letters looked suspiciously Scandinavian. It was printed with the same letters on both sides.

I told her I thought I would embroider it. She said she had a darling basket of floss from an elderly friend, (my story based on the friend is here), and if I would use it, she would pass it along to me. Yes! I would use it! It was a darling basket.

It has a sampler and an instruction sheet. 
It is not dated.

We have some Glossilla (no relation to Godzilla).

The internet gives me a rough date of early 1900s. The previous owner is in her nineties, so these could be from the 1930s-1950s.

This one is also Glossilla, but it is boil proof.
"Brighter than Silk."

J. & P. Coats 
Six Strand Floss
9 yards
Skein Pat. Dec 27, 1921
one is marked 8 cents

Royal Floss
Fast Color
Carlson Currier Co.
Phoenician Dyes

I got so inspired, I bought a wooden needle case from The Caning Shop.

And so, after marveling at the labels and colors,
I went to work.

When I was finished, I removed the handles.
At Jo-Ann's I got a 14" pillow form.
And sewed it inside.

The beauty shot.

But really, it's going to live in here.

Thank you, Celeste!

It made me think about letterpress printing my own words in a big grid…

Friday, September 18, 2015

Painted Prints: Monotypes with a Gelli Plate

Of making prints there is no end, to paraphrase a popular saying. This time, I wanted to try painting the entire image at once, without overprinting. And creating a varied edition of these prints, all based on the same drawing, or key. Monotypes.

Restless, I wandered around my yard for a subject. Aha! One bloom on the Bird of Paradise plant. That would be it. I took it inside the studio.

I drew the outlines, then mapped out the colors with colored pencils.
I wanted the final print to face left, so the drawing faces right.

Placed the transparent Gelli plate on top of my drawing.
After deciding where on the page it would be printed,
I drew around the edges of the plate.

Painted and printed, first on pieces of maps,
then on black Stonehenge paper, a better choice,
partly for the color, partly because it was more absorbent.

After looking through all of them,
I decided I liked two.
Each has unique qualities.
They look different on screen as well.
I'm really enjoying this process.

If all the birds align, I'll teach a workshop featuring this technique in the Spring.
Keep in touch…

Other experiments here and here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

New Letterpress Book: Better Say Eagle

Thinking about book art exhibitions where "Do Not Touch" is the norm, I dreamed and then created a paper sculpture that resembles a book, but is easily read without handling. At the same time I thought about how people will look at the cover and see if it grabs them before they pick it up and look inside. This book is the cover. Or the jacket, rather. It displays well as a paper sculpture; you can walk all around it and read all of the contents. The book, then, is fully exposed, easy to flatten, and able to be stored or matted and frame as a print and displayed on the wall. 

After looking through all the poems I wrote this summer and in the past year to see if I could find a theme, I found several that dealt with a flip side of patriotism, most based on true stories. The five poems I included take a look at honesty, service, invisibility, power, and irony through cleaning, team training, military awards, a bug, and clichés. The prints are of bald eagles, a target, and combat boots and talons. Taken together, they are a powerful and playful set of words and images.

I set all the Caslon Oldstyle type by hand and carved linoleum blocks, all  printed on my letterpress one at a time in six colors on sturdy, thick, cotton Stonehenge paper.

Fully extended as a print: 21.5”w x 10”h
As a paper sculpture: 6” x 10”h x 1.5”w

Order your copy at nevermindtheart!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What It Means When An Editor Says, "Not a Fit"

Imagine you have just built a house and every day someone knocks on the door to suggest a color of paint or some sort of furnishing. One day it's pink and you look around—bathroom, bedrooms, closet—and think, No, pink just isn't right for me, it doesn't fit with the house. It doesn't match how I want the house to look and feel. Someone brings cream, which is fine but not exciting. Another brings purple, which is much too much. So it goes.

I'm heading toward the beginning of my fourth year of editing/producing *82 Review and my millionth year of sending out stories and poems (I swear it's true). So I'm on both sides of the submission rejection/acceptance fence. The rejection phrase, "not a fit for our magazine" annoyed me until I came up with the above metaphor of house and paint. Although I don't use those words when I decline a piece, I now do understand it.

Each editor has a vision, a house, that s/he is furnishing. Sometimes that poemtable is nice, sometimes even extraordinary, but it's not the right style for the issuehouse. Each submitter also has a vision and style. Sometimes the subject or form matches the editor's vision and style, more often, it does not. Think about your friends, how you met them, the people you met and liked but somehow the friendship didn't gel or you didn't keep in touch. Your piece and the editor need to have the right chemistry and intention for a longterm match.

Maybe you've heard that it's all subjective. It is. It really is. Keep writing. Keep sending. Try different places. Eventually, you'll knock on the door that opens to you. And your piece will finally fit.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Telling the Story: College Book Art Association Conference 2016

Early Bird registration is open for the January 2016 Conference of the College Book Art Association. While many of the members are affiliated with an academic institution, you don't have to be part of a college to join and go! This year's theme is "Telling the Story" and it is all happening in Nashville, Tennessee, January 7-9, 2016. Presentations on book art related topics occur in several sessions; there are tours; friendly meals; and Hatch Show Print is there!

I will be there, too! My proposal for a fifteen-minute presentation was accepted, "Materials and Hidden Meanings." If you've been reading the blog all these years, I touched on the subject here in 2011. Here's the scoop, my description from the proposal:

Bookmakers often have stories about selecting materials, a thought process behind the choices that may or may not show in the final works. Additionally, each material has a story inherent in it. As they select materials for a book, the makers are intentionally choosing layered meanings that will contribute to that book, sometimes overtly, sometimes in a hidden way. 

Nabokov wrote about how we perceive physical objects as “Transparent things, through which the past shines.” By paying attention to our materials, we can control what kind of past shines through the works. These materials add a context: their "transparency" ties the object to a time and place and person. In our era of reduce/reuse/recycle and renewed environmental consciousness, we may ask: When is new appropriate? When do found materials add to or distract from the intention of the piece? How does longevity figure into the life of the work?

By examining selected works and through primary sources such as personal interviews with book artists like Betsy Davids, Alisa Golden, Michael Henninger, Lisa Kokin, Shanna Leino, John Steck, Jr., and others who work in a variety of ways with new, everyday, found, or sought-after materials, we can learn stories behind the choices that are often not visible in the works, and how the materials themselves tell stories, implying certain places, times, moods, and connections from the makers to the readers and to the wider world.

Hope to see you there!
Registration here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Another Monoprint with a Gelli Plate

Here is another monoprint made simply with a Gelli plate, like the ones in this post

A clean plate.
I've set it on a piece of paper that is the same size as
the paper I will be printing on.
My hope is to be able to align the printing paper
with the guide so that my print will be in register.

I painted the plate as if it were going to be a monotype,
using many colors, as if it were a painting all by itself.
I added some cutout paper rectangles as masks.

Print and plate.
Most of the paper cutouts remained stuck to the plate.
The ones that didn't I had to pick off with a tweezers.
The plate is pretty clean. I decided to continue without printing a ghost.

Painted purple and some yellow where the "windows" are.

Print and plate.
The sky is darker now, which makes the buildings stand out a bit better.
But there isn't any motion.

I decided to add stars. I used a star hole punch to create a stencil.
Painted milky white on the plate.

Print and plate.
Stars came out nicely.
Kind of sorry I added the white brushstrokes on the buildings and road, though.

I painted maroon on the bottom and printed it.
This made the road dark again.

I painted blue on the bottom and 
put little pieces of string down for texture, then printed it.
Putting the project to bed for now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Star 82 Review Fall Issue 3.3 is LIVE!

Every quarter I publish *82 Review, a literary and art magazine, and every time I am amazed and delighted at the work from the contributors. This Fall issue glows with beautiful, imaginative, and moving words and images.  I thank all the writers and artists for their wonderful work.

In our eleventh issue, 3.3, we have connections and risks; opposites, margins, and expectations; ourselves and our consciences; pairs and partners, the people we are and the people we want to be.

We have a quilted erasure text from artist and book artist Jody Alexander, a dinosaur comic from London writer/artist Andrew Pidoux, and a photograph of dancers in Cuba by Ronna Schary, among other stellar artworks.

Printer and author Alastair Johnston provides jazz poetry with shadow notes. Amy Strauss Friedman gives us emails from God. And there is so much more.

You can read and see it all online: *82 Review, 3.3
Or support the project and order a full-color print copy: *82 Review, 3.3 (print)
(Also available through Star 82 Review 3.3)


Jody Alexander
Yee Jan Bao
Amy Sayre Baptista
Anuradha Bhowmik
Heath Brougher
Marion Deutsche Cohen
William Cullen, Jr.
Bill Dill
Mica Evans
Joachim Frank
Amy Strauss Friedman
Kyle Hemmings
Alastair Johnston
Peter Korchnak
Tony Leuzzi
Ann Lewis
Trenton Maybe
Liz Maxwell
Sarah Monsma
Sarah Frances Moran
Justin Nicholes
Luke Normsy
Al Ortolani
Andrew Pidoux
Lola Rainey
Ronna Schary
darlene anita scott
David Shaddock
Derold Sligh
Alina Stefanescu
Robin Turner
Doug Van Hooser
Shelton Walsmith
Shelly K. Weathers
Matthew Werneburg
Shellie Zacharia