Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Art Quilt/Open Book: Seraph

In January, 2017, I had been thinking I might do a book, a kind of typographer's pun, called Sans Seraph: without angel. The project turned out to be an art quilt, which I like better: you could wrap yourself in it like wings or a prayer shawl. 

My journal notes: "a seraph is an angel with three wings—no, three PAIRS of wings. What would you do with six wings?" Apparently, in addition to the wings on their backs, the other two pairs of seraphs' wings cover their faces and their feet. Seraphs appear in the Bible, and they voice an important part of a Jewish prayer that begins, "Holy, holy, holy." I began drawing my own versions of seraphs, based on a variety of butterflies, and made them into photopolymer plates.

I put the idea on hold until March, when I did a little writing for a linoleum block, a contribution to someone else's project.

I printed the seraphim (plural of seraph) on cotton cloth, and printed words in wood type. I pieced the quilt in June, then I let it rest until mid-August, when I solidified the longer text and began quilting. The design of the quilting, which seems to flow randomly, is based on the word holy in Hebrew handwritten text: Kadosh (circled in this photo in pink).

My thought was that holiness doesn't have to tie to a deity or religion. A cousin of mindfulness, holiness can be the spiritual in daily tasks. This paying attention, this reminder that nature is greater than ourselves, can ground us, humble us, perhaps slow us down and grant us a generosity toward others, so lacking these days.

I finished the binding on August 26. Sometimes a project needs a lot of breathing room. More deep breaths.

You can find larger images now on a new Art Quilts:Open Books page on my website.

I'm amassing a pile of textiles on the couch in my office. What to do? After a little online research I joined SAQA: Studio Art Quilt Associates. I was particularly drawn to the work of Jette Clover and will feature her quilts in Star 82 Review this year. SAQA has many calls for entries through the organization. I already have several ideas. Perhaps there is another outlet for what I'm doing, after all.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Instructions: Divided Insert Tray for a Box

It was a classic example of needing organization. I'd been using a variety of colors of embroidery thread to quilt my next project and the skeins were all over the floor. In the studio, I'd just assembled one of my box models completely. Look right, look left, look right again. I could make a box for my threads. But I had a box. It needed compartments. I built a little divided insert that could slide out. It is slightly lower than the box; a small pair of scissors fits on top of it when the box is closed. I could have built two shallow trays that would stack. Here is the basic idea. You can build a box first, or build a tray to fit a box you already have.

We have a case of Fogust here, as summers in the Bay Area tend to go, so we didn't even have shadows while other people were screaming at the eclipse. I watched a little on TV (but how is that different from other TV?), then finished up this model for you.

Materials: a box, book board, book cloth and/or covering paper
Tools: pencil; bone folder; knife and cutting mat and/or scissors; PVA, brush for gluing, old magazines or waxed paper for waste paper

Measure and cut a board to fit inside the smaller tray or bottom of the box.
It will be approximately the same size as the bottom minus 3-4 board thicknesses.

Cut side boards all the same depth, lower than the sides of your box.
Cut two boards the same length as the base of the tray.
Cut two boards the same width as the tray minus two board thicknesses.
Cut your dividers the same size as the latter boards.

Showing two board thicknesses.
You will need room to glue the side boards to each other.

Glue the side boards on top of the base board.
Note how the shorter board is sandwiched between the two longer boards.
Let dry.

Tear a strip of scrap paper and use it to measure from a little under the tray, up the outer wall, and 

down inside the tray, overlapping a little on the bottom.
Trim the scrap paper to this height.
That's how high the book cloth or covering paper will be.

There's the scrap paper on the right.
The length of the book cloth or covering paper is a little past the tray, then roll the tray along the cloth until you have enough to cover all the sides.

Apply glue to the back of the covering paper or cloth, start a little bit from the edge, and begin rolling up.

Make sure you glue down that little flap at the end, wrapping it around the corner.

Trim the very end so it is exactly at the corner of the tray and does not overlap,

making an almost invisible seam.

Underneath the tray, cut triangles at all four corners: snip to the corner, then snip again.

Apply glue to the flaps and wrap over the bottom edges.

Like covering boards for a book. The corners a somewhat mitred.

Measure and cut another piece of covering paper or cloth for the outside base of the tray. It will be almost the size of the base with about a 1/8" margin.
Apply glue and center in place to cover the turn ins.

Lay the tray on its side. On the inside of the tray, and on the shorter sides that will not have the dividers attached to them, draw lines from just inside the corners to the edges of the covering paper or cloth.

Cut along these lines. Don't worry about that extra piece at the overlapped corner.

Create the dividers by cutting pieces of the covering paper or cloth so that they are double the depth plus about a 1/4" margin all the way around. Glue down the boards.

Apply glue to the remaining covering paper, fold over the board, and press into place.

At the top fold, snip from the edges in to the board.

Trim diagonals at the bottom corners leaving about 1-2 board thicknesses between the corner of the board and the cloth you cut off. Make as many dividers as you like. For this, I've made two. Bend open all the flaps.

Measure and mark, top and bottom on the top edges of the tray, where the inserts will align.

Apply glue to the flaps and press the inserts into place, making sure all the flaps are touching the walls and base. Repeat for other divider(s).

Make tiny cuts at the top corners to alleviate stress when you turn them in.

Without gluing yet, fold down the side flaps and crease the covering paper. Pull it back out and make little angled cuts and trims so it will lie flat once it is glued down. Start with that little overlap strip and glue it down in the inside corner. Then continue.

Apply glue to these two flaps and smooth into place by first making sure the top edge is smooth, then bring it down the walls. You may need to bend the flaps as you bring them into the tray so they do not get glue on the other walls.

Draw lines, then make cuts across from the dividers to make extra flaps.

Apply glue and press into place.

Cut covering paper or cloth to fit almost exactly in the compartments. Using the same color for all of these sections gives it a tidy and uniform look and tends to cover anything that might look like a mistake such as an extra cut or fold.

When dry, slip it into the pre-made box.

Originally, this clamshell box wouldn't close. The pieces did not have enough of a gap between them. I cut them apart and re-glued them, this time with three board thickness between the boards and used the red cloth to connect them, like you might make a portfolio or half cloth book (see Making Handmade Books). If you measure just right and have everything centered, the top and bottom edges of the cloth will be parallel and align with each other.

And now it is afternoon, and of course the sun is finally out.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Story: Kumi's Light Published in Every Day Fiction

I started this blog in November 2010, as I was in my second year of a three-year graduate program in creative writing, fiction, at San Francisco State University. I think three years for a grad program is perfect, particularly at a state school. I wrote about the program hereThe first year you are learning new ways of seeing and trying out new ways of making. The second year you commit to a project and may end up changing your focus. The third year you are totally committed to the last idea on your plate and work hard to finish. The last semester of the third year you are writing and revising. And then you submit your thesis.

My first thesis was going to be about performance art. Since I hadn't experienced any of the performances firsthand, I researched them and tried to make them the center of some short stories. After writing about ten stories, I realized they didn't have much emotional interest for me. They were intellectually fun to write, but they weren't from the heart. At the time, I was also knitting little brightly colored rectangles to try a new way of felting. Staring at this pile of textiles I wondered, if these had been sweaters who would have worn them? Each one seemed to have a personality. That was the catalyst for a series of short stories set in a fictional town called Snake, located near Lake Havasu in the California desert. It would end up to be 297 typed pages. I graduated.

When I was finished with the Snake stories, I put them away. Five years later, I'm taking them out again, seeing what heart is in them, if they need revision or should be sent out in the world as they are. One of them, "Kumi's Light" is about a young couple, how they met, and what each must accept about the other. It is being published today in the online magazine, Every Day Fiction. I don't usually ask, but if you like it, please give it some stars! You can find it here.

After I had completed the knitting project, I built a little bureau for the sweater fragments. It stands 12.5" x 8.5" x 9.5" tall. I forgot I had also made sachets with cloves, embroidered with words or initials related to the stories. I think O.K. stands for Octavio and Kumi.

Read "Kumi's Light" here.
You can comment on it there as well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New One-Sheet Book Instructions: Wrapped Accordion

I taught my Winged Book* in a workshop last Friday for the Miniature Book Society's Conclave. Peter Thomas, another book artist, was in attendance, and he commented how much he liked the way the cover was formed. Inspired by his interest, I wondered if that mechanism of folding and tucking could be used with a different book structure. After folding up my junk mail and figuring out what could work, I painted a piece of paper and am offering up the results of my exploration to you.

What's nice about this structure, which I am calling Wrapped Accordion, is that it can be made from one piece of rectangular paper and printed or painted only on one side. It has no sewing or glue. It has hard covers. You fold an eight-panel accordion, but it ends up with six panels. At the covers there may be a slightly uneven edge, due to the various thicknesses of board and paper, but perhaps you can't have everything.

Small size: 8.5 x 11 (or A4) paper, makes a book 1.5 x 3.5 inches 
Medium size: 22" x 14" paper, makes a book 2.75 x 6 inches 

Strathmore drawing paper is what I used for the example. The paper needs to be lightweight because of the folding involved. To create a different sized book, decide the size, double it for height, and add one to four inches (for the pockets that will hold the boards). For width, multiply your ideal book size width by eight.

Cut boards the size of the desired book and subtract 2 board thicknesses on the short side, then on the long side. My boards turned out to be 2.5 x 5.75, but I would recommend a thinner board than the book board I used.

Tools: pencil; metal ruler longer than your paper; X-Acto knife and cutting mat or scissors; bone folder

Inspired by the abutilon flower, I painted the paper.

When it was dry, I turned it over and measured and marked up along the short sides.
The height of the desired size book (6") minus 1/8"= 5 7/8".
Then the height of the book: 6".
Then there remainder: 2 1/8" (this could have been simply 2").

Line up the marks and score with the bone folder.
You'll ignore those marks for a moment.

Begin the folding for the eight panels.
First: fold in half to make the paper shorter and squatter.

Open it up, then fold each cut edge to the center fold you created.

Fold the edges back like window shutters.

Then complete the fan fold by matching folds to folds.

Now, turn so the tabbed edge is at the bottom.
Fold up along the score.

Fold down along the second score you made.

Open completely, and with a knife against a ruler
or using a scissors, make horizontal slits from the first
folded intersections to the edges.

You have four horizontal slits.

Fold the bottom tabs in toward each other.

Fold the center tabs in toward each other

Fold the bottom panel up. It will partially cover the center panel.

Slip the boards in the pockets made by the bottom tabs.

Fold the top panel down.

Tuck the edges around and behind the boards to anchor them into place.

Refold your fan.

And there is the Wrapped Accordion.

Thanks to Peter Thomas, for unintentionally inspiring this!
Here's a link to his and his wife's blog. 
They travel the country in their tiny home / art caravan.

*Winged Book is on p. 69 in Making Handmade Books, a.k.a. Check Book, in Expressive Handmade Books, p. 110.

Article about the conference in the San Francisco Chronicle here.