A Mother’s Day Surprise

Wow – for Mother’s Day, my daughter made me a book called “52 Reasons Why I Love You”  handmade book "52 reasons" handmade book "You Love Me For Who I Am" IMGP0043handmade book - "you drink tea" Here are a few of the pages.

And she and her dad stayed up late to make me a cake. I feel very loved today!Mother's Day Cake

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richmond zine fest at gallery 5

Last night D, N & I went to the 2009 Richmond Zine Fest at Gallery 5    We walked away with a handful of zines and mini-comics.  Just for kicks, we walked a block over to Broad Street to take in the First Friday art scene.  D & I vowed to make First Fridays a monthly family event. N was less enthusiastic.

From  the Richmond Zine Fest website:
What’s a zine?
“From Stolen Sharpie Revolution
(pronounced like magazine without the maga) A zine is an independently created publication containing anything you want it to; personal experiences and stories, political ideologies, music related writing, gardening tips, fiction, travel stories, comics, photography, or anything you like. zines can be put together by one person or a group of people and they are usually photocopied but can also be printed offset, letter press, or mimeographed.”

What’s a zine fest?
“A zine fest is an event where zinesters (individual sellers as well as zine distro owners) meet up to sell and trade zines, as well as meet other zinesters. …  A zine fest is not traditionally a craft fair, comic book convention, or a book fair. We do not mind if these things are sold by tablers, but we do ask that they devote at least 10% of their stock to zines and other affordable printed matter.”

book of hours photos

I finally made some scans of my Book of Hours creation.

The original Books of Hours were personal devotional books created in Medieval Europe  and modeled after monastery devotions.  They usually start with a calendar of religious holidays, and then follow with meditations on the Life of Mary, sometimes followed with meditations on the four Apostles (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) … sometimes with stories of saints. As far as I know, they’re always filled with gorgeous imagery.  Of course, most were created before mass printing & the invention of moveable type, so they were hand-lettered as well as hand-illustrated.

My Book of Hours is bound with leather and ties closed with yarn. Inside is a small text of devotions – meaningful to me and connected with the life of Mary. I also created an icon, which can be seen when the cloth covering protecting it is lifted. I may later add gold leaf or more “jewels” to the icon – but for now there’s just the inked and colored drawing of the Annunciation.

finding cool pics for a slide show on bookmaking


Books as repositories of knowledge and magic – people still travel thousands of miles to Ireland to see the Book of Kells. I suspect there is no way a picture of a page from this book can do its materiality justice. Even here it’s incredibly beautiful.

I’m working on a slide show for a bookmaking workshop at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts. Teaching a unit is a requirement for my bookmaking seminar, but I’m also having fun putting it together.

Meanwhile, Google is going to make thousands of books available on any web browser. NY Times article: Google Sparks E Reader Fight with Kindle

Are the days of physical books as numbered as the days of a wet darkroom for photography? I think that’s when the artists move in … art books and art photography made by artists and photographers using non-digital technology, because quickly anything non-digital is becoming arcane.

on bookmaking and flash galleries (or why I haven’t been blogging)


I call this book Found & Stitched, made over the summer for a grad level studio course in bookmaking.


What I like about it are the interior details … the silver stamping on torn white paper. The contrast of silver with black. The Frankenstein-like stitching directly through the cardstock.

Torn paper and found sentences … silver thread and images of flying or running … for text, I lifted sentences at random from books around my house … usually the first sentence of the third paragraph on the 50th or 70th page. Oddly, the randomness coalesces into something that makes sense.

Next – I finish my Book of Hours.

I’m also creating galleries in Flash to showcase work on my website. Once I got the first one to work (the one on Found & Stitched) … creating the others has gone quickly. Last night I created one from photos I took over the summer (my Life Unplugged) and this morning I’ve got a cool one partly done with historical photos from the oral history project, complete with captions. Maybe by Monday, I’ll have uploaded the new pages to my website … if so, I’ll post here and on Facebook.

on illustration and incredible books


This is one of my favorite prints from Jack Sheppard – an 1839 crime novel by W. Harrison Ainsworth, illustrations by George Cruikshank. VCU Special Collections has the 1839 edition – so I got to see the original prints as I might have seen them in 1839. It’s amazing how rich they look – how much detail and texture gets lost through reproduction.

Taking the comics class has me taking a closer look at imagery as it interacts with text. Amazing, really, how it flows together in my imagination. Medieval illustrated manuscripts, comics from the early 20th century, and illustrated serial novels from the 19th century … mix that together with a class on making books … and all sorts of ideas start to swirl.

The first I’m working on is a personal Book of Hours.

Meanwhile, a friend has curated this Book Arts exhibit in Richmond, Virginia. I couldn’t make the opening (not with my grumpy 8-year-old) but what I want to see is the work – sometimes it’s hard to see art at an opening. To paraphrase the Bard, “the art’s the thing.”

journal and web resource for bookmaking


While researching where to find supplies to complete my Book of Hours, I came across a reference to The Bonefolder, an ejournal on bookmaking.

Here’s what they say about themselves:
The Bonefolder publishes significant articles by established and emerging authorities on a variety of book arts topics. These include hand bookbinding, teaching, business practice, the history of the book, the book as art, general tips & tricks, exhibitions, how-to technical articles, and reviews.

“The namesake of The Bonefolder is Das Falzbein, a bookbinding journal which existed under various other names from 1927 to 1966 in Germany, providing generations of bookbinders with an important source of learning. While the trade and craft of bookbinding have changed greatly since then, it is hoped that our publication will inform and stimulate all levels of practitioners and lovers of the book as an artform and structure.”

Book Arts Web: a good overall resource for the art and craft of bookmaking and home to The Bonefolder.

working retreat and more interviews

I didn’t think I could afford a weekend away from D and N and my to-do list, but it was the best thing I could have done. On Friday I packed up bookmaking supplies and food and the dog and off we went for a working weekend away.

It’s been hard to focus on making books with an overburdened to-do list, but I was able to get quiet and sketch and figure out my version of a Book of Hours. I had the time and space to place with the pen and ink supplies I’d bought for cartooning. Even though I have too much going on, I’m going to try and create my own comic strip for a final project in my Reading Comics seminar.

I scheduled oral history interviews for Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Six hours worth of oral history about farm life on the Eastern Shore later and I’m still learning about this part of rural Virginia and southern Maryland.

I spent an incredibly peaceful and productive weekend in a beautiful and quiet place! I love looking up from my work out an open window into either the woods or a field full of soybeans. This morning I got my calendar out to figure out when I can do this again. I’m thinking a long weekend in November – about the time I have to create a full set of comics for my final project.

another semester begins and I’m already exhausted

I’d like at least one full day of solitude and reflection – feels like I haven’t had one of those in months. On Monday – one of the days I’m scheduled to work on schoolwork from home – I had to serve a last day of jury duty. A personal injury case, too – better than a murder trial, I guess, but still a drag. Today – another day which should be a day for solitude and reflection and solid work – I’m taking care of my sick child.

I’ve done some work, in the chinks. Feels like all my work right now happens in the chinks. Two days a week I spend in the dean’s office doing communications work for them. A great GTA placement, but still doesn’t recharge me the way my own work does.

In fact, it’s driving home how much I really really really want to teach, preferably on the university level, and how much I want to write, not in service of any goals but out of my personal interests.

Of course, how many people get to do exactly what they want to do for work in this life? I’ve always been haunted by that … who do I think I am to get what I want?

Might be healthier to ask, why not me?

Meanwhile, I’ve got reading to do and papers to write and presentations to plan and projects to research. And I need to make a few books and schedule the next round of oral history interviews and finish the e-portfolio that’s due in November and study for the first round of comps (that’s in January) and recruit a dissertation committee. Finally, I’ve got to maintain my commitments with the dean’s office and my family and my home. Oh yeah – and take care of myself.

No wonder I’m tired … it’s only September 4.

been bookmaking, not blogging

Took a week off blogging and farm life interviews to take an intensive bookmaking course at VCU. And I finally made it to the National Gallery of Art to see the illuminated manuscripts. The pigments, especially the blues and the gold leaf, really need to be seen to appreciate their vivid materiality. Reproductions, in this case, don’t capture the beauty, the aura of the object. Sometime in the next few months I’m going to try a hand at my own Book of Hours.

This is a Jenny Saville piece from a fantastic special exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle … Paint Made Flesh. It’s worth a special trip to DC. It’ll be up through September 13.