Expressive Adventures in Book Arts

Monday, July 23, 2012

Salem NY: Growing Books from the Inside Out

Not only can you see art at North Main Gallery in Salem NY, you can to create art as well, thanks to the inspired vision of owner and director Ruth Sauer who engages children and adults in exciting opportunities for art making in the gallery.

As an exhibiting artist in the current exhibit, BOOK ARTS SUMMER IN SALEM 2012. I was delighted to be invited to offer a workshop focused  on developing content for artist books.  What a pleasure it was to meet workshop participants and to witness the blossoming of their projects.

We began by imagining ourselves in a soft moonlit summer night, opening our senses and 
gathering in the energies and emotions stirring in the deep blue of evening.

Using acrylic inks and a variety of painting tools, participants allowed their harvest of
 sensations to fill sheets of rice paper. 

In companionable stillness, everyone found highly individual ways to express their visions. 

 We put the finished paintings in the sun to dry, 
while we cleaned the studio,

 Then we cut the dried papers into 12 pieces, 3" x 6" each.
Stacked with folds lined up, 
we glued the reverse sides of  page fore edges together to form flutter books.

Book makers elaborated on the basic flutter book
 by gluing additional imagery into the books,
by adding words, and
by building on to the structure.


We all delighted in the animated cascade of the pages spilling from our hands,
and in the translucent quality of the paper..

Thank you to all the inspired participants and to
Ruth Sauer for a morning of pleasure,
creativity and fun at the 
North Main Gallery
in Salem NY.

Friday, July 6, 2012


April showers fell belatedly in May and inspired some watery play.  We explored Suminagashi aka Japanese paper marbling.

Our plan had been to see what sorts of artist books the prints would inspire.  We never got that far.   We just couldn't stop making the Suminagashi prints.Each one was an exciting surprise.

Here are some of the prints we made. 
Josette Lee
Miriam Frischer

Pam Wright

Debbie Stone
Karen  Summerlin
Jo Renbeck
Lorraine Hartin Gelardi
(double click on any image to enlarge)

SUMINAGASHI HOW TO:  Be forewarned, Suminagashi is definitely addicting!

Put about one inch of water in a low sided dish a little larger than your paper. 

Dip a slender brush or a bamboo skewer in ink and just touch it to the surface of the water. 
     Use Sumi ink or India ink or any drawing ink made with shellac, or the new color suminagashi inks by Boku-Undo

Dip another slender brush or a bamboo skewer into a dispersant that will repel the ink. Touch it to the water. Watch the ink spread out.
Depending on the ink you choose, use one of the following:
water with a very very small amount of detergent, 
a small dot of white glue on the end of a skewer, 
the oils from your face or hair. (Just rub the skewer along the side of your nose or along your scalp.  Truly!)
You can use the Boku-Undo inks without a dispersant.

Alternate touches with ink and the dispersant. You will grow a giant bullseye that you can manipulate with one of your tools.  You will soon find other ways to vary the pattern.

Gently lay a piece of paper on the surface of the water.  Lift it away from the water by peeling it back from one side to the other.  Place it to dry on a piece of newsprint, or plexiglass.
Unsized papers work best.  
construction paper, 
some recycled papers, 
copperplate paper, 
Arches 88 paper,
Yosumoto "sketch paper" ( not their "painting sketch paper")

Change your water occasionally.  You will figure out the best frequency depending on when the prints begin to look blurry.  The whole process is one of experimentation, in which you have about 30% control at best. Another way to put that is that the forces of nature are contributing 70% of their best efforts on your behalf!

Suminagashi, or Japanese paper marbling is a low tech process that can yield some high impact results, even for beginners. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shape Poems

In April, National Poetry Month, we made shape poems to inspire the structure of books about the welcome arrival of spring.  The idea was to draw a shape that evoked spring, a bird, a bud, for instance, and then to write descriptions and feelings within the shape.  To get the idea of shape poems, we made one together about an iris leaf:
smooth promise
supple sword
aspiring upward
translucent edges
bulging buds 

In the past, we've talked about the place of words in our books and noted how some of us resist using them while for others of us words dictate the form of our structures.  Interestingly, this month, approaches reversed for some. 

Here, with a few binding details still in the works for Susan and Lorraine, are the April books.  Click on any image for a closer look.

Susan Bissonnette 
Pam Wright

Miriam Frischer
Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi
Cait Johnson

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wind Questions

Much of March proved uncommonly summer-like this year, but sticking with weather tradition, we made books about March wind.  We asked, what form would a book about wind take?  Would it describe feelings stirred up by the wind? Would it physically generate wind, or at least a breeze?  Would it invite the wind to manipulate it?
We each found ways to invoke and invite the energies of wind into our work.  In addition, Susan brought the now complete book that she began in January.  Her wind book elaborates on the innovative cover style she created for the January book.  Both she and Karin promise to bring the complete books started this time when we meet again.
To start a slide show of the books, click on any image.

Susan Bissonnette's complete book from January.

Susan Bissonnette's wind book in progress
Debbie Stone
Jo Renbeck

Karin Lempke

More tiny books about wind to be added to Karin's book

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Behind the Scenes and Under Cover

In February, little things are happening in the ground, under the ice, in the air  We all know winter loves to take its curtain calls, but behind the scenes, the stage is being set for spring.

We made tiny books, 3"x3," about tiny changes, choosing between accordion, flutter and pamphlet style with papers we painted.  We made covers with sturdy book board that we cut (a hard business!)  But the good surprise in this taxing effort came when we posed the books for photos.  The heavy boards attached to the delicate paper sometimes caused the pages to spring up in unexpected ways.

Deanna Tohey

Deanna Tohey

Debbie Stone

Josette Lee

Karin Lempke

Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi

Miriam Frischer

Pam Wright

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Painted Paper Books

We took inspiration from Painted Paper, Techniques & Projects for Handmade Books & Cards, Alisa Golden's rich and generous book detailing many exciting approaches to creating decorative papers along with directions for book projects that can be made from these papers. 

This was a decidedly delicious session.  Our theme this month was the winter moon, but many of us ended up just joyfully following the paint wherever it led. 

We all used acrylic inks, and chose between Meridian Drawing paper and Yasutomo Sumi-E painting paper, the first opaque, the second transluscent.

Once the papers were painted and dried, we cut them into individual pages.

Each page was folded.  The folded pages were stacked on top of each other.  The fore edges of adjoining pages were glued together.  More detailed instructions can be found in Alisa Golden's book in the Album Accordion Book section.

Cait Johnson

Lee Courtney
Miriam Frischer
Jo Renbeck
Debbie Stone
Susan Bissonnett

Karen Summerlin

Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi
And here's one more that I made to illustrate Alisa Golden's instruction for making a cover for the Album Accordion Book. The cover works well with papers like the Meridian Drawing paper that do not allow the paint to bleed through.  However, with the Yasutomo Sumi-E painting paper, both sides of the paper show the paint and a cover may not be desired.