Category Archives: My art

Bean Bag Book

Bean bag book

Recently I spent a day traveling. By mid-day I had eaten nothing but the  17 peanuts that the airline offered me, so during a 3 hour layover I set out to find something resembling actual food and ended up with a pretty darn good food court Mexican lunch of a tasty bean and chicken burrito and some reasonably  good chips and salsa.

Detail of bean bag book

Detail of bean bag book

Bean bag book detail

Bean bag book back0001

As I was about to crumple up and toss the paper bag in which my lunch had been served, I saw the polite admonition on the bag to recycle, and instead tucked it between the pages of The Interestings, my travel book of choice that day.

Back at home yesterday I pulled the brown bag from my carry-on and started piddling with it, and by afternoon I had turned the take-out bag into a spur -of- the-moment  journal. I added only odds and ends already in my stash: some blank brown kraft paper pages, a bamboo chopstick, some black rubber bands, a date stamp just for fun, and some color accents from an old gouache paint set of my dad’s.

I’m giving a book-making class a month or so from now. While this one wasn’t completely perfect, I may use it as an example of how to create a nifty little book out of just a few odds and ends.



Nemo Did What?!

Nothing like a winter snowstorm (apparently courtesy of my cat, Nemo, who is taking the blame for much of this event) to give one time to get back to one’s blogging. I haven’t been idle, though, and I think it’s time to show you some of what I’ve been up to.



Winter haiku lanterns with celestial bodies–stars and moons, galaxies and planets.  Oh, and a few choice lines, first from Basho:

Come, let’s go
snow viewing
until we’re buried

And the second, from Issa:

No talents
also no sins
winter seclusion

What more do you need when you’re snowbound?

The joy of tiny houses

I’ve always been fascinated with tiny houses. We live in a house that most Americans would think is tiny, but I’m really very taken with really very small homes. Japanese apartments, caravans, itty bitty houses.

A dear friend of mine (who lives in a beautiful small house with a big heart) is drawn to houses as an art motif in the same way in which I gravitate toward bowls. When we have art days at her (big) house, (little) houses are likely to be on the menu.  Here is a house she made me. My moribund camera had trouble capturing its beauty, but you can get a sense of it here:

And here:

It’s beautiful. There’s a tiger on the roof, and an inviting flickering light inside.  It sits about a hands breadth high.

Even more wonderful–she taught me how to make them. Here are three that went off in yesterday’s mail to someone special (along with a box of the flickering pretend candles to light them up on winter nights):

I mailed these off and will be sorry to see them go. But I’ve kept two for myself because–you know–I really do love a tiny house.

Encaustic collage

One minute I’m on a roll, making lots of art and posting pretty often, then–yikes!–there are earthquakes and trips and hurricanes and big bad booms in the middle of the night and . . . STUFF.

And more stuff is coming–travels, work, more travels–so in this wee little interval between one thing and another I thought I’d put up a quick post.

Going visiting tomorrow and hate to show up empty-handed, so this morning I dragged out toys and tools and made a quick encaustic collage to take to my mother. First, though, I took a look at one I made some time ago and don’t think I ever posted (these suckers are freaking hard to photograph, let me tell you–click here to get a better look at it).

I liked what I saw, but this one is a little too dark for Mom, I think. So I plunged in to making a new one, making use, as always, of saved up bits of paper, stamped images from the ones I’ve made, and pretty much whatever was handy. Lately I’ve been saving and printing on tea bag papers, and several of those made their way into this collage (you can also see one under the Ikkyu poem above). That’s especially fitting, I think, since this one is really about tea (again, here for a closer look).

So here ’tis:

Whaddya think? And will the TSA folks let me through security with a piece of art?

My not so hidden agenda sort of tutorial

Last June my computer had a little snit and ate my calendar. For the second time. Not all of it–I could still access most of the years on it, but not all. But that was it. I could no longer trust it. I still keep a calendar on my computer, but my main computer is kept on stone tablets now. I sat down the day after the Palm betrayed me and made a paper agenda. It has served me well.

On Saturday of this past weekend, though, I realized I’d come to the last page of my year, which, just because of what happened when, now runs from mid-June to mid-June. Time was up. I spent the rest of the weekend making a new one. I started with this:

And took these steps. More pictures here than words, and I apologize for the fact that the shadow of my head is in some of the photos–it was a dark stormy weekend and the lighting was just weird.

Soft Kut from Dick Blick:

The carved block and the printed page:

After flirting briefly with hand-cutting and block printing the name of each month and each numerical date, I came to my senses and wrote them in by hand with Sharpie markers matching the color of the ink I’d used on each page:

Cutting scraps (they look like the homemade noodles First Child and I made a couple of weeks ago). I’m so cheap that I spent a ridiculous amount of time pawing at and trying to figure out how to reconstitute and reuse these. Common sense prevailed and they went into the trash, but it took a while and was fairly wrenching. Seriously, think there’s gotta be a use for these somewhere:

A little cover decoration was in order:

And then, maybe, a little color:

Second child likes the black and white prints better. I left a few like that. And I don’t know why I printed so many, but it’s just as easy to do a run of quite a few prints and I’m already thinking up some good uses for them (stay tuned).

I’m always seriously in love with the blocks from which I print. Would it be weird to mount and hang them somewhere? They’d have to be accessible for repeated use. I also have among my treasures some woodcut (actual wood) blocks that my dad carved many years ago. Some of them were commissioned for the covers of a magazine for which he was the art director back in the 60s and 70s. My sister has some of them, too. Hmm . . . I might actually have to print some of them in the near future.

For now, though, these are just mine.  And this, finally, is my new calendar, complete with its own sunflowery cover, its nice tabs (scavenged from some monoprints that didn’t completely work out), and its important back pocket (everything should have pockets). I’m happy to have a nice place to keep track of what day it is.

New monoprints

Time to whip out the gelatin blocks and make more monoprints.  I spent about 4 hours working on a large series. Some don’t really work for me, but quite a few did. Here’s a peek:

And another:

Here’s one:

And another:

I’ve still got this block (about 8 x 8″) in the fridge; will try to pull some more impressions from it as the week goes along.

A play date

I was recently invited to a fabulous event–an art-making day at the home of my dear friend Leslie. She provided the hospitality of her beautiful, Swedish-inspired home in the woods, the company of her charming dogs Luna and (the newly rescued) Broomis, and a spectacular seafood curry soup.

And large, blank houses cut from illustration board.

Her ten or twelve lucky guests brought rolls, salad, chocolate, chai, and bags and bins and boxes of art supplies and ephemera.

What a day we had, and how beautiful the resulting town of houses was when we finally–after 6 hours or so–stopped for show and tell.

I wish I could show them all to you, but, alas (and damn!) they don’t belong to me, but to their individual makers. But I will show off mine if I may (yeah, try and stop me). This baby’s been working up through the murky recesses of my consciousness, Magic 8-Ball style, for weeks, and it was both challenging and freeing to help it find form.

Here she be.  It’s called (after the Lhasa de Sela song of the same name) Soon This House Will Be Too Small.

The house is hinged with silk ribbons along the left side, and opens like a book; it stands about 9″ tall. Here’s the outside:

And the inside, with a somewhat closer view of the right-hand page (note the tiles that show through the windows on the front):

and the rear view:

Each woman there made something different–there were cheerful houses, somber houses, homes, shops, houses with words, houses that held their tongues, tropical houses and beach houses and fantasy houses. Amazing.

Here’s the interesting thing. Since that day I’ve been having incredibly vivid, long, detailed dreams about houses of all kinds, so real, so insistent on being recognized.

I think we need another art day. Soon.