Monday, September 28, 2009

More aprons

Some friends and I got together yesterday and wore red and white aprons out to a restaurant - and then to a meeting. Hey, why not start a trend?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Apron book, Inspiration.

This isn't about a book, but about the motivating factor that got me to make it for Rosemary. Last year she gave me this fabulous apron she made for my birthday. she said it was for making art, but I'm not about to go splashing paints on it! Here are two pics - the upper section and one showing the scalloped hemline. The other pic is Rosemary's own grandmother in a tattered apron. She said it was okay to post, so here they are.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Inka's book, Keeper of Fragments

After seeing Inka's book on her blog, I asked if I could put a link here so you can visit there to see it too. It's a really rich and textural work and such a wonderful way to use the things she treasures. Go check it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Board Book - Aprons

The apron board book I was making for Rosemary's birthday is done and delivered, so now I can show pics. I've been gathering apron images for some time, not quite knowing how I would use them. But, as Rosemary's birthday drew near I knew it was time to put them to use. Nothing too big, nothing too lengthy, just a nice remembrance personally designed and constructed for her. I chose a board book to cover because they are easy to work on and the construction is strong. I didn't need to glue pages together, or worry about the binding. My steps were:
1. Select the book.
2. Select the papers to cover the pages. In this case I wanted kind of a country kitchen look.
3. Spread out images and fabrics. ( I always have way too much stuff at this point.)
4. Start playing with layout. What images would I want to use on which page? Where would I want to use text? ( I had already written three poems that I didn't really like, but I used a stanza from each one as captions.) Start to edit down your materials, selecting your favorites. I always think at this point that I have it conquered! All I need to do is glue it in. BUT - I always change things as I go. I get a new idea - or I see that it needs something else. I guess it is instinctive. But, these changes always improve the work, so I don't hold them back to stick to the original plan.
5. Cut binding off so it would be more flexible.
6. Use Aileen's Tacky glue to glue down paper, applied liberally to the page and evened out with a sponge brush, smooth out the paper with your hands. Leave the crease where the pages join. I find that gluing a paper across the crease often causes problems and it's easier to avoid them than to fix them. So, I glue each page separately. Allow time to dry.
7. Work your way through the book, page by page, gluing in your images, text, and fabrics. I often find if I have cut out an image, that it needs a little paint or pencil, or pen to outline it so it stands out better.
8. After everything is dry, review your work. What needs tweaking? What can be added to perk it up and make it richer? Texture? Color? Embellishments like buttons? I love to use buttons and find they give the texture I want, and add a spot of color. And they also add the element of repetition. Sometimes it's nice to have threads coming out of the buttons.
9. I covered the binding with a fabric because it is flexible and it adds to the charm of the homey little book. I chose a print from an old feed sack for the binding.
10. Final touches. A bit of outlining? A bit of gesso to age the pages a bit more? Your signature?

I use basically the same technique here as for a fabric covered board book. I posted that method here earlier. By the way, this book is a sister book to one I did on Kitchen Chair Memories awhile back.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Altered Books - Exhibiting them

What do you do with an altered book? Many of us keep them or give them as presents. I keep most of mine to show/exhibit. One book is currently being shown in a local art gallery, a juried show. I mentioned before that it was put into the 3D category (sculpture) for lack of an appropriate category. They chose not to put it into Mixed Media. I thought I'd show you some of the other pieces my book was up against in the judging.

If you choose to show an altered book in an art exhibit or enter a juried show - this is something you will need to face up to, and be prepared for. Most galleries and shows do not have a category where altered books fit in comfortably. Yours will probably be the only entry of the type. It may be the first one they have ever shown or seen, for that matter. It will be a curiosity. Other things in the 3 dimensional category were sculptures of wood, stone, and metals. Weaving, jewelry, wood turning, furniture, assemblages, and pottery are also in that category. It's a free-for-all! Can you imagine yourself having to judge this category? Not as simple as judging a watercolor painting against 20 other watercolor paintings. I would not want to do it.

If you decide to enter an altered book in a show, think about how the gallery will show it. Put it on a table? Pedestal? Hang it on a wall? You will need to think these things through and it is important to make it easy for the gallery. If you want it to hang, put on strong hangers and place them so the book holds together and the weight of the pages does not pull them out of the binding.

If the book is to be placed on a pedestal, will it be handled? Will it be standing up, and open? On an easel, either closed or open? I make my books to be handled, but out of courtesy, most people visiting a gallery will not touch anything without an express invitation to do so. In person, I invite people to touch and turn pages. You will note this gallery elected to show my book on a pedestal. It is not effective, in my estimation. It can not be handled easily and you can not see, let alone focus on the smaller details of the interior.

My preference is either a table top, or pedestal large enough to lay the book out flat and still have room for a little sign. If the book is laid flat so only a spread is shown - make sure it is opened to your favorite spread. A soft cushion under the book can raise it into a better position for viewing and turning pages. I like to set it so the book is on an angle - cradled by the cushion. I recently bought some soft stuffed dog toys shaped like a cylinder about 8 inches long (at the Dollar Tree). They make excellent book cushions, pack easily and are neat and tidy looking. I'm going to cover them with black fabric, or unprimed artist canvas with words "altered book"stenciled on them. They'll look more professional against a black table covering.

I think it's important for us to get our books out into the "legitimate" traditional art world whenever we can. It raises their acceptance level and also is a good "green" art form that should be taught and explored. I'd like to hear from others who have shown their books and hear their experiences. You are welcome to email me at or to share your experiences in a comment here anytime.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Practice Book - Prompt #4 - Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day here in the U.S. I thought it would be a good time to practice using a page or a spread in your practice book to memorialize something, or someone.

How can you depict the person? Do you have a photo? A letter written by the person? Their favorite song or color? Something that reminds you of them. A funny joke they liked to tell? Their favorite food? Something you shared with them? A holiday? Dates that were important in their lives? Or to memorialize an event - the date, the place, what occurred? With a practice book, you can try and try again. Try to capture your emotions. Your response to the event or the person.

Start by gathering your materials. And make notes. Then think about how you want to lay them out and what you want to emphasize. It's your page, you can make it as simple as you like. A single memory. Or a page full of memories. Just a word. Or an essay. A mark on the page, or a collage of images. I won't tell you what to do, just give you some things to consider. You are finding your own way to your individual style. Or - just playing. Either way, it is fun to do.

The things I gathered here are memorializing my little aunt/mentor/friend. We spent so much time together and read so many of the same art books, that we always had much to talk about and even more to try. It's hard to edit down a spread that could go on and on into a whole book - but I remind myself this is a practice page. It's actually a good time to practice my editing skills.

Who or what would you like to memorialize?