Art Journal Page–Finishing the Look

When you are solving problems as you go along, you hit a point at which you don’t know if you need one more step, or if you need to step away because you are done.

I’m working on a holder for a postcard project I’m planning out. The outside is a book cover, and the inside folios are monsoon papers. In order for them to hold the cards, I folded up the bottom margin by about 1.5 inches.

Monsoon paper postcard holder

Once I stacked the folio pages on top of each other, the backs of the pages has no bottom fold. I thought briefly of sewing a strip to the back of each of the folded sheets, but I knew that they would not be even. And that was going to drive me crazy. Instead, I cut a triangle from the monsoon papers, and put them on the page opposite the fold-up.

Next step?

The triangles were exact, but the pages weren’t, so on some of them, you can see the triangles have a margin showing. The choices I’ve thought of are:

  • Ignore the margin, the page is busy. (Ohhhhh, noooooo)
  • Use rivets at the 3 corner points to show attachments. (May create  marks on the cards when the book is shut.)
  • Hand-stitch an overhand stitch on the outside edge of the triangle. (Will that look messy?)
  • I can’t use the sewing machine to stitch the edge, because of the fold on the other side. It won’t be straight/even equally on both front and back.
  • Draw tiny stitches with a gel pen, most likely yellow or blue, along the triangles. (Will that just call attention to the margin?)

What’s my next step?   What would you suggest?

Note: Some great suggestions already–Thanks! I’ll be trying out a few of them this weekend, but I’m open to more.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and monsoon paper maker who is open to suggestions.

Book Arts Eye Candy

Su Blackwell is a jaw-dropping paper artist who uses books the way other artists use canvas and clay. She’s got an extensive repertoire, but my favorites are the fragile truth she tells about fear and vulnerability by using pages from old books.

The light on the wolf makes the shadow large and scary, for the viewer as well as for Red Riding Hood.

”I often work within the realm of fairy-tales and folk-lore. I began making a series of book-sculpture, cutting-out images from old books to create three-dimensional dioramas, and displaying them inside wooden boxes”.

”For the cut-out illustrations, I tend to lean towards young-girl characters, placing them in haunting, fragile settings, expressing the vulnerability of childhood, while also conveying a sense of childhood anxiety and wonder. There is a quiet melancholy in the work, depicted in the material used, and choice of subtle colour.”

The paper in her work is often left in its original color with the original print on it. It gives her artwork a sense of freshness and raw emotion.

Hedi Kyle is an inventor of the possibilities of paper. She invented the flag book structure, blizzard book and spider book. The flag book is a fascinating shape in which pages travel in different directions at the same time. Kyle spent most of her life inventing new books in new materials.

Hedi Kyle's amazing mica book for Bind-O-Rama

This one is made of mica already scribed on. It allowed Kyle to explore a book as a transparent screen.  “I often envision the flag book as a movable screen to define space. Light and shadow capture my interest. At Penland I came across pieces of mica with inherent markings. They were transformed into this flag book.” [quote from Flagbook Bind-O-Rama.]

I love Brian Dettmer. So does anyone who has ever watched him perform the anatomy of a book or seen the results. In The Donut Project, you can see a step-by-step of his work.

Brian Dettmer defies gravity and creates art with old books.

Best of all, at the end of the article, there is a link to Dettmer’s Flickr site. Amazing work.

Matsaaki Tatsumi is an artist who, like Dettmer, cuts. His papers are cut into thin strips, arranged, and then lit to form otherwordly effects.  In all fairness, I should mention that he also creates edible books out of seaweed.

Cut paper by Matsaaki Tatsumi

My favorites, next to the lit ones, are the sculptures he designs on cardstock. A generous piece of paper is topped by a delicate skyline, often defying gravity.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who is in awe every day of the amazing reach of the creative mind.

Review: Jill Timm’s Dremel Class

After this weekend’s class, I’m convinced that every artist needs a Dremel tool. And every Dremel tool user needs a class from Jill Timm. In the two-and-a-half day class Jill led us through the mechanics of using a Dremel to cut, grind, dig, emboss, deboss, drill, sand, polish, buff and trim using the tool.

The wood tool box filled with tools was part of the class fee. (Tweezers, blue tool box and Dremel not included)

A large number of materials lend themselves to Dremel use. We tried skills on a surprisingly wide range of materials:

  • glass
  • mirror
  • plexiglass
  • steel
  • brass
  • ceramic tile
  • floor tile (linoleum)
  • wood
  • book board
  • polymer clay
  • Jill is organized and had the activities planned out ahead of time. The class was offered through Tucson’s (AZ) Paper Works, a  group of artists dedicated to book arts and paper. Jill is a book artist based in Wenatchee, Washington, who “creates limited edition books that celebrate the spirit and aesthetics of the natural environment,” according to her website. She is straightforward, eager, and always ready to help participants learn as well as share their own experiences.

    Jill Timm (left), shows her books. Bobbie Wilson (using 3-D classes) enjoys Jill's 3-D book, while Val Bembenek (in white top) and Lynne Carnes wait to use the glasses.

    We started working with glass, which got us over the fears of breaking and damage. Not one piece of glass was broken by any of the 16 class participants as we ground down the edges and etched in patterns using 5 or 6 diamond bits. Jill provided bold, simple patterns to use. Some chose to use their own preplanned designs or freehand sketches. Amazing detail is possible with diamond bits. Once you are finished with the Dremel, Jill showed us how to  paint the glass as well, either in the cut portion or on the reverse side.

    Mabel Dean's collection of tiles, all using a self-made design.

    We then moved to linoleum and wood. Jill demo’d using different bits for different results on the surfaces, and gave us additional information on the materials–woodgrain, hard v. soft wood and linoleum types. Enthusiastic, high-speed drilling gummed up some of the bits, and Jill showed us how to clean up Dremel points. This problem-solving as we went along helped build confidence and enthusiasm for the next project.

    Mabel Dean used her designs as printing blocks–handmade wood  and linoleum print blocks. She did a demonstration of this on day 3 of the class, giving us a whole new use for the Dremel in art book creation. I discovered that using a cutting tool in a grinding position can cut into the linoleum edge, making it appropriate for paste  paper applications.

    Fine detail and bold writing combined on this tile by Lynda Abare.

    Ceramic tiles make a great base for Dremel art. A light touch etches the tiles, a more determined grip breaks away the glaze and reveals the ceramic core. Lynda Abare discovered that you can combine the light touch in the feather design and the bold touch in writing.

    On day 1, we pre-rusted some steel squares to use on day 3. While waiting for them to dry, we worked on plexiglass–which I discovered you can drill and screw together, sandwiching in mica or print to form a see-though page or journal cover. I discovered that it helps to start the hole with an awl, as a drill will slip on the glass (at least in the hand of an novice user) and move the hole’s position.

    Polymer clay can be drilled, stenciled, cut,  sanded, and dug into.  Using a Dremel cutter or drill, members of the class cut open portions into the polymer clay, embossed the surface and drilled holes.

    Participants' steel squares covered in oxidizing material.

    Brass is softer than steel, so the tools needed for art are different. Designs can be made using grinding tools, steel brushes and polishing tools. Jill demonstrated how each tool gave a different effect, then set us loose to make our own discoveries. Each time we went to our work stations, we returned with examples to share and results to show.

    Jill brought some of her own books for us to look at. She’s made complicated, cased books, 3-D books (including the glasses needed to see the pages come to life), and complex constructions. Jill has also made small, delicate books in complex cases. All worth seeing.

    Glass etched with diamond tools in various grades. Freehand design of imaginary seed pod by Quinn McDonald.

    The class was useful, interesting, stimulating, and in the best way, exhausting. I’ve taken classes (so have you) where you get bored and begin to drift off into chatting or doing your own work. Not here. I’ve seldom seen so little texting or email checking. Phones were being used as cameras here. Good choice. We made a lot of interesting items.

    If you were at the class and have posted photos on your site, please leave a link in the comments, or email them to me at QuinnCreative [at] yahoo [dot] com.

    See all the photos I took on my Flickr page.

    Quinn McDonald is the owner of QuinnCreative. She’s a writer, artist and certified creativity coach.

    Tutorial: Envelope Journal

    The journals I like to make best are ones with just a few pages. That way, I can fill them up quickly, and make another one. Like most people who make things, I often enjoy the design and creation more than using the actual finished piece. So I always leave room for the possibility of altering my work some more.

    Envelope journal, centerMaterials: This tutorial uses simple things you already have: cardboard for the cover (I used mat board), number 10 size envelopes, masking tape, bookbinding tape (it’s expensive, you can substitute gaffers tape), cotton thread, a pointy awl and watercolors.

    Purpose: This envelope journal has room to write in and room to keep a note, a concert ticket, or a photo along with the memory.

    Envelope journal coverAssembly: 1. Cut black (or another solid color of mat board) into rectangles slightly larger (about one-fourth inch all the way around) than the envelope you will use. Put them next to each other, long sides together, but about one-quarter inch apart. Cut a piece of gaffers tape about 2 inches longer than the covers. Center the tape over the covers and place it down gently. Lift the covers, turn them over and smooth down the piece of tape at the top and bottom. Cut another piece of tape to cover the space in between the top and bottom overlaps. Cut it long enough so you have all the sticky part of the tape completely covered.

    2. Lay two envelopes, flap side down, in front of you, side by side. They should be about one-eighth inch apart. Tape them together, the long way, using masking tape. Create three sets of these. If you want to have the envelopes face in different directions, take into account that these pairs of envelopes will nest.

    3. Nest the pairs of envelopes and line up the top and bottom. Place them in the centerEnvelope Journal, open of the open book covers.

    4. Using the awl, or a self-centering screw punch (you get them from a hardware store) punch four evenly spaced holes in the tape between the envelopes and book covers.

    5. Thread a tapestry needle with cotton thread. It should be thick enough not to tear. Starting from the back of the book, come up through the top hole. Go down into the next hole, come up through the third hole, and down through the fourth. If you want to make your book sturdier, come back up through the third and work your way to the top. The needle should exit out of hole # 1. Tie the thread off and trim the ends.

    6. Decorate the cover. Paint geometric figures on the plain side of the envelopes. Leave enough space for writing.

    –Quinn McDonald is an artist, writer and certified creativity coach. She teaches art classes throughout Arizona. Images: Quinn McDonald. (c) 2008. All rights reserved.