Slide into Creative Saturday

Some imaginative sites to give you some ideas for a beautiful Saturday (here).

Casey Cripe does careful, layered, intricate art that looks like many illustrations layered into one. Thanks to frequent commentor Pete for this one. Your eyes drop deep into the work, then come back up to understand the concept, then dive down again.

Richard Sweeney's intricate paper sculpture.

Richard Sweeney’s intricate paper sculpture.

Richard Sweeney works in paper forms. He does three-dimensional work in paper, and the intricacy is amazing.

The lighting of some of the sculptures make them feel otherworldly.

The link above takes you to Sweeney’s Flickr site, with a big selection of the projects that fill his mind–and, I’m assuming, a lot of his time.

If you need a place to store all those books you are going to turn into art, visit books1You May Say I’m a  You’ll find wonderful bookcases as chairs, as window seats (didn’t you always want a window seat?). Personally, I’d love the book-treadmill, which seems to combine both reading and exercise. Sounds good to me.

If you want to play with paper this weekend, but just have the machine-cut paper, here’s a link to one of my blog posts on creating your own deckle-edges on paper that doesn’t come with them.

Derwent’s Inketense inks are suddenly finding a new flush of popularity. I’ve loved them for a long while for their transparency and their ability to blend well. Here’s a review I did on Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. In that article, you’ll find a link to Derwent’s Graphitints, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Quinn McDonald is making the samples for next week’s class, Art Journaling for Perfectionists. (March 9 at Paradise Valley Community College) The link takes you to the basic information, including the registration link.



Amazing Paper Art: Li Hongbo

The art that fascinates me is the art created by an someone who has an idea and follows it. Even if other people don’t love it, even if others don’t understand it, the creative force that changes the world and how we understand it continues making art.

Li Hongbo works in Beijing. He turns pure white paper into art. Pure White Paper is the name of the exhibition you want to see if it comes your way. He creates amazing sculptures that expand and collapse. They look like porcelain, and move like magic. Here’s the video.

Li is a book editor and designer, and spent thousands of hours gluing sheets of paper together to form shapes inspired by the Chines paper gourd children’s toys. After that, it became art. You can see more photographs by seeing the exhibition at the Dominik Mersch Gallery in Australia.

Quinn McDonald is amazed at the inspiration that makes art.


Book Review: Extreme Origami (+ a Giveaway)

 Book winner: Congratulations to Kristin McNamara Freeman, who is the winner of the book!

A book review on a different paper art: origami. I’ll give the book away on Tuesday morning, and the winner will be posted here. To win the book, let me know in the comments. The book is hardback, and heavy, so this time its new home is in the 48 contiguous states.

Book cover

Title: Extreme Origami
Sub-title: Transforming dollar bills into priceless works of art.
Author: Won Park

 Details:  Hardback. Race Point Publishing, 2012. Size: 11.25 inches x 8.25 inches.  Page count: 144. 20 projects and more than 1000 illustrations on folding. Price; $25.00 U.S. $28 Canada, £16.99 UK.


  • Introduction
  • Terms and Symbols
  • Are You Ready to Take the Extreme Origami Challenge?
  • Instructions for: butterfly, toilet, tank, spider, fox, pig, swordfish, sea turtle, ox, Pegasus, praying mantis, stag beetle, car, fighter jet, bat, scorpion, koi fish, stegosaurus, dragon, formula 1 race car.
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the author

What I liked: You have to like a book that uses only American dollar bills to fold into shapes of everything from a toilet to a formula one race car.

The hardback book is beautifully designed. The pages are rich, cream-colored stock with clean black type.

In the front there are explanations of lines, folds, directions.

The completed pieces make the best use of the printing on the dollar bill, so that the pieces appear to have eyes in the right place.

The instructions are always on the right side, or start on the right side, making it easy to keep the book open flat while you follow directions.

The illustrations (of which there are many) are in clean olive green and white and clear.

What I didn’t like: I discovered that Won Park used dollar bills because they are hard to tear during the hundreds of folds and bends it takes. In other words, it’s too intricate for me. I realize it’s called Extreme Origami, and that means it’s way over my head. And it is. You have to have some experience with origami to be able to complete any of these.

Some of the large photographs don’t look as appealing as the smaller photographs that accompany the directions. It would have been been fine to show the completed work at 150 percent instead of much larger.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer who is busy writing a book about conversations with the inner critic.

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.