Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sami's Diddy Pretties Celebration - Win a Lovely Prize

A Guest Post today, with a prize, from a lovely lady I know at Facebook!

Sami Beard, has a business - "Sami's Diddy Pretties" - making and selling gorgeous accessories for children.  This is what she says about herself and her business:

* * *

My name is Sami Beard and I am the owner, and pretties maker at Sami's Diddy Pretties. It all began as a little hobby, making my daughters hair pretties to match the clothes because I just couldn't find what I wanted in the high street.

It became the little business it is today back in april, when a lady in my local supermarket asked me where I had got my child's hair band. I went on to explain that I had made it and told her why, she then asked if she gave me the money and her address would I make her one. I of course did and thats where it began...Sami's diddy pretties was born :)

I opened my page on Facebook and my following increased and I was overwhelmed by the support.

I hit 450 likers before I knew it and decided I wanted to say a little thank you to all the support. Which brings us to here and now.

My giveaway to one lucky Facebook "Liker" :)
The Lovely Giveaway Prize

* * *

The Giveaway is open to all "Likers" of Sami's Facebook page, existing, or new. 
To join in, all you need to do is follow this link to Sami's Celebration on Facebook, have a look round and leave her a comment to say which "Diddy Pretty" you like the most (you won't be able to comment here on my post, only on her Facebook page). 
Also, make sure you click the "Like" button on her page, if you're not already a "liker"!

The draw will take place after 8pm on Monday evening (2nd July) - all entries will be given a number and one winner will be drawn at random.  If you're the winner, Sami will contact you via Facebook, to let you know you have won and tell you how to give her your address, for your prize to be posted to you.

(Reminder, Internet Safety: Don't leave your personal info, like e-mail address, phone no. or home address on Sami's page, as it is a public site!)

* * *

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wednesday Worktable - 20th June 2012

Wow, Two Posts in one day!  This is my post for WOYWW #159, which I'm joining at Julia Dunnits' Stamping ground.  Why not follow the link in a few minutes, to see what everyone is doing today?

But if you want to see what else is going on here today, have a look at my Midsummer Morning pictures too!

And my desk this morning?

Two large, A4 (letter) sized Recipe Books, for Sami.
Both have covers that match, in papers by Chatterbox.  However they then have contrasting bindings, in bright turquoise blue and zingy golden yellow.  What is blue on one book, is yellow on the other - and vice-versa! 
This project has been going on for a looong time, but finally we're getting near the finish.  The pieces are all cut and ready, I have lined some fabric, to make blue and yellow book cloth (hence the iron in the background!).  All I need to do now (she says, master of understatement...), is make the pattern for the binding holes, then stitch the bindings.  They're going to be Fab!

* * *

And on the left, are the covers for a Wedding Guest Book, for Melissa. 

The covers are in a lovely natural linen, with golden silk edgings.  The silk is very bright and cheery, though it's a bit overshadowed in this photo, by the amazingly zingy recipe books!
This is another Project, as the book will have two sections, with different paper and design.  The first section will be a medium weight paper, printed with a box layout, for guests to write their messages to the bride and groom.
There will then be a separator page, in a neutral paper that matches the linen, printed with "Photographs"; followed by a set of heavy weight pages, with glassine interleaves, to hold photos of the wedding.
Today I need to cut all the pages (so I'm off in a minute, to get started on that!).

I hope to have both these projects completed by the end of the week!

* * *

Thanks for visiting! Do go and see what else is going on in my own little world, then why not come back and follow the link at the top, to see the wider world's worktables!

Midsummer Morning

Wow, Summer's here! Quick, get the camera (before it goes away again...).
Today is Midsummer Day.  As it's such a gorgeous and beautiful morning here, I got my camera after breakfast and took a few snaps of our early-morning garden. 

Britain has not had a very good summer so far; we've had about eight or nine weeks of rain, rain, more rain... with a bit of rain thrown in for good measure - and don't even get us all started on the floods, gale-force winds and thunderstorms! 

It's nice to have some sunshine for a change.  And, now that the rain has gone for a while, the plants are all making the best of the sunshine - June really is bursting out all over!

The Acacia tree, from J's window

This is the view from the dining room window (sorry about the blurred bits)
Lovely view at breakfast time!

It's so lovely and warm, that the door stands open from 6 or 7am, until we go to bed.

And this is what we see out of the back door - a garden bathed in early morning sunlight!

The roses are blooming in profusion. 
There are so many that the rose bushes are leaning over under their weight!

 Such gorgeousness! And they smell wonderful too.
There's been so much water, that the garden is full of green.

Roses are smothering the bushes along the garden wall.

By the new archway, near the back door, this elder bush is flowering. 
The flowers smell wonderful!

And look at these fountains of white blossom!
(come the winter, we'll have fountains of orange berries instead)

Mr LizzieMade is so pleased that his strawberries are fruiting.
I think we'll have them for dessert at the weekend!

This year, June is definitely the Month of Roses!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Journey - a Palm Leaf Style Artists Book

I posted about the one-day workshop I attended on Saturday, with Mia Leijonstedt.  We made a Palm Leaf style Artists Book. 
If you didn't read that previous post and would like to know about the day and see the photos of all the books, then do go and see it, before you look at my photo gallery here.
I do think it would be nice to know the background to the book, a bit about the whole day and see everybody's books together, before you see mine in detail (you are welcome to ignore my suggestion though!).

There are about 25 photos of the book here, with notes.  I'm quite proud of my book and wanted to share some of my thoughts about its creation and where I want to go with it from here.  If you find it boring, feel free to go and floss the cat, or some other interesting occupation! 
* * *

My Artist's Book - A Palm Leaf style Book: 


Top cover.  Wooden covers, sanded and dyed with golden yellow acrylic paint. 
There is a matching cover on the back.  The binding is simply made, with a cord that passes down through one set of holes - through all pages - out of the bottom and along the base of the book, to the other holes, where it comes back up.  The cord wraps round the book, to keep it all together. 

The "thing" mounted on the top of the book, is the "Talisman" that I made earlier in the day (see the previous post for the history of this!).  I mounted it onto a piece of black leather, then fixed it to the top of the cover.
Mia thought these talisman objects that we created would say something about each of us.  I don't know if I agreed about that, but I did feel attached to the object I had made from scraps and it just seemed right to use it as part of my book, though I don't think anyone else did that.

Hand-twisted double cord, to bind and fasten the book.  We had fun twisting cords out in the car park area, where there was room to stretch out a long length of twine and twist it over and over.  We helped each other with this - one person twisting their cord, another being the "middle" - holding the centre of the twisted twine, then walking backwards, while the "twister" walked forwards, to join up the ends.  Then the "middle" person would gently release the twist, gradually allowing the two strands to twist back on themselves, forming one cord. 
I like the fact that my cord was a joint effort, between me and another person.  All part of my Journey on Saturday.

I love this photo.  For me, the content of the book was as important as the covers; it forms part of the whole structure.  I think this is always true, when I am making books.  I choose the inside paper as carefully as that used for the covers.  I wanted my book to tell a story about me, about my discoveries, about where I am just now, in a creative sense. 
It reminds me of one of those long sandwiches you can buy, where there are layers of filling - turkey slice, ham, salad, tomatoes, more turkey....  Only my layers are different papers and content!

When you open the cover, you see a "top layer" page.  It is made from a thick, fibrous paper, which is almost a felt; except that it's not at all soft, but thick, scratchy, full of texture.  It doesn't show so well in the photo, but it is a warm golden yellow colour, not browny-beige.

The "top layer" page.
This page is made from a batik paper, with a thicker handmade paper section laid on top, then an embellishment.

Closeup of the embellishment, which is an "angel hair" paper, in silvery and golden threads, with black textured paper, brown embossed leather (from one of Mia's binding projects!), then a black handmade type of paper. 
I don't know if this "means" anything. I put these pieces together because I liked them like that.  It was all about "just creating" I think. And after all, "just because I like it" is as good a reason as any other!

A lovely golden coloured mulberry-style paper, with silky fibres. On this is an off-white crinkly paper, with an oriental paper matted on top, plus embellishment.

Closeup of the embellishment.  Strips of brown leather, coiled to make beads, with rolled beads of pink foiled paper.

A heavy weight handmade paper, in grey-beige colour, with embellishment of angel-hair paper, plus fragments of black and brown leather.  Attached on top, with stitching, is a piece of melted tin.  I think this was cooled in water, rather than being poured onto a board and allowed to dry slowly.  It is wonderfully textural and spikey.  It was slightly malleable, so I was able to press it flat against my paper, but it would only go flat up to a certain point, then it resisted. 

More batik paper, with some of the crinkly off-white paper on top.  This is still unfinished.  I want to add content to it, but still deciding whether it will be words, images or more embellishments.  There are several of these "unfinished" pages, as I want to explore this whole thing further.  I hope to write another post at some point soon, to show what I have done to complete my project (I really want to find time to do that!).

Golden mulberry paper with fibres, then a piece of greyish handmade paper, with a square of a brilliantly textured damson-coloured paper on top.  The pieces of paper with the cords passing through are "mini books".

One of the "mini books" - it is three "pages" of different papers. I want to add to these... not sure what yet though.

Another Page with Potential.  This time it is grey handmade paper, with a piece of the oriental patterned paper on top.  A surface for embellishment I think!
The grey handmade paper was a great surface for paint.  I used golden and ochre paints to colour this, then left it to dry.  It is lovely here, on top of the batik paper page.  A good place for a piece of printmaking, perhaps!

Golden mulberry paper again, with another "mini book".

The book is still empty.  I think it needs words...

A strip of brown leather, gathered into a pleated pattern. 

Closeup of the pleated leather strip.  I had a great time making this.  It was lovely to pinch the leather on top of the gluey paper, making these ruffly pleats.  I think I'll leave it exactly like this.   

Batik paper, embellished.

Closeup of the embellishment - angel-hair paper, leather pieces and a tiny bit of melted tin.

Golden mulberry paper, with leather and paper embellishment.

These three pieces of leather have been dyed a pinky colour - I think with inks - then decorated with a scribbly pattern in browny ink.  They were in Mia's scrap box and I just loved them.  I have three or four items that were left over from Mia's other projects.  I love that some of her work has become part of my story... it kind of emphasises the influence she has had on my project.  I also love that she shared these freely with us. My question "is it ok to use this?" was met with a ready agreement.  Nothing precious or possessive about Mia! (though I'm sure she'd be cross if someone copied one of her beautiful books and said they'd designed it themselves - who wouldn't be!)
The last embellished page of the book.  Beige-grey heavy paper, with leather scraps and another "mini book".

This mini book is a "real" book! It is hand bound by me, using some of the linen threads I took along with me. 

I used a creamy, crinkly hand made paper for the pages.

Endpapers made from bright pink, foiled Indian paper.

And finally, another "page" of that thick, fibrous golden stuff.  Beneath that is another wooden cover, tinted gold with acrylic colour. 

That is my Book Story.  I called the book "Journey", because that is just what it represents, on several levels. The creation of the book was a sort of journey in itself.  I haven't made an artists' book before - not really.  I've made many books where I have experimented with the cover materials, the paper for the pages, the binding style and materials... But I hadn't ever conciously set out to create a Book with Content, that was designed as a complete entity.  Any previous books have been made so that their content would be added at some future point.  This book has Content already.

The Content is another part of the Journey.  I already mentioned that some of the little items I used to embellish the pages, were scraps from Mia's binding projects - and why I felt they were significant to me.  I also made up some of the content myself, by painting and scrunching paper, rolling leather or paper strips, tearing, cutting, sticking, layering.   I have also left spaces, where I want to add more content.

And also, the content of the book, and the whole book itself, is about Me and Now.  It's about the Bookbinding and Artistic Journey I have made, up to this point, exploring and creating. 

The whole day was amazing.  I really loved it.  I'm so grateful to Mia for setting this up; and so glad that I just happened upon her work, her blog, her course description page, just when I did.  I feel that I was guided there - this workshop was just what I needed at this point in time.  It has given me something very special and kind of defined this point of time for me.  I've been wanting to take my book creating in a more "artistic" direction - adding content, experimenting more with binding, form, structure and materials. 

A day in a workshop, with a brilliant facilitator like Mia, who encouraged us all to look inside ourselves and find our creativity, tell our story, make something fabulous, was exactly right for me just now. 
Just as the week of printmaking in Spain, with Mariann, was just right at that point also. 
I want to use the printmaking and the bookbinding together next, to combine, mix and entwine them in some way.  
Now all I have to do, is to build on that and use it to see what else I can do! 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Palm Leaf Book - Artist's Book Workshop Day with Mia Leijonstedt, 9th June 2012

I spent Saturday in Cambridge again. This time, it was to attend an all-day workshop, with artist Mia Leijonstedt, who lives close to ArtSpace Cambridge.

I have been looking forward to this workshop for a couple of months, as I think Mia's work is very beautiful and inspiring. The workshop was to make artists' books, in a Palm Leaf style, but with wooden covers.  Mia's own books are fabulous and I wanted to have the opportunity to meet her and hear what she had to say / see what I could learn from her.  She's about to take a break from much of her bookbinding work, to concentrate on a new venture, making rather beautiful jewellery (see her Etsy shop and be amazed and delighted!)
9:15am - setting up, ready for a 9:30 start...
Mia brought some of her own work for us to see.  I love her use of texture, colour and contrast and choice of materials.  The shiny metal bits are melted tin, which she heats up, pours and cools, before attaching to the work.  

Mia uses a lot of natural materials, such as wood, bark, feathers, coral and stones, combined with lovely beads, coloured cord and twines, leather, paints...  There are lots of different papers inside the books, with various textures, patterns and colours (and you all know how I feel about paper...). 
All very lovely and quite inspiring!  You can see more of these here.

This is the smallest of the books, above. I loved the circle of gold-embossing on the leather, also the little beads that embellish the ends of the cord ties.  The covers are of hand-dyed wood. 

* * *
So, we were to produce our own Artist's Book, using a Palm Leaf style of binding.  The Palm Leaf binding is a very simple form.  It's basically a top and bottom "cover" with "pages" in between. The binding is achieved by making holes at either end of each cover and page, then passing a cord down through one set of holes, along the bottom cover and up through the second set of holes.  The cord is cut long enough to be used as ties, to fasten the pages and covers together. 
This style of book originates from India and Southeast Asia, where the books were really made from leaves of trees, such as palms - hence the long, narrow form of the book.  This is the Wikipedia entry for Palm Leaf Books - it also has some photos of original books, which are interesting.

Mia even produced our course notes in the form of a palm leaf style book - look how lovely it is!  Each of us had one of these, embellished with little scraps of paper, beads and leather.  A gorgeous little thing - it was like having a present!

So, Palm Leaf Artists' Books.... wow...

We weren't just given materials and told to get on with it.  Nor did Mia do that "follow me, step by step" thing that is sometimes useful for something complicated. 

The book form is very simple.  She chose it so that we could each come up with a very personal item, interpreting the book form in our own way.  Before we started making any books, we "made something", then did several exercises, to help us get warmed up, creative, inspired. 
Firstly, we were asked to go and select one item from each of five little heaps of things.  The piles had stuff like leather and felted scraps, buttons, beads, stones, cords, strings, shells, little tin scraps, feathers, flowers etc and each pile consisted of similar items, but was a bit different to the other piles.
We were then to use the five objects, to make "a talisman" object.   This was fun - everyone had chosen items independantly and we all came up with something quite different. Mia said she thought our item would say something about our individual personalities. I don't know, but I think she was perhaps right about that; my item was just a little thing, made from bits that I liked, but that must say something about me really...

Mia examines one of the pieces of work.
Our work laid out on the table.

We then had three different creative exercises. The first was to imagine ourselves reaching out an invisible finger, from where we sat, to touch each of the objects that Mia lifted up for us to see.  There weren't many things - just a few items with contrasting textures or "feels" - a smooth metal ruler, with printed on markings;  a rough piece of bark; a soft natural sponge; a large piece of quartz with crystalline structure.   It just woke up the imagination and made us think... 

Then we had a small stack of paper sheets (not very large ones) and a black pen. Mia gave us a word for each sheet, one at a time. The idea was to draw the word - like sort-of automatic writing, only drawing.  It was just a doodle of our impression of that word. We ended up with about 5 or 6 doodles, all different.  Most people's doodle of a particular word had similarities, but no-one produced the same doodle.  It was very interesting - and quite liberating really.  

The final exercise was a guided meditation. Mia drew the blinds down slightly, put up a big Do Not Disturb notice on the door.  Then she had us get comfortable, close our eyes and imagine what she told us.  It was a kind of story... we started on a warm sunny beach...  paddled in the sea... found a shining object which transported us to a beautiful building... inside the building we were guided to an object in a glass dome, which we couldn't see at first...  there was just a symbol visible to begin with, until we wiped the glass clear... we were allowed to hold the object... the curator of the gallery told us it was our own object... we left it in the gallery and went out of a find ourselves back at the lovely beach. 
Then we were asked to draw - the object, the symbol, an impression - whatever.  I ended up with a nice little drawing of a beautiful book - which I may try to make some time!

I have done this kind of exercise before, but somehow there was always some kind of embarassment or discomfort about it.  On Saturday, it just "worked" and I found the whole thing very relaxing, inspiring.  It got me "connected" with my creative ideas and thoughts.  I was raring to go. 
Perhaps it helped that I had gone to Cambridge with the mindset that I was going there for a Challenge and would be doing something creative, different and new.  So I was all ready for whatever was offered.  It seems to have worked anyway, as I just had the Best day!

The Books

The remainder of the day was spent on our Books.  We each had a pair of covers - all pieces of wood, except for one student, who opted for some black board covers instead, as she liked the more delicate feel of these.

There was a big pile of assorted papers for us to select from - any that we wanted.  There was paint, inks, coloured and natural cords and threads, pieces of leather, fabrics, stones, beads, glass, bark, metal objects... Also a pyrography iron, for experimenting with covers or pages and a little heater, with a melting pan, plus pieces of tin to be melted into interesting shapes or designs. Several people tried one or both of these techniques.  We had no restrictions or rules - we were just allowed to do what we wished.  Mia was available to help with tecnical enquiries, materials, ideas if we needed someone to bounce them off... but she never said "you must do..." or "you shouldn't do..." (except for burning/melting outside because of the smoke alarm indoors!).

All the books, laid out for us to admire.  Quite exciting!

At the end of the day, we had eight (almost nine - someone started a second project) books.  Each was very different and all were really quite beautiful.  The students all came from different places and different artistic backgrounds.  Some were already bookbinders and/or artists, some were not.  One lady was a writer, who was exploring bookbinding techniques because she wanted a vehicle to showcase a special series of poems - a Book of Hours.  Everyone produced something to feel proud of.  Even Mia seemed excited to see them all laid out on the table.  Much photo-taking ensued!

Mostly, I don't know whose book was whose, but here is a Gallery of our work:

The blue book is covered in hand-painted/dyed paper.

A close-up of the wonderful metal mini-sculpture on the red book!

One of those is mine, but I'd like you to look at all of them and appreciate their gorgeousness, so I won't tell you which one it is! 

* * *

A "Gallery" slideshow of my own book is below.  I have also added a Page about my book, with notes describing its creation - there is a new tab at the top of my blog, or follow this link when you've seen enough of the slideshow:

Journey : A Palm Leaf style Artist's Book


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