Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Some leather books for etsy- I am very proud of them, and they've been selling! Woohoo :)

The last one is a planner, with a different calendar drawing for each month every 20 pages or so (the rest of the pages are blank). The stitching along the spine spells out "MMXII" (2012 in Roman numerals, ya know?).
Don't expect much from this blog in the coming months. :) I mean- :( I'm working on developing a plan for a blog that chronicles only my art adventures and that is more "professional" in general. In the works also is a website, which may or may not even involve a blog section.

Monday, October 3, 2011


The poems that I printed last year for the CGU conference "Religions in Conversation" are now available for purchase through my etsy site! Aren't you excited?? Yay! They're $20 each, or $120 for the set (collect them all!); this is seriously a good deal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

interesting artworks

I discovered artist Jim Kazanjian last week and am in awe of his "photographs". I love their dream-like quality, their mysteriousness, their impossibility and their realness (after all, they are photographs...right?). This is where I found his work: http://www.23sandy.com/kazanjian/catalog_kazanjian.html. Here's his website: http://www.kazanjian.net/ (the red magnifying glass takes you to his bio). The top image here is my favorite (Untitled "Chateau")- I'd love to live in a hand-made, cobbled-together castle over a waterfall. :) The other two are "Untitled (Outpost)" and "Untitled (Backyard)".

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

next project...

My next project involves this:
It's a page from the Book of Kells featuring the writers of the gospels in their symbolic forms (clockwise from upper left: Matthew the man, Mark the lion-yes, that's a lion, John the eagle and Luke the calf). The art in this masterpiece is utterly stunning, but I also have to include part of an email from my pa that perfectly encapsulates some of the more unusual stylization methods the artists used:
"I did have one observation. Didn't anybody back then know how to draw eyeballs?? The pictures are all great, but then it looks like they needed some coffee when they got to the eyes, and called over their 4 year old kid and said: 
Gawain: would thee likest to scribe some eyeorbs on yonder face?
Yes daddy! Should I make them widest open?
Sure lad...
(Goes and gets coffee...)
(Comes back...)
Look daddy look!!!
(Dad faints...)"

- - - - - - - -

I've noticed, and come to embrace, some things about my "process" of artymaking. I often start a new project with serious zest and energy and focus, and then hit a wall (I get sick of it, run into some sort of issue, etc.) at full speed and completely abandon working on it for weeks, or more likely, for months. The piece mentioned in the previous post is an example, actually. I think I started it around the beginning of the year, got tired of poking holes (gee, I wonder how that could've happened), and filed it away. I'd actually forgotten about it until organizing my studio a couple months ago. Then I was like, "Oh yeah! I should finish this!" and dove in once again. But it's rare for me to finish projects on the second go-around - usually I have to rediscover something every four months, work on it for a few days or weeks, and then abandon it again, over a period of a couple years before it's finally finished. 

I used to feel really guilty about this, but now I realize that it's important to give pieces (and ideas) time. Most of the time I abandon a piece because I hit a problem and can't figure out a solution- often I can't figure out the solution because I'm already thinking about the piece constantly. But if I set it aside, my brain can continue to process ideas consciously and subconsciously while I throw myself into another piece, and then I'm able to think about it without any sort of stress.
So all that to say that I spent a couple weeks engrossed in this project and have since abandoned it. :) Hopefully I'll pick it up again soon, but I have five or so other projects that I can work on in the meantime.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Illuminated Manuscripts

So I finished this piece a while ago: “Fruit of the Spirit II” is the title, I guess; it’s 19x24 inches, made by poking holes in paper with a bookbinding awl.

Bart and I have been thinking about ways of displaying it with some sort of backlighting. I think that would be cool!

Here are some of my thoughts behind it.
This is one interpretation of “illuminated manuscript” I’ve been thinking about recently- a literal interpretation.

There are a few characteristics about God and the Bible that have drawn me to creating images this way: The word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12); God is beautiful (Psalm 50:2); God created the world and the universe and it follows an orderly pattern. The description of Scripture as being alive and God’s beauty and sovereignty spurred the idea to make images out of the individual parts of the text. In their symmetry and complexity they resemble snowflakes, flowers, microscopic organisms, galaxies; they are orderly without being static; they tumble and spin. With the added light, they glow like stars and other sparkly things (sparkly things!).
It is not immediately obvious that the shapes are words, but I think the intricacy of the piece may draw people in to explore it and try to figure it out (I strive for this in all my work). In a sense it forces the viewer (this is all hypothetical, since the only viewer other than myself to see the actual piece is Bart) to engage with the image because its meaning is not immediately apparent; we are also invited to engage with God and Scripture, to search them and to think about them.

As an artist who is a Christian, I want to present the Bible and the Gospel in a new way, focusing on the characteristics above: life, beauty, order. Because I don’t really enjoy drawing things “realistically”, and because I’m not really an abstract person either, and because I do love to use text as image, this seems like a good method for me.
I would be so, so honored if you left comments about this piece. Please feel free to ask questions and critique it. People rarely see anything I do if it isn’t a commission, and although Bart is super thoughtful and insightful in his observations and ideas, I would love input from others as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book arts exhibit!

I’ve been helping set up an exhibit that will accompany this fall’s Goudy Lecture at Scripps College, presented by the Scripps College Press. The exhibit features over 140 artist books by around 40 women letterpress printers who have been in the business for at least twenty-five years. There are also some historical books. The books are incredibly beautiful (unfortunately, you don’t get to flip through them like I did :) ); they range from “normal” book shapes and sizes to large, sculptural pop-up books. 

The lecture, which is followed by a panel discussion and the exhibit’s opening reception, is free and open to the public and takes place on Saturday September 17, starting at 1:30.

I've enjoyed learning about how to set up an exhibit. It's a lot of work, but very rewarding because you can see your progress so easily. On the first day I worked, we had to rearrange the shelving in thirteen cases in order to fit the books that Professor Maryatt (director of the Scripps Press, who is curating the show along with Judy Harvey-Sahak, the Special Collections librarian at Denison Library) chose and assigned to each case. That took all day. Then came figuring out how to display each book, which ones needed stands, which ones needed special treatment, etc. Most just stand up, so I picked a nice spread in each book and "taped" them open. That took two days. Yesterday we worked on all the labels, one for each artist, which feature a brief bio for the artist as well as some information about their books on display in the exhibit. We also put up five broadsides (posters). The show opens in a week and there is a lot left to do. I'll try to take some pictures when I go in on Tuesday.

In other news, I had four cavities filled this morning. It took two hours and my face feels ridiculous. Actually, the right side of my face is starting to feel more normal, but they had to give me extra numbing-juice in the left side, so it’s still all weird and numb up to my temple. Although painless, it was a procedure I hope never to repeat. I went eight years without going to the dentist, and now I have been once a week for the past three weeks. I am so ready for a break.

Friday, July 29, 2011


A while back I mentioned a project I was working on to create a covering for the not-so-lovely bare bulb in the bathroom. I thought I could make something out of sea glass and translucent shells, inspired as I was by a light fixture available in a local store. Something like this. I bought a couple spools of fine wire from OSH, as well as a thicker wire that would hold a circular shape, from which I could hang the shells and glass once I had wired them together beautifully. The result was not so beautiful (nor is the picture...blah):
I tried adding more shells and glass, but all I could see were wires and the ugly bulb, and I couldn't figure out how to hide those things while bringing out the awesomeness of the shells and glass. I devised a plan B. Here is finished plan B:
A bit simpler, a little bit less of a "home-made craft" feel. Unfortunately, it used a whole lot less of the materials that I was trying to use UP. Le sigh.

Another project involving light- one that is up there on the list of my most labor-intensive projects...A hole-poking project! It's a variation on a piece I did a while ago featuring the Fruit of the Spirit. Here's the piece on my work table/light box. I trace the images with pencil, and then stab the paper along the pattern with an awl (with a cutting mat underneath).
A close-up (below): Gentleness on the left, Peace at the bottom, and Joy above it. It's a pretty neat effect, I think. Once finished (and properly installed...hmmmm), it could be quite striking.
Without the back-lighting: Initially I erased the pencil lines after poking the holes (as in the design on the far left), but I kind of like the added dimension the graphite gives the patterns, so I've left it on most of the others.
 Another close-up of the same spot as above, without the back-lighting.
I worked on "Goodness" (the one on the top right in the first image) this week, taking an hour to an hour and a half each day. Poking holes is laborious and tiring, and you have to be precise; it's really hard to work on it for extended periods of time.  Ack- I just noticed that I'm missing one of the "fruit"- kindness. Oh goodie- I'd better go figure out how to squeeze that one in...

Happy Friday!