Chromatic Interactions II

Chromatic Interactions II

CHAPTERS: Book Arts in Southern California” presented at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in LA.

I was commissioned to create an interactive book.

I created “Chromatic Interactions”

Chromatic Interactions is a flag book is comprised of an accordion spine, front and back covers, and flag pages which are pockets with windows cut out of them to reveal both front and back of the cards that visitor participants wrote and drew on, then inserted into the pockets.

It was eye-opening to see how people responded, what they wrote and drew, and how the book transformed over time.

I am exploring this phenom through a series of posts, now that the show is over. The CAFAM was kind enough to save and give to me many of the file cards added to the book by the participants who interacted with the piece…keeping it in a continual state of transformation.

The front and back covers had windows cut out of them that correlated with the windows cut out of the flag pocket pages.

Someone had to remove the cards so that new ones could be inserted. I am still not sure if this was the Museum staff, or the patron participants themselves. Here is some of what they wrote….

“STRIKE while the iron is hot”

“Speak Out

Stay Calm

Carry On”

“How can we stop the political train wreck?”

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. *activism….”

“people say don’t hate anything except for hatred”

This one “speaks” for itself.

Actually, they all do.




Chromatic Interactions I

Chromatic Interactions I

CHAPTERS: Book Arts in Southern California” presented at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in LA.

I was commissioned to create an interactive book.

I created “Chromatic Interactions”

It was eye-opening for me to see what people wrote and drew, and how the piece changed over time.

I will be exploring this through a series of posts, now that the show is over, and CAFAM was kind enough to save and give to me many of the file cards added to the book by patrons/visitors/participants…interacting.

Flag book. Stitched flag pockets with windows cut into them.

Accordion spine.

A focus on file folders.

Flag pocket and cover windows align, allowing messages to show through, and creating a tunnel effect.

Color, line, word, image, added by the viewer, become participatory art making and collaborator.

Book board.

Found file folders crumpled to create surface texture.


Here is some of what Museum visitor participants wrote…


“…all slow…”

After the US election.

Did they mean “irrelevant” No???

“There once was…”

Packing it in.

Successful life…validation


I’m blinded by the light.”

“Mosaic” flower

Wilder tale


So glad, Inez!


And fuller.




Tunneling Through The Book 1

Tunneling Through The Book 1

It was wonderful to teach a workshop on tunnel books for CAFAM‘s  monthly Thursday Craft Night. The project connected to both the CHAPTERS: Book Arts in Southern California and Focus Iran 2: Contemporary Photography and Video concurrent exhibitions at the museum.

CAFAM (The Craft and Folk Art Museum) attracts a lively group of enthusiastic makers…and these creatives of all ages and backgrounds took the already cool tunnel book concept to new heights of fun, ingenuity and beauty.

I was lucky to be able to work with these lovely and talented volunteers, Jiae and Allie. They were troopers about setting up, learning the tunnel book structure, and “striking” at the end of the evening.

Our tunnel books were comprised of two accordion sides or “spines”,

a back “cover”

with “cross pieces” added to the bottom of each fold, to create a base from which to build the “story”.

Layers and detail can be added…literally going back in space., the structure creating foreground, middleground and background spaces.

until a scene, design, expression, environment, narrative…is created. In essence, a whole world.

Behold….some of the storied worlds created in our workshop!

You might say, participants offered us a whole new perspective through their works!

Light bulb moment…


and completion.

Truly a world within a world…

Focus, across the generations…

Pink is a unifier in this family.
Mom’s book…Older sister’s piece…Younger sister’s creation
Family affair: Mother and Daughters.

Taking the leap…

Animal house?

Her Library…complete with a removable book.

Here we see “the screen’ from the perspective of the movie viewers, and the backs of their heads!

All the world’s a stage…and a shadow box.

Land of happy..”When Dreams Meet Reality”.

This maker lined up the cross piece strips before they were attached and made the drawing across their surfaces as one, then broke it up and attached them in the same order to the structure. What a great idea!

Inventiveness knows no bounds. When put in the service of joyful expression, it makes the heart sing.

Master Pho at CAFAM

Master Pho at CAFAM

Having seen the extraordinary show, “Shadow of the Turning“, at the Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles, we wanted to return the following Sunday, to see master crafts-person and artist Binh Pho wind up the show with a demonstration of his work techniques.

Shadow of the Turning” is also the name of a book, an integral part of the show, written by Pho in  collaboration with writer, curator and  director of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Ojai, CA, Kevin Wallace.

WEB1Pho uses, as I understand it, a dental drill,  to create a delicate lace of designs in this ultra-thin wood bowls he turns.

WEB2He demonstrated his techniques from 1-5pm, in the long courtyard outside of the Museum, attended by dedicated band of fascinated onlookers.

WEB3Pho jokingly explained that should he make a “mistake”, such as making an unplanned cut or shape or edge, he could incorporate it into the design later.  His humor is warm, engaging and infectious, and seems a bit “Zen“.

WEB5He applies a sticky film called “frisket” to the surface of the bowl, through which he cuts designs to create a stencil.

WEB6He then airbrushed color through the stencil design onto the wood surface, using acrylic paints…Golden Acrylics, in this case.

WEB4He worked at a table, outside, in December (LA weather not withstanding) surrounded by his myriad tools and materials, seeming completely at ease, stopping only to crack a little joke, or share a humorous anecdote with the crowd.

WEB7He is based in Illinois, and teaches at, “places like Anderson Ranch.” How lucky we were to have him share  his marvelously imaginative and intricate work with us in person, in conjunction with his show.

Possibly a once in a lifetime experience. (Which seems to happen a fair amount in Los Angeles.) Gratitudes to the CAFAM for making this all possible.

May 2016 be a year of magical possibilities and transformation.  Binh Pho does it his way…we can do it ours.

“Folk Art Everywhere”

“Folk Art Everywhere”

CAFAM, or the Craft and Folk Art Museum, in Los Angeles, has  marvelous public programs.

 Called “Folk Art Everywhere“, this unique program … promotes the unique cultural and artistic landscape of Los Angeles by bringing art into unexpected spaces and celebrating all folk. Look for us in restaurants, markets, community centers, coffee shops, bookstores and other places where people naturally gather.”

All over the city, interested participants can learn to build their own percussion instruments, help to create a one-hour radio segment, or, as we did recently, observe and savor a Traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.


Held at the  Little Ethiopian Restaurant, located in no other than the  “Little Ethiopia” neighborhood of L.A., our adventure was kicked off by the owner sharing with us the concept and meaning of the traditional coffee-making ritual of his native Ethiopia.


We were a varied, enthusiastic, and fascinated group, asking many questions, such as what was the significance of the popcorn displayed in bowls on the long table. Answer as I understood it: the popcorn represents the harvest.  And, it is a fun and tasty little prelude to the freshly made coffee we were going to taste.


The raw coffee beans are roasted.  The popcorn is nibbled.


An electric burner substitutes for the traditional brazier, and modern coffee grinder for the more time-consuming mortar and pestle.


The Jebena,  the traditional container used to brew the coffee, is usually made of pottery. “Typically when the coffee boils up through the neck it is poured in and out of another container to cool it, and then is put back into the jebena until it happens again. To pour the coffee from the jebena a filter made from horsehair or other material is placed in the spout of the jebena to prevent the grounds from escaping.” —


Our lovely and friendly guide!


The moment we have all been waiting for, (or I have, anyway!).  Encouraged by the tantalizing fragrance, we are at last able to “wake up and smell the coffee”…and taste it too!

I am here to tell you…it didn’t disappoint!  And neither did the delicious Ethiopian lunch we enjoyed afterwards.  We needed some sustenance to go with our coffee, of course.

Learning about cuisine and culture, enjoying gastronomic delights, chatting with like-minded individuals…what’s not to love?


Many thanks to Mr. Sonny Abegaze, Project Manager, Folk Art Everywhere, A Project of the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

Another example of L.A.’s moveable feast.  Don’t miss it.  Folk Art  IS Everywhere!