A Taste for Texture II

A Taste for Texture II

I have a passion for texture…don’t you?  Ideally texture you can actually touch and feel, but visual texture too. Texture, the quality of the tactile, “HAPTIC“…these inspired this body of work.

 Inspired to create a series of textural, textual, and textured Flag Books, I used a series of simple techniques to get the “haptic” feel I craved.

i think texture is like that. We crave it. The sense of touch is elemental. Primal. it is not enough to see or hear something we are drawn to.  We are compelled to feel it…one way or another.

web5I used torn scraps of tissue paper applied with no other then Mod Podge, to create the texture on repurposed cardboard.

web1The collaged strip of patterned paper is stitched with jute cord, which also holds a piece of repurposed bead necklace which is strung onto it.

web6The flags are cut from a stiff window shade-like material, and they are attached to an accordion folded spine, repurposed from a brochure about Richard Neutra‘s VDL House. The spine is covered with transparent fabric ribbon. The text: “A STITCH IN TIME SAVES 9“, is, yes, stitched on to the flags with hemp cord.  It is also the name of this piece.

WEBaaFor the piece, “Narrow Bridge“, a similar process was used, with collaged images on the front, punctured by slightly uneven stitches that add another layer of both visual and tactile texture to the surface of the front and back covers.

WEBdThe repurposed cover boards were were textured with torn tissue paper, and adhered with Mod Podge, and a thinner tissue was used to add solidity, strength and presence to the tagboard accordion spine.

WEBfThe same window shade-like material was used for the flags, which are stitched (embroidered?) in linen thread with the text, “”The whole world is A narrow bridge The important thing is not to Fear“–the essence of which was penned by the great Reb Nachman of Breslov  The inside covers are collaged with fabric scrap.

WEBb“Thin Ice” wears its title on its back cover. The repurposed cover boards are textured with crumpled scraps of brown paper bags, adhered, once again, by the inimitable Mod Podge. The accordion spine was textured and strengthened with torn tissue fragments, and the entire surface was painted in shimmering washes of silvery metallic paint.

WEBaThe front cover is stitched with a sort of maze, all stitching done with the thread pulled from the detailing on a decorative pillow that had seen better days. (Saved the pillow, repurposed the edging…)

WEBeThe text, or, messaging, “if you are going to skate on thin ice, you had better be able to walk on water”, is stitched to the flag pages (made from the same type of window shade-like material) with metallic thread, or cord.

Good advice, I think, for any of us…

MemoryMaking Books

MemoryMaking Books

In celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Public Library, I had the opportunity to lead a bookmaking program at the  Montana Avenue Library, my home branch of the SMPL

“Making Memory Books” was requested… a single signature style book, embellished with fabric.

WEBaLeather, denim, beads, as well as decorative papers and fabric scrap were some of the goodies laid out for participants to use.

WEBcThe signatures were already prepared, with holes punched. Once bound with the three-hole pamphlet stitch, the first and last pages were glued to the inside of the front and back covers, and the book was formed.

WEBiThen, the fun could really begin!  let the embellishment commence!

WEBkPaper, “eco-fi” felt, cloth, lace and leather transformed the book structures into unique works of art.

WEBdUpon request, a square shape was used, instead of the more common vertical  rectangle.

WEBeA mother daughter duo enjoyed adorning their book covers with butterflies.


WEBfIs this a pink planet, surrounded by butteries?


WEB2The inspiration for the project was a series of fabric covered sewn book models,

WEB8with cloth pieces applied patchwork style.

WEB1The colors, patterns, shapes and tactile quality of cloth and textiles can evoke powerful memories.

WEB2The effect can be pleasing visually, as well as tracing remnants of life stories barely remembered but held in the body, memory and emotions through the sense of touch.

These books, that may hold memories barely discernible to the maker, can now become the repository of new memories, as scrapbooks, photo albums, journals, or sketchbooks.

What a beautiful gift.

Happy Holidays, and peace and blessings for the New Year.

BookLand: The Classroom Becomes Studio

BookLand: Classroom Becomes Studio

Setting up the room before the Open House for the Summer School program in I am honored to teach for…All about making books..all the time.

WEB1Handmade books galore on display for parents and students to see, and get a sense of what we will be making.

WEB3Exploring the accordion fold…accordion books, “fan” books, flag books…


WEB5Light on Books.

WEB6“WOW THE SUN”…(text put together by a wonderful student with left-over letters last summer)

WEB7Double Flower, Double Fan and Triangle Books…with variations on the Flag Book.

WEB8Samples for “Steampunk: The Book!” class, for students going into 6th, 7th and eighth grades. Talk about time travel…

WEB8aSewn single and multiple signature books, The French Link stitch, felt made from recycled plastic bottles, and repurposed jewelry and ribbons.  Oh, and of course, the ever present hemp cord.

WEB8bAnother take on the Flag Book structure…textured covers and flag pages stitched with text.

WEB8cSamples showing use of zippers and laced edges…a hint of the medieval. Time traveling again. The small book to the left features the pamphlet stitch and incorporates the Turkish Map fold.

WEB9How much fun to set up all these materials…paper, paper and more paper, of assorted weights, colors and sizes.

WEB9aTools of the trade: scissors, clamps, clips, bone and wooden folders, glue sticks

WEB9dPiles of wonderful things, like

WEB9cStickers and ribbons and letters, oh my….

WEBft1Our “Fairy Glen” for Fairy Tales! class for our youngest students…entering Kindergarten and first grade.

WEBft2Through the window, beyond the “glen”, into the courtyard beyond.

It’s looking like a magical summer…here in BookLand, USA.

Books: unZIPPED

Books: unZIPPED

It can be fascinating, fun…and sometimes startling  to add elements to books that compel, or at least encourage engagement by giving the viewer, or, “handler”, (peruser?)  something to do. Books by their nature are most often opened and closed…but in what other ways can they move, or be moved?

WEB4WEB5This humble structure is informed by the Japanese concept of “Wabi-sabi“, an aesthetic of imperfection, impermanence, and even incompleteness. Repurposed cloth is sewn to thin, repurposed cardboard with jute cord, with other strips glued on inside. Repurposed paper passed to me by a colleague is sewn with jute to the cardboard spine in a single signature with a five-hole pamphlet stitch, to create the pages.

WEBcWEBhWEBnInspired by the cheesecake box from which it’s covers and spine are made, this piece was covered first in hand-me-down newsprint strips, then repurposed muslin fragments, then appliquéd (in the strict sense of the term) with repurposed lace and a zipper. It’s pages are five single folded sheet signatures, or bifolium , sewn to the spine with unwaxed linen thread.

WEB2WEB1This multiple signature (technically “section“) book is made from repurposed cardboard, acid-free drawing paper, hemp cord, a zipper, and Eco-fi felt. The signatures technically bifolium, are sewn onto a strip of the “felt”, which is then centered and glued over the spine. The book is covered, or “wrapped” in Eco-fi felt, which is used to decorative effect, and gives it a “cozy” feel. The zipper is glued to the spine.

web1web3This book is constructed in the same way as the one above, except that the pages are created from a  single signature, and three zippers are applied, making sound effects when engaged.

Participation encouraged. Books are made to interact with.

Spring Suite: Red Green Blue

Spring Suite: Red Green Blue

A series of single and multiple signature books….bound with the pamphlet stitch, and wrapped with “Eco-fi“, a felt-feeling cloth made from recycled plastic bottles. Sewn with hemp cord. Pages made of acid-free drawing paper. Each made with a person or people in mind. Embellished with repurposed jewelry parts, charms, Eco-fi scrap,  and ribbon.

RED, Fire in the Belly (for Jane)




Green, The Right of Spring (For Mom)





Blue, Thinking About You, (For D and V)






Pure Joy.

That Ribbon of…3

That Ribbon of…3

It is fascinating to explore ways of integrating ribbon and tying mechanisms into book structures. An integrated tie mechanism encourages the user to engage with the object…opening and closing, tying and untying.

WEB4In an ongoing process of attempting to meld bookmaking, decorative painting, conceptual, and “fine” art into the mysterious form of the “artist’s book“, I am exploring the use of tissue paper and the like combined with adhesives to create a textured, tactile surface, and incorporating the ribbon or tie as an integral part of the piece.

WEBaSimple cardboard is covered with crinkled tissue once used to separate sheets of metallic leaf. This tissue, for lack of a better term, is thin, fine, ultra flexible, crushable, porous, adherable and absorbent. Perfect for texturing, and when combined with adhesive, becomes almost like a glue itself. The textured surface can create a compelling, intriguing, and in some instances, incredibly satisfying object to gaze upon, to touch, to hold, and to use.

WEB1Here the actual packing of the metallic leaf become folded book pages, each one unfolded, then refolded into a signature, (technically a “section”).  These signatures are then sewn together with hemp cord using  the pamphlet stitch  to create a “multi-signature” binding.  Half of the first and last pages are then glued to the inside of the front and back covers so that the pages unfold.

WEB2Thus each folded page opens up into four two-sided sections. many possibilities here…both for developing the book by adding content to the pages, and for user engagement with the pages…unfolding and folding them.

WEB3The pages can become sculptural and create different shapes. One of the magical things about the form of “the book”, is that it can be nearly flat or two-dimensional, or three-dimensional. Books are transformational…in many ways.

WEB5The exposed points of contact where the signatures are sewn together become the spine of the book.

WEB6Eventually, I integrated this brilliant orange ribbon into the design of the book. it adds a bit of shimmer, dimension, and contrasting texture, and a tone-on-tone quality that I find irresistible.

I will have to get some images of the finished piece. It is fun to play with, opening and closing the book,  folding and unfolding the pages, seeing how many shapes can be created. The user has to engage with this book, if they don’t want to miss out!





Winter Suite: Engaging the Warm Fuzzie, Again

 Winter Suite: Engaging the Warm Fuzzie, Again

Fascinated by the use of cloth, fabric, and textiles in the built environment, as well as a tactile material to use in bookmaking, I started using Eco-Fi “felt’, a fiber made out of recycled plastic “PET” bottles. In addition to reducing the amount of waste going into landfills, Eco-fi felt can be found in a range of colors, takes glue well, and can be a satisfying and even addictive material to work with.  The following comprise a series called “WinterSuite“, which to my mind, brings the “warm fuzzie” back to bookmaking. Did it ever leave? Books have always been our bedfellows, our constant companions, our friends. Now they can double as a security blanket, as well.

WEB3WEB5WinterSuite: Gray, multiple signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

 WEB3WEB1WinterSuite: Blue, Single signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

web1web4WinterSuite: Gold, multiple signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers, blue appliqué made from repurposed felt scrap left over from WinterSuite: Blue.

WEB2WEB4WinterSuite:BlueBlack1, multiple signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper,  zipper, UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

web1web3WinterSuite: BlueBlack2,  Single signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cord, pastel drawing paper, zippers,  UHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers.

WEB4WEB2WEB3WEB6WinterSuite: Pink,  Single signature sewn book, recycled board, Eco-fi felt, hemp cordUHU glue. Diamonds made from corners cut from felt covers. pages made from felt!

Comfort Object; “…an item used to provide psychological comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations, or at bedtime for small children.”  Let’s hear it for Linus!

Pushing the Envelope

Pushing the Envelope

Using the form of the envelope to create an artist’s book can be evocative, provocative,  crafty, conceptual, fun, somber, expressive, “artistic”, creative, engaging, and baffling. As with many artists’ books, the question can be raised, “What are these for? What is their purpose? Are they meant to be read, observed and perused, handled, shown behind glass?”  And in the case of the envelope book “…sent through the mail?”

I don’t presume to answer these questions, and can imagine another post which delves more deeply into them.  In this one, my  intent is to share a few of my own envelop books, the materials used in them, some of the motivation, thinking and feeling behind them, and let the observer draw their own conclusions, and perhaps becoming inpsired to explore, and even create one of their own.

Note: in this post,  we see books created in the form of an envelope…as opposed to books created from existing envelopes, which is a whole other story. Also, hemp cord was used to bind the sewn books, and acid-free UHU glue sticks were used as the adhesive for anything glued on all the books depicted.

WEBa WEBbCutting, Folding, Stamping, Sewing…

In this book, the basic form is cut and folded, and a single signature is sewn into the last fold with a pamphlet stitch.  A single rubber stamp image stamped in varying ways is used to develop and adorn the piece, and delicate handmade paper containing plant material adds a finishing touch to the pages.

WEBdWEBaWEBbWEBcLone Stories Connect…Discover “I Think I Can”…It’s Everything

In the piece above, the basic structure is cut and folded from a sketchbook cover, and the pages created by a concertina/accordion folded paper strip glued into its next to last section.. The collaged elements, ranging from printed material cut from magazines,  personal writing, repurposed corrugated paper, ribbon scrap and copied illustration images, tell a story of pain and isolation with the potential of redemption through connection and story.

WEBa WEBb WEBcPainfully Animal

This mini book opens on four sides, with pages sewn in a single signature into one fold. Soft handmade paper is used both for adornment and  pages, attached with a running stitch which is threaded back into the sewing holes so that the two ends can be tied together. The single message greets the viewer right in the center. What does it mean? Well, ponder it for awhile, and notice your associations with the phrase, “Painfully Animal”. What does the term evoke for You?

WEBa WEBb WEBcMixed Media Envelope Book: Work in Progress

This mixed media message piece has been underway, along with a number of bookish siblings, for over two years.  It’s structure is cut and folded, like the first envelope book depicted in this post, and it’s graph paper pages stacked into a single signature, and sewn into the end fold with a running stitch as described above. The  painstaking, step-by-step process of developing the book’s content requires time and focused attention.

Every bit of image and text must feel ‘right’ in how it looks, what it evokes and where it is placed in the book. The ‘story’ that emerges, however non-linear, is discovered in the doing as much by the artist, as it may be later by the observer. Time itself is one of the most significant materials used, as such a piece can’t be rushed.

In these works, many aspects of the creative process come into play: patience and impulse, technique and tension, methods and materials, effort and evocation.

The medium of the envelope book may be on  a mission to become a missive to the outside world from the maker’s heart and soul, hands and head. If it gets a little heady, or crafty in-between, well, that might be just another aspect of this long strange trip we’re on.

Material World (4)

Material World (4)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials.  Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We can find our way to the ineffable through immersion in the materials and techniques we choose to create with. Here I share some of my own investigation into the qualities inherent in materials that create texture. Though I am a visual artist, I find the sense of touch as powerful as that of sight, and am fascinated with how the two work together.

web1“A Stitch in Time Saves 9”, Flag Book, Title stitched onto flags, covers textured with crumpled tissue paper and adhesive, collage and repurposed beads stitched onto cover.

WEBaTextured Fan, covers covered with textured, painted and glazed paper, accordion spine made of repurposed Neutra VDL House brochure

WEB4“Brown Paper Bag”, Covers textured with crushed plain brown paper and brown paper bags, bound with hemp cord.

WEB4PaperPaintPlant, single signature binding, using paper containing plant material.

WEBcTeapot Book, Japanese Side Stab binding using thick highly textured handmade paper for covers, and drawing paper for pages, teapot rubber-stamped.

Synesthesia” isa rare neurological condition in which two or more of the senses entwine.”

The sense of sight and the sense of touch. How can we separate the two?  Does something feel like what it looks like, or does it look like what it feels like? Powerful questions for anyone working in the visual, or any realm of communication and expression.  Powerful stuff.

Material World (3)

Material World (3)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials, and how to employ and combine them. The following shares one step of my journey exploring and investigating the qualities inherent in specific materials.   Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed “material pleasures”, we can be seen as materialistic… for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We find our way to the ineffable through the use and exploitation of the materials we choose to create from.

The following books are created from basic but sturdy  cardboard, the kind that drawing pads are attached to, wrapped with a felt that is made from recycled plastic bottles. That aspect alone would lend these pieces a feel-good quality, but the fact that they become warm, fuzzy and strongly tactile books for some reason is currently irresistible to me. Playing with the single signature bound book form in this way has been pure joy. All the books employ the pamphlet stitch.

WEB1WEB2WEB3WointerSuite: Gray

This is a multi-signature (gathering of folded pages) book structure, even though each signature is composed of a single folded page, stitched separately to a piece of felt that was then glued to the whole inside surface of the book. The pages are high quality drawing paper  designed for pastels.

WEB1WEB2WinterSuite: BlueBlack

This piece is also a multi-signature structure, each signature composed of a single folded sheet, stitched separately to a strip of felt that was then glued to the spine. Two other cerulean blue sheets of felt were then glued to the inside surfaces of both covers. The pages are also pastel drawing paper, of a different sort. Yes, that is a working zipper on the spine. “Unzipped“?  “All Zipped Up“?

WEB1WEB2WEB3 WEB4WinterSuite: BabyPink

Fascinated by the use of Eco-fi felt, I wanted to see how felt pages would look and feel, and so bound this “BabyPink” book.   It’s 6 pages are created from a single signature of 3 folded felt pieces, stitched to a strip of felt that was then glued to the spine. A piece of off-white felt was  glued to the inside surface of each covers. The corners that were cut off the felt “wrapper” and other felt fragments were used for embellishment, in an effort to use the felt to its fullest. In this way, such activity becomes piece / peace work.

 There is something primal about doing this… primal as regards to materials, and creating the basic form of covers, spine and pages.  Even when open, the book remains  mysterious and primordial form in feeling. It seems to start at the very beginning…