Tunneling our Way Through…Making Tunnel Books

Tunneling our Way Through…Making Tunnel Books

For the last class of our recent children’s bookmaking class at LACMA, we made tunnel books…comprised of two spines or sides, a back “page” holding them together.

To prepare for our project, we visited the beautiful LACMA Directors Roundtable Garden, resplendent with its Alexander Calder sculptures: mobiles and stabiles.

We observed how perspective is created by distance, saw how things looked smaller the farther away we are from them, and did a group exercise where each student in turn stated what they saw behind what the previous student said they saw…learning to see in “distance layers” (my terminology), I.E. in perspective.  We also explored the idea of scale seeing how large or small objects are in relation to each other.

Finally, we repaired to the lovely glassed in Plaza Studio, to put our learnings and observations into action, and create our books, exploring color, character, story and setting/environment in the process.

The results are…well, you can see for yourself why I called this class our “Seven From Heaven”!

Students of their own volition devised a theme,

such as this figure hiking,

and followed it through, in this case in silhouette form.

This young artist found images from magazines,

and created a scene with them.

Some created land, city and seascapes through cutting and shaping paper and cardstock strips, and adhering them to the spines,

to beautiful effect.

Students” individual color choices are always interesting…

and often very consistent…also with their clothing color choices, and probably more.

This innovative and well-traveled maker added the words, “Paris, London, New York” on these strips. her travels and where she has lived with her creative family is an important part of her identity.

The red spines on either side create a theatrical effect in this piece, that this bookmaker worked on with meticulous attention to detail, and tender loving care, as she did with all her projects.

I am so going to miss this class. It truly was heavenly to work with such motivated, thoughtful and devoted young creatives in the nurturing, inspirational and magnificent setting of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. May the “Seven From Heaven” ride LACMA art-mobile again soon, and may it be with me!

“Let’s Make Books” at LACMA

“Let’s Make Books” at LACMA

It has been wonderful to teach a family bookmaking class: “Let’s Make Books” for ages 5 and up at LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

Parents can attend with their children, and spend three hours visiting and drawing in LACMA’s galleries, grounds and gardens, walking through its architecture, and learning about its collection, before returning to one of the LACMA Art Studios to work together on art projects related to what has been visited and viewed.  A total experience of art immersion!

In this class thus far we have made accordion books with pop-ups, “folded fan” books with “windows and doors”, flag books, and tunnel books. A grand time has been had by all, including myself.  It is wonderful to work with families, see parents and siblings interacting, and the grown-ups getting a creative break which hopefully will refresh and rejuvenate them when they leave LACMA, and return to their daily lives.

Folded fan book with “windows” that open.

“Playing” with washi tape.

HeARTfelt…

The tunnel book can fold up, stand up, and stretch.

Using LACMA exhibition announcements and postcards as part of the artwork.

Doors closed….

Doors open…

In process…

A colorful collection of magnificent tunnel books!


The creative endeavor of our kindly assistant…who played imaginatively with the tunnel book structure!

Kindness, creativity, imagination, play…these are the hallmarks of our program, and were in abundance during our class. Hurray for LACMA!

We have a bookmaking class for children aged 10-13 starting in early April…check it out!  We would love to have your children in our class…making art together.

Behind The Mask: Hand Building With Clay

Behind The Mask: Hand Building With Clay

I had the opportunity to teach “Hand Building With Clay” to students in grades K – 4 for the City of Santa Monica’s  CREST Enrichment program.

After learning the pinch pot, coil and slab techniques, students had the opportunity to use slabs (pancakes of gently flattened out clay) in a different way, by laying the slab of clay over a sort of armature of loosely balled up up newspaper, so that it would harden in a shallow bowl form, and create a mask.

As the forms dried, and the clay hardened, the newspaper was removed, and the clay became ready to paint, embellish and add to.

Some students chose to use the convex surface of their half spheres or hemispheres as a place to create symbolic forms and shapes such as stars and hearts, rather than a face or character.

Students played with using the paint pens by working on paper first.

The paint pens allowed them freedom from choosing and washing  brushes, adding water, and controlling “loose” acrylic paints. They could use the paint pens to create intricate patterns like a drawing tool.

Students learned to pounce or “stipple” with the paint pens, using their tips to apply paint to creases and crevices in the clay.

Students could then add feathers, beads, pipe cleaners and other embellishments to their masks, to further develop their characters, designs, forms and images.

Some chose to focus on color through painting, adding a carefully chosen addition to enhance their character.

This young artists has incised, or drawn into the clay to create they eyes, and added clay to build out the nose. The mouth uses both techniques.

Students used foam plates to mix new colors on, as well as for palettes.

Mixing all the colors together was a popular choice, and helped the students to understand some of the principles of color mixing.

Detail and focus ruled, even with the younger children.

This young artist has mixed the secondary colors of green and orange, from his palette of primary colors, red blue and yellow.

We used both grey and red air dry clay.

Here a young artist mixes green…after painting the outside of the pot blue, and the inside yellow.

These two kindergarteners had a wonderful time painting and creating together!

There is something about painting that seems to clear out irritability, and at least temporarily suspend human anxiety.

It is wonderful to see creative”flow” in action!

“Be My Valentine”

“Be My Valentine”

What was planned as a Valentine-making workshop, turned into a Valentine bookmaking experience instead…with the creative participants learning how to fold an accordion book with pockets, and adorning, embellishing and enhancing it with all manner of sumptuous materials!


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Participants glued together prepared strips of high quality drawing paper, which had the pocket folds set up for them. The pocket folds were folded, then unfolded, so that the participants did not have to measure them out. Each paper strip was also folded in half, and organized in sets of two.

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After choosing their strips, gluing them together, then re-folding the pocket folds and then the center fold, the participants went on to fold the rest of the accordion structure. They added the covers which were cut to be wider then the width of the accordion sections, and folded the edge of the covers into the book, creating flaps or vertical pockets, or trimmed them off.

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Then the real fun began. Decoration! Adornment! Embellishment!  Ribbon, lace, stickers, washi and fabric tapes were used to create design, text and image.

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Participants employed all of the materials in fresh and imaginative ways, combining, layering and playing with them to create complex, whimsical and elegant Valentines that became a delicious feast for the eye, while the pockets offered a place for secrets, and possibly poetry.


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Glittery stickers, resembling crunchy sugary treats were a hit, transforming the books into sparkling sculptural reliefs,


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personalizing their pieces.

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Participants used tapes to create patterned borders, 

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ribbons to hold their books closed,

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and ruffled laces to add that “je ne sais quoi” and finishing touch to their creations.

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And of course, there are a million ways to say, “I love You!”

A personalized handmade work of Valentine book art would do just that!

Here’s to Amore!

“The Big Book”: Collaboration 3

“The Big Book”: Collaboration 3

Last summer I had the opportunity to do a collaborative book project with students aged 5-10. We called it “The Big Book“.

I created the structure out of repurposed corrugated cardboard. The students then added to, developed, embellished and played with the structure.

The students had access to all of the drawing, painting and collage materials we were using in class on our bookmaking projects to use in any way they wished (within time and space constraints, and reason) on the The Big Book.

Here is some of their play…..

webc1Images of students working on their book projects…on The Big Book


webiDesign and line…

webjWe used beads, paint pens, ribbon, paper, and much more…

The Big Book…Lives!

“The Big Book”: Collaboration 2

“The Big Book”: Collaboration 2

Last summer I had the opportunity to do a collaborative book project with students aged 5-10. We called it “The Big Book“.

weba1I created the structure out of repurposed corrugated cardboard. The students then added to, developed, embellished and played with the structure.

weba2I primed all of the surfaces, and painted the outside of the covers and spine black and the inside white.  I framed the outside of the covers with  extra strips of cardboard for stability.

weba3The students had access to all of the drawing, painting and collage materials we were using in class on our bookmaking projects to use in any way they wished (within time and space constraints, and reason) on the The Big Book.

weba4They went to town using pipe cleaners, cloth, washi and glittery tapes, feathers, and their own drawings

weba5to create designs, borders, text, textures, color and artworks on the collaborative piece.

webb2Because the students were a range of ages, there were a range of effects,

webb1which melded together to become a singular Book Work of charm, energy, and personality!

We worked together. We created together. We laughed together. We respected each other.

A Lesson for Living.

“The Big Book”: Collaboration



“The Big Book”: Collaboration 1

“The Big Book”: Collaboration 1

Last summer I had the opportunity to do a collaborative book project with students aged 5-10….we called it “The Big Book“.

webaFront cover of “The Big Book

I constructed a “folded fan” style flag book…out of corrugated cardboard. I folded an accordion spine, attached a front and a back cover, and two pages inside, going in the same direction, which fanned out when the book was opened.

webbBack cover of “The Big Book“.

I used tacky glue to put the pieces together, then sewed therm in place with hemp cord, and finally, trimmed the whole piece off with patterned duck tape. I then primed all of the surfaces, and painted the outside (front and back covers and spine) black, and the inside white, with acrylics. I added extra strips of re-purposed corrugated cardboard for stability.

webdStudents embellished the cardboard borders which also added structural support to the book.

webcA student’s expression of gratitude!

webkWonderful advice!

weblSo happy to see this….

webqStudents embellished just about every inch of the book…playing with words, colors, textures, designs and materials.

webrI created the structure…but the young artists left their mark/s….and made the piece come alive.

Much fun was had in the process. Students learned not only about using materials on a scale larger than their other book projects, but also about working together, collaboration, communication and cooperation.  Skills needed now perhaps more than ever.

Good lessons for our times. For any times. For all the times of our lives.

Making Our Own Books: Together!

Making Our Own Books: Together!

I had the wonderful experience of teaching “MAKE YOUR OWN BOOKS’, an enrichment class offered at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica by the CREST Enrichment program.

webaThe sweet and talented students ranged from first to fourth grade, and had a blast making books of different sizes, structures and materials.

webcThey first bound together their portfolios, made of hanging file folders, then designed and developed the outside covers of these,

webegetting acquainted with each other, their materials, myself, and their own creativity and imagination.

webdThen we began our book projects…which included accordion fold books, flag books, fan books,

webbsingle signature bindings, and side “stab” bindings.

webfTo celebrate our achievements, learning and fun, we had a “last class” family event.

webtFamily and CREST staff were invited to Make Books Together!

webkDid we have fun making “double” single signature books, learning the pamphlet stitch, and embellishing up a storm!

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webmMoms,

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weblNannies,

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webpand Dads got into the act,

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webvalong with our delightful students…

webwand CREST staffers who got to take a creative break!

i will miss this class, and the open, fluid creativity of the students. I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again!

 Wishing everyone a creative and healthful New Year…and a celebration of the positive power of the Imagination. Let us imagine a better world…and Make It, Together.

Masks and Merriment

Masks and Merriment

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a mask-making program recently at the great  Baldwin Hills Public Library, part of the Los Angeles Public Library system.

web6Parents worked alongside their children, and joined in the fun!

web1We created three-dimensional masks of flat sheets of bright tag paper by cutting through the corners and attaching the edges.

web5Participants then creatively adorned and

web4developed their mask

web3characters.

web2We can become someone else when wearing our masks…

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And maybe, become more ourselves!

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And isn’t that what the creative process is all about?

The Sheltering Book Chapter 6

The Sheltering Book Chapter 6

I was honored to be one of 17 artists to receive an inaugural ‘The WORD Grant 2016: The Bruce Geller Memorial Prize” from the Institute for Jewish Creativity, a project of American Jewish University, to create, “The Sheltering Book“.

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The Sheltering Book will be a life-sized book structure which will become the backdrop for community bookmaking workshops drawing parallels between the meaning and architecture of the book, and that of the Sukkah. The project also explores the relationship between the public sphere and private space, whether that space be our personal creativity, where we create, or what we create.”Debra Disman

web2cThe Sheltering Book is composed of an accordion spine, front and back covers, and two movable pages on each side which open away from the center, creating a space for shelter, presentation, performance and sharing.

web3To create a Sukkah shelter, dyed and stenciled netting was spread over the top of the Book, held in place by pins.

web9dThe Sheltering Book was constructed out of corrugated cardboard, primed, base painted, and transformed with layers of semi-sheer paint applications in harvest colors, which played across the surface.

webiParticipants gathered in front of The Sheltering Book to create their own books,

webvand then share them, using The Sheltering Book as a backdrop, stage set, and human-sized performance space.

webbThe Sheltering Book becomes a synergistic process and experience for the community at-large, offering shelter, safe space, and creative inspiration for all who engage with it.

Let us hold the vision.