Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Spencer Byles and Andy Goldsworthy

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Today I ran across the work of Spencer Byles. I was not aware of Byles’ work. So, I looked at all of the images of the project, A Year in a French Forest before reading about his process and checking out his body of work.

Spencer Byles Sculpture

Sculpture No 15. from A Year in the Forest. Photograph by Liza Karakova.

This is a portion of Spencer Byles’ artist statement:

Every piece I create is a different and new experience. I work with different materials, these can be ‘man made’ or ‘natural forms’. There isn’t a common link to these other than I find I am drawn to materials that lie abandoned, or discarded.

I find that one of the most interesting things about choosing materials that have been abandoned or discarded is to integrate reference of their previous life into a new context. That doing so respects the previous life of the material. It can also act as a point of access for the viewer.

While viewing the images of Spencer Byles’ work, I of course thought about the work of Andy Goldsworthy. I love Goldsworthy’s work. It is lovely and elegant, often seeming to defy gravity, but always feeling that it somehow occurred naturally.

Goldsworthy Arch

Andy Goldwworthy Woven Branch Circular Arch, Dumfrieshire, 1986. The image was found here.

Some of the materials that Goldsworthy uses include: large rocks, ice, branches, and even leaves. I have not seen any of Goldsworthy’s work in person, but suspect if you are lucky to happen on one of his works what would occur is what folks write about when they use the phrase, startles the soul.

There are several books of images of Andy Goldsworthy’s work. I only own two: Hand to Earth: Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture 1976-1990 and Wall.

To see more images of his work, check out the Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue.

There is also River & Tides, a great video about Goldsworthy’s work. It is available to rent on Netflix, and to rent or purchase on Amazon.


Lichens and Glazes

Monday, July 4th, 2016

When my chosen medium was clay, I used a lot of layered, often gritty glazes. In the back of my mind always thinking lichens.

Today when I was sweeping the deck, to my delight I found this piece has actual lichens growing on the surface.

Sculpture on Deck

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

The piece was made in a class at Ohio State in the early 80s. The clay is a buff colored sculpture body with some nice aggregate. The piece was bisque fired to cone 5. A cone 05 lithium blue glaze was applied for the base color. Then low-fire lead glazes were applied. The last fired to cone 015.

The piece has been on the deck since 1994. It looks so much better with the addition of lichens.

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

If interested in viewing lichen glaze surfaces, check out Lana Wilson’s work. Lana’s text, Ceramics: Shape and Surface has some great information for the beginner; and it also has loads of information on how to achieve gorgeous glaze surfaces. The text is available on Lana’s website.


A note about my use of lead glazes. Yes, they are gorgeous low-fire glazes. But lead is potentially dangerous. I haven’t been used lead glazes for several years. Since I have been attempting to use safer materials and processes, I reluctantly decided to remove all potentially toxic ceramic materials from my studio. I had quite the stash. I was fortunate that during the yearly clean-up, the materials were accepted for disposable without cost.

Did I really remove all of the lead from my studio? Well, I did keep a small bag of a leaded frit, just in case. I also found a small sheet of lead that I kept. It is a lovely soft material. I used it to line and wrap portions of boxes.

Lead Detail

Detail of a piece in my Make Your Own Luck series.
The vertical section is wrapped in sheet lead.
The nest-like material is lead wool.
The three objects are whole nutmeg.
Nutmeg was used for luck.
If consumed it could be deadly.


Books and the Book Series

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Books have always been a part of my life. When we were children, my mother would take us to the library. When I was in college I would spend part of a day each week wandering through the stacks. After grad school, I started my library. I have nearly 1,500 books. There are books on art, artists, film, graphic design, gardening, horticulture, novels, children’s books, textbooks, and miscellaneous books on random topics.

I love reading, the way books feel in my hands, turning the pages, the fragrance of paper and ink. I was taught to respect books, but then something happened. I found that I really liked underlining. That grew to writing in the margins and using any white space to record ideas for possible work. Then I started folding corners and pages.

Books

When I open one of my books to locate a quote or some notes that I have made, it is quite enjoyable to revisit the story, to read a few pages or several chapters. To remember the first time that I read the book.


I resisted reading e-books. My iPad is thin, slippery, and has a bit of glare. How would I dog-ear pages, write in the margins, underline…

I tried reading a few books on my iPad and in doing so found that I could customize the text. I could make the text large enough that I no longer needed to wear glasses. I also found that I quite like reading light text on a black background. And I could read in the dark.

Then I found how easy it was to highlight, bookmark, and make notes. I could download the lot from amazon. A few adjustments to the downloaded file and I could import the text into my database of quotes and phrases. Yep, I have a database of words, phrases, quotes.


I have thought about making books, but one thing always stopped me. What will be on the pages? The thought of an empty book, seemed incomplete. I actually attempted constructing a few books over the years.

Twig Books

A couple of books constructed of materials collected from nature, fabric, paper, copper wire, and waxed linen cord. I saved a couple to remind myself why they did not work.

I also made a series of small books constructed of hardware cloth covers coated with Egyptian Paste. The covers were fired to cone 016. Hot enough for the clay to mature, but not hot enough to melt the hardware cloth. I cut copper and aluminum flashing for the pages. I bound the pages and covers together and fired the lot.

Egyptian Paste Book

Egyptian Paste Book Open

The pages have a lovely surface, but they are still empty.


The past several years I have used coded messages in my work. It is quite enjoyable to figure out ways to put text in my work that cannot actually be read as text but is seen as pattern. Well, the text could be read if the code is deciphered. And since I am not a cryptographer, it isn’t too difficult to figure out.

Dont Detail

This is a detail of code in a work that I have since completed. I used Morse code with rust yarn for the dots, gray yarn for the dashes, and cream yarn for the spacers. The bottom left corner has gray, rust, gray which is dash-dot-dash or a k.


I have decided to revisit books again with the idea of including coded text. Each book will have a theme: connection, grief/loss, invisible/visible, kindness, memory, nature, perception/seeing, power, reflection, self, truth…

My plan was to make wool knitted and fulled pages, with stitched coded messages, and dried and stitched plant bits. I knitted all sorts of stitch patterns to see which stitches would work best.

Then something unexpected happened. I had a dream, an epiphany. In the dream rather than making books I was making pages and framing them as artifact. Framed fragments of pages would be more compatible with my body of work. Was my creative self giving me a message or was the dream a mash up of a bunch of things that I had been thinking about throughout the day? No matter, I like the idea.

I began to approach knitting differently. Rather than knitting rectangles for book pages, I wanted the pieces to be odd shaped.

E wrap Purl Cable

The top portion was knitted. The piece was removed from the loom, rotated 45º, returned to the loom, and then the cable pattern was knitted.

Top Portion
Row 1 E-wrap (each peg twice)
Row 2 Purl (wrap)

Bottom Portion (Cable)
Row 1 Knit
Row 2 Purl
Row 3 Knit
Row 4 P,P, Twist Knit, P,P, Twist Knit…

This is the back of the above piece. It is important that the back is interesting because both sides of a page can be visible.

E wrap Purl Cable


This combination of stitches is quite nice. There does seem to be some consistency in my choices. It appears that I like knot-like stitches.

Figure 8 with E-wrap

Row 1 Figure 8
Row 2 E-wrap

If after fulling, the fabric still has holes, I plan to either weave in yarn or an i-cord.


Linen Stitch

The idea was to knit a long piece, full it, and fold it in half to create a signature. Then bind several signatures together.
Row 1 K all
Row 2 K, S… K
Row 3 K all
Row 4 S, K… S

It will be fun to see how the series evolves.


Loom Knitting Pages for a Book

Friday, January 8th, 2016

I am attempting to knit pages for a book on a sock loom. The yarn is Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool. The color is natural.

Knitting on Sock Loom

Row 1 U wrap knit
Row 2 U wrap knit, Slip;… U wrap knit
Row 3 U wrap knit
Row 4 2 U wrap knit, Slip; end with Slip, and 2 U wrap knit stitches

Slip Stitch–start a purl stitch and slip the new loop over the peg, rather than pulling the existing loop off of the peg and replacing with the new loop.

Sock Loom Knit Front

Sock Loom Knit Front

Sock Loom Knit Back

Sock Loom Knit Back

A similar stitch pattern on a larger loom with two strands of LB Fishermen’s wool. I didn’t want to felt the piece because I wanted a bit of the stitch to show.

Chinese Waves Stitch

Row 1 Knit
Row 2 K, Slip…, K
Row 3 K
Row 4 K, K, Slip… S, K, K

U wrap Knit
Slip–remove loop from loom, lay working yarn on peg (to the inside of the loom), replace loop.

When fulled, the piece was too thick.

Chinese Waves Stitch Fulled


Loom Knitting Help

Knitting on the Net

Great Tuteate YouTube Loom Knitting Videos

Slat Book Progress…

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

I have been planning to make a slat book using the middle bit (ovary) from Pandorea jasminoides seed pods. I planned the code, “accustomed to being invisible” that will be stitched onto the plant bits.

Invisible Code

Holes in Pandorea jasminoides

I used a needle tool to make holes in one piece. The piece fractured in half.
I then used a Dremel to drill holes. When I started stitching, with nettle, part of the edge broke away.


This is what the nettle twine looks like with the Pandorea jasminoides bits.
Nettle


I decided to give glycerin a go to soften the pieces and to make them able to take the stitching. I am trying to solutions–one with hot water and one with denatured alcohol.

Tadpole

The jar on the left is a solution of 1 part gylcerin and 2 parts hot water.
The jar on the right is a solution of 2 parts glycerin and 1 part denatured alcohol.

It is interesting that many processes do require waiting. Sometimes a process can be sped up, most of the time patience is required.


Slat Book in Progress

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

I snagged some Pandorea jasminoides seed pods from a friend’s garden. They are woody and beautiful.

Pods

Open Pod

Open Pod Exposing Seeds

Pod Interior

Pod, Seeds Removed, With Interior Part


The pods have been used in my Change series.

Change Series


I kept the interior bits and seeds for possible future use.

Interior Bits

Seeds

Curious if the seeds were viable, so I planted a few–

Seedlings


I kept thinking about the interior bits. How could I use them? Recently ran across reference to slat books in one of my sketch books.

So, I selected the bits with the most interesting light lines.

Parts


The plan is to stitch a letter on each bit, then stitch them together. I had thought about using Ogham or A-tom-tom code, but for various reasons they didn’t feel right. Instead I made a stitch pattern based on Morse code. I actually made three versions. This is the phrase: Long forgotten memory.

Code for Long Forgotten Memory

For the slat book, I am deciding between the phrases, link with the past and accustomed to being invisible. Probably will use bamboo cord or Egyptian cotton thread for the stitch work.


When I quickly searched for the two types of code that I decided not use, I realized that both times I hit Omniglot, the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages. It is a great site with loads of information.


Strip or Slat books were made of a variety of material–bamboo, bark, and palm leaves. The material was cut into slats. The slats were either bound together or holes were made and cord was threaded through binding the slats together.


Information about the history of books and slat books can be found on the
Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin website.

Slat Book


Information on Horizontal and Vertical Writing in East Asian Scripts can be found on Wikipedia.

Writing in vertical columns from right to left facilitated writing with a brush in the right hand while continually unrolling the sheet of paper or scroll with the left.


A brief description about slat books and a nice image can be found on Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s website makingbooks.com.

Slat Book


Information on early Chinese inscriptions can be found on Jeremy Norman’s website historyofinformation.com.



Regret Quotes

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

“Regret. It piles up around us like books we never read.”

…is a great line from the movie, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recuit.

A few other regret quotes I have accumulated–

“…stained dark with regret and long-time abandonment.”

from Painted From Memories by Barbara Forte.

“…anger dissolved in a sigh of regret…”

from Deceptive Cadence: The Virtuosic Spy by Kathryn Guare.

“…time of early evening when the world seems trapped in melancholy, and all its regrets for all its mislaid plans for the day spelled in the fading clouds…”

from Where She Went  by Kate Walbert.

And from The Gray and Guilty Sea-An Oregon Coast Mystery by Scott William Carter.

“…no room for even a sliver of regret”


Concrete as an Art Medium

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

I attempted to use concrete several times over the past 20 years. While some results were promising, I wasn’t ready to commit time to figure out why problems occurred.

I am currently working on a series of pod pieces. The pieces are constructed of actual woody pods. The contents removed and replaced with coins or metal bits woven into fulled wool, with hinges and bindings added.

Pods in Progress

Yep, they are in a plastic box. Ever since casemaking moths came to live in my studio, everything they might like to eat is stored in plastic or glass.

The plan was to make cedar boxes for the pods. And then a fun thing happened. I was rearranging some things in my studio and found some concrete cups and tiles from my last concrete casting attempt.

Concrete Cup and Prototype

The concrete cup on the right was cast in a silicone mold.
The mold was made of a waxed woven cup similar to the on the left.

Immediately I started thinking about making concrete boxes for my pods. But how? Concrete box with wood lids? Concrete with bamboo support? Concrete with inlaid copper? Concrete with metal mesh and code?

I googled concrete and found loads of stuff on using ready mixed concrete to make functional objects and tons of stuff on hypertufa.

Then I found Andrew Goss. He has a website with lots of great information for using concrete to make art pieces.

After reading the information on his site, I realized that I had attempted to cast thin walls without compensating for the removal of aggregate. Adding latex wasn’t enough especially when I was not caring properly for the pieces. I did not know the importance of wrapping the pieces in plastic. Why, I don’t know. My background is in clay and I definitely know how to care for clay during forming and drying.

I selected four concrete and hypertufa mixes for my first test–

 Materials Mix 1  Mix 2  Mix 3  Mix 4 
 Concrete
 Vermiculite 1.5    
 Peat Moss    1.5    
 Sand      

I added very little water so that I could press the concrete into silicone cup molds. I wrapped the concrete-filled molds in plastic. After two days I removed the pieces from the molds, leveled the bottoms of the cups, then wrapped them in plastic. Every day I have given the concrete cups a dip in water, then rewrapped them in plastic, and popped them in yogurt cups. I do think that a thinner plastic would be better.

Wrapped Concrete Cups

The main objective is to find a concrete mix that when cured will live nicely with my pod pieces. I like the texture that results from using peat in a hypertufa mix, but I do not like the bits flitting about in the air when it is sifted. Wearing a respirator does not keep the peat dust from collecting all over the studio. Also, I really dislike the way it smells in the wet mix and every time I unwrap the test pieces.

Since I want to make a success of concrete this time, I thought it would be a good idea to use good and tested information. I purchased Andrew’s book, Concrete Handbook for Artists, Technical Notes for Small-Scale Objects. I wish that I had found the book the first time I attempted concrete.


Andrew Goss’ blog, Art Concrete.

Elder Jones’ blog, Sandpudding Studio. Wet Carved Concrete

John Annesley’s blog, Sustainable Buildings as Art. Burlap-crete

The Hypertufa Gardener

The Cement Tile Blog


Fun Illustration Books

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

I just found the Illustration School books by Sachiko Umoto. They are very fun. My niece and nephew are enjoying the one I gave to my nephew–

Let’s Draw Cute Animals.

These are some quick snaps of the dust jacket and the page on how to draw a bunny.

Yep, that is a rock form one of trips to the beach.

Illustration School Book

Bunny Pages

There are several books in the series. They would be great for anyone, even adults who would like to learn some simple drawing techniques.


Flat Stanley Came For A Visit

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

My nephew’s teacher sent Flat Stanley for a visit. I put together a scrapbook and made a box for the collected things from the beach and hikes.

I didn’t know anything about Flat Stanley. Apparently Flat Stanley books have been around since 1964.

These are a few photos of the scrapbook that I made for my nephew and his class.

Scrapbook and Box

Scrapbook and Box. The box contains rocks, shells, pods, and twigs with lichens.

Pages 14 and 15

Scrapbook Pages 14 and 15. While Stanley was here he went with John when he donated platelets.
Stanley also went with our bunny, Big Baby when he went to the vet’s for a check-up.

Page 17

Scrapbook Page 17 shows John at work with his assistant, The Bird.

Page 19

Scrapbook Page 19 has photos of a project that I made for my sister’s 50th birthday.
Stanley helped.

Page 20

Scrapbook Page 20 is the back cover.
Had a difficult time getting a photo of Stanley and Big Baby.
Big Baby was a bit too interested in Stanley.

Ready To Travel

Stanley is Packed and Ready To Travel.
I included a CD with the images of Stanely’s visit and the pages of the scrapbook.

Ready To Travel With CD

This is what the class will see when Stanley arrives.