Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Binding and Calligraphy

I had the wonderful opportunity to take a workshop with British book artist, Paul Johnson last week in Portland.  Actually I had two opportunities to learn about what Paul does with paper.  The Baxter Society hosted his lecture at USM where he showed dozens of colorful three dimensional books that just popped out into space from his large suitcase!  What was astounding about his work was the intense color and that nothing was folded.  He ingeniously used dovetailed paper slots to hold things together!

One of Paul's Pop Up Books

Paul Johnson demonstrating how his books work at Baxter Society Meeting

Paul Johnson Pop Up Book
Another bit of interesting information about Paul was that he didn't feel his books were too precious to open it up and pass it around the room.  Can you imagine?   His books not only looked spectacular but their stories were fun and humorous.  He was a huge fan of taking a fairy tale and making it his own in silly, unexpected ways.

The following morning 12 of us piled into The Strong Arm Bindery Studio to take Paul's Spirit House Workshop.  The workshop wasn't long enough for me!  It was just the teaser for what could be done with his technique.  Paul showed us the basic structure of his Spirit House design and then it was up to us to alter it and make them our own.  The photos below show student work of Spirit Houses that are roughly 15" high by 6" wide.  The fascinating thing is that all fold down flat!
Spirit Houses:  Student work with Paul looking on

Spirit Houses:  Student work (mine is the center one)

Artist and Student!
On Saturday I had the distinct pleasure and privilege to teach a basic calligraphy workshop to some folk at Shaker Village in Gray, ME.  I combined Italic calligraphy with pressed herbs and flowers to make cards of various sorts.  I gave a tour through the Shaker herb garden where students collected specimens to press and take home for future projects.  Calligraphy isn't something you can get proficient at in a day but those 5 students certainly tried!  They worked tirelessly learning how to hold the pen at just the right angle, how long the ink would last with one dip, and how practice makes perfect!  We discussed things like our dismay over the fact that cursive writing isn't being taught in schools anymore and how kids are losing out on not using their hands in creative ways.  I was delighted to learn that a couple students had already purchased their own supplies the following day!
Student Calligraphic Cards at Shaker Village

Student Calligraphic cards at Shaker Village
 After a full week of creative endeavors outside the studio, I am looking forward to being in my own studio and creating more.  This last photo is a Spirit House I did using Paul Johnson's basic template only I reduced it considerably in size.  The height of this one is only 8" tall!  Before I cut out the pieces I calligraphed each section and used permanent markers to make colorful designs.  This is just a prototype of things to come.  I find that my hands need to make a new book structure a few times before I really learn it's language.
Spirit House by Bonnie

Monday, June 17, 2013

Glass Boston and Typesetting

MIT, Cambridge, Mass

I had a great experience at GlassBoston this week at MIT.  It was overwhelming just being at MIT!  I had never been before and didn't expect it to be so vast.  Buildings were interconnected for miles it seems.  I attended several lectures but my two favorite were by MIT professor, Michael J. Cima and artists, Erik & Martin Demaine.

"Shape Matters" was the topic of Cima's presentation and ranged from how 3D printing can assist the glass artist to the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.  He spoke about the inventiveness of artists and scientists alike and how at MIT they describe a good inventor or innovator as someone who collects solutions, gets into the shoes of the user and has infectious enthusiasm.

The work by the father (Martin Demaine) & son (Erik Demaine) team had a more personal connection for me.  Martin is a paper artist/glass blower and Erik is an origami/paper artist & mathematician, and both have extremely scientific minds.  Here is a sample of their work.  Folding glass is near impossible but this is what they are trying to do with their next body of work based on their origami paper folded sculptures.  

Bridge to Cambridge

David Wolfe
On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of taking a day-long workshop with David at his Portland studio.  Wow, is all I can say.  My eyes were open wide as I watched him operate his various typesetting machines and presses.  David's been printing professionally since 1979-see his website here.  I set my sights on designing and printing a simple business card, or so I thought it would be simple!
Learning how to make the lead lines of type

Proofing: adjusting design at every step of the way.

Good eyesight is a MUST with small type.
There is a connection to David's innovative problem solving and the Michael J. Cima lecture at MIT---Innovation.  And the innovation of a good printer is astounding.  I saw David trouble shoot and problem solve dozens of times throughout the day as 5 of us designed business cards, bookplates and letterhead stationery.  The designers of typesetting equipment were innovators and inventors themselves.  Tools that can make almost anything happen.  And David was a wizard at making everything happen! 

I came away with gorgeous square black & white business cards.  I intend to embellish them with some mandala activity in watercolor or colored pencil.  I could see falling in love with the process but have to be careful because I'm in love with too many as it is!

That brings me to the next push in the studio this week.  Some glass boxes for a gallery here in Maine and the beginning designs for a triptych stained glass piece.  There will be some distraction though as I am anticipating the exciting workshop with UK book artist, Paul Johnson on Friday...but more on that next time!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Stained Glass Again?

It's been a busy week in the studio wrapping up the final MFA presentation work, photographing it and packing it away for safe keeping until I know where to display them.  I've also been able to finish up some new work for a show it New York.  There is such a satisfying feeling when work comes to completion and it gets shipped out.  And this shipment to Figureworks Gallery felt great to get out well before the deadline.   It was a little bit like going back in time working with stained glass and I was pleased at how satisfying it was to do.
Places in NYC under glass

Stacks of glass boxes awaiting their NYC places and lid attachments

The final boxes soldered, cleaned and ready to ship.
Since closing my gallery this spring, I have been fortunate enough to still have my glass jewelry on display nearby at White Cap Grille in the Old Port, Portland, Maine. I have a small selections of fused glass jewelry pieces including necklaces, bracelets, and watches on display.  They are for sale and can be purchased at the restaurant.  Soon the jewelry will be joined by some fused glass tableware and glass boxes with connections to the Maine coast.
Fused Dichroic Glass Necklaces on display at White Cap Grille.
As always the week is never complete without baking my batch of 200 whoopie pies for White Cap Grille.  These are little treats we give to guests.  Last week's was chocolate whoopie with a fresh maple butter cream filling!
Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Maple Butter Cream Filling.
Next on the stained glass agenda is design and construction of 3 or 4 panels to be hung as a divider at a local restaurant...can you guess which one ?  I'm going to mull over designs this week and hopefully be inspired as I attend Glass Boston at MIT in Cambridge.  This will be a summer project instead of "I need it next week project".  The last large stained glass panel I made was for an arched window at a family home in Massachusetts.  I worked with a local interior designer here in Maine.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anticipation of Summer

The oak trees are taking their sweet time emerging this spring.  
   It seems as if spring has taken forever to get into gear this year.  Luckily for me watching things unfold is one of my most favorite pastimes.  The greens are fresh and almost neon until the chlorophyll does it's job sucking the light's energy.  The robins have been busy building a nest outside my bathroom window in the eaves and am waiting to hear the peeps of 4 baby robins born one day after the other.

Japanese Maple sapling.  Year two.

Our 20 foot Japanese Maple tree succumbed to a nasty disease a few years back but managed to sow a few seeds before it left.  This little guy is growing in the middle of a rock garden.  I have no idea how the roots have found any soil but nature does amazing things.

I just finished the 7th semester of my MFA program at Heartwood College and had the semester presentation and critique this weekend.  All I can say is, phew, nice to have that behind me and summer ahead. 
Small Mandala Bowl, "Identification with the Masculine".  Fused glass layers and silk-screened print.

"Strong Women Can Say No" mandala vessel, multiple layers of fused glass
Dichroic glass earrings with freshwater pearls.

Having three months away from school work will be a welcome change.  Three more semesters to go including a thesis and then the real work starts.  That doesn't mean glass work will stop over the summer.  At the moment I am designing and building some glass jewelry boxes for a show at Figureworks Gallery in NYC at the end of this month.  At White Cap Grille in Portland's Old Port I am showing and selling my fused jewelry and fused glass mandalas. (shameless plug!  My husband and I own this restaurant and the food is delicious!)

White Cap Grille is always open for First Friday Art Walk which happens to be this Friday evening.  It's a big weekend in Portland, the Art Walk and the Old Port Festival!  I've been talked into woman-ing the sandwich booth outside the restaurant (and will be making and selling those mini whoopie pies at that booth).

My first attempt at making a glass book

A while back I made this fused glass accordion book with individual mandalas on each glass page.  One of the things I'd like to work on this summer is another glass book.  One that needs drilling and multiple fusings.  I'm hoping to use the theme of "summer" to coincide with our book group's summer project.  I belong to the Kate Cheney Chappell Center for Book Arts at USM and we have a critique group that meets every month to share ideas and critique work. 

I've got a few workshops lined up for the summer as well, both taking and teaching.  I'm taking Paul Johnson's "Spirit Houses" workshop at The Strong Arm Bindery in Portland as well as a couple of David Wolfe's letterpress workshops.  I am teaching Calligraphy at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village on June 22nd and a Floral Print Book with Gel Prints and Haiku Workshop on September 14th.  If you're interested please check out this link
Space is limited for each Shaker Workshop.

Next week I am headed down to Boston to Glass Boston for 3 days.  GlassBoston is a four-day event that includes lectures, demonstrations, tours, a film series, gallery exhibitions, bbq dinner, non-juried show & sale, closing party, and pre/post conference workshops. GlassBoston has been organized by: MIT Glass Lab, NOCA Glass School @ APG, The Society of Arts and Crafts, & Strattman Design.  I'm looking forward to seeing what other artists are up to in the glass world.

So, always looking, always learning, always doing.  Wouldn't have it any other way!