Here I am several weeks into the new year. My “to do” list has had “Write and post on Wild Sage Art” on it for at least the past ten weeks but somehow I don’t get to it! Maybe this year I’ll do better, but maybe this is the “every-once-in-a-while” blog.
I love beginnings – the new year, summer, the school year, my birthday, the first day of every quarter, the equinox, the solstice, the start of something (project, diet, friendship, workshop). For me each one is cause for celebration for at least a day or two. And that has been true this January too – with an extra special bonus. I had been plagued by an h.pylori infection that was recently diagnosed. After treatment, I am feeling so much better – better than words can describe! I feel like I got my life back – another new beginning to celebrate.
Last week I took my first workshop of the year – a 12 hour class (over three days) with the extraordinary book artist, Laura Wait. She taught us a dimensional structure she developed several years ago. It utilizes a very wide spine which can support a hanger so that the book can be displayed on the wall. Signatures are spaced widely across the spine and stitched on to the spine with a traditional long-stitch. The hanger (cord or wire) is inserted into the spine through two of the stitching holes.
We started out writing with sumi ink on large sheets of BFK. Our natural handwriting became the foundation for paper embellishment. We experimented with a wide variety of tools from pens, colored pencils and chopsticks to wooden shingles and were encouraged to explore mark-making with anything that could transfer ink or paint on to paper. Over the course of the first two sessions most of us managed to get three layers of ink and/or color on to our papers which resulted in rich tapestries for book pages.
I especially appreciated the comfortable atmosphere that Laura created and would encourage you to take a class with her if you are so inclined. She will be teaching two classes at her Santa Fe studio and in San Diego and San Francisco this year. Check out her website for more details. She limits her teaching just a few weeks each year to make sure that she has plenty of studio time to do her own work. www.laurawait.com
Some of Laura’s favorites for making these painted books:
Paper that folds without cracking.
She likes BFK (heavy – 240 gm) for text pages because they have “bulk. She uses Velin Arches for covering book board and for pages.
Both papers fold without cracking and can handle water and layers of paint.
Watercolor and gouache for painting pages.
She appreciates the quality and extensive color choices of Daniel Smith watercolors. For gouache she often uses Winsor and Newton and Daler Rowney. Inks and liquid watercolor (Hydrus) are also fun to use for this project.
Watercolor pencils with creamy pigment.
When you spray drawn lines, they bleed in interesting ways and they are fun to use when writing on damp or wet paper. Derwent is one brand that is nice and soft.
Easy to handle cover boards.
We used 60 pt. archival case board which was a new product for me. It’s a fairly rigid board that is much denser than mat board. And it is easy to cut when compared to the Davey board most book artists rely on.
I worked on two books during the class and finished them up this past week. The first book, “Sanctuary”, was informed by writing about trees as I was working on large sheets of paper. I was thinking about how a tree can provide food and shelter for birds and other creatures. When it came time to choose a shape, the tallness of trees and the density of foliage where on my mind. After completing the structure I added the branch to the front cover and placed small copper clips to hold folios together – suggesting safe places found under the canopy and between the leaves.
The second book I’ve titled “Markings”. As I looked at the pages I had painted and began to assemble them into signatures, I was struck by the variety of marks and values I had created. Thus the title. When I went to size the book, I created pages that were two contrasting sizes and colors and widely spaced on the spine so there could be movement when the book was handled. This book also has a hanger on the back spine so it can (with a little help from museum wax) be displayed on the wall.