Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I am changing the focus of my blog strictly to bookbinding, and I am moving it here:

The Monk's Cat

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Don't Panic!

Today I've sworn off facebook and the news. I can't stand reading all the political ads & posts today so I've decided to focus on my long neglected blog. Yes, I have already voted.

This past weekend I attended a class given by Randall Hasson, artist and calligrapher from Sante Fe, New Mexico. The title of the class was, "The Layered Journal: Text and Texture". The purpose and goal of the class was to learn to add texture to flat surfaces, and experiment with how calligraphy works with texture. The class worked with several different Golden mediums, my favorite was the Matte Medium. This was a clear matte acrylic that could be put down on a journal page and, once dry, gone over with an acrylic wash to give the page a two toned texture effect. The picture below is an example of that.

The calligraphy is not mine. Randall offered to write anything in our journals that we wanted. I wanted the words, "Don't Panic" at the beginning of the journal. Randall started and didn't like the mark made so he turned it into the letter, "I". Kind of changed the meaning of the phrase. It went from a directive, "Don't Panic!" to a declarative, "I Don't Panic!", which sounds a lot braver to me. So I have this reminder at the beginning of my experimental journal that reminds me that I DO NOT PANIC. So I must remember, that I will create without fear.

Click here to visit Randall Hasson's website.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Buttonhole Binding

This is a book I made at a local book artist's home yesterday. It is a slight modification of Keith Smith's Buttonhole binding. I felt a little rushed at the end of class and you can see it in the bottom stitching of the book. I hope to have some time today to sit down and do another book with a little more care and time.

This book is constructed with Davey board which gives it a bit more more heft than using cardstock. The top and bottom part of the spine are wrapped with book cloth. The thread used for binding is a 4-ply waxed linen from Royalwood, Ltd. The inside sections and outside book cover are monoprints done with acrylics and plexiglass. Each one is unique. This is a video on YouTube that is very similar to what I did with my printing.

Instructions for this binding is found in Volume I Non-Adhesive Binding: Books Without Paste or Glue. Keith Smith's books can be found on his website.

It is a very beautiful book, I am definitely going to need to make some more.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celestial Watercolor Tutorial

These celestial paintings might look complicated but are very easy to create. You may be surprised at how easy it is.

To start you will need:

*Transparent watercolors - These can be the inexpensive kind, pan or liquid. I used Grumbacher on most of my paintings but did one with inexpensive Yarka watercolors. Before starting on the project, moisten pan watercolors with water. I did not use liquid watercolor, but would suggest diluting them with a small amount of water - an intensity of color is wanted.
*Watercolor paper - I used Arches Cold Press 140lb. but any watercolor paper should do.
*Dr. Ph. Martin's Pen White Ink - It may also be possible to use a thin, very OPAQUE white acrylic paint but I have not done this.
*Masking Tape
*Old toothbrush
*1 or 2 brushes for watercolors. I used a round (or mop) brush for the painting, and a flat brush for saturating the paper with water. A larger brush would be better than a small brush. I used a size 12 round brush and a 14 flat brush.
*2 water containers (with clean water - of course!)

1. I wanted a white border on my paintings, so as to resemble a photograph. To do this, very lightly put a small dot inside each corner - a quarter inch down and in from the side. When I was finished it looked like this. (I am working on a small scale, but this should work on most any size watercolor paper)

2. With the masking tape, secure the paper to a smooth surface. You want to bring the tape up to, but not cover, the dots on each corner. I taped my paper to a piece of plexiglass but most any surface should do - just make sure the tape,water, or paints will not ruin the surface you are working on.

3. Liberally wet the watercolor paper. I mean literally make it SOAKING wet.

4. With a wet round brush, pick up yellow. The brush should be fairly thick with paint. Randomly, touch the brush lightly to the wet paper. The yellow paint should spread and create an irregular shape or shapes on the paper.

5. Clean the brush in the first container of water and do a final rinse in the second container. Here I have picked up Burnt Sienna and I am randomly touching the paper with the brush. I do go over *some* of the yellow with the Burnt Sienna.

6. Now I am adding Blue Green.

7. I am adding Ultramarine. The colors should start to meld a little bit but there should be some individual colors showing. If the colors are not seeping into one another, use the brush lightly to move them.

8. At this point it will look like a blobby wet mess. Very carefully, draw off *some* of the liquid by bringing a paper towel up to the edge and letting it touch the watery paint.

9. It doesn't look like much right now but leave the painting to dry. The colors will spread a little bit more and soften as they dry.

10. Once the painting has almost completely dried, the *stars* can be added. A toothbrush will be used for this effect. Saturate the end of the toothbrush with Dr. Ph. Martin's Pen White and flick the bristles a couple of times to get most of the paint out. Now flick the almost dry brush over the painting to create tiny white splatters of dots. Do this until you are satisfied with the look.

11. Carefully peel the tape *away* from the painting. ViolĂ ! An amazingly easy celestial painting!

Here is the same method done with inexpensive Yarka watercolors using only basic yellow, red, and blue. I actually like this one better than the Grumbacher one. Try experimenting with different colors and see what you get. Leave some lighter areas mixed in with the dark. You might be amazed with what you create!!

Celestial Inspiration

I have decided I would like to make a simple book which holds inspirational quotes. I imagined the quotes being on small cards that could be pulled out and read. I eventually decided that I wanted a celestial feel to the book, and after watching a variety of videos on YouTube and glancing through a book called, "The Tao of Watercolor", by Jeanne Carbonetti I decided I would give it a go.

Here is the final result.

I think I will post a tutorial for this project.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I am such a liar. A big fat liar. Can I redeem myself, and does anyone really care? I'm a once a year blogger. I need to do better, much better. Not for non-existent readers but for myself. Here's to trying again. Third time's a charm, or something close to that, it is said.

What have I been up to? Well, really a lot. In the past couple of years I've taken up bookbinding. I even attended the American Academy of Bookbinding this Spring in Telluride, Colorado. I was taught French fine leather binding. I am a solid "C" student in fine binding. I would really like to get much better at it, but I am struggling with the fear of failure right now. I need someone to slap me and tell me to get a grip. I know better, and should be plowing right along with my third fine leather binding. But it sits downstairs in my "studio" and threatens me with mediocrity. I prefer to work on bindings that are more simple and still just as beautiful.

One of my favorite bindings is coptic binding. It has an open spine so the stitching can be seen. I'm going to stop here and post it, so at least I'll have an incentive to come back and edit.

Friday, December 28, 2012

White Christmas

We had a white Christmas this year. A nice, quiet laid back kind of day.