"When we all think alike, then no one is thinking."
— Walter Lippman

Monday, December 20, 2010

Notebook Journals

What does a book maker do with all of the papers left over from her projects?
Make Notebook Journals, of course!
I had a huge collection of paper accumulating by my cutting board and now most of it has been put to good use in these fun little books. 
They measure 4 x 6 and have a variety of papers for the pages. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tag, You're IT !

Journals with tags and hand painted covers have been the trend in my studio work lately.   I recently purchased a set of metal tags with words stamped onto them and at the time, didn't have a clue how they would be used.   One day after making a journal, I set the tag on the cover and thought it worked pretty well.  Thus began the series.  When the tags run out, I'll have to move on to the next adventure, but for now, it's all about the word:  Inspire, Wander, Journey, Imagine, etc.   

Hand painting and collaging the covers involves a variety of stenciling and stamping techniques.  Anything within reach becomes fair game to be covered with paint and pressed into the surface:  corrugated cardboard, sequin waste, rollers, bubble wrap, plastic cups, etc.   I try not to over think the process and allow it to be intuitive.   

The words on the tags seem ambiguous enough to take on a variety of meanings, and yet just right for establishing a theme for the book.
The "Philosophy Tags" are by Tim Holtz and available on his website. You will find a bunch of other cool stuff there too, and most of it is also available at larger art supply stores.
The hand painted, hand bound journals are available in my Etsy Store.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Number Please....

  I've been recalling the days when you picked up the telephone to hear an operator politely say "Number Please."  A real person on the other end, instant gratification and no waiting... someone just sitting there ready to help.  Simply speak a 4 digit number and the operator would connect you.  That's right, 4 digits.
   The telephone I grew up with as a child was an instrument of wonder, massive and imposing with a table of it's own.  When it rang, the whole house shook and everyone fell silent with anticipation to see who could be calling.  
  Party lines were shared among neighbors and on occasion you would pick up the phone to unexpectedly hear someone else's conversation and listen for a moment before carefully, guiltily returning the heavy receiver to it's cradle.  There was always a loud audible click in hanging up.
  When the rotary dial was put into use, the phone company gave out instructions advising folks how to use the thing.  You can see one of those public service messages (here).  Somewhere, an operator was displaced and "Number Please" became obsolete.   
  I can clearly recall the sound of the telephone of my childhood, and the one at my grandparent's house that had a different, more baritone ring.   Who knew this would be a sound I would someday miss?  
  I wonder what will the children of the present recall about the telephone?   
  These were the thoughts that inspired my visual journal pages for the month.  Above is my first version, and below is it's evil twin.  
And now, if you will excuse me, the phone is ringing.........

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Return of the Centipede

 The centipede returns, marching across the cover of this hand painted journal.  I thought this little square book was finished and had set it aside, but the urge to add the critter to the cover kept nagging at me.
The pages of this book include a variety of interesting papers.  This will be a fun journal for someone to fill!  Available online at my Etsy store.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Painted Journals

Recent experiments with hand painted journal covers have been productive.  I have been using heavy recycled cover boards from discarded books and given them a new look with acrylic paints.  The painting technique involves starting with a background color and then adding a variety of colors with 'found object' stenciling.  Very fun to do and I like the playful results.  
The front and back covers are painted at the same time to allow continuity of colors, but they are each unique in all other respects.

Here is another color variation using a violet base color.
The pages are a variety of papers, including watercolor, heavy illustration and high quality text weight papers.   These would be perfect to use as visual journals.    

You can find a variety of hand made books like these in my Etsy shop.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Journal Pages

 Zentangles with a poem by E.B. White.

The Spider's Web

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider's web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Proceed with Curiosity

Journal pages, a bit on the creepy side for Halloween.  Sometimes questions are more important than the answers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Look for the Gifts....

Journal Page.......
Look for the gifts wrapped inside the journey.  Keep Seeking.  Look for wisdom in unlikely places.  Trust that where you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be and that the circumstances in your life are teaching you exactly what you need to know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Pages of my journal.....Fish swim across a background of paint and torn vintage papers.
The quote is one of my favorites:
"Many people go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it's not the fish they are really after."

Alphabet Soup

   My journal was open on the table and a lettering stencil was laying across the pages.    There was a can of black spray paint within reach...  
   Later, while reading a book, I came upon several quotes that wanted to be recorded and the closest thing at hand was this journal.... Serendipity happens.
   "Technological frenzy, if left unchecked will lead to a world wide ecological catastrophe."
   "It is human nature to believe that anything that seems possible should therefore be tried."
   "The unintended consequences of curiosity are that the creator's works become the public's problem"
   "The functional fact of life is that nothing lasts."
Dark thoughts on this October day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Absurdity of Conduct

"Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose.... and then where are you?  -Fanny Brice
"Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble" -Samuel Johnson.
"Learn to be what you are and learn to resign with good grace all that you are not" -John Frederic Amiel.
 Three quotes that inspired this rather silly page in my visual journal.  The picture of the dog came from a piece of junk mail and I couldn't bear to throw it away without a bit of play first.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Holly Shrine

   Early on an autumn morning I visited the site of the 1959 plane crash that took the life of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and pilot Roger Peterson.  The site is located in a cornfield near Clear Lake, Iowa.  You can park along the gravel road at the intersection of Gull and 315th and then walk the half mile path along the fence line to the permanent shrine that marks the spot.   There are a pair of giant black eyeglasses marking the trailhead.  Kind of goofy, but nice to know you are on the right path.
  For geocachers, this site is listed as a 'virtual geocache' called the "Holly Shrine"   The requirement to log this cache is a picture of yourself, including the shrine, so I packed my tripod and camera for the short hike.
   The shrine itself is made of stainless steel and marks the spot where the plane came to rest that night, crumpled up like a ball of paper, after rolling some 500 ft on impact.  The bodies of Holly and Valens had been found lying on the ground within 17 ft, and the Big Bopper's body was found across the fence in the field.  The pilot's body was encased in the plane wreckage.   It must have been a horrible sight for the law enforcement officers who discovered it.
  The ground around the shrine is covered with guitar picks and little trinkets that people have left there.  It's an eerie place, in spite of the fact that it's out in the open.
   On this October morning the corn was standing, ready for harvest, and there was a light frost on everything.  The sun had just come up and was shining at a hard angle, adding long shadows to the landscape.
   I set up my tripod, hit the timer and moved into the picture.  Just as the camera was about to go off I heard a loud rustling, saw movement off to one side and, a bit startled, looked to see what it was......   turned out to be birds in the cornfield, but it made for an interesting photo.  I think it captured the strange energy that was all about the place.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Migration 2

Another digital collage with a "migration" theme.   The image of the men is from a vintage catalog, and don't they look nice in their sweaters?   All ready for a crisp autumn day and watching the monarchs begin their migration.  Here comes fall.... get your sweaters ready!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


   It's that time of year....  migration is in progress.   Here in the midwest we watch the monarch butterflies gather and begin their journey away from the colder weather.   Many of the birds leave for the winter months and we look forward to their return in the spring.    
   I thought about the quote from Dan Eldon's journal  "The Journey is the Destination" and it seemed fitting here.  
   A side note:  Many years ago, by chance, I picked up a copy of Dan Eldon's book and like many others, was profoundly influenced by it.  If you are not familiar with him, you may want to go to the website (click here) and explore.  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reincarnating Old Books

   I was out running errands a couple of weeks ago and stopped at a garage sale.  There, in a box of discarded books I found this treasure, and a few others.  The covers were dark and the spine was falling off.   A perfect candidate for 'reincarnation' to become an altered book journal / sketchbook.   
   At home in my studio, the cleaning process begins, removing the covers and gently revealing the beautiful graphics.  Any fraying of the original canvas is stabilized.  I like to preserve the end papers whenever possible, especially if the original owner's name is written there.  
The old text block is removed and saved for use in collage backgrounds and other mixed media work.
Papers are cut for the pages and the thickness of the new text block tells me how wide to make the spine.
   It should be noted that I have never taken apart a book that is in excellent condition, believing that those examples should be saved for collectors.  The books I choose to work with are those that are otherwise destined for the landfill.
   Recycled materials are used as much as possible, and in this case, dark green leather was repurposed from a coat found in a local thrift store.    I often shop for discarded leather coats that can be 'harvested' for book spines.  
The finished book is rewarding on many levels.... the fun of looking for these hidden treasures, the joy of craftsmanship and the satisfaction of knowing that a lovely old book will have a new life in the hands of someone who will once again treasure it and fill it's pages in their own unique way.   
You can find my hand bound journals / sketchbooks on Etsy

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Little Spark of Madness

This is what recently evolved on the pages of my journal.  At first glance you may assume I had a crazy week getting used to being back in the classroom again.  That would be correct.  But the little creature on this page is actually the result of a project done with my drawing students.  It was inspired by an exercise from the book Drawing Lab by Carla Sonheim.  Using a series of self generated prompts, we each made original 'creatures'.  (I like to work along with my students whenever possible.)
Pictures of giraffes were used to make a series of overlapping blind contour drawings.  From those, we picked out groupings of lines that suggested a figure, creature, or animal.   Using tracing paper, we 'tweaked' the drawings, developed something we liked and made a graphite transfer into our sketchbooks.  The drawings could be finished using any medium.  I choose to play with some new gel pens.  Too bad the 'sparkle' one doesn't show up very well here.... lots of sparkle.

Speaking of Carla Sonheim, she has a wonderfully creative blog called Snowball Journals.  Check it out and be sure to go back into some of the older posts as there is so much playful inspiration there.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Steampunk Man

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction set in the 19th century Victorian era when steam power was still widely used.  It features futuristic technology as people of this historical period would have envisioned it.  
It contains fictional machines like those found in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.
Below is the original cabinet card I found in a local antique shop.   It had $5 printed in pencil on the back and, not having my reading glasses on, I though it read $8.   I nicely asked the owner of the shop if he would take $6 for it and he said "Sure!"   Later as my friend Katie and I were having lunch I took it out and with reading glasses on, realized my mistake and we had a good laugh about it.    For the rest of the afternoon as we explored local shops, it became our joke that whatever the price tag said, maybe I could offer a bit more.   As we get older we really need to keep our sense of humor and just roll with it.
The man in the photo seemed the perfect candidate to become "Steampunk Man" for this month's ATC exchange.    I had fun transforming him and really think it was worth the extra dollar paid.
If you are not familiar with Steampunk, do a little Google image search..... there is some amazing creative stuff going on in this genre!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Robin's Egg Blue

A few weeks ago I was out geocaching and came across a robin's nest with 3 perfect blue eggs.   I was immediately reminded of the quote from one of my favorite little books "The Rabbit Box" by Joseph Pintauro and Norman Laliberte and knew this would be the prompt for my second blue-themed journal page.
"Robins, how can you tell the difference between your eggs and the sky?"  Something to wonder about.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Small Journals

Petite and portable, this small journal is perfect for travel and carrying in a bag for making notes and quick sketches.   
The small format also allows me to use some of the papers left over from larger projects.
I like the way the "Bottle Cap Button" looks oversized in this proportion.......

Here is your art challenge:  Get out the lovely papers and materials that you have saved from other projects and make something wonderful.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Blues

The theme is "Blue" and this was the first idea that came to mind.  One of the things I enjoy about our art exchange is that we are free to interpret the decided-upon themes in any way we choose.
Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was one of the most notable blues and jazz singers of the 1930s and 40s.
You can read her biography and see the timeline of her life here.
For this image, I started with a plain black and white photograph and added the color variations and graphic designs in photoshop.   Below is the original photo.....
Sometimes it's fun to take a stock photo and experiment with color variations, filters and use different brushes to create layers of texture and interest.   Just remember to save a copy of your original in case you want to start over or use it again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Here is another visual journal page using red as a dominant color.   I have used images from a vintage field book about fish.... they have also appeared in many of my past works.     I like the way fish imply fluid movement and the ability to swim through a setting.
Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Theme Red

This month's art exchange is all about red.   My instincts were to explore the theme in relation to antique anatomy illustrations. The psychological influence of color creates a surreal and somewhat menacing picture.  
I have been influenced here by the works of collage artist Hope Kroll who often evokes intriguing and disturbing results through juxtaposition of images.
Choose a color.... any color.... and play.  Don't be alarmed if the results are a bit unsettling.  We all have nightmares.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Will Fly Away

Book arts and mixed media combine in this "Shrine Book."   Collage and assemblage techniques are used on the covers.   The base layer covering the cardboard structure is made from pages of a vintage book torn into pieces and applied with a matte medium.   Once that was done, the shrine-like niches were embellished.  I try to let a story or theme unfold without over-thinking it.  The muse leads the way.
White colored pencils are just as I found them in the bottom of my pencil drawer. 
The smaller niches are filled with resin to encase the embellishments.  
A tapestry spine is reinforced with a hidden structural layer and bound with waxed linen.  The book is sturdy and large.
The text line is from a page of an antique book, one of many that I have disassembled to make my journals.   "I will fly away"...... it seemed to add another dimension to the story this book might tell.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gifts of Summer

I recently experimented with collage on fabric.   It begins with a piece of fabric for the background placed on a sheet of glass or heavy plastic.   Gel medium is applied, saturating the cloth, and then papers are layered on with more gel medium until you have a background that appeals to you.
After drying, the piece is peeled off the glass.  Now you have the option to add whatever else you want. I sewed on some beads, added threads, applied crackle medium, painted on it, added illustrations and torn paper,  and rubbed on acrylic paint glazes.  Gel medium is applied over the surface to seal it.   I like the matte finish.
A very fun experience and working on the fabric creates a flexible surface that can take quite a bit of embellishment.   Consider the possibilities!  I'm thinking about how this technique could make beautiful soft journal covers......

Monday, May 24, 2010

Going Green

Can you guess the theme for this month's art exchange? Sometimes it's fun to play with a color name and make a collection of images related by the common thread.  
Included in this rhapsody in green:   Green Hornet, Green M&Ms, Green Lantern, Frankenstein with his lovely green complexion, green light, Mr. Green Jeans, green beans, green eye, Lorne Greene (I know, that's a stretch), green stamps, and Green Day.
Next time you are at a loss for what to put on a journal page, pick your favorite color and go for it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Alcohol Inks on Glossy Paper

    I have been using alcohol ink on heavy glossy paper with some fun results.  The colors do unexpected things as they are layered and become permanent when dry.   
Here I have made book covers using hand painted paper inside and out.   
This little book could be used as a journal or notebook and is has been posted for sale on Etsy.
And as you can see, I'm still making the bottle-cap buttons.  They make such nice closures for the cord.
If you haven't experimented with alcohol inks, you might enjoy the results.  There are some good tutorials online..... click here for an example.   Have fun!  

Friday, April 30, 2010

She Who Loves Butterflies

Here is another of this  month's exchange based on 'words.'    In this case, I just like the way it sounds.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Crabbiest Man in Town

"Word Play" was the theme of this month's art exchange.   As you can see, I took a light hearted approach to the subject.
Everyone agreed that he was the crabbiest man in town.
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