Winter Arts 2011

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? There’s a good reason for that! In addition to my teaching responsibilities and a couple of small shows where I have been selling my work, I have also been developing a couple of new products.  In my work with handbound books, I have designed a series that I call “Geometrie”. They are soft cover books with designer fabric sewn to stiff interfacing and a triangular flap that slides under a sewn on fabric strip. The stitching on the spine is a triple chain link stitch which Keith Smith describes in his book “1-2-& 3 Section Sewings”

Soft cover books handbound with triple chain link stitch

And here is a detail of the front triangular flap and closure.

Soft cover handbound book with front flap closure

And my looms have all been seeing a lot of action these past few months. I have been working on handwoven vests and tops as well as more scarves. Most of my work will be included in WinterArts, a six week show that showcases regional artists and their one of a kind work. 2011 will be the third holiday season that this show has been offered to the community and it is now considered one of the most prestigious holiday shows in the Memphis Area.

Poster for WinterArts 2011

The show opens this Friday night, November 25 with a wine and cheese reception. All the 25 plus artists will be present to meet visitors and discuss their art. My space at WinterArts looks like this:

Display of handbound books, WinterArts 2011

Display of handwoven vests and tops, WinterArts 2011

Display of Handwoven Scarves, WinterArts 2011

Again, I apologize to my readers for not posting more regularly lately. And to all, I extend my thanks for your patience and loyalty in following MemphisWeaver’s blog. Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and may this be the beginning of a beautiful holiday season. Peace.

Advertisements

A Tisket, A Tacket…

Handbound book with tacket binding and fabric cover

A red and black book jacket. My apologies to Ella Fitzgerald.  That’s not how the song goes of course. Tacket refers to a hand sewing method of binding a book. Basically, it resembles a running stitch that is wrapped.  Studio CaiLun has a very clear tutorial using this form of hand sewn binding. The wrapped effect of the binding gives the spine a bit of a jazzed look.

Above is my finished book with tacket binding.  The cover of this book and the Ninja book below is made from cotton fabric purchased from KimonoMomo. The fabric is backed with nylon tricot and then glued onto the book boards.

 

Handbound "Ninja" book with tacket binding

Not sure if I will use a tacket binding for the books that I sell. It is rather labor intensive, as the wrapping takes a bit of time. The end result looks quite pretty, so I may reserve this technique for gift items or special orders.

And while I’m on the subject of bookbinding, here is my attempt at the “Rope” stitching described by Keith Smith in “1, 2, & 3 Section Sewings:  Non-Adhesive Binding Volume III”.

Record book with rope binding

The rope binding is another decorative wrapping technique and done with two needles, one at each end of  a single length of thread. It also lends an attractive appearance to the spine. The record book is part of a collection of  old 45s and 33 1/3 rpm records that I handcut and bind to create a blank journal or sketchbook. None of the records are playable and so they are recycled into another life.

After sewing with the rope binding, I realized that there are many other techniques that can be used in hand sewing a binding. Some that come to mind are used in finishing the ends of a weaving project:  twining, twisting, braiding and plaiting to name a few. I’m sure that tapestry techniques such as soumak can also be incorporated into a bookbinding technique. I really like the idea of  sharing forms from various media, and so my experiments continue.

All Shook Up

Legend has it that Elvis wrote “All Shook Up” after shaking up a bottle of Coke.  Actually, it was Pepsi. And it was the songwriter Otis Blackwell who wrote it on a dare by one of the owners of Shalimar Music.  Although Elvis did share the songwriting credit with Blackwell.

All Shook Up

All Shook Up

This shaken up bottle of Coke is how I feel right now.  A little aimless  with bubbles bursting before anything can be enjoyed.  After 30 years of weaving and my attempts to eke out some semblance of a living as a weaver and weaving instructor, I’m facing a dilemma.  I’m getting increasingly frustrated  in selling my handwovens for  their true value and at the same time attracting  students interested in learning to weave.  It may be that I’m in the wrong place.  After all, Memphis is music, not fiber.

Case in point, I regularly donate my handwoven scarves, purses and wall hangings to local non-profit organizations with art auctions as fund raising venues.  My pieces always sell and the organizations are able to benefit from my donations.  It’s a win-win situation. This past year, I donated two rep weave wall hangings to one of these  non-profits.  Total value was for $300. No one assumed that that would be the highest bid, but it would have been nice to receive a little something with 3 digits for both pieces.  Each piece takes between 30 and 50 hours to design, prepare, weave, and finish.  Sadly, that was not the case, with one piece receiving only $25 and another only $30. And so my bubble was burst.  I just can’t compete with paintings which seem to be the most popular medium wherever I look.   There are many hobby weavers here in Memphis, but I’m one of just a couple of studio weavers, so there aren’t enough of us to educate the public and compete for their attention about our medium.  Certainly not in  the way that the  great number of painters are able to. Sad.

But I have another love, and that is in creating handbound books.  In my upcoming shows, I plan to test the local market and offer some of my book creations for sale.  These are blank books that can be used for sketching, journalling or photo albums.  Eventually I would like to explore sculptural books and create artists’ books.  I am currently taking an online class called “Creative Bookmaking” with Sue Bleiweiss of Two Creative Studios. I have been working on some fabric covered books, using either hand printed Indonesian batik fabric or dupioni silk fabric.

Blank book covered with Indonesian batik fabric.  Longstitch/Linkstitch binding on spine.

Blank book covered with Indonesian batik fabric. Longstitch/Linkstitch binding on spine.

Inside cover and end page of Thai mango paper

Inside cover and end page of Thai mango paper

The books I made have 8 signatures of a 32 lb. weight fine writing paper.  I followed instructions for the longstitch/linkstitch binding in Keith Smith’s book, Volume I: Non-Adhesive Binding, Books Without Paste or Glue. It was a little tricky as I had to drill the stitching holes in the spine between each of the signatures that made a pair rather than aligning the holes with each of the  signatures.  Stitching for each pair of signatures was done in the same holes for the long stitch part of the binding.  The link stitch looks like a chain stitch and it appears at the top and bottom of the spine.  Some more examples:

Dupioni Silk cover with Kaffe Fassett cotton fabric embellishment

Dupioni Silk cover with Kaffe Fassett cotton fabric embellishment

Inside cover and end paper of Thai mango paper

Inside cover and end paper of Thai mango paper

Dupioni silk cover with Japanese cotton print fabric embellishment

Dupioni silk cover with Japanese cotton print fabric embellishment

Inside cover and end paper of Thai mango paper

Inside cover and end paper of Thai mango paper

Detail of Longstitch/Linkstitch on spine

Detail of Longstitch/Linkstitch on spine

And so this looks like the future of book arts and me in Memphis!  I will continue to create whether at the loom or the book bench, and we shall see what the market will bring.

My fabric covered handbound books

My fabric covered handbound books

Silk Degrees

Remember Boz Scaggs’ breakthrough album, “Silk Degrees”? It came out in 1976, and it was just about the sexiest thing I ever heard.  The recent sultry days in Memphis brought back the memory of his seductive voice from that album.  And believe it or not, that was what inspired me to do some work with silk which is something I rarely do.

I made two pieces of silk fusion paper by layering some carded tussah silk noils between two layers of soy silk roving. I added embellishments to each piece to give it color and texture. Most of these were  items that I had in my stash:  cochineal  dyed Lincoln wool fiber, angelina fibers, gold metallic flakes, skeleton leaves, angel wings.

Handmade silk fusion paper with cochineal dyed Lincoln wool fiber

Handmade silk fusion paper with cochineal dyed Lincoln wool fiber

Handmade silk fusion paper with skeleton leaves and angelina fibers

Handmade silk fusion paper with skeleton leaves and angelina fibers

So, you’re asking, what is silk fusion?  Silk fusion is silk paper fused from silk roving or sliver  using a textile medium or adhesive.   Treenway Silks has a good description of the process as well as a little bit of history. A good source offering instructions for a variety of silk fusion projects is Kath Russon’s book, Handmade Silk Paper.

Handmade Silk Paper by Kath Russon

Handmade Silk Paper by Kath Russon

Here is a free tutorial on making your own silk fusion presented by Sue Bleiweiss. A project can be completed in a very short time.  The longest part is actually waiting for the silk fusion to dry as that takes 24 hours.

The two pieces I made will probably become covers for blank journals.  But I am hoping to experiment more with 3 dimensional silk fusion such as masks and small sculptures.

As far as journals, I have been working on those as well.  I made one with some left over Kaffe Fassett fabric.  For this I made two covers with Peltex sandwiched in between the fabric. I used a zig zag stitch all around the edge of each cover. To attach the covers to the signatures, I used a double needle coptic stitch.  That is, each binding station required two needles, and as there were 3 stations in this binding, I was sewing with 6 needles at the same time. That beautiful handmade Thai mango paper that I love so much makes its appearance again as an end paper here.

Journal with fabric covers and double needle coptic stitch

Journal with fabric covers and double needle coptic stitch

Inside cover of Journal

Inside cover of Journal with handmade Thai mango paper as end paper

Now I still had some covers left  that I had made a few months ago using the handmade Thai mango paper. I decided to try out one of the stitches I admired in Keith Smith’s book, Non-Adhesive Binding Books Without Paste or Glue. This one is “long stitch with chain” found on page 164 of volume I.  My book didn’t have a spine cover, so instead I used sewing supports that were cut from ultrasuede fabric, then the supports were glued to the inside covers of the book. I used a gold 5/2 pearl cotton that I rubbed on a block of beeswax for the stitching.

Book bound with long stitch with chain

Book bound with long stitch with chain

I like the effect of the long stitch alternating with the chain stitch.  It adds a decorative element to the spine. I can see after doing this, that long stitch can probably be used together with several different stitches to add some interest in the binding.

Still hot here in Memphis, 96 degrees is what I hear it is.  But I am still hearing that luscious voice whispering in my ear: Three a.m. its me again and wouldn’t you know things would have to end this way…..

Happiness is a Warm Dremel

My new best friend is my Dremel stylus.  At the Art and Soul Retreat in Hampton, VA, I learned how to use it and that it’s more than “just a drill”. I took two book arts workshops with Daniel Essig who uses the Dremel to drill holes in mica which we used to create our books. I was skeptical at first about getting my own Dremel, but my potter friend Gail assured me that I will find more uses for it than I can imagine.  And I’m sure that’s true. So  at the end of my trip, when I picked up my checked luggage in Memphis, I was quite relieved that my Dremel was still there and my bag was tagged with this lovely red sticker from TSA.

TSA sticker labeled CLEARED!

TSA sticker labeled CLEARED!

One can only imagine what TSA officials were thinking when they saw this going through security:

A Warm Dremel

A Warm Dremel

Now, about the workshops.  The two day workshop was “Book of Mica” where we learned of the properties of mica, both in its natural state and as a composite.  Mica is a naturally ocurring mineral also known as bookstone.  In our class, each student  created  a book with at least 5 pages of mica and a front and back cover.  Many of us inserted a collage or pictures between two pieces of mica to give the imagery a “haunted” or ghost like effect.  Here is Daniel’s mica book which he showed as an example:

Mica book by Daniel Essig

Mica book by Daniel Essig

Inside pages of mica book by Daniel Essig

Inside pages of mica book by Daniel Essig

Daniel was a very generous and patient teacher with all of us.  Anyone interested in book arts and wanting to explore the properties of mica would greatly benefit from a workshop with him. He is also a talented woodworker and sculptor.

Books and Hand Carved Tools by Daniel Essig

Books and Hand Carved Tools by Daniel Essig

In my own mica book, I cut out a window in one of the pages, then drilled holes at the top and bottom of the window to anchor down my warp of black perle cotton.  I then used the warp to weave a weft of  paper strips cut from a picture which I covered with a small piece of natural mica.

Paper woven image in my mica book

Paper woven image in my mica book

Paper woven page in my mica book - opposite side

Paper woven page in my mica book - opposite side

Daniel also showed us the steps for sewing a decorative centipede stitch, which he calls  a caterpillar stitch.

Book with Caterpillar stitch by Daniel Essig

Book with Caterpillar stitch by Daniel Essig

The evening workshop addressed the herringbone stitch bound on a book with paper signatures and mica covers.  We had the opportunity again to insert images between two thin sheets of mica for both  front and back covers.

My book with mica covers and herringbone binding on tyvek tapes

My book with mica covers and herringbone binding on tyvek tapes

The mica book that we constructed during the two day workshop had a different binding. We used four needles to create a coptic stitch.

Covers and binding of my mica book

Covers and binding of my mica book

Being a handweaver, I found that I really enjoy the stitching and binding process of  creating a handmade book.  I purchased some books by Keith Smith to inspire me to be more adventurous with my bookbinding stitches. And it will give me a reason to use my beauty of a Dremel stylus.