Monday, December 21, 2015

LAW 62: On the variable weight of cats

Those of you lucky enough to live with a feline friend are  already likely to be familiar with the phenomena of the variable weight of cats. This i believe is a proven fact of nature. The variable weight of cats appears to be most pronounced in the easy morning, when the cat wants you to get up and feed it's glorious self. It is also observable in the middle of the night when the cat determines it is time to play. Come on now, i'm the cat, i rule!

I'm practicing changing the local effects of gravity

I don't really understand how Cat Anti-gravity works. I'm sure that NASA would be interested. Perhaps some more scientific research is called for.
Oh yes, he surely is Beautiful and Abundant

Maybe Elon Musk would be interested?
Magellan is part of Mungo's weight lifting program

More later,

Oh ya, dinner last night was amazing! The cassoulet was totally worth the almost six hours of cooking time

Friday, December 18, 2015

LAW 61:On Fairies and Painting

Although i have identified myself for years as a sculptor; a fiber artist, i started my artistic career, as many of us did, as a painter. The coolest Christmas present i ever remember receiving as a child was a set of oil paints, brushes and canvases, i was, i think in 5th grade. I always wanted to be an artist when i grew up, and here i am, doing exactly that!

Mungo and i were talking about process as i was finishing up the Jasmine Fairy painting. He was curious if i found the process of painting satisfying. My immediate, and i think honest answer, as flip as it was, was that, yes, yes i did, but…… it wasn't nearly as obsessive-complusion tedious to completely fulfill my particular little addiction. It was over to fast. Hmm, need to think about this for bit more.

Anyway, the Jasmine Fairy will ultimately make an appearance on either a book cover or a fabric fantasy, that should do the trick. i will be doing a series of these paintings, as i think that they will be more accessible and affordable. I am currently working on a Willow Fairy.

More later,

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

LAW 60: Some days it is worth getting up early

Has anyone ever calculated the pound per square inch pressure generated by cat paws? I am not sure what it is, but i am here to tell you that Magellan must generate a whopping tonnage! I could hire this cat out as a deep tissue masseuse, or maybe as a Rolfer!   So as a new part of our morning routine, morning, completely defined by his need to have more food, attention, more food, he has started parading up and down the entire length of which ever of my legs is on top. Oh, the agony, the ecstasy.
are you ready for your massage?

Needless to say, i got up. It was still semi-dark when i put the coffee water on and food in his bowl. I was rewarded 15 minutes later by the classic rosy fingers of dawn. Yea, some days it does pay to get  up early.
rosy fingers of dawn

Day five, December 15, still no need to turn on the heat.
i love where i live

More later,

Monday, December 14, 2015

LAW 59: Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

December 14th, 2015. Today is the fourth day in a row that we have not had the heat turned on here on the Floating Empire, except briefly to remove the early morning chill. The windows have been open for four days as well. Hey, i love the unseasonably warm weather as much as the next person, but i really, really wonder what price we will pay for this.

Sunrise Dec 14th 2015 from the front deck

Did you know that there are streets in Key West that have been under water for three weeks now?

Yes, yes i do know that there has always been an ebb and flow to the weather, but, really, Climate Deniers of the world, get your heads out of the sand and face facts.
It is so very very still

I for one am very glad that i live on a boat.

More later,

Saturday, December 12, 2015

LAW 58: Studio update

I thought before i went up top to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather i would do a quick studio update. I have been quite busy in the studio, however, nothing is close to completion. A week before Thanksgiving i started working on a new Fabric Fantasy. This one is a Green Man, and is proving to be a huge project. I have to say i am so far very please with my progress!
almost three weeks of work

I've also started a new painting project. I don't know how many of these i will actually do, but they are fun. I also plan on doing some embroidered  version of these as well, either as Fabric Fanatsys, or book covers. We see. The fairies are based on Ceicly Mary Barker's illustrations. Flowers and fairies are such a natural combination.
cartoon for Jasmine Fairy

Most of the under paint is done

I'm also working on a new book commission, which i think will be very interesting. More on this later

More later,

Thursday, December 10, 2015

LAW 57: Do you believe in climate change?

Hard to believe that it is December 10th, impossible in fact if you were just going by the weather indicators. While we often enjoy mild Decembers here in Maryland, at least near the bay, i don't remember anything close to the 58 degrees we are enjoying today. The weekend promises to be even nicer. People here at the marina are joking about putting their boats back in the water.
Really it is December 10th!

We are personally enjoying the mild mild winter weather we are experiencing, but that enjoyment is tinged by the knowledge of what this means for the planet as a whole. We are experiencing record high CO2 levels, and folks it is looking like there may be no going back. I for one have no desire to live on Venus(which is where we are going). Some people still have not gotten the message, Ted Cruz for one. I read an excerpt from an NPR interview with him this morning. He was claiming that climate change was pseudo-science promoted by Democrats who want to control every aspect of our lives. Really?
another beautiful sunrise in paradise

Well, enjoy the weather while it lasts, the surfing sure is bitching here in Kansas!

More later,

Thursday, December 3, 2015

LAW 56: Good morning sunshine

Finally there is sunshine. We have suffered through four days of complete overcast with almost constant rain. Not good for those of us who rely on solar power for our electric power.
Foggy Sunrise

We were on the Delaware side of the bay this weekend, visiting friends in 'Slower Lower', as they affectionately title the area of Delaware they reside in. And yes, life is more relaxed there, well except for the pace of eating and drinking!
Before the feast

Our ship's cat, Magellan the Bold was to say the least not at all happy at being left in charge. It couldn't be helped, as one of our friends is horribly allergic to cats, a fact i believe that he discovered many years ago, dining at my home. So, needless to say we have been paying. Paying attention to the cat. Yes, did i mention, placating the cat. Yes, of course, we have been playing with the cat. Luckily he is not a vindictive soul. He was just  lonely.
Magellan, my creative muse!

On another note, not at all so pleasant, as of this morning we have had 355 mass shootings in America this year. Really? Mungo told me this morning, but i've forgotten the exact number already, that an obscene number of fire arms permits were taken out on Black Friday. Yes, obviously we can kill our way to a more perfect society!

Why can't we all get along?

More later,

Monday, November 23, 2015

LAW 55: Yet another book that could be yours

I finished another of my hand made paper books yesterday! I think that i have found a really good solution for satisfying my desire to work with papier mache, making three dimensional objects, yet staying within the size parameters that are the reality of making art in a small space. Those of you who have followed my career as a sculptor know that i am most intrigued by what i can make paper do. So here it is the Dragon Book.

Front view of Dragon Book
   This little sweetheart of a book measures 6 x 4.75 x 2.5". I made the paper, which consist of 100% post consumer recycled product. I constructed the covers of board covered with brown paper papier mache. The front cover is twice as thick as the back to accommodate the inset niche. The covers are treated with an acrylic painted patina, the pigment range is red-brown, green and gold. The covers are then burnished with a beautiful local beeswax. The niche contains a 1970's vintage reproduction brass pin head. The paper has been pressed and finished to take dry media applications. The binding is black ribbon Coptic Stitch. This little pretty could be yours for only $150.

Pretty isn't she?
I worked as a gift buyer for the University of Wisconsin Bookstore for years. One of the companies i did a lot of business with was the 1928 Jewelry Company. They had a lovely line of brass stick pins, that were not surprisingly, from the 1920s. I sold a lot of them during the mid 70's and collected a fair number of them myself. All of the decorative elements eventually came off the stick pins, which was alright as sticks pins were no longer fashionable by that time, i however could not bear to part with them. I knew that i could re-purpose them. So, 40 some years later i finally found their second purpose and have brought to life again in these handmade books. She's a pretty little dragon don't you think?

Bind view
The Coptic Stitch, also known as the Saddle Stitch provides superior binding.This is the traditional stitch used for binding books, with sufficient stitching stations it provides good stability and structure to the book block, while allowing the book to open completely flat. The paper is folded to the desired size them collated into signatures, pierced and bound. The Dragon Book has 10 signatures of 8 pages each for a total of 80 pages. The book has a lot of heft as i was experimenting with paper depth. This particular batch is very 'fat'.

I chose not to trim the deckle edge on this particular batch of paper.

Enjoy! Please take a look at all the other posts about my handmade books and feel free to contact me with any questions, requests, etc.

More later,

Saturday, November 21, 2015

LAW 54: MoonFairy Book

Who was it that said if life gives you lemons make lemonade? My experience with this book brought this concept home in a really big way, right along with necessity is the mother of invention!
Moon fairy book finished at last!

Book making is not rocket science, it does require that you do pay attention however. This week i seemed to be suffering from a major case of attention deficit. Humpfh! After finishing the embroidery, with which i was quite pleased i started to build the body of the book, i had the covers done, now it was time to put the signatures together and then bind, simple, huh? Not necessarily so, as i ran out of the paper i was using before i was happy with the size of the book block.
detail embroidery

So, it's off to Michaels, luckily with a 40% off coupon, and i buy what i erroneously  assume to be the correct size paper pad. Home again in my studio i immediately discover that the paper i bought is not the same weight and texture as the paper i started with, even though the specs on the papers were the same. Hell, it wasn't even the right size!!! What was i thinking? End of studio time for that day, time for wine, lots.
Bind view with back cover

Next day, back to Michaels, still have a coupon, yea, and buy the right size this time. Time to go back to the studio and finish this book, which is beginning to feel cursed. Oh but wait, there is more to this sad tale. I get the signatures assembled, pierced and get ready to bind the book covers. I mark and punch the first hole, oh my god! on the right, not left side of the front cover. Scream, cry, ask Mungo to shoot me. Sigh, some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. Go back to bed, with bourbon.
Interior front cover, hand drawn and cut Lilac Fairy, taken from Fairy and Alphabet book

Finish up the book the next day, try a couple of unsatisfactory solutions, go back to Michaels, still have the coupon, and purchase the lovely little decorative star shaped brads that prove to be a good solution. Much happier. The moral, is of course look before you ……

The Moon Fairy, like al my books is for sale. It measures 6 x 9", has ten signatures for a total of 160pp. The paper is Canson, mixed media 98#. Board and fabric cover with hand embroidery, Coptic stitch binding. It has ribbon tie closures, and of course decorative star embellishments. $150.

More later,

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

LAW 53:Small Handmade Books

Sometimes it feels as if the making of the books is far easier than the marketing of said objects. I of course always used the excuse that i was oh so busy working for a living that all of my free time simply had to be devoted to the art of making. Sigh, such is no longer the case, since i only work for myself these days. I still however seem to be incapable of finding the time to do the marketing.

So to that end, here are a few of the smaller books that have come out of the studio this year. Almost all of these are bound with a traditional Coptic Stitch, there are a few French Stitch experiments here as well. I started experimenting with these stitches because i had become increasingly unhappy with the way my books were opening(or not) when i used the Japanese Stab binding techniques.

    HAND PAINTED WATER COLOR: 4.5 x 6", 96 pp, medium weight drawing paper. Cover is hand painted water color paper over board, binding is red sinew French stitch over brown ribbon. $25

HONEYCOMB: 4.5 x 6", 60 pp, heavy weight drawing paper, commercial board and paper cover with black cotton French stitch over yellow ribbon. $25


PLAY BALL: 4 x 5.5", 132 pp Heavy weight drawing paper, with commercial board and paper cover which includes a recycled Baltimore Budweiser beer coaster with red sinew baseball stitching. Black linen Coptic stitch binding. $45.

 Bind view with back cover

LITTLE BLACK BOOK: 3.25 x 5", 96 pp, medium weight black card stock and
commercial board and paper cover with vintage 1970's false color medical photos. Red sinew coptic stitch binding. $25

  CANDY CANE: 5.5 X 4", 84 pp medium weight drawing paper with board and recycled cotton Santa cocoa mix bag cover. Black line Coptic stitch with long stitch variation. $20.

More later,

Monday, November 16, 2015

LAW 52: Indian Summer and dead fish

One of the greatest gifts inherent in life as a self-employed artist is the extreme flexibility of 'the schedule', or well, pretty much lack of aforementioned abomination. We realized after breakfast that it was indeed going to be a drop dead gorgeous fall day, so we promptly decided that spending a couple of hours at Marshy Point Nature Center hiking was a much better idea than doing maintenance on the boat, so off we went.
View from the bridge at Marshy Point

Marshy Point is less than five miles from us and is truly a wonderful place. it has a great center with all sorts of programs for kids of all ages, many miles of well maintained trails that border on the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. It is a real gem, a little bit of wild and wet set in the urban environment of Baltimore. We try to go there at least once a week. Even though we live pretty much as close as we possibly can to nature, well sometimes its important to get even closer.
From the bridge looking out to Gunpowder Falls

Marshy point abuts a portion of the Gunpowder Falls park system, also a wonderful Baltimore treasure.
Vernal Pond in spring

We hiked the Vernal Pond trail today, the first time since it was opened  this spring that we were able to hike around it without getting our feet wet. i guess thats why they call it …..

The downside of living as close as we do to the Chesapeake Bay is we get to see first hand all of the problems generated by 'civilization'. Lets face it, there's just to damn many of us, and we don't think abut what we're doing to our environment. The Middle River and all of its tributaries, including Hopkin's Creek(where we dock) is experiencing a HUGE fish die off. We noticed it Saturday morning. We had a very low tide and as we were walking the bulkheads with friends we saw literally thousands of dead fish. Our normally very abundant and beautiful fish population was all lying dead on the bottom of the river. Why? Well, higher than average temperatures along with fertilizer run-off spawned a toxic algae bloom. Bye bye Rockfish, etc.

Vernal Pond today, notice, no water

Sunday, November 15, 2015

LAW 51: More new handmade books

For some reason this past week or so i  have been extremely prolific; ideas have been sparking and i have started many(probably too many) projects. I taught myself how to create a Coptic headband binding for my books. I think that it does add a little bit more stability to the binding, but all in all it strikes me as more decorative than functional. Not that there is anything wrong with that mind you. So,
here they are two of the pieces that i have recently finished. I will continue to update the pages sections, so you will be able to view categories together. Don't forget handmade books make great holiday gifts!

Crazy quilt back view
Crazy quilt Celtic headband binding detail
Heron front view
Heron bind view detail

More later,


Friday, October 30, 2015

LAW 50: Handmade Books for Sale, part two

Well, here i am again! Twice in one week, don't expect this behavior very often, but an out of area friend wanted to see these… sometimes, someone has to light the fire.

Any way, with the exception of the  Sunflower book, these smaller books are quite reasonably priced. The Sunflower is a first for me, made from  100% post-consumer recycled products. It is also completely hand made. Late this summer i decided that would start making my own paper. So, October being a month when the marina population thins out here   i felt i had enough space to commandeer and dedicate to the paper making project. If you have never made paper on a large scale, it is a wet, messy space consuming type of process. Something best practiced outside on hot summer/fall days. Did i mention low humidity would be nice.

Handpaper paper has so many interesting qualities, properly prepared it has many applications(more on this later). I particularly like the quirky traces of prior use; sometimes a word will escape the shredding process, small flecks of color float just under the surface, and of course anything you put into the vat will float on or near the surface of the paper. Sunflower Nouveau Woman has flower petals from our Jerusalem Artichokes. Which incidentally were blown down by the remnants of hurricane Joquim.

So here is a sampling of the smaller, earlier books. I am willing to entertain special requests. If i find them interesting enough. So, let me know if you're interested.


SUNFLOWER NOUVEAU WOMAN: 4.5 x 5.5", 72pp handmade 100% post-consumer recycled paper with sunflower petal inclusions. Cover, handmade papier mache,  board with brown and gold patina with 'vintage' brass pin head. Black ribbon Coptic stitch binding. *Paper has been blocked, pressed, gessoed and burnished to more easily accept ink. $150


So here you have four views of Sunflower. I am going to post this now, and go hit my head repeatedly again a wall somewhere, as that will make me feel better after dealing with computer glitches all morning. No, of course it's not operator error! 

More later,

Thursday, October 29, 2015

LAW 49: Handmade Books for Sale

This year i re-visited the art of bookmaking. I have made books and taught bookmaking for many years, but for some reason was never attracted to the most traditional of binding stitches used in the West, the Coptic Stitch.  I was, however, increasingly unhappy with the usability of books that were bound with the Japanese stab binding.  So… one of the great gifts of living here on the Empire, and calling all of my time my own, is time. Time to experiment, time to learn, time to have fun.

Finally i am getting around to posting images and descriptions of what is available. I will continue to update this page as i make more, so check back often! It takes about a week, start to finish to make a book, unless i am also making the paper(more on that later). These books are all blank books, with a variety of paper types and sizes. They make great gifts, think, Christmas, birthdays, weddings, any special event, and of course are ideal for the poet, writer, or artist in your life.


BOLD BUCCANEER:  5.5 x 7", 120pp. Canson 98# mixed, wet or dry media paper. Cover; recycled Sunforger fabric with board. Black and white cotton hand stitched embroidery, top bound with red ribbon Coptic stitch binding. $150

Bold Buccaneer

PIRATES: 7 x 5.5", 120pp Canson 98# mixed wet or dry media paper. Cover, recycled Sunforger fabric and board with black cotton hand stitched embroidery. Black linen Coptic stitch binding. $100


MERMAID WITH ANCHOR: 5.5 x 7",  96 pp,  Canson 98# mixed, wet or dry media paper. Cover; recycled Sunforger fabric with board. Multi colored cotton hand stitched embroidery and red ribbon Celtic stitch binding. Top bound $100

Mermaid with Anchor

CELTIC DRAGON: 7 x 5.5", 120pp Canson 98# mixed wet or dry media paper.  Cover; recycled Sunforger fabric with board. Multi colored cotton hand stitched embroidery and black linen cord Coptic stitch and long stitch binding. $100
Celtic Dragon

 CELTIC HEART SWANS:  5.5 x 8.5", 144 pp, pink medium weight card stock paper, dry media only. Cover is Dupai silk  and board with multi color cotton hand stitched embroidery. Black and red ribbon Coptic stitch binding. Side bound $50.

Celtic Swan binding detail
Celtic Heart Swans


 CELTIC KNOT: 5.5 x 8.5 180 pp, multi colored light weight writing paper. Cover, Dupai silk and board with multi colored hand stitched cotton embroidery. Black and red ribbon coptic stick binding. Side bound. $50.

Celtic Knot embroidery detail
Celtic Knot bind view


 BROWN PAISLEY: 5.5 x 8", 84pp medium weight mixed media, dry only paper. Cover brown paisley upholstery fabric and board. Black linen and long stitch binding. Ribbon tie close on book.$50.

Brown Paisley

RED MEDALLION:  5.5 x 8.5" 120pp tan toned Strathmore 80# acid free drawing paper. Cover, red medallion upholstery fabric and board with red and natural sinew Coptic stitch binding. Side bound. $50.

Red Medallion

 GREEN PAPIER MACHE: 5.5 x 8.5", 120pp, tan light weight writing paper. Cover handmade papier mache with green tone patina. Black linen Coptic stitch with Stab stitch binding. $50.

Green Papier Mache

 HEALING HAND: 6 x 9", 96pp tan toned Strathmore 80#, acid free drawing paper. Cover, card stock with Kirlian photo of healing hand. Red sinew Coptic stitch binding. $50.

Healing Hand