Sunday, November 15, 2015

Love Paris

I started working on a few wee books for my first Christmas Craft Fair, and have stamped some with my new hand-carved stamp. I had it made yesterday in Chinatown by a brilliant artist. The stamp, also called 'chop' is small and this guy doesn't use a magnifying glass...and, he works without glasses. He carves directly into the stone! The chinese character ideagram means 'return' which I chose specifically because of the meaning as it relates to the cycles of a year. We return to the same place but see it differently, with new eyes. Snowflakes are discovered anew each year, for example. Nature returns. We return. All return.

The red cinnabar paste takes a bit of time to dry. So while I'm waiting on it, I started to make pages for a new little stack of books (small stack as I work so darned slow.) I started gathering the supplies and materials together and came upon a colour picture of the Eiffel Tower and that stopped me in my tracks. I knew I had to make a wee book in honour of Paris and that led to hours and hours of finding supplies, garnering ideas in my head and hands on cutting, stamping, sewing, pasting, embellishing; I'm still at it so who knows what else will transpire. I work with an idea in my head, but my hands as they work on the item, always do their own thing. Which is always a surprise to me, and always comes from my 'muse.'

So instead of making a small batch of books I'll be making one book about Paris. So it goes.

I glanced up at one point and realized my work desk was a sight to behold. A flurry of activity. I bet most of you work like this. Here's a few photographs:

The cinnabar paste is drying.

 Pages are folded and awaiting selection.

 So busy these days no time to replace dead flowers in vase on my work desk.

And no time to pack away Halloween decorations.

Here's a few reference books on my work table.

Well it is time to get back at it! Hope you are all well and enjoying yourselves. Talk soon, I hope, sending love to all, Norma

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Designing paper

So me and the muse have been having fun together. I've made about a dozen small books with a learning curve in mind. And there is really nothing like getting one's hands 'dirty' so to speak, to learn what to do and what not to do. The muse has been vocal~~giving me ideas and feedback. I started with a simple black book and soon I was making red suede with matching 'belt' closure, etc.; bright mustard yellow creamy smooth leather that feels like butter and itching for something yummy inside of the book, etc. One thing led to the other and I have four or five different styles of closures and am making inside pages with a bit of collage to break up the monotony of plain pages. Well of course some will be journals (art journals in particular) and so clean blank pages are welcome. But I have in mind junk journals, deconstructed journals, art journals as I mentioned, smash journals, wreck this journals and I did a tiny bit of research into what these different journals mean and now I forgot what I read. Sheesh. Well I could not hold back tonight, so planned a collage sheet (page of 65 lb. dry media art paper which will be the insides of a book or two or dozen) that will be sliced into small sections to represent a 'sheet' in a sewn signature. I saw some visuals on line that particularly inspired me so started out applying ripped pages from old books which then got a coat of gesso overlaid and then dried so I could go to town with sandpaper. I had in mind beiges, pale browns, light greys, palest of greens...fall going into winter colours. But the muse stepped in and my collage turned into strong purples mostly, with touches of dark green and black. The whole topped off with silver to represent the coming cool frosty weather which is sure to come soon.

The colours were inspired by my walks lately where I have been very aware of the dark dark dark faded but strong saturated browny purples and blues of old basically dead hydrangea blossoms. I have pressed a few and so this piece took on a completely different look than what I'd imagined. There's hints of pine cones in here as well, as they are falling fast now. Yellow daisies are in fresh bloom as well. We've had lots of sun this fall and the flowers love it. In any event, I've been busy but wanted to show you what I've been playing on tonight. Playing with or playing on? Nice to see you, Norma, x

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The muse is back!

Honestly, it/they have been gone for a bit more than a year this time! I began to lose hope. I did lose complete belief in my ability to create anything beautiful ever again in this lifetime. I've been living a 'crisis of faith,' though my other faith (spiritual) has been stronger than ever so perhaps the two faiths have crossed paths this time. All I know is that I am bursting with ideas and belief in my self. I embrace the Universe creatively these days. No complaints here...but I'll say that there seems to be not enough time in one day to do all I want to do. It's all good...

Those of you who know me know my love/passion for using used tea bag paper as a ground. And of my love/obsession [it's in my blood] with making wee books. Say an inch or so by an inch or so~in that category. And so I work small. If I fill a whole tea bag then that is a big painting for me. My books are filled with little drawings and paintings of things. A lot of birds. You'll see from my last post that I've been working on a new design little book and had plans to make more. I have. And while making them the muse arrived into my life again. Ideas abound. Belief in myself impregnates me. I rediscovered my original love for things calligraphy, illuminated letters and small painting and I am designing pages of illuminated letters/miniature painting to adorn the front inside page of my little books AND stumbled upon the idea to do the illuminated letters/miniature painting in a pendant format as well. That way I don't have to make a complete little book to feature one illuminated letter and can just (well 'just' is a bit of an understatement but you know what I mean) pop the drawing into a bezel and cover it with a protective layer of resin. This is where my expert daughter Jennifer comes to my rescue. I'm not about to enter a learning curve of working with resin. There's only so much I can ask of the muse.

Anyway, I'm enthused and that rhymes with muse and not wanting to confuse (forgive me) I'll show you an illuminated letter I did and posted three years back this August.

You can see the teabag paper [used] clearly here. I work mostly with watercolor but sometimes venture into the acrylic realm. It's a mystery to me. I did one complete acrylic painting which is a COPY stroke by stroke of what I saw in the original painting [a post card.] I thought I might learn something during this process. I didn't. When I ventured into trying to do something of my own with acrylic, it is a dog's breakfast. I think I will stick with watercolor. Anyway, here is my acrylic COPY which taught me nothing.

Starting out. 

 Coming along.

Ready for my close up. Meow! (note: I didn't get a photo of the finished piece. I painted LONG whiskers right on top of the painting where they should be located using a dagger paint brush which is used by sign painters to get a long long clean line.)

 A watercolor folly. Bwaaaahaaaaa.

 A real mummy. His lips are kept closed by a pine cone spine I think it is.

 Coming along. Oh my what nice eyes you have!

 So as you can see, watercolor(especially on used tea bag paper) is my thang. I'm just trying out doing calligraphy [script lettering this time] directly onto the paper with a mapping pen. Pointed steel against fragile tea bag paper. A day in the life... Lovely chatting and who knows, I may post more often now that the muse has returned. Good day to ye' and wishes for a great day. Norma, x

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tiny Book

Drawing Challenge 174 TINY

I'd started to make a small book with a leather cover and hand made sturdy paper from my favourite paper mill for the inside signatures a few weeks ago, so decided to complete the prototype for this challenge. Here it is, warts and all...

I was going to use a 'peace' symbol charm, but as it is Sunday, decided on a 'cross' instead. I like the way it looks.

Here's the back, closed. The last picture shows what it might look like as a necklace. I placed a thinnish paper rope style here.
I wanted to figure out a few construction steps and managed them satisfactorily so it tickles me to see that I figured out how to use headbands and to install a small wire hanging loop that is unassuming visually, and how to manage the end papers and sewn binding. Now I feel confident to surge ahead and make some more. The size of this book closed is 1+1/8" Wide X 1+3/8" Tall. Thanks for popping by today; to see more offerings for this challenge of TINY, click onto this link where you will find our illustrious host Tammie! See you again soon, I hope, *smiles* Norma.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Drawing challenge 173
Oh my heart...

I ask that you use your imagination here please! This will be a paper mixed with plantstuff sculpture when it is done. I've started out by doing a paper cast of a heart shape from a metal chocolate mold. Inside I've stashed some burning bush leaves (I do not know the proper name of this plant.) The paper used is Japanese hand made and embedded with flowers. I made a ring shape using a stem of a hedge that has really sharp spine needles and when they dry hard believe me they can draw blood. I've been using these for a few years now for bird beaks so have poked myself and drawn my own blood more often than I care to admit. I have to allow the stems with attached spines to dry and it takes months really. But I wanted to show you what a ring looks like, and what the stems/spines look like. Picked only two days ago they've gone from light green to brown already. As they age they will lighten up to a warmer brown color. I drew a thorn crown on a sheet of drawing paper to just kind of give a feel to the visual, but it got lost in the crowd of things on the page. My idea will be to do about 3 wrappings of spine stems and so the spines will be poking in all directions and I hope to be able to commandeer the spines to act as legs so that the paper heart will be kind of floating amidst spines. It's a kind of bleeding heart. A sculpture. Anyway, it's an image of an idea I have and in the end will take on its' own image I am sure. Thank you kindly to lovely Nadeschka for inviting me to play this week. It was fun. For more 'image' themes, click on the link to view. Blessings! N, x

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tools of the Trade...

So I dug out my tool kit from the last time I made a tiny Japanese stab binding book, and retraced my steps using what I found in the kit. I had to rediscover what I did and this time I am making notes so I don't have to think so much the next time I decide to make one of these little books with this type of binding. So here are the essential tools that really make for a success with this project:

You'll see 1] a hand drill with a bit holder that separates to allow the shank of a drill bit to enter and then be tightened into place. Notice what I have in place there. A sewing machine needle for leather as it has a very sharp and strong steel point on it. At least I think those sewing machine needles are made of steel. It's strong in any event, 2] a sewing machine needle all by itself so you can see what it looks like and see the scale, 3] an awl needle and holder. It's just like an X-acto blade holder that tightens up by screwing (turning) the handle. Instead of a flat blade, this holder has a round entry point that tightens up exactly the same way the hand held drill is designed to work. I love this awl and it is likely my favourite tool; well in the top 5 anyway, 4] a roll of linen thread which I'm showing just because of the beautiful colour of it, and, 5] two finished Japanese stab bound in the hemp pattern little books~one I made a year ago and this new one I just completed. His little beak wound up with the very tip at the exact point where the middle hole is placed. I'll have to be more careful about placement next time. The size of these books are 1 & 1/8" X 2 & 1/2" {3cm X 63mm}.

 The tools are used thus: I start by placing the needle end of the hand held drill where marked for a hole, and slowly start turning the handle and keeping the drill perpendicular to the hole. I just turn and turn slowly until the needle works its' way through to the other side. I have a heavy piece of plastic on the tabletop surface so the needle won't damage anything when it reaches the bottom side. Of course the stack of papers is held together FIRMLY with 3 strong clips. Once the hole is drilled through I reverse the direction of the drill to help pull the needle out. When the needle is out I then go in with the awl and just work my way through slowly and carefully, wiggling the awl back and forth to enlarge the hole all the way through. Then I enter from the bottom side of the hole and repeat with the awl. When it comes to sewing the binding it is done with a large needle by hand. If the needle won't go through the hole because there are already 2 or more threads through it, I clamp the needle shaft with a pair of sturdy pliers and push the needle until it is almost all the way through to the other side, and then bring the pliers around to the other side, and pull the needle through. It works like a charm. So that's my helpful hint section of this post! It's been a fun drawing challenge. See you soon I hope! Norma, x

Friday, March 13, 2015

A wee book in the making

Making another wee book.
This is the cover of a wee book. You can see it's a hummingbird, painted in watercolor and with acrylic ink details.

Moving in a bit closer, you can see that the paper is heavily textured and a pea-green (my opinion) shade of green. This paper particularly inspired me to join the drawing challenge for this week. It's my ode to spring.

I've not held a paintbrush for many months so am quite the rusty gal here, but if I repainted it I could put into good use, all that I learned from this effort. The paper is so textured (completely hand made by my beloved Canadian paper mill St. Armand in Montreal.) This selection used straw for the plant bits. So the paintbrush travels right over top of the straw and the straw picks up the color from the brush. It's a bit like riding a bucking bronco. It bleeds like there's no tomorrow as well. But I love it. I plan to make a wee Japanese bound (hemp pattern) book with art paper inside. So, this is a small art book let's say.

Thank you to Veronica for inviting me to participate in this drawing challenge. Bye for now, Norma, x


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