Friday, April 15, 2016

Global literature students get hands on history

My annual pilgrimage to a class at Warner Pacific University that's freshly read Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress again brought hundreds of years of book history to the fore using Dai's sweet story as a launchpad.

If you have not read the book, it's a pleasant short read detailing two teens' adventures of re-education far from their urban and familial underpinnings. Their story is one of many stories, and includes many stories in itself—indeed, the friends survive, evolve, and grow stronger through storytelling amid turmoil and uncertainty.

Speaking of stories, I am into the really, really weary stage of publishing my how-to bookbinding manual and adventure tale, which means it's the step toward the home stretch, and the printer. Latest quandary is whether to crank up some Kickstarter for the first print run.

In the meantime, I keep busy checking last facts and line wraps (right), all part of the glorious editing life. I also help the art director brainstorm cover concepts (below). Referencing the traditional Chinese color for scholars, the cover for China under the Covers probably has to be some shade of indigo and perhaps xian zhuang, bound in silk thread.

Monday, February 08, 2016

2016 already looks like a barrel of fun


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Flip it good

Shab Levy (left) and Becky Luening of the Portland book arts
group get ready for some flip book action.

Some tools of the trade in creating flip books, including a
Levy-generated template.

Shab Levy led us local book makers on a thorough, fun foray into the making of flip books over a couple of recent rainy days this month in his airy Northwest studio. My first flip book is too embarrassing to post here, but it felt good to craft with my hands again and get some creativity flowing after all the time I usually spend on words, words, words.

At first we sought inspiration from all kinds of creations, including Levy's own impressive catalog of flip books and, of course, a zoetrope (that green object on the table above). Always good to have a zoetrope on hand, just in case.

Then we got to work, drawing, cutting, and delving into computer programs to set up the perfect sequence—to spread across some 40 to 80 pages. Flip books "read" fast, but they come together    s   l    o   w.

The next adventures of the year look like this, in about this order.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Make mine a monkey

With 2016 upon us, and February 8 bringing on the zaniest animal of all, one wonders what surprises could be in store. More hints TK in the new year.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Unique goods craft a memorable holiday

They came, they saw, they soaked up the handmade artistry at the
annual Northeast Community Center show earlier this month.
Thank you to all who came out to support us.



The November show at the Northeast Community Center marked my only outing this year as a craft vendor, but never fear—if you are in need of distinctive, durable, hand-bound gifts you can always come by for a studio visit in Northeast Portland (e me with a couple of times/dates that work).

This also goes for any other time of year. Around graduation I always get calls for portfolios—handsome carryalls that travel from interview to bookcase and hold our important papers and photographs firmly and carefully all the while.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A book artist goes for the gutter

Deep purple plays the Portland Art Museum.

You can't hold it in your hands and flip the pages, but it's hard to quibble with perfect. This piece at the Portland Art Museum (sorry, I don't have artist name or title to list) shows the rare example of a book that hangs without hands, and makes the most of the gutter, usually the no man's land that's the structural heart of the book and yet the place where typically nothing can be.

Why pack a wallet when you can have an All-it?

With this year's craft fair outing days away, I am back in the studio whipping up a piece that I saw in Helen Hiebert's latest how-to credited to another legendary book wiz, Hedi Kyle. A repurposed calendar print became what I call an "All-it," that is, a wallet that serves even more purposes.

Slim enough to fit in a pocket, the All-it holds a phone, bills, 4 x 6 pictures, written notes or other inspiration, business cards, ticket stubs, and much more. It's all you need for a night on the town, or for penning a special tribute to someone. It's a souped-up greeting card, a unique keepsake, a multimedia love letter, a travel journal, or a go-to kit for a short trip.

Check 'em out for yourself this weekend or tour the sample fresh off the bench in the pics below.

It starts with a big ol' piece of paper ...

... and ends with a multipocket book and carryall!

The All-it fits pictures up to 4 x 6 inches.

Bills tuck right in.

Pages for ideas, quotes, sketches, and other inspiration.

More pockets at the back suit business cards, tickets, and so on.

All wrapped up and contents secured.

Phone slides in on the outside.

Slip it into a pocket and go.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bookbinders cover it all

Shab Levy takes a whack at it.
I'm an infrequent attendee of a monthly bookbinders' club here in Portland, but when I go I always come away encouraged by others' insight into the craft and their projects. All-around talented guy Shab Levy staged his altered book near the entrance so we could get a laugh on the way in, and the ensuing chat covered many bases, including one member's show and tell of her incredible illustrated journeys and another's fascinating library finds (a journal on written languages? Very cool—and I wish I remembered the name of it).

Often in the honing of my elevator speech given to nonbookbinders, I stumble on how to stress the importance of one of the world's oldest, most effective, and most durable communication tools, but this crowd needs no explanation.

We're all book believers. From that starting point, we pursue infinite conversations that serve as inspiration for making more.

Speaking of making, I head into the studio soon to prepare wares for my only show/sale of the year, which runs 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Northeast Community Center, 1630 N.E. 38th Ave. right here in Portland, Ore.