Friday, April 26, 2013

All You Need is Magic

Andy captured the magic
 All I need is magic.  And maybe antibiotics, sleep and coffee.  Last weekend, Andy and I celebrated a day off by taking a little walk in the woods.  Around here, that means, amazing redwoods twenty minutes from your house.  Sure we maybe took an unexpected turn and I was already feeling a little under the weather and a five hour hike was beautiful and so much fun but I woke up Sunday with the nastiest sick in my face. I have been sick a lot, sniffly allergies that make me tired but I have run out of tv series I want to watch.  So, it is movies and bookbinding, naps and trying to get enough sleep while realizing I maybe agreed to do too much this month.  But, like an accidently-five-hour hike, it is totally worth it.

Finally in the mail today went cards I printed for Janna.  I have started to offer custom printing specials through my mailing list .  I like the creative challenge and it is fun to offer letterpress cards to someone who might otherwise afford them.  Last month I offered these bright cards and envelopes and my penpal Janna took me up on it right away.  I will post a picture of all three color combinations though I used the same ink on all the cards.

 Perhaps not incidentally, I dreamt the other night about wearing a sweatshirt that was 2 tone blue, not unlike the card above.  It was fun to work with Janna. There is no special this month as I get ready for the Patchwork Handmade Show in Oakland May 12 but there will be more specials soon.  Send me an email at to be added to the mailing list!

choose any 3 tiny blank books for ten dollars

 I also added a bunch of new things on etsy, including these tiny blank books.   Handbound, containing 12 pages of quality drawing or writing paper and covered with a colorful photograph from my travels.  Many episodes of Twin Peaks were watched while making these.

thanks jeff for the photo!

 I was listening to a designer complain about blind deboss (no ink) printing with type.  Just as I had printed this.  I didn't justify my choice because I know it makes it like a whisper or a secret.  Also, this is one of my favorite things I have printed in a while.  Handset type from the San Fransisco Center for the book, on Lettra Duplex paper (scrap from a Heidelburg job gone horribly wrong), printed on my best friend, the C&P.  Oh, and coppery edge painting done foolishly by hand. What is this fanciness for?

During our travels, Andy and I have been talking about bringing the Italian idea of apertivo to wherever we moved.  Fancy drinks, light snacks, all before dinner.  Though I never made it to dinner after I went out for apertivo.  Now we have a great backyard and a bunch of friends and aquaintances with whom it is hard to make plans.  So we are inviting them to our backyard every Friday night all summer.  I've already started making liquors for it.  If you're in the Bay Area, stop by!  Starting next week.  If you stop by this week there will be Twin Peaks and bookbinding.  Life is pretty good.  If only my sinuses would agree.

bay leaves in vodka, an experiment for apertivo

Monday, April 22, 2013

Papermaking Workshop Part 2

one option for beating the fiber
 With buckets of cooked fiber and not enough coffee, on a Saturday morning in San Francisco, class began.  Students looked at sample books while Rhiannon talked about paper making and resources.  And then came the fun.  Students took turns with the blenders making the artichoke, fennel, eucapyltus, and grass fibers into usable pulp.  Others cut daffodil and horsetail stems to cook to use later in class. I prepared vats and had abaca ready to strengthen some of the weaker fibers, a good strong base for beautiful but not so strong fibers.

a significantly less popular option (this is kozo,not locally harvested)        
 Hand-beating fibers was also discussed and students were offered some prepared kozo to try.  It is a good fiber for witnessing the transformation of plant fiber from recognizable plant form to separated fibers ready to be part of paper.  Personally I also love partially beaten kozo because it is strong and holds its form and can form beautiful lace like designs.  Students were less interested or perhaps felt no realease in hitting something over and over.

vat of artichoke pulp

And so it began.  Pulp is added to a vat of water, the separated fibers are suspended, and then removed with a mold and deckle, almost like a screen with a frame.  Here the mold and deckle await the next person.
using a deckle box
An alternative method is to use a deckle box, adding the fiber and water to a box with a screen for a bottom and high sides.  Here, Rhiannon demonstrates how to make a one-of-a-kind pulp mixture in the deckle-box.

wet paper!
Either way, once most of the water has drained through the mold or the deckle box, the new sheet of paper is turned on to a pelon on felts to be ready to be pressed.  The pressing released more water and squishes the fibers together.

My paper is still drying in San Fransisco.  I will share photos once I get it back.  The class lasted all day and by the end, everyone was excited and exhausted.  I went home with a few bags of pulp and can't wait to try them out! They may have to wait until after the Patchwork show though.

And if you live in the Bay Area and this looks fun to you, contact Rhiannon Alpers through her website to sign up for summer classes in papermaking

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Catching Up

tall windows in Rhiannon's studio

Yikes! It's been a while.  I've been busy busy.  I just downloaded my desktop calendar for April today.  It hasn't been all work--yesterday Andy and I took a walk in the woods and ended up in a redwood grove for a few hours, but more on that later.  Here's a  little bit of what I've been up to.


Rhiannon Alpers was teaching a class using local fibers in papermaking and I asked to be her assistant.  I haven't been making paper too much and though I do not have a project in mind, I thought it might get me excited about paper again.  And it did!  I went to her studio a week before the class to help prep.

cooking eucalyptus leaves

 First we went for a walk and collected eucalyptus leaves and palm bark--the hairy stuff around the tree.  She also had some fennel from a friend though there is plenty growing wild in San Francisco. (I planted it in my garden anyway. And, thanks to the cats, it never sprouted).

cooking fresh fennel
checking the fiber
 We returned to the studio and started cutting the plants in prepartation. The fennel was fresh and the eucalyptus was brittle and would have to be mixed with a stronger fiber anyway so we started them cooking right away.
I love using the rotary cutter!

It takes about two hours for the fiber to cook so we cut some pelons (like interfacing for quilting) to put our formed sheet onto during class.  Then we had a little drink.  And got back to work.

artichoke and grass pulps
Rhiannon had some pulp left over from a previous class, some of which had dried and some of which was a little moldy.  We cleaned and rinsed and rehyrated.  Then we strained the cooked pulp and called it a day.
Next time: photos of class and the finished paper!

 Hey, if you live in the Bay Area and want to take a papermaking class, contact Rhiannon though her website for summer classes.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Backyard Art Show

Site of the magic

I know it doesn't look like much but this one part of our surprising large backyard.  There's a whole other part with a garden and weeds and one California Poppy, but this the part of interest right now.  You see, when we moved in so many months ago, we alternately fretted about rent and what we could do with this space.  A combination half-pipe chicken coop has not been totally abandoned but first we realized that we have a great outdoor space for an art show.  So here it is.

 Ben and I are both printmakers so of course it is a print show. And this way we can sell prints, sliding scale, to benefit a worthy cause.  Like the Beagle Freedom Project who rescues beagles from animal testing and rehabilitates them and finds them a home.  So if you don't buy a print at the show, you'll have to adopt a beagle.  The theme of the show is PRINCE which I like mostly for the possiblities of wordplay, which Andy and I have been working on for my print.

The show isn't until June 7th which will give us time to cut the grass and woo the garden into glory.  But I am telling you about it now because WE WANT YOU TO PARTICIPATE.  I know you are busy with school or the Nationa Stationary Show and sitting in the sun, but we want to you make a print.  Design something , print five of them and send them to us.   Ok?

And then, if you live in the Bay Area or if you want to take a little vacation, c'mon over to our place in Oakland June 7th.  Andy will be tending bar, also to benefit the Beagle Freedom Project and you could have the opportunity to make a print your self in our shop.  I will find a purple dress for it while I sell prints.  Come help us make the most of this crumbly backyard and make it awesome!

write to for details about how to participate