Wednesday, April 30, 2008

letterpress and spinning make excellent bedfellows

In less than one week, I'll be finished with Lace Stories. I'm a little nervous because I do have some printing left to do, and although I've figured out how to make binding the edition a task that is not horrendous, I still have to figure out exactly how to easily attach my lace insets to the front covers. I was thinking about using 1" t-pins to hold everything in place. That, however, means for each book I'll need to insert four t-pins, clip some of the length, carve out notches in the board for each pin, hammer them into place, and sand to finish. And that's before I glue the accordion tabs in place and cover with a pastedown.

Maybe this is a case where the easy way would not be the best way anyhow; I'm just not looking forward to the 120 t-pins that I'll have to deal with.

Despite my reluctance to bind the edition, I'm excited about posting pictures of the finished work here. you can expect them sometime next Tuesday!

In the meantime, I've been relying on spinning for more immediate gratification. I've maybe focused a little too much on improving my skills this week, but the practice has yielded some yarn that I'm pretty proud of.

I'm still waiting for the gobs of fiber I ordered as soon as I got my wheel, so I've dipped into my felting stash. The yarn that's emerged from my bits of purple, pink, orange, and blue roving is much more lovely than I expected. I attribute much of this to plying. It's amazing how well colors offset one another when they're plied into a single strand of yarn. Here's what I mean ...

Too-bright orange merino and pink handpainted merino become a lovely variegated yarn that's the color of sunset. And underwhelming blueish-pink roving, when I plied it with handpainted purples, became a muted, lovely grey with touches of pink. I can't wait until this weekend when I plant-dye my own roving! I'm expecting the yarn I get from that will be beautiful.

Finally, if you're in the Tuscaloosa area, I and a few of my friends are offering a series of book arts workshops at the One Night Only Artique in a couple of weeks. All one-day classes cost only $25 and two-day classes are $50. Here's all the pertinent information (click on the image for a copy you can actually read without a magnifying lense!)

hopefully we'll see some of you there!

Friday, April 25, 2008

and now I spin

I don't often write posts about my crafty endeavors that fall beyond the book arts realm, but I can't resist the opportunity to write about my newest fiber addiction -- spinning. I've been considering taking up the wheel and spindle for close to two years now, and when I got to try out a wheel two weeks ago at a spinning party I happened upon at the local Barnes and Noble, I decided I could wait no longer. The fact that there was an Ashford Traditional for sale at a price I could afford made the siren song of spinning impossible to resist.

When I got to take my wheel home, exactly a week after my first introduction to spinning on the wheel, it was love at first sight. I've already spun a few skeins of beginner's yarn, including this merino.

I've also spun nearly 6oz of what I believe is a merino-romney blend and some super-squishy and soft alpaca. My fingers are beginning to remember what it is they're supposed to do as I treadle, and the amount of overtwist in my yarn in already significantly less.

I've already ordered 6 pounds of mill ends for future spinning projects, which will include lots of plant dying (another craft to add to my ever-expanding list of skills to develop). In two weekends, I'll be prepping my first dye pots to experiment with dying handmade paper and my handspun yarn and prepared rovings.

Between the logwood, indigo, walnut hulls, and onion skins, I think I'll end up with a lot of beautiful paper and fiber. But until then, I'm working hard to finish my book and spinning myself into a frenzy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Opening and DCDC craft fair

It's been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks (I know, per usual), but I'm happy to report that the Fiber/Book opening was a great success. We saw more than 125 people come and go over the course of five hours, which is no small feat for little, football-obsessed Tuscaloosa. Everyone seemed to enjoy the work; there was a lot of reading of handmade books, some broadside purchasing, and lots of questions. Most people who came didn't really have much of an idea of what good handmade paper could look like, or what it could be used for. I was really happy that the work on show spanned the spectrum of possible uses, from prints, books, and broadsides, to sculpture, lampshades, and vases.
Call me a glutton for punishment, but even though it's a lot of work to put together a show, I'm ready to do it again. The response was enough to convince me that all the pain of nagging people for work, rallying together a core of co-curators, and stressing over installation is worth the effort.
Here are a few pictures from opening night. The space was the perfect backdrop for our work, with it's clean, white walls with some exposed brick. I especially loved our display of handmade paper samples and broadsides hanging from clothesline. I also really liked our reading area. It was a bit of a contrast from the clean, organic feel of the paper display, but it was a center of activity throughout the night.

There will be many more book arts/ONO collaborations in the future! But for now, I'm busy preparing for other events, including tomorrow's Druid City Drinking Club craft fair. It's being held in conjunction with the local aroboretum's annual plant sale, so we should have a good turnout. I'm hoping that plant sellers like books as much as I like plants, because I'd really like to trade for some heirloom tomatoes and peppers. I'm going to be spending the better part of today preparing the 10 ethiopian-style link stitches (most of them embroidered) that are in various stages of completion. I would have more inventory, but I'm now one of the regular artists selling at the One Night Only Artique, so some of my work is now in their stock.
And since everything happens around the same time here, next weekend is the Alabama Festival of the Book in Montgomery. If you're in the area, you should stop by the book arts table and say hi and check out all the great things we've been working on recently.
I'm off to assist some papermakers, do some printing, and brave the alumni-day football game crowds now. Wish me luck, and I'll write a new post soon.