Category Archives: Art

Smushed Cups

Sam Castner comes through again!  I recently asked Sam to flatten a small, incised, brass coaster.  I knew it would be easy for him since he has a press that will smash anything by putting a gazillion pounds of pressure on it.  At the same time, I gave him some brass drinking cups that had split their sides.  These had been brought home from India by my mother in the 1970s.  I gave him carte blanche with the cups – just saying to do something with them.  Since he was smushing (is too a word) my coaster, he decided to smush the cups also.  Brilliant. Here is the result:

All of these will be used as ornaments for books or boxes.  If you have a special desire for one, let me know and I can work to order.  When Sam delivered these, he also brought some other goodies.  I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities.

I’ve also been back at cleaning out junk and treasures that I’ve collected or inherited over the years and always keep an eye out for anything I can use on my books or boxes. Last week, I was really on a tear and besides getting rid of piles of stuff, rescued these for reuse.

The last of my finds came from my aunt who lived in French Morocco (now Morocco) in the early 1950s.

These cases or wraps seem to have been made to protect books or hold papers. I’m not sure what the large one was for. It’s much to big for a book.  I’m thinking about using the leather in some way to create covers for my blank books, but I may change my mind.  The vellum prayer was with the leather, but I think that was just happenstance.  It looks to me like modern English work. It is on parchment, but not old.  Maybe something my mother bought when she was studying illumination in England in the late 1950s, but I really don’t know.  Not a clue how to use it, but it’s neat.

Moral is it pays to clear out the junk!

Even if it does add to the “have to make” pile.

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Filed under Art, bookbinding, Craft design, Other crafts

Three and a half and counting …

I spent yesterday and today hanging my part of the Holiday Exhibit at the Arts Center of Yates County.  Had a great time working in the Gallery and am very pleased with the display.

I changed the setting on my camera on the second day, causing the difference in lighting.  Bonnie Barney set up the mirror table for me, giving wonderful reflections of the books and boxes.  Very striking!

Exhibit will be open from now to the end of the year.  Be sure to stop by!  Lots of other fascinating art and craft items.  It’s a great place to do your Holiday shopping.

Opening reception with food & wine is this Friday, Nov. 21st from 5 to 7 pm.

ACYC
127 Main Street
Penn Yan, New York

Call for directions  315-536-8226.

See you there.

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Filed under Art, bookbinding

Three To Get Ready

“One for the money,
Two for the show,
Three to get ready,
And four to go.

I’ve been in the “get ready” phase for the past few weeks and the finish is almost here!  My local Arts Center is hanging their holiday exhibit next Monday and I am going to be one of the featured artists.  I’m thrilled to be chosen and have been working hard to create lots of new items for the show.  My biggest problem is that as soon as I finish something, I have the design in my head for four more things I want to do.  With hanging only a week away,  there’s very little time for anything else, besides finishing up what I’ve already started.

Here’s a sneak preview.

The red book with the copper insert will have a matching box and I have a third black & white box under construction.  Two more blank books are waiting for covers. I don’t think I’ll have any sheets of marbled paper, but I will have cards, a few framed pieces and some odds and ends.

If you are in the area, please be sure to visit  the Arts Center at 127 Main St., Penn Yan, NY.  “Celebration” will have its Opening reception with food, wine and art on Friday, November 21st from 5 to 7 pm.  If you can’t make the Opening, stop by anytime Nov. 21 – Dec. 31.  We’d love to see you!

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Filed under Art, bookbinding, Notebooks

Learning to Torch Fire Enamels

As promised, here’s a blog about the quick weekend course on using hand-held torches to fire enamels on copper. Last summer my granddaughter and I had taken a week-long workshop that covered both kiln and torch firing. I had enjoyed that and have already used a few of my pieces in my books, so I was looking forward to being able to learn some new techniques and make more pieces.  I was not disappointed.

For the basic procedures we used, see the page on Enameling.

The trickest problem with torch firing is that the copper can’t have a counter-enamel on the back.  Without a counter, the enamel is more fragile and if it is put on too heavily, will crack or warp easily. I cheated on some pieces and countered them in a kiln.

Texture was the first thing we worked on. The copper we were using as a base was rather thin and was easy to texture with crimpers, rollers and corrugaters as well as hammers. I found that putting a heavy texture into the copper made it sturdier and less likely to warp.  Because I need flat pieces for my books, I was very aware of warping.  Some examples:

If you want the texture to show, the enamel has to be transparent, not opaque.  On the pinky-rose piece, even with transparent enamels, the underlying texture was lost because of the amount on enamel I put on the right side.  You can see the texture on the reverse. I really enjoyed playing with the various textures and could have spent a lot more time on it.  Unfortunately on the weekend courses you really have only one day of work.  The entire class spent Saturday from 9:00am to 9:00pm torching in spite of cold, wind and dark.  We used the torches outside, so light was a problem.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the torch table, but there were 6 or 8 torches set up around a table outside.  After putting the enamel on a piece, it had to be carried outside to be fired. One advantage was that it was cold enough to cool the metal quickly afer firing.

The instructor, Steve Artz, made boxes for all of the students as a way for us to display the pieces of enamelling we completed.  Here are some pictures of the boxes as well as some close-ups of my pieces.

Lastly, here are two completed books. The black one has a piece I made in the summer.  The red book was made with a torch-fired piece in the Book Embellishment workshop, which will be my next blog.

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Metallics Revisited

Last February I blogged about using metallic paints. Since then I’ve played with them a bit, but a few weeks ago I decided to do some more playing and experimenting. I’m finally getting around to writing my promised blog. This time I didn’t waste any effort on white paper and only used dark colored backgrounds.  Most of the paper had deep rich tones to set off the metallic. The only metallics I used this time were gold, copper and pearl.

Here are some of the results:

Here’s what I’ve learned.  The metallics need to be dropped near the end of the sequence to have the biggest impact. The more they are manipulated, the more they tend to fall apart, but dropping them last can lead to globs that are too large. Next-to-last seems to be a good place for them.  Some, like pearl, can be dropped earlier as it “stretches” without granulating.  Metallics show up more if dropped with colors that have a high contrast, for example dropping gold with purple, rather than yellow.

I love making marbling patterns that are very intricate and fine-lined.  This doesn’t work as well with metallics. They seem to need larger areas to turn from orange to copper or grey to silver.  I don’t particularly like a lot of shininess in my work, but I do like just a hint of something, like the hidden sparkle of a bit of mica hidden in a dull stone rather than the brilliance of a cut diamond. In the past I used Golden color called “Micaeous Iron Oxide” which does just that.

Here’s an example

Large Black

Large Black

All of the paints I’ve been using recently are Golden fluid acrylics.  I really like the intensity of color they provide.  Just this past week I visited the Golden factory which is located in a very rural part of upstate New York. The trip was organized by the Penn Yan Art Guild and there were six artists who participated.  The history of Golden is very interesting, having been a family company and is now owned by its employees.  We were given a tour by Emma Golden, granddaughter of the company’s founder.

Emma Golden

This is the area where all of Golden’s color cards are hand painted. Employees walk up and down the black easels painting one color on dozens of cards at a time.

Golden barn

This is an old barn that has been remodeled into housing and studio space for the Golden Foundation‘s Artist program. It’s a beautiful location.

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Filed under Art, Marbled Paper

Sam’s Sculptures on Park Avenue

Well, I guess they are really Albert Paley‘s, but to me they’ll always be Sam’s.

Earlier this week, I made a very quick trip to see the sculptures.  There are thirteen of them placed in the islands on Park Avenue in New York City from E.67th St. to E 52nd. Here are some quick snaps of all of them.

They all had plaques with more information that could be scanned, but I don’t have a smart phone and Carol didn’t have the correct app, so all we could read was the title! One time I really regretted not being in the 21st century. If it isn’t obvious from the pictures, these are all huge. I think the tallest is three stories high.

My two favorites were these two:

In a small picture, it is impossible to show how the sculptures related to the buildings around them. There were often subtle echoes of lines or colors or harmonies of the nearby buildings.  In one gorgeous coincidence, a yellow cab and a blue van were stopped at the light in front of the “Yellow Tree” shown above. This was definitely the type of installation I would like to be able revisit in a more leisurely manner. I’m jealous of New Yorkers.

It was a fun trip and I even managed to squeeze in a very hasty trip to The Strand (One of NYC’s largest used book stores) and one of my favorite paper shops – NY Central Art Supply.

Back to the real world next time – a case bound dos à dos, more marbling and another enameled book!

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