Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blank books just in time for the holidays!

We've switched gears a little bit in the studio recently -- slowed down on production of the two editions of stitching speechless and started binding more blank books for the holidays. Earlier this week I dropped off a batch to go on sale at Vespertine in Carrboro.

They come in different sizes, binding styles, and a variety of materials for a variety of purposes. Many in this batch are made with a multi-media paper that's ideal for artists working in a range of media -- from pencil to pen-and-ink to watercolor. The sketchbooks also include fold-out pages, so the artist can have different sizes and shapes of page to work on.

The covers on the sketchbook below feature one of my favorite recent paper discoveries -- a gorgeous screenprinted Japanese yuzen paper that we found at the Paper Source store in Charlotte.

Margarite has been helping out as an apprentice in the studio. On Sunday she took a quick break from tearing and folding paper to take some action photos instead. Here she caught me with my thinking face on while sewing a Coptic-bound sketchbook.

Now that's a look of total concentration.

Hope you'll stop by Vespertine to take a look at these new books, not to mention all their other beautifully crafted offerings. Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

stitching speechless: new photos

Our biggest project here at blue bluer books for a while now has been stitching speechless, an artist's book based on haiku by Zen art scholar Stephen Addiss. We're publishing it in two separate editions: a deluxe edition printed on handmade Japanese kozo paper and using other traditional Japanese book materials and techniques; and a facsimile edition printed using the self-publishing website For the facsimile edition, I buy the copies directly from Lulu and then rebind them myself with some handmade touches and a special cover.

Copies of both editions are on exhibit now at the Ackland Museum Store in Chapel Hill, NC until Dec. 18th as part of their "Books and Broadsides" show. stitching speechless will also soon be available through Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

If you're in the Chapel Hill area and would like to learn more about it, I'll be giving a talk about the whole publishing process next Thursday, Nov. 17th at 7:00 at the Ackland Store.

In the meantime, here are some more photos of copies of the facsimile edition:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Books and broadsides" at the Ackland Museum Store: 10/21 through 12/18

Busy times here at blue bluer books. Been working on 2 different editions of stitching speechless as well as a number of custom blank book projects.

I'll be posting more about those soon, but for now I just wanted to encourage anyone in the Chapel Hill area to check out a new show at the Ackland Museum Store: "Books and Broadsides." It features work by 18 different local book artists, myself included.

They will be hosting a series of artists' talks on Thursday evenings throughout November. I'll be giving one on November 17th, called From concept to codex: Creating an editioned artist's book.

Regardless of the exhibit it's a great little store. Check them out on Facebook for updates on exhibits and events!

Update: Here is a gallery of photos from the exhibit opening last Friday night...

Monday, July 4, 2011

New artist's book!: "Stitching speechless"

I've just finished the first copy of the new artist's book from blue bluer books:

stitching speechless

It's been at least 3 years in the making, so I'm thrilled to finally have a finished copy to feature here.

Stitching speechless features 17 haiku by Zen art and haiku scholar Stephen Addiss. I'll post more information about the process of creating it soon, but for now I will just share some photos.

If you'd like to learn more about stitching speechless and see it in person, I'll be talking about it at Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill this Thursday evening, July 7th. The event will feature two fantastic fellow local book artists talking about their work as well: John Davis and Ariel Rudolph. Refreshments will start around 6 p.m.; the talk will begin around 6:30 or so.

In the meantime, here are some more photos:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New blank books for sale!

I'm very excited to say that Vespertine in Carrboro is now carrying my handmade blank books.

Margarite & I fell in love with the Vespertine location in Pittsboro when we were first considering moving there. We were exploring the downtown area and found this narrow little storefront selling local handmade jewelry, soaps, screenprinted t-shirts, prints, knitted goods, etc. Quirky stuff in exactly our style. I won't say that it was the reason we decided Pittsboro was the place for us, but combined with delicious lunch and beers at The City Tap... well, PBO started to look pretty darn good.

In the meantime a second Vespertine location has opened in Carrboro, and that's where you'll find my books. It's a small selection so far, but I'll be adding more all the time. There are a few small coptic-bound journals like the ones shown above, some Japanese stab-bound ones, and one weirdo that I invented myself that I just call the "star journal":

When the materials and the inspiration come together just right for a special book, I like to honor that by giving it a name. This one is called 'Rodanthe Pier dawn patrol':

The color of the book cloth and the wave pattern on the endsheets take me back to summer morning surf sessions in the Outer Banks when the rising sun turns pitching waves translucent green, and the dark blue ocean is corduroyed to the horizon...

In any case, stop by Vespertine in Carrboro to check the books out for yourself. Even if it's not one of my books, I guarantee you'll find SOMEthing there you'll like!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New local book arts group -- Triangle, NC

I've been an absent blogger for a while, but not for lack of activity and news to report. The past couple of months have seen some exciting developments. For one, I'm finally making progress on a new artist's book project with Steve Addiss that's been in the planning stages for several years now. I'll have a new post about that soon, with photos.

The other most exciting thing has been the founding of a new local book arts group in the area -- the Triangle Area Book Arts Group.

Last year when my library helped to host a series of book arts events at UNC and Duke, two themes kept coming up. First: there was a ton of local interest in book arts and a multitude of practitioners. Second: we were all working individually, with only sporadic contact with each other and no network for sharing news, questions, or expertise.

After the series of events wrapped up, I stayed in contact with the people who expressed an interest and together we have started this group. There are several components. First we have a Google group which serves as an email listserv for all members to share news and plan events. Second, we've been meeting monthly to discuss the direction of the group and follow up on event planning. And third, we've been planning workshops and other activities outside of the monthly meetings. In April Lisa Gilbert taught a workshop on how to create the mysterious Secret Belgian Binding. And last month Mary Yordy and Bryant Holsenbeck taught the group techniques for making paste paper.

Along with the meetings and workshops, we are planning more public presentations to raise awareness of book arts in the local community -- demonstrations, exhibits of our work, etc. It looks like our first foray into that area will be at Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill, where three of us will discuss our work at one of their TGI Thursday artist talks in July. It's tentatively scheduled for Thursday, July 7th from 5-8 p.m. -- I'll post the details when it's 100% certain.

In the meantime, if you're in the area and are curious about the book arts scene, please feel free to check out the Google group and get in touch! We're a very friendly group open to all areas of book arts interest and skill levels.

And if you've read this far, here's a glimpse of the new book:

More soon!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A rougher kind of book beauty

Instead of saying "I'm making something 365", that header should say "I'm trying and failing to make something every single day, but even so I've been way more productive than if I weren't taking part"...

Take a quick look at the date of my last blog post and it's obvious that I haven't been keeping up with that part of my schedule (one blog entry per week). Here's one example of what I have been up to, though. A blank book I gave to a friend as a Christmas gift.

Lately I've been trying to capture a rougher look in my books -- like the straightforward, simple aesthetic of haiku. There's something poetic there, but it's under the surface. Part of the appeal of handmade books can be their imperfection, and too often I've fought that by focusing on extravagant materials. My two most recent blank books have been an attempt to bring a wabi-sabi feel to go along with the Japanese binding style.

For this one, I had some papers in mind that were decorated with a brilliant gold chrysanthemum pattern. I had sheets of the paper in different colors -- white, black, fuchsia and yellow. As I planned it out, though, I also knew that those papers shouldn't be the first thing you noticed about the book when you picked it up. I wanted the focus to be on the texture and feel of it. At the same time I wanted to include hints that there was something more inside.

To get that effect I used the white version of the chrysanthemum paper for the book's covers. I folded the paper so that the bright gold pattern is hidden on the inside, though. You can see the bleed-through of the gold on the outside, so you suspect something is there -- but it's much more subdued. On the outside the book looks a little bland -- maybe even stained or moldy.

For the front and back flyleaves (the first and last pages inside the covers) I used the fuchsia and black versions of the same paper. For full impact I folded those so that the gold pattern shows in its full beauty. After the plain, rough off-white of the covers, the flyleaf papers really jump out.

For the internal pages of the book I used a couple of different kinds of Japanese mulberry paper, each one with just a tinge of color that's hardly noticeable -- light green, blue and beige. It's not enough color to clash with the decorative flyleaves, but enough that if you look closely each page is a little bit different.

Finally, maybe my favorite thing about these two recent blank books is what happens when you tear the mulberry paper by hand instead of cutting the paper down to size for pages. The mulberry fibers along the torn edge are incredibly soft. When you put together a stack of pages that are torn like that, the edges of the book are almost furry -- the top and bottom edges feel like a rabbit's fur. Unfortunately that's not something I've been able to capture in a photo -- you'll just have to take my word for it or try it yourself.

I haven't had a chance to give the second book to its recipient, so I'm not leaking photos yet. Hopefully soon, though.

Happy New Year!