Friday, February 22, 2013

Gratitude 365: Book-In-A-Day Wk8

Title: Gratitude 365
Structure: File Folder Book

Video of the process. 

This week was a shift for me because I created the book on a Wednesday instead of my usual Thursday and for some reason, it felt great to do it early.

On the other hand, I woke on Thursday wanting to make another book!! But I was traveling so I didn't give in to the urge. I'm finding that all I want to do these days is make books. Blank books. Poetry books. Books about Oakland. Books about my family. Books about California. Books about any and everything. Books. Books Books.

So it's a good thing that I've decided to make at least one book each week, right?

Gratitude 365 was inspired by the books of Karin Winter and Heidi Sekovski in the January/February issue of Cloth•Paper•Scissors Magazine

Alright, so I realized several things in making this blank file folder book:
    1. I LOVE THIS STRUCTURE. It's simple to make and it gave me something to do with some of the scrapbooking papers I've collected over the years.
      2. UPCYCLING makes me feel like my carbon footprint is a little bit smaller. The file folder I used for this book was an unused folder, but I'll be making others like it with folders that I had planned to trash. 
        3. I LOVE SEWING ON PAPER. This was my first time sewing anything. I mean, literally, my first time operating a sewing machine. It was fun to get a tutorial from my mother and to watch her in her element. She's a natural teacher!! You'll see lots more sewing on paper from me as this series unfolds. 

          4. TIME FOR A NEW CAMERA: I had to film this segment while in between cameras, so I used my iPad and that turned out to be an interesting end result. So I'm on the hunt for a new camcorder. It's also the reason there isn't a lot of filming of me actually making the book. 
            Things to keep in mind when making this structure:
            • MEASURING
              • file folders come in different sizes, so be mindful and measure multiple times before you fold or cut
              • scoring is helpful but makes a really strong (and permanent) crease in the folder, so again, measure multiple times before you score
              • the patterned papers next to the color of the folder really makes it obvious if your paper is wonky, so be mindful of how you cut them. 
            • COLOR SCHEME
              • Start with what moves you. Gather lots of options. Pick the ones that speak to you most and go with it. Allow this part to be organic and intuitive. Even the choices that seem unlikely can make the best side-by-side patterns. 
              • I used a sewing machine for this book, but you don't have to. The sewing served two functions: it acted as a reinforcement and as a decorative element. You can use what you have to make the book feel like your own. 
            I talk about this a little in the video, but it's worth repeating. As I prepared to make this book, I kept coming across papers with fall colors and I felt like it was Thanksgiving/fall/harvest time. That made me think about being thankful, which made me think about abundance, and I'm always grateful for abundance. And so I created a gratitude journal.

            This process reminded me that I can (and should) be grateful everyday of the year. Hence the title, Gratitude 365. I'm looking forward to journaling in this book throughout the year.

            And of course this process inspired me to create a free class over at the ning site. It will be available in the middle of March. Gratitude 3-6-5 will be a combination of bookbinding, art journaling, and mixed media, and it will be completely FREE.

            I hope you'll join me and make your own gratitude journal for recording all the moments, big and small, that remind you how precious life is.

            To see a list of materials I used for this project and more photos, please join the free community at
            I'm looking forward to what next week brings. If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site.
            See you next week!!

            Friday, February 15, 2013

            The Things Behind: Book-In-A-Day Wk7

            Title: The Things Behind
            Structure: Double Signature Pamphlet
            Dimensions: 4 x 6

            Video of the process.

            This was another great bookmaking experience. I enjoyed the time I got to spend on content for this book. I knew I wanted to do something with black and white photos, but I didn't know which photos or what I wanted to do with them. After attending CODEX earlier in the week, I was inspired by many book artists and their work. I found myself really digging the miniature books, but I didn't want to make a mini this week. I knew I wanted to try the double signature pamphlet. I'm planning on making a few blank art journals using this structure (do you smell a give-a-way?) so I thought I should create an actual book using it first.

            At CODEX, I got the chance to experience a book created by my dear friend, Lyall Harris. Her book, The Indistinguishable Bones, inspired me to look at black and white photos as my springboard. I had a ton of fun journeying down memory lane with my old photos.

            Eventually, I felt drawn to a pattern (I talk about this in the video), so I let that guide me. A good deal of my time was spent selecting old photos, scanning them into a digital format, and manipulating them using Preview and MS Word. Then, I had to figure out how to get them on the page the way I envisioned.

            Once I printed out the first set of photos on plain printer paper, I sat with them, examining and brainstorming. I spent time writing the text and twice as much time revising. And in the end, I did a happy dance because I love the way the photos inform the text and vice versa.

            But getting to that point was not easy. I toiled over the words and it took them a while to come. In the video, I talk about using strategies to help me arrive at the content for this book. One of the things I did was make lists.

            I started with the color versions of the photos and listed all the colors that stood out. That list became my descriptors. Then I wrote freely while trying to use those descriptors when it felt right. It was an organic process, a lot like my art journaling. In the end, the writing gave me direction for how to order the photos in the signatures and how to pair them with the text.

            One of the great elements of this book was how easy it was to assemble once all the pieces were in place. I mean, once I fumbled around with the formatting and printing :-). All the work is done up front and I can easily reproduce this book if I want to edition it.

            Since I started learning book art, I thought I'd be someone who editions books. I wasn't really a fan of the one-of-a-kind book, but recently, I've found a lot of appreciation for them, so I'll continue to explore both book types throughout the year.

            What I learned during the making of this book: 

            • Paper selection is key. The wrong paper can make or break the book. 
            • My printer is a little bit evil (or I just need to spend more time with it).
            • The way we view a photograph changes as we grow and live and experience life in motion. 
            • I love sewing paper. It's calming. 
            • My printer cannot do a full bleed print, no matter how much I beg.
            • I need a better paper cutter. I'm planning to buy this one: x-acto laser trimmer 
            • When the content doesn't come easily, change your perspective. 
            To see a list of materials I used for this project, please join the free community at

            I'm looking forward to what next week brings. If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site (where you can view the list of materials I use and see more photos). 

            See you next week!!

            Thursday, February 14, 2013

            The Next Big Thing

            A huge thank you to Arielle Guy for tagging me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Here are my responses:

            What is the working title of your book (or story)? The working title is Legion of Matriarchs.

            Where did the idea come from for the book?
            These poems have lived inside me for generations. They come from the voices of all the women who raised me, from their lives, their stories, their love, loss, shame, and pain. As a southern woman, I'm intimately familiar with the idea of a matriarch, so the poems in this book come from my experiences, the stories I grew up hearing, and the future I hope to see for the generation of women coming up behind me. They also come from the many conversations I've had with women over the years and their stories of how shame impacts their lives.

            What genre does your book fall under? Poetic memoir

            What songs would be in the soundtrack for your book?
            “Closer to My Dreams” by Goapele
            "Talk to Her" by India Aire
            "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley
            "I Gotta Find Peace of Mind" by Lauryn Hill
            "I'll be There For You" by Mary J. and Method Man
            "Dead N* Blvd. Pt. 1" by Me'Shell Ndegeocello
            "Hypnotic Love" by Maysa
            "Southernplayalisticadilacmuzik" by Outkast
            "Scandalous" and "Insatiable" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "The Beautiful Ones" by Prince
            "Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte" by Regina Carter
            "Angels" by Richard Smallwood
            "Mary Jane" by Rick James
            "Maybe Angels" and "If It Makes You Happy" by Sheryl Crow
            "Functional" by Thelonious Monk
            "I'll Take You There" by The Staples
            Anything by Marvin Gaye, Al Green, The Commodores
            And too many others to list...

            What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
            Six generations of women, with Shame" as their general, attempt to navigate life, love, and family politics as if it were a war and their lives depended on it.

            Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
            I plan to submit the manuscript to contests, open readings, and prizes.

            How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
            It took about a year for the first draft. Now the revisions and such? That's another story.

            Who or what inspired you to write this book?
            Mostly, I was inspired by my niece, Khalia, and all the women in the generation behind me. I also took a lot of inspiration from my nephews, Treavor, Telvin, Cameron, and Connor. Watching them break, bend, and believe some of the cycles they men have been in, both breaks my heart and gives me hope. I write for them, their wives, and their daughters. Basically, many of the poems were inspired by my desire to break the cycles of shame and silence in my family and to give voice to other women who have experienced similar histories.

            The poems are also informed a great deal by Sun Tzu's, The Art of War, Robert Greene's, The 48 Laws of Power, the Farmer's Almanac, and a ton of old wives' tales.  

            What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
            Shame is an actual character in the narrative thread. She speaks, threatens, teaches, manipulates, and encourages.

            My tagged writers are: 
            Cynthia Dewi Oka
            Meg Day
            Sam Sattin
            Ebony Noelle Golden
            Vanessa Matir
            Remica L. Bingham

            Friday, February 8, 2013

            Her Story: Book-In-A-Day Wk 6

            Title: Her Story
            Structure: French Door
            Dimensions: 3 11/16 x 7

            Another great day for BIAD. Even though I set a record for the longest night for BIAD (4AM), I'm happy I was able to get through it. This is the first book I've done where I used handmade papers (I didn't make them) and my memory of them slowly resurfaced as I made this book. Handmade papers can be so fragile and delicate, especially when you add PVA. 

            Watch the video of my process.

            This book is a nod towards the start of Black History Month. I figured it was appropriate to bring out the handmade stamps I made a while back when I got frustrated trying to find some that I could purchase. While I don't have any real ties to West Africa, I find myself  drawn to the Adinkra symbols. I'm in love with symbols in general, but these are ones I come back to time and time again. And they keep showing up in my life at random times. 

            Most recently, one of my students, Rosa Cabera, created a flyer for a free workshop she's giving here in Oakland. Her hand drawn logo is the "aya" fern of the Adinkra. It symbolizes endurance and is a perfect image for the InkRise workshop she's leading. It's Rosa's flyer that reminded me of the stamps I'd made. 

            Her Story takes five of the symbols that show up in my life time and time again and places them in a narrative context that tells my story. Without using any original text, I've attempted to tell my story in a way that I hope will speak to other women who experience the book. 

            The French door structure allowed me to arrange the symbols in a way that leaves the flow of the book to the reader. There are infinite possibilities for interpretation. 

            Embracing The Mistakes

            So this book yielded the most mistakes so far and that was a great experience to go through. It was frustrating at times and caused me to stay awake a lot longer than I wanted, but my BIAD definition of a "day" is from the time I wake until the time I go to bed, so I HAD to get it done for my sanity :-). 
            1. The first mistake was in my measuring. For some reason, I just kept measuring things wrong and having to redo and redo
            2. Mistake number two -- my ink sprays were not working with my handmade stencil and it drove me crazy. I tested four different sprays. Made a new spray and tried it; it didn't work either. Then I tried using paint directly from the bottle with a makeup sponge -- NOPE. Finally, I settled on pochoir (my fav technique) and wondered why in the world I didn't just start with that. BLAH!! 
            3. The beads I wanted to use for the "dangle" were too big. Had to find suitable ones. All of my old jewelry making stuff is in the laundry room behind and over and under things. I had to fish it out and that seemed to take FOREVER. 
            4. Stamping blunders -- I should have measured the longest word first to see if it would fit on the largest acrylic block I own and on the page, but I didn't and when it came time to stamp the word "fawohodie" my spacing was wonky. Then I had one word "Wawa Aba" that was really two words but I stamped the first word right in the center, which left no room for the "aba". But it's all good and I'm happy with that page anyway. 
            But despite all of this, I LOVE THIS BOOK. I'm happy with my mistakes. I consider them the touch of a handmade, one-of-a-kind book. Not to mention, I am so happy that my stamps (after being in storage for so long), got to see the light of day and stamped beautifully. 

            I realized in making this book that I really like the effect that embossing has on a stamped image. I embossed the Adinkra symbols with clear embossing powder and LOVE LOVE LOVE the way they came out. 

            To see a list of materials I used for this project, please join the free community at

            I'm looking forward to what next week brings. If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site (where you can view the list of materials I use and see more photos). See you next week!!

            Friday, February 1, 2013

            Midnight at the Oasis: Book-In-A-Day Wk5

            Title: Midnight at the Oasis
            Structure: Wraparound Pamphlet
            Dimensions: Closed -- 4 28 x 6 28
            Fully Extended -- 19 28 x 6 28
            It's week five and I have complete another book-in-a-day. This journey has already been so much more than I could have expected. Each week I wonder if I'll be able to make another book that I'm pleased with and each week, I am able to create something that I feel really proud of. This week five book is no exception.

            Click here for the video of my process.

            Midnight at the Oasis is a wraparound pamphlet book structure. I had forgotten about this structure until I had a conversation with my husband about wanting to create a book that could be sewn but where the sewing would not be visible. He remembered seeing a blank one that I made in a class with Julie Chen at Mills College. I had to dig back through my blank book stash and there it was!!

            I adore this structure and will likely make a blank art journal to give-a-way in the next Giving Hands give-a-way and, of course, I'll make one to use as an art journal.

            So the process for making this book was really organic in that I selected a really old poem and spent several hours reworking it and revising it. Once it felt right for me, I spent some time journaling about the poem to see what came up for me. (Yep, that's my process.)

            What came up was something I spend time working with when I have creative clients who can't seem to move past their "block". I don't believe in writer's block or artist's blocks. I do believe that we have creative lulls in our lives and that those lulls can seem like blocks. Exploring that line of thinking made me really go deep to figure out why I don't believe in "blocks" and this book is what emerged from that space.

            In the end, this book made it to the number two spot on my list of favorites so far. I think I enjoyed the process so much because of the time I spent revising and thinking about my poetry. 

            Other things I realized during the making of this book:

            • My heat tool is invaluable.
            • The scoring board is a magnificent tool.
            • I like shimmery paints.
            • Simple can be beautiful. 
            One of the biggest revelations I had this week was that I am starting to let go of the implanted idea of perfection that I've had for so long. This book felt freeing (as did all the others I've made so far) and I realized that when I let go of the idea of perfection as defined by others, I end up loving the result much more than I could have imagined. 

            I'm looking forward to what next week brings. If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site (where you can view the list of materials I use and see more photos). See you next week!!