Previous month:
August 2015
Next month:
October 2015

altered book works


I was supposed to tell you about all the new arrivals, wasn't I? All I can say is that this coloring book business is rather absorbing. I've been working all hours to finish up captions and the bio page, the cover and otherwise wrangle all the pieces. But soon that will be heading to the printer and I can catch up on the rest of the work.

In the meantime, I taught one Altered Golden Books workshop at Meadowridge library last weekend and will be teaching another one this coming weekend at Hawthorne. Space is still available! and it is free!


This is still my favorite workshop to teach (and participate in). We have lots of random scraps of paper and book pages leftover from other workshops and it is always fun to see how every single person takes that same assortment of papers and goes in their own direction.


Last week's workshop also included discussions of traveling in New York City with children, and how to involve more minorities in such events (we were hoping that having workshops at branch libraries in neighborhoods and for free would help but it hasn't seemed to have an effect). As well as the usual discussion of whether or not we are comfortable with the idea of tearing pages out of books. As daughters of a librarian and a man who reveres books, trust me, it doesn't come easy to anyone. But you get used to it.  A family of four came to the event and the father told me that in the country he came from, books are a symbol of wealth and he almost felt like taking a picture of pages being torn out - capturing perfectly the wealth and abundance of the United States, so great that we don't even have hesitate to rip pages out of books.

And then there were the actual pages themselves.


I even had a chance to scrounge for little scraps myself and am in the process of filling in my sample book. I seem to have lost track of my other sample book but I'm having fun playing around with some new pages.


swarming the world



This is going to sound really silly but for the past year, I've been feeling a little at loose ends. Obviously, there is plenty of work to be done for the shop. And even though I am working really hard (harder, in some ways, than we were when we first opened), thanks to our part-timers, I also have a few more evenings to myself. I've been able to pick back up on yoga and have evenings that I'm home before 8 pm, with plenty of time to satisfy my introverted soul. So I've been kind of stumped: what is it that I want? what is missing that is making me feel somewhat stressed out? It is not simply a matter of taking more vacations or consecutive days off, though I'm sure those would help as well (even though I can't make up my mind where I would go or what I would do).

Completely accidentally, I stumbled across one part the oh-so-obvious answer to this question about two weeks ago. It's really quite pathetic considering how much time I spend lecturing people on the importance of creating. Now, I heard from many people that they were worried that if you make your art your career, you will somehow end up hating your art - just the fact of having to do something for money puts a different spin on it. I wasn't feeling like that was my problem exactly; I'm totally fine creating things to sell at the shop and am challenged (in a good way) to figure out things that customers will like that I can create for a reasonable amount of time and energy and I certainly don't hate the process of creating things for the shop. But I had a free evening and I went to the beach and took photographs for a completely frivolous (as far as it relates to the shop) purpose and it was So. Nice. Not just the part about being on the beach, but playing around with angles to take, placement, etc. It made me realize that, while I AM spending a lot of time creating things, most of that has been for the shop. It counts as creating, as using my hands and brain in that certain matter, but there's some carelessness and intuition that doesn't necessarily get put into play for such tasks. Perhaps one would say that Art is somewhat lacking for these commercial endeavors.


In any event, it is especially timely (right before the holiday rush when I need to be at a minimum of crabbiness) that this project would come along. Funny how those things work out. For this project, thousands of cyanotype fabric butterflies are making their way around the world (see Swarm the World on Tumblr). At each point, the recipient gets about a month of installing the butterflies and taking their pictures. As you might expect, the process has been somewhat delayed: my initial month of April turned into August turned into September. And while I would have liked to take the butterflies to the Arboretum in springtime, this is probably a better time of year for photographs.


Each butterfly has a tiny magnet sewn onto the back and while some clever people have been using wire and other tricks to get the butterflies to stick to non-magnetic surfaces, I decided to just keep things simple and find surfaces that are magnetic, even if that means a few disappointments. I thought for sure that street signs would be magnetic so that I could create a sign that was just butterflies, but so far I am not finding one.


Still, there are plenty of options and I've definitely had fun scouting locations. 


And, in the interest of continuing such creative play, I took the leap and signed up for a workshop at Whispering Woodlands. I've taken a workshop from this instructor in the past (though usually I try not to repeat instructors, I think this is exactly the arena that is currently lacking in my life). The last class that I took inspired that four-volume hand-bound set of quotes and watercoloring so this workshop will surely be a similar source of inspiration. I think I'm really missing Valley Ridge Art Studio, not just for the workshops but for the way they were totally getaways and a little bit soul-rejuvenation. But that just means I have to be on the lookout for other opportunities. I think next year it will be a workshop from Kelly Kilmer, so that's something to look forward to.

How about you? Any favorite workshops or creative endeavors this summer and fall? Where are your favorite places to learn and be inspired?

almost done

We're still waiting on works by a couple artists but our Wisco coloring book is on track for a late September printing. Sachi and I have both been drawing like crazy - though she called it quits on Wednesday and thus eased the sibling competition. On Thursday, I set out all the pages we had so far and divided them into the two books. There was one less page in volume 2 so I proceeded with my plan for a Wisconsin version of my patchwork drawing.


But then I realized that between the two of us, Sachi and I have 14 illustrations, which is a good amount for a set of coloring notecards. SO, I feel a little easing of the pressure -  even though many people are eager for our Wisconsin coloring book and even though it seems that I still haven't ordered enough coloring books, I will soon have Wisconsin coloring cards to debut. And then hopefully some of our backorders will be arriving. And then it will be time to send our coloring book to the printer. So there is my next month.

In other news...? Hmm. I guess coloring books have been taking up a lot of my attention this week. I *think* some sheets of wrapping paper and notecards arrived...  I'll work on an installation of new arrivals for you soon.



all the rage

Coloring books, that is. We're rather blown away by all the attention they are getting, by the many people coming in on the hunt for coloring books, and by the amazing variety of coloring books that are coming out right now. We're sure the publishers and printers are working all hours to meet demand.  For our part, what started out as a hunt for new books has turned into a personal competition between the two Komai sisters to get some coloring pages made. We decided to take advantage of our many artist connections and put together an Anthology coloring book, but are also taking the opportunity to create some ourselves. I'm working back and forth between PhotoShop and pencil drawing; tonight I finished up this Wisconsin floral and have plans for a matching Madison version.


Meanwhile Sachi spent most of the day working on this travel poster for one of our city parks.


I still have a few more artists who work we are waiting on. Because of the great response we got and the balancing act between including lots of cool pages and keeping the price affordable, we're going to end up creating volume 1 and 2, with about 14 coloring pages per book. They will be printed on heavier stock paper and, in my opinion, could just as easily be converted into mini art pieces, depending on your coloring skills. We're aiming for a late September printing so stay tuned!