Thursday, March 26, 2015

Library Surfing

Some people bodysurf.  Some people kitesurf.  Some people windsurf.

Some people channel surf.  Some people web surf.

I like to library surf!

My county has 29 libraries within its borders, and I can order any book I want from their online catalog to be picked up at my nearest branch.  Instead of relying on that service, though, I like to go to the other branches, further away and less familiar to me.

When I go to one of these unexplored branches, I sometimes walk up and down the aisles, looking at book spines and titles that catch my eye, pulling books from the shelf to see the cover or flip through the pages.

This is library surfing.

I trace this strange pastime back to one of my friends from middle and high school.  Her mother was an English teacher, and when I would go to her house, I would see her mom's reading nook. She kept a stack of library books there on all sorts of different subjects.  She might have a pile of books that covered topics as diverse as architecture, birds, English history, and trains.  She had books about subjects that I would never dream would interest her.  But they awaited her there, where she could pick them up for some in-depth study, or just to glance through for some tidbits of information or interesting pictures.  I used to think to myself that when I grew up, I would do the same thing.  (I guess it didn't occur to me that I didn't really need to be a grown up to do that!)  And now that's what I do...wander the library aisles and check out whatever books catch my attention. 
This last time, walking back and forth in the stacks of a library a couple towns over, I ended up with a pile of books whose titles include:
  • Mathematics Minus Fear:  I feel certain that I need not fear mathematics or assume any longer that I am hopeless when it comes to anything related to this topic.  It's probably telling that I haven't picked up this book from my library basket to peruse yet!
  • My Name is Jason.  Mine too.  Our story.  Our way:  This is such a fun and quirky book, marketed to teenagers.  It is the story of two best friends, a black poet and a white artist, both named Jason, who try to make their way in the world, living together in New York City.  The pages are a super-fun eclectic mix of art, photographs, and poetry. 
  • The Painter's Eye:  Learning to Look at Contemporary American Art:  This book explores the common vocabulary of art we can learn in order to discuss what makes a painting work and what the artist is trying to communicate.  This book helps you at that very moment you stop in front of a piece of modern art and say, "I don't get it.  What's that supposed to be?" or, "Geez, I could do that!"  I am hoping that, as an artist, I can build a vocabulary for getting past our initial reactions that are often shallow critiques to discover why a particular painting is hanging on a museum or gallery wall.
Any book with peeks inside artists' studios is a winner with me!  This is Willem de Kooning at work.

Here is Helen Frankenthaler.  The book has photos of several other artists at work in their studio spaces.

Is there more to this painting than a row of five hot dogs?  This book will help me figure out
how to talk about a work of art like this one.

Made in Japan, by Jean-Michel Basquiat
How can an art observer see this piece with a responsive eye? 
The Painter's Eye addresses this question.
  • Sketching Outdoors in Spring:  'Tis the season!  Time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine (it's coming soon, right?).  This book will give me some inspiration to head outside with pencil and sketchbook, and not make things so difficult that I don't even try.
  • Queen Victoria's Sketchbook:  I didn't realize what an accomplished artist Queen Victoria was within the pages of her private sketchbook.  This book shares her art instruction as a child, as well as her growth as an artist, and how she incorporated it into her life as queen.  If she can rule an empire and keep her creative and artistic spirit alive, then I think we can make time for it in our own busy lives, too!
Queen Victoria took her most successful drawings from albums she kept when she was
in Scotland, and pasted them into bound books on large pages.

She and her family traveled incognito among the common people, and Queen Victoria
would make sketches of the local costume.

In this picture, which (if my calculations are correct) Victoria made at age 13, she
records the first game of charades she observed at a large house party.
  • 52 Small Changes:  One Year to  Happier, Healthier You:  I love to give myself To Do lists, and this book plays right into that.  Most are supremely do-able, and many are already underway in my life (drink more water, drink less soda, get enough sleep, that sort of thing).
  • Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation:  Prayer flags, treasure maps, visual journals, shrines, prayer cards, wisdom dolls, collage mandalas....what's not to love?!
I don't think I would have found any of these books if I had relied on the online catalog or the shelves of my own nearby branch! 

In case you've never tried library surfing yourself, I thought I would share this unusual pastime that I've been enjoying for a few years now.  It keeps me surrounded by books (my favorite thing!) and constantly learning (another favorite thing!). 

I always tell my girls, "It's a good day when you learn something new!"

Friday, March 20, 2015

Papercrafting Project: Index Card Folder

A lap full of paper crafted projects
It's a quick jump from my Book and Journal Making Pinterest board over to my Paper Crafting board, and I've been finding new projects among all of my pins there.
Most recently, I followed Amanda Hawkins' tutorial over at Ahhh Design to create this Index Card Folder.
Amanda is a maker of DIY planners and a collage artist.  She describes her style as dirty, grimy, minimal, and abstract.  Her planner pages, some of which are for sale and some of which are available as free downloads on her web site, reflect that style, and are created in a very handmade-looking fashion with a typewriter, somewhat tilt-y graphics, and random doodle-y designs. I find them kind of appealing!
Many of her planner pages are the size of 4x6 index cards, so she designed this index card folder to hold them, using binder clips to keep the pages inside and Velcro to keep the folder closed.
I jumped right in, using paper I really like, and, of course, mis-measured right out of the gate.  Taking advantage of the error, I sewed the extra paper over, and ended up with a little opening that is the perfect size for a little golf pencil!
The folder, as you can see via Amanda's tutorial folds out into three sections.  You can put whatever papers you like inside.  I put her month-at-a-glance planner page to the left here, and her week-at-a-glance planner page in the middle, so you can see how the folder might be used with Amanda's own designs.
This is what the folder looks like when you fold the left-hand flap over:
You can see the two pieces of Velcro, above, that keep the folder closed.

In her tutorial, Amanda uses two pieces of scrapbook paper and sews them together so that there is a pretty pattern on both the inside and outside of the folder.  For the second folder I created, I used a piece of double-sided scrapbook paper.  It made for beautifully coordinated colors, but I'm not sure if the single layer of paper will hold up as well to wear-and-tear as the double layer.
 This folder follows Amanda's design without my added slot for a little pencil.
I thought the paper made it perfect for holding recipes.  I could keep the week's menu plan on the left, and clip in the recipes I need to use right in the middle.  Handy, right?
For my third index card folder, I went back to stitching two pieces of paper back-to-back, and I think the two layers will definitely hold up better.
For this one, I show some business cards clipped in on the left.  I could see this working as a handy little purse planner!  It is extremely downsized from the planner I currently use.  I wonder if I could get used to something so basic and stripped down from my current notebook planner?
I was also thinking that different folders could serve different thematic purposes.  For example, I like to keep track of books that I want to look for on my next trip to the library.  Why not have an index card folder specifically for books?  I could clip in lists of book titles that I want to check out, library slips with due dates, and even an ongoing list of books I have read
My daughter came in to check out my projects:
 You can see why "wear-and-tear" are on my mind!
So here is the final result of my paper crafting playtime:  three index card folders that can be used to hold planning materials, recipes, book lists....what other uses can you think of for these fun little folders?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Making Mini-Books with Pamela and Lowri, Part 2

In my last post, I showed you a mini-book I made by following Pamela's tutorial over at Cappuccino and Art Journal (one of my very favorite blogs to visit, by the way). 
Today, I am showing you another version of this mini-book, also created from a 12x12 piece of scrapbooking paper, and combining Pamela's design with Lowri's over at PaperVine.
In this version, the mini-book has pockets like Pamela's, but regular pages like Lowri's (as opposed to an accordion fold). 
You can also get a peek at the goodies I've stashed in all of the pockets.

And for good measure, I made a second book of the same design at the same time:
Another top view:
And a peek at the innards:
Who knew that I would be laid low by a stomach bug just a few hours after posting my first mini-notebook on Saturday afternoon?  Age appears to prevent me from bouncing back from such things quite as quickly as in my youth, so I am only now on Wednesday feeling 100% back to my regular, healthy self.  My trip to the PO was delayed by the bug, but I will be getting these three books off to blogging friends by the end of the week.
If you would be interested in doing a "stuffed-pocket mini-book swap" with me, just let me know in the comments or by email to!

And it has been fun to see all the new people following my Book and Journal Making board on Pinterest.  Don't be shy!  Leave a comment on my post to let me know that you've been by.  It's just a fact:  comments make bloggers VERY happy, and I am no exception!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Making Mini-Books with Pamela and Lowri, Part 1

If I could hole up in my art room for a week, and just work my way through all of the pins on my Book and Journal Making Pinterest board, I would be a happy woman!

A paper-folding paradise on my art table
As it is, I am moving much more slowly than that, but it is one of my favorite boards to consult when I'm looking for a new project. 

Two of my pins show how to make a mini-book from a 12x12 sheet of paper, with pretty amazing results.  In Pamela's version, the project is an accordion-fold-style book, while Lowri applies a little extra glue to create a book with more traditional pages. 

Also, Pamela's book has pockets on each page, while Lowri's does not. 
In this post, I will show you the little book I made following Pamela's design, and in a future post, I'll share one that has pockets like Pamela's but book pages, like Lowri's. 
The book that Pamela designed has a page down the middle, with an accordion fold to the right and to the left.
It also has pockets for storing all kinds of notes, tags, and paper goodies--the kinds of things I love exchanging with my mail art friends (including the generous and creative Pamela, herself!).
One thing I learned in the process of making this little book is that if you use a paper design that goes in one particular direction, then the pictures will be upside down in certain places.  In this case, the houses on my cover were upside-down, so I chose to glue another paper over top of them.  I used a really pretty picture I clipped from Mary Jane's Farm magazine.
It doesn't particularly bother me that the houses on some of my pockets are upside-down.  That doesn't keep me from stuffing them with goodies to send along to a friend!

Goodies on one side of the center page

Goodies on the other side of the center page
Hmmm...what could be tucked away in all of these spaces?
I tied the book closed with some beautiful turquoise bias tape, tied into a bow.  You could glue your ribbon along the back cover of the book to hold it on permanently, but I chose not to glue it down, so it can be taken off entirely if the future owner prefers.
I wonder where this little gem is off to when the P.O. opens this week?

Be sure to check out Pamela's tutorial to make one of these little pocket notebooks of your own.  And if you are interested in doing a swap of one with me, let me know!

In an upcoming post, I will show you the booklet I made using a mash-up of Pamela and Lowri's tutorials.
Links to the tutorials:
     Pamela's on Cappuccino and Art Journal
     Lowri's on PaperVine