Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Work for SALE at Valley Artisans' Co-op!!!

New work in Valley Artisans' Gallery!!!
Yesterday morning I was finally able to update my display section at Valley Artisans' Co-op Gallery in Deep River! My display now contains a great supply of hand letterpress printed holiday cards, small hand-bound blank journals, letterpress bookmarks, small calligraphy broadsides and large calligraphy broadsides.

Customers have been requesting for months that I make some "mini" calligraphic broadsides and I have added 7 new ones to my stock.  I had great fun working in the studio over the past month completing hand illuminations with these inspirational quotations.

Each of the pieces contains a hand coloured illuminated initial, painted with gouache and gold infused ink. The quotations are written with Petrarch, the calligraphy alphabet created by my teacher and friend, the late Father Edward Michael Catich. You can learn more about Father and his work at The Art Legacy League website.  I have also reproduced these small broadsides on a large assortment of blank greeting cards. These will be in the Valley Artisans Co-op Gallery this week. The cards carry the Ducks in a Row Press imprint on the

Copyright 2013 Nancy Trottier, all rights reserved.
I have also been working diligently on finishing the binding of my letterpress artist's book edition, An Abecedarium for the Makers of Artist's Books. (This link shows the proof copy of the book and the finished copy, with slipcase.) I sold one copy of the edition at the Artisans@the Archives show in Ottawa this past weekend, have two more going to different collectors in the states, and one for sale in the gallery here in Deep River.  I have also been asked to donate a copy to the National Archives in Ottawa. This is a very interesting possibility for me and I plan to follow-up on this request in the new year. It has been gratifying to me that this wee book has be so well received when people hold it in their hands!

Wood relief cuts printed on hand made paper.

Printing holiday cards this year with wood relief cuts has also spurred my interest in learning more about wood engraving. I have a complete set of tools for this work, but have never spent much time learning how to use them.

Ted Johnston, a woodcut artisan I have met through The Ottawa Letterpress Gang, has offered to give me some tips in January. Ted has a show of his work up now at The Ottawa Folklore Centre Gallery, 1111 Bank Street. Ted Johnson’s prints have been exhibited locally in various group and solo exhibitions and are being added to private collections in Ottawa and elsewhere. His work has been featured on the CTV program Regional Contact and in publications such as Ottawa West magazine, the Orleans Star, the AOE Calendar of Events, and the FSCA magazine. If you have a chance to stop by the gallery in Ottawa when the show runs, through 7 January, I think you will really enjoy seeing his work.

The first real snow of the year has fallen overnight, blanketing the rooftops and sidewalks with a heavy wet snow.  The air is crisp and the smell of Christmas baking mingled with the rich aroma of wood burning in our family room stove will soon fill our home as I prepare cookies for St. Barnabas Anglican Church's Holly Tea this Saturday. My soul looks back to past holidays here, when my daughters were able to join us to celebrate the Christmas season, and mourns that they will not be with us this year.

I love the changes in the seasons. The natural cycle of life, from fall through winter sleep, fascinates me. As I receive the day, and finish writing here to begin my morning prayers, I am struck by the shear joy that pulses in my heart from working in my studio all day, every day. Creating works that have, for the past two years, only lived in my mind's eye, makes my heart soar like a hawk. 

And as my heart soars this morning, I know that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the grace and wisdom of our mother God, all will be well.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Artisans@the Archives, Day Two!

We are just beginning Day Two of Artisans@the Archives in Ottawa! Yesterday we had a few kinks in the day-the Christmas Parade blocked the venue's Free Parking until almost 1:00 p.m. and then there was a brief snowstorm which kept a few people away from us.

Today has dawned bright, clear, completely sunny but cold. A perfect day to get in the spirit for Christmas Shopping!! There are 90 vendors here with everything from paintings and jewelry to handmade soaps and christmas decorations.

I have many items to sell as well, including new calligraphy illuminated broadsides, letterpress bookmarks, hand-made blank journals, and of course copies of  The Abecedarium for the Makers of Artist's Books! I have three copies with me for sale. This is the letterpress artist's book edition that has 26 copies. One copy of this edition was accepted into The Sheffield International Artist's Book Prize show in England this year! Of course, I also have a lovely array of Letterpress Christmas Cards, made with hand marbled papers and printed in my studio this year.  Stop by and say hello!

My booth! (I had to take the photo with the computer-little blurry!)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Artisans@the Archives, Today and Tomorrow!

I am all set up at Artisans@the Archives, CHRISTMAS MARKET in Ottawa! Stop by today or tomorrow and sell all the new holiday letterpress greeting cards I have in stock.

Also new are several framed broadsides, and of course many new of blank journals and bookmarks just in time for holiday shopping!!

Stop by and say hello!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christmas Cards Rolling off the Press!!

The past ten days have been AMAZING ones for me in the studio. I have been able to work every day on my new Christmas Card projects. Each one of my greeting cards is created by hand, from beginning to end. The type is set by hand and printed with letterpress technology. I have been on press daily, using both my Vandercool 01 proof press given to me by John Kristensen at Firefly Press in Boston and my Challenge Gordon Press, given to me by Morris Danleywich shortly after we arrived in Deep River. I am so very blessed with the amazing equipment, tools, and supplies that have come to me in my studio!

I must emphasize here that I am not a "fine letterpress printer" as my dear friend John Kristensen of Firefly Press or Michael Babcock of Interrobang. Rather, I use my letterpress printing equipment as part of a printmaking process to help me design and produce multiples of creative images that are pleasing to my soul. Not every image is exactly alike and each has their own personality, even multiples within a set.

The very first part of this effort was setting up the Challenge Gordon with lead type and my imprint image, a mid twentieth century relief metalcut, depicting a candle, vines, and a lovely stack of books. Many people do not realize that each piece of type is individually set, and must be locked in place with metal pieces called "furniture" which hold it all together as the press is run.

On the left the chase in the Challenge Gordon, locked up with Ducks Imprint, on the right, the imprint.

Once I was set up, I cut around 1000 pieces of card stock to various sizes I wanted to use for my greeting cards, then I began to print. I spent one entire day printing over 750 card backs with my imprint above, preparing to fill the fronts of the cards with any variety of images for this upcoming Christmas season. When making cards, I use a variety of techniques, including printing on marbled paper, hand-made paper, pieces of birch bark, and cloth, for the images that are attached to the front of the blank note card. All of my cards are blank inside because I believe we each should write a personal greeting to the person we are sending the card to, instead of relying on a pre-printed message.

Once each of the cards have received the Ducks in a Row Press imprint, they are left on the paper rack to dry for two days. I then score each of the cards by hand and separate them into stacks of 50 for final attention for covers, inserts, envelopes and bags or boxes.

For some of the cards I used linoleum blocks, cut with an image, or wood relief blocks. The images to be printed in both instances are raised from the surface of the block, "type high", so that the rollers on the platen press or the impression roller on the proof press can press the paper against the inked surface to create the image.

Woodcut set of 6 cards/envelopes, woodcut blocks, single woodcut cards printed on my handmade paper.

I have been very excited about result of the woodcuts printed on my hand made paper created in the past year. I made birch bark paper and cotton paper during workshops I led this past year. The dimensional image that results from the relief block biting into the lovely thick paper is wonderful to see and touch. It will be hard for me to let these be sold!

Hamilton wood type poster type greeting cards
Other cards are produced using wood type, in the style of Letterpress Posters from early in the twentieth century.

I choose to arrange the wood type for these sets of Christmas cards in a rectangular fashion, with no word spacing. The design emphasizes the angular nature of the Hamilton wood type.

Some of these cards were imprinted on hand marbled paper made this Summer at our Cottage Studio. The marbling was done on velour surfaced paper, which gives the type a softer surface for the impression.

Each of the cards have a lovely textural quality from inking on wood. The swirling of the marbling in the velour paper shows through the prints, a transparent quality that is reflective of my view that the distance between this world and the next is very thin.

Simpler Christmas Cards

I have also printed a number of simpler sets of cards, black on white, that utilize a very early twentieth century metalcut I purchased at The Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA.

These are smaller cards, and the imprint cut I use was not pleasing on the back. I have added a few more of the mono-type ornament ducks that John Kristensen gave to me when we lived in Cambridge.

Woodcut and linocut prints on gold surfaced paper.
When living in Cambridge I was also gifted with an amazing treasure trove of hand stamped papers, other special finish papers and bookboard from a lovely woman who was closing up her studio. One of these papers, a gold finished paper, was exceptionally fun to use for my greeting cards.

Creating a linocut for a nativity scene was a challenge for me. My design was first printed in reverse on a piece of paper. Next I placed the image over a piece of carbon paper which helped to trace the image onto the linoleum block. Next I cut out all the places I did not want to print, leaving a relief or raised image that would print. I worked diligently not to over-ink the press as I was looking for the gold to shimmer through the image of the family.  These cards were printed on the Challenge Gordon press.

The woodcut images (smaller cards to the left) were printed on the Vandercook 01 proof press. I was able to apply ink more individually here, and received the same shimmer through the print with an overall darker impression.

Creating and printing these lovely Christmas cards has been so inspiring. As I print and assemble the final cards, I think often about the stories they will hold when people write to friends and families using them. I well remember the wonder of receiving Christmas cards and letters (before the internet and the ease of inexpensive long distance calls) from far flung relatives and friends as a small child in Iowa.

My mother would save most of the cards until Christmas Eve, unopened in a black metal sleigh basket she had on the mantle above the fireplace. Mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve, my father would be out splitting wood, often with light snow falling, that he would use to lay the fire for our afternoon of cards.  My mother would make home-made hot chocolate on the stove, and fill a platter with cookies.

When the fire was lit, we would gather round Mom on the sofa with our mugs steaming (topped with marshmallows from Marcuci's!) and listen while she read us letters from her sisters and friends from afar, warmed by the crackling fire in front of us. Often there would be pictures to pass around.  Mostly I remember the cards-many were hand made creations that only folks who lived through the Depression and saved rubber bands could make. I still have many of them today and cherish how they feel in my hand. Each card told a story to us about the lives of the sender in a very personal way.

I think this is why I so love to make greeting cards and note cards. Our world today is going so very fast, and communication is instantaneous. Even though our families are spread across nations and the world, we can see them in an instant through Skype and other services, or hear their voices over the telephone should we wish.  I wonder what we sacrifice, however, by not taking the time to write a personal letter to someone, or a card, to let them know how we are and that we are thinking of them, and holding them dear.

My heart soars like a hawk when I think about the joy I have had creating these Christmas Cards and hope that people will use them to send messages of love, hope, and joy to family and friends this Christmas season. When I remember the joy of my early childhood Christmas, sharing the personal cards from friends and family, I can hear the lilt in my mother's voice as she read to my sister and me, and feel the warmth of the fire on my face and the sweetness of the chocolate on my lips.

And I know that all will be well, and all will be well, with the grace and wisdom of God our Mother, all will be well.


Ducks in a Row Press Greeting and Note Cards are available at Valley Artisans' Co-op Gallery  in Deep River, Ontario.  Nancy will also be selling them at the Kinburn Community Craft Fair, November 9, 2013 and at Artisans@the Archives in Ottawa, November 23-24, 2013.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Studio Visit Great Fun!

Nancy Minogue from Peppertree Visual Communications in Ottawa paid me a visit yesterday. We had great fun on Ned (My 1890's Challenge Gordon Press) printing a few things. Nancy learned a bit about how to lock up the chase, adjust the packing, and make a print.

Nancy feeding the press
It was so much fun to be back on press, and printing with a dear friend who is learning about letterpress printing! Her enthusiasm and interest really filled the studio with amazing energy.  Nancy (nickname Spike) traveled with me to The Printing Arts Fair at The Museum of Printing this past June. She jumped in, volunteering to help with all aspects of the fair.

Yesterday she jumped right in, with the same enthusiasm, learning a bit about locking up a chase, setting the guides, feeding the press, and the coordination necessary to print with a treadle drive platen press.

Nancy checking out her impression and the Two Nancy's, Tadaa!!!

Click on the image to enlarge
As I move back into being a studio artisan full time, my heart soars like a hawk! Having Nancy here yesterday for a studio visit just reinforced my passion for being here.  Today I will be back on press, printing cards for the coming Christmas season, bookmarks, and other holiday centered items.  My bench is also filled with work that needs to be completed by the end of the month for two shows I will be participating in this holiday season.

 On Saturday November 9 I will be traveling to  Kinburn, Ontatio for the 33rd Annual Christmas Kraft Fair. When Fran├žois and I were first married we lived in Fitzroy Harbour, quite close to Kinburn. It is going to be great fun for me to be back in what I consider to be my "Canada home" neighborhood.

I will be traveling to this show with my good friend from Valley Artisans' Co-op, Laura Mayo. We both will be selling new work perfect for holiday gift giving.

On November 23-24 Laura and I will be participating in the  Artisans @ the Archives Christmas Market in Ottawa. The premier fine crafts show is well  known for the high quality of work available as well as the impeccable organization of the group putting the show together.

Now as I prepare for these shows and also work at framing new work for Valley Artisans' Co-op Gallery, my creative soul trembles with excitement. I dream each night of pieces I wish to create, stone inscriptions I hope to cut, and artists' books that are waiting to be born.

The coldness of the air that has descended upon Deep River this week calls us to be aware that the season is about to change. My studio nesting is now done, and I am prepared to hunker down here as the first snowflakes fly, and work diligently to produce the work I have been dreaming about this past year.  I have been quiet, watched for the signs, and my heart has soared like a hawk as this next part of my journey begins.

In doing so I have developed an even more definite trust that with the grace and infinite wisdom of God in my life, that all will be well, and all will be well, and the joy of creating will carry me through, and all will be well.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Back in the Studio FULL TIME!

This past Friday was my final regular shift at Canadian Tire in Deep River. My blood pressure was not improving, and my doctor said to leave this high stress retail part time job for my health. I think the cognitive dissonance from working at minimum wage part time instead of following my passion of working in the studio full time finally got to my soul. I enjoyed seeing people, but the time it took away from my creative work was just too much.

Over the weeks leading up to my resignation, I had prayed for guidance and received amazing support from my husband for this decision. Even with all of his support and the word from the doctor, I was still second guessing my decision as I walked out the door at Canadian Tire for the last time as an employee. The bit of money I earned at the job really helped us financially, and I have been concerned about not having that regular paycheck.

"God of Hope"

On Saturday afternoon I was working my shift at Valley Artisans' Co-op Gallery, and a lovely woman stopped in to shop. She was on her way to visit her daughter in Petawawa.

As she walked around the gallery, she came to my display in the store, and I could hear crying. I walked over to ask her if she was ok and she told me she was extremely moved by one of my calligraphy broadsides on the wall, and asked who the artisan was. I smiled and said, "That would be me!"

She told me how much she loved the work, how it moved her soul, that she felt I was very gifted and should be doing this work full time!! Talk about affirmation, WOW!

We talked for over an hour, sharing our stories, and finding that we had much in common in our lives. She ended up purchasing this work and we plan to keep in touch in the weeks and months to come.  This morning she and her daughter joined us at St. Barnabas for worship. Amazing.

More important than the money I will earn from this sale, is the knowledge that God was speaking to me through this wonderful person. She encouraged all of my creative decisions and talked about the message that spoke to her through this work, "God of Hope."  She encouraged me to follow my heart, follow my creative passion, and continue making broadsides that pull my soul into the world.

Her visit to our artisans gallery brought home to me the amazing connection between the creative artisans, the work created, and the viewer. That conversation is one that sometimes get lost in all the intricately written art history and criticism writings that are out there. However, as an object oriented art historian, I have come to realize that the tangible and intangible ways that a work of art speaks to the viewer, that conversation, is the most important part of the creative experience for me. I love the "spirit of making" that comes over me, to be sure. But to be able to enter into a conversation with another soul, based on what comes out of my creative center, well there is nothing like it in the world.

I am firmly set on my path as a full-time studio artisan once again.

And I know with the grace and peace of God, and the wisdom of the earthly angels She sends to speak to us when our ears are filled with wax, that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the joy of creation in our soul and the willingness to start the conversation, all will be well.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Birthday Thanksgiving!

My mother-in-law sent me this amazing bouquet for my birthday today! It arrived on Friday afternoon and has made this weekend so very special. My mother died in 1994, and my mother-in-law Irma has stepped into my heart to fill that void. I am very blessed that she is so very loving and has taken me to her heart as another daughter!

58 years ago today my mother, Ruth Domsalla Anderson, went into labor and was taken to Jane Lamb Hospital in Clinton, Iowa. Her OB was on his way back from Chicago on the train, and my mother was told my delivery needed to wait until his arrival. She and my dad (Ken) were not pleased, and me being me, I did not wait for the OB to show up. I arrived quickly and with much fan-fare, however, I had spinal meningitis and was not expected to live. Parents were told to prepare for the worst. Minister was called, funeral home prepared.

Fourteen days in an incubator and around the clock nursing and I am still here! My pediatrician, Dr. Rockwell (first female doctor in Clinton) told my folks 6 days into this two week period she felt I would make it because I had kicked the lid off the incubator one night. She told them it showed to her my determination to live and be noticed for still being here.

After I was taken home from the hospital, doctors told my parents to expect brain damage from the difficult birth and the infections I suffered after I arrived. Their estimation was that I would be a "special needs" child and never attend regular school. One day when I was about 4 years old, our neighbor Dr. Snyder was leading a group of the neighborhood children in cleaning up the street where we lived. Evidently I started peppering him with questions about what we were doing, and why, an I did not stop talking. He started to cry (I remember this well) and took my hand to walk me over to my father who was raking up leaves. He told my Dad he was amazed, but that I was going to be just fine.

When I was a child, every birthday was a celebration of life and love. Every birthday for my sister and I involved a "Birthday Breakfast." My mother would set the table with her finest china and crystal, and bake a lamb cake for me. (My daughter Emily now has the lamb cake mold in Iowa.)

Birthday Breakfasts until the year I was first married happened without fail, through college and changes in my life, and included crape paper streamers, balloons, and a table covered with wrapped presents, all before I left for school. I could have whatever I wanted for that breakfast. It was all magic for me.

When I was first married to my daughters' father Kent, at our rehersal  dinner, my mother handed Kent a box with all the "fixings" and instructions for the "birthday breakfast". Bless him, he did this without fail right up until the September before he died.

My mom Ruthie, about age 12
My mother was so very thankful to God that I had survived my birth and serious illness, she celebrated each year in a tangible, kinesthetic way, to help us all remember the blessing of being alive.

This morning as I write, my cup runneth over with love and thanksgiving for that wonderful woman who left this earth in 1994. Whenever I wish that I could know her at the age I am now, tell her that the life she gave to me has been so precious, I invariably dream about her the next night as I did last night.

I realize then, as I did this morning, that she is always with me, always by my side in prayer and in the studio, encouraging me to continue to move forward, and continue kicking the lid off the incubator so I don't get too comfortable!

All will be well, and all will be well, with the blessings and wisdom of our Mother God, all will be well.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Setting Up My New Studio at the Cottage!!

These photos were taken this week, during our first few days on our Summer Holidays at the cottage. My husband has constructed me the most amazing studio at the cottage!! These are just a few photos. I am in Deep River today picking up more equipment and supplies. It is amazing to me that I will have close to 3 1/2 weeks of uninterrupted CREATIVE TIME in this amazing studio. I am truly blessed!

I hope to be binding books and cutting letters in slate by Saturday morning!

You can see the construction of the studio over the past two years in the slide show posted to the right of this section of my website!

Setting up, moving around...

This stairway to the sleeping loft is being replaced by a collapsible attic staircase.

My stone cutting table!! PERFECT LIGHT with a corner shelf for a battery operated spot light!

Unpacking and setting up the space.

My calligraphy table was given to me by our dear friend, Kathren Jackson, and came from her childhood home.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cottage Studio Progress and Summer Holidays!

Fran├žois and I spent this past Monday and Tuesday at the cottage preparing to start our annual Summer Holidays on July 14. We are so blessed to have this marvelous piece of heaven where we rejuvenate each year.

Over the past two years, my loving husband has been in the process of building me a beautiful studio on our cottage property. It has 11 windows between the main floor and the sleeping loft, and two lovely venting skylights. All of the windows are new vinyl replacement windows I got FREE on Craig's List in Cambridge. Each one of them is slightly a different size, however, that does not matter because they bring in so much light!

This week we installed the front door to the studio. This wonderful door has a venting window and will provide more light and fresh air into the studio.

Checking the door opening, applying the calk, setting the shims, and resting on the temporary steps after the door was hung!
This week when we return we will install foam insulation and block up all potential holes that might allow "critters" to make an entrance. Our next step will be to put up the vinyl siding and trim out the exterior windows and door frame. Once this work is completed, I will be able to set up shop in the studio and get to work making art and creating artists books.

Studio last year-just before second skylight was installed.
My studio time at the cottage this year will be very special. This new studio, lovingly created for me by my husband, will provide a peaceful, dedicated creative space in the middle of the wilderness. My creative time will be enhanced by the wind in the willows, the call of the loons, and the quiet of living "off grid" for over four weeks.

This year I have a full studio plate-making hand made paper, making marbled paper, creating a series of unique artists' books, making greeting cards, and cutting letters in slate. As most artists and artisans know, there is no substitute for continued, uninterrupted creative time. This lovely studio will allow me to spread out, establish my creative flow, and work to my heart's content!

As we prepare to leave the comforts of Deep River for the rigors of living continually "off grid" at the cottage, I realize that I will be once again disconnected from some of the comforts of modern living. No telephone or cell phone service, battery and solar power for tool use and the occasional movie watched on a laptop, and kerosene lanterns and solar powered flashlights for wandering around in the dark.

However, my heart soars like a hawk when I think about watching the moon rise or the sun set over the lake from our deck. My breath quickens and my pulse races when I contemplate the joy of making paper in my new studio and picking up the chisel to cut a letter in the quiet of the forest.

Existing as we do during our summer holidays brings us into the bosom of mother nature, to feel her warmth and revel in the bountiful abundance of the cycle of life and the seasons that envelope our world. My husband takes great joy in tracking the path of the sun as it sets each day over the lake, taking note of the decreasing number of minutes of daylight we enjoy each day. I revel in the quiet joy of the wind as it whispers to my creative soul and the fervent fluttering of the hummingbirds as they fight for a space at the feeder.

Marking time with the peacefulness of prayer and creative pursuits, husbandry of the land and lake of which we are stewards, and enjoying the call of the loon as we fall into deep, restful sleep, brings us such joy.

And I know with the wisdom and the grace of God to guide us, we will enjoy each moment of our time away, and all will be well, and all will be well, and with the beauty of God's creation all around us, all will be well.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Heading to The Printing Arts Fair in North Andover, MA!!!!

I am just getting ready to put my suitcase into the truck and head for the Boston, MA area and The Printing Arts Fair at The Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA this coming Sunday.  Iam traveling with a colleague from The Letterpress Gang, another Nancy, and am thankful for the company on this journey.

Check out the link for the fair on the Museum website. IT IS AN AMAZING EVENT.  I serve as a member of the Board of Directors of this 100% volunteer run facility.

There was also a wonderful article in the Boston Globe about the museum and the fair, which runs Sunday, June 16th, from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

As is my custom, I have completed a letterpress collage monoprint, seen here, for the raffle. It is framed and ready to hang on your wall! It was completed on the Vandercook 01 proof press given to me by my dear friend, John Kristensen of Firefly Press in Boston.

In addition to all the wonderful demonstrations at this year's fair, Steamroller Printing is BACK!!!

A group of artisans have completed individual blocks of the Alphabet, cut in linoleum, that will be inked and arranged together on a piece of plywood. Paper will be put on top, then another piece of plywood, and the steamroller will pass over it to make a print. There will be other large blocks printed as well.

The Museum Shop will be open, selling type and letterpress supplies as well as an incredible selection of books and prints.

Don't miss this incredible day!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Ottawa Letterpress Gang Meets Again!

Some of The Ottawa Letterpress Gang!
On May 19 I was blessed to travel to Ottawa to meet with members of The Ottawa Letterpress Gang.  We meet at The Lieutenant's Pump in Ottawa to break bread and keep each other up to date. This group of letterpress enthusiasts and book artists meet quarterly to share information, discuss projects we are working on in our studios, and also to share technical expertise with each other.  The group's members regularly work with novices to printing and book arts, helping folks to find equipment, classes, and supplies to complete their own projects.

In addition, we take on "group projects" where each member of the group completes a part of the project that is then brought together into one.  Our most recent project was a "type sampler." Each member completed a signature of type and cut samples from their studios. We have different levels of press expertise from novice (myself) to more expert levels (Weathervane Press). These signatures were then gathered and bound together into a finished book. Gayle and Stephen Quick of Weathervane Press in Ottawa helped the group complete the binding. Below are a few photos of the book.

Cover and title page, 2 of my spreads, other samples.

It has been amazing for me to meet and share time with this group. Living in Deep River is wonderful, but I am a bit isolated from the "book arts world" except when I travel to Ottawa to meet with this group. Their willingness to share their time and their treasure of information has been invaluable to me!  It was through this group that I met Britt Quinlan, The Paperwright, who helped supply me for my recent paper making and paper marbling workshops.

I am also moving tentatively into selling items directly from my blog. On the right hand side of the page you can see a link to my ONLINE DIRECT shop. This page will sell unique items hand made here in Deep River in my studio. The items I sell through my regular ONLINE CAFE PRESS shop are mass produced with my art work placed on them.

On this rainy Sunday, as I prepare to leave my electronic world to join my faith community, I am struck by the thinness that this electronic age has brought to our creative world. With the touch of a button we can communicate with other book artisans and letterpress printers to share information and learn about their own challenges in their studios. What used to involve months of letters, phone calls, and trips to visit folks has now evolved into online chats and blogs such as mine that allow us to make the vast space between us become very thin.

My heart soars like a hawk when I work in my studio and know that I can call upon the expertise of others such as the "Gang" through my computer for sharing ideas or solving technical problems. This sharing of our 'talent and our treasure" makes our arts community strong in the same way our faith community is strengthened at St. Barnabas.  I know that in the weeks ahead, as I tackle some very difficult projects, that if I need assistance, I will be able to reach out to both, through the thinness of the air, for guidance, support, and encouragement.

And I know that by the Grace of God, in the fullness of time, that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the wisdom of God  and the sharing of our talents, all will be well.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hand Paper Making and Marbling Workshops Huge Success!!!

These photos were taken at a Hand Paper-making and Hand Paper Marbling Workshop Day led by Nancy Trottier in Deep River, ON on May 11, 2013.  Adults from the Deep River arts community attended in the morning with children and youth attending in the afternoon. The youth of St. Barnabas Anglican Church community are in the process of creating an artists' book edition with hand made marbled paper covers and illustrations they created themselves. The text has been written by Phyllis Heeny, a member of the parish.The book will be available for sale in the Fall of 2013.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pembroke Public Library Book Arts Workshops!!!

Pembroke Public Library has invited me to participate in their Library Arts Series this year. I will be offering a group of Book Arts Workshops for the novice calligrapher and bookbinder. Please CLICK HERE to see all the information about the courses.

Pre-Registration is required. All registration forms and fees must be directed to the Pembroke Public Library. The course brochure and registration forms are on the workshop information page on this website.

Each individual workshop has a course fee of $50 and a materials fee of $20, both payable at the time of registration. Students (aged 14-18) received a $10 discount on the course fee, and must present their student ID at the time of registration or include a photocopy of their ID with the registration form.

You may email me, with questions about the content for each workshop!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Eagles Do Not Flock

Father Edward Michael Catich was an eagle in every sense of the word. He had a sharp eye and whit, a dedication to his faith and service to God. He was a priest, artist, and scholar. During the last year of his life on earth, I was fortunate to be enrolled in his studio art program at St. Ambrose University. Father Catich took me under his wing. Not only was he my teacher, but he was also my priest and my friend at a time when I desperately needed both.

In 1976 after graduating from Mt. St. Clare College with an Associate of Arts degree I was awarded a significant scholarship to St. Ambrose to study calligraphy and studio art with Father Catich. I was afraid to start the program in the fall, so I sought permission to delay my scholarship and moved to New York City to be a mother's helper for a family.

In addition to working for a family, I had also decided I wanted to study with Paul Freeman from the Society of Scribes. I had only three lessons with Paul, who was wonderfully kind, when he asked me quietly, "What the hell are you doing in New York, so far away from your family, when you live 45 minutes away from the old man of the brush, Catich?" His wife was there with us that day-they were so nice to me. She served us tea and cookies. The three of us talked at length about my fears of "not making the grade." Paul convinced me to return to Iowa and pick up my scholarship. It was not until I had known Father Catich for about 4 months that he told me he had received a concerned call from Paul the year before about a young Iowa red-head who was lost in New York and coming home soon to study with him. I was very touched.

When I arrived at St. Ambrose in May of 1978 to meet Father and discuss school, he looked at my calligraphy work and told me it was midwest nothing, but that we could fix that in time, and not to worry. He told me I would need some books to study over the summer and he would get them for me. He proceeded to one of the back/side walls of his large studio and started to climb the metal shelving and pull down some books from the top. I was terrified the entire shelf was going to come down on him!  He handed me The Trajan Inscription in Rome, The Origin of the Serif, and Reed, Pen & Brush Alphabets. I explained that I did not have any money to pay him for the books right then.  He said, "Not to worry, we will just make a record." He walked to the studio door and wrote my name, the book titles, and the amount on the door. He told me I could pay him when I had the money.  Father told me to go home and study and practice, and he would see me in the fall.

It was not until after his death, when I was helping to clean the studio and to catalog all of his books, that I discovered that these very same shelves were bolted to the cement walls of the studio!

Father Catich was an amazing artist. He could draw letters and buildings upside down to stun both the lecture hall audience and the students he was trying to teach in the classroom. But he was always first, and foremost, a priest. His deep faith and belief that Christ should always be kept amongst us in our hearts was never more present that in his depictions of Christ in "everyday dress" which caused him great difficulties with the powers that be in the Catholic Church.

Below is a quote from the River Cities Reader, 2004:

From the Catich Digital Archives
"For instance, at the same time his iconic image of a black Christ on the knee of a Latina Mary was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Time magazine was reporting on Catich’s notoriety as an anti-traditionalist. Catich was quoted as saying, “We must fashion a Christ who will be no stranger to our time. ... I do not think it vulgar to suggest we give Christ a shave and a haircut.” The Vatican was less than enthralled with Catich’s crusade to portray “Christ in a T-shirt” and issued him a monitum – a warning from the Pope." 

Father Catich was able to translate the stories of the Bible into everyday language. This interpretation of the Biblical stories helped us to see how they related to our own stories in present day, and how those stories could help us to be better daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends to those around us.

Father also believed that understanding the Bible within the context of present day events would help us to be better artists and craftspersons as well. He is quoted as saying, "I suggest, therefore, that a basic principle of religious art is that we must express religious truths in contemporary terms...Christ should be portrayed as a member of our household and our city, a person of our land and our language." He expected us to not only be able to make letters with some skill, but to be able to represent our world around us, interpreting the Biblical narrative with modern day visual vocabulary, using pencil, watercolor brush, and pen.

At the time of his death he had been planning another trip to Europe for the Summer of 1979.  He was taking his "3 girls" with  him, Maureen Long, Amy Nielsen, and me, to help with the creating of glass for a stained glass window in Cologne and also to make more rubbings of the Trajan Inscription in Rome. He was convinced that the pollution was eroding the inscription even more than when he had made his second set of rubbings in preparation for the cast he made for Donnelley Publishing in the 1960's. (click on the previous phrase to see the cast) He also wanted each of us to have our own rubbing of the inscription.

Father Catich's Leica
The last day I saw him, Maundy Thursday, 1979, we had class in the morning and then I was to leave to return to my hometown, Clinton, to pick up my husband and travel to a conference in Kansas with him on Easter weekend.  I kept forgetting items at the school-my negative notebook in the darkroom, my watercolor board in the studio. I ended up going back to the college 4 or more times that day. Each time I had wonderful long conversations with Father. He kept trying to give me money to pay for our plane tickets to Europe-we were getting them from my travel agent in Clinton. That day he also gave me his Leica camera. He wanted me to practice on my trip that weekend as he had asked me to be the official photographer for our journey to Rome. We talked about faith issues that day, about my family, and my hopes for teaching someday. The last moments I saw him he was standing next to John Schmits in his first floor office, talking, while John painted.

Returning from the trip to Kansas we arrived in Ames, Iowa at a relative's home to hear the phone ringing. It was for me. In the days before cell phones were common, we had been out of touch for the entire weekend. My mother was calling to inform me that Father had been found dead in his studio on Saturday morning by his apprentice, and our good friend. Paul Herrera. The next few days were a blur. The immense grief that we all felt was overpowering as we prepared ourselves for the funeral. The vigil in the chapel at St. Ambrose and the funeral the next day were difficult and exhausting for us all. At each step of the way we were reminded that Father Catich was our teacher, but he was first a priest and a servant of Christ and the church.

Over the years I have tried to understand why my time with Father Catich, this relatively short period of time in my life, changed me so profoundly. It has only been in the last few years that I realized it was due to the transformative nature of prayer in our lives. Father reminded me often of the need for prayer in my life. For me, making art work, either calligraphy pieces, watercolors, or artist's books,  are a form of prayer. I feel compelled to tell my faith story in the objects I create and to share the process of making, which are my prayers, with those whom I come in contact with on the journey.

Maureen Long and Paul Herrera, 1979 St. Ambrose
Recently I have been able to reconnect with  my good friend from those days, Paul Herrera. He and a group of former Catich students have formed The Art Legacy League to honor the life and work of Father Catich. Paul is also completing work on a biography of Father Catich. As Father's apprentice at the time of his death, and the person who found him in his studio, Paul is the only person who can tell this incredible story of Father Catich's life, his faith, and his dedication to his creative soul.

Paul began a lecture tour across the United States and Canada two years ago to teach people about Father. He will be heading to Oregon this summer and to Boston in October to lead The CATFISH Letter Arts School weekend workshop at The Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA.

Father Catich died 34 years ago, on April 14. In some ways he is more alive to me now than he has ever been. As I work in my studio making letters, preparing stone for cutting, and making artist's books, I am reminded of his dedication to prayer as a central portion of both his spiritual and creative life. He admonished us all in his last will and testament about prayer, using the words of Tennyson:

"I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within Himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of..."
Pray for my Soul!

With each breath I take, with each stroke I make, I continue to pray for his soul, with grace and thanksgiving, that he touched my life so completely. Each day in my studio when I sit in his chair (given to me after his death) and look at his photo above my table, I am reminded that God's power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

We need only open our hearts and our minds to God each and every day, and with the grace of God, all will be well, and all will be well, and with the peace of God, all will be well.

To learn more about Father Catich, please check out The Art Legacy League website and also the Catich Digital Archives, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Visiting Chicago & The Newberry Library!!

This past Thursday I left Ottawa to travel to the United States to visit with my two daughters, Emily and Kristin. I flew into Cedar Rapids, Iowa where my daughter Emily picked me up and we went to see the screen printing company where she is the office manager, Apparel 1.  I was fascinated my the amazing size of the screen printing shop and also the wonderful embroidery set up they have.

Emily and I then left to drive to Chicago where my youngest daughter Kristin is in graduate school at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. We arrived on Michigan Avenue around 12:30 a.m. to pick Kris up at her studio and head to her apartment for the night. We were able to visit her studio the next day. It is in a building directly across from the Art Institute of Chicago. She has a nice large space in the graduate school student studios. I was thrilled to see her workspace and now will be able to imagine her working there during those long periods when I can visit her in person!

The next morning we took the "L" elevated train down to meet my dear friend, Paul Herrera, at the AIC for lunch and then a tour of The Newberry Library in Chicago.
My daughters Kristin & Emily, myself, and Paul Gehl reviewing the 1507 Hardouyn Book of Hours edition: the subject of my Master's Thesis!
My dear friend, Paul Gehl, Custodian, John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing, was kind enough to give us a wonderful tour of the library, including a visit to the Rare Book Stacks. Here he is showing my girls and me the 1507 edition of the Hardouyn Book of Hours that I wrote my master's thesis on back in the day. When I was in graduate school, and the girls were 12 and 10, Paul invited them to come and see this book and told them how important the research I was doing was to the history of printing. They were fascinated then, and it was amazing to be able to view the book again with them as adults. I was really surprised at the emotions that welled up in my heart seeing "my" Hardouyn again. I have always felt that this work was unfinished, and now, I am eager to search out new possibilities for lectures and publishing in early printing history. Stay tuned for developments in this regard!

This afternoon I will be venturing out to get the art supplies for my Wednesday workshop for The CATFISH Letter Arts School. I am excited to begin the final preparations for the workshop. This is the first time I have led a workshop in Iowa in over 14 years! It will be a small group, but sometimes that is so much the better. Former Catich apprentice, Paul Herrera, as well as former Catich student, Amy Nielsen, will be joining me for the workshop and to share the work of The Art Legacy League with participants over lunch. Both are also "Core Faculty" for The CATFISH Letter Arts School and it will be a joy for all three of us to be together again in the classroom.

As I think of my time in Iowa, sharing with not only my dear girls, but with friends and colleagues from my life, I think of Father Catich and his request to us all to pray for his soul. My husband emailed me his homily this morning, and I think these Bible verses are so important, I share them here:

Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18)
Speak without accusing (James 1:19)
Answer without arguing (Proverbs 17:1)
Enjoy without complaint (Phi. 2:14)
Trust without wavering (1 Cor. 13:7)
Pray without ceasing (Col. 1:9)
Give without sparing (Proverbs 21:26)
Forgive without punishing (Col. 3:13)
Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)

In this season of Lent, as we examine our lives and the life choices we have made and make every day, it is wonderful to think about the shared grace of mutual friendship and love shared over time. God calls us to love unconditionally, which is sometimes very hard to do, but even though it hard sometimes, it does not lesson the call. I am so very blessed to have received the gift of a plane ticket to come here and share time with family and friends.

As the sun rises in the sky this morning, I am home in Iowa. Tomorrow I journey on my own to my hometown, Clinton, Iowa, to visit with friends from my youth. We will break bread at my favorite restaurant in Clinton, Rastrelli's, and share memories of when we were young and stories of our todays.

My heart soars like a hawk when I think of being home, driving by my childhood home, and visiting with people from my formative years. Our stories began together so many years ago, and in many ways, they are still intertwined, even if we are distant geographically from one another.  I have been so very blessed in my life by the companionship of wonderful people and shared memories.

My heart is full as I know that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the grace and infinite wisdom of God in her mercy, all will be well.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Equipment and Tools!

 I have been away from my blog since before Christmas and New Year's holidays. Unfortunately I spent most of January sick in bed, and will not bore you with the details. My loving husband took wonderful care of me and I am back amongst the living! Lots happening in the studio however!

Lying Press, Plough and Tub set up in the Studio-different views

In November I received my new lying press and plough from Murray Wright of Deep River, and in December I received my new tub, created by Craig Stuart of Deep River, for the lying press. All three are shown here. I had to order the plough blade from England but it works perfectly. So pleased that Robert Cornwall of Bookbinding Supplies in Enlgand was willing to sell me one that he manufactures for the ploughs he makes.  Murrary used a strip of walnut for the guide, and when Craig was making the tub, he used a piece of walnut for the top of the lying press tub. This walnut piece screws in and out to allow for adjustments in the placement of the lying press in the tub. Craig also added some additional parts, including a lovely drawer on the bottom and lockable casters. The drawer is perfect for holding small tools and the casters allow me to move the tub around in the studio. When I go on the road for classes I will also be able to take it with me for demonstrations. Both of these talented craftsmen will be making these items for custom orders in the near future. I am helping to set up their websites during February and March and will keep you updated as to when they can accept orders.

Piercing Cradle by Craig Stuart

I was also blessed to receive this lovely piercing cradle by Craig Stuart. My dear friend Michael Babcock of Interrobang Letterpress had posted his newly created wooden piercing cradle on Facebook. When I saw this I realized that it made so much sense. I have been forever remaking mine from book-board over the past several years. Craig used a piece of offcut wood that has a lovely knot in it and makes the piece so beautiful to view. The surface has a gloriously smooth finish. Works very well for all sizes of books. It is a little over 13 inches in length. He also added small feet to the bottom for steadiness on the workbench. I am so blessed to have these tools in the studio!

In the fall I was notified that my artist's book, "Dance and Believe" had been accepted for the Contemporary Book Arts Show at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.
"Dance & Believe"

This small book, approximately 3" x 5", is in the collection of Nora Waddell of Deep River and has been graciously loaned for the show. This book was created using hand made paper, letterpress, rubber stamp, and embellishments for the interior. It is a multi-signature book with hand marbled papers for the cover. This book reflects my firm belief that if we were all dancing in the Light of God, life would be much better in the world!

The Contemporary Book Arts in Eastern Ontario exhibition opens on March 1st. Check out the poster to the right for more information. As soon as Queen's University updates their website for the event, I will post a link here.

I am participating as a member of "The Ottawa Press Gang" for this exhibition. This is a group of letterpress printers, book artists, and bookbinders in Ottawa. We gather every couple of months in Ottawa to trade information about our studio projects, talk about upcoming shows, and discuss technical issues we run into in our studios and shops.

I currently have four unique books on the desk, creating the structures and adding the text and illustrations daily. I will post photos when the books are complete showing the process of creating. Currently I am working with 19th century printed music for illustrations as well as adding letterpress elements and affixing 3-D embellishments. I also have four restoration projects on the bench and must get to finishing them before I leave for Iowa in March to teach for The Catfish Letter Arts School in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Those of you who have been asking about classes in the States, here is your chance. I will be conducting a one day workshop on March 20th in Bettendorf, Iowa. We will cover "Creating a Single Signature Manuscript Book."  This workshop will show you how to size and create your pages, create  a dummy for text layout, line your pages for calligraphic text and illumination, assemble, sew, and cover the book.  I will also have on hand several other book structures and will distribute directions for creating them.  Please check out The Catfish Letter Arts School page on The Art Legacy League website. If you email me at and sign up for the course, based on the link to my website here, you will receive 15% off the list price for the course. This offer is limited TO THE FIRST TEN PEOPLE who sign-up, so do not delay!

As I prepare to leave for my afternoon shift at Valley Artisans' Co-op here in Deep River, I am reminded of the joy I feel for the community in which we live. My creative life is always charged by the members of the co-op as they share the joy of what they are creating in their studios. I am so blessed to have folks here who are so interested in my work as well as their own.

It is very cold and crisp out today with amazing, bright sunshine. My heart soars like a hawk when I think of the ideas I have floating in my head. I know that my studio will be waiting for me when I return home and that my creative soul will continue to thrive within its confines. I am so very blessed to be here at this point in my life when my entire being exists only to create!  I know that with each breath I take, each book I create, that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the grace and peace of God's light and wisdom in my life, all will be well.