Monday, November 10, 2014

Creative Verve Is Flying High!

This is the "Steampunk" version of the JOY! Postcard series.
I Love it, but most of the marketing material looks like the photo to the right!

I am very busy these days preparing for JOY!!, November 22-23 in Ottawa. This is the large Christmas Market sponsored by the Ottawa Valley Craft & Collectibles Guild, of which I am a member. Click on the photo above to be taken to the show website, where all the information about the vendors is available.

There is FREE parking for visitors downtown in Ottawa!!!!

This is also the weekend for the Santa Claus parade, so on Saturday try to arrive in the morning before 11 and note that access to be parking may be restricted during the parade.

There is no set entry fee, however, the organizers will be taking donations at the door for The Ottawa Senators Fountation.  The Ottawa Senators Foundation empowers children and youth to reach their full potential by investing in social recreation and education programs that promote both physical and mental wellness.

I am very honored to be in such good company for this show. Over 80 vendors will be on hand, including Valley Artisans' Co-op members Laura Mayo and Sara Carlisle  for both days, and Karen Bernard, on Sunday.

There is something amazing about being part of a market full or artisans who bring their soul into the world by creating. Their are food artisans, fabric artisans, and a host of traditional crafts at this show. Be sure to stop in and support local artisans.

Over the past year I have been working on small editioned and unique artist's books.  I am so excited to have sold most copies of my ABECEDARIUM for the Maker's of Artist's Books, but still have a few copies left which will be available at the show. John Howell Books in the USA has one copy for sale also.

I will also have on hand the final reproductions of my unique artist's book, The Alphabet Effect.

The reproductions can be seen HERE.

Many of the journals have charms in their ties.
Over the Summer working at the Cottage Studio was amazing. I have produced a line of Soft Cover leather bound journals.  These are longstitch binding, and lay flat on the table. They are perfect for travel journaling because they are flat.

The soft leather covers allow plenty of room for expansion of the book through additions pasted onto the page.  Several have signatures made from Fabriano watercolor paper. Some of these journals also come with a soft, letterpress, bookmark.

The "Treasure Boxes" are perfect size for 4"x6" photos.

Last year I had many requessts for handmade boxes, so I have added these to my show inventory.

The "Treasure Boxes" are all cut and assembled by hand and covered with either bookcloth, handmade paper, or hand silk screened paper.

I will have several sets that will come with a matching journal, as shown here.

Wood Relief blocks and cards printed from them on handmade birch bark paper.

My letterpress line of Christmas Cards and Note cards is being expanded this week also.  My cards are printed on handmade paper, marbled paper, and birch bark! It is so much fun finishing up the last of the cards just before the show. This year I am working with wood relief cuts as well as my vintage metalcuts and having a blast!

Letterpress Gift Tags, pack of 9

In addition to the cards, I am producing a variety of "Letterpress Gift Tags" using relief wood blocks.

This item, again from requests from customers, has been exciting to work on for me. I designed and printed them using the Vandercook 01 Proof Press given to me by John Kristensen from Firefly Press in Boston.

Each of the tags has a printed design on the front, brass eyelet, and silk ribbon.

In addition to all my new Letterpress items, I will have framed calligraphy prints, cards, and original calligraphy broadsides and unique artists' books.

The past month has been a crazy, creative, wonderful journey, filled with joy and love and many blessings.  I have two more weeks left to get work into frames and price tags on all my work.  I really love the "market" aspect of coming together with other people who are driven to create. There is a flow of ideas and a union of spirit that is very hard to describe.

One thing I can say for certain, is that being in the midst of some of the most creative people I have ever known within this atmosphere feeds my creative spirit in undefinable ways. My heart soars like a hawk as I prepare my work for viewing by these creative souls and for purchase by the public. As always, my desire to present my love of God and faith in her spirit in the world through my work is all encompassing.

Each day as I work in my wonderful studio, I am reminded of the ABUNDANCE of blessings in my life. The love and joy in my marriage, the peace of living in community with the members of our faith community, and the grace of being able to create and share with the wider community. I feel the breath of God in my heart and soul as I work in my studio, and I know that as I feel Her warm breath on my neck, across my cheek, and in my heart, that All will be well, and all will be well, with the grace and breath of the Holy Spirit, all will be well.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Introduction to Making Paper by Hand at South of 60 Art Center

dipping the mold and deckle, lifting the mold, preparing to couch the sheet, draining the mold, couching the sheet

My next workshop will be held at The South of 60 Art Center in Barry's Bay Saturday, September 27.  Participants will learn the basics of creating paper pulp in small batches using recycled paper and pre-made paper pulp; how to construct a simple mold and deckle for small sheet papermaking; and how to colour pulp and pull a sheet of paper from a vat.

Participants will also be introduced to "poured paper" sheet making where additions are aded to the pulp. Participants will also be introduced to the SUMINAGASHI paper marbling technique

Participants will take home the paper they make during the workshop and also a handout set of notes to help them make paper at home.  

Complete Registration information is available by clicking HERE.

If you have questions about the workshop, please email me at

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cottage Studio Time!

We have been at the cottage for the better part of two and a half weeks. It has rained at some point during every day we have been here, but we have also managed great periods of sunshine with spectacular sunsets.  The evenings and overnights have been quite cool for the most part- but it has been great sleeping weather! We are feeling rested and refreshed, bit-by- bit, from our time off grid and in the “back of the beyond,” as my husband is fond of saying. 

Fran├žois has been busy with chores around the cottage, including installing a new-to-us propane stove/oven in the cottage and a solar system which is providing electricity for various uses. We hope to add some DC lighting to the cottage and studio before our cottage time ends this year. I have been working in the studio some evenings by the light of an Aladdin Lamp, which doesn’t quite provide enough light for close work.

Long Stitch, soft leather covered journals
My studio here is full of activity each and every day. I am working on my new series of long stitch, soft leather covered journals. Many have leather tie-backs with interesting bits of beadwork or ornaments attached. I am also making leather stamped bookmarks to go with them.  These long stitch journals make the perfect, personalized travel or daily journal for the writer. Many are filled with Fabriano watercolor paper, perfect for the sketch artisan as they lay flat.
This past week when we have had visitors here, I set up the outdoor hand paper making studio and made pulp using recycled paper shreds. I now have a fine post drying that includes around 50 sheets of colored and birch bark papers.
Next week I plan to make 100% cotton rag papers as well as some Abacca papers, all of which will be used in brush calligraphy projects in the coming year. All of the dyes I use are hypoallergenic and biodegradable, which is ideal for the cottage studio-low impact on the environment. I have really enjoyed being able to set up the hand paper making studio here at the cottage.

On September 27 I will be offering a one-day Introduction to Hand Paper Making workshop in Barry’s Bay at the South of 60 Gallery. Check out their website for registration information and a complete description of the course. Participation is limited, so if you are interested, sign up as soon as possible. I will not be offering another hand paper making workshop in 2014.
View from cottage front window!

As I sit here this morning, watching the sun come up on the trees across the lake, the hummingbirds battling for a place at the feeder, and the red squirrels running up and down the trees next to the deck, I wonder at the beauty of the world.   I marvel at the solar technology that allows me to tap away at the computer keyboard. My heart soars like a hawk with the fresh crispness of the air coming through the screen window.

And I know that All will be well, and all will be well, with the peace and joy that God’s wisdom of creation provides us, all will be well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

At the Cottage Studio....

We are at the cottage through August 20....having a glorious time. I am making books and cutting stone. This week I will also start making paper....Beautiful grid.....glorious!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Arts in the Park-Stittsville, ON Sunday June 1st!!

I will be in Stittsville, ON this coming Sunday for their Arts in the Park!! It is being held at the Village Square Park. For more information about the event, please click HERE.  I will have calligraphy and letterpress broadsides, greeting cards, book boxes, calligraphy tiles, calligraphy magnets and more for sale! Stop by and say hello!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

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 RomeThe 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, Timemagazine 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
In 2011 I was 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 three years ago to teach people about Father.  At the end of April he is scheduled to give the talk in my hometown, Clinton, Iowa. The ALL is also hosting Steve Berry, New York Times Best Selling Author, June 1st for an Art Preservation Fundraiser. Click HERE to learn more about this work and to purchase tickets for this once in a lifetime event.

Father Catich died 35 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, April 6, 2014

Spring Book Arts Workshops Continue!

Calligraphy Broadsides made for workshop participants.
My latest all day workshop, Making Calligraphy Cards and Broadsides, was a terrific success. We had a small group due to some cancellations from illness, but overall, everyone worked very hard during the day. We covered the fundamental principles of design, talked about using design elements to create balance in calligraphic layouts, and how to apply the same design concepts used on large broadsides to smaller cards. In addition, everyone learned how to make their own envelopes using a handy little scoring tool from We R Memory Keepers. There are a number of You Tube videos that clearly show how to use this tool, and I suggest if you are interested you check them out.

While participants were working on their exercises during the workshop, I took some time to make some little "Broadside Strips" for each of them to take home. This photo shows a sampling of the ones I completed during the day. Each has two different alphabet styles, pen and brush calligraphy, and a variety of colour applied. Usually I do one major broadside for each class and have a drawing for the winner, but for this day, and the smaller group, this seemed appropriate.

We don't have enough folks to run the Intermediate Calligraphy Workshop on Saturday, April 12, however the weekly course, Pen and Brush Calligraphy for the Novice, has a good group already registered and will begin on April 9th and run for the next 4 weeks, Wednesday Afternoons, from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. We still have a few seats available, so if you are interested you may register here on my page or email me with questions.

Book by Emily Diercks, my daughter!
The last workshop in the Spring Series is Making Soft Cover Books, and will be held Saturday, May 24th. The student will be introduced to the techniques and materials that may be used for making a variety of single signature and multiple signature soft cover books.  Instruction will be given covering basic bookbinding tools, materials, and terms, making a ribbon tied book, a sewn single and multiple signature book, and a soft cover accordion book. Instruction will also be provided on making mono prints for book covers using the Gelli Arts printing plate. Participants will take home their finished book forms, prints, and a course workbook.  We still have seats available for this amazing day long workshop, so register today!

Nancy's New Tile Saw
During the past month I have also been back in the studio attempting to cut stone and not feeling great about my results.  My serifs are a bit thick and my channels not completely even, so I will continue to practice. However, my new TILE SAW from Canadian Tire works amazingly well for beveling edges. I was able to get this saw last year on sale at a fabulous price. My countersink bit also does a fantastic job for making screw holes for attaching slate to wood. I will be preparing slate in the coming weeks for making small initial stones and number stones so that I can practice my cutting. Feels great to have the chisels sharpened and the table set properly for letter carving. My letter carving table belonged to Father Catich and was given to me after his death by Tom Chouteau from St. Ambrose. Each time I begin to cut, I look up at Father's photo, and here him telling me, "You'll get there Sadie, you are a plugger, just keep at it!".

This week the air is supposed to warm and the huge drifts of snow outside our home are supposed to begin to melt for real. The studio has already been warmer, and when the sun is out, there is real heat to it that warms my bones.  I have been blessed with some new electrical lighting in my basement studio which helps keep the atmosphere brighter, but I so long for Spring to be sprung!  I am anxious to be in the studio again in the early mornings and long to be on press in the next week working on new projects. It is warm enough now in the studio to being to print again.

As the days get longer and we make our way into the final weeks of Lent, I feel my heart once again opening to the richness of the love of God our Mother in my creative soul. I feel driven to create again in a way that was lost to me in the depths of the winter. My heart soars like a hawk and I know that with the coming of Easter, new life will be reborn in my soul, and that all will be well, and all will be well, with the grace and love of our Mother/Father God, all will be well.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winter Studio Musings & Current Shows

This past month I was fortunate to have work accepted into a juried show in Barry's Bay, ON at the South of 60 Gallery. It is a wonderful exhibition of the work of pulp and paper artisans from the Ottawa Valley.  The work ranges from sculptural forms, paper casting, artist's books, fine letterpress editions and paper collage.

I was very impressed with how the curator,  Danielle Paul, organized and arranged this juried show.  She was careful to discuss with each artisan how they hoped to see their work displayed and if it was acceptable to have the work picked up by visitors.

The show will run through March 22, so please do check out their website and visit if you can!

The Entrance to the show on the left, Anne Moffat, Shirley, and Orval Miller from Deep River, the Gallery Vernissage.

My two works accepted to the show were The Abecedarium for the Maker's of Artist's Books, an edition of 26 that had one copy in the Sheffield International Book Arts Show in 2013, and The Alphabet Effect, a unique artist's book. Both works are for sale at the South of 60 Gallery in Barry's Bay, Ontario through March 22.

The ABECEDARIUM for the Makers of Artist's Books- Letterpress & Collage Letterpress Edition of 26.

The Alphabet Effect, unique artist's book. Calligraphic broadside, brush and pen, with hand marbled paper an brass pulls.

My dear friend from Canmore, Alberta, Dea Fischer, is a well known book artist in North America. Her website, The Starbook, is an amazing resource for anyone interested in book arts. She also maintains a page on Facebook and has course and book downloads available from the Interweave website.

This past November she invited me to contribute to a collaborative altered book project,  a "round robin," The Dictionary of Sorrows. This book takes an original leather bound Roycrofters edition of The Man of Sorrows as a base for the book. Each contributor completes their own interpretation in one "opening" of the volume.

My contribution to this work included letterpress, stamps, chinese chop impressions, hand illumination, and calligraphy. I worked with a variety of colours and gold infused ink to create the opening. The illuminated calligraphy quote was completed on a piece of handmade birchbark paper I made during a paper making/marbling workshop I held here in Deep River last year. The bookmark was made from black satin ribbon with brass bead additions and a painted metal key.

My contribution to The Dictionary of Sorrows.

The quote that I chose is one very dear to my soul.

No matter how deep your sorrow, you are not alone. 
Others have been there and will help share your load if you will let them. 
Do not deny them the opportunity.  
Amy Hilliard Jensen

After my mother's death in 1994, a year after my sister's death, I was cleaning her home. I found a piece of brown paper with this quote written in her hand on her kitchen table. My heart broke into a thousand pieces as I read the tattered brown paper. I knew then that she had been suffering more after my sister's death than I had realized. In a way, finding this quote helped give me the courage to return to grief counseling and to ask for help from those around me in a way that I was unable to before.  This piece of paper, left by my mother where she would read it every day, is now framed above my bench in my studio. I think of my mother daily, and thank God she was in my life then and now, and I thank God she left me this message to carry with me when I am having a bad day.

Through these past incredibly cold weeks, I have been unable to work in the basement studio on the press with any regularity. My difficulty in dealing with the cold and grey days we have been enduring has stifled my creative verve until this week. I have contented myself with sitting by the woodstove in the family room, reading books and working in my sketchbooks, trying to move myself forward in the creative process. The heart has been willing, but the body has been weak.

This past Monday I started back in the studio again, getting prepared to start work on production of blank journals, book boxes, and  the completion of three more artist's books that have been unfinished since before Christmas. My heart soars like a hawk when I pick up bits and pieces of each of these projects. I am no longer shivering in three layers of clothing trying to work in my lovely studio. The terrible cold has left us for a while, and we have respite from the ever deepening grey.

The days are getting longer and the amaryllis is blooming on the plant table in the family room.  The deer are still beating a path through the backyard to the woods across the way, and the squirrels are still trying to get into the attic, but I can feel the warmth of the sun strongly now. We have turned the corner and although we will have more cold days, and more grey days, I believe that we will be blessed with more and stronger sunshine than in past weeks.

As I begin to prepare for Lent this year, I know in my heart that my creative soul has survived the cold and the grey, and that all will be well, and will be well, and with the grace and warmth of God our Mother, all will be well.