Thursday, March 12, 2015

STUDIO RESET: Spring just might have SPRUNG!!!!

I have been away from my blog for much too long!  This winter has been one filled with family visits at Christmastime and mountains of indoor work at home. I have been heavily involved in my annual "Studio Reset" that has been more extensive this year than in previous years.

Over the past three months I have been engaged in a major clean out of my studios. We purchased a shredder and I have happily been shredding everything from tax returns from the 1970's to high school research papers and miscellany that I have no early idea why I saved.  I have made numerous trips to our dump with bags and boxes of paper and plastic for recycling, items for the perpetual garage sale there, and old paint tins as well. I have managed to save hundreds of postage stamps and other ephemera, but it is all now properly filed and tagged.

Throughout this process I have managed to sort and organize all my supplies, clean the studio closets, and sort all my bookbinding and collage materials. It has been a blessing in so many ways. I now have places for most all of my supplies that are neatly organized and accessible. I am not quite finished-still have to work on the flat files over this weekend. They, I am certain, will bring treasures of paper to light that I have forgotten I had on hand.

Vandercook 01, Etching Press, Challenge Gordon 8x12
A boon to all this reorganizing is the addition of my etching press to the press room. Previously I did not have room to have it out all the time, but now it rests between the Vandercook 01 proofing press and the Challenge Gordon.  The etching press has been unused since we moved from Cambridge and I am thrilled to have it set up and ready to go in the press studio.  It is supported by a heavy duty rolling typing table that has lockable wheels.  I can move it when needed.

I received this press from a posting for a free etching press on Craig's List when we lived in Cambridge and love it so.  Next after the flat files I need to give all three of my presses a good cleaning.

New roller trucks!
A very good friend here in Deep River has helped me get a third set of roller trucks for the Challenge Gordon.  When I received the press it had three rollers but only two sets of trucks. The previous owner had sent a set of trucks with the roller cores to be recovered and did not receive them back.

Murray Mitchell took one of the sets of trucks to another colleague here who milled a set in aluminum identical to the ones I had.  I have never printed with three rollers on this press and will be excited to do so next week.  I did check the roller height with my gauge and am quite pleased with how it all looks for now. The proof will be in the printing!

Angel Pins
Over the winter I have been working on a new item to sell, a bit different than my book arts projects. For many years I have made "Angel Pins" from heirloom cutlery, but had gotten away from making them for one reason or another.  Over the past year I have had many requests for them, so I have added them to my display at Valley Artisans' Co-op Gallery in Deep River and will also have them for sale at all my shows.

In addition to the pins I am making "Angel Magnets".  Both make great gifts for the bride to give members of the wedding party.  I make custom orders using heirloom cutlery from the families of the bride and groom too!

Letterpress & Stamp decorated leather
I have also been working more on my embroidered and letterpressed decorated leather covers for sewn journals.

These smaller journals are perfect for carrying in the briefcase or airplane carry all and are filled with heavier stock paper, wonderful for quick sketches or for attaching keepsake tickets, post cards, or other paper ephemera from your trip.

Some of the journals have machine embroidered designs in the leather. I have been using my grandmother's Singer Featherweight sewing machine for these.  It has been really fun to use.  This machine was the first sewing machine I ever used as a young girl. As I work with it in the studio, I am
reminded of my Grandmother Domsalla's admonitions to "be careful in threading the needle" as sometimes I was apt to thread it backwards!

I love the freedom that free-hand embroidery with the machine gives me for creative expression. The softness of the leather pieces I am working with also provides the opportunity for the use of different weights of thread and embroidery floss.

As I finish up the last of these covers over the next couple of weeks, I hope to amplify the designs to include some narrative elements. I am not sure how that will go, but will post images when I am finished!

As I have concentrated on "getting rid of stuff" I no longer need or want in the studio, I have been reminded of my entire creative journey.  My daughter Kris always tells me that my gathering of materials and supplies for the studio over the past ten years or so (usually always from the 'FREE' tab on Craig's list) is a testament to my creative process.  As I have honed my direction more towards artists' books and manuscript books, I have realized that a number of objects and also some materials are no longer important to my creative process.  My silk screen kits and materials have all gone to my friend Laura Mayo who has a passion for colour and wants to learn how to print using these materials and techniques.  I have given away stretcher bars and odd bits of canvas to two friends who are learning to paint with acrylics and boxes and boxes of smaller objects I collected for found object sculptures I will now never make are destined for my garage sale in April.

The result is my studio now has space for more creation.  I now have shelf room to have several artists' books in process at one time as well as a proper narrow wheeled cart for prints to rest on as they dry, a gift from Bert Fleury.  My type has all been cleaned and sorted into cases and my press furniture nestled back into the proper place in the cabinet.

My heart soars like a hawk as I complete this studio reset this Spring. I feel the energy of the wind blowing and the warmth of the sun flowing through the studio windows as the snow begins to melt.  My creative soul feels reborn as I prepare for new work to come forth.

And I know with each breath I take, each step I take, that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the grace and joy that God in her infinite wisdom shares with us everyday, all will be well.