Thursday, October 13, 2016

CBBAG-OV Visits the University of Ottawa Archives and Special Collections Division!

On Wednesday, October 12th, the CBBAG Ottawa Valley Chapter was blessed with a tour of the University of Ottawa Special Collections Division.  Julie Roy, Librarian for Digital Archives and Special Collections and Alexandra Gregory, Librarian Cataloguer for Resource Description and Metadata Services, provided a wonderful introduction to their current exhibit, This book belongs to......

From the exhibition page: “This exhibition is a unique opportunity to discover exceptional books from the Rare Book collection of the University of Ottawa and people who took part in their production. From the author to the printer, the bookbinder to the papermaker, marble, owner and reader, come have a look at the book as an object, maybe as you have never seen before.”

The exhibit is divided into four main display cases, with additional framed detail images. The four major areas are: Bookbinders, Papermakers and Marblers, Owners and Readers, and Printers. Including books and actual tools used in book production from the now closed bindery of the University of Ottawa Library, this exhibition allows the viewer to experience how the book as an object does't just belong to the current owner, but rather to all of the individuals involved in the production of the book-the author of the text, the papermaker who creates the substrate for the text, the marbler who decorates the end papers, the printer who edits, composes and prints the text, the binder who sews the signatures together and protects the text block with a cover, and the person who purchases the book or receives it as a gift.

Alexandra Gregory presents the first case, BOOKBINDERS.

Julie Roy presenting the second case, MARBLERS.
Grant Wilkins and our OV Chapter President, Stephen Quick, checking out the PRINTERS display case.

One of the greatest things about being a member of CBBAG-OV is being able to attend the meetings monthly. They are full of of information, great programs like the one we had last night, and also sharing of new projects completed.

Josiane and Diedre shared the folded books from a recent workshop.

Paul shares his new wooden covered book with Wendy. (sorry for the blurry image!)

CBBAG-OV has a wonderful selection of workshops coming up this year. Please check out the website HERE for more information about upcoming workshops. If you are interested in book making of any sort, come to one of our meetings and introduce yourself!  You can find the schedule HERE.

Dea at work at The Cottage Studio this August!
Since returning from a very productive summer at The Cottage Studio, I have once again been engaged with sorting through supplies and putting things away in the studio here at home. Shifting studios each year has become a part of my studio practice, but it is still a but un-nerving. It has taken me over a month, in between family responsibilities, to get all my tools put away, materials sorted, and the Home Studio space cleaned. I am now ready to get down to work again.

While at the Cottage Studio, with my dear friend Dea Fischer, who spent five glorious days with us in the middle of the forest, I began a series of unique artist's books entitled The Language of Prayer.   The unique books in this series will have slate covers, handmade paper and soft leather pages, and additions from the natural world.

The text will be drawn from my prayer life and be placed on the pages both with hand calligraphy and typewriter assistance. The languages will be English, French, Latin, and German.

These photos illustrate the first book in process. I thank my dear friend Dea for all she taught me while she was with us!

To the left is the slate cover, backed by leather, with other pages, awaiting text!

Pages at the beginning stages of assembly and adding text.

As I work in the home studio today on my blog, and look outside, I see the glorious warm colours of Fall descending around us. The warm reds and yellows are surrounded by a multitude of soft browns as the sun shines on us after the cool of the night. 

Ruthie Domsalla Anderson, wedding
Fall is my favourite time of year, as the world prepares for the long Winter sleep before the breath of Spring. The variety of colours and the smells of crisp leaves mixed with warm apple cinnamon tea remind me of Fall days at home on Keith Court in Iowa with my mom. She would take us outside, wearing her Pendelton shirts, to pull the last of the squash and pumpkins from the back garden, and to rake the masses of leaves into a huge pile that we could jump in, before we tossed them into a bonfire in the back yard. Those bonfires gave us fabulous hot dogs and samore treats, with smushed marshmallows and Hershey chocolate. Everything smelled of Fall on those evenings, our coats, our mittens, and even our clothes.

As we begin to prepare our home here, and the cottage, for the Winter to come, I think of my mother and how much I wish she could be with me now, sharing this age, this time with me. She has been gone since 1994, but I sometimes swear, especially when raking leaves, that I can hear her calling to me to put up my sweatshirt hood, or to come into the house for a cup of tea to warm me up.

I thank God for my faith and my belief that even though my mother is not with me physically this Fall, that she is with me in spirit each and every day. She informs my studio practice, my creative verve, and shares my daily prayers in way that is unique and special and treasured. As I wait for the sun to sink into the horizon today, I know that with my mother's love in my heart, all will be well, and all will be well, with the grace and the beauty of God's creation around me, all will be well.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

At the Cottage Studio Until September

Getting the studio set up for work!

Grandpa Domsalla's kitchen cabinet holds the book weights!

Supplies and tools getting organized!

Papermaking press made by my extraordinary husband!

Stone cutting desk-already working Father Catich!

Making the first recycled birch bark paper!

Using the papermaking press!

Loving being in the kayak, gift from my loving husband!!!

The best gift to us of all, A BRAND NEW ROAD is being built by the lumber company!!!!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Winter Studio Reset and New Projects on the Bench

Chalk this past winter up to hibernation and almost no studio time, until now. I have not had the energy to write here since November. It seems like such a long time ago. The week after Easter with the fulfilled promise of the resurrection has brought me back into the studio to actually produce some new work.

Starting in January I embarked on a complete studio re-set and clean out that has occupied almost all of my time. I have made over ten trips to the recycle and reuse areas at our local dump, eliminating items and paper that had seen better days. I still have at least one more trip tomorrow and then I will be finally done with what my husband has called "the big purge" of the studio.

My artist daughter has for years encouraged me to document this annual reset as part of my creative progress. I think of the movement of my equipment and supplies into their more proper placement in the studio as the physical representation of the spiritual reorganization of my creative thought patterns in preparation of making new work. Harkening back to "Art and Scholasticism"  by Jacques Maritain, (now partially available online)- The idea in the mind is the ultimate yardstick by which all is measured.

When I put my physical studio back into an order that makes sense to me, each kinesthetic touch of tools,equipment, or materials somehow links into the creative verve in my mind and helps me order all that is found there.

The major part of the reset was moving the composing table next to the flat files, across from my large Hamilton type cabinet. This space had previously been occupied by a large shelf which stores all my tools, punches, irons, and equipment I don't use every day. The composing table is a home-made one finely crafted by a printer many years before my time. I acquired it from The Museum of Printing when they were located  in North Andover, MA.  It is a wonderful composing table, the perfect height for me, complete with two stones and ten cases for type. (By the way, click on the link for the MOP. They are in the process of moving to new facilities in Haverhill, MA and are starting a huge sale of excess type and equipment TODAY for the next week.)

New composing table position next to flat files, Hamilton type cabinet work station/Press room studio
Another huge job involved moving my desk and library area around so that I could have all my books grouped in one area, and be able to add another shelf for my typewriter collection.  In this process I was able to sort through my studio library and better organize it.  I still have work to do there, but my duplicates and unnecessary books have been donated and all my "project" books are now stored in the paper cupboard for easy access. These photos show the library move almost done. I am thrilled to have most of my typewriters that I use regularly in book projects out and readily accessible now. My next major project will be to clean all the machines and replace some small paper rollers.

My desk moved to the opposite wall, facing the basement window, the books, the new shelf.

The area above my main bench, a 6ft. Hamilton wood topped drafting table from the Clinton Railway Yards in Iowa, is filled with small items that have great significance for me, both personally and creatively. As an object oriented art historian, each small object I have close to me has a memory from my life. I have angels given to me by friends, a stuffed toy or two from when my children were very small, photos of my parents, pieces of toys, and so on.  Since so much of my creative life involves my interpretation of the thin space between this life and the next, the layers of these objects are central to my creative process.

Above the Bench-I have loads of little things, angels etc, along with small books and my ink!
I also managed to finally go through all 20 of my flat files and pitch and toss. Still have to replace labels on the drawers, but feel much better. Having wooden tops on the flat files gives me more workspace also. The book reading angel that hangs over the small board shear always reminds me that spirit is a part of every creative journey I take.

Workspace on top of flat files, new storage boxes of hand tools, stone cutting bench.
Father's chair

During the reset I also took a great deal of time to sort, clean, and sharpen all my hand tools, special individual boxes for storing them. They are now neatly stacked and clearly labeled, easy to find and put away. This idea came from my good friend Spike Minogue from the Ottawa Valley CBBAG.

My old grey stone cutting bench belonged to Father Catich, and was given to me after he died, along with his studio chair, which I sit in every day. I can't seem to bring myself to recover the seat yet. It seems like just yesterday that he died, but it has been 37 years this April.  Each time I think I will be able to change the seat I manage to put it off for another day.

1893 Challenge Gordon 8x12

I still have to clean the paper cupboard completely, but the presses are all cleaned and oiled. Two printing projects are designed and ready for the chase. I hope to be on press most of the next two weeks. I have not done any major printing since right before Christmas, and I ache to smell the ink and feel the spin of the wheel along with the push of the treadle under my foot.

My etching press is also ready to go and I have tentatively begun work on two designs one for a drypoint on copper, and one for a wood engraving. It has been almost ten years since I attempted either and am looking forward to the journey!

My newest projects are small leather bound unique artists' books filled with a variety of content. They are a work in progress, to be sure, and harken back to the small items above my bench and the memories that each one of them invokes as they are looked at, touched and held.

Small leather bound unique artists' books in progress.

I love the feel of the soft leather in my hands as I skive the edges and fold the covers into place. My eye is drawn to the collages of letters being placed on the thick rag paper with pen, brush, and hand ground pigments. The process of deciding what colour to place where, what size of letter to make, and what shapes to include with the brush, remind me of putting things into place in the studio, in my creative mind, and in my life. For me it is a kinesthetic union of the physical touch of our lives and the intangible spark of the soul in our creative hearts across the thin space of the physical and the spiritual in our world.

As I prepare to move into the Spring with a renewed creative heart and a verve to make new work, I know that all will be well, and all will be well, with the joy and the blessings of the resurrection in that 'thin space' between this life and the next, all will be well.