Altered books change the object's form and meaning through mixed media art: the artist "alters" the original format with various techniques such as gluing, ripping, folding, painting, cutting, collaging, etc. As a graphic designer, I focus on detail-oriented work for clients which is produced on a computer. Book art, by comparison, is inspired play. The small format is less daunting than a large, blank page which can cause paralysis from not knowing where to start.
Formal studies in colour, composition, scale and form are guiding principles for my book art. The creative approach is pretty simple in that I let colour be the defining element that ties everything together. To start, I select one key visual and layer similar images or implied meaning around it. The book becomes a series of mini canvases, with a loose process that allows me to segue back and forth between pages if I feel stuck. Although each spread is unique, cohesion is created by extending the page edges, cutting windows and alternating flow. Lush colours are balanced by neutrals, patterns coexist and graphic elements play off of each other. My ephemera collection tends to gravitate towards typography, numbers, patterns, handmade paper and fashion. Vintage magazine advertisements are a favorite source of inspiration. I love creating visual relationships and my design style is minimalist. Initially, the work was very grid-like (rigid!) and it's now becoming more organic.
Altered books are a tactile, intimate experience in storytelling. It's likely that the observer will flip back and forth between pages, notice tiny details, or turn the book upside down. My intention as an artist is to have fun and enjoy the meditative-like process. If the art compels someone to engage with the work and smile, it becomes meaningful on an entirely different level.
"I expected we would talk about her work and hopefully connect but imagine my joy when I realized Janine had paired us perfectly, we were totally kindred spirits! What are the chances of finding another creative, multicultural, from Vancouver, collaborative, tattooed lady in our little town? I don’t know but thankfully they were in our favour!"
I suspected the two might enjoy meeting one another and since Mariko is relatively new to their small town they hadn't yet met—even though they're just four blocks apart. The meeting inspired a brilliant idea for a blog series called Match + Maker. I look forward to reading more stories of creative folks matched for interviews and studio tours on Oh My Handmade.
Ceramicist and multimedia artist Georgia Hodges presentation was heartfelt and memorable. She brought in some simple cups with earthy glazes as well as a large bowl with organic and draped textures. She spoke about life as process and finding satisfaction in the unfinished. From her artist statement on her website, Georgia writes:
My art and my daily life are fully intertwined. Life without a creative practice feels empty, and a creative practice without a purpose feels lost. A successful day is one that is rich with artful moments. Where all tasks feel relevant.
I'm quite happy with what I'm doing now, but whenever I visit San Francisco, its appeal is palpable. When I was fresh out of art college, I thought I might move to San Francisco and pursue my dream job of designing books for Chronicle. Hmmm, an alternate timeline...
Perhaps if you lived in that city, you'd take for granted all the great creative opportunities in your own backyard. At least, I should spend a few months in San Francisco on a creative retreat and take classes at the San Francisco Center for the Book.
One of the best things about being the editor of UPPERCASE magazine is the doors that it opens. I love being able to meet with creative businesses and get a glimpse behind the scenes. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting Creativebug. If you're not familiar with Creativebug, they offer an entertaining and informative selection of craft video tutorials. From crochet, collage, quilting and a lot more, there is an ever-growing wealth of content that can be accessed through a monthly subscription. I enrolled in their Creative Brand e-course last year and it was fantastic. And though I don't have a lot of time to craft these days, I like to play a video on my laptop while I work on other things... vicarious crafting through video-watching!
Welcome to Creativebug's creative space...
The Creativebug viewer and UPPERCASE readers are kindred spirits. We both love the creative process, setting our hands to work on making marvellous things. I look forward to collaborating with them to help grow our subscribers and share the love of handmade.
A Gathering of Stitches is a communal making space for textile and fibre artists located in Portland, Maine. Members can rent equipment and studio space and benefit from a community of fellow makers. You can even rent a "Fairy Godmother", most likely to be proprietor Samantha Hoyt Lindgren, to consult on your project and help you learn new equipment.
Their doors open mid August this past summer, so they're still new and growing. But with a great roster of classes and equipment, it looks like A Gathering of Stitches is stitching up a firm foundation in this creative community.
UPPERCASE would like to thank A Gathering of Stitches for their ongoing support of UPPERCASE. As we transition away from ads in our print magazine, we are very pleased to have A Gathering of Stitches' ad on our blog sidebar. If you are a creative business owner and would like to advertise with us, we would be happy to hear from you.
It is that time of year when I bring out my typewriter Christmas tree! Finley was spending the afternoon at the office, so I let him do the honours of unfolding the tree.
I didn't have any decorations for it—normally its tinsel branches and strange typewriter base are enough for me—but Finley thought it needed something more...
Lucky for us, I have no shortage of creative odds and ends... like a jarful of vintage buttons. These are the leftovers from assembling the goodies that come with the Dottie Angel book we published a few years ago (by the way, there are just a few copies left in the shop). Since all these buttons have shanks, we couldn't include them in the flat goodie envelopes that come with each book.
I also made a string garland of buttons by knotting the shank of the buttons at even intervals on a 6-foot length of string. The waxed thread worked really well since nothing slips out of position.
This was a fun! And super easy. The best kind of spur-of-the-moment creative activity.
Vancouver's Porchlight Press will be debuting their line of greeting cards this weekend at two different fairs. Please read their newsletter for the details of the sale locations. Porchlight proprietor Heather Braun wrote in with some sweet things to say (thanks, Heather!):
"Creating my own line is really a long time coming—I'm super excited about getting them out there, I hope people enjoy them! I want to take this opportunity let you know, a few years back, seeing through UPPERCASE how so many others were pursuing their creative passions, it was actually a big influence on my taking the leap to leave my career and start Porchlight. Like so many others, I adore your magazine, it's like Christmas every time it arrives."
Below is a video highlighting Porchlight's letterpress workshops.
By now, you're probably getting tired by all the post-Thanksgiving, Black Friday through Cyber Monday shopping hoopla. Me, too. I have a suggestion: Let's rebrand this day as "Make Something Monday."
Today's the day to create a good old-fashioned made-by-hand gift.
It doesn't have to be something complicated, just something simple showing your recipient that you took some time. Time is precious; showing someone that you took time out of the busy season to make something heartfelt is powerful and will be appreciated.
Create something that comes from YOU.
It could be a handwritten card, a little embroidery on a hankie, some cookies made from scratch, a simply sewn pin cushion, an ornament made from found objects, a collage of pretty pictures, a finger-painting made with your child, a snowman in the yard (Instagram him holding a message for your friend!), a crocheted granny square coaster, a handmade notebook of blank pages with a found-paper cover... these are just a few little ideas that pop into my head.
Stay away from DIY posts and Pinterest!
These days, it is too easy to get bogged down into the perceived perfection of Pinterest and the tyranny of step-by-step craft instructions. Today's the day to unplug from these distractions. Comparing yourself to others and following directions can be so detrimental to genuine creativity. Use your own ideas, your own resources, your own ingenuity... you will make something that is from you and your heart.
Make something out of nothing.
Be experimental. Be silly. Creativity comes from letting yourself go a little bit. If you worry about stitching a straight line, today's the day to zigzag. Just gather up all your creative supplies onto the table and see what emerges.
Enjoy the process. Making things is a lot of fun!
PS For you cyber monday shoppers, we do have a sale in our shop... It's your choice of discount! Take 15% off your order or select FREE SHIPPING on orders destined within North America. Use the discount code "snowday" for 15% off, or "freeshipusa" or "freeshipcanada" at checkout. (Shipping costs must be under $50 and is for regular shipping only.)
Sampler is a project organized by Sara Barnes. "Each artist was given a handkerchief to embroider on. I hand-selected and mailed each handkerchief. The ladies adorned their hankie however the like, and afterwards mailed it back to me."
Nadia Albertini is an embroidery and textile designer and educator, based in Paris. She
has collaborated with fashion houses such as Chloé and Chanel, creating hand embroidery designs for ready to wear and haute couture. In her new online shop, All Over Sequins, she's taking the high-end techniques and presenting them in easy-to-achieve embroidery kits. Starting with embellished canvas totes, stitchers can practice some basic embroidery and embellishing techniques. She also has a variety of sequins and cabochons supplies for those who want to experiment.
In her press kit, Nadia shares a bit about her background and techniques:
How and why did you become an embroidery designer?
I’ve always loved to make things with my hands. And I have always loved beads and pearls. I remember I had my own little jewelry line when I was 15 and I used to sell my necklaces to my friends’ moms. I initially wanted to be an accessories designer but I had a sort of epiphany during my first day at Chloé: I realized I loved embroidery. Later, I got offered the job and it all snowballed from there. Since becoming an independent embroidery designer in 2008, I have been able to collaborate with great brands, creating amazing pieces with some of the most talented ateliers in the world.
What makes you different?
I grew up in Mexico city, in a very creative and inspiring environment, speaking three languages and taught to be very open and curious. I love to travel and to experience other cultures so that has helped a lot for my work. I’m a very hands-on person, I like to make things myself to understand how they work. What I know of embroidery, I’ve learned from my grand mother but also through trial and error.
What is your creative process when working on an assignment?
I’ve known some of the designers I work with for a long time now, we understand each other by just sharing images and sketches. That creative dialogue is extremely important. I need to understand what they have in mind, what the inspiration is but also if there are any production or budget issues. The fabric selection and the color palette give me hints of the direction to follow. I start doing research in 2 or 3 libraries and online. After the research I print my research material and then build mood boards, by pinning things on my studio walls. I start drawing and looking for materials, taking pictures of them. I collage a lot and I love the Xerox machine, I use it to create the first
versions of placements. It’s an organic, intuitive process.
Visit the All Over Sequins blog for tutorials and a bit about the history of sequins and embellishment.
Eric Goodwin of EG Forge was my neighbour in Art Central—and he's my neighbour here in the Devenish building, too! We were both looking at renting here at the Devenish and Eric paved the way and was a tenant first. We're both happily settled into our new workspaces.
Eric has been busy sewing and designing. He has just released his fifth collection which will become the cornerstone "classic" designs in the EG Forge line of bags, accessories and clothing. Check out the epic films he creates for his fashions.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was on a mission to find a particular store that I had heard a lot about... Tinsel Trading Company. Alas, when I got to the address, there was a simple letter-sized sheet of paper in the window saying they had moved. I couldn't go this far and not go the entire distance, so I hopped back on the subway to 828 Lexington Ave. (I guess Google Maps didn't get the notice!)
I have to admit that the small put pretty shop bedazzled with lovely Wendy Addison glass-glittered letters and letterpress labels wasn't what I was expecting. When I told the clerk I was from Canada, shared a copy of the magazine and asked to take pictures for the blog, she opened up that they had been forced to quickly move locations when the previous building was sold. It sounds like they had very little time to find a new location and thus had to downsize their retail space considerably.
You can get a sense of the previous store (and the amazing, but likely heart-wrenching moving sale) from their Facebook page. They still had some vintage ribbons and embroidered patches and things for sale—and the massive inventory of vintage stock is in their warehouse—but I was imagining the beauty of seeing all of that vintage stock on old displays in a grand New York style. From the fondness and sadness in the clerks voice, it was clear that it is missed by all.
It was still an awesome store to visit and I hope that Tinsel Trading will have continued success. Here's a video about the French General book as well as an older video that shows what their previous location was like...
Purl Soho has been a stockist and advertiser since nearly the beginning of UPPERCASE. So wonderful to finally experience all of this in person! A rainbow of amazing textures in a gorgeous store. (They were out of stock of UPPERCASE during my visit... we'll have to take care of that pronto!)
Stella Dallas Living in Williamsburg is a great mash of vintage blankets, tablecloths and doilies. Fun to look at, that's for sure. Maybe someday when I have a chic cabin by the lake I'll outfit it in miscellaneous vintage quilts and tablecloths...
We now have an UPPERCASE page on Etsy! I'm just getting started, but here are a few boards of things we like at UPPERCASE. If you're a subscriber to UPPERCASE magazine, I'd love to make a board highlighting the work of our very own. Please include your Etsy url in the comments below or submit here and I will build you into our pages. Follow along on Etsy to see our picks.
Here's our table at Calgary's New Craft Coalition on now (Friday evening until 9pm) and all day Saturday (10-6). I took some quick shots this afternoon while the exhibitors were still setting up their final details. Please visit the New Craft Coalition for details on the artists and their work.