Books as Sculpture

I had an errand downtown on Saturday mid-afternoon and decided to drop into Gallery Shoal Creek in the Flatbed Press building to see an exhibit that was profiled in the Austin American Statesman of work by Tony Saladino and Karen Hawkins.  I didn’t do much in the way of art this past week, so this was my chance to immerse myself in art.

Karen Hawkins work is derived from books.  It is definitely sculpture and is fantastic to see installed.  I could have spent the day amongst her pillars if I hadn’t had my appointment to get to.  I asked and received permission to photograph her work.  Thanks to Gallery Shoal Creek and Karen Hawkins for this fantastic exhibit!


From Karen’s statement on the Gallery’s postcard:

“Karen Hawkins’ work explores “the book,” a rapidly declining composition, and how, or whether, it remains purposeful in a digital age.”

As an ardent reader, collector of books, art journaler and intermittent book binder, I generally do not subscribe to cutting up books, even though I went through a phase where I altered books.  I can honestly say this is a tremendously moving exhibit.




Karen uses dictionaries, sheet music books and black and white picture books, from what I could see, to construct her sculptured, hanging pillars. In addition to the pillars, there were several small pillars sitting on tables in the gallery.  There were two wall pieces, one of which was incredibly striking.


This was the view as you came into the Gallery proper with the pillars just behind this wall.


I highly recommend visiting the gallery to see this exhibit and the many others which I didn’t photograph in the galleries in the Flatbed Press building.

This exhibit runs through June 14th.  The Gallery’s hours are Tuesday through Friday 10-5 and Saturday 10-3.

Book Review: Carve Stamp Play by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

I haven’t done a book review in a long time, but am starting up again with a book I received for my birthday (Thanks Mom!).  I’ve followed Julie Fei-Fan Balzer at a distance for a while – pretty much since she started submitting articles for Cloth, Paper, Scissors and have bought her stencils from TCW when I can find them.  I guess you could say I’m a craft-stalker, as I also follow her on Twitter and read her blog.  When I saw she had a book on stamp carving, I immediately put it on my wish list for Christmas/Birthday.

I read it cover to cover the day it came in.  First impression – great photography!  There are lots of pictures covering every stage of carving a stamp plus using them in finished projects.

Julie gives you an overview of the supplies and tools you need, complete with pictures so that if you have a visual memory, you can identify the items in a store by sight.  She starts you out with methods to get your design onto rubber and how to prepare to carve.  Then she takes you through the basics of carving in simple, easy to follow steps.  Each chapter starts with a “Skills” section and includes highlights on marking the design and tips.  She takes you through successively more intricate designs.  There are the occasional Stamp Play Stamp Gallery sections showing you different ways to use the stamps.

I’ve carved stamps for a long time, and mostly I’m self-taught.  A lot of my stamps have broken, much to my dismay.  Thanks to Julie, I know why!  I have carved a bunch of stamps using her methods.  Most of these are background stamps except for the flags (top two stamps).


This is a great book, and well worth adding to your library.  It is a resource that I will come back to again and again.  I will have more on my stamp carving adventures in a future post.

To follow Julie’s art adventures, visit her blog.  Her book is available on Amazon.

Spring Fever and Imagine!


I fully planned to write this post last weekend, but I wore myself out, then got hold of some bad shrimp which resulted in food poisoning.  On top of that, work has been a time-consuming affair since I came back from San Fran.  But that’s enough excuses.


Last Saturday, I dug in 5 more bags of compost into the low bed in front of my sewing room.  I say dug in, but the ground was soooo hard, there wasn’t much digging.  I planted more plants in the berm and the raised bed next to the driveway, some santolina in the berm, some daylillies and verbina in the raised bed. 


I added Oxallis and Dianthas to the low bed and then I went back in and planted thyme to start creeping along the raised bed.  I built a walk way with some of the left over stone from my patio between the raised bed and the bird bath. 


And last, but certainly not least, I hauled 1/2 a yard of mulch over the low bed and got the other 1/2 yard out of my Dad’s pickup.  I worked from 8:30 to 4pm on Saturday and completely wore myself out.  My front beds are almost done, though!


The cats really enjoyed working in the yard with me.



Prior to all of the yardwork over the weekend, I did my Imagine entry in Susanne’s Word’s Journal.  I wasn’t sure were I was going initially, but I really liked how it turned out.


The two page spread doesn’t appear to be tied together, but I used the same colors in the Imagine page (right) that I used in the Excavation page (left).  I added a bunch more colors on the Imagine page though.  I used very different techniques between the two pages.


I started with Excavation, applying a very thick layer of gesso to the page.  I stamped into it with a gothic calligraphy stamp, then stamped off on the Imagine page.  I wiped my gesso brush off on the Image page center. 


Once the gesso was dry, I used a wash of Bone Black fluid acrylic over the texture on the Excavation page, which I then wiped off the raised parts.  I used successive layers of fluid acrylic in Permanent Violet, Quin Gold, Bright Copper, and a bit of Quin Burnt Orange.  I used some of these same colors in washes on the Imagine page.


As I got color down on the Imagine page, I decided I wanted to use a stencil of dragon flies and butterflies spiraling up concentric circles in the center.  I needed a way to set it off, so I used very light washes of Naples Yellow, Quin Crimson, and Permanent Violet in the opening I’d left from stamping off.  I laid the stencil down and misted Pthalo Turquoise over the stencil.

Imagine_top I went back in with white to highlight the circles.  About this time, I figured out that I was creating a sunset and added clouds in Dioxazine Purple and Anthroquinone Blue, highlight with white.  I added a sun using Bright Copper, painted over with Quin Burnt Orange and Permanent Violet.  I used a white crayon to write Imagine and then wiped paint off so it showed.



Next up is Debbie’s Journal and “Believe”.  I didn’t realize that I knew anyone in the RR besides Naomi, the organizer, but Debbie is my friend Debbie G from St. Louis!  She comes to All Dolls Are Art and silk screened my bags last year.  Her journal is lovely.  I’m going to get it photographed and will post on that later in the weekend.

Words Art Journal Round Robin and Mixed Media Call for Proposal

I finished up my introductory pages for my Words Journal Thursday evening and got the journal off to Mary in NY Friday.  She should have it by Tuesday latest.  I received Susan’s journal yesterday in the mail.  I have an idea for my spread using the word “Imagine”.  I have to sketch it out.

Here are the introductory pages I did for my journal.


I started out with a layer of gesso.  Then I collaged down washi and braille paper.  I went over that with a watered down layer of gesso.  Then I added washed of Quinacrodone Nickel Azo Gold and Quinacrodone Violet fluid acrylics..  I used a round brush to add streaks of quin burnt orange and dioxazine purple and copper.  I covered all of that with strips of wrinkled white tissue paper that I glued down with matt medium.  I painted over that with washes of quin gold and quin voilet again.  Then I dry brushed copper over the top. 


Last, I wrote with pitt black pen. 


The text doesn’t show up in the full on shot, nor does the texture, which is pretty heave.  I love how it turned out.  So much so that I am going to use it again on something else.  Who knows what yet!

Here are Susan’s pages:


This is a beautiful print.


And this is a wonderful drawing of the lunar cycle with various pictures that are revealed as you rotate the wheel around.

Last, but certainly not least, if you are a mixed media artist who teaches workshops, or would like to teach, I’m looking for proposals for a new event coming in 2014.  If you would like to receive the call for proposal, go to the Art-Xscape website and click on the link to request the proposal!


Working on my Words Journal


I managed to get in the studio this evening to start working inside the Words journal.  I had an idea last night and wanted to try it out on the title page.  I wanted the effect of water colors but using my fluid acrylics in Quin Gold and Dioxazine Purple.  I started out with a water wash over the title page, then applied a very watery application of the Quin gold.  I ended up with a very nice yellow wash.  I wanted the purple to drip up into the yellow, so turned the journal around and worked upside down.  I applied more water and then a very drippy wash of the purple, loading up more paint in some spots to get it to really run into the yellow.  I wanted the fractal like spreading that you get when you work with really wet, dilute colors.  After it dried, I went over it with some texture tools (cardboard) and stamps and copper.  While I had the purple and copper paint on my palette, I dry brushed the hinges, first with purple and then with copper.  I will probably go over them a few more times to eliminate the white. 


In the next pass at the title page, I used Quin Violet to make the spiral and the “Words” title.  I pulled out one of my calligraphy pens and the india ink to make the stem-like lines and then added the words we are using for inspiration.  I messed up a few of them when the nib was loaded with too much ink, so I’ll go back in and fix that later.  The last step of the evening was to gesso the next two pages so they will be ready for me to work in them tomorrow.