Category Archives: Classes

On Being a “Real” Artist

Ginger Burrell Pyramid Box with Lotus Book SFSM

Well, here it is Tuesday again. And look, a blog post! I had to laugh when I realized I’ve been so busy since last Tuesday that I haven’t read any more of the book about getting organized and making routines. I’ll have to tell you about that another time.

When I was studying art in college,  I remember a discussion where a student pointed out that a “real artist” would let everything else in life go in order to make art. Art would come before family, income, chores, even eating.


This real artist made art this week, finished writing class descriptions, designed two new book structures, got her niece settled into college and just now booked travel for a funeral. This real artist is still terribly behind on a long list of things, but making progress.

Real artists have real lives. And if we’re lucky, busy, messy lives full of lot of people we love and who love us. And those people need us, need our time, and get in our way. Don’t even get me started on our pets.

To begin with, the college send off. I only cried a little bit. We were so focused on getting to the dorm room first so she could have the single bed in a triple room (success!), and getting her mountain of clothes, shoes and other supplies organized under said bed, I didn’t even have time to cry. And by the time the seven of us, who went to “help” her, had driven her crazy, she was so ready for us to leave, none of us cried. Of course when Greg and I got home we weren’t sure what to do with ourselves. And my first morning thought every day is still about what she needs, where she is, and whether she’s okay.

As far creating art, inventing book structures and writing class descriptions, I was working on a version of my pyramid box with magnetic closures, see the photo above. This version, designed for San Diego Book Arts needed to have a book inside. I experimented with stacked books and was underwhelmed. I really wanted something that made you go “wow” when it was revealed. I played with a variety of ideas and finally ended up with this, a set of four small triangular books with magnetic covers. When attached to each other with the magnets they create this intriguing and complex shape that I’m calling a Lotus Book. I’m pretty tickled with it.

I also designed a star book with magnetic covers that sits inside this hexagon box. I’ll be teaching both books and boxes in San Diego next April in 2017.

Ginger Burrell Hexagonal Box with Star Book SFSM

Today, after I finish my blog post, I’m cleaning. My studio is in such disarray that I have to move things to find things and move things to make space to work. I’ve got a bunch of boxes mostly made that are overdue to Vamp and Tramp. That’s my next big project… After I clean enough to find my table.

As far as the book on organizing one’s life? I’ll take that in my bag when we fly to Tucson for a funeral. I’ll tell you more about the book, and Tucson, next week.

Wishing you a lovely week full of messy, loving people who need you and get in the way.



New Class: Box Making Beyond the Rectangle

Join me for a new class beginning Friday, April 15th at the Palo Alto Art Center. The class will run for 10 weeks and we will make non-rectangular boxes including a triangle, a pyramid, a circle and a hexagon. Classes are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. Sign up by calling the Palo Alto Art Center or enrolling using their online system. Only two spaces remaining in the class!

Below are photos of the magnetic pyramid box we’ll be making. Don’t miss out!

Workshop: Valentine’s Book for Your Sweetheart – Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016

 Sees Candy Box

Valentine’s Book for Your Sweetheart

**Two spaces left for the workshop this Saturday, February 6, 2016 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Ginger’s Morgan Hill Studio**

Create a box full of books that we’ll make out of polymer clay “chocolate” and paper. Your sweetheart will want to eat the delicious looking chocolates and then be tickled to find out that each is really a book with your sentiments inside. Make a whole box full for someone special or several small books for individuals. Class fee $100, Materials Fee $15

Here are some photos of the chocolates that other students have made in this class in previous years:

Stephanie Wolfson

Nancy Welch

Carol Dwinell

Questions? Please feel free to email.


Trees are Popping Up Everywhere In the Studio

I’m getting ready to teach a new class at the Palo Alto Art Center, Book Arts: Pop-Up and Moveable Books.

The first week I’ll be teaching slit and fold designs and we’ll make an accordion book with a tree motif. Here are some of the ideas I’m playing with in the studio…

Pop-Up Books for Blog-2

Pop-Up Books for Blog-10

Pop-Up Books for Blog-8

Pop-Up Books for Blog-6

Pop-Up Books for Blog-4

Pop-Up Books for Blog-5

Pop-Up Books for Blog-9

Pop-Up Books for Blog-3

Pop-Up Books for Blog-7

Pop-Up Books for Blog




Inaugural Class in my Home Studio

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class

I’ve always wanted to be able to teach in a home studio and now I’m fortunate enough to have the space to do it! Last Saturday was the first class, we made polymer clay books that look like candies for Valentine’s Day.

One of my favorite aspects of teaching is that after I share basic techniques, my students create their own versions using their own ideas and vision and this class was no exception:

Stephanie used fondant molds to create elegant embellishments for each candy.

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-2    

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-6

Nancy made candies with debossed details and custom-made accents.

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-3

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-5

Carol decided that her book needed to fit entirely inside her candies and so she made thicker candies with a space for the paper to nest.

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-4

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-7

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-8

Polymer Clay Valentine's Class-9

We had a great time and left with wonderful gifts for our loved ones. Thank you, ladies, for making the first class so fun!

In March , a complete change of pace – I’ll start technology classes. Greg is busy planning the large screen install so that my students will be able to learn techniques in technology programs for artists such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom.


Art and Books Along the Way: Sitka Tango

I’m thrilled to be back in the studio after three weeks of wandering through Washington, Vancouver and Alaska. I’ve got a lot going on! I’m working on a new series of books, titled Oculus, that I look forward to releasing at the Book Arts Jam in Palo Alto on October 20th.

I’m also getting ready to teach at the Palo Alto Art Center, two classes starting next week: Photographic Books and Photoshop Elements. Speaking of which, the Palo Alto Art Center is having their grand re-opening this Saturday, October 6th. I’ll be there with a make-and-take activity. If you want to come meet me in person and make a great little book to take home … be sure to come between 11:30 and 1:30 on this Saturday. I’ll give you more details in a blog post later this week.

Greg and I have recently returned from an exciting and extraordinary trip to Alaska. In addition to more than 4000 photographs that I’m just beginning to sort through, along the way we couldn’t help but collect images of artwork and stories about artists that I thought I’d share with you.

The first is a story about a dog. If you ever been to Alaska you know that dogs are a very big part of daily life there. Everyone we met had dogs, every business we went to had a resident dog, and sled dogs are part of Alaska’s heritage and sporting life. One of our favorite experiences in Alaska was to go to a sled dog camp to ride on a summer training sled and then play with the dogs and their puppies afterwards (photos above and below).

This story is about Sitka, Alaska where we met an artist and writer, Tracie Harang and her dog, Tango. We enjoyed meeting Tracie and petting Tango. They had a table set up  to sell their books right outside of St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral.

Tracie told us about how she has collaborated with her children and  Tango to create two children’s adventure stories. They plan an adventure and then photograph it along the way. When they get home they create these terrific books as a family project. We think the books will make a special gift for some children in our lives and thought you might like to check it out, too. It’s a great way to support a mom and artist who is bringing her children up as artists, too. More information and links below:

From Hearthside Books and Toys:

“Born and raised in Sitka, Alaska, Tracie Harang and her three children, Justin, Brady, and Grace are all authors, photographers, and illustrators of the Sitka Tango series.  Tango, the family dog, is the hero of each adventure story by “saving the day” at the end of the books.  Photography, history, life lessons, and adventure make these Alaskan children’s books a fun and educational read.

Our first book, Sitka Tango Explores the Causeway takes our readers on a kayak adventure near Sitka to explore WWII history. The idea to write a book was hatched while on a family trip to the Causeway 2 years ago.  We were honored to be chosen as a silver award recipient by the national Mom’s Choice Award in January of 2010!

Our second book, Sitka Tango Journey to Juneau, Alaska follows Tango and his family as they ferry from Sitka to Juneau, ride the Mount Roberts Tramway, then hike and camp on top of the ridge!  Readers learn about the importance of being prepared for surprises while hiking in Alaska. As a mom and author, Tracie’s goal with this series is to work with and teach her children about bringing an idea to life, and then marketing it.  Working together, the Harang’s are excited to share their adventures with other families!”

Sitka Tango’s Website

About Sitka Tango

Buy a Sitka Tango Book

And because  I can’t resist – a sled dog puppy photo. It took a great deal of self control (and “that” look from Greg) not to put this puppy in my camera backpack! This puppy was also, coincidentally, named Tango.