Category Archives: Tools

An Artists’ Book Start To Finish, Part 1

Melania's Dreamcoat copy

I’m in the middle of my preparation for CODEX 2019. I use CODEX as my every two year deadline to introduce new work. I’ve got a suite of work in progress and, just this week, I’ve started working on a new piece. I know our processes all vary, and learning about them can be interesting, so I thought I’d share mine.

First: The Idea

Most of my ideas are sparked by something I hear on the news, talk about with Greg, or run across in daily life. This particular artists’ book began as a response to the jacket Melania wore to the detention center in Texas.

I played with some ideas for a few days and told Greg, “There is something here, beyond the obvious, but I just can’t quite put my finger on it.”

Then last weekend I drove to Hanford, CA to visit my parents. Usually Greg drives but in this case we wanted to get there early (Greg is not a morning person) so I drove and he slept. I didn’t turn on a podcast or the radio because I wanted him to sleep as much as possible.

I really should sit/drive/walk with quiet more often. Sometimes I forget how much fun my brain has meandering and making connections.

It started with problem solving another in progress piece and making some mental “to do” lists. Then my brain wandered over to the jacket idea. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat floated by. As did Madeleine Albright’s book about how she used pins to signal different things in her diplomatic meetings.

Aha! Now I knew what I wanted to do for this artists’ book. The cover would be the green fabric  of the now infamous jacket with the title in the same font style as the writing. The working title: Melania and the Controversial Pale Green Pea Coat.

My goal with this book is not to espouse a particular political viewpoint. Rather to explore how women use fashion to communicate in politics and diplomacy. With some added lyricism, Andrew Lloyd Weber style. Clearly still a work in progress, but I have some threads to pull.

Up next? Research.

I’ve collected 35 pages of articles about women/fashion/diplomacy and politics. And ordered an out of print book titled “Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion” from Amazon. And requested the related books I could find at our library, “Reforming Women’s Fashion, 1850-1920: Politics, Health and Art,” and “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box,” and “The Worn Archive.”

I found some interesting references to men’s fashion being used the same way, in particular Mr. Trudeau’s socks. Perhaps there is a sock book in my future. But I digress.

Stay tuned for the next phases: reading, materials collection, and writing.

How does your artwork begin? With an idea? A material? Do you have a standard process? Please leave your process in the comments!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

 

Tools I Can’t Live Without – Teflon Folding Rib

Among my favorite tools is this wonderful folding rib that was designed by Christine Cox of Volcano Arts. If I had to choose only one bone folder to have in my studio, this would be it. I prefer options and actually have several different tools in this category, but if going to a desert island with limited luggage, this would be the one.

I can use it like a regular bone folder to score a page and sharpen a crease.

It works well with the scoring board I like to use.

It’s shape fits comfortably in my hand.

It has the benefits of a Teflon bone folder.

It smooths larger areas at a time and more easily. I especially love it for covering Davey board with paper or fabric for book covers.

It’s a dream to use for box making. The curved end gets in tight spaces and allows detail work. The square end is great for getting into inside box corners.

It is shorter than a traditional bone folder so it fits better in my pockets.

Tempted to try it? You can buy it directly from Christine Cox at Volcano Arts, or if you’re ordering from Talas already, you can buy it from them.

Do you have a favorite shape or material bone folder? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

~Ginger

 

Tools I Can’t Live Without {Redux}

As part of restructuring my blog – and deciding what subjects to focus on in future posts – I came across my “Tools I Can’t Live Without” posts. I enjoy writing these and often get feedback about them, even years later.

These posts are also taking on a special meaning as Greg and I talk about possibilities for retirement. We’re probably 15 years out but we’re planners by nature so we’re already having those discussions. One of our ideas is selling everything and traveling by RV Van for a few years. Just the thought of a very small space both thrills and terrifies me. I love the idea of not much to clean and no room for clutter. I do not love the idea of cleaning out my studio and of trying to figure out which art tools are so important I must take them and which are not necessary.

I told Greg, “Maybe I’ll retire when you do.” He laughed and pointed out that making art is for me like breathing. He’s right. I’ll make art until I not physically able.

So I am looking at my art tools a bit differently. I often find myself thinking about the tools I’ve used that day and which I could do without. Fortunately I have a lot of time to think about this. In the meantime, here are the past “Tools I Can’t Live Without” posts.

Tools I Can’t Live Without: Teflon Bone Folder

Tools I Can’t Live Without: Kutrimmer

Tools I Can’t Live Without: The One I’m Embarrassed to Admit (to)

What tool(s) do you use in your art that you can’t live without?

Look for more “Tools” posts soon.

~Ginger

 

The Color of Real-World Studios

Have you ever gazed at images of perfect studios? You know the ones in magazines that are impossibly beautiful and organized? I often wonder about the palette (wall colors, not painter’s tool…) chosen and whether it fosters creativity or is distracting. Does it compete with the art making and finished art or highlight it?

One of the most viewed blog posts I’ve ever written was on the color of one’s studio and which colors facilitate creativity. I was building my own studio at the time and doing research. In the end, I went with white walls and a neutral floor color. Everything in my studio is white or natural wood, even the curtains are a natural and restful blue. Except that it isn’t. My studio is a cornucopia of texture, color and projects (or a rampant mess, depending on my mood…)  I’ve got photos, artwork, inspiration, supplies, books, stacks, etc. adding color everywhere. I suppose you could say that my studio is actually every colored.

As an extension of the original post, which you’ll find here: While We’re Talking Paint Colors, I asked artists that I know through the Bay Area Book Artists about their studios and colors they’ve chosen, or not, and why. Here, in no particular order, are their replies.

Lilac

My studio is blue based purple tinted out to a lilac color for walls and trim.  Grey based white ceiling to reflect light back down into space, and flooring a light green.  There are accent colors in all of the colors of the spectrum introduced in art work and assemblage pickings.  Surrounding rooms are a saturated grey because it is wonderful to display artwork on.  – Rhonda L.

white walls

1. My studio, as well as my entire living space, has white walls. I respond to emptiness, which white represents for me. The invitation of emptiness allows me to put up drawings, paintings, pieces of ephemera, words, and photographs that provide stimulation for creativity. 2. I feel that my creativity stems from a quiet center, and in order to have that quiet center, I need an interesting visual space. It’s almost as if the first creative act is to take the white walls, and begin a “room collage” of imagery that appeals to me, and once I’m ensconced in the arms of the imagery, my deepest creative place gets activated. This may look like clutter to others, but there is purpose, movement, order and balance to my eyes, and this is how I journey back to my center.  – Karen K.

green

My studio walls are the color of leaves with a cream ceiling. My studio has windows on two walls and looks out on to the garden.  I like the sense of working in the great outdoors, it makes me happy.  That being said, the walls have lots of art, books and stuff on them, so the true sense is a garden that’s gotten outta control.  It keeps me stimulated. (Raesofsun.com) – Rae T.

black and white

My studio currently has white walls and ceilings, with neutral to black surfaces and furnishings. It’s calming and visually quiet environment so that I can both work and play here. It’s not stark, as there are areas of creative clutter, but the overall space is peaceful and inviting for making art. The best moments are when I turn on some music and put my phone on silent. – Karen C.

tiffany

My studio is Tiffany blue with white trim. I work full-time at a hospital, and this color helps me forget my day. I can think better at my studio. When I sit down to create, it usually never takes longer than 10 mins before ideas start to flow. – Linh D.

multicolor

I don’t really have any colors. Behind me is floor to ceiling shelving with supplies. To my left is a huge cabinet with wood doors, though often they are open showing more supplies. Next to that we have the television sitting in a brick fireplace. In front of  me, is mostly my huge iMac honestly can’t see much beyond it. (It’s new. 🙂 yay) and off to the right is an open area that turns into the kitchen area, again mostly wood cabinets  there’s very little wall in the whole room, what we have is the same white as when we moved in. So I’d have to say my studio is “art supply” colored, mostly vintage paper and books. And the matte aluminum of my epson r2400 and  iMac. I wish it were prettier like those spreads you see of people’s studio. I had Kit come help me organize it, but frankly, I work chaotically, and don’t have lots of energy to tidy up after, so everything is a massive pile of paper I’m working with, loosely held in clear plastic tubs. (Kit pointed out that I like to see what I have or I forget I have it, so clear tubs work great).  I was raised by my Gran who liked need and tidy, so I always feel a bit of shame in regards to my work space. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/violentbloom/10355425414/) – Raven E.

tomato red

My interior studio walls are warm white and with tomato red /orange accent walls and maple shelving with views of trees out my windows. My studio is a relaxing environment which sparks my creative energy. – Bernadette C.

ivory

I painted mine an ivory-white. Warm tone supports good vibes. Also good lighting helps. I have sky lighting plus warm light bulbs for night work. Has been great since 1984! ~ Jone M.

gray

How color affects one’s creativity is a good question. I prefer white walls in a studio. I like to use colors and a placing a painting/print etc, against a white surface gives me the best idea of the true color, i.e. there is minimal color interference. I even prefer a white palette and ink rolling surface for that reason. Also white walls reflect light best. If I had my choice I would have one wall be a pale ‘photo’ grey, neither warm, nor cool, again for minimal interference with true color in a painting, print etc. BUT the best psychological stimulus to my creativity is having plenty of Northern light. Artificial light is a downer for me. – Conni R.

warm white

My last studio had knotty pine walls, very warm but too dark. I couldn’t bring myself to paint them because they were beautiful wood. I like a lot of light, from windows if possible, with no shadows under my hands. My new studio has slightly warm, white walls, our landlord’s choice. But it’s working well. I like the brightness. I feel most colors on the wall would bounce onto whatever I’m working on and have an effect. Later in a different setting my finished art would not be the color I want. My table tops are a light grey, I prefer my grey cutting mat over the dark green one most of the time, too. I think these simple colors create an environment that makes me feel like it’s a good place to be making things. ( judithhoffman.net) – Judy H.

multi 2

My studio walls are white but you can barely see them. The walls are covered with every color possible of artwork and art supplies. This colorful atmosphere is what charges and inspires me. For me “more is more” in every sense of creativity. (http://lifeasafiveringcircus.blogspot.com/http://www.doritelisha.com) – Dorit E.

navajo white

In my studio I keep pretty neutral with color and have a Navajo white which has some warmth to it and grey. It makes a great backdrop for all colors and does not intrude.  It keeps the space clean without being sterile and helps keep the light level up. The color is in all the inspiration pieces I have around. My artwork, objects that inspire, plants, and fabrics hanging on the walls or on shelves. There are a lot of natural items…rocks, wood, dried leaves and pods that warm up the space without effecting other colors. – Karen R.

What color is your studio? Or what color is your dream studio? Have you changed your studio color over time? If so, why? Please share in the comments!

Thank you again to the artists in Bay Area Book Artists. They are a tremendously generous group and always willing to share their thoughts and ideas.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Paper Storage: An Alternative to Flat Files

One of the many challenges of being an artist is storing supplies and, for book artists, that means paper. Do we roll it up? Lay it flat? And where in our studio do we store paper without exposure to dust, bugs and other troublesome elements?

Ideally I think we’d all love to have a nice set, or three, of flat files. Big, flat, thin drawers to cradle all of that beautiful paper that we just can’t resist. If you’ve ever been to the annual paper sale at Flax in San Francisco, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s such a deal, why not buy more? Because you have to store it somewhere.

I agonized over whether I could afford flat files (I tried Craigslist and Freecycle in addition to art and office supply stores, I even tried school suppliers hoping that they might have a bit more of a bargain for classroom storage) and, even if I could afford them, would they fit in my studio, a 10 x 10 bedroom? The only option was to remove my work table and use the top of the flat files as workspace.  I didn’t really like this idea and thought long and hard about what I truly needed.

I realized that because of the size limitations of my computer printer it was unlikely that I would ever make artists’ books that would need full sheets of paper. This changed the size of the paper that I needed to store from 22 x 30 to half sheets of 22 x 15. I knew I wanted drawers, not containers with lids, so that I could stack them and not have to move anything to get to the paper. I do enough of that shuffling around already in my studio. I scoured the local stores and the internet for a product that would work.

Enter the Wide Underbed Drawers from the Container Store. These stackable drawers are 23 x 27 x 6.5 high and easily hold half sheets of pretty much any paper I’ve bought. It turns out that 6 of them fit neatly between my upper and lower linen closets. Aha. Instant flat paper storage for a pittance compared to the price of flat files. $150 for six drawers (38 ” of stacked height) instead of the $500-$1500 I would have paid for flat files. Even better, by ordering online and picking up at my local Container store, shipping is free and they brought the items to my car. Now that is customer service.

I’ve had my stacking drawers for more than a year now. I’m very happy with the size, the ease of stacking and the amount of paper I can fit in the drawers. They are easy to open and close and do not jam. Because of their height, I am able to store boxes in the drawers to divide the paper. For example, if I’ve cut Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain short and Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain long I want to be able to store them separately but I don’t want to use up a whole drawer for just one stack. I use the Stockholm Office Boxes, also from the Container Store, to hold smaller sheets inside the larger drawers. (Just to be clear, I have no affiliation with The Container Store, I just love these products enough to recommend them.)

I have no idea yet where this flat paper storage will go in my new studio, but because of their stackability there is a lot of flexibility, certainly more than if I’d purchased flat files.

A friend of mine, Kitta, stores hers in rolls in a wine rack turned on it’s back, another friend under her bed. How do you store large pieces of paper for your art?

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com