Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

 

Finding a Balance

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Hello again. It’s been a long time. I have been blogging in fits and starts and, for almost a year, not at all. I think about it all the time. I’ve got dozens of blog posts written in my head. But none of them made it to the computer or your inbox.

One of my biggest challenges, and I suspect yours as well, is being able to say, “No.” I enjoy helping people and making people happy and I am quite good at over committing myself out of the best intentions. Unfortunately I often fall short and feel sad/frustrated/guilty for not living up to my own expectations or promises.

After more than a year of falling short in too many places, I’m in the process of re-balancing my time as an artist and teacher (and wife, daughter, sister…). One of my priorities is to get back to regular blog writing.  I’ll share more about that soon. And more about my work. And tools I can’t live without. And events of note. Looking forward to chatting with you soon.

~Ginger

 

Holiday Gift List – Support an Artist!

This time of year it’s pretty likely that you’ll be purchasing a gift or a few for people that are important to you and/or they’ll be asking you, “What would you like?” I found some artist created goodies I thought you might want to add to your list(s). Note, I have no association with any of these products, but I think they’re cool, and they’re made by artists, so I fully support that!

  1. Excellent for anyone from your casual crafter to your serious artist, let’s start with Helen Hiebert’s Twelve Months of Paper Calendar. This calendar is filled with fun paper projects to enjoy each month. You can buy the calendar separately for $30.00 or you can add the paper pack for another $35.00.

2. For the more serious book artist or book binder on your list, any of Karen Hanmer’s books on Lulu would be a fabulous treat. I’m adding the Biblio Tech ($15.00) and Contemporary Paper Bindings ($55.00) books to my wish list. (Yes, Greg, I know you read my blog.)

Contemporary Paper Bindings

3. For an artist or anyone who works with paper, fabric or leather,  I highly recommend the Teflon Folding Rib from Talas. As I was telling my students on Sunday, it is truly the one tool I can’t live without. I use it in place of a bone folder in almost every application now. I use it for everything. It is especially fabulous for box making, book covers, anything with an inside corner, anything sticky… It’s probably the single most useful tool I’ve ever had in the studio. Seriously. Really. Buy one for your artist friend. They’ll love you. Get two and save one for yourself. $20.00

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4. For a fun look at the history of Blooks (objects that look like books), check out Mindell Dubanksy’s book: “Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t.” A great gift for the book collector on your list, anyone who makes books, anyone who likes the history of objects, etc. $45.00

5. If you’re looking for artist book eye candy, you’ll want the new catalog of Julie Chen’s work, “Reading the Art Object: Three Decades of Books by Julie Chen,” available from Vamp and Tramp. A steal at $30.

5. For the children on your list, check out the children’s books and artwork of Melanie Hope Greenberg. Melanie is a children’s book illustrator. Her illustrations are colorful, fun and lively.

And for the adults on your list who are children at heart, check out her original artwork. I’m partial to the one below! (Or you could hang one of her original pieces in a nursery or children’s room. What a great birthday or shower gift!)

There are so many wonderful gift options out there! From now until Christmas I’ll fit in some extra posts like this one. If you have suggestions, please let me know. Shameless self-promotion encouraged.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

“How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #3

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Still working on the studio clean out, but now working in the studio with some cleaning at both ends of the day. It’s exciting to see my new ideas for Codex taking shape.

In the meantime, here are the next five “how to” books that have earned their space on my  studio bookshelf.

As a reminder, my criteria for a book staying include one or more of the following:

  1. Unique binding ideas
  2. The best photos and instructions for a particular binding
  3. A gallery of book examples with outstanding artists books.

In case you’re wondering, here are List #1 and List #2.

This week’s five:

Sleight of Binding by Cherryl Moote

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This book has all of those fun “how did they do that?” bindings. Flexagons, KaleidoCycles and more. The instructions include basic drawings and are a bit more challenging than some of the other books on my shelf. I think my friend, Janice, would love this book. She loves puzzles and math and has the patience to make bindings over and over until she’s got them down. This is one of those books. Worth having, but you’ll need the time to make the structures work for you.

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The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books by Gabrielle Fox

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This book has terrific step-by-step directions with very good photographs. Gabrielle Fox makes each binding accessible to beginners and experienced artists alike. Each section also has a Gallery of Ideas, like the one featuring the Train Log by Hedi Kyle, below.

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The Art and Craft of Handmade Books by Shereen La Plantz

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This book has beautiful images and some great bindings. Among my favorites are her Recessed Skewer Bindings. You can see from the two sample pages below she begins with a binding concept and then extends it into other ways of using that binding. I just love that approach. She also includes many, many samples from terrific artists. In my opinion this is one of those “must have” books.

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Hedi Kyle Festschrift 2009 by Multiple Authors

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This is a fun book celebrating Hedi Kyle and her contribution to book arts. There are several stories from artists who have worked with and/or been influenced by her, several diagram drawings of her structures and articles about bookbinding and conservation. It is available on Lulu by Rutherford Witthus.

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Cover to Cover by Shereen La Plantz

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Another book by Shereen La Plantz and another must have. Terrific gallery images with samples from artists such as the Fish Messages by Judith Hoffman, below. Clear and conversational instructions with ways to extend each binding with new ideas.

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Well, there it is, three blog posts, 15 “how to” books and we haven’t even finished one square out of 15 in the bookshelf. We’re going to take a break from “how to” books until November when the Pop-Up Now II exhibition will open at 23 Sandy Gallery. Then we have the Keith Smith books. The books about being a professional artist. The inspirational eye candy books…

Next week, studio lighting and a guest blog post by my husband, Greg, who patiently researched and swapped out bulbs until my studio became the beautifully lit, real colors, less eye strain environment that I needed.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Cleaning the Studio Between Trips

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As I mentioned last week, we were off to Tucson for funeral. We went to show our respect and mark the passing of a man important to Greg and our family. Mike Enis was somehow related to Greg and his dad, although we couldn’t really tell you how. More importantly, Mike Enis was kind and welcoming and had terrific stories. He was also a wonderful father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a political activist, and a cultural historian and language teacher for the Tohono O’odham people. Mike also helped create a contemporary type of music particular to the southern Arizona desert, Chicken Scratch. It was an honor to have known Mike Enis.

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While in Tucson, we visited family, including our niece, Diana, who just started college at the University of Arizona. We were glad to get to see her sooner than expected, even if it did involve getting up at 4 a.m.!

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We also enjoyed some Indian Fry Bread (some of the best we’ve ever had), at “Indian Fry Bread Manna From Heaven” on St. Mary’s Road in Tucson.

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A trip to the Desert Museum in Tucson was inspiring both in terms of its beauty

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and also for this tree, which gave me some new artist book structure ideas. Can’t you just see this as a central binding structure with leaves/pages/books?

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And two more pieces of inspiration, the first, a statement by a young artist on the Tohono O’odham reservation about why he uses graffiti art. “Graffiti Art is not bad it is art. Graffiti Art is not tagging. Tagging is not art. Graffiti Art is a way for the next generation of our kids to carry on what makes us a tribe, what makes us “us.””

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And the second, a mosaic, in the Tucson airport. Dora, this made me think of you!

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And we’re off to the airport again for a trip to Virginia, this time for a wedding.

In the meantime, I decided that habits are useless without a usable work space. I’m terribly embarrassed to admit it, but this is what my studio looked like as of last Sunday.

Studio Before with MessStudio Before with Mess-2Studio Before with Mess-3Studio Before with Mess-4

It is an archaeological dig/representation of the projects, classes, and ideas of the last year. In between caring for Marisol and keeping our day-to-day lives running, I met deadlines and got projects done, got organized for classes, and more on a just-in-time basis.

I am a packrat, I love keeping things “just in case,” and I have never met a scrap of paper I don’t love and need to keep. But enough is enough. I’ve filled bags full of things to donate and I’m being rather harsh about what has to go. I can’t create good working habits if I don’t have room to work. So this week is step 1. Clean out.

I’m still reading the organizing/habits book. It will go with me on the next airplane ride. And next week, I’ll show you the “after” photos of the studio and share about our trip to Virginia.

Hey look. Three blog posts in a row. This is starting to look a bit like a habit!

Are you a packrat? What determines whether or not something is valuable enough to take up space in your studio? Comments are welcome!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

 

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.

Piffle.

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.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

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!