Tag Archives: Bay Area Book Artists

The Bibliophile Mystery Series

Well hello again. Still working like crazy from Codex orders (this is a good thing!) but I thought I’d tiptoe back into blog writing with this quick post. My friend Marilyn S. asked if I’d ever heard of the mystery books by Kate Carlisle that have a bookbinder as the main character. Nope. I hadn’t. So I requested them from my library and they’re so fun!

Brooklyn Wainright is the main character in the Bibliophile mystery series. She’s a bookbinder, book restorer and just generally crazy about books in any form. These mysteries are light and fluffy and easy reads. They fit in what I’d call the girlfriend mystery genre. The main character, her girlfriends and her family are the center of the stories (after bookbinding, artists books, and wonderful book details, of course) and there is a handsome man or two or three in every story. And a cat.

I’ve read the first two books and think they are so much fun I’ve ordered the rest of the series from the library for my trip to San Diego next week. I love the careful details about the condition of the books, what will need to be done to restore them, mentions of book structures and Brooklyn’s passion about books. Bookbinder tools as weapons, why not? Bonefolders, blades, awls, goodness knows we injure ourselves enough while working with them! She even teaches an accordion book making class in the second story.

If you’re from the Bay Area you’ll find them especially fun. Brooklyn lives in San Francisco, comes from Marin, and even mentions the San Francisco Center for the Book and the Bay Area Book Artists!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I am.




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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




What is It Like to Be the One Jurying a Show?

Excitement, validation, elation, these are just a few of the emotions we feel when our artwork is chosen for a juried show.

I really remember the first time my work was selected for a show at Chicago’s Women Made Gallery titled “From Sham to Shame.” King George was one of my first artists’ books and my teacher, Tess Sinclair, recommended that I enter. When I got the “congratulations” email, I couldn’t believe it. Somehow having my work chosen was  validation that my work was “real” art. It had to be, since a gallery liked it, right? I think I called everyone in my family – twice.

I also remember the first “thanks but no thanks” response that I got. Wow, was that a let down. Ironically, it was from the gallery I’m about to tell you about. In hindsight I understand that: 1. it was not my strongest work; 2. sometimes the work you submit doesn’t fit with the juror’s vision; and 3. sometimes there are more entries than the gallery has room for.

In the interest of full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Laura Russell, owner of 23 Sandy Gallery. She taught the first book arts class that I ever took and is largely responsible (together with a great experience at Donna Seager Gallery’s annual The Art of the Book show) for my becoming a book artist. I also love her artists’ books, especially, Colfax Day and Night. And, I appreciate her generosity in both time and enthusiasm in helping artists be successful. Laura has given guest lectures to the Bay Area Book Artists (and I’m sure any book arts organization who has asked) and taken the time to help me with my business plan when I was studying for my BFA.

I recently emailed Laura asking if I could interview her for my blog about the jurying process and, by coincidence, on the same day, Laura published a blog entry of her own on exactly that subject: Behind the Scenes of Jurying an Exhibition.

And, while I’m at it, let me point you to some of my other favorite blog posts by Laura:

How to Get Your Artwork into a Gallery

Photographing Your Artist Books – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Have you entered your work into a show yet? How did it feel to get accepted? How did it feel to get a no thanks letter?



Turning it 90 degrees: Why Having a Community of Artists Matters

You may remember how I got stuck on making the titles using embossing powder and how a visit to the Maker Faire helped me gain a new perspective: Turn it 90 Degrees.

Well after a visit with a friend and fellow artist, Don Drake of Dreaming Mind Bindery, I’ve had another 90 degree moment. This time provided by Don, “Use straight PVA.”

I do use straight PVA, but never for covering boards. I was taught to use some combination of PVA and methyl cellulose for workability and drying time and, quite honestly, I didn’t have a good understanding of what I was doing by adding the methyl cellulose – I was adding moisture/water.

So Don and I were chatting about my new quilt book (still in progress) and the covers that I’d done so far. I wasn’t happy with the way there was some glue bleed through (see original post and photo) and when Allison, via comments to the blog post, asked if I considered making the quilt pieces into book cloth I thought, “Doh! Why didn’t I do that?”

Fast forward to a conversation with some artist friends about the best way to make book cloth from the quilt pieces and Don asks me, “Why don’t you use straight PVA?” Well, because you don’t use straight PVA  on book covers, right? Don pointed out that the bleed through was because of the moisture in the methyl cellulose and maybe some from the PVA. He recommended that I try straight PVA wet and, if that didn’t work, roll the PVA on the board until it was tacky and almost dry and then use heat to reactivate it to glue on the cloth.

I haven’t actually tried to glue the quilt with the straight PVA yet, I’m still working on the content of the book, but I did try it on the covers for the most recent copies of The Heaven Project. What a dream! The paper I use for the covers is lovely but moody and when I switched from the PVA/methyl cellulose mixture to straight PVA (wet) – wow! The paper was happy, I was happy, and my covers are beautiful.

My conversation with Don reminded me that I need to get to know my materials better and not just do what I’ve been taught to do. Mix it up a bit. Try straight PVA. It also reminded me that having a community of artists to toss ideas around with and to ask questions of makes all the difference.

Do you have a community of artists to collaborate with? A great place to start is with the Book Arts Web. Join the list serv and you will instantly be part of a world-wide community of artists.

Do you have a local group? If so, make the time to go. I know, you’ll never have enough time in the studio and it’s tempting to hunker down on your own. But chatting with other artists who have the same challenges you do, who have knowledge that you don’t, who are enthusiastic about art – it is worth the time for your art and your soul.

My local group is the Bay Area Book Artists. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are welcome there, too! Can’t find a group in your area? Email the Book Arts Web, ask if anyone knows of a group near you. Contact your local college and see if they can refer you. Take a local art class and make a friend. Find just one other artist near you and have lunch once a month. Invite artists as you go and pretty soon you’ll have your own group.

Feel free to post links to your local groups in the comments section – the more the merrier.



Art with Children – And an Alphabeastiary

Last week I was invited by Anne, a fellow artist, to visit the International School of the Peninsula in Palo Alto, CA to share my artists’ books with two second grade classes.

It was very fun to see the children’s book projects. One class is making pop-up books of monuments from around the world. Another class is making moveable picture show books in shoeboxes with dowels to turn the scrolls.

It was much less challenging to explain, “What is an artist book?” to second graders than it is to adults. From their perspective it was art and a book. Period. Since we were in their library, we looked at how some of my books look just like a library book and can sit on a shelf, while others hardly look like “books” at all. I enjoyed sharing in their excitement in looking at the books I’d brought and I was impressed with the care they showed in handling them.

One of their favorites was a collaborative alphabet book that I made with other artists in the Bay Area Book Artists called Alphabeastiary (each artist made enough prints of their letter for everyone, and then we bound them in our own choice of binding. My binding includes a set of alphabeastiary blocks that I made by scanning the prints and then gluing them to wooden blocks.) The kids had a great time guessing each animal and seemed to really like that every artist has such a different style. Here is a slide show of the book followed by the artist’s information:

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Title by Deborah Kogan
Edition Variable: 30 Sunprints
Image based on a medieval bestiary page in the St. John’s College Oxford Library depicting a dragon (symbolizing the devil) killing an elephant; Van Dyke Brown and cyanotype contact sunprints, digital negative on Pictorico transparency; background – stenciled onto the print, stencil brush, gold stamp pad

Introduction by Deborah Kogan
Edition: 30 Screen Prints
Print Gocco ink; “Papyrus” font; Print Gocco screen printing machine

Alligator by Kit Davey
Edition: 30 Stencils
Paper stencils; spray paint, card stock
Blue-Footed Booby by Ginnie Mickelson       
Edition: 30 Relief Prints
Linoleum block,  oil-based Daniel Smith relief ink, Somerset paper;  hand printed with a baren; blue feet – stenciled onto the print, stencil brush
Cow by David Trujillo
Edition: 30 Relief Prints, 8 Artist’s Proofs
Based on an image from the Internet; Nasco “Safety-Kut” block, hand carved; Graphic Chemical oil-based inks, Rives BFK paper; Sturges etching press
Dragon by Karen Chew
Edition: 51 Screen Prints (additional prints will be sent as mail art)
Image hand-drawn in ink based on a photograph of a Japanese dragon statue; Riso inks, Rives BFK paper; Print Gocco screen printing machine
Elephant by Nanette Wylde        
Edition: 30 Relief Prints
Image of the elephant deity Ganesha, patron of arts and sciences, deva of intellect and wisdom, from an unsigned appropriated source (copied, altered, laser-etched), carved into linoleum; oil-based inks, Rives BFK paper; etching press
Frog With Fleas by Nancy Welch
Edition: 30 Embossed Handmade Paper
Base paper made from plant fibers, “frog” paper made from rags; rolling pin press.

Gargoyle by Wren  Clark    
Edition: 30 Relief Prints, 10 Artist’s Proofs
Hand-drawn image; linoleum block, oil-based ink, Rives BFK paper; Line-o-Scribe letterpress

Horse by Cindy Hill
Edition: 30 Screen Prints, 6 Artist’s Proofs
Speedball Acrylic Screen Printing Ink, Canford 70 lb. paper (Snow White)

‘I’iwi (Hawaiian finch) by Jone Small Manoogian
Edition: 30 Screen Prints, 8 Artist’s Proofs
Twelve hand-mixed colors, ten hand-cut film stencils, six subsequent block-outs; Speedball Water Soluble Screen Printing Ink, Rising Stonehenge paper (Antique White); artist-made wooden screen, 16-inch by 13-inch frame,13-inch by 10-inch screen opening,16-inch by 16-inch Formica covered  plywood bed, 4-inch wide vinyl squeegee

Jellyfish by Ginger R. Burrell     
Edition: 30 Relief Prints, 10 Artist’s Proofs
Linoleum block, Speedball printing ink, Rives BFK paper

Koi by Karen Koshgarian
Edition: 30 Relief Prints, 6 Artist’s Proofs
Hand-cut Speedball Speedy Carve block; Speedball Water Soluble Block Printing Ink, Rives BFK paper (cream); brayer, printed by hand
Llama by Becky Barber
Edition: 30 Screen Prints, 10 Artist’s Proofs
Speedball Acrylic Screen Printing Ink, Rives BFK paper    

Manatee by Astrid Smith
Edition: 38 Relief Prints
Two-plate linocut, linoleum; Rives Lightweight paper; Vandercook letterpress

Narwhal by Kimball Hamilton, Two Left Hands Press
Edition 30 Relief Prints
Photopolymer relief plates; rubber-based inks; Chandler & Price Pilot platen letterpress

Octopus  by  Elise Guidoux   
Edition: 30 Relief Prints, 4 Artist’s Proofs
Foam cut out and surface distressed, Speedball Water Soluble Block Printing Ink, Rives BFK paper (cream); brayer, printed by hand

Pig  by Dottie Cichon 
Edition: 32 Relief Prints, 2 Artist’s Proofs
Hand-carved; soft linoleum block, Speedball Water Soluble Block Printing Ink, Rives BFK paper; Jack Richeson & Company press

Quail by Karen Cutter
Edition: 30 Relief Prints, 10 Artist’s Proofs
Image created with handset wood and metal type; oil-based ink, Rives BFK paper; Line-o-Scribe letterpress

Rooster by Rae Trujillo
Edition: 30 Relief Prints
Free-hand drawing based on a photograph; two-plate collograph, card stock, varnish; Graphic Chemical oil-based inks, Stonehenge paper; Rembrandt etching press

Snake by Linda Stinchfield        
Edition: 30 Relief Prints
Photopolymer relief plates; Precision Graphics Perfect Palette ink

Turtle Dreams by Jeanne Schreiber
Edition: 30 Screen Prints
Speedball Acrylic Screen Printing Ink, Canford 70 lb. Paper (Snow White)
Urchin by Karin A. Schulz            
Edition: 30 Relief Prints with Blind Debossing
Original design; plate – layered, heavy manila paper and 1/8-inch linoleum; color added to selected areas of the plate with a roller; Open Acrylic paint, Arches Cover paper (white); etching press.
Vulture by Pati Bristow
Edition: 30 Relief Prints, 3 Artist’s Proofs
(Artist intends to further carve the block and print an edition of 50 postcards)
Altered public domain image – “1894 Laughable Lyrics: A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, Songs, Botany, Music, etc. by Edward Lear;” hand-carved plate, linoleum; Graphic Chemical oil-base ink (Bismark Brown), Rives BFK paper; Line-o-Scribe letterpress        

Walrus by Pat McEwin Smith
Edition: 30 Screen Prints, 8 Artist’s Proofs
Image inspired by a public domain image (redrawn, resized and digitally printed on a transparency), photo-emulsion screen;  Water-Based Yudu ink, Lenox printmaking paper; Yudu Screen Printer   

Xantus’s Murrelet by Cindy Lee
Edition: 50 Relief Prints, 1 Artist’s Proof
Original drawing; single-plate, hand-carved, Speedball E-Z Cut block; Speedball Water Soluble Block Printing Ink, Rives BFK paper; brayer, paint brush (dabbed red); Line-o-Scribe letterpress      

Yapok (aquatic marsupial) by Raven Erebus
Edition: 30 Relief Prints
Two print runs: First – linocut using a blend of blue and gold ink, Second – metal type (Gillies font set) using a blend of green and gold ink; Rives BFK Heavyweight paper; Old Reliable platen letterpress

Zebra, By Sally Cole
Edition: 40 Screen Prints, 2 Artist’s Proofs
Image photo-transferred onto photo-emulsion screen;  Water-Based Yudu ink (fuchsia), Lenox printmaking paper; Yudu Screen Printer