Tag Archives: building a studio

“How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #1


I’m in the middle of my studio clean out. It definitely got worse before it got better, but today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least the floor in some places.

I’m being rather harsh in my clean out, I don’t want to do this again soon. Everything has to earn its space. Especially books. So far I’ve donated 4 bags of books to the library and I’ve got two more boxes of books to donate to the Bay Area Book Artists Sale on Sunday, October 16th.

In my studio I have one of those Ikea bookshelves with the squares to divide books. Above is a photo of one of two squares labelled, “Book Arts How To.” I thought I’d share with you the books that I think are worth keeping in my studio and why.

Most books about Book Arts include the standard bindings, Accordion, Coptic, Pamphlet, etc. In order for me to keep a book in this category, it has to have 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

Today, the first 5. Note, these are in no particular order of preference. Rather the order they are on my shelf.

Book Art Studio by Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow.


The primary reason this book gets to stay? The Limp Paper Binding. A variation on the traditional Limp Vellum Binding. I haven’t tried it yet so the book goes back on my shelf.



re-bound: creating handmade books from recycled and repurposed materials by Jeannine Stein


This book deserves shelf space for the gallery. Here two of my favorites by Elaine Nishizu and Judi Delgado.



Next, Book Arts: Beautiful Bindings for Handmade Books by Mary Kaye Seckler


I keep this book for The Raven’s Foot Binding. It is a fun and unusual binding and well described here.



More Making Books By Hand by Peter and Donna Thomas


While there are instructions about how to make books, this one gets to stay as a catalog of Peter and Donna Thomas’ artwork. Here one of my favorites, The Trout.



Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books by Dorothy Simpson Krause


This book is unique in that it has Thermal Bindings (bindings created with the use of heat)


And Drumleaf Bindings, bindings created by applying glue to the spine. Neither of which I’ve done, but both of which look interesting and useful.


Next week, the next five.

On a personal note, the wedding in Virginia Beach was wonderful, beautiful, sentimental. We’re still smiling from the joy we shared with Samantha and Jeff.

We also experienced Tropical Storm Hermine which turned out to be stormy enough to create some challenges for the bride and groom but also disappointing after watching all of the weather channel doom and gloom.  For fun, Greg and I went to the coast at took some Hermine selfies. Here is my favorite.





Dusting Off the Mental Cobwebs

Last week I finished unpacking my studio and starting working on several new artists’ books. They’re ideas I’ve had floating around during moving and recovery and, finally, I’m ready to get back to work. After months of getting a house ready to sell, moving for the first time in 15 years, and then having a hysterectomy and recovering from that –  I finally feel like I once again have the physical and mental energy I need to dedicate to being an artist.

First, I had to start the week by beating myself up mentally. Why on earth didn’t I write/create/develop ideas while recovering? All I was doing was lying around, right?

Next, I had to forgive myself. Apparently I needed all of the energy I had just to heal. I wish I could have used that time more productively (I don’t think watching 63 episodes of Eureka counts as productive) but for some reason I couldn’t. I tried.

And finally, I’m dusting off the cobwebs (and my tools) and starting anew. I’ve started working on images for one of the new artists’ books. Family and friends are gamely standing against a white while for photos while wondering what on earth I’m going to do with them.

Photoshop is less intuitive right now – I know I used to know how to do all of this. I’ve started taking photographs every day – Oh, how I love to take pictures!  So far mostly of my garden growing and some jam I made this morning.

I’ve hooked up my new printer, a Canon iX6520 (all by myself, no husband-who-is-an-engineer-tech-support!) and I’ve started testing it. My beloved HP that I’ve used to print all of my artists’ books went kaput and I feel like I’m back at square one. Can I use pages I’ve already printed with pages from the new printer? Do I have to start over? Will this printer print on Rives BFK as beautifully as that old printer?

And I’ve started working in my studio. I’ll post photos of the studio later this week. Right now I’ve got the radio cranked up and I’m remembering how to hold a bone folder and being grateful for my health, for being able to find most things where I look on the first try, and for my amazing new workspace.



Congratulations, it’s a Studio

Well, it took only 8 months, but the studio I’ve been dreaming of has finally been delivered. My niece, Amelia, who is 8 years old, loves it and thinks it is just the right size for her. That it has its own porch lights and doorbell just made her even more tickled. Right away she began making plans to come over and “play art” and then stay overnight in her house, aka my studio.

As I’m typing to you I am peeling wood glue off of my fingers – it doesn’t seem to matter whether I am making books or building cabinets, I have to wear the glue. Instead of bonefolders and my Kutrimmer I am using drills and screwdrivers to build the cabinets and drawer units for my studio.

My brother asked me, “Aren’t the kitchen cabinets enough? Do you need more?” Do we artists ever have enough storage? What’s funny is that Bryce, who is also a very creative person, is a packrat and rarely gets rid of anything. If anyone understands the need for storage…

This is just one of the many stacks of boxes. It turns out that I had art supplies in and tools in pretty much every room of the old house. When we were moving our stuff everyone kept commenting on how most of it was ending up out at the studio. When you put it all in one space it is a bit overwhelming. The duck – he is a wire frame model I made in 3D class several years ago. I’m not sure if he gets to stay because he’s fun or because I injured my elbow pulling and twisting all that wire. Probably both.

This is the studio bathroom. Hmm. More stuff. That’s a bag of banana tree leaves for paper making over there in the bathtub.

This is the back view behind the studio. Eventually it will be a patio surrounded by plants that can be made into paper.  Right now the only plant is one sad weed.

This is one of my favorite views, taken on the way from the house to the studio.  I’m looking forward to ending the moving and organizing phase and beginning the welcoming and working phase. Towards the end of the summer I plan to have an open studio.

Well, I’ve stalled long enough. On to the next cabinet.



Studio Planning: Inside the Creative Studio

I went to my new studio last weekend (forgot to take a photo, can you believe it?) and it has a roof, is painted on the outside, and even has its own doorbell. How fun is that? We’re about two weeks away from moving in and I realize that I need to finish my space design before it is full of boxes!

My favorite book for studio inspiration has been Inside the Creative Studio: Inspiration and Ideas for your Art and Craft Space by Cate Cioulacos Prato. Greg gave me this book for Christmas and it has been a huge help in making wish lists and designing the floor layout for my new studio.

In addition to the gorgeous photos of studios (or as we call it in our house now, studio eye-candy) this book is full of helpful tips, stories from artists about how they designed and built their studios, and even actual space diagrams. I found the tips from each artist to be especially helpful.

The studio interviews and diagrams are bookended by helpful articles such as “Clutter Out, Creativity In: 10 Steps to a more artful studio” and “For Your Illumination: How to choose the best lighting for your studio” and my favorite,  “101 Organization and Storage Tips.” 

Since we make artists books and paper is one of our favorite guilty pleasures, here are their 10 Best Solutions for Paper Storage (p. 60)

  1. Flat file drawers
  2. Shoe Cubbies
  3. A pretty (or industrial) trash can (for rolls)
  4. Umbrella stand (for rolls)
  5. Large size zipper bags (clip them to cascading skirt/pant hangers)
  6. Wooden clothes drying rack (for rice and tissue papers)
  7. Accordion files (Attach a scrap with the color to the front of each slot or write the name of the color with a permanent marker)
  8. Archival boxes
  9. Plastic protector sheets (magazine cutouts, paper motifs, small images on found papers)
  10. Portfolios for extra-large pieces of paper (You can slide the whole thing under the bed.)

Do you have a book that you can recommend? What tools did you use to plan your studio?



Studio Planning: Art Making and Studio Spaces

We’re on the last leg of a long journey towards our new home and my new studio. With any luck at all we’ll be moving in the next couple of weeks. In between packing (and wondering where all this stuff came from) I’ve been looking at books about studio planning.

One of the books I’ve been enjoying was lent to me by one of my students, Viveca.  The book, Art Making and Studio Spaces, by Lynne Perrella, features beautiful and inspiring photographs. Somehow the studios look both organized and yet creatively chaotic at the same time. Since my studio has, up to this point, been more chaotic than creative, I was interested in how other artists organize their spaces so that they are neat but usable.

I was thrilled to see Pam Sussman’s studio. Pam makes artists’ books and the photos of her 1,800 square foot studio show display spaces for her books as well as functionality such as a cart with wrapped bricks to move weights wherever she needs them.

My studio will be just a small portion of that space at 400 square feet, but I’ve been thinking a cart for my Kutrimmer might be just the solution for being able to cut different sized papers – move the Kutrimmer next to a table when I need the extra support, tuck it in a corner when I’m not doing any cutting.

Some of my other favorite studios are Sas Colby’s, with it’s big doors that blur the boundaries between indoors and out, Faye Anderson’s with her large workspace wall to tack up work in progress, and Melissa Zink’s with the rich wood tables, bookcases, flat files and apothecary cabinets.

I can’t do anything about opening up the walls, but a working wall to tack up ideas and artists’ books in progress sounds wonderful and a must add to my new studio. I’d love to add some of the rich woods, too. Most of my studio furniture is white, very functional, but lacking history.

This  book is certainly eye candy for artists. The studios themselves look like works of art. You may have to stay up all night redecorating your studio after looking at this book.



Studio Update: Let There Be Drywall

A quick studio update. We have drywall!

And chicken-wire. Sadly that will probably be the only chicken-wire in our yard. Despite lobbying for nearly 6 months I’m making no progress in getting Greg to agree that chickens would be a nice addition to our brood of four kitties. Fresh eggs for breakfast doesn’t seem to be enough incentive. I think I’m making progress on the a-puppy-would-sure-be-nice front, though. Stay tuned.

The front door is on the left. The closed door on the right is to the bathroom. (You can get to the bathroom via an inside door, as well.) I’m looking forward to being able to make cyanotypes and paper in the patio behind the studio and take all that wet, messy and wonderful stuff straight into the sink. No more trekking it through the studio.)

The bottom photo is a tradition Greg and I started nearly 13 years ago when we met. We take shadow pictures wherever we go. (It warms my heart that now my niece, Samantha, takes shadow pictures everywhere, too.) The thing in Greg’s hand is a tape measure. We seem to be measuring everything these days.

I’ve also started space planning and I’ll tell you some more about the books and software that I’m using for inspiration and planning in a blog post or two later this week.



Studio Update – Windows, Doors and Insulation, Oh My!

Our builder is now trying to get the studio caught up with our house and in just a week they’ve put in electrical, windows, doors, insulation and more. Really quite amazing. I’m terribly excited and I’ve started designing the interior of the space with some help from some inspirational books (more on those later) and a lot of great tips from friends. I also had a bit of a panic attack today. If the studio is this close to being ready, shouldn’t my current space be more packed?!