Tag Archives: studio

“How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #2

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The studio is getting cleaner, but I’m still far from done. I’m afraid I’m having to undo years of bad stashing habits. Creating new strategies and new systems is taking longer than I’d like. I am, however, determined not to stash anything this time around.

In the meantime, here are the second five books that have earned shelf space on my new, cleaned out, 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 about the first five, here are the “How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #1 from last week’s blog post.

This week’s five:

Making Books by Hand by Mary McCarthy and Philip Manna

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This book has outstanding diagrams and clearly labels everything. Excellent for a beginner and a good reminder for experienced artist. There are also several box structures that I find useful such as this portfolio, below. Apologies for the bad photo, the glossy black page and my studio lighting were not making friends, you get the idea.

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Books Unbound by Michael Jacobs

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This book is probably in my top 5. It does not have the clearest instructions and he does not use the best materials, but Michael Jacobs approaches bookmaking from a sculptural standpoint and the books and boxes he creates are truly unique.

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The Matchbox Marvel, above, is typical of his enthusiasm to combine book structures and boxes into interesting shapes and variations. His Specimen Book, below,  is one of my favorites. I’ve made this as a gift a few times. It is always a hit. A wonderful way to highlight a treasured (small) item.

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Also in my top 5, Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms by Alisa Golden

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This book is the most comprehensive on my shelf. If you’re only going to own one “How To” book on making handmade books – this is it. From basic accordion books to basic pop-up and move-able books, you can find something here to fit your ideas. If if you use scrap materials and patience, you can teach yourself any of these bindings or boxes.

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235 pages of instructions, diagrams and ideas!

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You’ll notice the next two books are also by Alisa Golden. There is a lot of overlap with the Making Handmade Books, above. Virtually all of the instructions and diagrams from the next two books are in the 100+ book. So… I wouldn’t recommend buying them, too. Unless you find them for a great price. What makes them worth having are the gallery/example photos that are not in the Making Handmade Books. I’m still debating whether they have enough value to stay on the shelves. But for right now they’ve earned a spot. When that shelf begins to overflow again, these are the first two I’d reconsider.

 

Unique Handmade Books by Alisa Golden

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Creating Handmade Books by Alisa Golden

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One more set of five to finish out that shelf and then we’ll move on to some other topics. In fact, I’m looking forward to my husband, Greg, writing some guest posts. One on lighting, which we’ve just redone in my studio and one on what it’s like to be in his role as a support system and collaborator for an artist.

You may have noticed that I haven’t talked about the Pop-Up “How To” books in that shelf cubby. I’m saving that discussion for November when the Pop-Up Now Exhibition opens  at 23 Sandy Gallery.

Do you have a “How To” Book  in your studio that I should have in mine? Give me some of your recommendations in the comments!

~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

 

 

It’s a Sidewalk! Or a Pathway, or a Walkway, or…

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For a year and a half we’ve hopped from stepping stone to stepping stone, tip-toed across sheets of plywood or made running jumps across trenches. Finally, we’ve got a mud-free, trench-free way to get to the studio! Of course the kids miss the trenches and the tenuous plywood bridges, but I’m happy to have a solid way to get from the gate and house to the studio!

Sergio and his crew did a great job …

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I’ve always wanted to put our initials in fresh concrete – this time it was allowed!

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I’m restarting teaching classes in the studio in December. Why don’t you bring some friends, take a class and try out the new pathway…

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~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

While We’re Talking Paint: Which Colors Facilitate Creativity?

All that focus on paint chips last week got me thinking about what color the walls should be in a studio. Is there a strategy to choosing studio wall colors to make us more creative? My first thought is white like galleries and museums. Blank spaces on which to apply art. No distractions from the art making itself. But then I started to wonder, is there a science to this?

I Googled, “What colors encourage creativity?” And, after wandering through a lot of websites and reading several articles, here is the general consensus:

Red increases blood pressure, energy and stamina but can make a person irritable. Hmm. Not a good studio wall color choice. Pink helps muscles relax and induces a feeling of calm, protection and warmth. Nice, but I think I’d either get too mellow or take a nap. Next?

Orange can be beneficial to the digestive and immune systems and help relieve feelings  of self-pity, lack of self-worth and unwillingness to forgive. It is considered a terrific antidepressant. All promising properties. But I’m not sure I could take walls full of it. How about some orange accents like those photos of California Poppies.

Yellow stimulates alertness in the brain, makes one more energetic and induces a happy emotional state. It can also stimulates intellectual thinking and creativity. Again, good qualities. Maybe that’s why being outside feels so wonderful. Perhaps a light yellow wall color?

Green is good for the heart, physical equilibrium and balance. When exposed to the color a person’s breathing deepens and slows. Green induces feelings of comfort, laziness and relaxation. So that’s why I always feel so relaxed after hiking or camping. Lots of greenery visible from the windows. Check – but not enough to induce laziness!

Blue lowers blood pressure and has a cooling, soothing and calming effect, inspires mental control, clarity and creativity. Several studies indicated an increase in creativity when exposed to blue. I love blue. Perhaps blue walls.

Purple is known for  suppressing hunger; Indigo is associated with stimulating the right side of the brain – intuition and imagination. Maybe some purple walls in the house, might help my never-ending quest for a smaller jean size. For the studio, highlight color. Photos of big, beautiful Dutch Irises – indigo with yellow trim. Perfect.

White brings feelings of peace, comfort and freedom. A sense of uncluttered openness. Too much white can stimulate feelings of separation, cold and isolation. Since I tend to have too much clutter in my studio anyway, maybe a warm white color? I like the idea of peace, freedom and openness.

What color walls do you have in your studio or work area? Would you change them if you could? What would your ideal color be for studio walls?

In case you want to read some of these articles yourself, here are the ones I found most interesting and helpful:

Color Psychology

Color: A powerful mood-altering tool

Paint Color Moods

Effect of Colors: Blue Boosts Creativity, While Red Enhances Attention to Detail

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com