Wednesday, 31 December 2008


Snowy 'que

Well, it's been a relatively productive year here in the studio: lots of books made it out the door and went on more trips than I did too.

Although I didn't get as much knitting out the door as I have in the past, I did get a lot of spinning done, particularly during the Tour de Fleece (held during the Tour de France in July), and I taught at Olds College over the summer.

The return to teaching was something I had mixed feelings prior to getting up there. I quit some time ago after having a student take my copyrighted handout and distribute it publicly without permission -- an action I wasn't, ah, exactly impressed with.

Encouragement (verging on bullying, but in a good way, y'know?) from several teaching friends to resume sharing my skills led me back, and the wonderful students I had at Olds made me realize how much I had missed it. I'll be glad to go back again for 2009, especially as I will also be the judge for the handspinning fleece auction.

(OK, I know some of you think that plunging one's hands repeatedly into bags of unwashed fleece sounds like a fate worse than death, but trust me, it isn't!)

On the bookbinding front, my entire perspective was radically altered by the two weeks I spent with Don Rash in northeastern Pennsylvania: I learned how to think like a professional, and that has had a profound effect on the art (fibre and book) I've created since.

Those two weeks gave me the confidence to take on work that I would have thought beyond my competence (such as executing commissions and doing repair work), but that weren't, and to envision projects that a year ago I couldn't have ever imagined.

And I've worked on some other interesting projects, including hanging out with the local Flickrmeets group: their encouragement and comments about my photographs may not be turning me into a professional, but I am growing happier with some of the work I've done.

Up top is our poor, lonely barbeque: abandoned since the warm November gave way to December's snow, bone-shattering windchills, more snow, blowing snow, howling winds, and snow. I can't remember seeing so much here in Calgary since I was young. I'm going into BBQ withdrawal....

Time to find the stick of rowan; some holly, mistletoe, hazel, and yew; and trot out a fine wee dram (or more!) of single-malt.

Lang may yer lum reek!

Friday, 19 December 2008

The Season of Level Spirits

Spirit Level 1

spirit level is a book I've been thinking about since I first started binding three-and-a-half years ago: there's a scribbled note in my thought-binder to do something about Sunshine Village, where I took the photograph that forms the inside spread (below).

If that picture looks familiar, it's because it also showed up previously in this blog entry.

Spirit Level 2

Like much of my work, I am struck by a random concept and a rough idea of what I want the finished project to resemble, and move along from there: this book was no exception.

Contributing to its completion, certainly, was the two weeks I spent in the wilds of northeastern Pennsylvania with Don Rash this past spring: I gained the confidence to experiment with more materials (in this case, using leather for the cover), and the competence to get it right (um, well, mostly and eventually!).

Spirit Level 3

Inside the back cover, with marbled endpapers I made at Don's.

As with most of my projects, once I "finish" them, I see their problems (well, they are my problems) and know if I built another one, what I would change and, at least in my opinion, "do better": this one is no exception, although the alterations would be minimal. The biggest change, and one that I might yet implement, is to make it much wider: I barely used half of the panorama photograph in the interior.

That idea will get some serious consideration over the holiday season, but for now, it's time to clean off the cluttered end of the dining room table, and put the tree up tomorrow. For once, it actually feels like Christmas here this year, with all the snow and ccccccccccccold we've had lately.

Friday, 12 December 2008

You can't always get what you want

Book Exchange

One artist book I've been working on -- well, off and on -- for more than a year is about to see the light of day: this morning's project was to do the final gluing-up. All that is left now is to finish off the closure.

Like most projects, it's gone through a number of incarnations, mostly material-related, since I came up with the initial concept. Originally, I had no idea what I wanted to use for a cover, and so the idea simply simmered awhile.

Then in July, while wandering through the (mostly) tacky stuff in the Round-up Centre at the Stampede, I found the Tandy Leather booth, where they were selling all sorts of lovely thin leathers and the light bulb fired.

Several purchases later, I had the right piece of leather, and I started experimenting with it. I used to do a lot of leatherwork when I was young -- my mother had made a number of purses over the years, and I took to lacing leather as quickly as I had taken to knitting -- so in some ways, the work has been equal portions of new and re-discovery.

One big scrap from my experiments I used as a wrap-around cover for the little accordion book I made for the local CBBAG gift exchange (photo above).

The other project I've been working on lately has been much more mundane (recasing a hardcover book) but equally challenging, as this is the first time I've tried doing one.

I repaired some of the book's "issues" by ensuring that the outer pages starting to come loose from the original sewing were secured, taking the back inside cover off the boards and gluing the information handwritten on it onto a empty page at the end of the block. New endpapers to match the bookcloth were tipped in as well.

Even the spine fabric was removed, the spine cleaned up and relined, and the old fabric (with the title) remounted on paper so I could paste it on the new case.

Building the new case was fun, but hard work, so imagine how disappointed I was, when I went to join the block and case, to find out I had mismeasured. sigh Not by much, mind you, but enough. What really ticks me off is that when I mess up a sock, I can pull it out and reknit it -- with paper, cloth, and glue, you can't recycle materials like that.

So it's déja vu all over again: new boards, another great whack of bookcloth, more measuring, more gelatine glue to cook. But at least I have a model to work from, and I know what I need to change.

As frustrated as I am with not having this done before company arrives late on Sunday, I'm not discouraged.

Maybe Mick and Keef were right after all....

But if you try sometimes, you just might find
You get what you need....

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Shadow Knows....


what weirdness lurks in the hearts of men.

Recently, it was the birthday of Ex-husband #2: he quit talking directly to me a number of years ago, and decided that he would rather vent his anger and frustration (about, but not limited to, me) to the miasma of the Internet.

The only reason I found this out was because someone I knew saw one of his rants and some of the reaction to it, and suggested that I keep track of some of his, um, lesser considered comments.

Earlier this year, he spewed forth a comment about my personal life that was relevant seven years ago, but hadn't been for some time, and I decided that it was time I stood up and pointed out that he was incorrect.

To the displeasure of many of the people who had disparaged him, he panicked and abandoned Usenet newsgroups. For better or worse, he's now taken his ill-tempered calumniations to Twitter.

What a sad, pitiful creature: there's some serious cognitive disconnect happening when a supposedly intelligent person laments that he will forever be alone, yet in the next breath, starts berating others for what he perceives as their faults....


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