Friday, May 30, 2008

Reading Level

I have a lot of writing to do this weekend. A lot. I intended to get organized and think about how I want to approach my work this weekend. What began as planning has led me to this lovely little diversion. I'm amused by the outcome and I'm not 100% sure why. I have to get back to (umm, get started with) work now.

blog readability test

Thursday, May 29, 2008

13 Things for Making Books

This week I've decided to compile a list of things I consider essential to the art of making books. In part, I'm doing this because I want to create a travel kit for book art. I also want to have the items that are most important put together for when ever I want to work on them. Right now these items are scattered in various places throughout my condo.

  1. Books by Alisa Golden. These books offer tons of ideas for creating handmade books. I like Alisa's style and the instructions & diagrams in these books are easier for me to follow than in many other books I've investigated.
  2. Paper. While it is possible to make books without paper, I find paper to be a pretty important part of the process. You can go with really fancy stuff from specialty stores, or you can use what you have on hand. Some really great books can be made with copy paper, or resume paper, or even lunch bags.
  3. Book board. if you want your book to be archival quality, you are going to need real, acid free book board. For small books or mock ups you can also use regular cardboard; the results just won't be as long lasting.
  4. Adhesive. It's also important that this be acid free if you want your project to last. PVA is a great choice; white glue is a form of PVA that is cheaper, but not acid free. You can get acid free glue stick that is useful for some projects. Many people also like to use gel medium as an adhesive.
  5. Scissors. Some people prefer working with a craft knife. For most applications I like scissors better.
  6. The decorative stuff. This will vary according to your style. For me, must haves include tissue paper, and a source of found words like an old book, bible, or dictionary. I also have an ever growing collection of paper odds and ends to collage with.
  7. Your favorite artist's media. I love working with chalk. Other art supplies like my paints can go into a secondary storage space. My chalks stay out on my work table.
  8. Needle and thread. For sewn bindings you will want to use waxed linen thread, which comes in a variety of colors.
  9. A ruler. Accurate measurements are really important, and it's nice to have a straightedge to work with.
  10. Wax paper or old magazines. It's important to have layers of scrap paper on your work surface when gluing so you don't get glue on the parts of your project where you don't want it.
  11. A weight, press, or heavy book. Pressing your book while the glue dries helps keep everything from warping and wrinkling.
  12. Writing utensils. It's nice to have a couple of different kinds. I like both markers and colored pencils.
  13. Chocolate. You always need chocolate.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


About a year ago, I posted a Tuesday Top Ten of the current most played songs on my ipod. My hope was that in a few months, that would change. The bottom two songs on the list have been replaced by U2's Grace, and The Edge of Water by Jars of Clay. Otherwise the list remains entirely unchanged. This is probably not a good thing.
I made some changes to the playlist on my blog. Thanks to the addition of some Veggietales music, it's a little lighter than it was before. And I fixed it so it doesn't automatically play when someone logs into the blog.
I've also joined a meme with Christian Women Online. So look for my Thursday Thirteens on a range of topics. And please suggest some topics if you have any ideas.
Since I have Shelfari, I've stopped listing my current read and my current music. For the record, I want to say I just finished reading The Captive Princess by Wendy Lawton. Wendy has crafted a wonderful story and has managed to shake me out of a fairly significant reading slump. Thanks Wendy!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

Webster defines "memorial" as "something that keeps remembrance alive; as a monument."
I love that the word "alive" is used in the definition. To remember is to keep something, or someone alive. Of course, we cannot literally prevent someone from dying and it is harmful to go on pretending someone is alive once that person has died. It is also harmful to forget when person close to us has died. Relationships continue after one person has lost the other, albeit in a different sense. Death does not negate the relationship that existed before it. One does not cease to be a parent, spouse, or child simply on the basis of death.
Rather than confining our relationships with those we have lost to a few certain holidays or remaining in a wishful past where we artificially keep our loved ones alive, we could benefit from genuinely internalizing the meaning of our relationships, including the pain of loss. Allowing those relationships to change us in healthy ways is one way to "keep remembrance alive."

In memory of Maria Sue Chapman.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

13 Books I Want To Read

  1. The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
  2. Inferno, Dante
  3. Crime and Punishment, Feodor Dostoyevsky
  4. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  6. The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton
  7. Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  9. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  10. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  11. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  12. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
  13. Confessions, St Augustine

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Time Between the Times

Right now the sky is my favorite color; it's this lovely shade of periwinkle. Somewhere between blue and purple. It's not quite day, and it's not quite night- it's twilight. It's the "time between the times," my favorite time of day. I love this time of year because I'm actually able to observe the transition from day to night because the days are longer. The transition itself also takes longer at this time of year which gives me more time to enjoy it.
It's the same thing with spring. It's the transition between winter and summer. All kinds of things happen at this time of year. The world wakes up and shows off its colors. Sometimes it seems like spring happens in an instant and I miss out on much of it. Transitions can be chaotic and sudden. I'm trying to remember to pay more attention so I don't miss the little things worth anticipating every day.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Chocolate Oracle

Couldn't help myself, this had my name all over it. The kind of chocolate you like is supposed to reveal things about your personality. Very scientific...

What Your Taste in Chocolate Says About You

You are intense, powerful, and dramatic.

People respect the things you do...

And they're not sure if they could do them!

You are down to earth and lovable.

A true friend, you're very tolerant and understanding.

In fact, your friends' biggest problem is that they don't like each other!

You love being by yourself and thinking. Developing your own theories and ideas is fun.

You feel lost when you're forced to be social. Being with other people can be lonely for you.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

Everybody knows there aren't enough hours in the day. Just now I was faced with deciding between emailing a bunch of friends I've ignored for far too long, revising an article a friend is waiting for, or blogging. And that set of choices only had to do with this hour; my whole evening has been a series of multiple choice questions like this. Part of the problem is that selecting any one of these options causes me to further put off addressing the other options.
So do you live life organically, deciding what "wants & shoulds" to focus on at any given moment? Or do you apply some kind of structure to discretionary time, writing at 7PM on Tuesday because 7PM on Tuesday is when it is time to write? What if you don't want to write at 7PM on Tuesday? What if you don't find the time to do the writing you want because you didn't set aside time for it at 7PM on Tuesday?
In part, it's about balance. Leaving some "white space" in your day while having the discipline to do important things without waiting for inspiration to show up. It's also about making peace with the fact that you can only do one thing at a time and some things aren't going to be done at the end of the day. So with apologies to my friends waiting for emails, I'm going to go work on that article now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Search Me

Just a quick note. I finally figured out how to add a search engine to my blog. You can now find it in my sidebar. This search engine is set up to search only my site, so if you are looking for a particular topic or post, it ought to be easier to find. Try it out & let me know how it works. Hope y'all find it useful.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And a Partridge in a...

A couple of quotes to start off today:
  • Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. Helen Keller
  • No two persons ever read the same book. Edmund Wilson

Some random comments:

  • Based on the aforementioned quotes & a few others I've discovered, I'm tempted to start a second list of 100 quotes. While I know some of you might like that, it might not be a good idea seeing as how I'm stalled on the list of 100 goals I've been working on for some time now.
  • It's 62 degrees in my apartment. It's colder in my home than it is outside. How does this happen?
  • Once again, the lilacs blow my mind this year. A flower made up of many, many other flowers, which lives on a bush with many, many other flowers like it. Delightfully excessive in its design, don't you think?

And a couple ideas for book art:

  • While innocently perusing Tim Holtz's blog, I came across a technique for creating text using a Dynmo label maker. This is precisely the solution I needed to the problem of how to effectively and efficiently create text for the title pages of my books. A quick trip to Staples and I'm now the owner of a wonderful label maker just waiting for me to finish my current book. It wasn't that expensive either.
  • I've also been experimenting with techniques for collage. I must confess one of my problems with collage is that I'm a poor planner. I get hung up on playing with the bottom layers and don't want to cover them up, or I want to rush ahead to the top layer, which means it's harder to go back and add details in the background. Over at Quietfire, one of the projects featured collage done on a scanner bed. Not glued, just arranged and then scanned. I can't wait to try this out because it means working in reverse. You put the top layer down first, and the supporting images follow. I hope my brain likes it better that way.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I posted this for Mother's Day last year and I thought it was suitable for re-posting today.

What I Learned From My Mother
Julia Kasdorf
I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn't know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look into their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another's suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I had several ideas for what I might want to blog about today. I'm afraid I won't be able to be articulate about any of them at the moment, but that's a risk I'll have to take.
I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately, particularly in the context of all the social networking applications available on the Internet. People on sites like Shelfari and Facebook "request friendship" with each other, allegedly based on common interests and a desire to communicate with each other. While the interest is sometimes apparent & leads to a great new relationship, sometimes it's merely a popularity contest. People end up with hundreds of "friends," people who share little in the way of common interests, and even less interest in each other.
My biggest problem with the whole phenomenon is the use of the word "friendship." I mean, I understand the point of networking, but let's not call it something it isn't. Webster says a friend is "one attached to another by affection or esteem." I guess resorting to the suggested synonym, "acquaintance," just doesn't have the same ring to it. Still, if I'm going to claim someone is a friend, I feel like I ought to be able to pick them out of a crowd of 647 other people. And if I add someone to my blog list, I'm indicating some degree of commitment to reading their blog on a regular basis. Which probably explains why my list of blog links is so short.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

Today I have a valid excuse for not posting anything exciting. I'm sick. It's actually not that bad as far as colds go, but I am pretty low on energy at the moment. As for the goodies I was supposed to load onto the blog, I have no valid excuse. I just couldn't figure it out & I stopped trying.
I was at local art fair yesterday. I found it inspiring in both a creative and a professional sense. I saw a lot of great marketing ideas and paid a lot of attention to the little details of what needs to happen for an artist to pull off a successful art show. You have to be prepared for everything, and that includes having color coordinated rocks to hold down your brochures in case of a sudden wind. The only thing that wasn't inspiring was the idea of spending all day out in the cold rain trying to make a sale. God bless Etsy.
Now if I could just find an excuse for my excessive purchase at the art fair...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Loose Associations

One of my favorite blogs is going away, at least for a while. If you haven't yet had a chance, stop by Little Nuances.
I saw a rainbow today. It was exactly what I needed to help counteract some of the yuckiness from this week.
I can't remember if I mentioned that I joined Facebook. I think I did mention it, but I am doing it again anyway.
I'm hoping to do some housekeeping around the blog this weekend. There's some interesting stuff I'd like to add. I just need the time and patience. So even if I don't post anything, hopefully there will be some new and interesting things to the blog within the next few days.
I also need to do some housekeeping around my house. Seriously.

One last thing. At work yesterday, someone said "It's nice out, isn't it?"
It had started to cloud up by this point in the afternoon, and my disposition was rather cloudy. So I said, "Well, it's going to rain."
He said, "Yes, but it's nice right now."
He was right.