Currently Browsing: November 2008 34 articles


Roz’s Dirty Little Secret


Above: Dottie (left, a very gangly adolescent), Emma (right; "you can't be serious about this hat.")

Yes I have a dirty little secret. (Don't we all? But it's not that I consume my body weight in chocolate every 10 to 12 days. That's no secret. Please don't sic Dr. Gillian McKeith on me, because if I am forced to look at all the little Dove pieces arrayed on a table, in front of an international television audience, I just might get confrontational.)

I love holiday letters. I'm a pantheist, or maybe a progressive heathen, no, definitely a pantheist. I don't really have a holiday to celebrate so I celebrate every day. But as the end of the year draws close and the postal box clogs with catalogs and missives from friends my happiness increases greatly. I just find those rambling wrap-up-the-year-epistles that accompany the holiday cards engrossing. I know it is fashionable to be snippy and snide about such impersonal, scatter-shot notes right now—but did I mention I love them?


A Leisure Reading Suggestion


Above: Pigeon Study #3, Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch with gouache on Nideggen paper. Another of my “Deconstructing the State Fair” series; and my third pigeon sketch last night.

It’s day three of a holiday weekend for many folks in the U.S. today. You might find yourselves needing something to do to work off some of the turkey’s tryptophan effects. I suggest you go over to Bonefolder and check out some past issues. This e-journal is a fabulous record of bookbinding as a craft, pleasure, pastime, and art. There are detailed articles on various book structures. Maybe you’ll want to capture your holiday adventures and make an artist’s book using one of the featured structures? Perhaps you’re wondering what form your next visual journal should take? It might be that movie reruns and Law and Order marathons* have put you in the mood to read about the history of binding or book conservation?


Bobby Flay Saves the Day, and other Random Thanksgiving Day Thoughts


Above: Deconstructing the State Fair in my journal. This sketch from yesterday builds on sketches I made of Bantams at this year's Minnesota State Fair. I am working out some compositions for a series of paintings. Paintings I'd hoped to work on Thursday. I'll continue working on this project over the weekend. Right now it's a random, on-going thought.

Yesterday Dick and I made Thanksgiving Day dinner for his folks and an 85-year-old long-time family friend. It used to be that I did everything and there were many courses. With the annexation of the dining room by the studio and the site move to the folks' where they have ELECTRIC (come on, everyone knows you need gas to cook) the meals have been both more simple and still adventuresome. But they still have to be planned and life has been tightly wound here lately so planning took place Wednesday night before a trip to the coop.

A Thanksgiving Movie and the Need to Draw

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Throughout the country people are traveling home or gathering with friends to celebrate a holiday that means so many things to different people. Historically it celebrates a fall feast among Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. For some people the holiday means enduring more of the dysfunction with which they grew up. Kodak and other companies in their advertising would like us to believe we are all making warm and happy memories. Some people in this current economy will find their circumstances tighter than usual.

Whatever your situation past or present, humor can help you to a better future. When I think of humor and Thanksgiving I think of "Home for the Holidays," a 1995 film directed by Jodie Foster. The stellar ensemble cast includes Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Robert Downey Jr., and Dylan McDermott.

Contest Winner Announced

Congratulations to Penny Hackett-Evans of Michigan for the winning entry in my first contest: write a biographical blurb. (People new to the blog can see the details of the contest, what started it, and the rules on my November 9, 2008 post.)

Writing and drawing are my daily bread.  Without hope of being published, or shown—I keep putting pen and brush to paper.  It is how I discover what I know.

The handbound journal displayed on the contest post is even now making its way to Penny. I would like to thank Penny and everyone else who entered for the time and thought they put into their entries. If you entered but didn't win I hope you value the time you took to encapsulate yourself in 2 to 4 sentences. I find it a good way to focus myself. I appreciated learning about you and your passions.


Notan-beauty in Daily Life


Left: Portrait of Emma, cut paper, ©1998. Using a sketch of my Alaskan Malamute bitch Emma I cut out pieces of Canson Mi Tientes paper in 3 values to construct her portrait.

Getting up from the computer yesterday after writing about notan, I started walking around the studio and house doing a variety of tasks. Suddenly it struck me there were prominent examples of notan everywhere I looked. This was because I had images I’d made of my two Alaskan Malamute bitches everywhere I looked. Most people who know me are familiar with my Daily Dots project (for what was to be the last five years of Dottie’s life I drew her daily). But before Dottie (and together with her for awhile) her Aunt Emma was the graphical beast in the house. While I never drew Emma daily she was a frequent subject of illustration.

I joke with my drawing students that if they want to have a dog for a life model a black and white Malamute is their best choice. Looking around at the art on my walls I realized that my statement is much more complex than I even intended. Beyond the ease with which one can locate points of reference on a stately and somewhat symmetrically marked Malamute there is the issue of notan-beauty. They embody it.


Notan—What It Is and Why You Need to Know about It


Left: Spotting Notan, a diagram from Arthur Wesley Dow's book Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color, ©2007 Dover Publications. Click on the image to see an enlargement.

We learn and then forget things all our lives. Sometimes we learn things and they fall from the top ten useful things we think about everyday, but somehow they still impact us. Notan is one of those things for me. I grew up in a home where a mother with an artistic bent would bring in little bits of beauty (knick knacks, paintings, ceramics) and combine them with other objects to create tableaux of beauty. Because of proximity and travel many of the items that drew my mother’s attention were Japanese. My childhood immersion has created a life-long interest in line and compositional cropping which people might dismiss as, “well that’s just Roz, she designs books after all,” (images are always being cropped for cover design effect or to make interesting chapter opening pages in textbooks). It runs deeper than that. It has to do with notan.

Essential Bookshelf for Bookbinders

The other day I needed to buy a present for a young bookbinder’s birthday. I searched on line for one of my favorite books: Books, Boxes, & Wraps, by Marilyn Webberley and JoAn Forsyth. This book was published in 1995 and it is already no longer available, unless you go the used book route and spend over $60. I did find unbound signatures for sale at Talas. Giving signatures to a new binder to work with seemed a little punitive for a birthday present. This book, would have been the perfect gift for a new binder because the authors introduce a lot of concepts and creative ideas on handling covers structures in general that would be useful to anyone practicing book arts. Other books since then have presented similar material in a more glossy format (BB&W is a single color book with line drawings), but the bulk and scope of the information hasn’t been matched in one volume.

The disappointment I felt at not being able to find this book made me stop and think about what books I considered useful or essential in my own life as a bookbinder. These are books that I don’t lend to people because I can’t afford emotionally (or financially now it seems) to lose them; they aren’t replaceable.

I thought I would compile a list of helpful books so that people looking to build a bookbinding reference bookshelf would have some titles to seek out and examine. These books may not appeal to everyone. These books are not in general about making projects. I don’t like project books. There are plenty of those how-to books out there and many are excellent. But the books on my list for the most part talk about the making of structures and the adapting of them to your own needs. I find these books more useful and more interesting.

I will be making this post a page so that it will be easier for people coming later to my blog to locate it. If you return and can’t find the list, I suggest you look under "pages" in the left column of the blog.

So, without further fanfare, books I think everyone should read, and if possible, have on hand.

Essential Bookshelf for Bookbinders

The other day I needed to buy a present for a young bookbinder’s birthday. I searched on line for one of my favorite books: Books, Boxes, & Wraps, by Marilyn Webberley and JoAn Forsyth. This book was published in 1995 and it is already no longer available, unless you go the used book route and […]


Pentel’s Slicci Pen

Left: Test sketch with Slicci pen on Nideggen paper which has a  laid pattern with a wavy chain. See notes below about this drawing. Click on the image for an enlargement. Later there is also a close up.

I like fine point pens and Tim at Wet Paint knows this. So the other day when I was in shopping he showed me the Slicci Pens from Pentel. They have three point sizes: 025, 03, and 04. I don't really understand what the numbers relate to (could it be millimeters, it seems smaller than that and I didn't ask), but I can tell you when you write with them they are fine, superfine, and microfine. I asked Tim what he would call this type of pen: "Is it a roller ball?" And Tim said, "I call it a needlepoint gel pen." When you work with the pen you'll find his description fits. There is a smoothness to the pen that many ultra fine points don't have. (Oh, and everyone at Wet Paint has decided to pronounce this "slick-ee.")

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