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Urban Journaling Class Wrap Up

March 30, 2010

A report on my recent class.

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Above: The students with their gorgeous books, left to right—Casey Trittipo, Marsha Micek, Lilla Duigan (from England), Angie Butler (also from England), Jane Pfeiffer (from Tucson, AZ), and Karen Karsten, hold their completed journals.

This offering of the Urban Journaling class attracted an interesting mix of students: three students who had worked with me before and three students who had all come from outside the Twin Cities who bravely jumped right in. (Lilla and Angie came to Minneapolis to meet with various folks from MCBA and meet people in the book arts community. It takes a hearty and dedicated soul to make books when jet-lagged. You can meet Lilla and Angie on Tuesday night's Roundtable at MCBA. Jane came to visit family. I'm glad their trips aligned with my class, as it was a pleasure to work with all of these women.)

I'm always tweaking things and in November when I decided to propose this class be offered again I thought it important to do a square book and acquaint students with various ways to tear down paper. Students always learn about tearing paper in my classes, but it is often a straight, no-waste, tear because of time constraints. When we discuss other options at the end of class I often get the impression it is just a little bit more information than they can absorb at that point. Making a square structure allowed me to focus on paper tearing.

In keeping with my habit of tweaking, I also came up with a nifty way to apply fabric to the spine using dry adhesive, a couple days before class. Book samples were sitting out ready to be boxed for transport, I had just purchased some tie-dyed duct tape (really! at Michaels) and my brain put two and two together. I made a small sample test (no pages just a cover) and it worked great—but the students were expecting an archival book so I cut up black bookcloth (which is what I had on hand), backed the pieces with dry adhesive, and brought that to class as another option. (Casey and Angie both joined in and used some of the black bookcloth.)

I'm always surprised at the choices individuals make in class. I had different types of paper on hand for the covers and everyone except Casey went for the brown Fabriano Ingres Heavyweight instead of the bright colors of Canson Mi Tientes. Even Casey selected a darker gray green from the Canson. The bright metallic colors of acrylic paint and pigment stamp ink all look great on these darker colors. (And Karen's book actually matches her shirt! I love it when people do that. We love the colors we love and it always comes through.)

For this book's text pages we worked with a new batch of Stonehenge which I am enjoying working on. For sewn-on-the-spine structures like this I think it is a useful, economical, and readily available paper. (I will post more about this paper when I work in sample journal some more—as it was, it worked well for my Staedtler Pigment Liner and watercolor, even with the jostling on the train. There is some bleeding of ink, even though this is a waterproof pen, because of the paper's sizing, but that sizing is helpful for the watercolor so I'm not complaining—just giving you a head's up. If you work in pencil and watercolor of course you won't have this issue to work around.)

UrbanJournals9551 Left: Samples I made for the class. Standing, the original November sample for display, and the small blue and pink "scrap journal." (Scraps saved from the tearing process yield enough for a little journal.) The black and tan book was my in-class sample made using the black book cloth. You can see the long-stitch sewing pattern that we used for these journals in this photograph.

Our departure to the Mall of America was a little later than I had hoped—I just didn't quite push people as much as I usually do. I joked with Casey that it was her fault. She's pregnant and was putting off pheromones that were making me all protective and nurturing—instead of my normal bossy self!

But we did get to the Mall of America! The train ride down was crazy-crowded with almost no standing room. Marsha held on to my arm since she couldn't get near a regular handhold and people crushed around her also helped keep her standing (the train isn't exactly jerky, but if you aren't alert an odd jerk could send you falling). At the Mall we walked into the amusement park area, located where Jane would meet her family at the end of class, and made our way to the food court where we would have a view of the amusement park and lots of people to sketch at the tables.

I confess there was way too much to sketch—too much to focus on; but we all did manage to settle down and capture various views of people and architecture. Angie had gone of in search of the hermit crab kiosk and when she joined us for the wrap-up meeting we learned how she won over the distrustful kiosk owner (who has been targeted by animal rights people) with conversation. You can learn a lot about people and their professions when you get out your journal and start sketching. It is one of the great perks of journaling in public.

Karen and Jane left the group after our wrap up meeting and the rest of us returned to Downtown Minneapolis, and MCBA. I found the return train ride from the Mall great fun and posted about it yesterday on the Urban Sketchers—Twin Cities. 

It is always a pleasure to help people make books, and a delight to see the unique choices they make to personalize those books. And it gives me great joy to see how people capture their observations in their journals—especially when they have just made the book. All in all it was a very exciting day for me.

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  1. Reply

    Nice photo and synopsis Roz. I am looking forward to getting with Jane and seeing her book and to get the real low-down on you!

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