Workshops in Missoula, MT

Process pic: mid-workshop with Suzanne Moore
Process pic, mid-workshop.

This weekend I was *so* lucky to attend three days of workshops taught by Suzanne Moore. The first day was a gilding workshop hosted by the Missoula Calligraphy Guild, and the next two days was the Big Sky Scribes fall workshop. So fun! So inspiring! This image shows the word "bewilderment" written with a variety of tools which are also shown at the top of the image.

Stay tuned to see what happened to these two pages in future posts.

Workshop with Peter Thornton

Richard Feynman quotation about doubt
Richard Feynman quotation about doubt, done with ruling pen & walnut ink, pencil

A couple of weeks ago I attended an inspiring workshop taught by Peter Thornton in Missoula. If I take enough workshops with Peter, perhaps eventually most of what he teaches will actually sink in. It's all so valuable, and seeing his manuscript books was especially inspiring. This weekend I digested a little more of his teaching about layout, especially as it relates to the Fibonacci series.

Here's a piece I did in the workshop. The abstract word is "Chaos". I meant to write this quote on one of the of the sheets that had the word "Doubt" on it, but I guess chaos often relates to doubt. I have yet to attribute the quotation, which belongs to Richard Feynman. Another layout decision, you know. The entire quotation reads:

"We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty."

An apposite quotation for a workshop, I think.

Big Sky Scribes spring workshop

2015-04-27-Big-Sky-Scribes-Spring-WorkshopJust returned from an inspiring weekend at the Big Sky Scribes fall workshop taught by Christopher Haanes. The more I learn, the more I am surprised that English and German styles of calligraphy are not considered to be as disparate from one another as they each are from ornamental penmanship.

This is the most generic shot of the copious demo sheets that Christopher created during three days of teaching. I can't wait to get back in my studio and keep working on the things I saw this weekend. I'll post some of my own workshop practice in the next few days.

Leather longstitch workshop

2015-04-09 group pic 1800px wideDon't we all look so happy with ourselves? Yesterday, Audra Loyal (far left) of The Vespiary, who was in town for the Montana Library Association conference, taught us the leather longstitch book structure. We were all successful, and a good time was had by all.

At midnight last night I went down to the library, found my copy of Keith Smith's Non-Adhesive Bindings and tried to figure out the cause of my slightly non-traditional result. I think I know what happened, but I won't know for sure until I make another one.

From this weekend’s Big Sky Scribes workshop

Montana Prairie JournalingA page this weekend's workshop -- Montana Prairie Journaling -- in Billings, Montana, taught by Jocelyn Curry. The workshop was a lot of fun. I hadn't done any sketching in quite some time. I bought a Winsor-Newton Cotman watercolor kit for the occasion, and enjoyed using it.
In workshops, I'm a slow worker (but not so in my own studio, for some reason), so my case was completely undecorated at the end of the workshop, but I did get all the sheets inside done.

Brush Lettering and Vacation

I just returned from a week or so in Oregon, where I took a 2-day brush lettering workshop with Carol DuBosch and then toured around Oregon.

As one calligrapher in a town which contains two (and, in the past 25 years, has never contained more than about five at any one time), it was simply amazing to me to sit in a classroom in a sold-out calligraphy workshop with 23 local calligraphy students. Sure, I've sat in a class of 20+ calligraphy students before, but they've always been a collection from around the state or around the country or even around the world -- a Florida retreat, or a week at Camp Cheerio or a class at the annual international calligraphy conference. I had lunch with a pediatrician who was taking this annual brush lettering workshop for the second time; she has taken weekly calligraphy lessons for several years (ten? or was that someone else in the workshop?). Imagine. I've had exactly one opportunity to take weekly calligraphy lessons, and that was in 1988-89. And then Beth McKee, my first long-term calligraphy teacher, who had arrived from Ottawa to spend the school year here, took off for Bangladesh, and that was that. From then on out -- except for a year of 2-day class meetings to which I drove 3 hours each way each month -- my education has been a series of trips to learn from quite famous calligraphy teachers for a week here and a week there.

My education compares to the education of Portland students as an annual gourmet meal compares to weekly community potluck. My meals may be exotic and glamorous, but theirs have been healthier, more regular and filling. Not that I'm knocking my exotic, glamorous meals. Still.

The finished book


Here are two views of the finished book. The different colors on the front are the result of sanding through all the layers of paint on the distressed surface.

It was gratifying to make, although I'm not sure I'll make another anytime soon. It's rather small not particularly sturdy -- not suitable for use as a carrying-around artist journal, for instance. It's more of a library book. If I remember correctly, these Egyptian books were stored face-up with the fore-edge pointing out, and they had metal feet on the back cover to protect the cover from being scraped as they were being removed from or replaced on the shelf. So formal content would be more in keeping with the structure of the book, and the idea of supplying (let's see: 12 signatures of 16 pages each equals) 192 pages of formal content is daunting!

But it is a very satisfying thing to hold in one's hand.

Wooden Coptic Books: a workshop with Daniel Essig

This weekend my sister and I went to Asheville to attend a workshop Dan Essig taught at BookWorks. Even though I've done a good deal of admittedly basic bookbinding, many of the tools and techniques were new to me.

The first day, Friday, was mostly consumed with the making of a paper-only book with two-needle coptic binding; since I had only done single-needle coptic binding, this was new to me.

On Saturday we worked on the covers of our wooden coptic book. We started with 3/8" blocks of wood, marking and drilling holes with a hand drill -- I like the hand drill -- and then beveling, cushioning and sanding the edges of the boards. We were shown several ways to distress the wood -- wih a file, a ball-peen hammer, various wood tools, and more -- and then we tried out different effects on our covers. A few coats of milk paint, some more sanding, waxing, and our boards were ready for prime time.

On Sunday we sewed our books using a 4-needle coptic stitch (with 2 stitch variations) and then sewing the endbands. We finished up by making a closure for our books. I chose to make one with a knob and leather strip. Making the little wooden knob was an interesting experience on the Dan's Flexshaft grinder.

It was a interesting workshop in which I became acquainted with many tools and materials I'd never worked with before. Once I've sewn perhaps only 50 -- or 500 -- more books, I hope to have mastered the art of sewing these coptic books with even tension and beautifully laid knots and braids!

The photo shows the spine edge of my book just before it was sewn. I'll post a picture of the finished book soon.