Hacking the Hardback

Sorry for the late blog post, we just got over two weekends of the Santa Fe Studio Tour, which is a fair amount of work to host.  We meet so many interesting people, and this year I was more proactive in explaining my work. Turns out most people don’t know I am working with books, and what is paperback, what is hardback, etc.  I was really reminded of how fun it is to build collages onto hardback book covers.  I get to spend a whole day on this in my upcoming workshops, so I was showing my guests the fun possibilities of hacking into the hardback book cover.



Here is the basic toolkit: needles and thread, knives to cut with, an awl to make holes. I also recommend a chop saw (not shown due to the condition of my husband’s workshop at present). You can also add in things like a drill, wire, waxed linen thread, a dremmel tool. And if you have a woodshop available to you, a drill press, a jigsaw, etc.

So lets look at some work. This is an early piece I did in a Lisa Kokin workshop.

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I began with the front and back covers taped together for the substrate. Lisa had distributed bundles of paper made by cutting an old math book using a chop saw (by the fabulous Tools Diva, Lia Roozendaal).  This is where my love of books began, with little pieces of truncated sentences: 23. Mass, 24. Weight. (I studied a lot of math and physics at college, maybe this is why it amuses me).

The grid is a nice stable structure to begin from, but quite soon Lisa and Lia were urging me to disrupt its order and break outside the squares.  And so the fun began. In fact, as I look at it, this may well be the story of how I left Math (serious) and went for Art (fun). Punctures, stitching, and a little paint set me free.

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In “Secrets”, I carve into the book with an exacto knife. You can go all the way through the book board and make a hole, or just cut away a few layers, as you see with the stripes. There have been several different man-images in this piece, but I kept covering over them so now we just have The Absent Man, which sorta works for me, actually.


Another grid piece, this time working with more open space and asymmetry. The piece begins with the outside of the hardback book, where the fabric has been peeled away exposing a surface of textured, dried, adhesive.  I like how it looks like a cement wall.

Besides the carving and the stitching, I have glued other sawn chunks of hardbacks onto the substrate (you won’t believe how fun it is to saw a book into pieces like this). The small chunk in the upper right is a piece of book pages, cut about an inch from the spine.  The spine material was torn off leaving some glue and string. This little chunk juts out about an inch.  It is secured by a generous dollop of PVA glue. The stiffness of the book board, as well as its ability to absorb the glue and make a strong bond, allows you to get more dimensional  in your collages. It can be a very refreshing change from your normal work.

So give this a try, I promise you will enjoy it.  And if you need a little more guidance, come to a workshop and play with us!

Happy Creating,




Collage Design: Enjoy the Mystery.

I was perusing my instagram feed earlier today and was struck by how much the work changes as you develop it. At least in MY process. Many times I just sit down with a substrate (paper or board that is covered in papers), and just start arranging pieces from the stuff on my table before me. There is no idea. Its just about appealing combinations. It might be a color scheme, it might be some words (like the title of this book “medieval Latin Lyrics”. How obscure is that?!?). It might be just a play of rectangles and and parallel lines.


Here is where I got after the first sitting.  I like the slate blue texture in the upper left but it just does not go with anything else with that color and its too dominant. Same with the AV.  Beautiful letterforms but too dominant. There are a lot of sacrifices, but its ok. There are plenty more collages to make.


Now something is taking shape, its sort of like an art deco train or building.   I’ve been lucky to keep the Medieval Latin Lyrics title, and added in a few choice phrases: The Tiresome Letter (for laughs), and “the sanity of science” (which of course brings up religion and politics, but just for a second :).


Here is the final piece. The new rounded corner  on top creates a nice unity to the black shapes (which I have broken up further with some neutral brown verticals). What is it? I don’t know, I just enjoy its shapes and proportions.

So just a word about words: they are for fun. They come from wildly different places (a children’s games book and a Penguin Classics) and are just tucked in as a little bit of spice.  They suggest something and then run away and hide. Which amuses me, and reminds me of real life: lots of little half clues and lots of unresolved mysteries. Yum!

I hope you are enjoying this marvelous summer of 2016.

Happy Creating,



How to Remove “Picked For You” on Pinterest

Pinterest is about the best thing that has ever happened on the internet for people like me. I *love* to keep bins of images that inspire or inform my art process. Then the folks at Pinterest had a crazy invention: Picked For You pins! They devised some algorithm that would find pins I might like, based on my boards, and fed these pins into my feed. I don’t know about you, but I really have not found computers to be good at understanding my  artistic taste. Not Pandora, not Amazon books, and not Pinterest. And these “picked for you” pins were getting more and more frequent. My very painstakingly personalized feed was being overrun with them.
Amazingly, I was able to get rid of ALL the “picked for you” pins. Here is how you do it:

1. log into your pinterest account via your computer’s web browser. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner and choose Edit Settings.

2. Under Personalization, you will find two controls:

“Use sites you visit to improve which recommendations and ads you see ”

“Use information from our partners to improve which recommendations and ads you see”

toggle both of these to NO.

3. Voila!

(Note: this technique does not get rid of promoted pins, which I am fine with. They have a right to make money on their great invention through a little advertising.)


Now, a disclaimer.  I did this about a month ago and it did not seem to make a difference. But when I restarted the app, the dreaded pins were gone!  It seems to me, also, that there was an additional step you might have to do in your browser, but going back and trying to find the instructions I originally followed  (google: turn off picked for you on pinterest), has been impossible. So follow above instructions and let me know if this works for you!

Happy Creating and Pinning!