Friday, December 2, 2016

Picasso Birthday

Self-portrait I made in High School
To celebrate my birthday I usually visit a museum for fun & inspiration. I actually have a good time visiting with works of art.
This year my birthday fell on Monday when most museums are closed. On Sunday I visited The Menil (pronounced men-eel) Museum in Houston.
When I was in high school I learned that Cubism uses geometric shapes.

Picasso The Line is exhibited until January 8, 2017; the drawings date from 1907 to 1969. Comprising ninety works on paper with pen, graphite, charcoal, and collage. 

One of his opened notebooks had these modern-looking dot and line drawings.

Seeing his actual drawings encourages me in my sketching. I bought these two books at The Menil Museum book store to continue my inspiration.
Gertrude Stein likens Picasso’s Cubism to architecture in Spain. She said he always went back to naturalism: figurative drawing.
This original drawing is on exhibit at The Menil Museum
Picasso had a long life - born October 25th 1881 and died in 1973. What made him so special? He broke with tradition using geometric shapes and patterns; he was versatile with different mediums: lithograph printing, sculpting in clay, drawing, painting, even making ceramic vases and plates.

Do you have any thoughts about Picasso’s art? Please let me know in the Comments section.
©Anne Rita Taylor 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

Mining for Creativity

A journal I made - cover photo with my Grandfather, my friend Lillian and me when I was 5.
The workshop, Journaling for Creativity, led by Carolyn Dahl was inspiring! We brought past journals to share, plus a blank book and colored pencils. Carolyn is the author of 3 books including Natural Impressions. 

After everyone shared from a past journal, we talked about journaling techniques, such as: making lists, gluing pictures from magazines, bullets, free association; then we started a writing assignment.

We wrote for 15 minutes about an evocative object that had special meaning to us. We mined for creativity by using our colored pencils to circle objects in blue; actions in red; emotions in purple, etc. Using colors in this way helped us to visually inspect our writing.

Carolyn asked us: what phrases can be used for quotes, for poems, for artwork, or to expand your thoughts? Some rare gems may be buried beneath a phrase.

Carolyn also had a reading list for us to continue our writing momentum. Especially helpful to me are Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones for finding writing topics.

And if you have writer’s block - try changing your environment by going outside - or bring your journal to your favorite cafe. What are your thoughts about creative journal writing?
©Anne Rita Taylor 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Nag Hammadi Bookbinding

Leather books were found in the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945 with Coptic writing from the 4th Century, one containing the Gospel of St. Thomas; housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo.
From The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding by J.A. Szirmai
In a Nag Hammadi Bookbinding workshop I learned how to make the book from Jana Pullman at the Focus on Book Arts in Oregon. We created a replica using tooling techniques on the leather cover. Jana referenced this book: The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding by J.A. Szirmai.

I cut the outline from a piece of leather, and wet it to emboss the design with a butterfly leather stamp from Tandy Leather

I used my Japanese Book Drill for the turquoise mat board to show through the design.

In the class we glued several papyrus sheets to make the cover boards. At home mat board worked - covered with bookcloth - adhered to the back of the leather.

The outer side glued first, then the top and bottom tabs. I was going to cover them with end sheet fabric - decided to leave it open. 

Next I used my new sewing cradle bought from Missy Bosch last week. I love it! 

Missy sells them on Etsy here:

Lastly, I hole punched and sewed the tie plus sewed the text block to the spine with tacket binding making the text block refillable. I am pleased with how it came out too! 
Making the Nag Hammadi did not take me as long as I thought it would. The most time-consuming part was embossing the wet leather. I made additional books with red leather and blue leather covers - for sale on my Etsy site:
Please let me know if you tried any type of historic bookbinding. Makes me feel connected to the 4th century!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Designing Zines

As I mentioned last week, a Zine is a self-published magazine with a small circulation. Zines are printed booklets held in your hands. I have Zines about crows, hands, colors, work spaces, risk, fabric, collage, compilations, and poetry.
A small part of my Zine collection with Zines from Alaska, Hawaii, and all around the United States.
Design suggestions include:
  • Make a Zine that opens newspaper-style.
  • Do a faux version of a popular magazine, such as Time or People.
  • Use brown paper bags, binding on one side to pen with pockets.
  • Use cut out words for headlines like a ransom note.
  • Use a photo album, write on index cards and insert.
  • House your Zine inside of colorful file folders.
  • Put your Zine in a bottle; make sure it can be removed for viewing.
  • Write on fabric pieces and make a quilt.
  • Your Zine can be a puzzle with the viewer putting it back together.
  • How about using toilet paper, call it potty mouth and fill it full of expletives.

Here are 20 uses for a scarf, a brain teaser from the book: How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb:
  • Leash for a dog
  • In hair for ponytail
  • Tie children together
  • As a tablecloth
  • Tie on Purse for decoration
  • Gag
  • Blindfold
  • Temporary fix for broken sofa
  • Tourniquet
  • To carry books
  • To cover face
  • Curtain on a window
  • As a skirt
  • As a halter top
  • As a bedspread
  • Sling for a broken arm
  • White surrender flag
  • Seat on the ground
  • Tie on car antenna
  • Christmas tree decoration

A couple of fun books to explore directories and reviews:

Please let me know what Zines you enjoy. And remember the Zine Fest in Houston will be held at The Lawndale Art Center on November 19, 2016.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Writing Zines

A few weeks ago I talked about my Zines. When I teach people how to make Zines I use creative writing techniques. These self-published magazines are really fun to make! 

This week: suggestions for what to write about; next week learn how to design your magazine.
Suggestions for writing themes:
  • Rant & rave, let the world know what ticks you off.
  • Create characters and an interesting story line; make it visual with artwork.
  • Pretend you are from outer space; give mundane earthly items a new purpose.
  • Trends: Fashion, home decor, jewelry…pick an era.
  • Choose one letter of the alphabet or one number, base your writing on that choice.

More writing themes:
  • Interesting signs: snap photos of them. Some are really fun to write about.
  • Bring song lyrics to life with photos or drawings.
  • Use interesting fonts or lettering with your quotes or poems.
  • Write about things that make you happy or sad and why.
  • Describe an odd dream or daydream you had and your interpretation.

One of my creativity books is Michael J.Gelb's “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci.” An exercise balancing your logical and creative side is: Think of different uses for a scarf. I’ll start you off: use as a belt or necktie. Next week I’ll include 20 more uses.

If you are in the Houston area, remember Zine Fest is happening at The Lawndale Art Center on November 19th. - In the Comments below, let me know what books or techniques you use to get your creative juices flowing.
©Anne Rita Taylor 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Workshop Experience

Not too far from my home I have book-binding and calligraphy workshops. Houston is the 4th largest city in the US, with many workshops each year or semester-long classes too. 

My thoughts on how to enjoy excellent art or craft workshops:

---Teacher attributes:
  • Handout with good instructions for what we are doing.
  • Thoroughly qualified - can respond intelligently to questions.
  • Shares about their background, perhaps with photos.
  • Provides samples of past work & samples of what we are doing.
  • Gives individual attention besides the group discussion.
---Group conditions:
  • Minimal amount of supplies needed; I’d rather have a supply fee than lug supplies.
  • Ease of participants talking quietly, but not too noisy either.
  • Enough private area in front of each student.
  • A comfortable seat (I also bring a pillow).
  • Not too cold and not too hot inside (I dress in layers).
Wonderful book-binding workshops are taught at The Printing Museum, either paid classes or at meetings of the Houston Book Arts Guild which meets there too.

About 3 or 4 calligraphy workshops each year are sponsored by The Houston Calligraphy Guild; we have teachers from Belgium to California coming in to teach.

Please let me know your thoughts about workshops; what works for you?
©Anne Rita Taylor 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Publishing Zines

A Zine is a Do-It-Yourself magazine. Over the last 17 years I published 22 Zines. My first Zine had my art techniques and I swapped Zines with other artist book makers. 
My last Zine was about my ten days in Paris and contained internet links plus 53 photos - Mon Dieu!
My first Zine was cut and paste. After that, I used my home word processor.
Zines are printed in small editions. I received Zines in swaps from Alaska to Hawaii, and practically all 50 states. Some had advertising, contributors or held interviews with other artists.
Starting with my second Zine, each one had the following:
  • Table of Contents
  • Workshop Review
  • Swap Stuff
  • My Carvings
  • A Poem (of my own)
  • Calligraphy
  • Art Book Review

My Zine 10 had instructions and a sample book for a Japanese binding technique, the Tortoise Shell Stitch.
In Zines 13 to 16 - I issued “An Invitation” - to share my interests, my calligraphy, my print carving, and my artwork. Sound familiar? Kind of like this blog.

I contributed an article: Mining for Creativity, a workshop review to L.K. Ludwig’s first Zine, called Memory & Dream in 1999. You can buy her 2008 art journaling book here:

Teesha Moore produced and authored professional Zines for more than 10 years - with advertising, many articles and pictures. They were inspiring! Some of her Zines are still for sale on her Etsy site:  
In 2008, Zine 17: Zine Creation has zine-making instructions. I taught 22 people how to make a Zine at The Printing Museum in Houston; in April 2009 I taught 30 Austin Book Workers - who now have the Austin Book Arts Center - at DOMY Books - now Farewell Books - in Austin. 

Shameless Plug: You may want to Subscribe to my Blog (upper right side) - to know about a future blog that will have my full instructions for making your own Zine. 
The Houston Zine Fest this year: at The Lawndale Art Center on Saturday, November 19th, from 2:00 to 8:00 pm. Support Zinesters! If you read this far, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
©Anne Rita Taylor 2016