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Vacation photo on display

>> Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The newest addition to our new apartment in Nashville is this tropical flower canvas print.  I was contacted by the folks at Easy Canvas Prints, a photos to canvas company, who asked me to review their product in exchange for a canvas print of my own.

I chose a photograph I took at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on a recent trip to Hilo, Hawaii for my best friend's wedding.  The botanical garden was truly a wonderland, filled with waterfalls, ocean views, an orchid garden, tropical birds, and so many varieties of plants that I'd never seen before.  I was snapping photos non-stop during my visit (you can see some of my other botanical photos in my flickr photostream) and I was looking for a way to display some of my favorites once returning from our trip.  This canvas print was just what I needed.  

Ordering a canvas from really is, as the name suggests, easy.  The website is simple to use, and it guides you through the step-by-step process of designing your own canvas.  And this handy guide shows all of the options and pricing so you can pick out exactly what you want.  

You can choose any sized canvas (mine is 8" x 10"), and you can either upload your own photograph like I did or you can choose an image from their gallery.  You also have the choice of upgrading to a thicker canvas or opting for photo retouching.  For the edges of the canvas, you can have your image wrap onto the edges or you can select a solid color for the border. 

I opted for a bright orange border for the edges of my canvas.  My print is displayed against lime green walls in my apartment, and I wanted it to tie into colors of the room but still pop against the wall color.  I debated the borders of my canvas for a while before placing my order.  I really like the look of the canvases where the images continues onto the edges, and I think I would probably choose that option next time, but for this particular print the bright orange border worked out best.

The option of wrapping the image around to the edges of the canvas would be best for a picture with a background that's not crucial to the composition.  If you choose this option, the photo will appear slightly larger on the front surface of the canvas so there's enough leftover to wrap.  I didn't think the composition of the tropical flower photo was quite as strong once the whole image wasn't visible on the main surface of the canvas.  The orange border worked out better in my case because I could better control the composition of my print, while adding an extra pop of color.

I do wish there was a better way to select the color for the edges though. It would be a nice touch if the website allowed the option to sample a color directly from your photograph, like you can with the eyedropper tool in Photoshop, rather than choosing a color and hoping it matches.

My husband and I have a fairly extensive art collection (including artwork made by friends, family, and ourselves, as well as original work by professional artists, and a collection of vintage photographs), and we're pretty particular about what we put on our walls.  If we don't love it, there's just not space for it.  That said, we were happy to include this canvas print into our home decor.

And another perk of this canvas is how easy it is to hang on the wall. One nail will do the trick.  My husband and I have lived in four apartments since college, and we've hung our artwork on the walls of each one.  This is by far one of the easiest pieces to hang.

Overall, the vibrant colors and high-quality printing makes it evident that this is a high quality product.  I love having a reminder of our trip to Hawaii on display for me to see each day.  The look of our particular print is contemporary and casual, which is exactly what we wanted for our vacation photo.  But I think these prints could be a great choice for displaying wedding photos too, especially a larger canvas print placed in an elegant frame.  If only I'd known about these two years ago!


Handmade & Bound

>> Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Handmade & Bound Nashville logo
The first annual Handmade & Bound book arts festival is just a few days away!  I've been looking forward to this event for months.  It was one of the first things about Nashville I found out about once we knew we'd be moving to town, and I sent in my vendor application before we'd even started packing to leave Virginia. 

I thrilled to be living in a city with a book arts community, and I can't wait to be a part of this event.  In addition to the various vendors selling handmade books and zines, there will be workshops and demos in bookmaking, papermaking, and printmaking, as well as a film screening, a gallery exhibit, live music and food trucks.  

Handmade & Bound Nashville
September 30 and October 1

Friday, September 30

6:30 pm: Opening reception of "Encoded Structures: Interpreting the Story," a juried gallery show of artists' books and zines

8:00 pm: Free Screening of “$100 and a T-shirt," an award-winning documentary on the culture of zine making

Saturday, October 1


10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Vendor booths exhibiting and selling artists’ books, zines, small press publications, and other handmade bookish things.


10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Goldsmith Press Demonstration; print your own DIY bag

10:00 am – 11:00 am and 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Brown Dog Bindery Demonstration; Jennifer Knowles-McQuistion will demonstrate how wooden books are carved, burned, and bound

10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Gilded Leaf Bindery Demonstration; book restoration, fine bindings, blank journals, and gold tooling

10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Pamphlet Stitch Books for Kids with local printmaker and book artist Lesley Patterson-Marx


10:00 am to 11:00 am: Pixels, Print and Presence: How to Make the Most of Digital When It Comes to Print
This workshop is an introduction to web and digital assets for anyone from a DIY Zinester to Small Press publishers. 

10:00 am – 11:00 am: Findings & Bindings 
Use a discarded book, found papers both old and new, and a simple no-sew binding technique to create a one-of-a-kind handmade journal to house your creative notions.

11:00 am – 12:00pm: Zines with Kids & Teens

11:00 am – 12:00pm: Storytime for Children
Children can make paper finger puppets of the characters to take home.

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm: Miniature Accordion Popup Books
Artist Jennifer Knowles-McQuistion will lead participants through making a miniature hardback accordion book with pages that pop up, spill out, and burst from the folds. 

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm: Toward A Self-Sufficient, Long-Lived Zine
Examine the nuts and bolts of what it takes to keep a serial zine alive and vital. 

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm: Felt Sketchbook
Participants will design their book covers using felt and other materials, such as decorative papers, threads, and beads. Then they will assemble their sketchbooks, binding the books using posts and screws.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: The Art of Saying Something Worth Saving
Discussion will cover the pressure language undergoes when we seek to present it in a book arts project, and how words respond and rise to that challenge or collapse under the weight of that attention, and how we recognize it. 

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Quadraflip or infinity card
Turning the pages of this structure changes their orientation and reveals hidden pages before taking you back to the beginning. 

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm: Open Mic Zine Readings

All day: Papermaking 
Book artist and instructor Annie Herlocker will guide you through pulling your own sheet of paper from pre-pulped materials.


Made with love for my dad

>> Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today is my dad's birthday, so it seems like as good a time as any to share some more details about the photo album that I gave him for Christmas.  

My dad started to get interested in photography back when I was in high school taking some photography classes.  I taught him some of the basics, and he started incorporating the rule of thirds into almost all of his pictures (including lots of off-centered pictures of me at graduation).  But since then, he has become a really talented photographer with a great eye for capturing unusual sites around the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina.

Each time I would come to visit, my dad would pull out his camera and to show me his latest pictures.  I'd flip through one by one admiring his work on the tiny camera display screen and wonder why he never made prints of any of his photos.  Showing them off in this way just didn't do the pictures justice, so I decided that he needed a better way to display them.

After I gave him the book, my husband and I helped my dad pick out all of his favorite photos and we added them to the book with photo corners. He's taken some great photos like the one above where he chose to photograph the back of a statue, or some complex reflected images inspired by my photos of store window reflections.  I'm glad that he now has a proper way to display his pictures, and I'm sure he'll soon be ready for a companion album to store his newest shots. 


Making paper by hand

>> Saturday, September 3, 2011

I've been taking over the house once again with my latest creative project -- papermaking.  (Thankfully my husband doesn't seem to mind, and he even stepped in to take some photos of the process so I could share them here.)  

I met a local bookmaker, Laura, here in Nashville soon after moving to town.  We then met up for coffee to chat about books and new techniques we wanted to try.  We decided that papermaking should be our first project and we wasted no time with getting started.  We made these lovely lavender sheets of paper last week, and we've since made a new batch of raspberry-sherbet-colored paper and have several bags of paper pulp in my fridge prepared for our next papermaking adventure.  

The bowl above is filled with little torn-up scraps of paper leftover from making books.  For about a week, I collected all of the little bits of paper that were too small to be reused.  Then I soaked them in water for about 12 hours.  Then Laura and I blended the paper scraps into pulp using her smoothie maker that she donated to the papermaking cause ("the sacrificial blender," as my husband called it).  

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the blended paper pulp this time.  You might expect it to look like a gross and gooey mess.  But it's surprisingly soft and has a really luxurious feel to it.  It's actually quite nice to dip your hands into it during the process.  

Next, we added our pulp to a large vat of water.  Then we'd dip our mould and deckle (made by Laura!) into the vat to pull a sheet of paper.  With each sheet I pulled, I loved seeing the assortment of speckles and flecks of paper that happened to make it onto the mould because they remind me of the books I'd made with those different decorative papers.  

After pulling the sheets, we'd press them from the mould onto pieces of cloth, and eventually set them out to dry in my living room.  (It's been much too humid to dry them outside.)  It took about a day for the sheets to dry completely.  Once dry, Laura and I got together again to gently peel our sheets of paper off of the cloths.  

And here's the end result:

We experimented with using different types of cloth to press our wet sheets of paper on to dry.  The textures of the cloth effects the final texture of the paper.  You can see an examples of the different textures below.  We used linen, felt, and cotton to achieve different textures.  The sheet on the left was pressed onto felt; the sheet in the center was pressed onto linen, and the sheet on the right was pressed to a wrinkly piece of cotton.  We also experimented by rolling wet sheets of paper onto plexiglass, which yielded an incredibly smooth texture. 

I love textured paper.  In fact, such textures are the namesake of my business: linenlaid&felt.  (You can read more about that in the FAQ section of my website.)  While commercially-made papers of these names are made to resemble the textures of these cloths, making paper by hand allowed for us to create these textures ourselves.  Laid paper refers to the lines impressed by certain types of papermaking molds, like those that I used in Italy.  

Both Laura and I have already put our new sheets of handmade paper to use.  I made two Italian longstitch journals last week with suede covers and pieces of our handmade paper as decorative accents inside.  It has been a while since I've made a book for myself.  I'm typically busy working on custom orders, books for my shop, or gifts for friends, so I decided to take the time to make a book just for me. 

The book on top is the one I've decided to keep.  Because these books have the suede straps that wrap the book and keep it shut, it will be the perfect portable book to keep with me to jot down notes on the go.  And as an added bonus, I'll always have an example of my work with me to show as a response to the blank stares I often get when I tell people that I'm a bookbinder.  The other book that I made (the one bound with lavender thread) is now for sale in my etsy shop.  

Laura kindly made a monogrammed bookmark for me using the paper that we made together.  She makes the most adorable miniature books and book jewelry, and she will also be selling her work at the Handmade & Bound festival in a few weeks.  I love seeing the little purple pages peeking out from the little book and knowing that our handmade paper is going to good use.  


A bold and modern guest book

>> Friday, September 2, 2011

I absolutely loved working on this wedding guest book.  Everything seemed to come together perfectly, and I'm so pleased with the end result.  Jill and Rich chose such a bold color scheme for their wedding. The royal blue and bright orange complemented each other so well, as did the different textures of the papers used for this book.

I designed the personalized nameplate on the cover to coordinate with their wedding invitations.  I used the same colors and fonts, and the circular J+R motif was also drawn from their wedding paper goods.  The couple could also attach extra copies of their invitation, ceremony program, and other printed materials into the book as a place to store their coordinated wedding keepsakes after their wedding.

Congratulations to Jill and Rich!  I hope your wedding day was perfect in every way!


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