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Porter Flea AirCraft launches in East Nashville

>> Friday, May 31, 2013

Porter Flea AirCraft 2013, featuring 80 artists, began with a Friday night preview party, yielding tons of amazing photos. I'll post more about the show soon — I've still got the main show on Saturday to come — but for now, I've pulled together my favorite images by crowdsourcing from Instagram and Twitter in this Storify gallery. Enjoy!

Update: Saturday was a big success, with thousands of festival-goers descending on East Nashville for the market. I've enjoyed looking through the two most-used hashtags, #aircraft2013 and #porterflea, and have pulled together my absolute favorite photos from Instagram. Click through the slideshow below to see the best of the best from AirCraft 2013.


How to print Instagrams to display in a photo album

I'll be debuting leather Instagram photo albums this weekend at Porter Flea AirCraft here in Nashville, and I want to share with you my guide on how to print Instagrams — everyone's favorite square format photos.

The first Instagram album that I made was an anniversary gift for my husband, who uses Instagram often while reporting for the newspaper and to capture odd things around Nashville. Once the book was finished, it was exciting to see the images printed out and so much larger than we typically see them on an iPhone screen. The book that I handbound for him worked out so well that I decided to make more. Each of my albums has leather covers and 48 pages, made of thick watercolor paper. I have since been making two sizes, each designed to hold the most common square-format photo sizes available.

My large books are 7 x 7, which holds square images as large as 6 x 6, and standard 4 x 6 photos. The smaller books are 4 x 4 and hold 2.5 x 2.5 square photos.

There are many printing options out there, so I think it will help for me to share what I've learned about Instagram printing. Some services are user-friendly and simple, while others may require you to do more of the work in exchange for saving some money on each print.

Read along for my guide to printing Instagrams.

Instagram photo album

Printstagram — Easy to use, web-based
Sizes: 4 x 4 (perfect for large album) and 2.5 x 2.5 (fits small album)
Cost: $12 for 24 large images or 48 small

PostalPix — Order prints directly from iPhone
Sizes: 5 x 5, 4 x 4, 2 x 2
Cost: 29 cents to 89 cents per print (details)

RitzPix — Many options, prompt delivery
Sizes: 6 x 6, 5 x 5, 2.5 x 2.5
Cost: 49 cents per print
Note: For 2.5 x 2.5 images, you'll need to use photo editing software to set up a 5 x 5 document with 4 photos in a grid. Once printed, you'll need to trim them.

I've found other options as well, but these seem to be the easiest to use and most affordable. Another option would be placing your square images on 4 x 6 prints and then trimming them. For more information, check out this tutorial. If you go this route, you could print one 4 x 4 or six 2 x 2 images per 4 x 6 print, but you'll need photo editing software to set up the files.

I know that my husband and I have found it extremely satisfying to finally print our photos — somewhat of a lost art, these days. And I hope my new square-format leather photo albums can be another encouragement that will save more photos from collecting digital dust.

leather Instagram photo album (handmade)


Summer classes on sketchbooks, indie sewing, design, and typography

>> Saturday, May 25, 2013

This summer, I'll finally get to teach a class I've long been considering: Binding sketchbooks and finding creative ways to fill them.

A lot of my people look at my books and worry that they're two pristine to write in, but in this class I'll show how I use my sketchbooks and urge my students to put theirs into action. It'll be a great way to teach bookbinding while jumpstarting creativity at the same time. I get to teach the class twice, first with teens and then with adults, and I'll be curious as to how each group gets engaged.

The class is one of many I'll be teaching through the Watkins College Community Education department. I'm also branching out beyond bookbinding to teach an indie sewing class for kids as well as my ever-popular graphic design class for adults.

To register, please call the Watkins Community Education office at (615) 383-4848 or register online. And to view the complete summer course catalog — for classes like paper marbling, screen printing, and creative writing — click here.

And don't forget that I'm also teaching the graphic design classes for the Pre-College Program for high school juniors and seniors. Watkins College is still accepting applications on a rolling basis for this exciting art experience, and I encourage all creative teens to apply.

Handmade sketchbooks in Nashville
Sketchbooking: Bind and Fill 
When: Mondays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.; July 8 - 29 (4 weeks)
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Cost: $100, plus $30 materials fee
Description: Learn to bind your own sketchbook, and then discover creative ways to fill it both inside and out. The class will begin with an introduction to the world of handmade books as each student creates his or her own sketchbook. Through a series of prompts and activities, students will transform their blank books into a work of art using pencil, ink, paint, found objects and collage. Students will leave the class with a handbound sketchbook filled with their own drawings and observations, and the inspiration to continue exploring and documenting the world. No previous bookbinding or drawing experience is required. 

Graphic design class Watkins College Community Education
Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography
When: Tuesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.; June 4 – July 30 (9 weeks)
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Cost: $205, plus $20 lab fee
Description: Learn the fundamentals of graphic design including composition, the grid system and color theory. In particular, the course will cover the expressive and conceptual use of type in design. You’ll become familiar with Adobe InDesign, an essential program for designers, while working on projects such as calendars, posters and business cards. Through projects, hands-on use of the software program and critiques, participants will leave with a thorough understanding of design and how they can incorporate it into their own lives. Basic experience using Mac computers is required, and students should bring their own external storage device.


DIY Sketchbooks
When: June 19 and 20; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Ages: 14 years old and up
Cost: $150
Description: The sketchbook is an important part of the creative process for an artist. Work with a professional bookbinder to create your own and learn ways to put it to use in everyday life with drawings, text, photographs, collages, and more. You’ll leave with a durable, functional, portable sketchbook and inspiration for ways to fill it.

Indie Sewing: Plush Creatures and More
When: June 24 – 28; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Watkins College, 2298 Rosa Parks Blvd., Nashville
Ages: 11 years old and up
Cost: $325
Description: Girls and boys alike will have a blast creating stuffed animals, monsters, robots, and other imaginative creatures in this indie-sewing camp. From plush toys to functional bags, campers will learn the process of hand-sewing through sketching ideas, then making a pattern, choosing colors and fabrics, stitching, and embellishing.


Book arts class for repurposing vintage book covers

>> Friday, May 24, 2013

Handmade book with vintage book covers
This bookmaking class was a long time coming.

For years now, my husband and I have been collecting quirky vintage books, both to display in our home and with the inkling that they would spur creative repurposing in my bookbinding. But for the most part, I was doing more collecting than repurposing, whether it was radio operator manuals, Gregg shorthand books, 95 Russian Authors, or A Treasury of Cat Stories, to name a few.

In February, I found out I wasn't alone in my affinity for old books when I hosted a sold out class through The Skillery to teach the Coptic binding, using salvaged books to serve as the front and back covers.

I brought a couple dozen books from my own collection, which has grown slowly, usually just one book at a time, by shopping at antique stores and estate sales, and at one of my favorite stores ever: Book Thing of Baltimore, where all of the books are free! Really, they are. But there is a rule at Book Thing: each visitor is only allowed to take out 150,000 books per day. If you still don't believe that they're free, you're not alone: the Book Thing FAQ suggets many are skeptical.

I also encouraged my students to bring their own books. Many did. Among my favorites were a variety of colorfully illustrated children's stories and a little book about the Tennessee Capitol building.

We met at Dandelion Salon, where I have hosted classes before. I taught the students how to carefully remove pages and spines and then walked them through a complete Coptic binding lesson. The journals we created have new blank pages on the inside, between two vintage covers.

While we stayed busy, local photographer Kate Cauthen also stopped by to capture the class in action to bring attention to The Skillery, which I've written about often. The Skillery helps coordinate classes throughout Nashville. Kate was kind enough to share her photos.
book arts classbook arts teacher class Nashville
Leading up to the class, and since then, I've continued to work with my vintage book collection, completing a few projects that will soon be shown at the Porter Flea art show.

I think we're still taking on more books than I'm upcycling into new blank journals. But having a few more books around has never seemed like much of a problem to me.

rescued library books
Photos by Kate Cauthen.


Books and weaving with Shutters & Shuttles

>> Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nashville fabric artist Shutters and Shuttles

What's better than a friendly, unannounced email from a fellow artist?

I recently received a complimentary note from Nashville fiber artist Allison Shelton, of Shutters & Shuttles. She said she couldn't believe we hadn't met yet, and neither could I. We had crossed paths often at local arts shows including at Porter Flea, where I show up in some of her photos and I had seen her work in shops around Nashville. But we hadn't yet connected.

We decided to meet to discuss a weaving and bookbinding collaboration. After a rendezvous at a coffee shop, she invited me to visit her in-home studio. No surprise, it turned out to be just blocks from my home. You never know what great, creative things are going on in East Nashville!

Inside her studio, I marveled at the spools and spools of yarn. Plus, I had never really seen how a loom works. I didn't realize how big it would be.

It was exciting to watch Allison work on fabric that I would soon use for bookbinding. We looked together through samples of patterns to choose what we liked best. And by the time I went home, I was able to take along some varieties of fabrics to begin using. You can see one of them in first photo below (top left) on her work table.

Fabric artist studio with loom in Nashville
Fabric artist thread spools

I also found some surprises, including one of Allison's experiments.

On her website about page, she refers to a poem she wrote in fourth grade, when she described herself as a "reptile lover." That strikes me now, having seen one of her most interesting woven designs, which incorporates snakeskin. In another, she used cassette tape ribbons.

woven snakeskin fabric
In the next few days, I hope to being work on a book that will feature the woven design that Allison has completed. I'll have more photos to come, but in the meantime, please check out Allison's work.


Porter Flea at Cornelia Fort Airpark in East Nashville

>> Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cornelia Fort Airpark hangar East Nashville
The artists attending Porter Flea this spring are likely excited by the unique venue — Cornelia Fort Airpark in East Nashville — but I doubt they're as excited by the venue choice as my husband. Because he's a reporter at the local newspaper, he knows quite a bit about the quirky airpark, so this guest post is all his — a departure from the normal posts here and a bit longer, but worth it, I think.

Katie is right. I've become somewhat obsessed with the airpark, East Nashville's cozy home with ties to cocaine smuggling, a famous female military pilot, and the May 2010 flood. What more tease do you need than that?

The upcoming Porter Flea AirCraft event will be the first at the airpark since the flood closed it for good to air travel in 2010 (except for one infamous flight, but we'll get to that). The flood caused millions of dollars in damage to buildings and about 20 planes, as various YouTube videos have memorialized.

The city of Nashville bought the space in 2011 to add it to the Shelby Bottoms park system.

But its history reaches further back, to the airpark's opening in 1944. The year before, the airport's namesake, World War II pilot Cornelia Fort, became the first female American pilot to die while on war duty.

According to a Tennessean history article, Cornelia Fort grew up a southern debutante and learned to fly in 1940, after graduating from college. While she was a civilian pilot in Honolulu she had a close encounter with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She survived that. But in March 1943, Fort collided in midair while ferrying a military plane over Texas.

Not a bad tale. But it'd be easy to argue that Fort ranks as the second most famous pilot associated with the airpark, at least in recent memory.

Last year, longtime airpark flyer Russell Brothers made national news by landing his powerless and malfunctioning 1961 Beechcraft 18 (think shiny aluminum and twin engines) on its belly in the grass alongside the strip. He did so, unscathed, in the middle of the night. Then he left the plane behind, called only his wife for a ride, and went home.

Police found the plane later, triggering an investigation that led to federal firearms charges against Brothers this year. He'd said at the time that he left his plane in the park because, well, it wasn't in the way of anything.

The firearms charges came down because felons cannot own guns — and Brothers was a felon. He had served 11 years in federal prison for international cocaine smuggling, using the same airplane, back in the 80s. The newspaper keeps a fat envelope of clippings from the trial, during which a judge referred to him as a "giant among giants" in smuggling.

I wouldn't normally do this, but if you want to learn more, I'd encourage you to splurge a couple dollars to read the whole story in the newspaper's archives ("Elderly pilot with criminal past explains East Nashville emergency landing"). Also, it appears, the plane could be rigged up for skydiving — with Brothers serving as "captain adventure."

Suffice it to say, I was intrigued when Porter Flea announced Cornelia Fort as the next craft show venue. When organizers invited artists to come help clean the place, which was still cluttered from the flood, we were probably first to volunteer.

The mission was simple: mop it out and clear out the hunks of junk. There was also a possible reward: any interesting finds were up for grabs, because the city had already cleared out what it considered worth keeping. Spoiler: they weren't scrappers at heart.

Our best find came from an airpark office. Behind a dingy desk, I found a large binder, splayed open and holding plastic ... somethings ... in small folder pockets. It was then that we learned a new word: aerofiche. 

In all their glory, hundreds of sheets of translucent aerofiche were still intact, capturing the mechanical diagrams and parts inventories for dozens of airplanes. They could be enlarged and read by a projector. It's an obsolete technology — one that carries an aura of another era of recordkeeping. I've snapped photos of our aerofiche cleanup, but we haven't determined what to do with them yet. Incorporating them into bookbinding, if I can convince Katie, could be a leading contender.

Here's a peek at what we found — but stick with me, because there was another thing that we were able to glimpse that day as well.

If it's not already clear, we had a lot of fun at the airpark that day. We also sweated it out among a couple dozen volunteers. We also got to look around the grounds a bit, which are mostly uninteresting, except for two things: One, a sort of birdhouse graveyard behind a hangar, and another something only partially visible inside that hangar.

Just like last year, it still doesn't seem to be in the way of anything.

Russell Brothers Beechcraft airplane East Nashville


Collage books with Lokta papers, now on Etsy

>> Saturday, May 18, 2013

Handmade coptic book collage photo
I am constantly surrounded by beautiful, handmade papers. It's one of the perks of bookbinding. But sometimes, I've found that it takes a bit of a shakeup to see them in a new way.

My husband was working late one night, and as I rooted around in my paper scrap bin, I noticed an intriguing pairing of bright Lokta papers. These are among my favorite papers. They come in many gorgeous colors, have great texture, and are easy to work with. They respond well to glue and don't crinkle. Plus, they're sustainably made.

That night, I had a spur-of-the-moment urge to collage with these bits of paper. (Ironically, my husband often harps on me about all the scraps that I save, and it was only when he was away that I decided to put them to use.)

I began a free-form binding project without my usual careful planning. I focused on color matching.

Two coptic books by linenlaidfelt 
The first collage covers I made were striped. For the second, I assembled the papers in a patchwork. For this second book, I also rubbed away at pieces of the paper, distressing portions and allowing the color layers to blend. I also preserved the deckled edges of the pages and composed with those in mind.

The books I came up with — a sister set — are now in my Etsy shop. I hope you'll take a look, and show them to friends. They'd be good journals or sketchbooks or a fun guest book for a summer wedding.

:: Striped collage book
:: Patchwork collage journal

Handmade coptic books


Porter Flea AirCraft market — in Nashville June 1

>> Friday, May 17, 2013

Porter Flea AirCraft art show Nashville

Porter Flea Handmade Market — Nashville's best handmade craft show — lifts off soon, promising to be bigger and better than ever. And I do mean bigger. More vendors than any of the first four Porter Flea events will come together June 1 in an unimaginably large venue: three airplane hangars!

I've been busy preparing, because this show has done nothing more than grow in popularity. This time around, the market extends beyond a one-day show, kicking off on Friday night, May 31, with a preview party. Tickets are limited, and about 40 remain, so please jet over to the Porter Flea tickets page to pick yours up. (It's 21 and up that night, with the show featuring local beers, artisan cheeses, and baked goods from the incredible Sweet Betweens.)

Also new this year, each returning artist will be featuring an AirCraft exclusive item. The theme plays up the unique venue, Cornelia Fort Airpark, a small landing strip in East Nashville with a colorful history, but which was closed to air traffic by the May 2010 Nashville flood. Still, the spirit of flight will live on with this event, and I've been busy screenprinting and binding a series of books that feature a vintage Beechcraft airplane.

linenlaid&felt screenprinted Porter Flea book

Please check out the Porter Flea vendor page to learn more about the 80 great artists who will be in attendance. You can also set yourself a reminder, show your support, and invite friends at the event page on Facebook.

And if you're still wanting more, please look back at my postings and photo albums from the previous Porter Flea shows. You can follow these links:


Creative summer program for high school students at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film

>> Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Last summer I had the privilege to teach a remarkable group of high school art students. Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film hosts a Pre-College Program each July for students to experience the life and culture of an art college while earning college credit. In addition to taking classes in art history and portfolio preparation, and taking field trips to local galleries and studios, students choose a concentration to study: film, drawing and painting, graphic design, interior design, or photography. 

I taught the month-long graphic design class, meeting with my tight-knit group of students daily to hone their design skills.  I'm looking forward to teaching the Pre-College graphic design course again this summer, and I'm also excited to share the brochure I designed for the program a few months ago. I've posted the pages of the brochure design here (click on the images to view a larger version), and you can also see the full pdf here

While the scholarship deadline has already passed, Watkins College will continue to accept applications on a rolling basis. If you have any creative teens in your life who would love to spend the summer immersed in an inspiring art program, please spread the word. 


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