Friday, July 31, 2009

My roommate read my horoscope from Free Will Astrology to me yesterday...

"The Norwegians used to have a concept called svoermere, which meant something sweetly futile or deliciously unprofitable. While I can see the appeal that your particular version of svoermere has had for you, Gemini, I think it's time to think about moving on. According to my reading of the omens, you have both a right and a duty to seek out more constructive pleasures that not only make you feel good but also serve your long-term goals."

I take this to be a sign that it's time to walk off the mountain and start making it all happen. Good. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The New Paper Cutter & White Castle

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I drove out with a trailer to Louisville, KY to pick up the Golding guillotine I found on Briar Press, thanks to the guys at
Hound Dog Press. Actually, correction, my boyfriend drove the entire way and back in one day, which was incredibly generous and superhuman of him.

On said trip, he also introduced me to White Castle hamburgers. If you've never experienced White Castle, which I hadn't in my 27 years, let me explain. They make tiny tiny hamburgers with cheese and onions. And they are delicious. Pillowy, melty, oniony delights. I ate four of them.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my new guillotine paper cutter, lovingly photographed in close up. It's the first large piece of equipment to call my own so it means a lot to me. Just 20 tons more cast iron and lead and I'll have a full functioning studio!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

They just don't make them like they used to...

The cover of the 1965 Golden Science Guide to Weather. Gorgeous.

And lately, I've been thinking about incorporating rulers into notebooks. Field guide style. Just in case you need to measure an arrowhead or a hummingbird or something.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old Books & New Drawings

Used books. My greatest weakness. Remember that in case I ever become a super villain or a zombie and you have to defeat me to save the world. As I was saying...used books. There is no greater pleasure then wandering through aisles of musty books looking for that one treasure. I hardly ever buy new books, instead relying on chance to guide me towards my next read. Old books are also key material in my projects. I use them for stationery, blank books, and drawings. Sometimes, one book can even become the foundation for a whole body of work.

Recently, I started a new series of drawings using the pages from an 1897 geology textbook. I haven't done a series of drawings for quite some time. The act of drawing doesn't come easily to me, I liken it to pulling teeth. There's no structure to hide behind, no rules really. You just have to do what comes to you. That can be pretty scary.

I can't say I know where these are going yet, but I like it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Huldra Press

a huldra chatting with a collier

I'm sure some of you are wondering where my press name comes from and this entry will answer that question. I read a great deal of folklore and mythology. This started about four years ago when I read Bulfinch's Mythology, a time-honored retelling of mythology spanning from the classical Greek fables to medieval tales of such as that of Perceval and the stories of the Welsh Mabinogen. It's so good...

What fascinated me about these stories was that they suggested our humanity was a changeable state. People turned into plants, disguised themselves as animals, and were always in danger of being led astray into stranger, looking glass worlds that overlapped theirs.

So Bulfinch's Mythology had a brief introduction into Norse mythology, which I just thought was the weirdest stuff I'd ever read, and I loved it. I started reading Scandinavian folklore. I love the oddness of the stories and the superstitions they contain. For example to find out if you want to find out if your kid is a changeling, you brew beer in an eggshell. The changeling will exclaim, "I'm as old as the hills, but I've never seen beer brewed in an eggshell!" Case closed.

I first read about the Scandinavian huldra in a book called theThe Forest in Folklore and Mythology by Alexander Porteous. A huldra is a woman who appears human from the front but like a hollow tree from the back. She also has a fox or a cow's tail depending on the origin of the story. In many stories, she is friendly to colliers and others who are kind to her, like in this lovely story.

A boy in Tividen went fishing, but he had no luck. Then he met a beautiful lady, and she was so stunning that he felt he had to catch his breath. But, then he realized who she was, because he could see a fox's tail sticking out below the skirt. As he knew that it was forbidden to comment on the tail to the lady of the forest, if it were not done in the most polite manner, he bowed deeply and said with his softest voice, "Milady, I see that your petticoat shows below your skirt". The lady thanked him gracefully and hid her tail under her skirt, telling the boy to fish on the other side of the lake. That day, the boy had great luck with his fishing and he caught a fish every time he threw out the line. This was the huldra's recognition of his politeness. (Hellström, AnneMarie (1985). Jag vill så gärna berätta)

After the Christianization of Scandinavia, the huldra became a more villified temptress. So Typical... But that aspect does not interest me.

To the contrary, what I love about the folklore of the huldra and European folklore in general is the banality of it. That these creatures longed for the same things we did, that they farmed and married and had children like we do. That there was a time when these stories were traded as truth and they reveal so much about our fears and desires, and about our relationship with the natural world.

So I hope that sheds some light on my press name and what inspires a great deal of my work.

Since I won't be in class for the next three weeks, I'll be playing catch up on all the projects I have been putting to the side since winter. Some of these are as mundane as backing up my computer, some are a bit more fun. This afternoon, I scanned negatives that I took over two years ago with my Brownie Hawkeye camera. The optics on this thing are so poor that it creates some pretty wild effects. My favorite qualities of film are its imperfections. There is an element of chance in shooting with older, cheap cameras and with Polaroid that I find thrilling.
That's probably why I haven't been able to get very excited about digital. It's a blessing for documenting work, but nowhere near as fun as lugging around a Polaroid Spectra in your bag and looking like a weirdo.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The 47 Cent Chinatown Book

Brutal economy. That's what this book is. The thriftiest depiction of a book I have yet to see and that gives it a special place in my collection of books. The cover is speckled brown kraft paper cover with impressed red printing. Inside the book, the pages are doubled, perhaps because the paper is so thin. The yellowish sheets have the delicate feeling and color of a much more valuable paper like kozo. I wish I knew more about the green squares printed inside, but I don't. It probably has something to do with chinese characters. However, my ignorance does add to its charm as an object for me. The part of this book that makes it especially interesting though is the way it is sewn. Not by hand, but straight across the cover with a sewing machine. Of course!

As I was looking around for information notebooks, I found a delightful blog by Jennifer Hsu called The Museum of Notebooks, entirely dedicated to collecting of notebooks. Jennifer has some beautiful examples like this one, one of my favorites...

Notebooks are beautiful objects and a big inspiration for my work. Small, subtle and often ingenious in their design, they're made to be used and carried and are even more interesting after they have been. I've been thinking about them a lot lately.

I have the next two weeks off from class and I hope to produce some of my own during that time. So stay tuned.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rab and His Friends

Rab and His Friends is a slim, 5.5" x 4.5" volume of stories by Dr. John Brown. It starts interestingly enough, "Four-and thirty years ago, Bob Ainslie and I were coming up Infirmary Street from the High School, or heads together, and our arms intertwisted, as only lovers and boys knows how, or why..." but really I haven't read further than that. The reason for this is I bought this book for it's cover. So it's a fact, people judge books by their covers. Take that, content.

It is a lovely cover, made of teal book cloth with a long, rectangular window and the title plainly gold-stamped in the lower right hand corner. What I found especially beautiful about this book was how the image in the window had been worn away to abstraction.

The first title page is so humble, just the title of the book printed crookedly in black ink. Rab and His Friends. That's it.

The second page is a more traditional decorative title page printed in red and green. These pages as well as the rest of the book were so obviously hand printed that I decided to try to research the book on the internet. Soon enough, I found an entire web page devoted to the work of the Henry Altemus Company, the publishers of this edition.

And get this, they are from Philadelphia, my dearly missed home. It was pretty fascinating to the read the history of the company and to recognize so many addresses. I like to imagine what Philadelphia was like when it was a more industrialized place, and so many more things were being made right there in the city. There are some great examples of advertising ephemera on the Henry Altemus Web Site. I recommend checking it out if you feel like geeking out on what it was like to be a publishing company in the 1800-1900's. I know I did!

And ladies. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It's witty, it's philosophical, it's full of sound sense in concentrated lozenges, need I say more? I don't think so.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bridges Show in Portland, OR

Me and fellow core fellow (that's not a typo),
Beth Schaible are in this rad show in Portland, OR, benefiting the Em Space, a community book arts center along with some other very rad letterpress printers like Power and Light, who's Burt Reynolds thank you card I covet, and Heroes & Criminals Press, who beautiful, animal battle scroll book I got to see in person here at Penland and much more!

Heroes and Criminals Press :: The Bad Sparrow

Power and Light :: Burt Reynolds Thank You Card

Huldra Press :: Volcanoes of Iceland

Saturday, July 4, 2009

It's July 4th people, let's celebrate The Boss and Drunk History

You know, I just realized it's July 4th. I'm not very patriotic, really. Well, that's not quite true. When I'm in France and three of my cousins are grilling me on what's wrong with Americans and why do they eat so much junk food, I defend this great land. I tell them, hey, hot dogs are delicious and if you don't like America, stop asking me to bring you Levi's and quit buying up all our sneakers when you come to visit.

So yes, I'm a little patriotic, and I do love hot dogs and by god, do I love Bruce Springsteen.
All kinds of Bruce Springsteen. E Street Shuffle Bruce, Tunnel of Love Bruce, Philadelphia Bruce, hell I'll even listen to Lucky Town. Friends, I did not go to my senior prom. Instead, I went to see The Boss...

and if that ain't enough, he refills all the ketchup bottles!

On this day, we reflect upon our hallowed history. Clearly, there is no better way to do this than after eight vodka cranberries. And that is Drunk History. Now, I know I am probably the last one to know about this, but in case I'm not, I feel the need to pass this on to you. Because it is very very funny.

I need to show the american people I'm a strong dude.

You go America. You go, girl.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Collaboration with Amy Tavern

Amy Tavern and I collaborated on this piece of limited edition jewelry, a pin with a tiny, handmade paper book. The beautiful silver brooch was inspired by a piece of her grandmother's jewelry. Both the pin and the chain are handmade oxidized sterling silver. This Amy Tavern is good!
The Book Pin is now available on etsy in Amy's shop.
She also writes a fantastic blog that features the work of many other talented contemporary jewelers. It's inspiring for anyone interested in what's going on in metals these days.
Amy's a new resident artist at Penland School of Crafts, she will be here for three years. And that makes me happy. Because I get to see what she's doing.