Ingenius upcycling

In my last blog post I wrote about learning so much from the participants in my classes – the show and tell sessions where I am privileged to be shown books that they have made since taking a book making workshop make sharing so worthwhile.

Living in the country miles from the nearest art supply store makes for very creative people and Erin who participated in my book making workshops in Narrogin recently had an abundance of computer parts she has found a new use for.

"Sewn on Tapes" book using computer parts  - Handmade by Erin Bailey - photo courtesy of Erin Bailey

“Sewn on Tapes” book using computer parts – Handmade by Erin Bailey – photo courtesy of Erin Bailey

Erin creates some wonderful steampunk jewellery, makes tin horses from some very interesting discarded items to promote  the “tin horse highway” and Kulin bush races.  You can find her page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/eBee-Creations/227915167353792.

 

It makes my heart sing – thank you so much for sharing Erin.

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Retracing my steps

Yesterday I retraced my steps to ARtS Space, Narrogin for another book making workshop.  It rained most of the way there but it was not blowing the gale that was forecast thankfully.  Whenever I pack my little car for a workshop I am always on tenterhooks until I have everything laid out at the workshop venue in case I have forgotten anything.  Yesterday I forgot the aprons (we were using glue) and if anyone is going to mess up their clothes it would be me!  Luckily I was able to find some in the local supermarket – along with chocolate in case of concentration or frustration problems during the day.

I really enjoy teaching workshops and often am left pondering on just who learns more – the participants or myself.  Everyone comes up with a new take on what we are doing, arranges things differently, problem solves in an innovative way and produces a book that is wholly theirs.

I love seeing books that participants in previous workshops have made after that workshop – they never cease to delight me, and yesterday’s “show and tell” was no exception.

The trip home was so enjoyable – sunshine on the patchwork of paddocks between Narrogin and Williams showed up different shades of green depending on the growth stage of the crop interspersed with the odd paddock of brilliant yellow canola. Closer to Collie in the forest there was a carpet of wildflowers beneath the trees contrasting sharply with the rusty coffee rocks.  I found the rain on the other side of Collie so the last bit of the journey had to use the windscreen wipers – but home safely before dark – a lovely day.

Textile Artist Bobbie Bates and her eco printed books - made following the first workshop in Narrogin

Textile Artist Bobbie Bates and her eco printed books – made following the first workshop in Narrogin

Beautiful stitching on tapes - love the contrasting thread

Beautiful stitching on tapes – love the contrasting thread

Folding and cutting pages for the books

Folding and cutting pages for the books

More folding and cutting pages

More folding and cutting pages

Guerilla Art?

I love quirky ideas, the concept of “paying it forward” and using recycled materials.  A germ of an idea has been growing for a while to send out a little good karma into the area where I live.

Most of the journals I make are metric sizes where I fold and cut larger sheets of paper into smaller folios – as a result there is no wastage, occasionally though I do end up with odd sized sheets of paper on my bench.  I turn these into smaller books where I might practise different sewings.  One of my favourite notebooks is a Moleskine cahier notebook copy where the covers are old cardboard cereal boxes, and the demonstration books from my workshops soon grow in number.

I have now started packaging these books up with a little note explaining that they are gifts and include my business card. I was out and about in Busselton on Wednesday delivering my artist’s book for the Signature South West exhibition and left a few journals and notebooks around town.

On Thursday morning I had a phone call from a lady who had picked up one of the notebooks – she had a particularly trying morning and could not quite believe that it was a purely philanthropic gesture.  Her happiness and pleasure in such a small gesture and that she took the trouble to phone and thank me, has made my week and reinforced my will to carry on with this project.

If you are out and about in my little corner of the world – keep your eyes open – you may find your own little package.  It helps if you know my habits!!!!!!

Commissioned work

I really enjoy working on commissioned books, discussing what form the book will take and letting it evolve during the making is a pleasurable task. Over the past couple of weeks I have been reflecting on the life of a friend and neighbour who sadly lost his battle with that insidious disease, cancer, recently. I have been remembering fondly his generous nature, always welcoming people to his home, quick to help anyone in need. I never heard him say a bad thing about anyone. He was truly a gentle man. He will be remembered by his friends and family without any need for prompts, but his wife requested a book to hold tangible memories and written tributes. I tried to pay homage to his love of his bush home by using snippets of eco dyed fabrics and commercially printed cottons with australian native plants printed on them and added vintage crochet doily snippets and vintage buttons and lace because I knew it would be something his wife would appreciate. Nothing can ease the pain of losing someone so important, but I hope this will go a little way to show how much we appreciated knowing this special person.

Memory book for a special man

Memory book for a special man

The tyranny (or not) of distance!

Yesterday, after wading through rivers of water during the storm at 5.30am to put our horses out into their paddock (they were most indignant at being woken at that hour and very reluctant to join me in wading!) I set off for a cross country drive to Narrogin in the heart of the West Australian wheat growing area.  Narrogin is a country town, some three hours drive from our capital city of Perth.  The drive was very pleasant, the weather being kind to me, there were only a few sprinkles of rain on the windscreen.  The paddocks are all looking green after recent rainfall.  I arrived in the town with plenty of time before the workshop started and was pleasantly surprised to find a coffee shop open at that time of day.  The coffee was good and the roaring fire was very welcoming.

It was easy to find the venue for the workshop in Narrogin’s main street.  The Artspace is a wonderfully welcoming, large space  and ideal to hold any workshop, also a great meeting place.  I understand ARtS Narrogin is run by volunteers and they are planning all sorts of exciting events – the Ten Sopranos will be performing in Narrogin on Wednesday – if you live in the area check out their FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/ARtSNarrogin.

I had a fabulous day teaching lots of simple book structures – using some recycled items, and shared lots more ideas.  Some of the workshop participants had travelled a considerable distance to attend and I think they all had a good time – they worked really hard and produced a considerable collection of books during the day.

Despite being a considerable distance from the capital city and having limited access to art supplies Narrogin has an artspace and organisation to be proud of, and lots of enthusiastic and very talented people.  I love rural Western Australia.

working hard in Artspace Narrogin

working hard in Artspace Narrogin

The fantastic work space at ARtS Narrogin

The fantastic work space at ARtS Narrogin

making mini books for necklaces

making mini books for necklaces

Upcycling some leather

The past week I have been busily working in my studio making some leather bound journals. The leather for the covers has been claimed from some vintage leather clothing – lined with Nepalese lokta paper to stop the little bits of black leather fibres coming off onto the pages.  The accent leathers are  fish leather from the boys at Mermaid Leather in Esperance, Western Australia (if you are ever in Esperance – it is well worth a visit to their tannery, showroom/information centre – they produce a lovely product from fish skins, something that would otherwise be discarded) and a fabulous leather that I found in Melbourne on my recent trip. This lovely textured leather is from Bufo marinus (otherwise known as that invasive creature the cane toad!)

 

Leather Journals A6 landscape  $35 each - Cartridge paper pages - accent leathers are: orange and pink - fish leather; purple and teal - cane toad leather.

Leather Journals A6 landscape $35 each – Cartridge paper pages – accent leathers are: orange and pink – fish leather; purple and teal – cane toad leather.

I also unearthed some very small scraps of upholstery leather from my stash and made a little collection of “jelly bean” journals – these are tiny – approx 5cm x 7cm with different pastel coloured pages.  They are closed with elastic and decorated with vintage buttons – a little bit fanciful, but useful to keep with your mobile phone if you need to jot down any important numbers, or write mini shopping lists on!

Jelly Bean Journals! made from leather scraps - vintage buttons and various coloured papers for the pages $5 each.

Jelly Bean Journals! made from leather scraps – vintage buttons and various coloured papers for the pages $5 each.