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Artistic + Inspiring: Altered Books

I was flattered and honored when Holly asked me to be a guest blogger on decor8 for a few days while she settles into her new apartment and part-time life in Germany. I just want to say what a great resource and friendly voice you are here in the design blogosphere Holly. I don’t know how you do it really, every day there are a whole bunch of great new finds with informative, casual blog posts. You’re an inspiration – you make me a better blogger – and I’m sure many of us have nicer homes and studios because of the encouragement we find on decor8. I don’t know how you do it really, but thank you for doing your decor8 thing! [Holly - don't remove this! : ) ]

Holly asked me to introduce myself: I’m Jason Thompson, father of two, blogger, bookbinder and the founder of Rag & Bone Bindery, a small bookbinding studio based in Providence, Rhode Island. Rag & Bone has been designing & manufacturing handcrafted Albums, Guestbooks, Journals and other books for 18 years now [where does the time go?] and you can find our Albums through retailers across the U.S. and Canada.

decor8 readers can save 20% on all Albums & Books at the Rag & Bone Bindery boutique, simply enter this discount code during checkout [good through Friday, 08/22/08, enter code: decor8].

As a bookbinder, I love books, paper, bookbinding, book arts, paper craft, origami, altered books and art made with books as objects. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by books all day, but sometimes I forget how beautiful they are, which is one reason I’m drawn to book art and artists’ books. I’m inspired by the different interpretations artists find with their art, whether it still retains its “bookish-ness” or is inspired simply by the book form. Here are a few of my favorite artists and journalers who use books as muse and/or medium.

Sabrina Ward Harrison
Artist and journaler Sabrina Ward Harrison published her first book at the age of 23, “Spilling Open; The Art of Becoming Yourself”. This was one of the first published journals I discovered [together with Dan Eldon's, The Journey Is The Destination] that inspired me to journal myself. What is it about journals and journaling that encourages such self reflection? Sabina’s confessional journal pages are visual treats and a reminder of how fragile, inspired, confused, creative and individual we all are. Sabrina’s art has since moved off her journal pages to encompass photography, collage, installations and performances. She recently spent two years living in a former one-room schoolhouse.

If you’re in the Southern California area on September 20th & 21st, you can join a two day creative workshop with Sabrina at Carol Park’s studio. You can view more photos of her workshop here.

Teesha Moore
I first met Issaquah, Washington artist Teesha Moore while writing my first book and was blown away [I still am...] by her textured, layered and colorful journals. I was fortunate to have three of them to myself for a few weeks for photography and have to admit, I was inspired and a little intimidated. They’re so complex and dense. Teesha runs Artfest and Artfiberfest every year, two retreats with one-of-a-kind, unique art classes and events focusing on handmade art, book art and journals. Teesha also publishes “Art & Life” and “Play” ‘zines. She’s an inspiration to book artists and journalers and her love for art shows in everything she does. I’ve only met Teesha once, we’re on opposite sides of the country, and she’s just as lovely and generous in person. Check out her colorful art studio…



Artfest 2008 took place in April, however the 2009 schedule is in progress and dates are yet to be announced. Visit her website to stay up to date and join the artfest mailing list.

Lisa Kokin
San Francisco Bay area artist Lisa Kokin has her feet firmly planted in the world of fine art but her book work is approachable and playful. Her altered books maintain the book form, creation through destruction, and have a unified look and feel. She maintains a visual continuity throughout her work but finds new life in old books by reshaping them, shredding pages and even sewing books inside-out. In addition to altered books, Lisa also uses buttons as medium for her unique collages.

Georgia Russell [Georgia doesn't seem to have her own website, but is represented by England Gallery]
Scottish Artist Georgia Russell uses a scalpel [and obsessive patience] to create altered books which have been cut, very meticulously, into strips and shreds and carefully arranged into beautiful compositions. This kind of work gets me excited to create myself. There’s just something about particular types of art that sparks the, “I can do that!” feeling which inspires me to create something too. Though frankly, there’s no way I could make something as beautiful as this no matter how sharp the scalpel and how many band-aids I have on hand. Georgia is continually refining her art, creating new and unusual book forms.

Su Blackwell
UK artist Su Blackwell creates enchanting book art by externalizing the pages of books into three dimensional representations of their content. Sue says, “These works can be seen as metaphors for language. I use non traditional art materials such as books and clothes to create work which evokes a sense of dreamy melancholy or magical enchantment”. Dreamy and enchanting indeed! If books have dreams they would look like this!


Tracey Bush
[Tracey doesn't have a website, but is represented by Art*Star]

These collaged, paper-cut dioramas by UK artist Tracey Bush combine entomology and lepidoptera with traditional letter writing and mail art. Each butterfly is sewn together from layers of paper using a bookbinders pamphlet stitch and secured into Museum boxes with entomological pins. Each is an actual species presented life size and created with an allusion to its name or habitat, IE: the Scotch Argus butterfly shows a Scottish Loch on its wing, etc. Beautiful!

Stay tuned for Part Two of this post. I’ll return to share some of my favorite paper artists with you on Wednesday.

(images linked to sources above, text by jason thompson)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Books + Magazines, guest bloggers on August 18, 2008

ZukZuk

I was so happy to hear from Helen Acraman of ZukZuk yesterday because her work is joyous and vibrant and I absolutely adore the sweet characters! Three cheers for cute stuff!

Helen is from New Zealand but now lives in Toronto and is an artist who loves what she does. How do I know? I took some time to read her blog and wow — her enthusiasm leaps from the screen. And by the way, I love this print Edible Weeds, I can’t stop looking at it… Isn’t it so pretty?

“I thought I might like to have some more birds scratching around my Etsy store so here is my new print, “Jelly Bean Birds” which was lots of fun to make. So much fun, these prints may well be imbued with rocking good vibes because I was in a jolly mood as they came into being!” – Helen.

How’s that for loving what you do?

You can view more of Helen’s work in her Flickr album, too.

Psst: $1 from each item sold goes to support Amnesty International.

(images from zukzuk)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy on August 07, 2008

Eco Paper Products from Amy Butler

I know, I know enough Amy Butler already. But I really do fancy her work and now that she’s released eco paper products including gorgeous gift wraps I thought it couldn’t hurt to at least tell you about it… :)


I really like this simple, fresh office set up.


I know… How pretty. Wrapping paper can be used for so many DIY projects it’s simply the best for adding pattern to almost anything on a budget. I like an idea I saw recently in Country Living Home magazine where art director Matthew Mead used wrapping paper to create a mat for a framed picture of a family member. It looked great and what an inexpensive and easy project. You can knock something like that out in under 15 minutes.

(images from amy butler design)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, stationery, walls on July 31, 2008

A Mad Tea {Towel} Party!

Now this is fun! A few months ago Maya from the Nicholas Gallery in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio contacted me regarding an upcoming exhibition she curated involving artists coming together from all over the world to show their work on tea towels. “The humble tea towel is no longer merely relegated to the tasks of the kitchen. Reinvented, its form offers a unique challenge and serves as a new canvas for artists and designers. This show brings together some of the most exciting contemporary talent worldwide, most exhibiting in Cincinnati for the first time.”


Talents like Marisa Haedike of Creative Thursday, Arian Armstrong, Atelier LZC, Sigrid Calon (I had the pleasure of viewing her work at Dutch Design Week in 2006), Phat Sheep, Push Me Pull You Design, Variegated Inc., and many others contributed their work for results that I’m sure will inspire many.


I just love seeing the work installed in the gallery and enjoy that there are some risks being taken in the art world, small changes that challenge the norms. You can view more photos from the show right here.

(images from the nicholas gallery)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on July 24, 2008

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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