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After an endlessly long and frigid winter, spring was finally in the air yesterday. It was perfect road-trip weather – sunny but not too hot – so I hopped in my car and made my way to Grimbsy, about an hour’s drive from Toronto. The town was hosting its annual Wayzgoose Bookarts Fair, this year being its 35th edition. For a book- and paper-lover like me, it was hard not to spend my entire paycheck on beautiful handmade paper, letterpressed cards and posters, bookbinding tools, handmade books, and so many other lovelies…thankfully I was a model of restraint and only bought sewing needles and a few cool notebooks.
My new friend Hannelore of Hannelore’s Story Works was a vendor at the fair – we met last December at the Movies and Makers show and instantly hit it off. As she and I looked around the room at other vendors, we noted that it was interesting that although we (and many other bookbinders) work with similar materials (recycled maps, vinyl record LPs, old postcards and book covers, Japanese papers), each of our handmade books come out looking completely different from anyone else’s – we each have our own distinctive style.
I also had the pleasure of meeting master bookbinder Don Taylor. I’d been debating whether or not to take a week-long bookbinding course that he’s teaching this summer, and after a chat with him about the various projects made as part of the course, I’ve decided to finally go ahead and register. Since the aforementioned course is being offered in New Brunswick (my home province), I get to stay with one of my closest friends and hang out with him for an entire week (this makes me very, very happy). Creative vacations are the best!
Here’s a great video of Don Taylor talking about the art of bookbinding and book restoration:
All these thoughts of spring, beautiful weather, road trips, and bookbinding have inspired me to make…what else…travel journals:
I’ve also been having lots of fun working with spring colours in my art journal (you may remember it from this post). These are a few blank pages I’ve prepared ahead of time with acrylic paint, collaged papers and washi tape, so that I can simply add text the moment I feel inspired:
By the way, if you’re feeling inspired to learn bookbinding techniques – there are a few spots left in the Coptic-binding workshop I’ll be teaching on May 4! For more info and to register, visit wisedaughters.com/workshops.
1. Gin + tonic flavoured marshmallows are pretty darn yummy (even if they really taste like lime marshmallows).
2. Nadège Pâtisserie makes the most adorable and treats ever invented (see item #1). Here’s further proof:
Those macarons were about the size of a quarter. Seriously.
3. I love oysters – the raw kind! – after an amazing meal at Oyster Boy. For years and years I resisted eating oysters because I had a not-so-great experience 15 or so years ago. Not anymore. Bring. Them. On.
4. Watching live, professional basketball games is so much fun – who knew? After seeing the Toronto Raptors vs. Detroit Pistons game on Monday night, I am hooked. This is a sport that I could totally get into. Definitely.
5. Being a brunette isn’t so bad. It’s definitely an adjustment from being a blonde my entire life, but I’m kinda liking it:
Did you discover anything new this week?
Reading… Recently finished reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (it’s like Harry Potter for adults) and The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. Both fantastic reads – highly recommended. I’m now onto slightly easier reading: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Not exactly fine literature, but entertaining nonetheless. Scottish warriors – need I say more?
Listening to… Lots of music in French – it’s nice to go back to my roots. The music site 8tracks allows you to stream playlists that others have put together, and I’ve discovered lots of great music this way. One of my favourite playlists was created by…Nikki Yanofski, of all people. She’s compiled a list of her favourite French songs, and they’re all pretty awesome. Have a listen here.
Watching… Flight of the Conchords’ newest endeavour: a song they wrote to raise funds for a sick kids charity in NZ. They interviewed kids to get ideas for song lyrics (with brilliant results), and even reunited with Murray for a band meeting. My heart is so happy to see them together again.
Discovering… This great blog called 5 Things To Do Today. Appeals to the incurable list-maker in me, and tons of great ideas to boot. Very inspiring.
Learning… About emotional intelligence. I’ve been on two separate courses on EI this summer, which have helped me become increasingly self-aware of my emotions and how I react to people and situations. I definitely want to keep exploring this topic more deeply and meaningfully.
Loving… The fantastic new haircut I got last night. I feel like a million bucks.
Hating… The lingering hot and humid days – I want fall to be here NOW!
Feeling… Excited about a night out with friends tonight. It will include Bridesmaids (the movie), a tasty meal, cupcakes, and copious amounts of wine. It’s all good.
Wishing… I didn’t have to clean my loft this weekend, but it’s quite filthy. I know I’ll feel better afterwards, though…
What have you been up to this week?
In a fantastic mood right now because I am officially ON VACATION for the next two weeks – woo hoo!
I thought I’d share a few thrilling performances to go perfectly with my mood.
This first clip goes to show that you can make the best of any situation, no matter where you are. These are prisoners at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre dancing to a choreographed version of MJ’s Thriller:
Those who know me well know about my slight obsession with anything created by or featuring Taika Waititi. This video is part of the closing credits of the 2010 coming-of-age film Boy – Taika (as MJ) and the other stars of the film mix Thriller Haka moves with the Maori-language song, Poi E. Flippin’ brilliant!
And finally – Buckingham Palace Guards having fun with what would otherwise be pretty mind-numbing work:
Now if only I could find a copy of my figure skating club’s 1984 end-of-year show…we performed a Thriller number (complete with dry ice and full makeup and costumes) and it was awesome!
Happy Friday – enjoy!
Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much has happened in my life and how much I’ve changed in the past few years. When I first moved to Toronto almost 7 years ago, I was keeping busy creating handmade books as gifts to friends and family. I certainly wasn’t taking bookbinding very seriously, although I really enjoyed it as a hobby.
The first year I was living in Toronto, I would drive by a local scrapbooking store on a regular basis. I don’t scrapbook, but I do have a paper fetish, and this store always had beautiful papers displayed in their front window. One day I stopped in to have a look and found many, many pretty papers for my collection. As I was paying for my purchase, the lady at the register (who turned out to be the owner of the store) asked my what kind of scrapbooking projects I was working on. I replied that I wasn’t a scrapbooker, but I was planning to use the papers for my handmade books. She offered me a job teaching bookbinding workshops in her store, right then and there! I was flabbergasted, to say the least… I had often thought that I would like to teach workshops, but I didn’t think that a) I was good/knowledgeable enough to teach, and b) anyone would be interested. I was wrong on both counts!
This then gave me the courage to approach another shop to see if they would be interested in selling some of my handmade books. Again, I wasn’t really expecting there to be much interest, but when I met with the owner to show her my products, she took everything I had – thus wiping out my entire stock! Since then I’ve had a great relationship with this owner, whom I consider to be a trusted advisor/mentor/friend.
Since then my confidence in abilities has increased and my courage has grown in leap and bounds – a significant thing for someone who is as shy and introverted and I am. And with that confidence and courage, I’ve started taking greater risks, which are paying off: I’m getting accepted into prestigious/coveted shows, getting my products into the hands of celebrities (and loving their reaction!), and most recently convinced the Toronto International Film Festival to start carrying my products – I’m thrilled to report that my books will be available in their shop starting later this month!
I’ve made so much progress as a person and artisan and business person. I’m building solid relationships and making great connections. And people seem to really like what I make, which makes me want to make more stuff!
So I encourage you to take a risk – it doesn’t have to be huge – that will bring you closer to one of your dreams. Make a phone call, send an email, apply for that big show – just do something. You may be quite pleasantly surprised at the reaction you get.
At my office we recently started something new during our bi-weekly staff meetings: Each staff member takes turns starting off the meeting with a short TED video on a topic of their choosing. It’s been great so far, and sets a fun and inspiring tone for the meetings. It was my turn to pick this week’s video, and after much internal debate I chose this one by Matt Cutts:
I love these types of challenges (i.e. personal-development opportunities that provide immediate feedback), and so I was inspired to try it myself. For the past several days I’ve been mulling it over and trying to decide what my first 30-day challenge could be.
I’ve finally figured it out: I’ll write a blog post every day for the next thirty days! My blog has been woefully neglected these past several months, and this is just the incentive I need to change this. So starting tomorrow, I will make every effort to share something here (big or small).
How about you – have you ever undertaken a similar challenge? What was it, and how successful was it?
Please share your experiences and any ideas for future challenges!
If you’re in Toronto next weekend and looking for something fun to do, I’ll be teaching a bookbinding workshop at Wise Daughters Craft Market in the Junction. This is the class project:
This particular book was turned into an advent calendar – the 12 panels each fit two mini-pockets, making it perfect for this purpose!
If you’re interested in learning how to make this type of book (there are still a few spots left!), but at a loss for ideas on what you can do with it, I’ve gathered a few examples.
First up is a star book I made a few years ago for an online swap. My swap partner loved Frida Khalo, so I made her colourful paintings the theme of the book:
You can read my blog post and see more photos of this book here.
Next up, a circus sideshow-themed book by Courtney Autumn Martin that is simply stunning! I love how the book is in the shape of a big top and so colourful.
Another artist whose work I love is Andrea Dezso – here is a carousel book that she illustrated and made:
Although this isn’t exactly the same binding style as the star book workshop I’ll be teaching, it can easily be adapted for a similar result.
Other possible uses for this type of book:
- Travel journal – my last few travel journals were accordion books, but star books are definitely on my list…
- Sketchbook – cut pieces of watercolour paper to the appropriate size, paint or sketch on them, and bind them afterwards
- Art book – it doesn’t have to have a practical purpose – sometimes it’s just fun to look at a pretty book! I’ve been dreaming of making a Muppet-inspired book one of these days…
I discovered Spoon about 7 years ago, thanks to one of Paste Magazine‘s ever-wonderful CD samplers. I Turn My Camera On, from the 2005 album Gimme Fiction, was the catchy tune that caught my attention:
I took an immediate liking to the Austin, Texas-based band’s 2007 album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, especially the You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb track. As if the song itself wasn’t fantastic enough, the music video includes PAPER CUTOUTS. *happy sigh*
The Underdog is another favourite song from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (it can also be found on the Horrible Bosses and I Love You, Man soundtracks):
So much crafting to do, so much great music to keep me motivated – it’s all good!
I discovered Hawksley Workman several years ago when a friend sent me a mix CD that included the song Jealous of your Cigarette. Not only is it a fantastic song, its music video is just so much fun:
Did you notice that the entire video was filmed in a single sequence? Yah. Freakin’ amazing.
Hawksley definitely lives on the eccentric side of the street, but he is incredibly creative and prolific – not only as a singer-songwriter, but also as a producer (working with Great Big Sea, Serena Ryder, Hey Rosetta!, and Tegan and Sara, amongst others).
Another of my favourite songs of his – Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky – was released on the 2010 album Milk (warning: strong language):
I has the pleasure of seeing Hawksley perform in December as the Vinyl Cafe Christmas tour’s invited guest (an interesting choice for Stuart McLean). He definitely has a cabaret flair about him, but he is quite entertaining. And man, that voice.
Finally, here is a slower, sadder (but just as beautiful song) – Autumn’s Here:
For some reason, this song gets to me every time. Love it.
In large part because of this.
In the same vein as last week’s Tuesday Tunes post, I’d like to introduce another group from New Zealand that has caught my attention [and my heart]: the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra.
What’s so cool about a ukulele orchestra, you say? Well, the incredibly creative and inventive group of artists who form this ensemble (including one of its founding members, Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame – do you see a trend here?) have a knack for taking retro tunes and giving them a beautiful, new life. They also have a wicked sense of style and humour. And they love Canadians (well, Canadian ukulele virtuoso James Hill).
Take Bonnie Tyler’s classic It’s a Heartache, for instance. Just when you thought this song couldn’t be any more melancholy…
We can never have too much Prince in our lives, can we? Especially a ukulele version of I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man:
Close your eyes, and imagine you’re on a safari, beside a beautiful waterfall. This tune immediately comes to mind, doesn’t it? (please excuse the video quality and simply focus on the voices and the ukes):
And finally, this is for all us vertically challenged people (aka Short People, a cover of Randy Newman’s classic):
And because I just can’t stop, here are a few more awesome covers, should you wish to further your discovery of the WIUO:
Hey Ya – yes, the Outkast version!
The Bucket – Kings of Leon cover
Dreaming of You – The Coral cover
I’ve had an obsession with all things Kiwi for some time now. It started with Flight of the Conchords, then progressed to the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, Neil Finn, Taika Waititi, Age Pryor, and most recently, The Phoenix Foundation. New Zealand has produced some pretty kick-ass, creative types, all of which seem to have an awesome, quirky sense of humour.
The Phoenix Foundation has numerous connections to writer/director/artist Taika Waititi. Several of the band’s songs can be found on soundtracks for Waititi’s two feature-length films, Eagle vs. Shark and Boy. I love the dream-like quality of many of their pop melodies – they remind me of happier versions of Great Lake Swimmers or Arcade Fire songs.
The video for Going Fishing [from the band's debut album, Horsepower] contains hilarious clips from Eagle vs. Shark [which stars Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame, in case you hadn't recognized him]:
40 Years was directed by and also stars Taika Waititi. I love how it was filmed in one long, single shot:
And finally, a video for Pot, from The Phoenix Foundation’s most recent album, Buffalo:
I recently discovered the National Film Board’s Facebook page and website – what an amazing treasury by Canadian artists and filmmakers! For the past year, the NFB has been embedding their films online to make them more accessible to the public, with very successful results.
I’ve been enjoying so many classics that I hadn’t seen in years – here is a sampling of my favourites.
The Big Snit by Richard Condie
The Cat Came Back by Cordell Barker
The Sweater by Sheldon Cohen (based on “The Hockey Sweater”, a story written and narrated by Roch Carrier – every Canadian child has read this at least once in their lifetime)
Le même court métrage, mais en français cette fois-ci!
The Log Driver’s Waltz (a fitting tribute to Kate McGarrigle)
I’ve also discovered some very cool new-to-me films…
A Sunday at 105 by Daniel Léger (a fascinating story of a 105-yr-old Acadian woman, filmed by her great-grandson)
I am totally hooked – I can’t stop watching!
You may already know that I have a fondness for advent calendar. I think I get it from my mom. As a child I remember her sewing together a large snowman advent calendar with pouches – inside each pouch was a felt ornament. Oh, how I loved it! She would also treat us to those store-bought advent calendars with a chocolate behind each door. Unfortunately I had to take turns opening the little doors with my little brothers.
Here’s a sampling of some advent calendars I’ve made in the past – I guess you won’t be shocked that they’re in book form!
This one is tiny, but chunky – the pockets are 2″ x 2″ and each one contains a tag. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but this book ended up taking about 8 hours to make! Between folding of the pockets, punching holes in each one, binding 24 signatures, gluing the pockets, then gluing the embellishments on each pocket…by the end of it, I was SO DONE.
This is a larger one – I made one for my mom last year (actually, today is her birthday – Happy Birthday, Mom!) and in each pocket I included a tag with “Merry Christmas” in a different language.
Do you have a great advent calendar you’d like to share? Please do!
I stayed home all weekend nursing a nasty cold, which meant I had lots of time on my hands. Perhaps too much.
As a result, I watched all 9 episodes of glee. Within 24 hours. Oh, but what joy! [Will I burn in hell if I admit that Sue Sylvester is my favourite character? The gems that come out of her mouth are shocking - but so, so hilarious!] For days, all I’ve wanted to do is sing and dance to Journey and REO Speedwagon… is that wrong?
Being sick also allowed me to make these beauties (while watching the aforementioned tv program):
Chunky books made from beer coasters! Can I tell you just how much I love these books?!!
I also spent time playing at Rollip (a fantastic site recommended by the lovely Shanley). It allows you to transform your digital photos into Polaroids – how freaking cool is that? For example:
BEFORE: Me and my *imaginary* boyfriend Jim Cuddy at the Jackson-Triggs Winery this summer (notice what he’s holding in his hand – one of my LP journals!).
This weekend I also discovered an amazing online magazine: Modern Handmade Child
If you’re into living simply, handmade gifts, crafting, and stunning photography and design, this magazine is for you. The Winter issue is chock-full of ideas and projects to try – and they’re not all centered around kids, as the title would imply. I am childless and have found so many items that appeal to my crafty, inner child…
Hope you’re enjoying your week so far – happy Monday!
Last night I had the most amazing opportunity to see The Canadian Songbook: A Tribute to Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall, as part of the Luminato Festival. It was a recreation of Young’s 1971 concert by an impressive roster of talent, including Colin James, Holly Cole, Jason Collett, Cowboy Junkies, Issa [formerly Jane Siberry], Stevie Jackson [of Belle & Sebastian fame), Colin Linden, Steven Page [of Barenaked Ladies fame], Carole Pope, Sarah Slean, and many others…
Interspersed between songs were stories about Neil Young, his life, the recording of the famed 1971 concert, and so much more. What impressed me the most, I think, was that by the ripe old age of 24, he had already written such gems as Old Man, Heart of Gold, Ohio, and The Needle and the Damage Done. Makes everyone else look like a slacker. Hmph.
It was a fabulous night with fabulous entertainment. Well worth the price, even though my seat was partially obstructed by enormous speakers! I’m simply grateful for having gotten tickets in the first place…
If you weren’t able to enjoy this concert in person, it will be broadcast on CBC Radio 2 on June 29 & July 6. Check it out!
More Greece updates to come later, but for now:
A crappy photo of my latest project – an LP journal made for a friend who is graduating from law school (did I mention she’s really, really smart?). I didn’t want to give her a standard, lawyer-ly graduation gift (briefcase, pen, etc.), and when she mentioned that she used to carry around a HAIR album from apartment to apartment until she finally got rid of it (before she met me), bells went off in my head. Voilà!
I normally make an effort to take better photos of my work, but it’s late and I don’t have access to natural sunlight at this moment. Meh.
This past weekend I went to see Little Ashes (with above-mentioned friend) – I’d never hear of it, but quite enjoyed it. It’s the story of Salvator Dalì and Federico Garcìa Lorca‘s friendship and eventual love affair. Dalì is played by Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame. This role was certainly risky for a teen idol (there is almost-full-frontal nudity as well as several homo-erotic scenes), but I do have to commend Pattinson for taking a chance and going out on a limb. Good job!
I’ve made a mental note to explore the works of Dalì and Lorca in greater detail – I really don’t know much about either of them and am now quite curious…
Oh dear…as if I needed another project to add to my already too long to-do list…sigh.
I have tons of album covers laying around the apartment, since I mostly only use the vinyl records to make my LP journals.
I just came across this brilliant project – I wish I’d thought of this first!
Found at Paper and Stitch