The Importance of Artist Dates

In her book “The Artist’s Way”, Julia Cameron talks about the importance of going on artist dates once a week in order to develop your creative muscles. I’ve always believed in artist dates, but am often to busy or distracted to actually take the time to invest in them on a regular basis.

One of the best things I’ve done recently is to get a membership for the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema here in Toronto. It is one of the leading documentary cinemas in the world, and home to the Hot Docs festival every year.

Until these past few weeks, I had never really stopped to reflect on how much I enjoy watching documentary film, but since joining the Bloor Cinema I find myself wanting to see many deserving films. Since Boxing Day alone, I’ve seen three amazing films:

2014 Cannes Lion’s Awards – The World’s Best Commercials. If you ever have a chance to see these awards at your local movie theatre, I highly recommend it. I’ve seen the Cannes Lion’s Awards several years now, and they never disappoint. It’s always fascinating to see the sheer genius and creativity behind many of these commercials, especially the foreign ones.

National Gallery. Although a bit long at three hours, this was a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the famous London gallery. Here is the trailer:

And today, I went to see Hermitage Revealed. Shorter than the National Gallery doc at a mere 1.5 hours long, it was a beautiful look at the history and the art inside this St. Petersburg gallery. It was especially interesting to me because I had recently read a few historical fiction books about Catherine the Great, who built up her collection to an incredible (and slightly insane) level. Here is the trailer to the film:

Seeing these films has without a doubt been inspiring for me artistically and creatively. What do you do to stay creative? Do you go on artist dates?

The Leslieville Flea

Leslieville Flea Winter/Spring Schedule

I’m super excited to be a first-time vendor at the Leslieville Flea next Sunday, January 18. I’ve visited the Flea several times during the summer, and it always has lots to see and do. During the winter months, the Flea takes place in Toronto’s beautiful Distillery District, inside the Fermenting Cellar. I’ve been busy these past few weeks making lots of new items, since there really wasn’t much stock left over after the holiday fairs.

In early December, I met Lynn from Lynn’s Lids at the Crafternoon Tea event, where we were neighbours. Lynn will also be a vendor at the Leslieville Flea and has very kindly offered to profile me on her blog – check our her blog post! Thank you, Lynn!

Quick Recap of 2014

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe we’re already 10 days into the new year – sheesh, where does the time go? I have to say 2014 was a pretty amazing year for me (though you’d never know it from the number of blog posts!).

A few highlights include:

    > Working at a pesky day job that I love, with colleagues that I truly enjoy being around
    > Travelling to Portland, Oregon to attend the World Domination Summit
    > Meeting AJ Jacobs and becoming involved with his Global Family Reunion project
    > Travelling to Italy with three of my closest friends – three out of four of us celebrated our 40th birthdays in 2014, so we figured we would do it in style (and with lots of wine!)
Meeting AJ Jacobs in Portland, OR

Meeting AJ Jacobs in Portland, OR

WDS 2014

WDS 2014

Il Duomo, Florence Italy

Il Duomo, Florence Italy

Me and my friend David

Me and my friend David

Beautiful Venice, Italy

Beautiful Venice, Italy

I’ve slowly been working on figuring out my goals (personal and professional) for 2015. What are your plans for this year?

New Year’s Shop Update

It’s been a busy few months, between starting a new job, hosting family at my home, and making and selling for the holidays. But after a few restful weeks filled with naps and tea and reading, I’m finally back into the swing of making new items. I’ve even managed to update my Etsy shop, which had gone neglected for much too long. Have a gander at some of the new items in the shop:

Paul McCartney LP Notebook

Paul McCartney LP Notebook

Hall & Oates LP Notebook

Hall & Oates LP Notebook

Siouxsie and the Banshees LP Notebook

Siouxsie and the Banshees LP Notebook

Depeche Mode LP Notebook

Depeche Mode LP Notebook

U2 LP Notebook

U2 LP Notebook

Peter Gabriel LP Notebook

Peter Gabriel LP Notebook

And my personal favourite…

Duran Duran LP Notebook

Duran Duran LP Notebook

This Week in Review

Reading… Just finished reading The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs. The author recounts his quest to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica (all 14 million words of it). If you’re a trivia buff (like me) and enjoy quirky humour, this book is a must-read. I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that I look forward to reading A.J.’s other books.

Listening to… This playlist featuring covers (in every imaginable language) of Jacques Brel’s classic song, Ne Me Quitte Pas. I can’t get enough of it. This cover by Nina Simone is one of my favourites:

Watching… Old episodes of Fantasy Island on Netflix. I vaguely remember watching this show as a kid, but I couldn’t remember the premise of the show. Now that I’ve watched a few episodes, I can’t get over how creepy and badly made this series was, yet I can’t stop watching – it’s mesmerizing!

Discovering… Kid Koala all over again, after seeing his show last night as part of the Luminato Festival. I saw Kid Koala’s Space Cadet Headphone Experience a year ago, and it was magical. Although I’m not really into DJs/scratching/electronica, I truly enjoy attending his shows. He is fascinating to watch in action – his hands never stop moving, not for a moment. And he’s such an amazingly sweet, down-to-earth guy. Here’s his remix of the classic song Moon River:

Learning… To live with a neurotic cat. Lulu came into my life approximately two months ago, and although we’ve made a huge amount of progress, she still has her quirks. Lots of them. Thankfully she’s pretty adorable.

Miss Lulu (the adorable but slightly neurotic cat)

Miss Lulu (the adorable but slightly neurotic cat)

Loving… Making books, including a few new types of journals created from upcycled children’s books. I feel like I’ve got my mojo back – now the challenge is to keep it going through the summer months…

Hating… All the rain we’ve had this spring. I hope summer is on the cool side, but sunnier than the past several months.

Feeling… The need for some R&R. Haven’t taken a significant amount of time off in about a year. I’ll be on vacation in less than a month and look forward to a week-long master bookbinding class, time with my parents and family, and lots of catching up with close friends!

Wishing… I could get rid of the clutter in my apartment once and for all. I’ve made progress over the past few months, but I feel like there’s still a long way to go… I’ve got to be patient, but resilient.

What have you been up to this week?

Springtime Activities

How I felt on this beautiful spring day! (Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

How I felt on this beautiful spring day!
(Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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:

Accordion Travel Journal

Accordion Travel Journal

Accordion Travel Journal - Inserts and Envelopes

Accordion Travel Journal – Inserts and Envelopes

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:

Art Journal - Prepped Pages

Art Journal – Prepped Pages

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.

Coptic Binding Workshop

Have you always wanted to learn to make your own notebooks and journals? Well, spring is a great time to learn a practical new skill, just in time for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day!

I’ll be teaching this workshop at Wise Daughters Craft Market in Toronto on May 4. You can find more details and register here.

I love making books using this medieval-era binding method – not only is the binding very decorative, but the finished book lays completely flat – making it great for sketching and writing (especially for lefties like me). This format is also very easy to customize, depending on the materials used. Here’s another example of a Coptic-bound book that I recently created for myself – the covers are made from small canvas boards that I painted and on which I collaged printouts of the guys from Flight of the Conchords, and the inside pages are made from a variety of different papers and envelopes. I love love love how it turned out, and use it as an inspiring art journal:

FOTC Coptic Journal

FOTC Coptic Journal

I’m also booked to teach another workshop on June 6 at Wise Daughters, but haven’t picked a project yet. If you have ideas or suggestions for a bookbinding project you’d like to see, please leave a comment or send me an email at papermusedesigns [at] gmail [dot] com!