Strange Journals

Ramblings on Bookbinding, Photography, Journaling and Art

Art Unraveled Teaser

I’ve been working on a few projects that fit into the “as time permits” category this week and one of them is the piece in the photograph below. I’ve chosen to show it in its current state and from the back no less as an Art Unraveled teaser. One of the premier activities at Art Unraveled is a live auction; the purpose of the auction is to create a pool of funding that provides scholarships to attend Art Unraveled during the following year. Linda, the evil mastermind behind AU asks instructors to donate pieces to be featured in the auction and frankly most of my stuff is away in shows and galleries so I’ve decided to make a new piece to be auctioned off at AU. This piece is on its way to being a shrine and I’m not willing to say more about it at this point. I will show a completed photo of it sometime in the next two to three weeks once it’s done so stay tuned’ I’m hoping people will like it.


Art Unraveled Auction Teaser

Art Unraveled is Just Around The Corner

As a reminder, I’ll be teaching three workshops at Art Unraveled this year. This is the first time I’ve taught at this event so I’ve created a video introduction that talks a little bit about my work and the workshops I’ll be teaching.

Defaced and Repaired

As I was paint this mural, I knew in the back of my mind that it was going to be tagged at some point. There has been a lot of tagging activity in the Coronado area lately and I was fairly sure that the taggers would see the murals being painted in the Oak Street Alley as stealing their thunder. I got the call on Monday that it happened and frankly, I surprised it took a whole month. They tagged my robots and murals by Carlos Rivas, Yai and a couple of others. I had some free time this morning so I took a trip downtown and repaired the damage. It took a couple of hours but it’s back to the pre-tagged sate. Let’s see how long it lasts.





I’ll be Teaching at Art and Soul 2015

I was unexpectedly contacted by the folks responsible for the Art and Soul Mixed Media Retreats about a month ago. I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted their invitation and I’ll be teaching at the Portland event in 2015. I’ve designed three new classes for the event and I hope that they’ll appeal to a large cross section of people who are interested in creating their own personalized art journals. I’m going to be focusing on wood books during this retreat because I think the fit into the ethos of the Pacific Northwest.

I’m calling the first book the Wood Spellbook and it features the all seeing eye of art in the center of the front cover. It features a book block sewn to a leather spine and covers fabricated for red oak and aged with some painting techniques. This will be a little larger than I usually teach, 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″but I think the size makes the design work and I’ll be teaching students how to paint the medallion the encircles the eye.

Book of Spells

The Book of Spells

Book two is a little smaller, 4″ x 6″ and I’m calling it the Shrine book. The students will be working with Walnut and carving out a recess that you can build a tiny shrine in. The recess will have room for small photos, milagros, charms or other objects that hold magic or memories for the students. I’m really not satisfied with the size f the shrine on the sample I created so look for an updated picture in the next week or two, I’ll probably enlarge the shrine. We’ll finish up by using some easy painting techniques to add a nice patina to the covers.

The Shrine Book

The Shrine Book


The third class I’ve named Mr. Chunky and I’ve included it because I’m constantly asked about teaching a Coptic stitch. The thing about the coptic stitch, at least in my view is that because it’s an exposed spine sewing it’s meant to be “featured” as an integral part of the book. To that end, I’ve made Mr. Chunky thick, twelve signatures worth. That translated to a book block about two inches thick and it allows the sewing to be a dominant part of the project. I’ll be teaching a locking coptic stitch which creates a nice visual element and adds some sturdiness as well.

Mr. Chunky

Mr. Chunky

If you’re interested in seeing more photographs of the projects, check them out on the Workshops page.

Art Detour: Paint Phoenix

This past week end the 26th annual Art Detour event was held in Phoenix, AZ. Art Detour provides broader exposure of artists by giving them a variety of ways to interact with the public. More than 100 spaces, including working artist studios, unique art spaces, galleries, cultural venues, restaurants and retailers opened their doors and make the two-day, arts scene event a must do.

“Detour-ists” were invited to visit artists’ private working studios not typically open for viewing, explore Pop-Up Gallery exhibits exclusively planned for Art Detour, and to discover the colorful mural scene on walls, buildings and fences throughout downtown. While you could see existing murals during the event you could also watch artists create new works as part of Paint Phoenix as dull walls were painted with new murals. Here are a few shots from walls located in the vicinity of the Hive Gallery at 2222 N 16th Street.

PaintPHX 1

Yatika Feildson

PaintPHX 2


PaintPHX 3

Jeff Slim

PaintPHX 4

Edgar Fernandez

New Books

I went on a bookbinding binge the past few days. I finished up a few books I had started and set aside and bound several new books as well. In all, I completed about ten in the span of three or four days. I’ve been focusing on wood books lately because I acquired some more figured walnut and the chaotic pattern of the grain is very compelling. Here are a few examples of what I’ve been working on.

ForLisa 2013 3

I created this for fellow artist Lisa Cheney. Figured Walnut, Milk paint, Twine, Fabriano Artistico, Irish Linen Thread.

AlderRosewood 1

Alder, Rosewood, Fabriano Artistico, Leather, Stone beads, Irish Linen Thread.

MapleBurl 2

Maple Burl, Canson Edition, Irish Linen Thread, Leather.

(pre)Occupation Opening

(pre)Occupation, a collaborative show curated by Jo Novelli-Blasko opened at the Hive Gallery in downtown Phoenix last night. Jo asked to be part of the show some time ago and I had decide early on that I wanted to create something in addition to hand bound books. A good deal of the work I’ve been doing with polymer clay lately has been more sculptural in nature and while I really haven’t shown any of it, I thought it might be the way to go. Give the underpinnings of the show however, I didn’t want to create anything elaborate, or serious. A few months ago, I had a funny dream about penguins spilling out of my journal so I created a waddle of penguins for the show. The installation is titled “Levocetirizine”  and it was fairly well received. Here’s a shot of the installation, the penguins, eggs and rocks were created from polymer clay, and the snow is corn starch.


In addition to the penguins I bound five new books with wood covers for the show. From the nine o’clock position moving clockwise they’re titled “A Crack in Time,” “Reclaimed,” “Banded,” “Untitled,” and “The Turquoise Twins.”  (pre)Occupation runs through Sunday, February 16th at the Hive Gallery in Phoenix. If you can’t make it to the Hive, I’ll be putting up some better pictures of these books soon; once the exhibit closes I’ll be putting most of them up for sale.


I’m (pre)Occupied

Preoccupation is the act what you’re doing when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Phoenix-based artist and writer Jo Novelli-Blasko has been preoccupied with preoccupation over the past several months she writes:

I thought my primary interest in (pre)Occupation was the phenomenological experience of being preoccupied. Personally, I wanted to understand why nearly every endeavor I took up seemed to preoccupy me and yet I could still be entirely focused on the matter at hand. Philosophically, I wondered about a word that pointed so emphatically in the direction of time, but had no afterward, or after-word. There is not a (post)Occupation of thought, right? This seemed a rich opportunity to get lost in thought and I took it, bumping into all sorts of questions…


To more closely examine preoccupation, Novelli-Blasko is curating and exhibit at the Hive Gallery in downtown Phoenix. She’s asked me to be a part of the show and I’ll be exhibiting several hand bound books, some small sculptures and I’ll be teaching a book making class. You can check out details about the class on my Classes page. The exhibit features several other artists and opens on January 17th from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. If you’d like more information, you can find it at the (pre)occupation website Join us.

Art Unraveled 2014

Art Unraveled is an annual retreat held every summer at the Embassy Suites in Phoenix, Arizona. The retreat features something for everyone – book making, painting, mixed-media jewlery making metal work, journaling fiber arts sculpting, assemblage and more. This year, I’ll be joining an amazing group of instructors like Traci Bautista, Michael deMeng and The Journal Fodder Junkies when I teach at Art Unraveled. I’ll be teaching three book making classes; an inlaid wood book, an oak book that’s been painted and distressed and a polymer clay book. You can preview the classes and see the completed books on my classes page.

InlaidWoodBook-1   WornByTime-1  AUPolymerSample-1

If you’re going to be joining us at Art Unraveled and what to sign-up for my classes, you can do so at the Art Unraveled website.

Gelli Printing Class

Yesterday I taught a Gelli Print class at the Occasional Artist in Glendale. AZ.  The Gelli plate has turned out to be an invaluable tool for quickly and efficiently creating monoprints. While I do make mono prints for display, I’ve been using the bulk of what’s created with my Gelli plate as a base for other artwork. As an example, I recently began construction of a new journal and I’m printing on several pages with the Gelli plate before they are bound into the journal.

The goal of the class I taught was to introduce students to the Gelli plate, explore some techniques of getting great prints and in general just to play and discover. At the end of the class, each students used a print or two to create their own personalized cahier. Here’s a shot of one students’s results.

Gelli Print Cahiers

Art Unraveled


21 Secrets


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