Strange Journals

Ramblings on Bookbinding, Photography, Journaling and Art

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

Upcoming Class: The Sculptural Journal


I’ll be teaching a class on creating a polymer clay art journal at Jerry’s Artarama in Tempe on Saturday, September 14th from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM and Saturday, October 12th from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM. In this class you will be creating a unique one of a kind 3” X 5” art journal using Polyform Super Sculpy. You’ll learn how to properly condition the clay for use, utilize simple objects to create surface textures and then create micro-sculptures or use mold made elements to provide the main elements for your journal. You’ll finish the covers of your journal by adding character and a patina of age by painting them with Matisse Acrylics and create a book block for your journal by sewing it to a leather spine, and then attaching the covers.

The class is $65.00 and includes all supplies except for two sheets of Fabriano Artistio paper which students will be required bring/purchase. You can find more information by clicking here.

A Visual Journey

Last week a friend of my talked me into talking a class with her at Art Unraveled an annual art happening that thames place here in Phoenix each year. I agreed because the instructor was a friend whose work I admire and envy, Lisa Cheney. Lisa chronicles many things in her journals including her dreams and I could happily sit there and page through her dream journals for hours on end. The detail is amazing and the intricate detail creates a sense of intimacy that just pulls you in.

THis class wasn’t about her dream journals but about chronicling your travel experiences. She discussed her process for journaling while traveling but I found most of the value of the class in the different techniques she used to build layers of color in her images. As part of the class we went outside to draw some scenery. Lisa likes to break her spreads up into a major image and a couple of minor supporting images and that was part of what we were trying to do when we moved outside. I drew a couple of scenes, nothing special, what you would expect on the patio of an Embassy Suites.

I had actual met Lisa for the first time about two years ago and in January of 2012 we were talking about a dream she had and wanted to journal about. She asked me to photographer in a specific pose so that she could use the photo to draw from and I happily agreed. You can see that journal page on her blog, “A Visual Journey,” It’s the image with her hands on her face. I decided to incorporate that image into one of my journal pages and I decided to give her the Renaissance treatment, gold leaf halo and all, here’s a scan, enjoy.


The Octopus Journal

Generally, when I make a book from polymer clay, I use translucent clay or Super Sculpy. Once the journal is done, it’s painted with acrylic paint and over the life of the journal the paint wears away on the high spots revealing the clay underneath. On most journals, the result is a nice worn look, it almost creates a patina. Lately though, I’ve been experimenting with using colored clay to create sculptural journals and here’s a couple of shots at my first attempt The Octopus Journal it was created using Red Pearl clay over a base of Pearl clay. As I worked with the clay and the layer of Red Pearl became thinner and thinner, the sculpture began to take on a luminescent quality. Comments are welcome.


Upcoming Class: The Inlaid Journal

The Inlaid Journal


I’ll be teaching the Inlaid Journal on August 10th at the Occasional Artist in Glendale, AZ. We’ll be making a 3″ X 5″ red oak book with walnut or cherry inlays, a book block sewn onto a leather spine and a brass closure. I’ll be teaching how to enhance the wood grain with Milk Paint, create the inlay, and sew the book block onto a leather spine. The kit provided by the instructor will include the wood covers, plugs for creating the inlay, the leather and the brass closure. Extra kits can be purchased from the instructor for $8.00. The class is $50.00 and  runs from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. You can reserve a spot by calling the Occasional Artist at (623) 847-2215.

I’m Teaching at Art & Soul Portland 2015


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