Strange Journals

Ramblings on Bookbinding, Photography, Journaling and Art

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.

Two New Pocket Journals

Here are a couple of small pocket journal that were fabricated using the blanks I cut up a could of weeks ago.

Look Into the Eyeball: Fiddleback Maple, 200 gm Fabriano Artistico, Leather, 4-Ply Irish Linen, Ice Resin. 2 1/4″ X 3 1/4″.


The Book of Three Skulls. Walnut, Polymer Clay, 200gm Fabriano Artistico, 4 Ply Irish Linen, Brass, Milk Paint. 1 3/4″ x 2 3/4″


Book covers anyone?

This morning I fired up the table saw and took out my hostility on some bits and pieces of wood I had laying around. I trimmed them down into blanks that I’ll be using as the covers for some books. There is some Birds Eye maple, Walnut, Shedua, Purple Heart and some Mesquite which is left over from a tree that fell over in my yard a while back. That’s a quarter over there on the right side of the image so you can get an idea of how small some of these books will be.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about altars and reliquarys so at the moment, the chances are pretty high that at least a few of these potential books will be part of a larger sculptural piece. Stay tuned to see what happens.

Spanning an Image Across the Spines

A few years ago, I made a set of 12 editions and a slipcase as a show piece. Essentially, when I was teaching a class somewhere, it would be put out it with a few other samples of my work as an example of what you could expect from my class.


Most people who see this thing really like it and periodically, I do bind editions for a variety of reasons. The covers for this set were made with a decorative paper but I was more interested in doing something with graphics. The books you see below are the same ones I’ve made for PLAY in the past but this time I used an image of Sedona, Arizona for the cover art. I wanted more than that though, I wanted the same image to span the spine so you could see the entire image across the set. I wanted these to be a piece of art on the shelf so that when they were in the slipcase in the correct order the image itself was the primary focus.


To get this effect, I used Adobe Illustrator and laid out guides so I’d know where the spine was. Then, I used transform to keep shifting the image across the cover so that each edition had the correct section of the image on the spine. This was just a proof of concept to see if I could get the alignment correct. I’m planning on making a set of twenty so the image is much larger on the shelf but I’ll need to shoot a panorama to have an image wide enough to pull it off.

Book Of Korben

I recently finished a new pocket journal inspired by the science fiction classic The Fifth Element. The journal is constructed from polymer clay, the front of the journal features a sculpture of a Mangalore and the four stones. The back of the journal features an image transfer of a Mondoshawan created with liquid polymer clay. The book block is constructed from 300 gm Fabriano Artistico bound with a coptic stitch.




I’m Teaching at Art Unraveled 2014!

I’m Teaching at Art & Soul Portland 2015


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