North Redwoods Book Arts Guild

If you are interested in more info or joining, please email to

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gelatin Plate Printmaking Workshop

Note measurement change below, in red.

Michele O. will be teaching a Gelatin Plate Printmaking workshop for our January 2010 meeting. This is a process that requires no press and uses quick-drying water-based inks. We will use plates made from gelatin and explore design, color, texture, value, and imagery using stencils, direct painting on the gelatin, and transfer techniques. The finished product is considered a monoprint, but it is possible to print a second or even third image. Small gelatin plates will be provided (2.5 by 3.5 inches), but participants are strongly encouraged to make their own larger plate to bring to the workshop. 

Bring the following (two people can share items 1 and 2):
1. At least one tube of Speedball block printing ink, water soluble, in whatever color you would like to use. These can be purchased individually at The Art Center (Eureka/Arcata) or Ellis Engineering Eureka and NORBAG members get a 10% discount).

2. Brayer: soft black rubber sponge roller or soft beige rubber roller (Ellis Engineering, The Art Center, Michaels). No hard black rubber rollers or inexpensive sponge rollers.

3. Surface for rolling ink:  glass plate, small cookie sheet, small plastic chopping mat or plastic placemat.   
4. Surface on which to place gelatin mold: piece of glass, cookie sheet, plastic chopping mat or plastic placemat.  

5. Clean rags or paper towels

6. Spray bottle (for water).

7. Assortment of paper pre-cut of 4 x 5": drawing paper, printmaking paper, old phonebook or book pages, coffee filters…whatever you want to try printing on. Be generous—we’ll probably be making quite a few prints. For those bringing your own gelatin plate from home, which we strongly encourage you to do—you’ll get more out of the workshop that way—you should also bring an assortment of some bigger papers, slightly larger than your plate .

You’ll need these supplies for the accordion sample book:

1. One 5.5 x 22" sheet heavy-weight paper, grain short for accordion book.

2. glue stick
3. bonefolder. 

You are encouraged to 
bring any of the following:
1. Cheesecloth, string, leaves, flowers, feathers, bubble wrap, lace, paper doily, fun foam, and anything else that can withstand getting paint and gelatin on it for purposes of creating images on the printing plates.

2. Small, soft paintbrush suitable for water based paints.

3. Metal or plastic palette knife

You’re also encouraged to make and bring your own gelatin plate. This is easier than you might think. It shouldn’t require too much kitchen prep time. The longest part of the process is spent waiting for the gelatin to solidify. You should do this the night before in order to allow enough time for it to set up properly.

Making a Gelatin Plate:
1. Use a glass or metal pan with a smooth bottom. A Pyrex pan 7 x 5" inches is a good size. You don’t want this to be too large.

2. Place the pan on a level surface and fill with cold water to the depth of ¾ to 1 inch. Pour the water into a measuring cup to determine the amount of water to be used.

3. Determine the amount of gelatin. For each cup of water you measured you will need 2 envelopes of Knox gelatin or 2 TBS of quality bulk gelatin.

4. Pour half the water into the pan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let the gelatin granules swell until the mix looks like applesauce. Gently stir.

5. Boil the rest of the water and add to the gelatin applesauce. Stir gently until the gelatin is dissolved.

6. Gently drag a paper towel or piece of paper across the top of the gelatin to remove bubbles.

7. Leave the gelatin pan on the table until it begins to set. Then move it to the refrigerator, where it should stay until it is solid.

8. Cover and bring to class!

Michele also has a post about making these gelatin plate monoprints, with links to additional resources, at her blog.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Annual Holiday Card Exchange

North Coast Book Arts Guild
Annual Holiday Card Exchange
Handmade Card by Andrea Penn,

This event is a favorite with our book artists. Members sign up to make cards and then make enough cards for everyone who signed up. It is the only exchange where we meet at someone's home and have food! It's a very joyful occasion where we get to appreciate the creativity of a large number of members from all over the United States as well as some of our international members. So, for those who attended this exchange and for those who could not, the following photos may help you enjoy some of the activities.

After collecting one of each set of cards members relaxed in Sandy's living room with its beautiful holiday decorations and listened as each colophon was read. If you have never participated in an exchange this is really one you should consider. 

Two of our members drove all the way from Sacramento with their sets of cards. 
You might notice that no one is eating yet. Food plays second fiddle to books. However, offerings of food were almost as exciting as the cards.

Many of us will never forget this exchange because we were missing a set of cards from a member in Portland. She mailed them FedEx but they had not arrived the morning of the exchange.  When we found out that they had finally arrived and were going to be delivered by a member's husband, the results were an exciting end to this year's exchange.

Thank you Jerome!

And here they are, over thirty handmade casebound books.

For photos and colophons of all of the exchange cards, visit our website!
Happy Holidays to you all!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Our December Meeting

It's time again for our winter gathering. We will not be having a meeting/workshop in our usual space. We'll be meeting at Sandy V.'s house Saturday December 12 at noon. Everyone is invited. It is a finger food potluck, so, if you are able to, please bring a dish to share (dessert, chips, cheese and that sort of thing). Some of our out-of-town members are even planning on joining us! We look forward to meeting you.

This is also when we have our winter card exchange. Thirty people signed up by deadline, and the variety of cards to see is sure to be impressive. It’s always great to be inspired by what our members are doing.

This is our one meeting of the year that is held in a private home and does not involve a workshop. It’s our time to relax, talk shop about books and enjoy the fellowship and card-making creativity of our fellow artisans and book lovers. It will help fortify you for the holidays. We hope you can join us.

Directions to Sandy's house are in the newsletter on page 2, or you can contact Michele O., our helpful president, if you need clarification.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Laura Wait Workshop

Sandy Vrem and Michele Olsen participated in a workshop featuring Laura Wait and sponsored by the San Diego Book Arts guild. The workshop seemed like a good excuse for Sandy to drive down from Arcata and Michele to fly out from Nebraska so that we could combine pleasure (the workshop) with joy (we have children living in San Diego) and play (roller coaster and carousel at Belmont Park). Friday evening we attended Laura Wait’s lecture, “Playing it by Ear” at the beautiful Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla. The library was founded by six women in 1894 and started its artists’ books collection in 1991. Books are displayed on shelves and in display cases throughout the rooms in their charming facility. With wine and cheese in hand we enjoyed Laura's slideshow of her beautiful books shown on a scale big enough that we could appreciate the detail. Laura’s work is featured in 500 Handmade Books; her book is on the cover with additional books inside.

The first day of the workshop was devoted to painting papers to be used for book pages. Laura used wheat paste with glycerin (for flexibility), green soap (discourage bugs), and acrylic paints. The use of brushes, rollers, sticks, and sponges, resulted in spontaneous creations. The first layers of paint were left to dry while we started work on tools to create more complex layers.

The beauty of Laura’s work lies in her use of multiple layers of paint to create complex and rich visual images. We worked with stencils cut from Mylar, stamps cut from erasers, and my personal favorite, stamps created out of Fun Foam.  Any of these tools could be used to create positive and/or negative images.  Ideally work on the images would take place over a number of days.

We spent time exploring the use of writing as an additional layer.  The writing can be legible or not, small or big.  Here Laura is writing in ink using a chopstick.  She may repeat words over and over writing them close together or stacked.  She also writes in fresh paint with a stick revealing colors of paints that are underneath.

The second day we used the painted pages to create a drum leaf book.  This type of binding was developed by Tim Ely in order to better display artwork.  You can see a description of it from the e-journal Bonefolder, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2004. I found this article very hard to follow.  You might try the instructions by Dorothy Simpson Krause in Book + Art, Handcrafting Artists’ Books. Sandy is gluing one page to the back of another page in her book;  you can also see some of her really wonderful artwork.

At the end of the workshop the twelve participants had created these beautiful books.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November's Meeting: Another Swap, Sale and Share Event!

We apologize for getting the workshop info posted so late this month. Most months we plan to have it up  much sooner.

That said, November's workshop won't be a workshop. Instead, we'll be having a pre-holiday sale, swap and share event. Think of this as an eccentric and fun book arts swap meet. We'll also be having a tips and ideas exchange. Do you have a tool you love? A method of doing something that you don't think many others know about? Please come share it with us.

Are your piles of unused supplies getting to be a bit much? Do you have extras you'd like to sell? How about craft books and magazines? Bring 'em! Get some cash to restock with more supplies. Or offer them in trade...the choice is yours to make. Also keep in mind that the winter holiday season is only a month away. Have you made any little gift items that you think your fellow bookmakers might want to buy?

The usual place on the HSU campus (details are in the newsletter)

Usual time: 12 noon, Sat. Nov. 14th


What to bring?
Supplies, stuff to destash, stuff to sell, stuff to give away...also please consider bringing a favorite tool or material to share in our tips exchange.

Or just come to browse and enjoy the company.

Further information can be found in the November newsletter.

Friday, November 6, 2009

NCWA: Hard Copy, Book as Sculpture

Written by Bonnie Julien, edited by Michele Olsen

National Museum of Women in the Arts

One lovely Mother's Day a couple of years ago my daughter gave me a copy of The Book as Art: Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. (Note:  part of the NORBAG library) This book has almost 200 pages of photographs of fabulous books by many of the premier women book artists in the world AND these books are among the more than 800 in the permanent collection of the museum.  I knew that I had to visit this place. The opportunity finally came when we spent a week in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area with our friends from Germany. The exhibit we were able to see, Hard Copy: Book as Sculpture, runs through January 17, 2010. Unfortunately, it was a small exhibit of only 15 books while the hundreds of other artist books were not on display.

The museum, located at 1250 New York Avenue, is just a few blocks from the White House. Although the book exhibit was well done, we were disappointed that most of the 15 books displayed were included in my book, mentioned above. When we asked about the permanent collection we were directed to the 4th floor, which turned out to be completely devoid of human life. We did find the library, discovering several display cases of artist books.  Happily we poured over the displays later discovering that the library was open by appointment only. I have no idea where the museum/library staff was that day, but apparently we were very lucky to have been able to see these additional books. It was definitely worth a visit to this museum. If a trip to Washington D.C. isn't in your immediate future, I recommend that you purchase or borrow The Book as Art and also check out:
1)  The museum website: 
2)  Images of the books are available using the link below. Look under "Press Kit" and click on "Illustrated checklist (pdf)" and/or "Press Image Gallery".

Note from Michele:  It was a real treat to see these books as most of the artists were unknown to me. If any of you know of other internet sites featuring these artists, please leave as a comment. Thank you Bonnie!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paper Folding Film in Eureka

A member alerted us that the Humboldt Arts Council on F Street in Eureka is having a free screening of Between the Folds by Vanessa Gould on Thursday, Nov 5 from 6–7:30 PM. It “chonicles the stories of 10 fine artists and intrepid theoretical scientists who have abandoned careers and scoffed at hard-earned graduate degrees—all to forge unconventional lives as modern-day paperfolders." 

If you can’t make it, we've been told that PBS will also be broadcasting this on TV later in the year. We’ll let you know when we get more info on when it will be shown.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Julie Chen on PBS

We had the wonderful opportunity last March of having Julie Chen come to present a workshop. Julie was just featured on the PBS show Craft in America. If you missed it, you can view it online. You can skip directly to Julie's segment by clicking on the last button to the right below the video.

There's a local angle to keep in mind. Julie was working on her newest edition, a book with a mathematics theme, when she came to visit us. The NORBAG member and her husband who gave her a place to stay are, coincidentally, both mathematicians. Julie was a bit surprised, apparently, to discover that she could discuss mathematical equations with her hosts. This is one of the books shown in the video.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cross Strap Expandable Journal Workshop

Our next workshop, on Saturday Oct 10, will be taught by Dolores Guffey. 
If you want to come, you 
will need to RSVP by Oct 5 
(details below).

In January we made a four strap cross structure binding. This month we'll be doing a similar structure sewn on two straps. The extra neat thing with this one is that it is expandable. After making the journal you can add signatures, eliminate signatures, and even change the order of the signatures. The signatures aren't sewn to each other, but are individually sewn onto the straps. This allows the front and back covers to slip apart for modification.

What you'll need to bring:

16 sheets of 8½ x 11" text weight paper
Please have your paper cut and folded ahead of time as follows: Cut each sheet in half to 8½ x 5½". This will give you 32 pieces of paper. Gather 4 pieces together and fold in half (4¼ x 5½") to form a signature. Your text block will consist of 8 signatures of 4 pages each.

Plus supplies:
Metal ruler
Craft knife and cutting mat
Pencil and eraser
Glue stick
Double-sided tape
Piercing cradle (extras will be on hand if you don't have one)
Bone folder
Needle (with eye large enough for crewel thread)

The following materials will be provided for a $1.00 materials fee:
Covers, thread, and brads

We will be in our usual location at the usual time. Further info is in the newsletter that you received, or you can contact us for details. Please, you must RSVP Dolores by Monday, October 5 so that she has time to prepare enough materials for all participants. Her contact information is on page 2 of any newsletter from the Guild, and is also in the membership directory.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Paste Paper Workshop

photos and article by Sandy V.

Our creative juices were flowing thanks to the Paste Paper workshop put on by Jackie Wygant this past weekend.  There were two workshops put on in my garage with twelve or so participants in each session.  We were taught several techniques for working with paste papers and found ourselves experimenting with luscious colors and a multitude of tools.  Jackie shared recipes for making the paste and techniques for adding color to the paste.  She suggested papers and had many samples for us to try including papers with texture and color.  The techniques involved brushing, combing, stamping, splattering, resists and all possible combinations of these.  The results were gorgeous and every participant went home with many, many papers that are ready for book making projects.  Jackie is a very talented artist who helped us play and create.  She is a great teacher and a joy to have as a house guest.  She left this morning, my garage is cleaned up and I am going to have a cup of coffee and admire my own creations!  It was a productive weekend with many good friends and talented women.        

To see more photos, click this link:

Additional photos by Dolores G:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Arts Alive 2009

Welcome to
North Redwoods Book Arts Guild

Arts Alive is a monthly event in Eureka, California. This September, Eureka Books hosted the second annual NORBAG exhibit and sale of handmade books.  The weather was perfect (high 60's) and the event coincided with Blues by the Bay. The turnout was fabulous with people in the streets listening to music well past 9:00 pm. The books displayed represented guild members from Humboldt County as well as other locations in the US, England and Thailand.  
The event served to expand the definition of "book" for most of those attending and it was great fun for artists to watch people admiring their books.  

To see photos of the event use the link below.  A web photo album will open in a new window. Click on the individual photos to see larger images or use the Slideshow button. 

Arts Alive 2009
(Photos by Bonnie, J. Rollie L. and Michele O.)