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.

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