## Under the Tuscan sun…

Terry and I, with the support and help of our friend Marcie Beyatte, are making plans for a sojourn in the Tuscan countryside (25 minutes from Florence) next September. If you would like more information or to join us, Marcie has posted information on her blog site here: http://prontomarcella.com/2014/04/11/join-me-in-italy-in-september-2015-for-nature-and-art/

She includes pictures and descriptions of accommodations, activities, and excursions as well as contact information.

Very exciting!

## Prisoner of paper…

I was so taken with our day on Alcatraz, I decided to make a book…what else could I do? This is a nice, simple structure I have wanted to try. I had a sheet of Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. paper on hand so the idea stuck and I was imprisoned by it until the book was completed.

Here is the structure.

I tore 5 pieces of paper 6″ x 12″ out of a big sheet of the Fabriano paper. (I have found if you fold and crease the paper three times, back and forth, it tears quite beautifully and cleanly.)

Three inches from each side (long way) I scored and folded a flap…

On the outside I put double-stick tape and stuck the flaps back to back. (This means there was a single 3″ flap, a 6″square, and a double 3″ flap until I had a long line of the pages attached together.

So that the book closes as a 6″ square, I folded the first 3″ flap over the first 6″ square and then folded the next double flap around to the back and continued as it folded into a book shape.

I decorated a 6th piece of paper with water-color and pen. (This piece was slightly longer, 12 1/4″, since it had to wrap around the very thick Fabriano paper and even then it didn’t quite meet in the middle. Mathematically it should have, but when it is Lois, the not-quite-precise, one just has to say “oh, that is the way I wanted it” and keep going…

The inside of the cover’s left-hand flap is attached to the outside of the first flap of the inner pages and the right-hand flap inside is attached to the outside of the last page. Both outside flaps meet on the front and are connected with a closure.

I printed out the pictures I liked from our day on Alcatraz 5″ x 5″ onto presentation paper from Office Depot (it is a nice, matte, two-sided paper that is not as expensive as photo paper. The images are very clear and I use and like it a lot for printing with my inkjet printer.) Photos that were of textures I cut in half and attached to the 3″ flaps, leaving 5 of the 5″ x 5″ prints to be centered on the 6″ pages.

Oh, and a little silver-striped washi tape because I just can’t help myself…

## “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”â€”Jack Kerouac, “On the Road” (1957)

Yes it is true, we are hitting the road again. This time to Umbria and Venice. When I return I will finally use the book I made in the “Ticket to Venice” class I took many long months ago. It will hold all the ephemera I collect and photos I take. (Classes are on sale right now, hurry, before Mary Ann Moss gets back from Amsterdam!)

My journal turned out too big for a suitcase (or I am getting smarter about packing), but in the interim what will make it into my valise is this:

The cover is laminated paper I made (lots of scraps layered with gel medium) and it has a soft, flat binding.

The inside has Fabiano Artistico paper and inserts from Gelli prints I have been making. (We will be quite near the Fabiano factory!)

Some pages have stencils gessoed on them (you won’t be able to see it until I watercolor on top. I have been a virtual dervish of rubber stamp carving so there are stamps put on with StazOn ink and then water colored inside.

A pocket on the back cover holding extra watercolor squares and tracing paper.

The next few weeks will not be filled with nuages, wine labels, and Deux Chevaux. Instead they will be filled with nuvoli, wine labels, and Fiats. Two weeks near Spoleto and then a week in Venice. The really fun part is that we will be meeting old friends Chris and Darrell from Pasadena (we met more than thirty years ago when we lived one house away from each other in Redlands, CA.) The last few months, every time we have communicated we have signed off by saying, “See you in Orvieto, in front of the Duomo at 10:00.) It will be this coming Friday. Excitement! (Oh, the best thing ever…TM on this, our fifth trip, has given me the gift of Economy Plus…the BEST 5 inches ever!)

Busy packing, but here is a collage I made after our trip to Italy two years ago (that time it was Florence and Tuscany, but we hopped over the border into Umbria for a day trip so we could see Orvieto.) Think of us on Friday, standing here in front.

I will be blogging, hopefully a little easier this time as both apartments have Wifi. You will be happy to hear that I have new music selections for my movies…I know, I know…relief!

One of my favorite columnists in the San Francisco Chronicle (Leah Garchik) has a section called “Public Eavesdropping”. I leave you with this item from her column:

“Do you speak English?’

“Why yes, certainly.”

“Oh, good. I wonder, could you direct me to the Renaissance?”

â€”Conversation between two female tourists at the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence by Roberto

## Pattern…

Monday…TM off to work…just me, the dog, and the cat…hmmm…play!

Making patterns with paint and ink and pen but the thought “What would happen if I…” started creeping in and before you know it I was grabbing my iPad to snap pictures and pulling out that old Blender App to see how I could combine my patterns. Blender App has similar layering blend modes to Photoshop Elements (overlay, hard light, hue, etc.) and there you have it. New patterns that I printed out on Office Depot Presentation paper to use in collages and bookmaking. Oh, the beauty of a morning such as this.

Original painted patterns:

This plus this:

Gave me these:

This plus this:

Gave me this:

This plus this:

Gave me these:

This plus this:

Enjoying “Sewn” with Mary Ann Moss.

## Traveling pants…

Since I have been retired, (almost four years now), when we have taken a trip I have tried to keep a travel journal. The luxury of having the time to journal after the years of working was unique, but I have found that I am not that adept at journaling as the events happen and I usually do most of the work after I return home.

Our first trip a.r. (after retirement) was a road trip to Canada. After taking a Mary Ann Moss class I had my soft, fabric journal with sewn together pages and pockets. I did a wee bit of writing and including ephemera accumulated along the way but really needed to get my pictures printed at home in order to wrap that one up.

This journal has pages that are 6 x 9.

Then we went to Florence and Tuscany. The journal grew to 9 x 9 1/2 but still had the same construction. This trip I realized that even though I had many supplies with me traveling with TM meant constant walking all day. Other than falling into bed exhausted at night there was really no time for journaling and most of it was accomplished once I was home.

The next spring it was Paris and the night before as we packed our suitcases, memories of us squatting on the floor of the Florence airport, repacking our suitcases three times in order to fly home caused me to impulsively leave the journal and supplies at home. It was a giant-sized journal,Â  9 x 9,Â  and had eight signatures. After I began to work on it I realized I might have room to put our second trip to Paris in the same journal but it kept getting wider and wider, and fatter and fatter the more I added to it and eventually I decided to remove three signatures and create a new book for the second trip. (That has not happened yet.)

Then I took Mary Ann Moss’s “Ticket to Venice” class and made a most beautiful journal. I made a lot of mistakes, however, including that it is big,Â  10 1/2Â  x 10 1/2, and, thinking I was hot stuff, I grabbed some book cloth I had sitting around for ten years. Did not think it through, though. It is silk and although beautiful, any drop of errant glue discolors the fabric and it frays and the corners were a disaster. Hence silver tape from the hardware store hides the ugliness.

I did learn, however, that my absolutely favorite book tape is that which I make myself, in this case painted and stenciled canvas. Plus this may be my favorite binding stitch of all time. But the book itself sits empty except for its gorgeous pages. Some pages are from the Anthropologie catalogue, some file folders, some random papers just sitting around this house.

By then I was quite frustrated, but for our trip to Portland in March, I forced myself to make it smallÂ  (6 x 8) and as background pages I used photographs I had taken of a trip to the same place two years earlier. Simple and to the point and I got the book done a week after I got back, hmmm…plus it was only four days of a trip.

Our next trip is looming and over the last few weeks I have visited a few blogs of watercolorists. I enjoyed reading Jaqueline Newbold’s discussion of her colors on her palatte (she has a kit at Daniel Smith) and seeing the way she divides up the pages in her sketchbook. Also, while doing a blog hop because Chris Cozen has new stencils available I came across Jane LaFazio’s blog. She had someÂ  unique ways of treating her sketchbook pages. I am jumping in…an Arches watercolor sketchbook and a pallete of paints. Division of the page using washi tape:

Jane LaFazio’s suggestion was to use spray gesso over stencils and then paint multiple layers of watercolor on top. I had no spray gesso and don’t have Chris’s stencils yet, so I decided to use some white acrylic paint with EZScreen silkscreens I already had made. (From my photographs I exposed the screen with sunlight and then it gets developed with tap water…look, ma, no yucky things to have around!) Then I thought about how my gesso has been sitting around so long a lot of the water probably has evaporated away and went ahead and used it anyway. Worked great!

So, we have our traveling pants on (my favorite are Royal Robbins…light weight, wash in the sink, dry by morning, shake out the wrinkles); the pages are prepped; the cover is done;

We will be on our way to:

## Pot pourri…

When we were in Italy last October I took one random segment of video. I have no clue as to why except that it was a beautiful clear day, I was overwhelmed by the environment, and I wanted to remember the music I was hearing. I have been carrying around this one and one half minutes ever since, not knowing quite what to do with it. Almost trashed it many times. Then, for the final project of the Xanthe Berkeley class I was taking we needed to combine video and work with “ducking” sound. I finally had a use for it and I made this memory of Italy from my iPhone photos. It was a fun project to try to find coordinating music for the rest of the movie.

Made a strawberry and ricotta tart after the Chandler strawberries came into the Farmer’s Market last Sunday.

Also came across rhubarb at Whole Food’s. Pulled out my favorite recipe from a book I got many years ago written by the proprietors from a Cafe in Paris. I am going to now have the opportunity to visit this cafe in person.

The black and white striped French fisherman’s shirt I ordered from LLBean has arrived in time for its trip to Paris.

The signatures for my travel journal are ready to be sewn into its cover.

It happened again: before we went to Italy I discovered a magazine I had kept for at least ten years. It was an issue devoted to Tuscany and one of its articles was a list of paper stores in Florence. I had a fabulous time searching for all the stores while I was there. A couple of weeks ago, I went to storage to get some furniture for my daughter who was moving apartments. There was a random box that was labeled papers so I brought it back home with the intention of sorting and recycling. The box was filled with old magazines that had belonged to my father. An example was Life magazine from 1943 talking about the war in the Pacific. (My father had been on a destroyer in the Navy.) There was also a copy of Holiday Magazine from 1948. (I was two!) The table of contents said the magazine had an article about the circus, but all the pages for that were neatly cut out. Most of the rest of the magazine was devoted to Paris! So now I have some wonderful graphics for my travel journal.

The most giggle inducing event is that a long-time friend (we met in fourth grade) and her husband are going to be in Paris at the same time. Happenstance is a powerful thing…if we had tried to actually plan this it never would have worked out. We are like school girls, school girls I tell you…

Still have to do the trial run with the suitcase and apply the Murphy rule. Pack it, then unpack and leave half of the contents at home. Counting down the days…

I no longer say ciao, I have switched to au revoir…

## Gianni…

My brain’s ability to process all of the art I have seen and the museums I have visited is going to be delayed until I can get some perspective on this astounding place. Until then, small stories-starting with Gianni. Two days ago Terry cheered when I said I was done with paper stores. But then, today, we passed one more, a branch of one we had already been in (multiple times, even) and I almost walked right past but something tugged me. Last day…when will this ever happen to me again…what if there was something I missed? As luck would have it, Gianni was working the store today, even though he usually does the marbling. (He could own the place for all I know. It is called Johnson and Relatives.) He asked where we were from and then declared that San Francisco was his favorite place (all Italians say that) and then said, “Come look” pointing to his vat of thickened water. I say, “Is that carrageegan?” He explained that in the studio that is what they use, but in the store they use wall paper paste so that it doesn’t start to smell. They use acrylic paint so that it dries quickly. (Oh, I could do a lesson plan right now!) Then he invited me to comb the colors, all because I mentioned that I had been an art teacher. After we had gone off to see the owl in Michelangelo’s “Day and Night” (for Terry) we dropped by again to pick up my now dry paper to take home. I told Gianni that I would make a book from the paper and remember him. The process: