Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Typography as art…

On the bottom floor of the Palace of Fine Arts Legion of Honor, next to the cafe, is a small gallery/room that contains some treasures. Each visit I make I am sure to pop in to see what is on display. Something always catches my imagination and blows my creative juices into the air. Last Thursday’s visit did not disappoint because the small gallery of Illustrated Books was focusing on “Inspired Alphabets”.

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I walked into the room and was caught by the word circus…then lithography…if you have read this blog for a while you will recognize some of my favorite themes…


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Then there was this fabulous collage book with collaged lettering…



More lithography…





And who knew Claes Oldenburg envisioned buildings and cities made from letters…




There is much to be said for the small book that can be held in one hand…with the power of the fold…



The letters themselves creating abstract art…and the overprint…









The Dada Movement…



Lifted by my interaction with the typography, I got home to a new visual journal I had under construction and had found the way I wanted to create the title page…

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Onward and upward…my souvenir of the day was an idea…


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Prisoner of paper…

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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.)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Stairway to the stars…

After having such a fun Thursday, I am compelled to detour away from my tales of Switzerland just a little bit more. It is no secret that I have a passion for tile (in particular Heath), so when an opportunity came to visit San Francisco with a group of retired teachers from the school where I taught before going to Moraga’s JMIS, I was very excited. My heart skips anytime there are mosaics around. We started the morning by traveling to the Flora Grubb Gardens Nursery. Lots of inspiration there and it was well worth the trip as a prelude to what was to come. (They even have a coffee bar…can’t ask for anything more!) Loved this old car planted fully making itself into a garden ornament. Emphasizing the rule that anything can be a container…

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Then we drove to the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood. This is in the Inner Sunset District and at 16th Street and Moraga Street are the steps. These 163 panels are of a sea to sky theme all the way up to the top. They are constructed with Heath Tile, handmade tile, mirrored tile and since it is a neighborhood supported project there are dedications, remembrances, and names of people and businesses from the neighborhood. The mosaic was completed in 2005 by Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. The stairs are used for exercise and tourists come to photograph them. They are well used by the residents. We were there at around noon with full sun making photography tricky (I have mentioned before the difficulty taking photos with an iPhone with bright light and glare. There was also the factor that some areas were in sun and some were in shade.) Despite the handicaps, it was fun to photograph this artful reflection of a community.

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This woman ran up and down the stairs four times before our group had made it to the top once. Her feat was very impressive!

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I did love the use of the mirror tile…

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And then we were at the top…if you squint you can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge…

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After walking down again, we went over to the Hidden Garden Steps located on 16th between Kirkham and Lawton. These steps were approached from the top and we walked down each flight to look back up for the impact. (It was definitely an impact!) These steps were dedicated in 2013. Once again you could purchase a tile to have your name on it or a business could purchase an entire motif such as a flower. (Here are photographs of how the artists plotted out the designs.) My pictures are from the top working down.

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Luckily for us, one of our group members was Susan Dannenfelser, a ceramic artist, who knows the artists who created the mosaics.  Aileen Barr met us and guided us around her work. This is Aileen resting on her artwork (or is that resting on her laurels…I think there probably are some laurels in this garden!)

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Came home from this field trip pumped up and ready to create…thanks Del Rey Rovers for the great day!!


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Books never close…

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It is true, I love to make travel journals. Trouble is, I cram them so full of the  paper I collect on the trip that I cannot really close the book without the help of very large ties. The receipts, the business cards, the postcards, plus all the photos I take need to go somewhere, but I always have this flaw in my book making skills of having too much stuff. So, when Teesha Moore made a suggestion on The Artstronauts Club (http://theartstronauts.com/about/ of keeping all of the ephemera in an expired passport I jumped up and down. Inspired! Oh, wow, I said, only have to travel with a little tape and a small stapler and all those extra little paper souvenirs are all in one place. Helps to figure out what to declare in customs and keeps them altogether so the travel journal can be just photos (and maybe can actually close.) When I thought about it further, my hopes were dashed, however, because I have no expired passports…I have only the one that I got four years ago when I retired and started to travel.

Within a week I got an email from a company (P22 Type Foundry) talking about a product they created to celebrate their twentieth year in business. (I am on their mailing list because their fonts include the handwriting of Claude Monet and Cezanne…what else is an intermediate school art teacher supposed to have on her computer?) The product was a set of three almost-passport-size soft-covered notebooks for $7.95. Answer to my dreams!

My package came on Saturday…

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There, right there, joy and celebration…evidently the Postal Service came out with a new set of stamps in May featuring antique circus posters. (Can be ordered online…https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?productId=S_472104  Oh, heaven!  and they are forever stamps! Mail art here I come…

Then inside…

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Multiple postcards that advertise their fonts but are also beautiful.

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and a temporary tatoo (I am way old for that sort of thing so guess I will have to find a willing kid to wear it for me…)

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The three books with gold stamped covers and a variety of lined and grided papers…

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definitions of the foot of a letter…

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The “golden canon of page construction”…

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A perpetual calendar…

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Keyboard positions and job case diagram for letterpress type…

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and a type diagram and definition of picas and points…

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Lovely things, and now I am set for three trips!! I dance for joy…

 


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Journal…

TM has been getting organized for his birding class. This meant finding the right journals for recording what he sees and counts. First he sought out weather-proof small notebooks for the recording-in-the-field. (I happened to have the yellow one in my collection. I think I had collected it not knowing what I would use it for but having fallen in love with its pale-blue grid-ruled pages. I figured I could rip out a few for my needs and he could have the rest. Anything for the cause!) The smallest ones fit conveniently into a shirt pocket.

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Also, he needed a more permanent three-ring binder for officially entering each birding-adventure. Set in a specific layout it holds all the data.

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I am such a supportive spouse I offered him use of my tools and my experience with journaling. (I thought there could be room for some decoration here.)

I go on trips and I journal about the experience with watercolors…

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I alter old books with gesso, titanium white. titan buff, Davey’s grey, and collage papers…(they never seem to close once I am finished with them.)

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I slap my printed iPhone photos onto inky backgrounds…

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and I make collages from snippets of magazine pictures in books I have made myself. (Mostly because I absolutely love the way Fabiano Artistico paper behaves.)

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I offered, I did offer to assist him in any way…tools, advice…but, no, he did not want my pens, my color ideas…he remains the legal pad to my handmade paper. Thus, it will always be…but now we have a fixture at the back door for any spontaneous, unusual sightings in the backyard. You never know who might fly through. Be prepared…

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Battered suitcases…

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”—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!)

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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?”

—Conversation between two female tourists at the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence by Roberto