Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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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


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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.

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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.

IMG_9953IMG_9954The 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,  9 x 9,  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.)

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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.

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By then I was quite frustrated, but for our trip to Portland in March, I forced myself to make it small  (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.

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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 some  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:

IMG_9988 IMG_9989Jane 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!

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