“For thirty-six weeks, a sketchbook was sent in random order between four artists: two in Brooklyn, two in Belfast.

Every Wednesday, one participant would receive book. In order to maintain schedule, it was sent out the following Monday, giving each artist five days to complete a spread in response to the one that preceded it.

A small portion of each entry extends on to the following page. Beyond this, there was no communication between the artists concerning the content of book during its making.

book’s first trip across the Atlantic was on 2 June, 2003. Its final trip was on 2 February, 2004. By the time it was completed, book had travelled over sixty thousand miles.”

Here are some of the individual pages:

First Page week08 week09week15

week16 week19 week26 week33

Each participating artist does work besides “book held” art, as Mac Premo calls the book page art.  They all have snazzy websites too.

Mac Premo

Duke Riley

Oliver Jeffers

Rory Jeffers

Sing Behind the Plow

Me, as a mini-garland dancer, heading a wedding processionalAs you will see from my bio I was lucky enough to grow up a few miles from the John C. Campbell Folkschool, a non-competitive learning community located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina (the picture to the right hangs in the history center, I am the very determined little dancer at the front of the procession). The school offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing. Though you would expect that I am considerably biased, it is a woooonderful and welcoming creative place that everyone should have the chance to experience.

I began teaching at the school last year; book arts and beginning clawhammer banjo. Part of an instructor’s payThe John C. Campbell Folkschool sign on Brasstown Road for teaching at the school is a free class. I was missing home and decided to cash in my free class and while I was at it, surprise my mother who was teaching a Sheep to Shawl class the same session. There began my week of silk paper making with Kathy Hays.

The exciting thing about silk paper making, besides the bright colors and sculptural potential of the medium is that the actual process of making the “paper” is rather simple both in terms of tools and materials. All you need is: silk roving (white or dyed), two pieces of tulle, a piece of fiberglass screen (what you would use to repair a screen door), soapy water and watered down Liquitex Acrylic Gloss medium.

First, sections of the silk are drawn out in small feathery sections that overlap each other on top of a piece of screen and tulle. Overall design and color combinations are determined at this point. Next, it is important that the silk fibers are completely wet through and through with soapy water so that they will accept the adhesive. The wet sandwich of screen, then tulle, fiber and tulle are then blotted dry and adhesive is confidently applied to the front and back with a brush, ensuring that each fiber is coated so that it will stick to its neighbor. It is then hung to dry and later the layers of tulle are pulled away to reaveal a completely flat, not fuzzy, colorful, almost interfacing-like in texture “paper.” The last step is to iron it between sheets of parchment paper which returns the silk’s natural gorgeous sheen.

Jean applying adhesive to her wetted silk sheet Sheet Hanging to Dry Between Layers of Screen and Tulle

Kaye peeling the layers of tulle away from her finished piece Kaye\'s finished piece

Once we had the basic paper making down Kathy encouraged us to add other elements to the silk sheet while it was still wet, such as feathers and pressed flowers and also to add embellishment once the sheet was dry, stitching, beads etc. I am, and probably always will be addicted to hand stitching and also really love transparent layers, bits of fabric, dusty colors and such. The following images are examples of my experiments.

Checkerboard Patterned Piece made with Pre-Dyed Color Scheme Bits of Fabric Sandwiched between 2 White Silk Hankies Then Stitched Detail of Patchwork Piece Detail of Stitching Rows of Pressed Leaves and Flowers Adhered and Stitched to a Piece of Natural White Silk Paper Criss Crossed Peach Silk Fibers Maroon Sewing Thread and Thick Silk Yarn Between 2 Silk Hankies Detail

Thanks to Kathy for her organized instruction and color. Thanks to the Folkschool for supporting people of all ages in living creative lives and upholding their inspiring yet humble motto, “Sing Behind the Plow.”