Sredni Vashtar

As a special treat, this week’s Friday post is a short story. A few years ago I was invited to participate in a Hallowe’en exhibition with the requirement that the work be “scary or creepy”. I produced a very small book containing Saki‘s short story Sredni Vashtar. Like Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child,  the story is a tiny, perfect piece of prose,  and has been a favourite of mine since I read it as a child. (The fact that a child triumphs over an adult is probably what attracted me in the first place.) I did one illustration for the cover and, like the author, left the rest to the reader’s imagination.

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Press Release


This post is mostly to let you know that I will be in Toronto for a while so I will not be posting on Sunday the 2nd of November or Sunday the 9th.  I know that I can write posts ahead and schedule them, and thought about doing that — there will still be Friday Night Flicks — but I am a little short of time as I am preparing for the opening of my solo show at the Typology gallery, and  for teaching a workshop. If you are in the Toronto area, you might even want to come to the opening or attend the workshop. All the relevant info is contained in this pdf. I would love to meet my Toronto readers!

While in Toronto I plan to visit a number of galleries and museums, in particular the new Aga Khan Museum. I am interested in seeing all the displays there, but I will be paying special attention to the works featuring Persian calligraphy and illumination. You can see a few examples here.

I’ll be back in time to post on Sunday the 16th of November. Perhaps I will write about something from my visit to Toronto!

Au Revoir.

P.S. This link just arrived in my email and I can’t resist adding it to today’s post. A set of instructions on doing a japanese three-hole stab binding, it’s the funniest tutorial I have ever seen.

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Friday Night Flicks

Hallowe’en seems to be a much bigger deal than when I was a child. People start decorating their lawns and houses early in October, and this year I saw Hallowe’en-themed store displays in mid-September. I can understand the appeal: it’s a chance for everyone, including the ‘grown-ups’ to play dress-up.

To get you into the seasonal mood (although it is a week early) I thought you might enjoy this paper craft video homage to Hitchcock’s film Psycho.

There’s a set of images here that gives you a sense of the model’s scale.

Have fun getting your costumes ready for next week!

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redpoll & RAVEN

I have always been interested in birds, and learned a lot about them after moving to the country in 1974.  The common redpoll, a colourful winter bird, was one I learned to identify fairly early on. My very favourite bird is the raven; I used to have to travel to see them, but recently they began breeding where I live.  My two haiku in this book are based on bird encounters: one where I live, and one in Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands).

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Friday Night Flicks

This week’s flick was chosen because I was flipping through posts at boingboing and found this. I already own a copy of a previous book by Marian Bantjes  — I Wonder — and was delighted to discover that she has published another book of her amazing work.

This week’s flick is a TED talk Marian gave several years ago. It’s a nice intro to the way she works.


I hope the weekend weather is as good where you live as it is here: enjoy!

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Maps and Stamps and Wishing Stars

As a child I was taught (by my father) how to read maps. On trips out of town I used to sit in the front passenger seat of the car and give my father directions. Presumably this was as much about keeping my sister and I apart so that we wouldn’t fight in the car as it was about teaching me navigation.

I also collected stamps. My brother (nine years older) had a stamp collection, so I had one too. I used to buy the cheap assortments: 100 stamps for 25 cents. (I am old enough to remember 5 cent popsicles.) I was mostly interested in stamps that had pictures of birds or animals or butterflies, and not at all interested in how much the stamps might be worth.

My interests in maps and stamps come together in G is for Geography.

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Friday Night Flicks

I have been showing you things alphabetical so here is a short stop motion alphabet video.


As a bonus this week I am adding a video that also does stop motion with a human body. I don’t watch a lot of music videos, but I thought this one was exceptional.

Happy weekend!

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Alphabet Collecting 2

My alphabet collection has grown to include some less traditional means of reproducing text. I collect letter punches like these:

and I collect other ways of cutting letters.

Who doesn’t like cookies? Cookies shaped like letters are even better since you can spell out messages — at least until people start eating!

I have big ones

and little ones.

Someday I plan to do an artist’s book with these

and another with these.

Since there might be problems preserving a book with lettering made from alphabet noodles, I plan to use photographs to reproduce the text. (I do note that I have had this box for more than two years, and despite living in an old house that has regular visits from mice and occasional problems with mildew, nothing has damaged the noodles so far!)

My collection also extends to things that aren’t strictly alphabetical, like Chinese character rubber stamps

and punctuation and other glyphs in the form of push pins and magnets

and tights.

People think it’s funny that I have alphabetized my spice shelves in the pantry.

How else would I find anything?!

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Friday Night Flicks

Since I talked about my alphabetical collection last week, and plan to show you more in a couple of days, I thought you might like to see a video about lettering.

Chalkboard lettering has once again become popular — so popular that fonts have been designed to look like hand-lettering on a blackboard. The best chalkboard work is still  done by individuals who do custom text and graphics for specific products or projects.

Some of the best work I have seen is by Dana Tanamachi. Here is a video about her personal lettering project Flourish. 

Happy weekend everyone!

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Alphabet Collecting 1

I have mentioned before my lifelong love of alphabets and alphabet books. It will not surprise you that I have a small collection of alphabet books. I also collect alphabets in other forms.

I collect odd pages from damaged and discarded books.

I collect old printing sets,


and newer ones (which are not nearly as much fun).


I also collect other devices for reproducing the letters of the alphabet.

Come back next Sunday and see more of the collection!

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