Seashell Alphabets

Ideas for books come from many different places. In the case of the two books described in today’s post, the inspiration comes from the seashore and from alphabet books. Both works were made early in my career as a book artist.

A Beach Comber’s Molluscalphabet was made as a gift for a friend who collects seashells. Unlike those of us who just pick up pretty things on the beach, she is serious about it and can identify a shell with its Latin name and probable source location.

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Friday Night Flicks: The Art of Bookbinding

This old black and white mini-documentary was posted about a month ago on YouTube by iBookBinding. I am presenting it here in case you haven’t seen it yet. In about 10 minutes it gives a quick survey of book repair and the production of new books and other print materials.

Happy weekend everyone.


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Grid Road Poems

The paper-cutting piece that I am currently working on is map based, so I thought I would discuss a previous map based artist’s book. Grid Road Poems consists of six loose card stock pages in a matching sleeve. The pages are slotted like the dividers in boxes of canning jars or wine bottles, and can be assembled in a number of grid-like arrangements. Continue reading

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Friday Night Flicks: Snow Business — Simon’s Cat

We had another big dump of snow last weekend. Our cat is seventeen, no longer considers snow a plaything, and did not go outside. Cat behaviour on experiencing snow for the first time can be entertaining to humans, as demonstrated in the following video. (The behaviour of the English robin is quite in character, and the vocals are excellent.) My apologies to any who have seen Simon’s Cat before. Those who haven’t are in for a treat.


Happy weekend everyone.

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Barnacle: an altered book

I like entering themed exhibitions. I enjoy the challenge of taking someone else’s concept and making it my own. Barnacle was created for a show entitled The Beast in You, organized by June Jacobs of The Handwave Gallery Meacham, Saskatchewan. Participants were asked “If you were an animal, what would you be?”

Barnacle is one of my earliest altered dictionary works. Unlike pieces where I have taken entire books and re-made them in a new form, I chose to use just the Synonym/Antonym pages from a 1947 copy of The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language. I wanted to represent the difference between the way I might be seen from the outside and the way I see myself.

The piece is housed in a box covered in a Japanese wave print and cotton rag paper.

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Friday Night Flicks: Chocolate Brown Butter Bread Pudding

I started looking for a valentine video a couple of weeks ago. There weren’t a lot that I considered suitable, but I did find one that seemed appropriate. It’s an extremely short cooking video. Since chocolate and fancy desserts figure highly in the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, here it is:


I can hardly let you watch that without passing on the recipe from the Kitchy Kitchen:

1 baguette or french loaf, cubed and dry (stale bread is perfect), about 6-7 cups

3 cups half and half

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

6 eggs, lightly beaten

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated/chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoons sea salt

8 ounces creme fraiche or sour cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish or 5-6 12 oz ramekins  with butter and fill        with the bread. Sift the brown sugar and cocoa into the half and half and mix well. Add the vanilla and salt to the beaten eggs. To make the brown butter, melt the butter over medium heat until the milk solids turn golden brown.  Take off heat and pour into a bowl to cool (it can still burn in the warm pan).  Combing with the egg mixture and add to the milk mixture, mixing well.

Stir the grated chocolate into the mixture. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread in the pan. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally for approximately 20 minutes or until bread absorbs most of the milk mixture. Bake the large pudding for 1 hour or 45 minutes in the small ramekins until set in a water bath.

To garnish, whip the creme fraiche until it forms soft peaks with the sugar and vanilla.  Top the ramekins with a dollop or serve on the side. Enjoy!


I couldn’t give you a recipe without testing it, so I made this last Sunday. I made half the recipe which turned out to be six generous (unless you are an adolescent male) servings. I cut the sugar in half (using 1/4 cup) as I don’t like desserts that are too sweet, I eliminated the vanilla (I am allergic), I was a little more generous with the cocoa powder, and I served it with the left over “half and half” poured over it instead of using creme fraiche. I soaked and stirred the dried bread cubes in a bowl for easier mixing, and although I left them at least half an hour, I found that they had not absorbed enough of the liquid. When I make it again I will soak the bread at least an hour.

Did you note that I said “when I make it again …”? This is a keeper. Perhaps next time I will leave some of the semi-sweet chocolate in chunks, and maybe add some chopped candied ginger.

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Measure Twice

I’m currently working on a large project that involves a lot of paper cutting. The finished piece will be made up of one hundred and forty 10.5 cm (4.125 in.) squares. Some have just pattern, some also have letters. Although there are repeating elements, no two squares are alike.

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Friday Night Flicks: The Oxford University Press and The Making Of A Book

One of a series of films examining various aspects of British manufacturing, this 1925 silent film was produced by the Federation of British Industry. At just under 18 minutes, it is longer than my usual Friday Night Flicks, but I think you will find it worth the time. The deafening noise of the print room is absent, replaced by a sound track of period music. The OUP is still headquartered in the building shown in the film, but I believe much of the production work now takes place in other locations.


Have a good weekend!

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A Valentine

I don’t know if children still celebrate Valentine’s Day at school. It used to mean making a mailbox for your desk so that people could post valentines to you. Depending on the teacher, the class either made valentines or students were required to purchase a book of punch out cards with funny sayings on them. I always thought that it was yet another chance for the popular kids to insult the unpopular ones, and that acts of kindness could be easily misinterpreted. (Lisa Simpson seriously regretted giving Ralph the card with a picture of a train and the message “I choo-choo-choose you.”) Still, some people enjoy the day and make their own valentines even as adults. With that in mind, and as an excuse to post a tutorial, I am offering a valentine that you can make yourself. By posting it today, I hope I am giving enough lead time for you to make it before February 14.   ; ] Some people call this structure a “Victorian Puzzle Purse”, but I learned it first as an origami fold. (Perhaps the Victorians did too.) Here’s an image of one by Alice Simpson: Continue reading

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Friday Night Flicks: Cowboys Herding Cats

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter. For many of us it will be winter, or at least not really spring,  for several more months. In the Southern Hemisphere the days are beginning to be shorter as that part of the world heads towards winter. I thought people might want a bit of cheering up, so this week’s video is Cowboys Herding Cats. 


Happy weekend!

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