Friday, August 30, 2013

Little Book of NYC H20 - Plus, How To Make a Tiny Book!

I couldn't pick out a favorite among my two dozen or so water tower sketches and thought it would be ideal to collect them all in a miniature book;  you don't have to pick a favorite either, collect a dozen in one fell swoop!

2.5" x  3" Handmade paper cover and archival art prints, with leather tie strip

 I've made a limited edition of these mini books - 25 in total. Each is signed and numbered inside the front cover.

Here's a quick at-a-glance reference to show you each of the prints that are included in the book:

 A lovely handmade treasure for yourself or you favorite New York-ophile:

I'd never made a mini-book before, or any kind of book for that matter. But was inspired after coming across this terrific volume, with a very straightforward title:

The accordion-style book seemed to be the perfect "starter" for a new book maker like me, since there would be no need to actually "bind" the book with a needle and thread.  I turned to that section and saw several options and suggestions:

I decided I'd make my first attempt just using inexpensive materials since I was bound to screw it up the first time around. No sense wasting my lovely handmade paper from Thailand and my archival prints on my first effort. Let's just make a down-and-dirty cheapo version first, to make sure I get the process right.

So I decided to follow the plan at the bottom of the page, the H-I-J folds and cuts. I used photoshop to lay out miniatures of some of my pen and ink drawings and just printed them out on regular plain paper with my regular printer. I had the foresight to number the images since I wasn't quite sure where they would appear in the book after the folding, cutting and re-folding took place.

Then I cut according to the instructions in the H-I-J steps:

So far, so good, I'm thinking.......

That is, until I folded it according to the instructions - and some of my lovely ladies were upside down!

See? I knew I would screw something up the first time out of the gate. So I checked which numbered images ended upside down and re-arranged the images in the print file. Seems I had to turn the top row and the third row images upside down so they'd come out properly in the accordion fold. Duly noted! 

So let's try this again:

Ok, I didn't take a photo of the next step, the re-folding, but trust me, everybody is now right side up:

Next, cut two pieces of chip board to be used as the "cover." I cut them just slightly larger than the pages:

But before I  go to work on those covers, I had to make sure those folds will really hold. I placed the accordion under a very heavy book for several hours:

What better weight than "The History of Art?"

Meanwhile, back to the covers. I knew I wanted to use the lovely handmade paper from Thailand that I had purchased in large sheets. But again, my test book was going to use something more pedestrian, so I could get the process right. My daughters had some decorative papers in their stash:

It was a bit heavier than the papers I planned to use so I affixed it to the chipboard with some rubber cement. A bit messy and probably not the best adhesive for the lighter handmade papers. But for now, it would work.

Cut the paper and trim the corners so they'll fold more easily:

 I wasn't too worried about sloppy edges -- the first panel of the accordion would be adhered to the cover and would make a neat and clean inside page. So my prototype taught me a few things:

First, I realized that I wanted to make sure the first and last panels on my print page of images were blank; I didn't want an image immediately inside the cover but would leave that space blank for my signature and the edition number.

Second, I decided to use much more lightweight papers and would need to affix the paper with something other than rubber cement. 

Third, how would I keep the book closed? I'd seen other books that used a thin leather strap but realized I needed to insert two lengths of the strip in between the cover and the page of the accordion. Doh!

Ok, so now I went ahead with my high-end versions, happy to have made my mistakes on the prototype first.

I pre-cut strips of these beautiful papers -- hand-made in Thailand from mango and/or banana leaves:

But instead of using the rubber cement adhesive, I used this acrylic gel, inside and out. The gel served both to fuse the chipboard to the paper and also to seal the outside and make it more durable:

And this time, I made sure to insert two leather strips just inside the front and back panels, before affixing the accordion to the covers:

And voila!

I deliberated a while about giving it a title  -- NYC H20 seemed perfect. I printed the title out on translucent adhesive sheets and finally, I was done!

2.5" x  3" Handmade paper cover and archival art prints, with leather tie strip

I hope you found this tutorial useful -- two more editions of books are in the works, stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


My bounty of pen and ink drawings are now available in my Etsy shop -- each image is available as an archival print, elegantly mounted upon a wooden board panel and ready to hang.

Water Tower No. 11
5" x 7" print mounted on board

Please take a moment to see the 20 different prints here!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

And voila!

I appear in an article on the front page of today's New York Times!  Just below the fold...........

Here it is:

 The article continues on the jump, page 16 -- with the reference to my story and photos!

The article appears in the online version of the paper, too -- here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Making a Mark in Maine

I discovered the irrepressible Andrea Brand through Twitter sometime last year and when our trip to Maine finally materialized, I knew I had to seek her out and explore her Art Barn.

Located in Phippsburg, Maine on Sam Day Hill Road, just off 209 South, about one mile beyond the Phippsburg Fire Station. The barn is set back from the road in a beautiful sunny spot.

Andrea has curated a large array of work by emerging artists in the Phippsburg area. Photography, painting, sculpture and jewelry - there's something for everybody. It was a delicious treat to explore.

Andrea has amassed (and inherited!) a huge collection of sea glass:  her sculptures are beautiful and intriguing.

I worked my way toward the back of the barn, drawing to the gorgeous paintings arrayed on the rear wall.

These were the works of Ellie Barnet, born and raised in Maine with a degree in Painting from Boston University's College of Fine Art. She currently lives (and paints) in Maine.

Just beautiful - clearly the rustic Maine coast but with a modernist approach:

I did my best to capture a few photos in the dim light at the rear of the barn:

And I finally treated my self to his gem:

"View of Center Pond" by Ellie Barnet
8" x 5.5" oil on canvas

I love her work! Ellie cites her grandfather, artist Wil Barnet, among her many influences.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Gray Lady Came A-Calling

After some email exchanges and a phone interview with NY Times writer Matt Flegenheimer last week, staff photographer Todd Heisler was dispatched to the East Village to take some photos of me in my studio.

The MTA's copyright pursuits are the subject of Flegenheimer's upcoming piece and it looks like my successful battle against the MTA (as described on my blog here, here and here) will appear prominently (?) in the story. 

Todd took a ton of photos in my studio and I'm excited about the boost this may give me if/when the article appears in the Times. Todd is a wonderful photographer -- check out his work at

I'll keep you Night Shifters posted!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taking Pen to Paper, Part 1

I decided to take a break from my oil painting series of subway riders and embark on a new series of strictly black and white, pen and ink drawings. 

But my work area was a disaster.

So, first step, clean up my drawing area. Even Goose thought it was an improvement, more appealing than his usual perch on the windowsill:

Next, gather my materials:

My favorite bamboo pens:

Plus a variety of nib pens:

My trusty eye dropper:

India ink, of course:

Containers and a spray bottle of water, plus some blotting tissue:

And a  4" x 6" block of Canson watercolor paper, plus several 4" x 6" hand-cut pieces from a larger sheet of Canson paper:

Then I called up some of my own photos on my computer for reference - 

And then I went to town, using a variety of pens and techniques, even adding washes of ink with a brush to some:

About 34 in all by the time I was through:

The question is, what next? Do I offer prints? Or Mounted Prints? Or something completely different?

Stay tuned for Part 2.