Tag Archives: books

Ceramics for Beginners: Hand Building

Ceramics for Beginners: Hand Building by Shay Amber

This summer I have been looking at a lot of books, buying them and checking them out at the library. I decided that perhaps some reviews were in order. I look for books that might give me inspiration, teach me a new skill, guide me through a project idea or lead my artwork in a new direction. I also browse books that might aid me in my classroom instruction, or ones that might provide students with ideas and inspirations for their own classroom projects. Here I will attempt to share the ones I like and didn’t like, and would love your feedback!

I love books with lots of pictures. I am a visual learner (as many artists are) so I like to see things step-by-step whenever possible. If there is too much text I will be completely turned-off and quickly dismiss the book or blog. I saw this book and thought it might be perfect for my students when working with clay.

Time will tell if it is a good book for the classroom, but I am totally inspired to get back to the classroom and make something. It is an all inclusive book giving details about all the tools, materials and equipment necessary for doing basic hand built projects. You will probably skip over a lot of the pages, like I did, if you have already spent time creating in a clay studio.

Mixed Mania

Mixed Mania: Recipes for Delicious Mixed-Media Creations


This summer I have been looking at a lot of books, buying them and checking them out at the library. I decided that perhaps some reviews were in order. I look for books that might give me inspiration, teach me a new skill, guide me through a project idea or lead my artwork in a new direction. I also browse books that might aid me in my classroom instruction, or ones that might provide students with ideas and inspirations for their own classroom projects. Here I will attempt to share the ones I like and didn’t like, and would love your feedback! 

Mixed-Mania is written by Debbi Crane and Chery Prater. As new media changes the way we communicate,  it is interesting to know that they collaborated long-distance on this book. But it is even more interesting to know that they had not met in person and were introduced online through mutual art connections. They worked on the book entirely online and only met in person a couple of times, yet they banter as if they have been life-long friends. I marvel at this dynamic and think about how this sort of thing would not have happened as easily fifteen years ago.

This book is written in the style of a cookbook. I love this because I also like to read cookbooks. Plus it is a very unique spin on how to offer up the ideas and instructions that is different from other art project/technique books. I particularly like the Substitution Chart… like if you just don’t have Diamond Glaze you can use any 2-part epoxy resin for the same effect. (OK so I still don’t have any of that, but still it is a good chart.)

It starts with some “Creative Kitchen Basics” (A discussion of the elements and principles of art) moves into some “Artistic Appetizers” which are easy projects, then some “Main Courses” and “Special Occasions” that are larger projects including several fabric related pieces. At the end there is a gallery, which I always love and some templates for the included projects.

Each project is set up with shopping and ingredient lists, followed by step-by-step instructions and pictures. Most of the bigger projects are broken down into smaller parts and start with some text about the inspiration and back ground of the project. Throughout the book there are snippets of the creative dialogue between the two writers, which is fun.

I haven’t done any of the projects, but many of them look a lot like things I have already done. I would certainly recommend this book for people new to mixed media. While the images are inspiring and fun, I didn’t really see any great new skills for me to learn. So this one will be going back to the library.

What’s on your Christmas list?

I have several great art books on my list. What are some of your favorites? What books are you IN?

First on the list, Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations by Susan Tuttle. I just discovered this book and promptly added it to my wish list. Seth at Altered Page mentioned her current giveaway for her new book. Of course her book fits into the style of all the other books already on my list and it sounds really cool. A virtual tour and interview of 36 different artists! From the great reviews on Amazon I am thinking that this book will be great for my classroom too. I always like to show my students artists that are LIVING and making current work that is attainable. The old, dead men that did big bronze sculptures and oil paintings seem too far from their world. So Susan is offering a giveaway for her book, you just need to Mention her book and giveaway in a blog post. So here we are…

Next up is Mixed-Media Self-Portraits: Inspiration & Techniques by Cate Coulacos Prato

This one looks good and has artwork from many artists that I know from Artfest and online blogs that I follow. Actually, this is mostly how I find books that I want usually. If someone mentions their book online, or one in which they have work, then I am interested and curious enough to put it on my wishlist. I think I saw this on Kelly Rae’s blog. Most of my work is in the realm of self-portrait so I am curious how other people approach the topic.

This one I saw in the fabric store and knew it needed to be in my collection… But since it is December, I am banned from buying things for myself. Embellished Mini-Quilts: Creative Little Works of Art by Jamie Fingal. I probably should only have fabric related books on my list anyways, since I am trying to limit myself to fabric work. I need to purge all my paper supplies, since I just don’t work in that medium any more. This book has many projects that fit my style and others that don’t but that is typical. But I would love to stretch myself into some new fabric techniques, this seems like the perfect book to do it with. Jamie has a great website and makes journal quilts, abstracts and portraits that are whimsical and wonderful.

Playing Favorites: journal entry


Playing Favorites: journal entry

Visual Journals… now that is something I need to do more of. It seems that since I have been blogging, and writing online, I have done less journal writing on paper. This page is probably from 2003. I like the thoughts and reflections, as much as the images that I put together along with the meaning that they both hold for me. The word interesting has a lot of both positive and negative meaning for me, so it is very weighted. But I find myself using it a lot with my students… when I am not sure I can come up with something positive and constructive to say, it slips out.

Playing Favorites: the library

The Library, originally uploaded by v_stamey. The library I WISH I had….

Next to faces, I think words or text in art is one of my favorite subject. But I think that is for another entry, this is about BOOKS! which is just as good. I love books! I love reading them, collecting them, altering them and making them. I have taken classes on book binding, participated in Altered Book round robins and tip-in swaps. I have even taught and shared the art of altered books with my students. I dream of having a house where I have a room that is JUST for books. I picture it as one of those turret round multi-story rooms with a ladder to reach higher levels of books.

So anyways… here is my pick for Seth’s Playing Favorites: the library.


This is a mixed media book that I made inspired by DJ Pettitt. I bought a kit from her that included some images, transparent and white papers and fabrics along with a mini instruction booklet on how to do image transfers. I was later able to take a class from her at ArtFiber Fest in 2006.

As much as I love to make paper books, I am more interested now in making fabric books and journals. You are sure to see some of these in the near future!

Summer Reading

Open Book, originally uploaded by smellyknee.

I spend a good part of any day reading books. I read books while eating, while sitting in the sun in my garden and even while watching TV. Summer is my favorite time to really get out and read. I love my local library! So lately, I have been reading a lot and thought you might like to know what!

Recently I picked up a bunch of art quilting books to get me more inspired to MAKE ART! Turns out I accidentally grabbed two from the same author. I was enjoying her quilts and thought, “wow, these two artists really have similar styles.” then I looked at the authors, duh! Same one 6 years apart. Ruth B. McDowell I have been pouring over her Art & inspirations” and “Fabric journey : an inside look at the quilts of Ruth B. McDowell I am now very interested in seeing some of her piecing pattern books. She has a very complex way of piece quilting that looks amazing!

I also re-found a book that I looked at over a year ago,”Collaborative quilting” Authors Morgan and Marston have worked together on many quilts, but I love this book for the ideas on “liberated” versions of traditional quilting blocks.

Since I am interested in teaching about fiber arts in my classes next year, I picked up a book about Faith Ringgold, “Dancing at the Louvre : Faith Ringgold’s French collection and other story quilts” Her quilting style is very unique and definitely about story telling. Something I would like to include more of in my own work.

365 day 2: Art Lives Here Doll

My final fabric books (this time around) are two on textures. My favorite part about using fabric is the physical and visual textures that you can create. But my quilts have been so flat lately I wanted some tips on adding more.  “Stitched textile collage : innovative designs for textured surfaces by Toumi and “Fantasy fabrics” by McCaffery both offer a number of ideas. I was not very impressed with Fantasy Fabrics actually. This book was all about capturing different materials behind sheer organza and tulle. Something I did on a doll in a class at ArtFiberFest. I did like the technique, but I don’t think there needs to be a book exclusively written to the idea. And although the style of images in Stitched Textile Collage were not for me, I did like the techniques and textures.

In addition to the fiber art books I am also reading some fiction. I tend to read either Young Adult fiction (so I can recommend things to my students and stay in touch with them) I am really into the Fantasy/sci-fi series about some kid travellers my MacHale. I just finished The rivers of Zadaa. I look forward to finishing the series.

Now with all these books that I am mostly reading simultaneously… I need some BOOKMARKS! In my Google Reader today I found the coolest How-to for a picture bookmark. SO I guess I am set to find the perfect photo to accompany my daily reading.


Glossy Challenge

I wasn’t really sure I was going to like this weeks Challenge but I have to admit I am pleased with the results. I used a pretty thick layer of gesso so you can’t see anything through, then I scanned them in because I decided to play with some color in photoshop. Overall, it was intersting becasue I  don’t think of myself as a painter or having any painting skills… and this made me feel like, maybe I could paint!



Jen’s Art Challenge #2

Jen Worden is one of my bloggy art friends that likes to challenge herself and others… she is offering up a new weekly Challenge and I felt like giving it a try this week.

So the challenge is “Grab one of your DIY books or magazines. Flip open to a random page and create the project. The FIRST. No flipping through to find something you WANT to do. This is an exercise in expanding your horizons coupled with making the project yours.”

This is MUCH harder than you might think… I started with an Expressions issue July/August 2005. I flipped to a random page, got an advertisement, flipped again and got a polymer clay project that requires supplies that I don’t have. I am on a supply diet, so I needed another idea. I ended up flipping through almost every project and not a one had supplies that matched my current stock. I thought, “Why the heck do I even have this magazine?” I promptly decided I need to purge my magazine and book collection to match my current focus!

So I looked in Cloth Paper Scissors fall 2005 and got some colorful pages on handmade books which reminded me of the funky signatures that are in Collage Unleashed that Eliza just finished doing. So I just decided to do that. It is actually a project that has been simmering in my mind for a while anyways. I have some much little scrappy stuff I thought I would make a bunch of little books to use as trades at artfest this year, and in the process try to purge and clean up my paper supplies. Mostly I just ended up with a ton of paper junk all over my floor! But I did locate a bunch of old tip-ins from a swap that I should get put into an altered book and more magazines that I am truely befuddled as to why they are in my studio.

So did I do some art? yes… kinda. Did I meet the challenge? me thinks not. I guess I will try again later this week after I do some more cleaning!