Oct 202013
 

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, beginning with the first week this month, when I updated last’s year training podcast for Students for a Creative Iowa, the non-profit that administrates Iowa’s Destination Imagination program. I re-wrote parts of the training, then recorded and uploaded a series of audio recordings to the Web site.  Then I began to prepare for tomorrow’s education conference, where I’ll be co-presenting with another Board member the connection between creative problem solving, STEM (science, technology, engineeering and mathematics), 21st century skills and collaboration. My husband will be sitting at an exhibitor’s booth at the same conference, so when I’m not  presenting, I’ll be in the same place.

Two craft shows are now behind me, with one more to go. The second one took place yesterday, and the first one was a week earlier. To be honest, I don’t have much to report about either one. They weren’t remarkable, sales-wise, and neither of the organizers put a lot of effort into advertising. There’s a lesson there to be learned, so that’s all I will say for now! If nothing else, preparing for these two shows certainly did enable me to generate a lot of product for Mister PenQuin! I spent the better part of today photographing and listing new items.

Meanwhile, I’ve allowed a bundle of unfinished posts for this Web site to languish in files on my computer. One of them is this one, where I’d like to draw your attention to some really beautiful books, journals and journal covers made of fiber, fabric and thread—or a combination of  these materials. I’d love to add books or journals of this sort to my Mister PenQuin at some point, but in the meantime am content to admire others’ efforts. I hope you do, too. Feel free to click on any of these photos to see the items in more detail.

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© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Sep 132013
 

The past couple of weeks have been extraordinarily busy as the 2013-14 season of Destination Imagination begins, the organization for which I volunteer as a member of Iowa’s state Board. In concrete terms, that means I’ve been updating our Web site, writing blog posts, updating documents such as Frequently Asked Questions and Official Participation Costs, planning a conference presentation with another Board member, and the list goes on. At the same time, I’ve been continuing to work on a thick stack of handmade books, a process that crawls along at a snail’s pace but is thoroughly enjoyable.

Making books by hand is a laborious, time-intensive process, in general, but it is certainly faster today than it was during the Middle Ages. At that time, pages were made from animal skins that were soaked in a lime solution to remove the fur, and then scraped and stretched to form parchment. While most people don’t have to go to this extent to create books, some of the steps in book assembly today are not too different from the steps followed centuries ago. Yesterday’s “gatherings” are similar to today’s signatures, for example.

For me the pleasure of bookmaking lies in the details, and I appreciate what others accomplish just as much as I do my own results. The books below have covers that are made out of wood, or a combination of wood and leather. Some are engraved using a laser engraver, others are carved, some are painted, but all of them are interesting and unique—and probably took more than a few days to complete. Feel free to click on each photo to zoom in on the details.

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If you’re interested, you can read further about the process of bookmaking during the Middle Ages by clicking on the links below:

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Aug 302013
 

I almost ran out of days this month to finish the August challenge organized by fellow Blogging Business Artisans teammate Linda of lindab142. “Fall is coming,” said Linda. “Create an item for autumn or blog about what you like about fall/autumn.”

Fall happens to be my favorite season. I love how the heat of summer shifts into cooler temperatures, how the air turns crisp, and the leaves change colors and drift to the earth. Both indoors and outdoors, you’ll see rich colors such as harvest gold, burnt orange, olive green and every shade of brown. Traditional tastes and smells include pumpkin and apple, cinnamon, cloves and hot cocoa. I’m sure I’ve left out a few, but needless to say, this is a season that for me is too short. It can’t arrive soon enough, either, as the hot, humid weather of August weighs down on everyone. Late this afternoon the thermometer read 103 degrees, most definitely not picnic weather . . . unless, perhaps, if you’re a lizard.

Because I enjoy fall so much, you’ll always see products reflecting the colors of autumn in both of my shops, JN Originals and Mister PenQuin. I am currently adding some new handmade books to the latter shop that have “fall” written all over them. Today I finished the lined journal below, which I’m going to have a hard time not keeping for myself.

August Challenge

I’d love to hear how you feel about fall. Is it your favorite season, too? To see how other Blogging Business Artisans members handled the August challenge, visit August Fall Is Coming Link Party.

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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