Morning Rant

Tired, this morning… wanting to design this blog layout so that it looks different… don’t have half-n-half… having decaf tea instead… have a lot of things I’d like to do… wanting to buy a typewriter… am enjoying Michelle C. Moode’s artwork, she had a piece with something typewritten on it, very sweet, I’m inspired to take a printmaking class, gotta think about that one…

I picked up a a ticket off the ground yesterday for a Castro Valley high school dance, it brought back such memories of me and high school dances… I thought it would be fun to tear up my yearbook and make art of my memories, could be pretty powerful…

Reminiscing about our Napa Getaway

The paint recipe that follows has been on my mind since Tom found it on our Napa getaway. I’m looking forward to painting some pots in our backyard towards the end of the month. Speaking of Napa, these photos are from a Napa house that was for sale. The owner was gracious enough to let me take some photos and then on top of that took us in the back and showed off his backyard as well. So much fun! Oh to have seen the inside! Looking forward to seeing the insides of San Francisco homes on this AIA Home tour in September.

Martha Stewart’s Milk Paint Recipe:

Milk paint is an organic material that gives surfaces a distinctive color-washed finish. As the name suggests, milk is a principal ingredient in the material, acting as a binder for pigments the same way polymers do in latex paints and oils do in oil-based ones. People have been mixing milk paint for a long time; it has been found on artifacts dating to ancient Egypt, although it’s perhaps most commonly associated with colonial-era furniture. The fact that the material doesn’t give off noxious vapors (often called VOCs) accounts for its continued appeal within today’s green building community. Craftspeople, meanwhile, value its saturated colors and translucent finish, which can be used to give wooden furniture, terracotta pots, and other textured surfaces an antique look.

You can’t, however, simply mix milk with color pigment and spread it on the walls. The following recipe will yield enough paint to cover a bureau or other large furnishing:

Milk Paint How-To
1. Mix the juice of a lemon with 1 quart of skim milk in a large bowl. Leave the mixture overnight at room temperature to induce curdling.

2. Pour it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to separate the solid curds from the liquid whey. Add 4 tablespoons of dry color pigment (available at art-supply stores) to the curd; be sure to wear a mask, and stir until the pigment is evenly dispersed. Artists’ acrylic paint also can be used in place of powdered pigment.

3. Add it one drop at a time, and stir constantly until you achieve the desired hue. Whether pigment- or acrylic-based, milk paint will spoil quickly, so it should be applied within a few hours of mixing. Rest assured, its sour smell will disappear once the paint dries. If you prefer, you can purchase milk paint rather than make it yourself. One source is Old Fashioned Milk Paint.


Hammie (the Hamachi) is our latest project… Tom and I found him at Urban Ore and are very excited to begin painting him. He’ll be emerging out of the ground in our garden. We have an early August deadline so that’ll get us moving and I’ll post our work in process.


I’m organizing my files. I’m thrilled, it sounds crazy but there’s something about getting organized that is very soothing for the soul. I have my office I’m working on and then I’ll conquer the studio garage. Tom and I’ve put some dates down on the calendar for an open house party and some get togethers, so it’ll be even more helpful to get the house in order. A big part of this inspiration is thanks to Alyson B. Stanfield’s I’d Rather Be in the Studio recommended to me by Bonnie Randall Boller. Alyson has a very direct, action-oriented approach, that really helps me become more aware of the excuses I’ve been making.

Another soul-soothing thing I’ve been doing lately is going to Alice Joanou’s Loka Yoga. Besides the great workout, the slowing down and the peace I feel when I’m there, the atmosphere is great as well. It smells really good besides.

There’s always more to write. Earlier, I was shredding 2003 phone bills… I’m going to now change my current phone bill to an electronic version!

Daily Practice

One of the benefits of blogging is that you get to meet and interact with people with similiar interests. Tom brought home some old law books that he thought I might be able to use. He suggested I could make books from them and ErinZam posted some recrafted law books on her blog which further lead to this inspiration posted above.

I get a lot of pleasure out of reading Michelle Maule’s blog about her daily practice. I aspire to write daily, at least during the week.

On a different note, Tom and I discovered Autobody Fine Art in Alameda. Pure pleasure. It’s a beautiful gallery: youthful, emerging, a little “rough” in a good way and brings it out excitement in me. I had a great therapy experience around this as well. Instead of thinking that this gallery is “outside” of me, I can actually relate to it as being “me” and “take this pill” whenever needed to bring that excitement back to my daily life. We had lunch at Burma SuperStar in Alameda. Super yummy and we’ll be back!

Alameda Women Artists Group Show Friday

16 Artists at the new Alameda Free Library Meeting Rooms Gallery
1550 Oak Street, Alameda, CA | June 6-July 19, 2008
The Artist Reception is the First Friday, June 6th, 6-8pm. LIVE MUSIC.
Exhibit hours: Mondays-Saturdays 10 am-4 pm, Sundays 1-4 pm.

This is just one of my pieces that’s in the show entitled “Rhymes with Pink”. I’ve been collecting aluminum cans (thanks especially to Cheryl and Stephanie) and I’m looking forward to developing more pieces for this series.

Lots of updating on my website tonight. Some photos from Savannah from our honeymoon, one in particular of wine bottles in a garden that has me starting to collect bottles now. I would love anyone’s help in this process.

Tom and I are talking about painting a big concrete sculpture that we’ll put in our front yard. It’ll be obvious that our place will be the neighborhood art house. I’m looking forward to that!

Dreams Do Come True

Photo captured by Mr. Virsik. Thank you.

We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.

~Woodrow T. Wilson (1856-1924, Twenty-eighth President of the USA)

I thought this quote was appropriate for today, brought to me by Cyber Nation. Tom and I had an incredible wedding. So touching and precious to me. Much more than I expected and very easy. Someone asked if my mouth hurt from smiling and when I thought about it, I think it did.

We just got back from from a really enjoyable and relaxing honeymoon. I have lots to share with my loyal readership! Here’s just a list to tempt you with… yummy fried pickles from Blowin’ Smoke in Savannah, Alligator Soul, gourd trees in North Carolina, sweet grass baskets in South Carolina, wildflowers on North Carolina freeways, Angel’s BBQ, Telfair Museum of Art, SCAD shop, sushi/Thai restaurants?, how walking/running is such a great way to explore and cover more territory, Myrtle Beach, metalwork photos in Durham, Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn , Meredith Brickell’s ceramics and paintings in Bull City Arts Collaborative, recycled art show in Savannah, clean restrooms in SC, Chapel Hill, Greek deli, NC fleamarket, grits, croutons, key lime pie (it’s not green), live oaks and Spanish Moss, Back in the Day Bakery and much more…

Love for the Cowboy Junkies

Dear Cowboy Junkies: Margo, Mike, Pete and Alan,

As artists, you don’t always know how you affect people. You only know that need to do what you do. I’m writing to share with you what an incredible effect you have on my fiancé and I.

Early on in our courtship, one morning Tom had left the house and gave me a call from his car, telling me to turn on the radio to KFOG. “Anniversary Song” was playing and it was my first introduction to the song. I can’t describe how touched I was, listening to those lyrics. This man thinks about me more than I’ll know.

In putting together our wedding music, we’ve chosen two versions of “Anniversary Song” to play. Watching Tom respond to your music is such a joy for me. Very few people bear witness to Tom smiling and dancing and I’m grateful to say that I get that privilege. I’m very lucky to be marrying this incredible man — who really does make me a cup of coffee in the morning — next week on May 4th. (This is our sanity weekend before our wedding.)

We’d be thrilled to hear you perform “Anniversary Song” tonight. We heard you perform it at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California last year but not at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz — also a romantic Junkies centered weekend out of town. We’re looking forward to seeing you again in the future, as a happily married couple. Thank you for your gift of music and for the positive effect you’ve made in our lives.

Peace and love,

Leah and Tom
Oakland, California
April 26, 2008

Public Art

Tom and I got our marriage license today. Whoo hoo!

The Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s office has such great art. Of course, I can’t go anywhere and not pay attention to the art. Here were some of the artist’s that stood out for me: Lisa Kokin. She’s got a great website as well. Plus, Christine Wong Yap, she’s got a blog and writing that I want to read.

Tom and I had dinner at Delfina. Excellent food. We’re a bit on the critical side. It’s nice to enjoy such wonderful food. Of course, more art I was interested in: Gregg Renfrow. His work includes pigment dissolved in polymer medium applied to translucent sheets of cast acrylic.

We had some yummy tastings of ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. We accidently went into the Bi-Rite Market at first. I would love one of those in our neighborhood!

Afterwards, we went to a birthday party at a friend’s house and met someone who told me about Climate Theater. They have show and tells, where you can bring in slides of your artwork and talk about it for $5 or less, if you bring food. Their next event is April 13 from 2-4. What a great place to practice speaking about your work. They mentioned you can bring work in progress as well. Sounds like something that would be good for me.

Bookbinding & Collage Creative Process

I was asked by someone how I made my books that are on display now at Frank Bette Center for the Arts. I was very touched by the inquiry and it made me smile because I saw myself in the questioner. I love asking about process, how someone does something… that’s what interests me.

I realize I have so many people to thank for my own process and so I thought here would be a good place to share my process and to acknowledge other artists who have helped me get to the point where I am now. To start, San Francisco Center for the Book has some amazing bookmaking workshops and instructors. I’ve taken several bookmaking classes with Victoria Dunkak Heifner who was really great and inspiring. I didn’t even mention their letterpress instruction, that is great as well.

For these books in particular, I came across Teesha Moore’s site and her instructions on how to make your own journal. I thought her description on her own creative process was very informative. Per her suggestion, I used canvas boards. These can be found at a local art supply and are nice because they generally can take a lot of glue and water and don’t warp.

I first did a Polaroid emulsion lift process with the photos I took during the Alameda on Camera weekend. I took some of the slides I had shot and printed them onto Polaroid 669 film with a Vivitar slide printer. You can find these on ebay or craigslist, etc. or you can purchase a Daylab printer. I heated water in a microwave up to 160˚ measuring it with a meat thermometer. The photos soaked for four minutes. I removed the emulsion from the paper backing, placed the canvas board under the water and moved the photo with a paint brush on top of the canvas board. This film on You Tube is a great visual. Plus, there are some written instructions in Jason Thompson’s very inspiring Making Journals by Hand: 20 Creative Projects for Keeping Your Thoughts. I let the canvas boards dry outdoors in the sun.

Next, I pasted ripped paper around the photographs. Generally, I cover the entire canvas, this was something that Nick Bantock pointed out in a class I took from him. In order to get over the fear of the blank page, it’s helpful to cover it quickly. That has worked for me, it gives me a goal. Working quickly is helpful too, you don’t want to think too much. Generally, I don’t have a specific idea of what the piece will look like when it’s done. I try not to get attached to the different phases it becomes. After the paper is dry, I paint it with watercolors. I actually apply droplets of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Water Color on the piece. My grandmother gave these to me. The colors are really vibrant and beautiful. My friend Maria told me about Tsukineko Walnut Ink that I like to spray on as well. I like to use Java and Walnut Ink. These colors soak into the lighter colors of paper and give a more connected look to the piece. This is something I also learned from Nick Bantock: when you add paint to collage or glued paper, it ends up being more of a painting and a more cohesive piece. In the Padlock Book I created, I also used some pastels, oil and chalk. I picked colors based on ones I saw in the photographs and colors that intuitively spoke to me. Towards the end, I flicked gold and brown acrylic paint on the canvas and after that dried, I sealed it with a matte medium varnish or a gloss varnish.

After a thorough drying, I glued bookbinding cloth to the two canvas boards in the process that Teesha Moore describes. The cloth needs to dry overnight at least. If there are certain areas of the bookcloth that are not staying down, you can add more glue under the cloth, put wax paper on top and then put a weight on top. After a thorough drying, you can paint the bookcloth. This is helpful to cover any glue areas you might have and you can paint the interior of the canvas boards as well. You can also apply paper to the interior canvas boards and paint on top of that if you like.

For these particular books, I didn’t want to use watercolor paper for the inside pages, instead I used Mohawk Superfine 28lb. Softwhite writing from Kelly Paper. I folded 8 sections of 8 pages each (with the grain direction), and cut them 1/2″ shorter on the height (head to tail) of the books and 1/4″ shorter on the width (foredge to spine). I used a professional guillotine cutter at work but there are some printers that will cut paper for you or you can cut it at SFCB.

At this point, I did some solvent transfers on the inside pages. You can read about this in Jason Thompson’s Making Journals by Hand: 20 Creative Projects for Keeping Your Thoughts. The solvent is nasty so please wear a mask and try not to breathe it. One tip would be to put your image on the bottom and your paper on top, apply the solvent and burnish the paper where the resulting image will appear, rather than your transfer image. Another tip is, if you would like your image to be the way you see it, photocopy it with the mirror setting so that the image doesn’t end up backwards.

I love exposed bindings and Keith A. Smith’s Volume 1 Non-Adhesive Binding Books without Paste or Glue is a wonderful place to learn. I picked the Long Stitch/Link Stitch binding from this book. When finished sewing, (thanks to Tom’s suggestion) I squared up the book by hitting the spine against my table so the book closes correctly.