I’ve been missing you!  I have needed to take an enforced break from my usual weekly or bi-weekly posts on my blog.  It has been for a very good reason.  I took a big commission to set and bind two copies of a local author’s manuscript in leather in time for Christmas.  Everything was put down that possibly could be, including Christmas cards and letters . . . and my blog.  The commission was finished and delivered in time, but it meant that Christmas for me began on December 22nd!  I have big deadlines stacking up, and am taking the opportunity of a good studio purge and clean up to get ready for the work (no, I am not procrastinating . . . .).Love Letters low

The turn of the year is always a time when I feel the need to purge and weed and sort and clean.  Raking out all the old baggage applies to my mind and spirit as much as my home and studio.  I find as I work on one, the other comes naturally.  Today has been a wonderfully peaceful day to myself, a stunningly beautiful Alberta winter day of sparkling snow and a sky so densely, intensely blue it felt as though you could just reach up and touch it.  I have been working in three different rooms simultaneously, flowing naturally from task to task as I have moved things around the house.  As you’ve heard, my studio is getting something of an overhaul this year, as I’m making room for my letterpress cart and making room for a small workbench against one wall.  It has been a joyous day of accomplishing many small tasks that have hung over me, liberally interspersed with coffee and Facebook chats.  While I’ve worked, I’ve mused over the last year’s adventures with a sense of head-shaking amazement.306386_250264971681573_924559462_n

Going into 2012, it seemed it would be a year to offer some good things.  My teaching opportunities were expanding, meaning the opportunity for travel and meeting lots of new people over the year.  Now, at the other end of the year, it has been one of such richness in work and experience that it is difficult to compare the reality with my expectations at the start.

Early in the Spring, I had the opportunity to write an article for the inaugural edition of “Art Journaling Exposed”, a new emagazine launched by Interweave Press in 2012.  I responded with a fun piece on making instant travel journals from materials you can find at hand and with no tools (third square, bottom row).Contents page
Almost immediately on the heels of that, a most significant event occurred.  My work was accepted by the Alberta Craft Council for “Pulp Paper Pages”, a show at their gallery in Edmonton featuring book and paper arts.  It was a great honour to be selected, and I travelled with my family to Edmonton to attend the opening.  It was exciting and eye-opening to see the wondrous variety of exceptional book and paper arts happening right here in Alberta.

EdmontonImmediately on the heels of that trip, I had the opportunity to teach at a conference for the Reggio Network Calgary, an organisation promoting child-led learning through the arts.   I had an utterly outstanding and very stimulating day at the “The Languages of Paper” conference, listening to stimulating keynote speeches, and teaching two workshops to a full house of engaging, intelligent, interesting people.  We are blessed indeed to have such people teaching our children.ReggioRight on the heels of the Reggio Network conference, I ran an altered books workshop called “Altered States” right here in my own Bow Valley.  A very different pace to the day, we were a small and enjoyable group who shared and connected so wonderfully.  I came away from the day feeling I had gained as much as I had given with this group.

Altered States altered books playshop

Altered States altered books playshop

Barely had I completed that assignment than it was time to pack up my supplies, my co-teacher and my family to head to southern California.  Once again, I was teaching at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine, California.  This time, we were making it into a family vacation.  I was co-teaching a session with my dear friend  Tiffany Teske for the first time.  It was exciting to be returning to California for the third year in a row.  It’s like going home to me, because I grew up around the greater Los Angeles area.  CREATE is always such a creatively rich environment, with so many people to connect with and nostalgic visits to make.  We spent nearly two weeks in California, managing to get to the beach every day, visit with family and hang out with Tiffany in addition to teaching.  DSC04214 low

On my return home, I ran right into our local artsPeak Festival of the Arts.  I always teach free community workshops, and this year got to engage my wider community in a fun environmental community art project.  Nothing is more rewarding than engaging my community and spending the day sharing and exchanging and playing creatively with people of all ages.  458910_10151001981502268_1225562129_oI got something of a break over July to catch up with friends and family and complete upcoming proposals.  Then, in August, I made my first ever trip to Chicago. DSC04236 low Teaching at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Chicago was a very different experience.  It’s a beautiful area, culturally rich and chock filled with eye-popping architectural interest.  Tiffany and I again travelled and taught together.  It was so enjoyable to reconnect with many of the teachers we’ve met before, and to get to know the great group of people who made up our students.  One of our students turned out to be a member of my parents’ church in Missouri!  A small world indeed.  The highlight for me was our last-night trip to the Queen of Heaven Cemetery to photograph the monuments in the dusk.DSC04251 low

September was another whirlwind, including Alberta Culture Days, during which I participated in an exhibition, attended receptions and ran a free public workshop on altered books.  I managed to squeeze in a fun photo shoot with a local photographer, and then there was just enough time after that to pack my cases once again and take off to Portland, Oregon for my first time teaching at Art & Soul Retreat there.  What a magnificent experience all around, a terrific group of people and a delightfully solo road trip for me to spend much time on the wild Oregon coast.  285789_10151228140617268_1161624324_nI finally hit home in time to make a big presentation to Council.  Over the last couple of years, I have chaired an Advisory Committee, designing and implementing a new Community Arts Centre for our community.  The final presentation to Council occurred on my return, and I was excited and relieved for our proposal to receive unanimous support from Council.  Once that was complete, I was ready to settle down in the studio for the winter and get some of my own work done.  I’m hard at work on my submissions for The Art of the Book 2013 right now and can’t wait to get those submissions in.  My deadline for the Sketchbook Project is looming too, so there’s much need for the studio clean up to be completed asap and get these things finished.  2013 has shaped up to have some fantastic opportunities in it, and alot more travel for me.

Just when I thought the year would finally fade out on a quieter note, a most momentous event occurred.  In early December, I was deeply honoured to be taken on as a student by the gifted binder and conservator Sean Richards of Byzantium Studios.  We will have a few opportunities to work together over the year, and Sean has been true to his word already in sending me study materials to start with.  Between working with Sean, teaching, writing and my full time job and family, life in 2013 is going to be very interesting.  The first adventure comes in February, so I’d better get to studying!

Happy New Year, my friends.  Thank you for following and commenting and being part of this whirlwind of a life of mine.  I hope 2013 brings peace and enrichment to your life too.