14064049_10154561859572268_8199250885273091585_nI am in process of transitioning to a new single existence based in Cambridge, UK.  Having dissolved my old life in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, I am cycling through six weeks of travels and visits with friends and family before the final transit to my new home.  Taking this time, this pause between actions, has been so deeply grounding and nurturing.  The interval has permitted time for grieving and letting go of the old life, transiting through ever-changing emotions as I move toward the gateway to the new life.  As part of this time, I spent five days with my dear friend Nancy and her husband Francois in their sanctuary of a cottage on Lac Sheen in the Quebec woods.  It was a time of deep peace in stunning surroundings, early morning kayaking in perfect stillness, haunting loon calls in the wee hours, heart-to-heart talks, endless creation, afternoon lake swims, wonderful food and the gift of old friendship and new.  I was able to spend some of the time building components of my latest artist’s book, A Walk in Quebec Woods.  With periods of papermaking, suminagashi and acrylic marbling interspersed, it was a blessed time to deepen my bond with these dear friends and to soothe my soul in the waters of their magical lake.  

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1914753_1053798144661581_5564570931144068029_nIt’s been an uncharacteristically long time since I blogged here.  How considerably my life has changed in the last two years.  In the face of such enormous change and transition, adequate words have failed me and I’ve turned away from blogging on a regular basis.  Through it all, I have continued to work, to teach extensively and to write in different venues.  Interestingly, much of my work over the last year has related to art journaling, and I have finally achieved the break away from my attachment words that I sought for so long.
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I am drawn back to this blog at an interesting time.  Months ago, I wrote about the end of my thirty year marriage.  That has entailed a two year long process involving a combination of hard work and slow acceptance.  A year after my four months of travel through the UK and Europe with my daughter, I am now putting a change of life into process that began to formulate in those travels.

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By this time, I am replete from a month of farewell lunches, get-togethers and gatherings.  The tidal wave of love and caring I have received from coast to coast has tumbled me and humbled me, learning the depth of regard in which I am and have been held.  I rode the crest of that wave into my journey to a new life.  I finally resigned from my full time job, sold and disposed of most of my possessions and furniture, packed my suitcase and departed on a journey to finally becoming the fully itinerant artist and teacher I have worked so hard to be.  I am grounding firmly with six weeks of visits to dearest family and friends.  Once steady on my feet and ready for launch, I will board a plane with my daughter to return to our beloved England to make our home there once again.

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Is that the end of the story?  Oh no.  It is the barest beginning of the vision I have.  I have worked more than a decade to build a business that can come with me.  Though based in the United Kingdom, I will begin to more fully and regularly divide my time between Canada and the US and the United Kingdom.  Free of a demanding full time job, I will be able to turn more fully and readily to my studio to bring the many manifestations of my creative vision to life.

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As I dismantle my old life, I am quietly sweeping away my footprints behind me.  I am filled with love and gratitude for the life I have led the last twelve years, and to all those who have shared my path over those years.  It is time for a new path, stepping fully into the artistic life I was born for, and that has grown and grown around me over these years.  Riding the crest of that uplifting wave of love and regard, I go forward.  There is so very much to look forward to, and you will begin to see me in some new ventures and venues as the year advances.  Watch out for upcoming workshops and some new online workshops coming for 2017, two new articles in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and my work venturing further afield for exhibition.  The images included in this blog post show two recent artist book works completed:  Anonymous and Rime.  You can check them out on my Facebook page!  I look forward to seeing you about.

Oh my dears, Spring is in my blood!  My eyes see her colours everywhere; drink in the high, flawless azure of the Alberta sky; scent the rich loam thawing under the sun’s gentle caress.  The blood is racing in my veins like sap rising.  I’ll have to strap myself to the saddle to keep my seat on the gallop this season will bring.

There is so much to do.  I will be teaching solidly through March, April and May, before taking off on a three-and-a-half-month adventure with my daughter . . . .

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March and April

The first offering is a two-part workshop, “The Book as Art”, being held here in our stunning Bow Valley of Alberta.  I have not offered a workshop like this here since 2011.  It’s my custom to repay my community every year for its support by offering locally-delivered workshops at greatly discounted rates. I am offering these workshops for just $100 plus a $15 materials fee for two 12-6pm days.  This is a third or less of what you might expect pay to join me for these workshops elsewhere, so it’s well worth the journey if you’re willing to make it.  Part 1 is 21 March 2015, and part 2 is 4 April 2015.  If you are interested to take a spot or two, please message me through my contact form.

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I am also offering my training workshop “The Care and Mending of Books” at various times and locations in Alberta.  This is a workshop I have delivered to the staff of public, university and school libraries for a few years.  I taught it at the Canadian Library Association Conference in Victoria, BC last May and have now been asked to offer it in Alberta.  This is a full-day workshop and I have one or two places available at the Three Hills Public Library, Three Hills, Alberta on 28 March, and also at the Paul D. Fleck Library at the Banff Centre in Banff on April 7th.   The cost is $150 per person.  Please contact me if you are interested in attending.

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The Care and Mending of Books Workshop

A healthy collection is a happy collection!  Is packing tape your best book mending friend?  Join Dea Fischer of Canmore Public Library to learn the skills and tools you need to mend and repair your own materials.  Extend the life of your collection materials at minimum cost, and reduce your reliance on bindery fees and replacement materials.

In our morning session, you will learn and practice repair techniques on several most common repairs (e.g., broken spine, torn pages, replacing pages, repairing torn hinges).  In our afternoon session, you will learn and practice more advanced mending and conservation techniques, including re-casing a book, replacing a spine, repairing and reinforcing corners.  During the day, you will also learn aspects of collection maintenance and handling, and some reinforcement techniques to avoid or delay some common problems.  You will also participate in a question and answer session to deal with your mending and repair questions.

May

Then, in mid-May, I am flying to Portland, Maine.  I am excited and delighted to be the featured artist at a getaway with Idyllworks of Maine!

Idyllworks offers extraordinary getaways for busy women around the globe to connect and unwind. Designed to encourage relaxation and spark creativity, each of their getaways is a unique opportunity that I’m thrilled to be a part of.

One of the perks of making a living as an artist is that I get to share my craft with others. At this getaway I’ll have the opportunity to teach an intimate group in a beautiful setting about what I do and spend the weekend with them as they embrace their own creative spirit.

I’ll be working with guests to hand construct your own unique and beautiful long-stitch journal.  You will then go on to work with another featured artist, Leslie Beattie, to work on content for your lovely journals.  As an added bonus, this getaway takes place in gorgeous coastal Maine. When we’re not developing our artistic skills, there will be plenty of time to explore the surrounding areas or relax on the porch and take in the views from Grey Havens Inn.

Find out more about the getaway here. It’s worth mentioning that Idyllworks accepts both full retreat registration and also day registration for those living more locally.  I would love to have you share this incredible experience with me!

Idyllworks_for_Day_Students__Page_1 What’s next?

June through October this year, I am so excited to be taking a leave of absence in order to travel through the UK and Europe with my beautiful, soon-to-be-graduating daughter, Millie.  It’s in the nature of a grad trip and the chance to move her toward her goal of attending the UK art school her father graduated from.  I am working on setting up some teaching in the UK while I’m there, so watch this space and I’ll let you know.

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And of course, if you aren’t able to join me for one of these great workshop opportunities, I have an instructional DVD and download with Cloth Paper Scissors: “Handmade Book Essentials”, and a web seminar, “Tags, Flags and Memories” available from the Interweave Store and Craft Daily.  Whatever you do, I hope you will get out, get your hands mucky and your heart singing this spring!

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Roll on summer!  Hilarious, considering spring seems to be experiencing considerable difficulty getting underway.  Yet the year is galloping on ahead despite the lag in the weather, and we are mid-May already!  I have already started plans and preparations for my various teaching gigs this year, so I thought it was about time I shared some information with you!  All this and more detail will go up on my website shortly, but here’s a nice little taster.

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My very first teaching engagement away from home will be, unusually, teaching in my role as a library conservator.  I will be teaching introductory and intermediate book repair sessions at the Canadian Library Association Conference in Victoria, BC on May 28th.  A chance to spend some springtime in Victoria can only be a good thing!

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I am excited to have some different teaching opportunities this year.  I absolutely love teaching at CREATE, and I will be doing so again this year.  Only . . . in different venues!  I am so excited to tell you I will be teaching at CREATE in Dallas, Texas for the first time this year, at a fabulously creative looking place called the Night Hotel.  I am offering five workshops in Dallas, and you can see details here.

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I am not long back from Texas and I will be winging my excited way to Idyllworks in Maine for a long weekend steeped in connection and art making at the beautiful Grey  Havens Inn.  A much more intimate experience, a group of us will gather to create our own journals and then work on filling them while we fill our souls with walks and wonderful food and sea air and companionship.  Just look at the details here.  Won’t you please come?

After Maine, I have a very, very exciting thing shaping up which I will need to tell you more about once the details have been pinned down.  For now, I will just say, all of you in Australia who have been asking me to come may finally get your wish!

And then, toward the end of October, it’s back to CREATE, this time in Seattle, WA.  I so love the Seattle area and am excited to have the opportunity to teach in this more northerly west coast venue.  I’m really hoping to see some of the lovely people in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada that I’ve been hearing from for so long.  In Seattle, I have seven workshops on offer, and there is so much more deliciousness to choose from besides.  Do check it out!

I will put greater detail on my website shortly, and you can always view updates on the latest on either my Facebook page or my Google+ page any time.  I hope to see you at one of these great venues this year.

Good Heavens!  Is it 2014 already?  I had such plans to blog about the amazing events of 2013, and then, before I knew it, the year was over.  I don’t make resolutions as such, but I do have aspirations for the coming year.  One of them is to get back to blogging on a more regular basis.  Starting now!524284_423843824323686_1004332719_n

When I last wrote, I shared with you the exciting acquisitions of my work that had taken place in 2013.  I remain a little bewildered and deeply grateful for those events, and hope things continue along those lines in the coming year.  “River Worn” has since appeared in an exhibition of the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, University of Toronto, as part of the “A Death Greatly Exaggerated” exhibition.

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2013 was significant for me in other ways too, including travel to teach at CREATE in California and in New Jersey.  Those trips are always a great deal of fun, having the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones that share my passion for art and creativity.  In the summer, I travelled to both Los Angeles, California and New Jersey with my dear friend Tiffany Teske for a busy couple of weeks of solid teaching.

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As it turned out, as great as they were, these were not the most lasting memories 2013 brought.  For in 2013, I celebrated my 50th birthday.  The gift I chose was to make a solo road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway of California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  On previous trips, I have travelled the PCH from near the Mexican border to LA, and from Seattle south to the border with California.  The Washington/Oregon trip had been transformative, a few short days that changed my inner landscape profoundly.  I hungered for another time at the wheel, experiencing this time and place in its fullness, through my own eyes and soul.  

The time was fully as transformative as expected, but not at all in the way I thought.  As part of this important time, I took the opportunity to share some of the time with an old, old friend I had not seen since high school more than thirty years before.  The time shared was powerful for both of us, dredging up deep and long-buried feelings of separation and loss, and the painful goodbyes and torn roots that characterised our military lives.  The connection in some ways completed a circle, and in others tore open old wounds that can’t ever really be resolved.  I met my young self on that trip, traversing that road for the first time since I was five years old, and looked some of my oldest hurts in the face in a way that released some things I have carried all my life.  In between the tears and the talks, there were many hours cruising the PCH, stopping at random times to photograph, laughing over the kitsch, experiencing the Monterey Bay Aquarium and rekindling a long-cherished and remembered friendship.  The circles continue to widen from that trip, an internal revolution.  Resolution.  Transformation indeed.  I am finding words inadequate to express the depth of impact, the quake that continues to resonate through my very being.

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Part of my plan to mark this auspicious 50th birthday year included a list.  At the start of the year, I embarked on fulfilling a list of 50 Things I’ve Never Done.  Although there are still five months until my next birthday, I’ve only a couple of things left to accomplish.  I started off with no plan, opportunistically and openly embracing new things as they arose and seeking them out as they occurred to me.  Fulfilling the list has been by times fun, liberating, profound, eye-opening, terrifying, thought-provoking and laughter-filled.  I won’t share the whole list, but the list has spanned everything from something as simple as cooking and eating new foods (e.g., vegetarian moussaka) and destinations (New York!) to reaching beyond my own inhibitions and fears into the places that scare me (like lighting a bonfire with gasoline on New Year’s Eve!).  The activities have often been shared or brought to me by dear friends and have provided some unexpected bonding moments over the year.  I might have to make a list of some sort part of my lexicon each year! 057 (2) (480x640)George Washington Bridge (480x640)

And then, before I’d had a chance to catch my breath, I was picked up and whirled into a trip of a lifetime to South Korea!  I was fortunate to have had a piece of work juried into the Alberta Craft Council exhibition “Pulp Paper Pages”.  A collaboration with the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, it was an opportunity to showcase the best of book and paper arts happening in Alberta at this time.  As part of an existing relationship, the Council applied for and was successful in obtaining grant funding to send a delegation of artists and the exhibition itself to South Korea.  I was so lucky to have been chosen as one of the artist delegates to accompany the exhibition to the Hanji Paper Festival in Wonju in the Gangwon Province of South Korea.  I have recently been commissioned to write an account of that trip for Bound and Lettered magazine, and so will wait to share the detail with you in that article.  From a personal perspective, the trip carried great gifts of new friendships and discovery, and included many items on my 50 Things I’ve Never Done list (like eating stingray and praying in a Buddhist mountain temple).  For the time being, let me share some of the images from this most wonderful trip.

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What a busy, fabulous year it has been.  There have been so many more events and participations I haven’t even mentioned.  I’ll leave you with a little clue to some of what has occurred this year.  Look out for lots more!  Wishing you and yours absolutely the best this year has to carry over your threshold.  Be well, be creative, be strong.  Happy New Year!1397961_617779771596756_516434779_o

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“Follow Me”, Limited Edition artist’s book, copyright 2013 Dea Fischer

Have you visited my Dea Fischer – Book Artist page on Facebook lately?  There are some fun tutorials and lots of pictures of my book arts and other work out in circulation, plus many great shares of book-arts-related info and the work of gifted book artists working around the world.  The number of ‘likes’ on my page has been steadily leaping upward.  I promised when we reached 500 ‘likes’ that I would do a giveaway when we reached 1,000.  With that number, it seemed most appropriate to give away a copy of Quarry Books’ “1,000 Artists’ Books”, published last summer.

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My book “A Sense of Place” is included in this wonderful and inspiring book of some of the best book arts happening around the world today.  There are only 53 ‘likes’ to go and then it’s giveaway time!   I will use a random number generator to choose the lucky recipient from all those who have ‘liked’ the page up to and including the 1,000th person.  So, what are you waiting for?  You have to be in it to win it . . . . .

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“A Sense of Place”, copyright 2011 Dea Fischer

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
~Jacques Yves Cousteau11bc86ce365a11e1abb01231381b65e3_7

And so, the time approaches for me to make what is becoming an annual pilgrimage to the California coast of my childhood.  Excitement is building as I have made travel arrangements and begun my work on samples and supplies.  The opportunity to travel back to California regularly has become the greatest gift of my artistic life, and has given me a touchstone with my past that has long been absent.  We lived in the Greater Los Angeles area for a number of years during my childhood, and returned there often to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  I spent my childhood on LA’s beaches and imprinted my soul with the colour of its sunlight.  Visits have involved a kind of double vision for me, seeing the LA of today and the LA of my childhood overlapping.  My beloved grandparents lived out the second half of a life that was amazing to my eyes on that coast.  Returning brings me back into the arms of those aunts and uncles and cousins I so love and teaches me that, for me, California will always be home.

This year will be the fourth year in a row I’ve been privileged to make this journey.  The trip this year marks some precious landmarks in my life.   Once again, I will enjoy sharing and creating with all the enthusiastic, talented and creative students and teachers at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine.  A full week of creation, good talk and fun times (with a bit of wine, I’m sure) to come.

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The second week will be something very different.  For the first time since my husband and I met 27 years ago, I will take a vacation on my own, away from my family.  The trip will mark another of my growing list of Fifty Things I Have Never Done.  For June 6 will be my 50th birthday.  To mark it, I will undertake the next leg of my journey to complete the Pacific Coast Highway.  This time, I will tour north from Los Angeles, ending up with a few days seeing old friends in San Francisco.  I haven’t been to San Francisco since I was a very small child.  The trip will culminate in meeting with a most dear friend I have not seen since we were both in high school some 34 years ago.CA-Highway1Sign-XL

As with my trip along the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington and Oregon last year, my days and nights will be spent kicking along through the nostalgia of the small coastal towns, walking for hours barefoot on the beach, touching the sea and talking with my grandfather, whose ashes were scattered in the sea off that coast 25 years ago.  This poem was my grandfather’s favourite and was read at his funeral. The words of the poem go to a deep place inside me that expresses the feeling of my sojourns to the sea better than any words I could conjure. My favourite line? ” . . where the wind’s like a whetted knife . . ” I’ve never known another that expressed my family’s feeling for the sea quite so perfectly.

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)

I am eager for my days by the sea and for all those weeks will bring.  Leaving will be hard, harder each time, harder than ever this year with such special things and people to say goodbye to.    Even the prospect of a painful goodbye will not keep me away.  My beloved sea, I’ll be on my way soon.285789_10151228140617268_1161624324_n

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach–waiting for a gift from the sea.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh