Lisa Hannigan - Handmade

Is it just me, or are we seeing a surge of of pop-up-book art and paper-cuts art? I know we're seeing a renewed interest in and appreciation for the handmade object. Singer and songwriter Lisa Hannigan's new CD, Sea Sew, and the promotion for the disc, incorporate all three of these elements. Hannigan hails from Ireland, and sang backup for Damien Rice before being fired by him after seven years (see this NPR interview).

The central image for the web site for Sea Sew is a piece of knitting by Hannigan's mother. The original liner notes (song lyrics), photographed and included in the CD package, were hand-embroidered by Lisa (see the lyrics for Keep It All above). The song Lille -- the first of the two videos below -- is illustrated by pop-up imagery. That's Hannigan turning the pages. The pop-ups are by Maeve Clancy and Jamie Hannigan. The second, I Don't Know, has Hannigan literally "cutting-and-pasting" a room for herself (also created by Clancy). You can buy the album here and here. I love both of the songs and videos and have been playing them all afternoon.

Hannigan's blog entry for March 10, 2009 recounts her appearance on The Colbert Report. Catch that interview and performance here and here. Image credit for Keep It All lyrics (above): ATO Records. Thanks to Blue Roof Designs for the heads-up.


Making Paste Paper

I had the great good fortune to take part in a paste paper* workshop with Larry Lou Foster recently. Larry Lou (Louise Lawrence Foster), a book artist and fine binder, is a respected expert and innovator in paste-paper design. She has studied paste-paper traditions extensively and, over the years, replicated many historical patterns, as well as created new designs. It was a delightful and intense two days of work and study. Larry Lou is as generous as she is knowledgeable, and she was determined to share with us as many of her techniques and insights as our time with her allowed.

Printer, paper maker and book artist Frank Brannon, who met Larry Lou while in the MFA in Book Arts program at the University of Alabama, introduced Larry Lou to Laurie Corral, director of Asheville BookWorks, who immediately engaged her for a weekend workshop this spring. Frank is working on an edition of a book that will contain many examples of Larry Lou's paste papers, along with a discussion of her work. He not only designed the book and letterpress-printed the text, but made the paper for it as well. Once he's incorporated Larry Lou's paste-paper samples, which she created for the edition, he'll bind the books and make them available for sale.

Here are a few photos from the workshop. All of the paste papers pictured are Larry Lou's, although each of us who took the workshop came home came home with a lovely and ample supply of our own paper for book covers, boxes, cards, collage, etc.

* Paste papers are one of the earliest forms of decorative paper, first used in the 17th century for covers and end papers in books. Many of the beautiful and intricate designs of these papers are being used as inspiration by today's paste paper artists, who are also creating wonderful contemporary designs. The "paste" in "paste paper" is usually a wheat- or rice-paste mixture, to which pigment (acrylic paint or ground pigment) has been added. The colored paste is brushed onto dampened paper, then a variety of objects -- kitchen tools, carved brayers, and found objects, -- are used to draw into the paste while it is still wet. For those of you who may not have the convenience of a class, one of the best books on paste papers is Diane Maurer-Mathison's The Art of Making Paste Papers.

Larry Lou, using a long dowel to create diagonal lines on the paper,
over which she'll draw a design.


Sunday in the Park With...

A digression from "bookishness" today: I thought I'd share some photos of our outing yesterday with our two pups. We're fortunate to have several dog parks in the area, and we visited one of them for the first time yesterday afternoon. Coco (in spite of being the youngest and smallest of our two dogs, and among the smallest at the park), immediately took to the adventure. (That's Coco to the right, being "chauffered" to the park.) She made friends with everyone, dogs and people alike, and ran as fast as her very-close-to-the-ground legs would carry her. Twiggy, a more tentative pup, stuck close to me and Steven, venturing out only when Coco was with him. I was impressed at how well-behaved all the dogs were at the park. None of them showed any aggression, and all welcomed Coco's friendly overtures.

Next we headed downtown for a stroll. We live in a very dog-friendly place, so we can always depend on finding other people walking their dogs downtown on a weekend. Many shops allow pets inside, too. Twiggy and Coco had a great time exploring, then, when we took a break for hot cocoa and cookie, watching dogs and their people walk by.

This "puppy love" is a relatively new state of affairs for me. I've never been much of a pet person, and were it not for Steven, I doubt I'd ever have shared my home with an animal. Once we were married, 'though, Steven started to work on me, slowly but insistently, until I said 'yes' to bringing Twiggy home a little over four years ago. I still have a hard time believing that I agreed to a second dog (might Steven have put something in the water?). Nevertheless, I'm now besotted with Twiggy and Coco, and I've become one of those people to whom I used to feel superior while smiling indulgently as they talked about (and to) their dogs.

There's a moral here somewhere. Maybe one of them is that it's sometimes good to let go of old biases and welcome the unexpected.

Oh, by the way, Twiggy has his own blog (yes, clearly I've gone over the edge). He took a break after Coco arrived -- she's quite a handful -- but he expects to be posting more regularly again.

Getting to know the dog park pups.

Coco makes a (big) friend.

Twiggy makes a friend downtown.

Spring is here (and Steven's behind it).

Coco watches the Sunday strollers.

Twiggy wouldn't mind a bite of Steven's cookie.

Going home after a long day.