Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Accordion Book Directions (with bonus cat)

September 12, 2014

workshop -finished book

Last spring I did some accordion book-making with kids as part of a writing workshop I taught at the Kamloops Young Authors Conference. We talked about how each story is a “hero’s journey” (with a quest and obstacles to overcome along the journey), then we created accordion book plot diagrams (with participants plotting out their own hero’s journeys). The books are also meant to look old and mysterious ─part treasure map and part talisman. The kids’ books turned out great!

workshop in progress

Before the workshop, I set out my supplies to photograph the directions for making a simple accordion book. Of course, the first picture was photo-bombed by my cat (aptly named Curious, she always has to check out everything).


Accordion book supplies:

– two rectangle pieces of cardboard for book covers (cardboard from cereal boxes works well). (For the “Hero’s Journey” book project, I cut the cardboard 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches).

– two rectangle pieces of decorative paper for book covers (the pieces should be larger than the cardboard by about 1/4 inch or so all around). (For the “Hero’s Journey” book project, I cut the cover paper to 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches and used kraft packing paper, which I “aged” by crumpling up the paper, then smoothing it out and adding brown ink & tea bag staining).

– a strip of paper that will be accordion folded to make the book “pages.” When folded, the pages should be slightly smaller than the book covers (for the “Hero’s Journey project, I cut the paper strip 3 x 16 inches, which fit nicely inside the book covers when accordion folded into 2 x 3 sections –also, three of these strips could be cut from a 11 x 17 sheet of paper).

– ribbon or raffia string (my first thought was to use the natural coloured raffia for an antique look, but my cat tried to eat it, so I switched to fabric ribbon). The ribbon should be long enough to wrap around the finished book and tie (I used a 16 inch piece for the “Hero’s Journey” book).

– scissors, glue

– optional: tea bag & brown ink stamp pad for “aging” the covers and inside pages, small pieces of decorative paper to glue inside the covers (we used antique map images for this project), craft jewels & collage items for decorating the covers

Directions (the following photos are from a different accordion book project, using Japanese paper):

1. Once your two pieces of cardboard and two cover papers are cut, place your first piece of cardboard on top of the back of a piece of cover paper (ie on top the side you don’t want showing). Centre it, so that there is an equal overlap of paper around the cardboard.

step 2

step 3

2. Cut the corners off the cover paper at the corners of the cardboard.

3. Fold the edges of the cover paper, so that they wrap tightly over the sides of the cardboard. Glue. (Do this with both covers).

step 4

4. Glue ribbon to centre of inside back cover (with equal amount of ribbon on either side).

step 5

5. Fold long strip of paper in accordion fashion, so that it divides into equal rectangles sized slightly smaller than the covers. Glue end rectangle “page” of accordion folded strip onto centre of back cover (over the ribbon). Glue the first rectangle page over the inside of the remaining cover, so that when the accordion folds are folded together, the covers come together.

finished book

6. wrap the ribbon around the front of the book and tie a bow.




Play Time ahead!

February 24, 2011

I’ve decided I need a “year of art.” It’s been ages since I’ve played with paper, paints, and collage supplies. What better way to start than a visit to Ruby Dog’s Art House! This inspiring Vancouver store is like a treasure trove for collage and mixed media artists. Owner, Leanne, and her dog, Ruby, are always welcoming, and there is plenty of eye candy, unique ephemera, colourful bits and pieces, and sample artwork to get the creative juices flowing.

Some images from today’s visit:

(RubyDog’s is located at 623 Kingsway –near Fraser and 15th Ave).

A taste of Japan – through photos, haiku and food

March 18, 2010

Recently [2010], Jean-Pierre Antonio, a friend who has lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years, asked me to write some haiku to accompany a series of photographs he took in Tokyo and Kyoto this past December. Usually my haiku is inspired by personal experience, and I wasn’t sure if I’d have any success trying to write in response to someone else’s photographs, but Jean-Pierre’s multiple images of bright winter yokan fruit, calligraphic wisteria vines, and mysterious crows immediately evoked a strong feeling of place and mood, and the first haiku quickly took shape. Writing something to go with Jean-Pierre’s photos of young people engrossed in manga-reading and close-up sections of ancient fabric took a little more thought. To write about the fabric, I had to, in a sense, reach back across time to imagine what was going through the minds of the long-ago fabric artists…

The result of our collaboration is currently on display at Sawa Tea Lounge and Gallery, 1538 W.  2nd Ave in Vancouver (near the entrance to Granville Island). Below are some images from the exhibit and the location:

(The blossoms were in full bloom in a courtyard space designed by Arthur Erickson and right beside Sawa.)

If you’re in Vancouver I hope you’ll stop by and check out the show (Sawa is a great place for lunch or tea!).

Note: this is Jean-Pierre’s third photo exhibit at Sawa. Click here for a blog post on a past exhibit.

Autumn art

October 3, 2008

I don’t know who decided this, but apparently October 4 is World Card Making Day. So, I thought I’d share this card I made for my mom, whose birthday is October 5. Happy Birthday, Mom!  And Happy Fall everyone else!

The quote continues on the inside:

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”  – George Eliot

Note: rub-on letters are easy to get stuck on your fingers and not so easy to get off!

Japan: many views through one lens

March 7, 2008

This morning I helped my friend Jean-Pierre Antonio hang photos for his exhibit, “Japonisme today,” which runs March 7-25 at Sawa Restaurant and Gallery near Granville Island, Vancouver (1538 W. 2nd Ave).

Japonisme Today photo exhibit
Jean-Pierre has lived in Japan for close to twenty years (he was a great help with research for my novel, Manga Touch). Taken together, his photos create a kaleidoscope of colours and images ranging from the blurred action of summer revelers in Maruyama Park, Kyoto to the larger-than-life performances of television personalities; from the serene and mysterious faces of old statues to the lively, self-conscious poses of university students. The photos are bright with life and movement, depicting a Japan that still has one foot in the “old Japan” that has always intrigued the Western imagination, while the other foot leaps ahead (and sometimes side-ways) into an ever evolving, reinventing present.
images from exhibit

(Some of my favourite photos of Jean-Pierre’s are not featured in the exhibit, but are included on notecards available for sale at the show. The food at the restaurant is worth a stop as well!)

Happy Year of the Rat!

February 5, 2008

rat novelMy novel The Truth About Rats (and Dogs) talks about rats and about Chinese New Year, so I couldn’t let the start of the Year of the Rat pass without blogging about the occassion. So, Gung Hay Fat Choy! (or Gong Xi Fa Cai!).

People who were born under the sign of the rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996) are considered ambitious and hard-working – like their rodent counter-parts, who are diligent seekers of food. When rats sense food within reach, they will chew through almost anything to get to it. Similarly, when humans with this zodiac sign want something, they will as work as hard as a rat to achieve their goal. Apparently, 2008 will be a good year for rat people. Obstacles and setbacks can be overcome, and success is immanent (although it may be temporary).

I’ve been taking an online art class (cool concept and a lot of fun) with artist Karyn Gartel, and I’m using some of the techniques in the first few class assignments to make some Year of the Rat art, which I’ll post here as soon as it’s done. In the meantime, you can click here for last year’s Chinese New Year post and art or click here for a past rat post.

And here’s my Year of the Rat art:
Year of the Rat art 

New year, new book

January 2, 2008

Happy New Year everyone!

If you like to make art from things found around you, check out the Olympia Dumpster Divers blog. Their January 1 post talks about making art from shoes and has a link to my shoes on the wires post.

I don’t usually make specific New Year’s resolutions, but tend to set general goals like “create art,” “write,” “notice nature around me,” “nurture relationships,” etc. I also feel that the start of a new year is like the first page of a new diary: fresh, clean, ready for me to write whatever I want.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve kept a written diary or journal. Depending on the type of book, I used to fill several journals a year, but now I’m down to about one a year (if this still sounds like a lot of writing, you should know that I write big and messy and don’t get many words to a page). Every time I start a new book, I feel like it’s a fresh start in my life — like the start of a new year. I pause and think about what I want the theme of the new book/new year to be. It might be the year I move to Vancouver (1990), the year I get my first book published (2002), the year I travel to Japan (2006), etc. I’m not sure what the theme of this year will be. I have a few things I’d like to achieve in my personal life and in my writing, but the fact that we have to find a new place to live will be a big theme this year. I still don’t know when it will happen (some time within the next four months probably) or where we’ll end up, so I feel like I’m starting the year with an unseen page. Maybe 2008 will be a year of positive change. That’s what I’m hoping.

I’ll leave off this post with an image of the moon on Christmas Eve (not in great focus, as I was balancing my little Nikon Coolpix on a balcony railing). The huge halo around the moon is apparently due to the unusually close proximity of Mars (Mars was located to the right of the moon just within the halo).

Christmas Eve moon

Snowflake surprises

December 19, 2007

folded snowflakesWhen I was growing up, one of the things I always enjoyed leading up to Christmas was making paper snowflakes. This year, we cut a Christmas tree from our own yard (it was diseased, and it would have been cut down in the spring anyway when condo “development” starts on this property). My daughter has been supervising the decoration of the tree with cat-safe ornaments (see my posting from last Christmas for the reason why), including a paper chain, origami animals and paper snowflakes. Here are a few of the snowflakes I made (I seem to remember them turning out better when I was younger). It’s a simple craft, but the moment of unfolding the cut triangles to reveal the completed snowflakes is always exciting.


Wishing everyone joy and peace in the holiday season!

Dances with Fabric

November 18, 2007

Today I headed down to the Grandview Legion Hall on Commerical Drive for Swap-O-Rama-Rama, a clothes swap and re-fashion extravaganza.

Commercial Drive

A great day to get out on “The Drive” and do something creative (and environmentally positive)!


Participants pay a small fee and contribute a bag of clothes, then help themselves to clothes up for grabs on several tables. Take the clothing as is, alter items at stenciling, collage, sewing and other creative work stations, or just dance to the music….


The stenciling and stamping stations were my favourite:


Here’s a glimpse of something I worked on (which will remain secret until after Christmas):


I’ve had a bunch of old t-shirts at home that I’ve been wanting to renovate for quite awhile, but I never seem ready to take scissors or paint to them. What was fun about Swap-o-rama-rama today is I didn’t stop to think and plan, I just picked up some pieces of clothing that caught my eye and went with what they suggested to me. Working quickly and without worrying about achieving perfection was freeing, playful, empowering. Now, if I can just keep that inspiration going now that I’m back home…..

Note: To find out more about Swap-o-rama-rama or to find one coming to your area, click here.

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2007

hanunted houseHere’s a haunted house my daughter created for today (windows and doors open up to reveal scary things).

A few posts ago I talked about the fall’s “new year” feeling. I mentioned the Jewish New Year being celebrated in the fall, but I forgot about the Celtic New Year, Samhain (pronounced more like s-aun, I think). The Celts of pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland had a circular view of life, and around October 31 they celebrated the end of summer and harvest at the same time as they looked forward to the new life and light that would emerge out of the death and darkness of winter. Samhain was considered a time when the boundary between the living world and the otherworld was thinest, when the dead could return and warm themselves at the hearth fires of the living and some of the living (such as poets) could enter the otherworld at certain special locations.

Samhain was Christianized into All Saints’ Day or All Hallows’ Day on November 1, and Oct 31 became All Hallows Even (Halloween). People dressed in costumes to either scare away evil spirits or blend in with the dead who may have returned for a visit. Bonfires (bone-fires, on which bones of cattle slaughtered for the winter were thrown) were lit to fend off evil, unite the community and remind of the light to return in the spring, divination games were played, and turnips (later, pumpkins) were carved with scary faces to scare away evil spirits or possibly to symbolize skulls of the dead.

It’s hard to know exactly what the original meanings were behind the different symbols and customs now associated with today’s candy-eating, costume-wearing celebration, jack-o-lanternbut it sounds like it was not only a sacred or more deeply meaningful time for the ancient Celts, but it was also fun even then.

(Jack-o-lantern quilt made by my mother-in-law)