Shanna, Tools & Philly

Moose bones galore, to begin.

Moose bones galore, to begin.

It was quite the day zipping over to Philly, making wrong turns, parking on the wrong end of Broad Street, screaming with the screaming lady on the meridian. Just another bewildering Celeste morning but with interesting developments because of all the hubbub. I found my destination and it was worth the effort. Had a grand time meeting Shanna (my fav book artist) and making tools out of Moose bone (seems the most Ivory-like to me). There were just enough book artists/teachers and enthusiasts plus a cool breeze coming in the windows. We ground away with farrier rasps, riffler and other assorted files. When learning decorating tips, a flex(ible) shaft served the need to test & develop. Not nearly enough time to enjoy all there is but such are one-day workshops.

Terrific time at University for the Arts

Terrific time at University for the Arts

Shanna’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/ShannaLeinoHandBuilt?ref=ts&fref=ts and her website: http://www.shannaleino.com/
I was very happy to be there for the skills and friends. I purchased some of her fine work, some of which I’ll use for etching. I especially like her metal tools, decorated and treated with gun metal bluing. It gives a blackish look that is more than attractive. The steel is protected against rust. It’s a kind of black oxide coating using a hot alkali salt solution. Here the alchemist in me went wild over the thought of it. It’s heated to 135-155 degrees. I miss my Parker side-by-side shotgun as we speak of this since it had the firearm version of bluing. Absolutely beautiful. I’m a fire and metal person too so the day was more than satisfactory. Shanna lives in New Hampshire and has been making tremendously lovely work. She told me over Facebook that Jim Croft’s class, “Changed her life.” Book artists are a passionate, dedicated breed. We certainly don’t do it for anything but love and inner necessity. It’s the kind of thing that displays a feverish urge in those whose nerves are energized by the making and problem solving. It is a nature oriented art in one way of the other where the mind, body and spirit move as one. Some exceptionally successfully, and some not so spectacular but you can see the craft and happiness it generates.
The sharp points can be used for etching too.

The sharp points can be used for etching too.


Later that afternoon when heading on the long trek back to my funky yellow truck, I walked through Philadelphia City Hall, a huge 1901 Second (French) Empire style 550is foot ambidecorus, arcade through the middle, kind of turn of the century building. There I heard a magnificent sound from a gentleman playing amplified violin. His name is Charles Townsend. I was moved so I made my first video of him. Hope you like it as much as I do.

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New morning

It can be done in a pinch

It can be done in a pinch

Continuing work on violence against women: a metaphorical excursion

Continuing work on violence against women: a metaphorical excursion

The birds are chirping happily outside and it is blissfully quiet, unlike the constant hubbub of home turf. The jingling of last night’s bizarre dreams let me know the consequences of the active mind. I was bitten by a large snake, looking for a doctor amid lovely apartments I was viewing. Very tactile, very sensual. I’m 15 minutes away from the day’s destination: The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I came from Northern New Jersey to rest in southern NJ in order to be fresh for the bone tool workshop. I especially like Shanna Leino’s metal tools so we’ll see if she brought some of those. They are unique and beautiful. I made my own sculpture tools a long time ago and they were spirited away (yes, that’s another story too). I do enjoy making things. I quit my job as a journalist in 2009 and have been learning and making, and making and learning ever since. This is my delight and my journey.

BTW above is a quick fix for a sewing station that resulted in the book with the snake pattern cover (strange brew, yes?). I had a wood carton hanging on the wall to hold up DVDs. Off it came. Using sewing tapes & safety pins with heavy metal type for weights, I carried on successfully. Anything is possible in a quick and tumble world.

Rivers of time and making

Detail of Metalsmithing from 2014 Kean University exhibition.

Detail of Metalsmithing from 2014 Kean University exhibition.

I followed a blog concerning the forms, functions and physical properties of paper called The Fiber Wire and don’t you know the writer followed this blog, which I started last summer, dumped and then forgot about. An audience of one is enough to cheer one on to writing for the public again. I stopped in 2009. Sometimes the audience can turn on you and throw a kink in the reserves of good nature about the human race. There were other, more ethical reasons, why I stopped but that is for another time. I’m sitting in a hotel outside of Philadelphia for a night of rest after a recent test of physical endurance. Periodically I put myself through such things especially when on a mission.

The mission, this time, was to learn everything I could about making books in order to apply it to a Studio Arts MA program I was in, from said last summer until my exhibition at Kean University last Sunday. I don’t think I took a night or day off for the last nine months. Besides working in the campus print studio and the metals studio, I went on excursions to the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY and the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan where I now volunteer once a week in return for time at the Vandercooks and much needed classes.

You could say this book art endeavor and that of the rest of my life that has included making things to wear (vestiaria), growing things (agricultura), working as an architect {I did build a wall} (architectura), I have not been in combat but I have hunted (venatoria), who hasn’t traded or commerced? (mercatura), cooking is a specialty (coquinaria), and I am quite handy with metals (mettalaria). These are the seven mechanical arts indicated in the title of this blog. They are those pronounced in medieval times (9c) by Johannes Scotus Eriugena, an Irishman born in 815 and dying 62 years later. He was a philosopher and Greek scholar. For my purpose today, he serves as the instigator and patron saint looking over the things I have done and still do in this life. This life has been a combat of sorts and the weight of that fact is relieved by the Artes Mechanicae. What better time to revive the blog that the day before I go to the University of the Arts through the Philadelphia Center for the Book. They are orchestrating a session of bone tool making with Shanna Leino for people like me who have this need. I’ve been a fan of her work since I learned about her at Jim Croft’s Old Ways two-week workshop in Idaho last summer. The information and photos I dumped were about my time there. You see, all rivers merge, twist and move along kissing against the shores of time and disappearing in cascades of intent. Memory is conjured by doing. Doing is enhanced by remembering. So I begin again and will keep you posted.