Friday, October 19, 2012

Meet the "Altered Ladies"

Back in August, I attended a class in altered book techniques where I was fortunate to meet several people who were new to Altered Books.  Their interest and enthusiasm were absolutely infectious!  It was no surprise when the group expressed interest in trying their hand at an altered book round robin.  Our group of 10 dubbed ourselves "The Altered Ladies." 

Having participated in a few AB RRs and various art swaps over the years, I was honored to serve as hostess for this inaugural AB RR of the Altered Ladies.  We gathered initially to go over the logistics of how the AB RR would work--especially with two of our members participating from the mainland.  We decided to take a month to select our books and themes.  We are scheduled to meet every third Saturday of the month to show our work and exchange our books.  We have an interesting variety of themes to explore in this round.  I am excited to see what everyone has done to kick off this AB RR.  We have even set up a blog where we can post photos of our work to share with our mainland players who are unable to attend our monthly meetings.  I hope you will check back often to see our progress!

The book I chose for our Altered Ladies' AB RR is entitled Wind Sand & Stars by Antoine Saint-Exupery.  It is a story about flight, but it is also a story of adventure. The book explores the potential in people for greatness of individual creativity and spirit.  I loved this idea so, I decided to keep my theme open--to allow the Altered Ladies to explore and experiment with what they have learned--or are learning. The introduction to my book invites them to think of this first altered book round robin as embarking on an exciting journey. I tell them to be prepared to go where they have never ventured before. To discover their creative selves. To stretch themselves as artists. To let their imaginations run wild.   To feel free to express their unique voice or point of view.   To dare to experiment with new techniques and ideas. The sky is the limit. Do not be afraid to soar!

For my intial spread, I used the book's title for my inspiration.  I had never done a niche before, so now was the perfect opportunity!  My girlfriend had furnished me with a bunch of fashion watches (after purging her Mom's stash!) and I couldn't resist using them in this piece. 

The background for my "Sands of Time" spread was created with the Apparatus Artistcellar stencil and the pewter colored Inka-Gold (Thank you, Lisa!)  I embellished the background with gear die-cuts (a gift from Bea!) and Tim Holtz sprockets and spinners.

Of course, all of this manipulation caused the spine of this 1939 book to crack.  A special thanks to Lori who helped me repair the spine before it goes into the rotation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Aloha Stephanie

My husband lost his college roommate to leukemia this past week. They had not spent a lot of time together since those college days. Life goes on. You begin your career, then you get married and start a family. Before you know it, decades have gone by, but the friendship remains.

Six years ago, Stephanie was diagnosed with leukemia. She fought her disease like a champ. She had three bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, radiation and tried a host of other therapies when nothing else seemed to rid her body of this disease. She was in and out of hospitals unable to go out in public again because of her weakened (non-existent) immune system. She even spent many, many months in Seattle--separated from her home and children--undergoing cancer treatment.

Stephanie has two beautiful children and her illness prevented her from participating her their school activities.  She missed many of her son's waterpolo games and her daughter's dance recitals. Most of their memories from the past 6 years were visiting their mom in the hospital. I can't imagine how she must have felt knowing that her cancer would take her from her children much too soon.

Stephanie used the time she had left to prepare her children for life without her. She had a posse of angels that cared for her throughout her illness. They brought her to and from her doctors' appointments.  They cooked for her.  They prayed together, laughed together and gave her much needed emotional support.  Her faith gave her strength, hope and peace.

Shortly before she died, Stephanie contacted my husband and asked for Kentucky Fried Chicken. We picked up both original recipe and extra crispy and headed over to see her. Although she still had an appetite, it was difficult for her to eat.  She was getting around in a wheelchair and wearing a sling (her bones were so brittle from the radiation that her arm had broken in three places), but she was in good spirits. Sporting a ball cap, she asked us if we wanted to see her "mohawk."  As she removed the cap, she explained how the recent radiation to her lower jaw knocked out a large section of her hair giving her a half a mohawk. The cancer had taken just about everything from her except her sense of humor!

As we left that day, my husband described her as a wilted rose. Her body was battered and beaten by the cancer. She fought a long and courageous battle, but it took its toll on her. I couldn't help but notice that after all she had been through, she had absolutely no anger or bitterness. She was such a good person and pure of heart. She had accepted her fate so gracefully.  All that was left was a calm peace about her. Amazing. It brought to mind a line from the movie "Out of Africa." When Meryl Streep's character is preparing to leave Kenya, she goes to the governor to beg for his help and the governor's wife says to her "I'm sorry I won't know you." I feel that way about Stephanie. We lost a beautiful person the day Stephanie died, but heaven gained an angel. Aloha Stephanie...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leather & Lace

Here is the spread I created for Hope's AB entitled "Diamonds & Rust."  This is such a gorgeous little book.  When I think of "Diamonds & Rust," I think of opposites: refined vs. raw, delicate vs. rugged, feminine vs. masculine.  Leather & Lace.  My spread was inspired by words from a Fleetwood Mac song:
Bring to me your leather
Take from me my lace
I admit I went a bit overboard including all of these delicious pieces of lace, trim, crocheted doilies--even cheesecloth--to create this spread.  Oh, and I did soak some of the pieces that were too white in some leftover coffee to give it that "vintage" look and feel.  I felt badly that I was only the second person to work in this book and my spread turned out to be quite bulky for her little book.  To remedy this, I ended up using floral corsage pins to secure the lace pieces onto the pages.  This way, if Hope needs to redistribute the bulk in her book later on, my spread can easily be moved.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chunkies Go Postal

Our chunkies have gone postal this month!  
The mail art theme certainly makes for some beautiful and colorful pages.  I love seeing stamps from different countries from all over the world.  The postmarks make me wonder what these faraway places must be like.  How long did it take for a piece of mail to travel from its origin to its destination?  
When I was in LA recently, my girlfriend and I happened upon a little thrift shop called "Inheritance."  The store was filled with a lot of old, antique furniture pieces, but it was the glass candy jar in the corner that caught my eye.  It was filled with dozens of old postcards from another era.  And it must have been my lucky day, because many of them were from Hawaii. 
I pawed through the entire collection.  Time stood still as I saw these images from 1930's Hawaii.  There were a few actual postcards that had been sent from Hawaii in 1932 to someone in Illinois.  The store owner had gotten some scrapbooks through one of his customers.  They were filled with postcards that had been collected and saved over the years.  The first scrapbook he dismantled was one with the Hawaii postcards in them. 
For my pages, I constructed a 4 x 4 square envelope.  I used old manila folders to give my pages a vintage feel.  I decorated the fronts of my envelopes with a stamped lace pattern and a faux postmark.  On the back side, I cut out portions of  some leftover postage stamp wrapping paper I had and affixed them to the envelopes.  I added a few more postal marks using additional rubber stamps.  Inside the envelope, I tucked one of the vintage Hawaii postcards.  Aloha from Hawaii!