I recently was given the opportunity to take a class online that has previously only been taught in person. I was never able to take the in person workshop before because it was in Auckland, and unfortunately, that was just a bit too far for me to go. Then the pandemic hit and lockdowns ensued. I haven’t found too many positive things that have come from this nightmare we are all currently living in, but Liz Constable of Book Art Studios decided to teach her classes online for the first time ever, so I guess that was my silver lining.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to sign up for anything and everything she has made available. Her Dyed and Gone to Heaven class has led to my current obsession – hand dyeing papers.
I’ve always coffee and tea dyed a good portion of my papers, but her technique took me in a direction I never knew was even possible. I can’t divulge the process, it’s a highly guarded secret and you can only learn it by taking her class, but I can tell you it’s amazing and has taken my paper dyeing to a whole new level.
Here are a few examples:
Finding dyes has been more of a challenge than I expected. Apparently, tie dyeing has been very popular during this pandemic, so the supply of Rit and Tulip dyes at local craft stores is quite low. I have experimented with food coloring, both powdered and gel, as well as India inks and other inks as well.
I really love the results and I’m also super excited that Liz is teaching the second class, Dyed Again, online as well. I signed up for that one and I can’t wait to learn even more amazing techniques for turning ordinary paper into something extraordinary.
As artists, we all have other artists we look up to, learn from and generally admire. One of my favorites is Liz Constable from Book Art Studios. Not only is she an incredibly talented book artist, she is a great teacher and very generous with her knowledge.
I have always wanted to take one of her Dyed and Gone to Heaven workshops, but unfortunately, I could never figure out how to make that work since she is in Auckland and I am in Texas. Up until now, she has only taught in-person workshops, but the pandemic changed all that.
I was able to take both her coptic binding class and her dyed and gone to heaven class via zoom. They were great, and thankfully recorded, because I had to refer back to them more than once. I had done coptic binding before, but this is a new method that took some practice on my part.
Here are some pictures of one of my favorite books I made, filled with scrumptious, hand dyed paper, using a process that I’m sworn to secrecy not to divulge. If you want to learn it, you can visit her website and sign up for her next online class!
So I’m sitting here with these two on a Saturday morning, one week into the new world order of sheltering in place. The house is still quiet, as I am the only one awake yet.
I can’t help but think about what the world is going through right now and how vulnerable we as a society are. Our lives have been completely upended and we have no idea when we will return to any sense of normalcy.
As I look back, as recently as two weeks ago, but what now seems like a six months ago, I just want to list some of the things I now desperately miss.
Carpool – my children start online school on Monday and will probably continue this way for the rest of the school year. The only upside I can see from this is that I no longer have to worry when I drop them off at school if it could be the last time I see them due to a school shooting. I loved afternoon carpool. It was a nice break and I got to read for 30 minutes before the madness began.
Lattes – I am a coffee addict, and much like my favorite foods, my lattes always taste better when someone else makes them. I don’t go to Starbucks for a number of reasons, but I desperately miss the two independent coffee shops I went to. One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, I will go to Ascension Annex or Turbo and have a latte again.
Eating out – I hate to cook. I’m not good at it, my family complains often about what I make, so eating out was a treat. That’s gone now, as are so many jobs for restaurant and bar employees.
Grocery Shopping – I actually use to complain about having to go to the store multiple times a week. I feel like such a fool now. If I even dare to go to the store now, I literally feel like I’m taking my life in my own hands, because I probably am. The store workers don’t have the luxury of staying home and ordering delivery. They are out there every day and deserve to be paid far more than they get presently.
Team Practices – Oh how I use to complain about this one. The multiple practices a week I had to take my child to and sit there for two hours, not to mention the 20 minutes we had between getting home from school and having to leave the house. If we ever get the chance to be that busy again, I promise I won’t complain about it!
The Gym – this was one of the few things that kept me sane and now it’s closed indefinitely. Oh how I loved walking or running on the treadmill while watching HGTV. What a gift it was to have all that equipment at my disposal. Now I have to work out at home and it is not going well.
Running errands – Just being able to run out and get whatever you wanted or needed at a moments notice. Those days are gone for now. Stores are closed, shelves are bare and people are without jobs, so I know I have it good, but damn it sucks.
A healthy 401-K – I don’t even look anymore. It’s too depressing.
Wearing makeup – Why bother. No one really sees me. At least I still shower and get dressed, but it’s sometimes not before 11:00 am.
Hugging people – Social distancing sucks even though I am an introvert.
Being alone – with my husband working from home and my children at home, there is no more alone time, except when I’m sleeping. At least we all appear healthy for now and still have a roof over our heads.
This one is almost ready to be turned into a journal cover. The pieces making up the flowers and butterflies were all stitched by hand. Now it just needs some more embroidery around the edges of the flower petals and stems and then it will be time to assemble the cover.
The books she created, completely by hand stitching, were gorgeous in their simplicity. Another thing about this process that intrigued me was that they were portable. This was something you could pack in a bag and work on while you were enduring your child’s weekly practices. Her techniques could also be used to create journal covers as well.
After watching her videos numerous times, I finally got out a fabric bundle I had purchased at Tuesday Morning and decided to take the plunge. Auditioning fabric scraps for inclusion and placement is more difficult than I expected, but I managed to put something together.
Now it’s time to thread the needle and get started.