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Not long ago, I had a chance to interview Megan Winn of www.bindingbee.etsy.com about her fabulous handmade journals. I enjoyed visiting with her and was delighted to find that her personality is as charming as her work.

Rae:  Okay, Megan. These are some things I am curious about.  I have been wondering what inspired you to first make books, and then what brought you to Etsy?

Megan:  When I was in high-school, I loved pretty journals and used to go through them so quickly that I could hardily afford to support my habit.  So, I decided that it made sense to go ahead and try my hand at creating my own.  I checked out a ‘how to’ book from the local library and it all started there.  The first ones were terrible!  Most of them ended stuffed with my own thoughts, or as gifts to family and friends.  All of them now are held together by rubber bands as my sewing skills were definitely beginner back then!  Since then, I have had lots of practice perfecting my technique and have taken some workshops and private lessons to learn more binding styles & to get a better grasp on the history and art of book-making.

I came to Etsy a year ago as a buyer, not seller.  It was amazing to have access to so many artists and their work!  I was inspired and delighted, but at the same time too scared to open my own shop.  At that point, I had been making and giving away greeting cards and journals for years, but only to close friends and family.  I stalked the forums on Etsy and with a few of my favorite sellers, and after a few months finally decided to give it a go.  I had my first sale within a week or two of opening my shop, even though I only had about 5 books for sale.  After that, I was hooked!  I have not stopped since.

 Rae:  Who or what inspires your work now?

Megan:  I get a lot of visual inspirations from the materials I collect and salvage.   I am a huge antique store junkie and love the weekend summer garage sale scene as well.  I am forever in search of gorgeous old books in need of TLC, and I collect bundles of old fabric, lace, leather, pattern pieces, skeleton keys and photos.  I love taking very old things and finding ways to work them into a new design.  

Rae:  There is a number in the back of my book…what does it mean?

Megan:  That is just an id. #.  I keep track of every book I make and sell.  After each one is finished, they get a final once-over, a sticker, and a number.  I make a little note of the materials, size, and price of each book and literally keep a journal of my journals.  Obsessive, but true.  

Rae:  What kinds of material do you use to make your books?

Megan:  Salvaged leather, vintage fabric, antique book covers, buttons, lace, ribbon, old photos, salvaged mat board, pattern pieces, and lots and lots of love and good energy.  The only thing not up-cycled is the interior paper.  I buy archival, blank paper for the inside text block of each book.  

Rae:  What is the strangest or most unusual/creative material that you have uses?

Megan:  My favorite unusual material so far has been used tea bags.  For my Thesis in Undergrad I made an entire quilt out of them. I collected bags for months prior to the semester, and it took my almost 4 months to complete the sewing. It turned out really beautifully, and still hangs in my dining room. In that show, I also had a piece made out of apple cores, and another of egg shells.  I was trying to focus on the fact that art is in the daily… in the mundane. For photos check out this website: http://www.twinenfp.org/gallery/meganwinn. 

Rae:  Have you ever gotten to see one of your books after it was fill?

Megan:  Yes.  Many of my favorite people are avid writers and journal keepers. Quite a few of my journals live with my closest friends, my husband, my mom, and my little sisters.  It is always fun to see my books tucked full of secrets and on people’s bookshelves.  

Rae: Finally, what role (beyond bookmaking) does (or has) creativity played in your life?

Megan:  It’s everywhere and inextricably tied to all aspects of my life.  I love getting to be a part of the creative process, and feel like “art” and creativity extend way beyond traditional bounds.  I participate and experience this while nurturing my garden, canning tomatoes, doing laundry, or by being in my studio.  It’s the mundane, the daily, and yet it is transcendent because of the accessibility. 

As far as how that connects for me to the craft of book making, I think that is why I love using such a variety of materials, many of which have already been used for something else, and may or may not be considered “art worthy”.  I like to tie them back in, make them functional again, and cause people to take a second look… it is in the little things. 

 

I would like to thank Megan for allowing me to visit with her and for being so gracious in sharing her story.  I have been adding to the pages of my book here and there.  For such a “little thing”, that journal has made a big difference in my life.

Every once in awhile I have a craving to go deeper into the well of inner knowledge. Things like art, journaling, solitude, and highly engaging conversation with just the right person can take me there.  Recently I felt the call of the page. Paper bound with the purpose of helping me get found.

When the desire for writing in this way comes up, I go in search of a new blank book.  It has to feel just right.  I have been bored lately with off-the-shelf journals, so I decided to delve into the realm of handmade.  Now, I made a journal once.  It is pretty, but less than what I wanted for my inner-prize.  So I began perusing Etsy to see what I could see.

Etsy has some amazing book artists.  From tee-ninsie to gian-ormous!  Elegant, earthy, whimsical, or plain Jane.  With so many options, it could be overwhelming to choose. But, as is often the case in picking a world of pages for my musings, the perfect journal for me came forward and announced itself without a doubt!

 www.bindingbee.etsy.com

Binding Bee (www.bindingbee.etsy.com)  is a cute little shop with great books. Megan Winn, the book binder/artist, turned out to be as sweet as the work she does.  This journal is made with up-cycled leather and has pattern pieces incorporated into the pages. 

To understand the call of this particular journal, it is important to get a sense of what I want to explore with it.  In my last post, I talked about the metephoric knots I was presented with.  It is maybe a strange thing to describe “issues” this way, but that’s how it feels.  It is as if I have one big problem, but a closer look reveals interlocked, inter-related variables. I find it hard to determine what all is in the knot, but I know that it includes how I live with and in my body and the things that have influenced my relationship with my body.  So you see, the pattern pieces speak directly to the issues at hand.

 I think it is easy to start to feel uncomfortable when someone starts pointing to the things in life that don’t go quite right, but this knot is about something positive. It is about looking at the knot (every woman who has worn a necklace knows you have to put what’s tangled in front of you if you want to get it off your neck) so that I can loosen it up, throw out what is broken, fix what can be salvaged and supplement what is missing.  This is about opportunity and healing.  So if my vulnerability has you at all on edge, take a breath.  It’s all good. 

I hope you will enjoy hearing about my special little journal.  In the next week or two, you can expect my first artist interview. I had a great visit with the book-binder who whipped up this jewel, Megan Winn.  Her story inspires me to look at life with a new eye and to celebrate the gift of creative living in a more back-to-basics way. 

Until then…

I am creatively yours,

Rae

creatura1Yesterday, over coffee, my friend Elizabeth asked me if I meditate.  I didn’t know how to answer her because I wasn’t sure if she would agree that what I do is mediation.  I know there are lots of ways to meditate and sometimes I do these more traditional ways, but what I do most is not listed in meditation books. 

I dream on things. 

I might sit and consider possibilities or call a concern to my mind in the times between waking or sleeping.  I let go of my mind and watch it follow a thought from one place to another.  In this way I can pull together complicated ideas or expand on more simple concepts. 

I am able to get results from this which help me to be my personal best. For example, I will lay down and dream ona subject before Ibegin to write my term paper.  This practice feels very indulgent, but I find when I skip this process that I get stuck and frustrated.

I looked up the etimology of the word meditate on www.etymonline.com.  It is a dictionary which tells you the original use and meaning of words.  Some of the meanings I found relevant to the kind of meditation I have been describing come from med which is to think over or consider something. But my favorite derivitive of that root, mederi means to heal.

A more personal etymology for the term dreaming on comes from the movie The Missingwith Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones.  Jones plays the father of Blanchett.  He has spent a good portion of his adult life living with and as a Native American.  I believe the movie is set at the turn of the century.  The father sits with his granddaughter and appears to be sleeping or at least napping.  He is playing over in his mind the possibilities of the day to come. He explains to her that he is “dreaming on” what will happen.  Later, the little girl uses that  process to vision the life she and her family will have together. 

missing_ver3

I had discovered that tool for myself years ago but found Jones’ term gave a worthy name to it. 

Most recently, I have been dreaming on what feels like an intricate matrix of knots which are presenting themselves for untangling.  Every person has something that keeps them from living their fullest potential.  For me, I have a complicated series of inter-related events, beliefs, and responses having to do with my relationship to my body which keep me from being my best. 

In Gestalt therapy, there is a concept that talks about how an individual becomes mindful of disturbances which come to the forefront of their awareness.  The healthy individual has a dynamic interplay between the formation of these disturbances that come forward and the destruction of the disturbances.  My knots have come forward to be destroyed. I am hopeful that I have what it takes to heal that for myself.

As I contemplate what has come forward, I find images and metephors that are helping me make sense of how one thing is related to the other. I have been doing some art about this and talking about it a bit, but because of how complicated it all seems here in the beginning of the process, dreaming on the matrix is the least overwhelming thing to do.  It is a way of looking at the beast without touching it…so that I can discover its heart.

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

I think it is popular to be a vegetarian. There is something romantic about sacrificing your own cravings for animal flesh to uphold your value of life for the furry, scaled, and feathered ones among us.  I watched Twilight a few nights ago and felt myself wanting to move closer toward that place of purity.

But this evening while logging onto the net, my homepage (Etsy.com) featured the handmade art of SweetMeats.  I was mesmerized by the plush, huggable meat items.    

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Who doesn’t need a little meat for their couch?! 

And check out the bacon earrings!

sweetmeats.etsy.com

sweetmeats.etsy.com

I just know if I had a pair of these, I wouldn’t be able to keep my husband off me!  He would be trying to nibble on my earlobe all day long!

(These clever little earrings are made from polyshrink/shrink paper.  That makes me love them even more.  I have a special affinity for that craft. I posted an entry featuring my own shrink art last month.  I think it is still on this page.   I am glad to see more people using it.)

 Maybe I will get me a pair!  It’s guilt-free meat. 

The owner of the shop seems to be working on some other designs, so check out what they’ve got.  If the creativity and humor shown thus far is any indication of what is to come, we are all in for a sweet treat….or should that be sweet MEAT?!   

Check it out! Find her shop at www.sweetmeats.etsy.com or her blog at http://bizmiss.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/whoa-those-are-shrinky-dinks/

 

It has been years since I have done shrink art, but recently I fell in love with it all over again.  While perusing Etsy, I came across   www.LittleAngelsJewelry.etsy.com.  I was delighted to find such exciting images.  So I bought a few.  The little ring featuring a ribcage with a heart has become my token reminder to tend to the emotional, spiritual and physical health of my heart.

Ribcage Ring

Last night, I even had a dream in which a Wise Woman told me to relax and open my heart to the world.  It is amazing what effect a tiny work of art, done with love, by a stranger across the country from you can have on your life.  We just never know how we touch one another.

Shrinky Healing Art

 

So in celebration of  my renewed, growing love of shrink art, I decided I would offer a few tips for working with it.  I even have a few of my old pieces that I think will be fun to revisit.

Shrinky Fairy2

The tips for ONE of MANY ways to do Shrink Art:

  • I start out by using an artist grade of shrink art paper called PolyShrink.  It is available from www.LuckySquirrel.com.  The paper is treated by sanding it with a light sandpaper in a crosshatched pattern (horizontally and vertically). 
  • Color can be applied a number of ways.  I prefer Prisma Color Pencils and Sharpies. 
  • Once the piece is colored, it can be cut out.  I prefer to do it this way if I have shapes to cut out so that my pencil doesn’t accidentally catch the edge and goober up the piece.  (Is “goober up” a technical term?) This would also be the step in which you could use a hole punch for jump rings or dangly things.
  • Pieces are baked in an oven (300-350 degrees F or 148-175 C according to Lucky Squirrel) on a piece of cardboard, resting inside a cookie sheet.  For more cooking directions, check out Lucky Squirrels General Instructions. 
  • To glue on any backings, I used E6000.  I have since heard others use a 2 part epoxy, but I haven’t tried that.  I would love to hear from anyone who has.  The trick with E6000 is to apply a small amount to both parts, let it dry and then glue those parts together.  You also want a tiny bit to well up over the edge of the stud disk or pin back to help hold it on. 
  • As for sealing, I used acrylic spray.  The trick there is to keep your layer thin, especially with the matte or it will get cloudy. Without some kind of sealant, the pieces tended to scratch up a bit.

Shrinky Fish

Well, I would love to hear from those who are doing Shrink Art.  I am looking forward to playing with it again.  What a fun Summer-time project!

Sometime last year I discovered an on-line marketplace for handmade things called Etsy.  Being a creativity advocate, I immediately wanted to get involved.  I joined with the knowledge that someday I would have my own Etsy Shop.  Well, life kept getting in the way.  Not in a bad way, I have been working on my Masters in Counseling and that just had to come first.  But, I have had a break in my schedule and am devising a plan for the official opening of my shop due sometime towards the beginning of June. 

Sneak Peak:

About 7 years ago, I opened a massage studio in downtown Corpus Christi across from Yin Yang Fandango and the Tango Tea Room (http://www.tangofandango.com/).  It was very exciting to create the look of the shop and make decisions on what kind of life it would take on.  I covered the windows with brown paper while we hammered, scrapped, plastered, and painted.  Some people were so interested in what was going on that they were upset about the secrecy.  That surprised me.  I thought they would enjoy a big reveal.  But what I realized is that some folks are just as interested in the process as they are about the product, and for those people, my paper denied them a beautiful opportunity to witness the blooming of the flower. 

For that very reason, I am documenting the means to the end for this new shop of mine.  If you are a big reveal person, STOP!  Don’t go any further.  Your time will come.  Feel free to leave your email in the comments or drop me a line, and I will give you a special invitation to the grand opening.  BUT, if you are a process person, this is your chance.  Peal back the paper and have a peak inside.  Please excuse the mess, there is creativity in progress.  

www.laughinglane.etsy.com 

More about the process…..

Research:

I am doing everything  in phases, holding onto an attitude of keeping positive but not demanding perfection.  I have been doing some research by reading the hints and tips offered by Etsy and keeping up with their newsletter.  If nothing else, they are inspiring.  And the stories about people who are making it happen motivate me to do my best.

I have also ordered a few guides from Etsian how-to-ers. The first guide I got from www.TimothyAdamsDesigns.etsy.com.  It has inspired this blog and given me the tools to build a community to share it with.  I am eager to see how it goes.  Then I found a guide from www.TheBuzz.etsy.com. This is another little jewel with great ideas on how to make my shop work.  She takes the guess work out of where to start and where to put my energy.  I think these two guides are a great combination for someone starting out.  The first is blog-centered and the last shop-centered.  From what I understand, those two things help to create a formula for success.

 Product/Artwork:

But nothing will say success like having the right products.  When I say right, I mean many things by that.  I am only willing to create art that feels fulfilling.  With that in mind, I have been brainstorming about my favorite projects and have created a small grouping of printed photos of the projects I have most enjoyed doing.  I have them in a little stack on my desk and look thru them when I am ready to work on something.  Someday this wanna-be pile of pictures will be replaced with a an accomplishment pile, documenting the lives I have allowed my art to touch by sharing it with the world.

The other part of deciding about which artwork to sell is including items that others might like.  As it turns out, I often do projects that others request but for which I have had little time to do.  Luckily, these are usually the items I get the most fulfilment out of.  This is what will ultimatly end up in the shop.  It gives me a boost when others are enthusiastic about my work.

Focus:

As I prepare for the opening, I find myself nesting as a way of getting focused.  My art supplies become the twigs and leaves with which I am creating my warm, cozy spot.  It is exactly what I need as I take a break from the hustle and bustle of University life.  I think Laughing Lane Studios could ultimately provide a needed bit of balance in my life. 

I hope you have enjoyed this peak at my process.  Feel free to share with me the projects you are working on and what your progress is looking like.

Creatively yours,

Rae

Welcome to my guide for living a more creative life. You will find craft ideas, inspiration and motivation from people who embrace the spirit of creativity everyday. Follow my journey and discover your  own path to becoming a crafter of the living arts.

For a peak-see at my shop, hop on over to www.laughinglane.etsy.com

grieffairy

My Etsy Shop

http://laughinglane.etsy.com Photobucket

Robert Alan

The creative spirit is one of the most powerful driving forces in human history. Creativity in the arts can inspire new insights and understanding for generations. Inventive creativity has helped transform our society time and time again, helping to make life better for countless lives. Creativity helps bring meaning to one's life through unique self-expression. When focused on uplifting humanity, creativity can help to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. How will you use your creativity to help create a better world?

Henry David Thoreau

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

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