Falling behind again, sorry

Folk art on 95th St.

Folk art on 95th St.

It’s Saturday and I can hardly remember what happened last week. I know I should write every day. I met Julia on Wednesday and we went to the Museum of Art and Design, spending the entire afternoon looking at gorgeous glass and jewelry with a few beautiful wood objects. We parted for supper, Julia going to the theater and I went back to the Candle Cafe for another lovely dinner. But to tell you a secret, what really drew me back was the Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger across the street that had walnut bread. I will go almost anywhere for walnut bread that doesn’t have raisins or cranberries.

Rain on Thursday did not keep me in the apartment. After I photographed the folk art building above, I went over to the West Side to the Museum of Biblical Art that had a wonderful exhibit derived from subjects in the Bible. Again I spent hours. There were a few books and many other wonderful drawings, paintings and paper cuts. I finished the day back at the apartment and did not go out for dinner.

Friday morning I cleaned the apartment: Renee was coming home and I had been my usual sloppy self. I removed all my junk except for a few discreet piles, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and vacuumed up my crumbs, which were all over. Then I shopped and prepared to make us dinner. Anyone who loans me an apartment for 2 weeks in such a choice location deserves at least that much from me.

Renee with a Russian crown.

Renee with a Russian crown.

Today we went to the village to a street fair, and, marvelously, there were Mozzarepas. We were good and shared one, allowing us to have lunch later in the afternoon.

April 15: Shopping

Well not exactly shopping. I went to a huge crafts fair held at Chion-ji Temple. I was there all morning and people never stopped coming. I arrived early along with several hundred others and it was almost impossible to enter. I wanted to see the entire show, which I might have done, but I can’t say for certain. I walked down each aisle trying to get to all of them. There was jewelry, traditional crafts like dolls, several displays of buttons, some fabrics, knitted or crocheted apparel, bags, lots of bags,  food, both traditional pickle kinds of stuff and cakes and other noshes.

As I got to the end of the first aisle I found a little old lady, actually little and old, who had a tiny display, and on this she had little books: handmade cloth books. Of course, that was my first purchase. I’m sorry I didn’t buy several. And while I think the lady was pleased to make the sale it was not the celebration I had when I bought that bag. No picture taking.

The book is about 4 inches square and closes with a button.

The book is about 4 inches square and closes with a button.

Each pocket has a treasure inside: a card of thread, a bandaid, Q-tips

Each pocket has a treasure inside: a card of thread, a bandaid, Q-tips

The buttons and the cloth were tempting, but I was able to walk away. One of the larger displays was l’Ami du Pain, real French bread. They had a walnut bread. Lovely. Now I have to find out where they are located so I can get another one before I leave here.

Most of the bread here is fluffy, or spongy, depending on where you get it; not something I want to eat. Sometimes I have the feeling there is one huge bakery that makes the same stuff for every shop. I know that isn’t true, because I’ve seen and smelled  baking being done in most places. But they still all sell the same stuff. Now I found the outlier.

I didn’t eat any of the nosh at the show and went to a second incarnation of Falafel Garden for lunch. Then I went to Uniqlo and bought 2 T-shirts. I hope my grandchildren will think they are cool.

Finally I managed to get move vegetarian stuff for dinner and came back to the hotel.

April 7: More rain and cold

This Sunday is flea market day at Toji Temple and I wasn’t going to let a little rain or cold stop me. Second to gardens and art museums I love flea markets. Dressing in my heaviest clothing (whatever I hadn’t abandoned in Chicago) I set out but didn’t get far, at first.

The hotel has several small temples and/or shrines nearby. When the palace has its open house these temples are also publicly active. One has a bazaar. I stopped in during my last trip and had coffee and a sweet. This time I walked through and found something I had been looking for: a small bag I could put extra things in when I ran out of pockets. One of the tables had such bags, and I was told the vendor’s mother made the bags. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it was so beautifully made with a wonderful polished cotton fabric, I couldn’t resist. For 1500 yen I have a beautiful, handmade bag and a picture of the maker. Of course all of this ended in a great love fest of picture taking.

With the artist who made my new bag

With the artist who made my new bag

Next a long bus ride to Toji Temple where I immediately sought shelter from the rain and a cup of coffee, which turned out to be amazingly good. I certainly would not have gotten anything like it in similar circumstances at home. I walked all around the market and around several of the subtemples that had never been open on my previous visits. One of the buildings had an exhibit of indigo dyed textiles, some made into kimonos, some wall hangings. All were beautifully painted, not the usual tie-dyed technique. I wish I knew more about how it was done. Also wish I could afford a kimono. There were scarves for sale for 8000 yen; I didn’t ask the price of the kimonos.


One of the subtemples of Tofukuji

After that, a short bus ride to Tofukuji Temple. There seem to be no signs directing you from the bus stop. Another temple, near the stop, had a sign that said: this is not Tofukuji, no public entry, but didn’t tell where to go. From the map and from my previous visit I recalled a long walk down a small, unmarked street. That’s not unusual. One has to have faith here. I got to a fork in the road and didn’t know where to go. A lot of signs in Japanese pointed in one direction, but that could have been for the local souvenir shop.

He looks just like some of my wealthy relatives from when I was a child.

He looks just like some of my wealthy relatives from when I was a child.

I stopped a marvelously, well-dressed, older couple and asked directions. They were charming and, even without a common language, they insisted on accompanying me. After determining I was alone and from the US, we had no conversation. When we got to the temple they insisted on helping me up some very high steps to see the ceiling of one of the prayer halls where there was a dimly lit, difficult to see dragon. They also had to help me down. My knees are not functioning well, even though I keep scolding them.

Tofukuji is famous for this lawn.

Tofukuji is famous for this lawn.

I have already mentioned I like being alone on these visits. This time I was also desperate for a toilet and the wind had blown something into my left eye, which I could barely keep open, and when this happens, instead of producing lots of tears that would have removed the dirt, my nose runs. It wouldn’t stop, and I was running out of tissues.

The man walked ahead and bought 3 passes to enter the temple proper, even though I said no. He didn’t hear. I did not know how to get out of this. We finished the temple and she said: “My home.” At least I think that’s what she was saying. And they started walking out continuing to say “My home” and gesturing like she wanted me to follow. Was I being invited to their home, me, my runny nose, not very sharp looking clothing? I kept saying yes, but I didn’t know what I was saying yes to. Finally we stopped another couple, a Japanese man and a /Western woman. He was able to translate and told me they just wanted to go home and leave me at the temple. I was very grateful I felt like he saved my life. Finally I could go and find the toilet.


Happily spent more time alone in the garden musing over the kinds of craziness you can get into without a common language.

The book is finished

although I plan to do it again. I still want better card stock and better craftsmanship. Here's the book, closed.

The closure, on the left, is fragile, even worse than I anticipated, so I want to figure out another way to do it.

Back view:

That's the Allegheny River at the back end of the tunnel. Here is the wrapper opened.

The same closure works this way, also, finishing the back of the book when it is open. A view from above:

Photographing this thing is a nightmare. I no longer have proper backdrops or the lighting. Here is the front of the open book with the wrapper loosely encircling it.

With the two flaps opened you can look into the book. Here you can see four or five of the ten pages.

Unlike some of the commercial tunnel books much of this one has to be seen from above and as with many other books, each page, or group of pages, has to be seen serially. A few more pictures:


Here is why I want to do it again. Each of the pages should be flat, no curves, with sharp creases and no gaps. 


Back to the book

Thanks to some good questions from Mage I spent the last week figuring out how to 'package' the book, and how to end it. Remember those flaps sticking out the back end?


I've started to work from the back. Even with my fancy diagram I'm still making mistakes about the tabbing. Haven't started glueing yet, just cutting, scoring and folding. My brain doesn't want to deal with all of this, but I'm pushing it. Correcting the diagram I found several mistakes confusing things, which I clarified, I hope.


Horizontal yellow bars are the pages of the book, joining both sides. Three larger angles are pictures showing the depth of the tunnel, which pull apart to show horizontal structures, the bridges. Thinner, smaller angles are the water feature along the sides of the tunnel.

The rectangle at the bottom of the diagram becomes the wrapper for the book, reversing direction and fastening in the front around the compressed book, which is about one inch thick. The wrapper worries me, because it will fold in both directions, creating possibly destructive wear on the paper hinges.

I began working on the wrapper assembly and glued an additional strip of card over each of the tabs. This made the whole thing too thick and cumbersome. Back to the computer I printed the two small pieces, bottom right, together, eliminating the need for one set of tabs, and reinforced the fold with linen tapes; did all of the first glueing steps working backwards through piece 9; and put everything under weights to dry flat.  I won't continue working on it until I see how everything dries.


All about glue

or as much as I can bring myself to write. I dislike glue almost as much as all of those details. I'm beginning to develop a technique, but it's still a challenge; either too much or too little.Too much soaks into the paper and you get streaks in solid color areas, like the sky. Too little and there are gaps between the sheets. Here you can see one of those gaps and the blue in the last page is streaked.

I tend to forget what gets glued to what. This is the second iteration. Each page has been glued to one other page, but when I got to page three I should have glued to two pages, one before, one after, and I forgot the after pages.

I did it again in the third iteration, but caught it before the glue was entirely set, making for a sloppy joint, but I wanted to see the entire thing put together. I finished on Friday and have spent the weekend trying to figure out how to do it better.

I went over to Staples to look at printers and paper (card) stock, and had a funny experience. The copy center has books of paper samples. When I looked at the samples I knew they had labeled them incorrectly. So I told this to the young man behind the counter. He was very nice and took me over to the paper stock shelves where he opened two different reams and then concluded I was correct. Evidently he had been stung by the mistake and hadn't figured it out. He thanked me for teaching him something. I hope what I really taught him was that old ladies often know what they are talking about. I bought a ream of something they labeled 110 lb. cover, but I don't think it is. It just happens to be the heaviest, brightest stuff they sell. I decided not to get a new printer, but bought more ink instead.

I still have lots of thinking to do. Next post I'll have pictures and the redo plan.


Exercise–body and mind

I just returned from the second half of my exercise program. When I went yesterday I started to get a twinge in that bad muscle as I got halfway through the treadmill portion. I managed 10 minutes on the rowing machine then did my upper body exercises and went home. I didn't want another three days of limping. Today I finished the treadmill, the elliptical and the leg machine exercises. Wednesday I'll go back to the whole routine.

Steve read my paper yesterday and made some really helpful suggestions, so I've spent most of the day making revisions. I just have a little more to do, but this is my low time of day so it may not get done until tomorrow morning.

Here is a picture of the finished folded book, along with a detail. I don't love it, but I love the idea. I'll try again.

I curled the end papers, capped them with empty silkworm cocoons, fastened them down with bone beads and glued feathers over the scroll shape. Cocoons and feathers were supplied at the workshop. The workshop teacher did some elaborate embellishments, but I guess I'm more into form.

Term paper, Folded books and a gigapixel conference

Yes, Mage, it was a very busy week. While I was in New York last summer, I heard about an exhibition of artist books to be held at MOMA's PS1 on November 5 and 6. I planned to go, but finally decided I didn't have the time. Instead, I signed up for two book-making workshops here. One of them took place on the past two Wednesday evenings and was about folding and  embellishing books. Here is my folded book, not yet embellished. I work slowly.

This book was particularly satisfying to fold. It was a text from a class I took while I was working on that master's degree on corporate communication. I wanted to sell the book back to the school bookstore, but they would only give me $1 so I kept it.

I began the week working on my term paper. We were each supposed to give a ten minute talk about our projects. I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning trying to figure out exactly what I would say. I wasn't even sure I would be called on, but I wanted to be prepared. Being an auditor is an uncertain life. We only got through about half of the class last week and I will be called on Tuesday. I'll append my notes at the bottom of this post.

I alternated work on the term paper with work on the poster for the gigapan conference. David kept finding typos and adjustments; I kept making the changes. The conference took place Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday. I am amazed at all the uses for gigapixel imagery–showing detail in microscopic images and detail in huge panoramas. You can see the papers here and some of the gigapans from the conference here. I think they will also post the talks. Tomorrow I am supposed to begin work on the new gigapan we shot last month (along with the term paper and Thanksgiving preparations). Here are David and Simram, another member of our team, in front of our poster.

I continued going to my Osher classes, along with all of this, and on Thursday, managed to get in another quick walk in Frick Park.

The weather has been cooler, but still sunny and most of the trees still have their leaves.

Needless to say, my house looks like it's been trashed. So I'm off to the club to exercise, then back here to clean.

Notes for term paper presentation

In fall, 2008, I was in Japan looking at gardens for more than a month. Most of the gardens were in Kyoto, but I traveled to Tokyo, Nikko, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Okayama. Most Japanese gardens use the same elements, yet each one is unique; each one has its own design and arrangement of space; most have great appeal for me, a few left me wondering why I had bothered to come to them. Allowing for some days of fatigue and the fact that winter was nearing, I still did not understand why some of those gardens had little appeal for me. This paper is an attempt to examine the elements of a Japanese garden to determine what made the difference.

I will look at two types of gardens: those viewed from within a room or a veranda, and scroll gardens, which promote interactive viewing, each few steps presenting a different view, much like walking through a museum and stopping to examine and appreciate each picture.

The elements of a Japanese garden are greenery, water, rocks, stone lanterns and bridges. Design of a garden is governed by use of space, illusion/shakkei or captured scenery, management of vegetation and growth, and an invocation of famous places, usually in spirit or in some abstract fashion.

I will consider how each of the elements is used in a garden and some of the history of that use, beginning with rocks, which are considered the most important element by the Sakutei, the eleventh century gardening manual. Further, I will show how the use of space and illusion intensify the experience of the connection with nature for the occupants of the house.

Painters, particularly emaki painters, designed many early gardens, creating a “conceived” work of art that combines a gardener’s sense of composition with the idea of scenery “borrowed” from nature. To view the garden from within a house is very much like viewing a scroll painting. To walk through a stroll garden each new view could be another part of the scroll. I did my best to frame each of these views within the viewfinder of my camera.

In addition to a general consideration of the Japanese garden, I propose to examine Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Koraku-en in Okayama, Sankien in Yokohama and Shirotori in Nagoya and two gardens meant to be viewed from within a building, Chishakuin and  Nanzen-in, in Kyoto, using maps and my own photographs for reference.

In conclusion, I propose to illustrate how the use of space in each garden made a difference to my feelings about it.



I'm feeling very proud of myself this morning. I actually made this bag over the weekend, and I will give it away tomorrow. That's two pieces of fabric gone from my stash. I'm sure I could make at least twenty more bags and still have fabric left.


This is the new dog that lives upstairs. Max, held by my across the street neighbor, Mary, has charmed us all. He's just a puppy but won't be much bigger.


Japan artist book FINISHED

If you think it's the greatest bit of prose ever written, get rid of it. That's common advice to writers and probably should be given to artists also. I fell in love with the idea of embroidering this tree on a piece of obi silk, and using it as a book cover. I spent all summer working on it. I should have just tacked it on the wall; the book would be better bound with something else.


So I'm not happy. Actually, I'm never happy with my finished work. Sometimes after it sits for months or years I like it better. We'll see about this one. 

So that I remember, and you learn, I'll tell you what's in my head. First, putting a photo transfer on silk is not a great idea. I said that before, but now I have another reason: making it into book cloth didn't work. The fusible interfacing never fused properly. I had lots of trouble with glue coming through and you can see the lumps and bumps because of the lack of proper fusing. 

Second the silk cloth is really too
thick, even though the glue came right through it. Folding it under to
make sure it didn't ravel made it too thick. I probably should have
just cut it and used some kind of fabric stablizer. This fabric was machine
embroidered on what would have been the right side of the obi and the
threads are carried loosely along the back as the color and pattern


I used archival foam board instead of the more commonly used davey board. It's much easier to cut. I made a mistake there also. Instead of cutting that 1/4" piece for the binding edge, and moving it 1/4" away from the large piece, I left it attached on one side just cutting away the inside foam and the other side. After I finished the binding it was still too stiff. It doesn't open as nicely as my earlier books.

I had trouble finding a good, heavy binding cord. My preferred cord is waxed, linen carpet thread; not beautiful enough for all that embroidered silk. I tried several other kinds of cords, none of which worked. In desperation I went to Michael's (not a lot of choice here in Pittsburgh) and got this silvery stuff. It pulled tight and did the job, but I don't like it. Finally, I had trouble drilling the holes and the back holes don't line up properly. The whole thing was too thick, but probably would have been better if I had used that 1/4" space technique.