I recently took a short but inspiring bookbinding class in upstate NY. It was hosted and organized by J. Morgan Puett, of Mildred’s Lane and The Mildred Complex(ity), and it was taught by one Leon Johnson. He, along with his wife Megan O’Connell, and son Leander, are the founders of Salt & Cedar, a letterpress studio located in the Eastern Market district of Detroit. They produce custom design work and printed matter – an extremely prosaic way of saying that they are extraordinary designers and thinkers. They also appear to have created a modern day salon of sorts, encompassing performance, food, film and more. This scarified hunk of beeswax is one of Leon’s tools. Bookbinding uses waxed thread as a means to hold together the sets of pages, which are called signatures. You can buy prewaxed thread, but most serious bookbinders prefer to wax their own. I was told that this piece, which, at the time I saw it only measured about 3.5″ x 2″ x 3″, began as quite a large block. Figure one or two pounds. It wasn’t just the beeswax that caught my attention. It was also the way Mr. Johnson used it to wax the thread. When someone is so accomplished at their craft/artform, they do things with complete ease and confidence, and a kind of artful rhythm. A ritual motion that is part of them, unlike the halting actions performed by relative neophytes.
I can’t remember how old I was when my mother gave me this pincushion. I figure maybe 5, at the outside. I never really thought much about it, until the other day when I decided to do a bit of sewing. It caught me totally off guard. It’s probably one of the most familiar objects in my household. It is regularly put into service. As such, I hadn’t realized how much I take this stuffed faux strawberry for granted. It’s been with me almost my entire life. Same pins. Same goofy shape. Same floppy little berry tassel. Same faded yellow “Made in China” tag. Lots of pleasure in the familiar.
On another note, as a means of explaining my absence these past weeks: I have been spending a lot of time in the country. Unfortunately, the trade off for the fresh air and birds, is super duper crappy internet service. What ever happened to the Rural Broadband Initiative? We are working on a solution. In the meantime, I will try and be more consistent about posting.
Found at P.S. Bookshop in Dumbo. I thought about asking my husband or my friend’s daughter to model the masks, but then felt bad about dismantling the book. However, I couldn’t resist popping out the eyes. How about that high-tech chest control panel, eh? And, anyone want to help redesign the Rebel Alliance logo?
For some it’s shoes. For others it’s bags. While I have an affinity for both, my real weakness is the label. Plain and simple. Always has been. Always will be. See here. My friend Craig gave me this roll that she found in her parents’ home. She knows me well. And yes, Craig is a woman.
This is one of the very few things that I kept from my mother’s house. Most of the photos I have posted from there are just that, photos. This little gouache is one of the exceptions. If ever there were an argument for doing a rendering by hand, this would be it.
A few sample pages from the interiors of those wonderful German Field Guides. I had no idea that “Eagle Owl” in German is “Uhu.” How very onomatopoeic of them.
Charming German field guides found in a box tucked away in the eaves of my mother’s house. Published around 1934. My personal favorite is the one on gemstones and minerals. Next post will show what’s inside.