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.
A few months ago, my husband and I were in Madison, Wisconsin. We were staying at the Hilton Hotel. Never one for heavy fragrances, when I travel I tend to bring my own stash of soap and shampoo. But there was no soap by the sink, so I ventured to open what was clearly intended for the shower and bath. This is what emerged from the package: a “massage bar” by Peter Thomas Roth. Whoever he is. Not too stinky and fairly effective at cleaning my hands. But surprising and odd nonetheless.
A moderately sad roadside rest stop at exit 5 on the Palisades Interstate Parkway. I wonder why they didn’t bother removing the adhesive padding on the wall next to the Gojo dispenser. Though, I do enjoy the graphic on the pull down shelf.
I did a walkabout at the ICFF yesterday. As usual, I didn’t leave myself enough nearly enough time to take a leisurely stroll through the aisles. But, even at an accelerated pace, certain booths stood out far more than others. Oddly enough, this go around I ended up being most drawn to the textiles and rugs. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of other designs, and designers, that caught my attention. Alicia Adams Alpaca, by virtue of her color palette alone, was enough to stop me in my tracks. After looking at their site, I think it might be time for a little road trip.
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.
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