14 August 2017


Over three years ago book artist Hisako Nakazawa asked me if I would help her with an idea for an exhibit that would involve members of the Tokyo Bookbinding Club and book artists residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. I immediately said "yes."

In those last 3 years the project has evolved, waxed, waned, and stalled before it became reality. Now, this idea has finally come to fruition. About a year ago the Tokyo Bookbinding Club secured a place on the exhibit calendar at the Urawa Art Museum, just outside of Tokyo, for the first leg of the exhibit. Hisako and I set about inviting Bay Area book artists to participate in the exhibit and the Tokyo Bookbinding Club queried their members, as well.

[PRAYER]: Memories of 4/16,2016 Kumamoto Earthquake by Hisako Nakazawa

The result is an exhibit entitled MUSUBU: Tokyo: California: Urawa. Twenty-four members of the Tokyo Bookbinding Club are exhibiting and 21 book artists that reside, or have strong ties, in the San Francisco Bay Area are participating.

Boro Vessel: Topsy Turvy, Inside Out and Outside In by Jody Alexander

When choosing the artists to represent the United States we looked for artists who were active members of the book arts community in the San Francisco Bay Area who created pieces that incorporate innovative book structures with strong content, possess solid craftsmanship, and a creative use of materials. Each artist also actively exhibits in the San Francisco Bay Area, and many exhibit nationally and internationally. They are also professors and teachers of the book arts at local colleges, universities, and art centers. In a sense it is a "dream team!" If you are familiar with the book arts world you will see what I mean when you read this list of participating US artists:

Rhiannon Alpers, Elizabeth Boyne, Macy Chadwick, Lucy Childs, Marie Dern, Casey Gardner, Alisa Golden, Jennie Hinchcliff, Charles Hobson, Lisa Kokin, Bryan Kring, Hedi Kyle, Howard Munson, Penny Nii, Felicia Rice, Judith Serebrin, Larry Van Velzer and Peggy Gotthold of Foolscap Press, Katherine Venturelli, Kenneth Wilkes, and co-curators Hisako Nakazawa and Jody Alexander.


Members of the Tokyo Bookbinding Club who are participating are:

Yoko Bato, Keiko Fujii, Michiko Fujita, Sinki Fukuda, Mari Hatano, Fumiko Ichida, Masumi Inayama, Junko Inque, Hisako Kawashima, Rie Kondo, Yukari Kunii, Ikuko Nakajima, Hiroko Nakano, Amu Nakao, Eiko Nakao, Kunie Ogoshi, Maki Sato, Katsuyuko Sawada, Ariko Shibata, Keiko Suzuki, Yoko Taguchi, Hiroe Takahashi, Akiko Tsumura, Maya Yamashita.

Hisako Nakazawa, the brainchild of the exhibit, is one of the founding members of the Tokyo Bookbinding Club, and she currently lives in California. She was interested in having the book artists living in these different parts of the world, that also have very active book arts communities, share their work with one another. Keiko Fujii is a member of the Tokyo Bookbinding Club and is also a co-curator of the exhibit along with Akiko Takiguchi who is a curator at the Urawa Art Museum.

    Seven Wonders of Honjyo by Akiko Tsumura

Hisako's husband helped us come up with the title for the exhibit: MUSUBU. Musubu means to tie, to connect, or to be bound by friendship. We thought this was the perfect word to represent an exhibit of bookmakers and bookbinders who are forming connections through their artwork.

I will be traveling to Tokyo in September and giving a talk at the Urawa Art Museum on September 12th, and am very much looking forward to seeing the exhibit.

Here is information about the exhibit:

Musubu: Book and Art: Tokyo: California: Urawa

Urawa Art Museum, Urawa-ku, Saitama, Japan

September 12th - 24th, 2017

Artist/Curator Talk by Jody Alexander, with Howard Munson and Kenneth Wilkes on Tuesday, September 12th from 3:00 - 4:30

Our very exciting news is that the exhibit has secured a US venue at the American Bookbinder's Museum in San Francisco, CA, in April/May 2018.

If there are any Tokyo readers out there I hope that you will try to make it to the Urawa Art Museum to see this exhibit. And, I'll be sure to share information about the San Francisco show as that date approaches.


22 June 2017

Shakerag 2017

I have recently returned home after my week at Shakerag Workshops in Sewanee, Tennessee. I had been there once before and it was so nice to return this warm, friendly, gracious and familiar place. It was wonderful to see some friends I had met there previously and join up with those that I was acquainted with from other areas.


After teaching for a week at Arrowmont I decided to roll on down the road and be a student at Shakerag Workshops. I took a class with Dorothy Caldwell entitled Human Marks: Drawing, Stitching, Batik, and Bookmaking. What a pleasure it was to meet and spend the week with Dorothy. She is grounded, giving, gentle, and that other "g" word again - gracious. A talented artist and teacher.

Textile piece by Dorothy Caldwell
Textile piece by Dorothy Caldwell

We began the week by making simple marks with a variety of tools. Sometimes the mark would stand on its own and sometimes it would be repeated, combined, and layered.




Then we started stitching. Dorothy had conducted research in India on traditional and contemporary kantha cloth and she shared with us stories and examples of these wonderful pieces of women's work.


We started stitching cloth in the kantha style that would eventually be a wrapper for the book we would put together later in the week.


More mark making processes were shared.

Inspiration board of Dorothy's work and processes
Result of student blind stitching exercise

And, then the bookmaking began. I love the woven binding that Dorothy taught us - so simple yet rich and textural. The first book we made was from the piece of paper that acted as our place mats earlier in the week - by Thursday they contained ink spills, notations, and doodles, and when torn into book pages created some interesting juxtapositions.


Finally we put our week long mark making experiments together into another book. I had used the water harvesting system in the building where our workshop took place as my muse throughout the week. I was immediately taken with the lines, curves, and shapes of these structures and also the idea of reuse, sustainability and water!


I sketched, drew, and made stencils inspired by these shapes and then repeated them throughout the week in our mark making exercises.


What a wonderful class - the content, the teacher and my fellow students. A very kind, sharing and talented group to say the least.


A visit to Shakerag is not complete without as many dips as possible in The Rez.


To see more about Shakerag Workshops visit my posts from June 2014 - there are three of them and you can search in the box (upper right) or click here, here and here.


Thank you Shakerag, Arrowmont and Tennessee! I know that I will return - just hope that it is sooner rather than later.

12 June 2017

Arrowmont 2017

Just finished up a week of teaching at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. It was just as wonderful as I had heard from everyone who had been there although different than I had imagined. 


It was hard to imagine the bucolic and creative campus juxtaposed with downtown Gatlinburg full of lights and tourist attractions that had been described to me. Here are some pictures of the campus and the interior of the main building, and some student work, before I shock your senses with images from Gatlinburg. 


Staff house. 

Textiles studio above and other interiors of the main art building below. Such a beautiful building. 


I taught a week long workshop called The Boro Aesthetic: Creating Fiber Art Pieces Inspired By Japanese Textiles. In the class I introduced students to Japanese mending techniques and we looked at Boro textiles, Gee's Bend Quilts, and contemporary artists working within the same aesthetic for inspiration. Students were also asked to bring an old garment to deconstruct so that they could play with existing seams, lines, and other elements inherent to the garment as a starting point for their pieces. We also covered block carving and printing, cutting stencils and image transfers. Here are some of the results:

student work by Chris Raymond




Needless to say the students were varied and talented. I think that the people I met was the most remarkable part of the week. 
I'm sitting in the Nashville Airport as I write waiting for a shuttle to Shakerag where I will be a student for the week. Can't wait for that! I've been posting to Instagram if you want to follow along (@wishiwashistudio). 

And, now I leave you with some crazytown images of downtown Gatlinburg:






Thanks Arrowmont! See you in a few Shakerag...


24 May 2017

Summer Teaching 2017 - and a Spring Wrap Up

I pulled back from teaching this Spring so that I could dedicate as much time as possible to working in the studio on my Bibliomuse Series for an exhibit this Fall 2017 at Seager Gray Gallery.

It paid off since I was able to complete a few more pieces for the show - they are very labor intensive!

Incredible Truth

Above is a detail of a piece from the Bibliomuse Series called Incredible Truth.

I did teach a couple of workshops and thought I'd share some of the student work since I am teaching both workshops again this Summer at Cabrillo Arts and Handcraft Studio School.

In March, I taught a new class called Creative Textiles: Deconstruction, Reconstruction and Reuse at Cabrillo Arts (and will be teaching it again in July).

Essential - detail

This was a two-day workshop and was inspired by some of the processes I use in my own artwork. A couple of years ago I ran out of the old linen fabric that I use in my current work - but I did have an old farm dress hanging around that I had used in an installation. I realized that I probably was not going to use it as a dress anymore so made the move to cut it up and use the pieces in a wall piece. The first cuts were hard but then I was so glad that I did it. And, I discovered that the existing seams, hem, worn areas, and other elements inherent to the garment were a fabulous starting point for the piece. There were so many lines, curves and textures to react to. Below and above are details of the two pieces that I made out of that dress for my KEEP: Modern Library Series: Essential and Higbee.

Higbee - detial

For the Creative Textiles workshop I asked students to bring in old garments that were ready for re-purposing. We looked at images of Japanese boro textiles, Gee's Bend quilts, and artists that have worked with old clothes in their work, as inspiration. I taught some printing and image making techniques, some mending and embroidery stitches and then let the students fly! It was fun to see all of the different projects that emerged from the same points of inspiration.

student work - old waistband looking like shibori!

student work - reconstructed stripes

student work - men's shirt on delicates

student work - stitching on a t-shirt on a sweatshirt

Such creative work in that class and I'm teaching it again July 29th and 30th, 2017, at Cabrillo Arts.

The other workshop I taught was the tried and true Boro Sampler Book workshop but in a new location. My friend Rhiannon Alpers invited me to teach out of her studio space in San Francisco and it attracted some really talented students. They were artists, designers and creative business owners and needless to say their books were gorgeous.

I love how this student used Sally Fox fabric scraps as patches AND thread that she unraveled from the fabric:

student work - Sally Fox fabric and unraveled thread

And, more fabulous student work:

The next Boro Sampler Book workshop will be at Handcraft Studio School on July 15th, 2017. 

I'm traveling to Tennessee in a couple of weeks to teach at Arrowmont (class is waitlisted) and then to Shakerag to be a student! Really looking forward to both and will be sure to report back. 

Happy Summer of making to all and hope to see you in a workshop!

10 April 2017

Spring Refresh

I thought it was about time for a visual refresh on the blog with a new banner. The previous banner had been on my blog since day one and was an image of a book underwater that I thought fit my studio name nicely. 

I took the picture many, many moons ago when I submerged a damaged library book, that had been in a flood, in a glass bowl filled with water in my backyard and walked around it snapping pics. Some very interesting images resulted from that little pre-iphone photo shoot and the images represented my studio for many years.

But, a change was long overdue. I replaced the banner with an image of a piece from my Bibliomuse Series: Genetics, Paleontology and Evolution, No. 1., that I felt reflected the artwork I was currently working on, as well as my related teachings.

Bibliomuse: Genetics, Paleontology and Evolution, No. 1

The Bibliomuse series is a sub-series of KEEP: Modern Library that I am currently working on. I will be having an exhibit entitled Bibliomuse at Seager Gray Gallery in November 2017.

Bibliomuse: Genetics, Paleontology and Evolution, No. 1 (detail)

The Bibliomuse series pieces are all machine stitched and they look to specific discarded library books as their muses. Imagery is extracted and abstracted from the literary muses and combined with various textiles and bookcloth that has been "skinned" from discarded library books.

Bibliomuse: Genetics, Paleontology and Evolution, No. 1 (detail)

I'll be sharing more about the Bibliomuse exhibit as that date approaches and I've been sharing snippets of works in progress on Instagram if you want to follow along.

Another addition to the blog is a sidebar image and link to my new book! Thank you to everyone who has purchased my book: The Boro Aesthetic: Books, Bags, Zakka and Zokin. I am so glad that people are enjoying and learning from it! It will continue to be available on Blurb and Amazon, and I will have copies with me at my in-person workshops.