Category Archives: Art

Dear, Charley Harper

Charley Harper (August 4, 1922 – June 10, 2007) was a child. More like a grown-man child who created the illuminating illustrations that wore the covers and insides of textbooks, magazines, and posters in the mid-twentieth century.

No matter the work, his geometric style and minimalism bring me back to childhood, back when a single intricate shape or color would astound me, grapple my attention, and keep me wanting more.

Last Christmas I received one of the best gifts from my sister. It was the gift of imagination. The gift of my youth. The gift of more than 400 page of beating art in a big fat coffee table book. It was Charley Harper in a box.

charley harperI love his images of natural settings.

charley harper

I love all of his images of animals.

charley harper

I also love his images of people with animals.

charley harper

And I equally love the more morbid images of animals.

More info about Charley and images for your viewing pleasure.



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Resolutions: Because Everyone Else Is Doing It

Where has my blogging life been? Nonexistent. I’ve been swamped with other duties including holiday dinners, transitioning to a somewhat-vegan diet, and figuring out what 2010 is going to be all about. I’ve also been trying to figure out how to stay warm. Texans aren’t used to such wind chills and 37 degree highs. I’ll be damned if I move to any cold weather climate and have to stay there.

I’d become a marshmallow. This is me on a wintery day in Austin with a snow flake, circa 2007:

Onto the resolutions:

In the past, I’ve simply made the resolutions, completely forgotten about them, and spent the month of December trying to remember what the old resolutions were before I attempt to set new ones for the following year. It’s a vicious cycle. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Austin, Blogging, Bookmaking, Writing

Glorious Weekend Happenings: Garden Party, Studio Tours, National Peanut Butter Month

This weekend is certainly happening.

I’ve already started celebrating National Peanut Butter Month by baking  mounds of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and I will continue to do so this weekend by baking a gut-wrenchingly beautiful peanut butter pie, recipe courtesy of my favorite Homesick Texan. So, that’s happening.

east austin studio tour

Along with peanut butter pie we have the East Austin Studio Tours, a free nine-day artist-run event that started in 2003 to bring the community and artists to East Austin’s studios and art galleries. It’s going to be nine days and and two jam-packed weekends of more than 200 artists, 154 galleries and studios, and work in a multitude of mediums including painting, sculpting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, metal, and mixed media.

The event runs from November 14-22. Studios are open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th and again on Saturday, November 21st and Sunday the 22nd.

Check out some of the studios, exhibitions, events, and programs on EAST’s Web site.

The Austinist has been ramping up EAST preview coverage with some stellar artist interviews. Read Tolly Moseley‘s interview with Bonnie Rue of Model Citizen and another Austinist interview with Abi Daniel.


And if last week’s Austin Bleet-Up wasn’t enough fun for you, Austin Eavesdropper and Bad Seed Promotions have put together another swank and sassy social event, this time with a theme and costumes, to support sustainable living and urban gardening.

It’s the Austin Garden Party, a 1920s kind of night at The Liberty with swingin’ ’20s and 2000s tunes by Richard Gear,  a photo booth (these never get old!) by Trevor Ray Thompson, and door prizes (bottles of rum and plants!)

The party is from 6-10 p.m. and the cover is five bones ($5, wink).

The Liberty
1618 1/2 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 600-4791

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An Evening of Comic Genius with Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, and Françoise Mouly

This is exciting, folks, especially for the lover of illustration and the comic artist.

I’m not an artist and I was JAZZED to learn that artists and illustrators Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Françoise Mouly would be coming together to speak at the UT Performing Arts Center (PAC) on Friday, November 13, about their careers, comic books, cover designs, and culture.


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Bookmaking with The WonderCraft Part 3/3: Book Binding

Our final class in The WonderCraft bookmaking series was all about bookbinding and different spine stitches. We focused on the Japanese side stitch and coptic binding, which sounds really fancy because it’s really difficult at first.

The Japanese side stitch, also called “stab binding,” is very simple and can be modified to make really elaborate and intricate spine patterns. I’m not going to write out the instructions because diagrams are usually more helpful. Check out this wonderful wikibook for detailed instructions. All you need for this style of binding is a needle, thread, and something to punch holes with.

The Japanese side stitch is very sturdy, but prevents the book from opening too far. This makes it difficult to write or draw on the pages after the spine has already been stitched.



Coptic binding was a lot more difficult because the stitching process was slightly more complex, but it gets easier with more practice and repetition. You have to sew on each signature, which is just each section of paper, individually to the covers. For coptic binding you just need your covers, paper, thread, a curved needle, and a 1/8” hole punch. Here is a remarkable tutorial on coptic binding, or the “single needle chain stitch.”

I really like this style of stitching because it allows the book to lay down flat, making it easier to write or draw on the pages.

coptic stitch

coptic binding

Sign up for the next round of bookmaking classes or learn about other wonderful classes offered by The WonderCraft.


Filed under Art, Austin, Bookmaking, Writing

Dia de los Muertos – How Austin Honors Its Dead

It sounds kind of creepy at first – hanging out in graveyards, building altars for dead people, and making candy skeletons on a day that isn’t Halloween.

This is a tradition, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans in the U.S. and Canada on November 1 and 2. Families gather to pray and remember friends and family that have died by building elaborate grave altars filled with flowers, photos, toys for dead children, and special food like candied pumpkin, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and sugar candy skulls. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Austin

Texas Book Festival (10/31 and 11/1) – Bird Fly Good Recommends Panels, Exhibitors, and Music

I’m all about books these days, especially making them. But I also love reading them. I’m the kind of reader and book lover that falls head over heels for an author just because I’ve fallen in love with his or her writing.

Every year the Texas Book Festival brings hundreds of authors to the state capitol so that book lovers and book people can oogle and go ga-ga over some of their favorite authors. I’ll be at the festival as a volunteer at the Harry Ransom Center exhibitor booth. Stop by if you want to learn all about our current and future projects, or grab a snazzy Edgar Allan Poe button in honor of our current exhibition. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Austin, Bookmaking