The Schack in Everett has a fabulous show—Northwest Designer Craftsmen 2020 Symposium— full of the artwork of over 100 NWDC members that has been hanging on their walls since early March, 2020. The Covid-19 Self-Quarantine, Stay-At-Home orders have been in effect since just a couple weeks after the opening, so hardly anyone has actually seen the show, except for during the opening on March 5. For more information about this show, check this link.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before the quarantine, I planned to make a blog post about the art-book much earlier than now, but I didn’t because this isolation period allowed me time to get a literal ton of work done here at my place that I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ll make another post about that, since it is studio-space related, and exciting to me. This post will focus on my art-book currently on display at the Schack. You can see other Northwest Designer Craftsmen artworks on the NWDC website by clicking here.

The art-book is titled Story of a First Year Hive.

2019 was the first year I kept honeybees. They are fascinating, miraculous, and surprising creatures in more ways than I can say. The creation of this art-book was a way of honoring the bees who kept me company, and taught me many things while they were here. I regret to say that, though I did care for them, treated them for mites, and protected them from other hazards, the hive died in September. Varroa mites bring with them a variety of viruses to honeybees. In a way, they have been fighting viruses like our novel coronavirus for several years, and beekeepers are making some headway, but there is still no “cure.” Beekeepers currently protect their hives by testing and treating, in a similar way that we are doing for Covid-19. There is no vaccine for the virulent varroa mites or the infectious Covid-19, so it is seriously important that testings and treatments are effective and timely.

The book is hand-built using paper I made last year. The interior pages are made from retted iris and daylily leaves. These pages are divided into six signatures (or sections), each joined together with a strong sheet of paper I made from a tan cotton rug yarn, which can be seen along the spine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cotton papers for the covers were embossed onto honeycomb foundation that was used inside a working hive. Some of the propolis the honeybees left behind is deposited onto the embossed papers, along with the honeycomb grid. The binding is made with a coptic stitch, and hand-sewn with waxed cotton thread. A coptic binding allows for the book to open up flat.

On each of the right-hand pages (recto side), I pasted a small paper made from cotton bed sheets. On each of these papers, I made a collage, that was created with a combination of all sorts of things, including sunflower and evergreen pollen; lichen; honeybee, hornet, and ladybug parts; birch and grass leaves; gold leaf, silk string and cloth electric tape, as well as ink diagrams. The ink drawings are detailed and minuscule, almost as though drawn by a bee. These collaged pages carry a story “as told” by honeybees and “translated” through the artist’s collages.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I continue to create assemblages and hand-bound books, I tend to experiment and stretch what I do as I go. In the near future, I’ll be making more books with collages and printmaking, often using items I find in the natural world, juxtaposed with those from our manmade ones. I love making paper because of the hands-on process, and the variety generated in the results. Through experimentation and curiosity, I’ve discovered that failure is not an error, but an education.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try making a rather small, two-color wood block print because I wanted to do two things. First thing: see if cheap-o plywood off an old pallet would make a decent print. (I wouldn’t recommend it.) Second thing: see how my daylily-iris-cotton paper would take a print. (Yes!)

0119201537

I started by cutting a clean piece of plywood “board” from a pallet into a couple of small, same-size, wood blocks on the table saw. Then I sanded the top, bottom, and all four sides of both blocks so there’d be a nicely flat area to print from, and no slivers for my hands. I was lucky to find a volunteer live ladybug model wandering around the studio. They are such calm and friendly, easy-to-draw insects. To transfer the drawing to the blocks I used graphite transfer paper. I drew the circle of the ladybug’s back onto the red-ink block. The other block would be the black-ink block. The transfer needed both sides of the “lines” drawn and filled in, so I could be sure where to cut, or more importantly, where not to cut.

0124201709b

There’s something about a roller loaded with ink.

0124201632

This is when I just started to roll out the red ink, which needs to be rolled until it is uniform and velvety. I do that on a piece of plate glass, and in this photo, I can see that I have to add a bit more ink before I’m done. I tested the color on the block there. Looks like I kissed it, but you know me, I don’t wear lipstick, so that was the kiss of the roller on plywood.

0124201708a

0124201708

This is the small printing press I have in Egress Studio. It can be used for linoleum or wood block, as well as etchings, drypoints, and wood engravings. There are a few of the block prints with red ink only drying quietly in the background. The green paper is a template I made for registering one block’s print with the other block. It is the size of the handmade paper I made, so it would be easy to square up, and then set the block in the correct spot and orientation. Yes, you can actually print the red circle upside down from the black, so one needs to be pay attention to which way goes up. I wrote which side was “up” with an arrow onto the back of each block.

0125201352a

Here is a red circle print waiting for the template to be lined up to the impression from the red-ink block, so the black-ink block can be placed on top of it before running it through the press. By the way, the table that this press is on was the kitchen worktable that my mom once kneaded bread and rolled out pie dough on. It is still a good table to work from, though I have repurposed it. I hang my rulers from it, and store print materials on the lower shelf.

0124201708b

A rhythm of red. The handmade paper is uncut, showing its full deckle edges.

As you can imagine, making a wood block print is a lot of fun: the drawing, the cutting, the inking, the printing and the drying—all of it. I listen to music while I work, like Erik Satié and Django Reinhardt. The rhythms don’t necessarily go well with repetitive work, since printmaking is by starts and stops and on to the next, but they do go well with the thinking processes followed for such work.

0124201709

0124201724a

With the red circles dry, they are ready for the black ink. I don’t know if you can see this, but the red dot leans to the left, the black-ink block’s circle leans to the right. Upside down inside the carefully placed template, and the black will match the red.

0125201352

The black, black ink! Seems I could not wait to print the black, and I had forgotten that I ran out of the wood block ink during my last bunch of prints. I needed ink now! I decided to try the thicker, stickier etching type of ink. Not the best idea. But it worked well enough.

0125201353

This block is a black-ink block. Making progress. I must have removed the template before I remembered to take the photo. There is newsprint under and over the block and the handmade paper, which will help to keep the felts clean of ink.

0125201351

Black on red, only seven more left to print. The block and the roller are waiting for me to take this photo. The ink tube is there beside the plate glass full of ink. The empty wine glass sitting on the table? I can’t drink wine and print things at the same time, though if I were still a gum-chewer, I could to that. The glass may be empty now, but was once filled with sparkling water. Refreshing.

0125201351a

This black is so lush and deep. I’m glad I had this ink handy.

0125201351b0125201351c

0125201354

All done but the signing. If I remember and have some spare time, I’ll put a signed and matted photo here.

 

 

In honor of David Ossman’s new book, The Old Man’s Poems, the Band of Poets is coming up from Seattle for the book launch party, and will provide musically poetic entertainment. This band is unique in its makeup of poets and instruments, and is a visiting gem full of sparkle.

Band of Poets celebrates the interplay of poetry and music. Their performances weave original compositions with those of other artists, both past and present. Musical offerings range from traditional to jazz; their choice of poetry spans from classics to Beat. As published poets and eclectic musicians, they join forces to share their unique amalgam of song and spoken word.
—Rosanne Olson

BAND OF POETS, from left to right:
John Burgess, Ted McMahon, Jed Myers, Rosanne Olson and Anna Jenkins

Band of Poets will be sharing ballads and hymns, the ghosts of the Beats, and evocations of Whitman, political outrage, edginess, and, yes, even love. Band of Poets features the original music and poetry of John Burgess, Anna Jenkins, Ted McMahon, Jed Myers, and Rosanne Olson. You might hear a guitar or harmonica or maybe even an angel. You can dance if you feel like it. Who knows what would happen next?

Let’s begin the introductions to each of these musically inclined poets with Jed Myers, since his book—Between Dream and Flesh—was published by Egress Studio Press just last year, and I just can’t resist mentioning that.

Jed Myers

Jed Myers has been weaving music and poetry together in various ways for many years, believing the arts can help us remember our oneness across all the apparent differences. Jed is a widely published and award-winning poet, who’s hosted countless open mics, plays guitar and sings with The 52nd Street Band, and he loves being in Band of Poets. Read more about Jed on his website at https://www.jedmyers.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Burgess

John Burgess grew up in upstate New York, worked on a survey crew in Montana, taught English in Japan, and since 1985 has lived in Seattle where he works for an insurance company. Past glories include: 2006 Jack Straw writer; co-founder of the original Burning Word Festival; 2008 Words’ Worth curator for the Seattle City Council; 2-time runner-up for Seattle Poet Populist; and past Board president at Hugo House, Seattle’s creative writing center. He has five books of poetry, some with maps, charts and drawings, from Ravenna Press: Punk Poems (2005), A History of Guns in the Family (2008), Graffito (2011), “by Land…” (2015), and 1977 (2018). Look out, though. John Burgess has a contagious smile. More about John can be had at https://punkpoet.net.

 

 

 

 

Rosanne Olson

Rosanne Olson has spent a lifetime in the arts as an award-winning photographer, author, educator and musician. Her passion for words and poetry, which began in college, evolved into a love of songwriting. She plays harmonica with the 52nd Street Band, and sings some of her songs with the Band of Poets and at local venues. Her first album, Love in Your Country was released in 2018. View more of her work at  http://www.rosanneolson.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ted McMahon

Ted McMahon is a Seattle poet and percussionist. A long-time contributor to Easy Speak Seattle, he is happy to be a collaborator with Band of Poets.

You can see more of his poetry at http://www.innerjourney.info/books.htm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Jenkins

Anna Jenkins is a music teacher, composer, arranger, and therapeutic musician. She performs with the girl band Nasty Woman, Resonance Harp Duo, and leads the Eastside Harp Circle. Anna enjoys adding Celtic harp to the spoken word with Band of Poets! She has to leave our celebration by 8pm, so be sure to be here early. A harp with a harpist is more than a wonder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This, to me, sounds like a one-of-a-kind sort of event, one that I’m glad I won’t be missing. We will request donations for the musicians’ expenses, since they are traveling all the way from Seattle (plus you don’t want to forget how much time and expense it takes to create such talent). But, as always, I want everyone who would like to hear the poems and music during this event to please come. Your presence is a delight, and our wish is to share a few of the wonderful things in the world.

Last Friday, which was a beautifully breezy sunny day, David Ossman and Judith Walcutt visited Egress Studio. The main purpose for this visit was for David to sign and number 150 copies of the latest poetry book published by Egress Studio Press.

OssmanBooksigning-1

David Ossman gets ready to sign his new books in Egress Studio. Beside him are 150 books in stacks of fifteen. On the couch, Judith Walcutt converses with Jim Bertolino.

David was excited to see the book, and to get busy signing them. They were waiting for him in stacks of fifteen on a table in the studio. He sat down and took a little time to look at the book. I am so glad he likes what the book looks like and how it feels in the hands. He began signing shortly thereafter. First, he tried the pen out on the paper of the book’s interior: French Paper Company’s Speckletone Starch Mint, a lightly speckled, lightly green smooth paper. Good idea to try out the pen on the paper first, which worked just fine. And then he began to sign.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The signing and numbering of a limited edition is easier than signing books for people, and goes a lot faster. No need to ask who to sign the book for, or how to spell a name. The hardest parts are keeping the signature similar start to finish, and remembering what number you are on.  David didn’t run into any trouble.

OssmanBooksigning-5

Here, David has signed several books, but the stacks to his right are still high. In this photo, you can see the hand-scored and folded square spine, and the cotton rug yarn endpaper.

In the meantime, I mentioned to Judith that, if she happened to like raspberries, she was welcome to pick as many as she wanted just outside the door where I’ve grown two rows of raspberries for several years, though I don’t like berries. Well, I found out she likes raspberries. I think they smell as delightful as roses.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jim Bertolino likes every part of poetry, from the inkling of an idea to the oral presentation of each poem. He couldn’t help but sit there in the chair watching someone signing every single poetry book of a limited edition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was not long before David had finished signing and numbering the books. Here he is signing the last one.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After this, we opened a bottle of wine and toasted to the signing and the numbering of the book, to the book, to David Ossman, to poets, to poetry, and all things poetic. It must have been a very large bottle of wine because we had to finish it at dinner. Oh, dinner. The dinner was appetizers (olives, raspberries, artichoke/parmesan dip with rosemary crackers) first, then, out at the pond, there was a salad with lettuce varieties from the garden, beet-pickled eggs from the Sicilian Buttercup hens, pasties, hearty bread with sunflower seeds, and sparkling water. We went back to the studio for dessert: Peach Kuchen. By then, the sun was beginning to set. “Good timing, sun!” as we were exhausted. What a wonderful day!

Many people know David Ossman as one of the main characters of the infamous Firesign Theatre, since its beginnings back in the amazing ’60’s. A precursor to Saturday Night Live, Firesign Theatre was like a godfather to SNL, Frank Zappa, and others.

But this post is about David Ossman as poet. His new book, titled The Old Man’s Poems, is inspired by morning coffee, an artful cat, and the mysterious majesty of Mount Baker. Ossman is agile and savvy when it comes to writing from the heart—his poems share the honest experience of someone who’s been around the block a couple million times. He’s trustworthy, and has a beautiful mind.

Ossman

David Ossman in his study

Ah, but I mentioned a Book Launch Party in the headline of this post.

David Ossmans’ Book Launch Party: The Old Man’s Poems

with David Ossman reading from his book, and hopefully talking about things. In celebration of Ossman’s new book, The Band of Poets from Seattle, a music and poetry group— with John Burgess, Anna Jenkins, Jed Myers, Ted McMahon, and Rosanne Olson—will also be performing.

Saturday, August 17: Program begins at 6pm
(I know I said 7pm in earlier promotion, but I’ve changed my mind. It’ll be 6pm. The harpist has to leave by 8.)

Potluck at 5pm. If you can’t decide what to bring, here’s a suggestion: A-D, please bring a dessert; E-L bring a salad or vegetable dish; M-T side dishes or an entrée even; U-Z appetizers might be nice.

David_Ossman

David Ossman during a performance.

The process of publishing this book was much slower than I had hoped, but the soft covers are all but finished, with only fifteen outer covers to score, trim, fold and wrap around the interior book. David will come up to the studio tomorrow to sign and number all 150 copies. Then they will be done.

Table

This photo shows a few unscored, untrimmed, wraparound covers at the far end of the table (hope you don’t get dizzy looking at it), beside the tools I use to score and trim the books, and then there are 135 books with their outer covers on ready for signing tomorrow, and the final stack of fifteen books in the box (with the red interior cover), which I’ll finish up as soon as I’m done writing this post.

Please notice that this is a limited edition, handmade book. It is like an artwork, because I consider poetry not only an oral art, but a visual art as well, once it’s on the page. I enjoy designing poetry books, and attempt to reflect the poems in the typography, layout, and cover designs. For this book, I also prepared six linoleum blocks to make the interior and cover illustrations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The price for the book ($27) does reflect the artistry of David Ossman and the work that went into making the book. Handmade books cannot compete with mass-produced books, except in artistry of production. In the future, the soft covers will be joined by several hardcover artbooks as well. These are not made just yet. But you might want to know that the poems in these hardcover books will printed on my handmade papers, and illustrated with each of the six linoleum blocks tipped in. Those will take a while longer to make, but I’ll certainly announce when they are finished.

I will post more about David Ossman, the Band of Poets, the book, and this event as we get closer to the August 17 celebration. Come and help us celebrate.

—Anita K. Boyle, publisher, Egress Studio Press

My studio rarely looks like it does during the studio tour, workshops, meetings, or salons. It’s a mess, albeit a coordinated one. Here’s what it looks like a couple weeks before two workshops and a salon are happening. It’ll be nice and clean in a couple weeks, but I’m sure it’ll become far more chaotic before then.

This is what the studio looked like yesterday afternoon. It is an organized disorganization of neat project areas.

This is the area where I’m inking the linoleum blocks on my small etching press.

This is where I cut the linoleum blocks. It is a very safe way for holding the blocks still, which reduces the number of injuries. It is still out because I occasionally need to recut a line or two while I’m inking.

Right after I took this photo, I took these dry prints off the clothesline.

Here is another area, where I am making paper. The brown liquid contains the rest of the hosta pulp from paper I made earlier. I plan to add cotton linters to it, and it will make an entirely other type of paper from what 100% hosta pulp has made, which is a little brittle and hard to work with.

Here is the hosta paper dripping on the studio’s cement floor. Towels come in handy during the paper making process. The intention for this paper is for artworks, not books.

These papers were printed in my toner printer, and then I wrote quotes on them from The Big Burn book. I do not know if this artwork will be finished in time for the Allied Arts show. I have a plan, but we’ll have to see.

This is the newest project. It will be an assemblage when it’s done. It uses wood from old buildings and furniture around Bellingham. So far, I’ve cut, glued and nailed in the framing. The glass piece is just sitting there.

Back to the linoleum blocks, here is how I set up making prints: roller, glass plate for ink, linoleum block, ruler, and paper.

This is what it looks like when the ink has just been rolled on… a little shiny and opposite of the print.

Here are eighteen of the prints hanging near the heater to dry for a day or two. No need to rush, which helps the prints from smudging.


Well, now I better get back to work. Lots to do before I’m done.
—Anita K. Boyle

Writing poems about current political events and ideas is one of the important responsibilities that fall to the poet, and it is not an easy task, and is the reason why I decided to host a couple workshops on this topic. Seattle poets Raúl Sanchez and Jed Myers are scheduled to teach workshops on how to create political poems that welcome your ideas­—and the crucial details of today’s prevalent events. The task is complex and sometimes dreadful, but is clearly a crucial element of being a serious poet. The goal of each of these workshops is to write relevant political poems people will actually want to hear and read. That this is possible is represented in many poets work! Think of Walt Whitman, Valzhyna Mort, Ilya Kaminsky, Allen Ginsberg, Sharon Olds…. Participants will learn from these two dynamic Seattle poets as they discuss methods to clearly portray your point of view in poetry. Jed Myers says, “If it’s true that the personal is political, then poetry must be able to capture the political in the personal facts of experience.”

Date: Saturday, March 9, 2019

Location: Egress Studio, 5581 Noon Road, Bellingham, WA

Workshops #1: Raúl Sanchez­—1:00–3:00pm

Workshops #2: Jed Myers—3:30–5:30pm

Registration: one workshop $25, both workshops $40

Please call Anita K. Boyle at 360-398-7870 or email her at akboyle@egressstudio.com

Registration Deadline: March 6, 2019.

The workshops will be held inside the creatively inspiring Egress Studio. Participants are welcome to walk around the five acres to clear their heads between workshops or even just to take a little break, if necessary, since sometimes politics can be a bit much.

Raúl Sanchez

 

 

 

Raúl Sanchez’s workshop participants will look at poems from two anthologies: Poetry of Resistance and Poets Against the War, as well as specific poems like Martin Espada’s “The Republic of Poetry,” Pablo Neruda’s poem “Anguish of Death,” Cesar Vallejo’s “The Black Riders,” and a bonus poem by Gloria Anzaldúa “To live in the Borderlands means you.”  During the workshop, attendees will point out issues mentioned in the poems that affect us and the people from other countries. From this information, poems will be created that reflect current political issues affecting our country and the world.

About the instructor: Raúl Sanchez was selected to be the Inaugural Poet in Residence for the City of Burien 2018. He is also a translator currently working on the Spanish version of his poetry collection All Our Brown-Skinned Angels (MoonPath Press) nominated for the 2013 Washington State Book Award in Poetry. Raúl’s focus is immigration, discrimination, profiling, racism and social injustice, among other issues. He is a member of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program. Currently, Raúl volunteers as a Poetry Mentor for the Pongo Teen Writing Project in the King County Juvenile Detention Center and a member of the Seattle Arts and Lectures Writers in the schools (WITS) program.

Jed Myers

 

 

 

 

Jed Myers’ workshop:

Jed Myers says, “If it’s true that the personal is political, then poetry must be able to capture the political in the personal facts of experience. We must be able to channel the currents of our culture’s disturbances and possibilities through our intuitive apparatus and create embodiments of our struggles that invite strongly felt resonances.” In this workshop Myers hopes to facilitate such a process—by offering some experiential exercises, by encouraging the psychic shift from concept and category to perception and sensation, and by tapping the group’s power to support its members in writing openheartedly through the self rather than from the self. Some worthwhile writing is bound to come of it!

About the instructor: Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press, forthcoming), and three chapbooks, including Dark’s Channels (Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award). Recent poems appear in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, and Southern Poetry Review.

About this project: Anita K. Boyle creates art and poetry at Egress Studio. This poetry writing workshop event is in support of the larger Whatcom County poetry community. A minimum of 30% of all workshop proceeds will go directly to the migrants at the Mexican/US border as they continue their journey into the United States. The donation from will most likely be for non-profit group Angry Tias & Abuelas who are doing very valuable work right now at the Mexican/American border, work that reminds me of these lines: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” —Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, “New Colossus”. There is a link on Facebook, if you’re interested in learning about the some of the work they are doing.