“Story of a First Year Hive”




The front cover is made from two types of handmade paper embossed with beehive foundation.

“Story of a First Year Hive” is currently part of a virtual display titled NWCRAFT20, which is coordinated by, and in support of, the Bellevue Arts Museum and the artists of the Northwest Designer Craftsmen. You can visit this show at your leisure, or even right this minute, by clicking here.

I refer to this book as an art-book for two reasons:

  1. The book is handbound with papers made by the artist.
  2. The book is illustrated with collages of natural materials, lightly inked.


All the papers in this art-book are made by the artist from both natural and manmade materials. The interior pages are made from the fibers of retted iris and daylily leaves. The cover papers are made from cotton rags, and embossed onto the frame of foundation that was once 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 using waxed cotton thread. A coptic binding allows for the book to be flexible and to open up flat.

The pages are divided into six signatures (or sections), each joined together with a strip of strong paper made from a tan cotton rug yarn, which can be seen along the spine. This paper is actually made from the remnants cut from the looms of a local rug weaving company.

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On each of the right-hand pages (recto side), I pasted a small paper made from cotton bed sheets using the archival glue most often used for binding books. 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 old cloth electric-tape, as well as ink diagrams. The ink drawings are detailed and minuscule, perhaps as drawn by a honey bee. These collaged pages carry a story “as told” by honeybees, which has been “translated” through the artist’s collages.


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 is 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 that 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 real “cure” for this invasive species. Beekeepers currently protect their hives from the varroa mites and their viruses by testing often and treating with care and a thoughtful schedule in a similar way that we are approaching the 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. 

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In early March, 2020, this art-book had its debut at The Schack in Everett as part of a fabulous show called Northwest Designer Craftsmen 2020 Symposium. The exhibition was full of the artwork of over 100 NWDC members that hung from the walls and stood on pedestals on both floors of beautiful and spacious gallery space. The Covid-19 safety precautions were put in place not too long after the opening on March 5, so the show closed down after about ten days, leaving hardly anyone with the opportunity to see the show, and causing some hardship for The Schack and the artists. For a quick run-through of this show, follow this link to a YouTube video.

collage in art-book

Here is one of many small collages within the book. Each has tiny drawings meant as a kind of translation of what the bees said. The collages are made up of bee-related materials.

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.

—Anita K. Boyle
&Artist. &&Poet.

“The Voice of Whatcom,” an art exhibit at the Loomis Hall Gallery


Next week, Nancy Canyon, Susan Erickson and I will show collage and assemblage artworks at the Loomis Hall Gallery. We hope you can join us for opening night on Friday, October 8 from 6 to 9 pm. The Loomis Hall Gallery in an exciting new space that was once an opera house… in Blaine. The building is freshly remodeled, and houses artists’ studios and a gallery. The gallery is located at 288 Martin Street, Blaine, WA 98230. Other local artists who will be showing work include Steve Satushek, Whitney Krueger, James Williamson, Scott Worden, Art Hohl, Katie Johnson. This show runs through October.

Be sure to look at the bottom of this page to see the slideshow of works. Here’s a little about us and our artworks…

Nancy Canyon, collage

Nancy Canyon:
Nancy Lou Canyon believes in wild mind as the source of all creative work. She says, “It’s a practice in letting go that makes good art. The less one thinks, the more surprising the results.”

Ms. Canyon grew up in Spokane where she began her lifelong love of collage, painting, writing, and dancing. Her formal art studies include painting, pottery, and illustration through Spokane Community College, Yakima Valley College, and with painting instructors such as Charles Palmer and William Elston. She studied Visual Communication at NW College of Art. She holds the MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University. In her Fairhaven art studio, located in the Morgan Block Building, she paints and teaches writing and multi-media classes. To view more of her artwork, go to

Susan J. Erickson, assemblage

Susan J. Erickson:
Playfulness, whimsy and the surprise juxtaposition of elements show up in Susan J. Erickson’s assemblage and collage work. She will exhibit pieces with baby clothing and vintage photographs, items collected from nature, repurposed objects, a group of fabric Renaissance potholders and a series of altered bingo cards.

Coming of Age Story
Anita K. Boyle, assemblage

Anita K. Boyle:
I’ve belonged to the Pacific Northwest since birth. My art is composed from a solid passion for the nature, language and culture of this area. I enjoy creating assemblages by combining found objects from nature and technology, which together describe the current Western Washington environment. The inspiration for some of my assemblages comes from my father, who was an electrical engineer.

The objects used in my assemblages vary greatly, and include resistors and capacitors from sixties electronics, evergreen pollen, jewelry parts discovered on a well-traveled road, wasp nests, bullet casings from the North Fork trails, snake skin, computer components, insect wings, pieces of printer cartridges, license plate parts, bird bones, feathers, egg shells, fishing lures, toys found in the dirt a decade after my kids lost them, and the carapaces of dragonflies. I made paper with cottonwood and cattail fluff, flower petals, ants—and the list continues. I put the assemblage parts together like I write poems, balancing one part with another, adding rhythms and texture, ripping pieces in half, starting over. But metaphors run through it all, and help to decide what stays and what goes. Things that don’t normally go together often end up supporting each other in the artworks.

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