Monday, November 24, 2008

youtube tutorial

I spend a lot of my time making books and as Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, a simple handmade book seems appropriate to the season. I was inspired by the book Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. Chief Jake Swamp says in his author's note: "The words in this book are based on the Thanksgiving Address, an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. These words of thanks come to us from the Native people known as the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois or Six Nations."

Since the accordion has four pages, I chose the four seasons and wrote about what I give thanks to. I used the front panel of a grocery bag folded in half the long way with the writing inside. It made an accordion substantial enough to not need a cover. I used cut and torn paper for the illustrations and a fine black sharpie marker. This would be a good project to keep the kids busy on Thanksgiving morning while the adults are involved in cooking.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Samhain (pronounced sow like the female adult pig-in) is the first day of the new year and the first day of winter on the Celtic calendar. As we gather in for the coming dark, let us renew our creative spirit and inner strength.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To Autumn

I always think of this poem by John Keats at this time of year.

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saint Brendan's Day

May 16 is St. Brendan's Day. St. Brendan is known as the Navigator or the Voyager. The Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (the Voyage of St Brendan the Abbot) was written in the Middle Ages and presumed to be legend. In the 1970s Tim Severin recreated Brendan's voyage in a leather curragh and reached Newfoundland; he wrote about in The Brendan Voyage.

May we take inspiration from Saint Brendan as we navigate our way through this world.

About Saint Brendan

An English translation of the Navigatio sancti Brendani Abbatis

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day Peace Star

This Mother's Day project has its roots in the earliest Mother's Day celebrations in the United States which were a reaction to the carnage of the Civil War by women who had lost their sons. Julia Ward Howe wrote this Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870. I used Peace Stars that I originally created for a Peace Star Accordion Book. Peace is written in different languages which reflects the global nature of our current striving for peace.


You'll need 2 CDs, a piece of ribbon, peace star patterns or your own designs, white glue, and a glue stick.

Put white glue on the label side of one CD. Fold a piece of ribbon in half, lay it in the center of the CD with the fold above the CD to form a loop for hanging.

2. Place the second CD on top, shiny side up. It is helpful if you (gently so you don't shift the CDs) put a weight on it (I used a couple of books) while it is drying.

3. Cut out, decorate, and color two of the peace stars from the pattern or create your own. Glue one on each side of the CD. I find it best to use glue stick for this.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Basket

May Day is the first day of summer on the Celtic calendar and the real beginning of spring in New England. We celebrate it with a trip to Cambridge MA for May Day festivities where there is singing, dancing, Morris dancers, and a Maypole. On the years when I rise early enough, I deliver May baskets to friends' doors before we leave.


You'll need three rectangular pieces of paper (I used pages from a catalog) and a glue stick. Start by gluing two pages together to make a more sturdy basket.

1. Fold the paper in half the long way. When I teach kids bookmaking I say we are folding it like a hot dog. If your paper is different on each side, the one you want on the outside of the basket should be on the outside when you make the fold.

2. Open the paper and fold each side in to meet the middle.

3. Open the paper and fold in half the other way, like a hamburger.

4. Fold each side in to meet the middle.

5. Fold a triangle in each corner by bringing the side edge to meet the fold.

6. At the top of the triangles, fold the edges down to make long narrow rectangles.

7. Put your hands at the corners and raise up the side of the basket one side at a time.

8. Make a handle by
tearing or cutting the last piece of paper in half the long way,
folding it in half the long way
opening it and folding each side in to meet the middle,
putting glue on one side and closing it to make a narrow strip.

9. Glue the handle to the sides of the basket.

10. Put plastic inside the basket (I cut up a plastic bag), fill it with dirt and a plant (mine is a traditional May plant, sweet woodruff). You can also fill it with candy or other treats.

May Day in Padstow

My favorite May Day song is "Unite and unite" which comes from the Padstow May Day celebration in Cornwall.

Here's a BBC overview of May Day in Padstow.

And here's a long sequence of photos, both old and new, set to Unite and Unite. It's a long segment. I watched it once and then went back and listened to the music several times.