Wednesday, February 23, 2011

another kind of adventure journal

I posted this journal page on my other blog ( because it relates to that blog, too.  The journal page pictured here is from my everyday adventure journal-- a little butter box book.  I carry it with me all the time, and this past weekend was a good example of why I find it as essential as my car keys!  My friend Fran and I were at our favorite antique place, an enormous old tobacco barn stuffed with unimaginable objects, looking for old buttons to use in our recycled wallet-making enterprise. 

Sifting through some old magazines down on the floor in a dark and dusty corner, I spied a framed collection of old coin purses.  The frame was a  memorabilia-type frame, about 2 inches deep and hinged at the top.  The coin purses were pressed between the filthy glass and a deeply-stained ancient piece of foam rubber.  And what a collection!  There were about a dozen little purses and bags, some as small as about an inch and a half wide and high.  Some were elaborately embroidered evening-type bags.   One looked like a child's marble sack.  My favorite of all was a leather pouch stamped in gold foil with the words First Farmers Bank.

The collection was priced at $250, over my budget for sure.  But I had my journal, so I was able to sketch a few of them, and I'll be back there next weekend to draw the rest of them!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hard Working Journals

Today's post shows two of my very hard-working journals.  I treasure these two because I would be lost without them.  The first is a journal that I made for an art project that I'm working on with my friend Laura.  For over a year we've been diverging and converging as we circle in on ways to express visually our diverse as well as common experience of living in the exact same neighborhood in New Orleans (before we knew each other and at different periods with only a few overlapping years in the late 70s).  On the page shown we combined our words and images (my map and drawing, her little relief print, and both our written passages) so that the images and words could stew in the same pot.  She has a journal of the project also.  When we do our actual prints we  pull images and ideas from our journals.This second journal is a notebook that I use for Piece Work Wallets & Things, a micro- business that my friend Fran and I have had for about 18 months.  We design and make and sell wallets, small shoulder bags, checkbook covers, and small flat wallets out of recycled materials such as chicken feed bags, coffee bags, Kettle potato chip bags, and other durable, beautiful material that was headed for the landfill.  This page is a troubleshooting research and design page.  The journal is bursting with extra pieces of paper, receipts, letters from customers, business cards, etc.  I built in four envelopes to hold these things, and next time I will build in more!  The book itself is made out of a bird seed bag, sewn on the same treadle sewing machine that we use to make our wallets and things.  I used grid paper because so much of the journal deals with design.

Below is a picture of the back of the outside of this over-worked creature!  Check out our Piece Work blog (where you can also order a wallet, should you want to) at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Three Adventure Journal Pages

 This page is from a pigment-collection journal that I made to record excursions to collect colored clays with a friend near Brasstown, NC.  We each made a journal to keep maps, notes on processing, samples of the paints we made, and little plastic bags of the actual processed pigments.  This page records a fine trip that we made early one morning to the Chatuga Dam area when the lake was very low and we were able to dig clay out of exposed banks.  This is the best maroon color I've ever found.
 This page from the same journal  records a golden yellow that we found in the middle of my friend's road one sunny morning.
My grandson Luca was 5 years old when we went on an adventure to draw haunted houses near his house in rural New Hampshire.  Luca and his brother and I have had a tradition for the past few years of making a trek to the same haunted house, crouching down in the adjacent woods and sitting on a moss-covered log (snow-covered in winter), and drawing the house whilst speculating on the activities we infer from the clues we spot as we draw.  On the occasion of this drawing, Luca and I were alone, and at Luca's suggestion, we sat side by side on the log and both started drawing the house.  After around 15 minutes we changed sides, and he drew on my drawing and I drew on his.  After another 15 minutes we changes again.  We enjoyed the way we couldn't tell his from mine, but both our styles had mixed together and resulted in something more wonderful than either of us could have done alone.  (We also decided that someone was living in the house, but only in one downstairs back room, and coming and going daily with fresh supplies for exactly what we do not yet know.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another Working Journal

I'm still stuck on the question I posed the other day:  when does your journal make you happy?  Monday afternoon my eleven-year-old grandson and I went hiking on a small mountain in my neighborhood that we've hiked many times.  We're always in search of a grave marker that was planted in the woods on the south face of the mountain to commemorate the first European settler in this area, who died on the mountain in the 1700s.  The marker has been swallowed up by development on that face of the mountain, so it's very hard to see it these days.  The one time Jacob and I located it in its newly imprisoned environment, the land-owner chased us away, and we only got a glimpse as we went back down the newly private road. 

So I had gotten the idea that if we climbed over the top of the north face and came stealthily down the south face we might be able to see the elusive marker as we approached from above.  We had heard of hikers who had done that (the irate property owner complained about them to us as she chased us away).  So we set out to find the trail, bringing along our adventure journal, which we've kept for several years to record things we do together.  This time we made a map in the notebook as we walked off the familiar trail to help us find our way home.  You can see that we found some beautiful clay, which we rubbed on the page while collecting some of it to make into paint. 

This little unbeautiful notebook is a great treasure to both Jacob and me because we look back into it to remember adventures we've had and to find out information we would have otherwise forgotten (how DID we attach the penny to the railroad track that time?)