Monotypes + hand bookbinding = ?


This week I worked in my friend Darlene’s third-floor corner Button Factory studio, trimming a bunch of little abstract monotypes which I had printed last November. An experiment: nine little monotypes on one full sheet of paper. I came upon these printed sheets and started trimming them while thinking about various ways I might be able to combine my monotypes with hand bookbinding.

This past week I finalized plans with Lynn Crocker to begin working on hand bookbinding projects on a regular basis in her second-floor studio in The Button Factory. I completed Lynne’s Hand Bookbinding workshop last September. Now I want to get into a rhythm of hand bookbinding. For me, working alongside Lynne in her studio seems the best way to refresh, maintain and surely strengthen my hand bookbinding skills.

Meanwhile I now have a stack of small trimmed monotypes awaiting some next step. I don’t know what I’m doing nor where this monotype + hand bookbinding combo will take me. It occurred to me, while I was trimming and thinking and trimming and thinking these past couple of days: the only way to create something totally new actually is to have no idea what you’re doing. Case in point, Henri Mattisse and his cut-outs.

Keep working and trust.


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Marching into spring with Seacoast Women


This past week I continued working on the Seacoast Women Series which I began last summer. Spring has arrived here officially yet the actual weather outside tells a different story. Teeny tiny snowflakes have been falling since about 8 o’clock this morning. The Seacoast Women appeared yesterday in winter garb and cool dark colors. They are looking a bit somber these days. In another monotype from this past week’s printing sessions, the Seacoast Women look truly grumpy, almost witchy, as they endured yet another week of frigid air. This photo (above) shows a detail from one of the monotypes (in process) which I printed yesterday (first drop) at The Button Factory here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I’ve posted a few more studio photos from this past week on Facebook at Barbara van Buskirk, Artist. Where, oh, where art thou springtime?

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Waking from their winter slumber

Seacoast Women (In Process)

I’m working in the studio again after a three month hiatus which came about willy-nilly then unfolded due to, well, yes, you guessed it: Life. First, an unexpected family surgery in early December reset my priorities and simplified life to its minimalist best through the end of January. One day at a time. Then, of course, the snow began to fly here in New England. One day at a time.

Today, with family health restored and better than ever, lots of snow on the ground yet sidewalks and roadways clear and dry, and creative longing in my heart, I returned to The Button Factory studio. What a huge hug Darlene and I gave each other this morning! Three months is a long time be be away from the studio. Three months has been a long time away from “my girls”: the Seacoast Women series I began last summer.  I could not even remember where I left off. Once I unzipped my portfolio, I began pulling out the quarter sheet and half sheet pieces I’d been working on. Then I removed the lid from the storage box where the full sheet pieces have been nesting. I took my time pinning up each piece to the big moveable board until the entire surface was chock-a-block full of color, line, and summer spirit. You can see for yourself what I saw today in the photo I snapped.

Yes, it’s been a long winter. No matter. I feel very lucky. Very lucky indeed. We have about three more weeks until the official start of Spring (March 20). Meanwhile I’m having a blast with “my girls” and am once again in the zone. Stay tuned.

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One of my all-time favorites

The Guide. Printed and sold years ago. I love this piece every time I look at it. Really touches a chord in my heart strings. Still.

The Guide

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Happy New Year

We’re well into 2015! Happy New Year. While temps certainly are cold these days, I’m warming up with a burst of color: View from Above, one of the monotypes I printed in 2014 at The Button Factory here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

View from Above

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A peaceful start to the holiday season

Twin Spirits (II)

I was just looking at this color monotype, Twin Spirits (II), which I printed last year (2013) at The Button Factory. Her beautiful eyes look directly into our eyes. She looks content, calm, peaceful. A good way to start this holiday season, it seems to me. Monotpe really is a magical medium.

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Ready, set, go with hand bookbinding

Completed Lynne Crocker’s wonderful Hand Bookbinding class at The Button Factory in Portsmouth a couple of weeks ago. So much fun! Never ever will I look at a book in the same way I did prior to this class. Now I see a whole new world in a single volume: paper grain, signatures, smooth and rounded spines, headcaps and headbands, board papers, mitred corners and more. Don’t you just love it? In class, we hand bound three different types of books: a single signature book with folded cover, an accordian book with paste paper cover (we made the paste paper), and an eight signature case-bound book. Beginning now and continuing through this winter I’ll continue the new body of work I began printing this summer (Seacoast Women), plus will begin combining monotypes, writing and hand bookbinding.

Hand Bookbinding

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The art and craft of being made by hand

Fair Isle Pillow Cover

September and the unofficial beginning of autumn is here! This is my favorite season. While I knit continuously throughout the year, autumn brings with it an extra yen for all things warm, cozy and made with love by hand.

Most every Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 12 Noon, including today, I can be found knitting at  Sit ‘n’ Stitch which takes place in the second floor conference room at the Portsmouth Public Library. I’m currently practicing Fair Isle knitting. Am making two pillow covers. This photo shows the square pillow cover which I’ve finished knitting, pinned and am ready to block. Front: Fair Isle pattern. Back: Basketweave stitch in dark heather. Now knitting second pillow cover which is rectangular and different yet complimentary to the first. Pattern is from The Very Easy Guide to Fair Isle Knitting by Lynne Watterson (Copyright 2012).

Perhaps one day I’ll design and knit one of my own Fair Isle inspired patterns. Who knows?

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Seacoast women of summer 2014


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Fresh inspiration

IMG_3404Just returned home to Portsmouth from our long anticipated road trip to Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Absolutely fantastic! Our visit was everything we hoped it would be and so much more. We stayed in Charlottetown at the Elmwood Heritage Inn which is truly spectacular. Beyond Charlottetown, which has very much of a Portsmouth look and feel (we really did feel at home), there are charming villages, rolling green hills, freshly tilled red soil on beautiful farms, miles and miles of seacoast and beaches and ocean views, delicious freshly caught local seafood (PEI mussels really do taste best on the Island!), friendly and fun-loving people, lots of sheep and local yarn and woolens, Anne of Green Gables lore and legend galore, and lip smackingly yummy Gahan beer which is brewed in Charlottetown. Amazing! We were in PEI well before high season (July-August), so no traffic, no crowds, no lines, empty beaches. An easy drive from Portsmouth (we did it in two short days with an overnight in New Brunswick both to and from PEI). We will return. As always, it’s wonderful to travel and now wonderful to be back home.


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