Thursday, December 27, 2007

christmas zine

This was my Christmas card for my family this year. I made it from photos of our 2005 Christmas, mostly taken by my son. There were several rules I tried to follow: include at least two photos of everyone, include random shots from walks, and field trips, no page should have just one photo. Oh, and I culled out the most unflattering photos. I think my sisters will thank me for that. It's all color, a two sided photocopy, each book is on one sheet of legal sized paper.

I have failed at metal casting and printmaking because I hate many-step art processes. I have been wanting to make some kind of book multiple, but was worried about having to sit and do the same thing over and over. I made this in about 12 hours, and spent another 4 hours assembling it. I think it cost around $25 for 15. If I had remembered to put the title and a birthday message on the master, it would have gone together quicker.

This is my master. The white lines indicate cuts, the black ones are the folds. They aren't there in reality, I added them in PhotoShop.

This was inspired by sinoun's zine, "small tasks of labour suit her slender bones." You can see her zines at anatomic air press. stolshsb is poetic and mysterious. I also love "the art of smelling and feeling paper."

Disclaimer: I'm using "zine" very loosely. It really seems to mean an ongoing edition, like a magazine. Mine are one-shot deals, but they are are meant to be fast (sort of) and cheap (relatively) to make.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ursa Major

Ursa Major, Staedtler MasterCarve carving block, image is 3 x 4 inches. This is the most complicated eraser carving I have done. I ground the point of a large needle flat and polished it to make a small carving tool for the detail around the stars and the eye. You can a larger version on my flickr page.

Searching the web to find stars charts to use for this carving was fascinating. The asterism (the big dipper part of the constellation) has different images associated with it in different cultures.

My favorite is from Keith Snyder's site. "When a Lakota dies, his or her material body returns to grandmother sacred below. The spirit rises up into the spirit world, returning to grandfather sacred above. It is important to note that while the spirit travels from a material to a spiritual dimension of existance, both of these realms are called "sacred". Formerly, there was a star in the center of the Big Dipper. Now, however, there is an opening or hole where the star was located. The Wenagi comes up into the spiritual world through this hole which was made when Fallen Star's mother dug out the first wild turnip."

From this web site:
"Nearly every culture on Earth has seen patterns in the stars. But, not surprisingly, very few have seen the same patterns. Take, for example, the Big Dipper, perhaps the most recognizable star pattern in the sky. The Big Dipper is not actually a constellation itself, but is part of a larger pattern known to the Greeks as Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The seven stars of the Big Dipper have inspired many stories, perhaps because they are bright and located so near the north celestial pole, around which the stars rotate during the course of the night. But not everyone calls it a Dipper. The British call it a Plough. In Southern France, it is a Saucepan. The Skidi Pawnee Indians saw a stretcher on which a sick man was carried. To the ancient Maya, it was a mythological parrot named Seven Macaw. Hindu sky lore called it the Seven Rishis, or Wise Men. To the early Egyptians, it was the thigh and leg of a bull. The ancient Chinese thought of it as a special chariot for the Emperor of the Heaven or some other celestial bureaucrat. For the Micmac Indians of Canada's Maritime Provinces, along with several other North American Indian tribes, the bowl of the Big Dipper was a bear, and the stars in the handle represented hunters tracking the bear. And in the nineteenth century, the Big Dipper became a symbol of freedom for runaway slaves, who "followed the Drinking Gourd" to the northern states."

More here. (Skim down to "The Big Dipper in other Cultures."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Soft Block or Eraser Carving

I am working on a book and needed a bear, so I carved the one above. He was traced from a photo with a 2B pencil and transfered directly to the carving block. I like the stray marks a lot in this one.

I keep fussing over this, probably because it is from a favorite photo, taken by my son two years ago at a family Christmas. The arm is terrible, so I started another.

I thought I would like the composition better reversed. But now the elf is too large, the nose bothers me, the hand needs work (that may be fixable). I like the squareness and the position of the elf in the first try. I am tempted to start over again to make it "right." At the moment I'm thinking I should leave it for awhile. I used a big block of Staedtler carving material for all the stuff above. Everything is shown actual size.

These are very old, I like them much more now than I used to. In fact, I like them better today than yesterday. The larger letters were carved from some old green erasers and the smaller ones are on pencil erasers. So far the pencil erasers are holding up okay, but the green eraser material is getting brittle. I have numbers, but need more punctuation.

What have I learned? In no particular order:
1. The image will be reversed.
2. Start with the hard part (faces for me).
3. Turn the block to cut a curve.
4. Keep photo references nearby. I didn't know I was carving an arm and a mitten on the Christmas elf, it came out looking very awkward.
5. Start with a slightly larger block than the finished stamp. It's hard to carve the very edge neatly, it's better to trim away the edge when you're done.
6. Go slow, make lots of test prints along the way. You can't replace what has been removed.
7. Use an old, faded ink pad that doesn't cover the pencil lines. Or you can buy pads made for testing.
8. I like the stray marks, and am trying to use them to good advantage.
9. One option is to carve like you draw. Look at lots of drawings, study how shadows are indicated. If you would shade an arm with "bracelet shading," carve in the same way.
10. Photoshop Elements (and I assume Photoshop) has a nice "stamp" filter, it's under "sketch." It usually needs some adjustments. If you like the face better on one setting and the rest on another, you can layer them and erase the "bad" face to combine the two.
11. Also try tracing the image with a soft pencil. This is sometimes better than the "stamp" command. Lay the tracing on your block and rub with a bone folder or spoon to transfer the pencil lines to the block.
12. Or draw directly on the block.
13. Don't carve away both sides of a corner - it will have no support. A border might help here. Or change the design.
14. I couldn't get my laser prints to transfer with acetone, citrasolve or ironing. I'm no good at these kinds of transfers anyway. See #11.
15. If you heat the Staedtler carving block too much it will change texture and become harder to carve. It's probably also very unhealthy.
16. Simple is best - I don't always take my own good advice.

There are several photo pools on flickr with lots of carved images:
Carve Your Stamps
Stamp Your Art Out
Block Prints

Stampeaz has soft block and linoleum carving supplies. Wonderful, helpful people, fast delivery.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tatebanko, Japanese paper dioramas

My husband received this Tatebanko made by "It's a Beautiful Day" in his office gift exchange. On their "about" page you can see more images.

Here is one of the pages - they are very attractive before they're cut out.

A definition from Osaka Prints:
"tatebanko-e: "Standing printing-block models," a paper-craft hobby featuring three-dimensional constructions made from woodblock prints. The divertisement appears to have originated in the Kansai region by at least the late eighteenth century. Most designs were dioramas with their various parts printed on one or more sheets, intended to be cut out and assembled. (Thus very few from the Tokogawa period have survived intact, and Meiji-period examples are also uncommon.). The Edo variant was called kumiage-e (assembled picture). Tatebanko-e are considered a type of omocha-e (toy print), although some scenes of kabuki, geisha, samurai, sumô and daily life are hardly "toylike," consisting of elaborate designs with numerous elements cut from large sets of individual ôban sheets. Other related terms include kumiage-dôrô ("assembled lanterns," although not actually "lanterns"), kinkumi-dôrô, and okoshi-e."

This image came from Osaka Prints, in their "articles" section.

I love this one. The parts and the finished tatebanko together are dream-like. It came from this site. I am very handicapped here, since I can't read Japanese. There are many more images on the same page.

On this site you can download some fairly contemporary looking tatebanko as pdfs. One is round and very sculptural, one looks like a tunnel book. Go to the download page by clicking on the left hand red link just below the large image.

Enjoy Korea has a few images of tatebanko, both flat and assembled. Scroll down to see them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Zine Energy

Years ago I had a neighbor who made these occasionally, and passed them out to anyone who wanted one. Another neighbor, a childhood friend of his, said that he was "shell shocked" in WWII. Unfortunately she intercepted them when she could because they embarrassed her. Of course I found them so wonderful. I blacked out all family names.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What's New?

Above: The Distance of the Moon, ©1990, 2 x 3-3/4 x 1-3/4 inches, brass, silver, formica, copper. This little book is based on a story in "Cosmic Comics" by Italo Calvino, my all time favorite book.

Recently I added a "what's new" page to my web site. I've added pages for 7 Extinction Events and The Distance of the Moon. Also added many new links and updated the old ones.

When I did the matchbox pinhole camera demo at the Book Arts Jam I revised the handout. It now includes instructions for taking photos of film with a digital camera. This has been added to a matchbox pinhole camera page, with related links.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kids Lab Pinhole Camera

I was browsing around Flickr the other day and came across magnifik 2.0's kidz lab pinhole camera set. I found this on the internet and it came today.

Here are the parts. The white arrow points to the little springs that work the shutter. They sent a spare. This was the hardest part to assemble. I found the spring a little flimsy. It didn't make the shutter snap up all the way, allowing light to leak in. In the photo the angle is less than 90 degrees. I bent it apart so it's a little more than 90 degrees. Now it snaps up nicely. The rest of the camera was pretty easy to snap together.

My biggest problem was with this drawing of the instructions. Everything else is verbal, which I usually hate, and the assembly instructions are visual. For some reason I found it a little hard to read. Maybe because I'm sick with a virus? I did get it all together, no parts left over. Because I had it around, I used a piece of brass shim with a .5 mm pinhole instead of the aluminum foil included in the box. According to this website, my 2 inch deep camera needs a .3 mm pinhole. (Scroll down to find the calculators button.) I will take my own good advice and go out and take a test roll with notes soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Arts Jam 2007 Report

As usual, I didn't see everything, not nearly. But I enjoyed the day. I did get to the PodPost table to make a purchase, bought a wonderful book from Joanne Wilson, and some papers from Nancy Welch, the author of Creative Paper Art. I also bought some cards from someone whose name escapes me. I have the receipt, but there isn't any name on it. Hopefully the cards will show up.

Every time I left my table planning to take photos, I ended up looking at all the wonderful things. I did get a few shots:

The San Jose Printer's Guild. They had these really nice little printers, business card size. I overheard someone say they go for about $100 on ebay, but make sure it has . . . some part. I really want one!

Ginger Burrell.

My table, complete with my husband, Jim. It looked much better this year. I had a list of things to take and checked everything off as it went into the car. Behind in the center, you can see Cari Ferraro. Her calligraphy is gorgeous.

My matchbox pinhole camera demo. A very nice group of people. There must have been at least 34, all my handouts were gone.

The test photo I took showing them how to take digital photos of film. It would need to be reversed in an image editing program to look "normal."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tooth Icon

Another partially finished project, finally done. My son gave me two teeth 5 or 6 years ago. The deal was that I would make him something with one of them, and I can keep the other tooth. This is the first completed project. I'll probably keep it around for a few years, enter it in some shows, and then offer it to him. I don't have any more toothy plans right now, but I'm sure some ideas will come along.

See more photos on my web site.
Read about most of the processes involved in making Tooth Icon.

While making the tooth icon I was thinking about my son's childhood, how much I miss that little boy. He's a charming adult, and I enjoy him very much. But it was fun being a mom and I miss that. So this is an icon to that part of my life.

Because I sometimes hate to use my precious materials, I thought I'd check ebay and see if I could find other teeth for sale. Of course, I did find some. But they looked gross to me. I find that so funny. This tooth doesn't bother me in the least. But a stranger's tooth? Yuck! I'm surprised at my reaction, considering that I had boxes of stuff like mummified mice and rabbit skulls years ago. I finally gave them to my husband, he has probably used most of them in his projects.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Book Arts Jam, 2007

Matchbox pinhole camera demo, 2006.

On Saturday, October 20th I'll be at the Book Arts Jam at Foothill College in Los Altos California. From their web site: "The Book Arts Jam is a one-day celebration at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California at which you can view one-of-a-kind handmade artist books, zines, letterpress books and broadsides, mailart, calligraphy, fine art prints, handmade paper and multiples by over 50 exhibitors who are book artists, craftspeople, and workers in the allied fields of letterpress printing, papermaking, printmaking, photography, collage, and paper decoration." The BAJ web site. has photos of past events, directions, a complete list of the demos planned for this year and a list of vendors.

If you're in the area, come and see what's going on. It's a fantastic event. Every time I'm there, I come home exhausted and excited to make books. I'll be doing a pinhole camera demo at 11. Here are my flickr photos from last year's Jam. And if you're into letterpress you might like Zatoichi's flickr photos.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Purple Mountain Observatory

From Wikipedia: "Purple Mountain Observatory, also known as Zijinshan Astronomical Observatory, is an astronomical observatory located on the Purple Mountain in Nanjing, China."

I started this book in 1999 as a test for hinged pieces of stiff watercolor paper that could be sewn together with a Coptic stitch. When I left it I was very unhappy with some of the imagery and thought I wouldn't find a resolution. Of course now I can't remember how I envisioned the final book. Was there supposed to be a separate cover? Why are there an odd number of pages and no end papers in the back? Last week I did a little more collage and some painting. Now, at last, I feel happy with it. There are more page views and information on my web site.

I have at least 10 more unfinished projects in my studio. They were abandoned because I couldn't find a way to resolve a problem, or I didn't have the skills to carry out a technical part. Occasionally a more alluring project came along.

I am starting a list, maybe more of them will get finished. I would like to have some new work to take to the Book Arts Jam in October.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Prayer Icon and Instruction Manual

Prayer Icon and Instruction Manual. 7.5 x 6 x 4.5 inches. The little book is 2.5 inches high. Prayer flags, candles, gas tank float, old iron, doll face, bee's wax, found objects, watercolor paper, collage, acrylics.

Instruction Manual for Prayer Icon, pages 6 and 7.

My work is changing, I'm having a hard time with it right now. Sometimes I don't feel very connected to it. And sometimes I don't feel connected to any part of my inner life. It has been painful. To keep working I start little projects that I think will be "just for fun." This one started with an old iron, which looked so much like an icon, I wanted to do something with it. You can see more views and read more about it on my web site.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

James Castle

James Castle in his work shed, around 1950. From James Castle: His Life and Art by Tom Trusky. The book contains 172 pages and 100 color and black and white photographs and illustrations. Tom Trusky spent 10 years researching James's life and piecing together a story that is both touching and interesting.

James Castle was born in Garden Valley Idaho, in 1899 or 1900, depending on who you ask. He was labeled as deaf and mute, but is now thought to have been autistic. When he was sent to a school for deaf children, he refused to do his chores or learn a trade. He was sent home as "uneducable." James avoided chores at home, too, disappearing daily to spend his time drawing and making books and other objects. He whittled sticks into pens and made ink with saliva and soot. For paper he used old calendars, junk mail and random bits of paper including labels from cans and empty matchboxes.

James Castle facsimile books
These are facsimile James Castle books from the Idaho Center for the Book. They are listed under "previous publications" on the web site. To enlarge the photo above, click on it. For me the interesting thing about these facsimile books is that they are bound in the same way James Castle bound them. One even has a combination of yellow and tan string.

Above is a construction by James Castle from Tom Trusky's article in Raw Vision. Unfortunately they didn't include all the photos in the online version of this article. If you're a fan of Castle's work, this issue might be worth seeking out.

What is it about these books and constructions that are so compelling? Even as reproductions they feel so personal. The imagery, the scribbled lines of "text," the letters that appear to be invented, the codes, all speak of one person's idiosyncratic view of the world. There is humor and sadness there. The humor is in the way he uses the photo album format, or the book format, for his own ends. The sadness is in his self portraits, one shows him with no arms or art supplies, after being kicked out of school.

I like to imagine James hiding away, completely absorbed in making these things. I wonder what he thought about, what he wanted to say. In some ways we can see through his eyes, but we can never see into his mind. He died in 1977. For me, he is alive and talking to me through his books.

In September there will be a James Castle show at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, WA . Tom Trusky will be giving a slide lecture/presentation titled "James Castle: His Life & Art" Saturday, September 8th at 1pm. He will also be signing copies of his Castle biography. At the bottom of the James Castle page on the Kucera site there is an interesting article from the April 26 - May 2, 2000 issue of the Village Voice.

You might also enjoy this James Castle photo set on Flickr.
And here are two books I have enjoyed about people with Asperger's syndrome:
Up High in the Trees: A Novel, Kiara Brinkman
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant, autobiography, by Daniel Tammet

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Metal Works North Opening

We went up to Ukiah (California) this past weekend for the opening of Metal Works North at the Grace Hudson Museum. My repair on the Lorgnette for a Fish Goddess was deemed acceptable by Marvin and Colleen Schenck, the curators. You might be able to guess, I am delighted.

Here I'm talking about Dream Focusing Device with my friend Jennifer. She is an accomplished artist (taking a hiatus to grow organic flowers) and always gives me insightful feedback.

John Marcel has two wonderful necklaces in the show. Here I'm telling him I like the catch on one of them. John, Jennifer, and her husband Jeff have been friends since we were students together at San Jose State.

I went back the next morning to get another look at the work. There is a huge variety of good work in the show, ranging from delicate jewelry to a double bed. You can see samples on the announcement. Click here to download a pdf of the front of the announcement and here for the back. The work is displayed beautifully. I love the Grace Hudson Museum, it's a very attractive, pleasant-to-be-in space.

I promised to send a link to someone at the opening for buying sheet metal. I like R. J. Leahy. My brain is a sieve at openings. If I promised you a link or some other information and you haven't heard from me by now, please email me at artATjudithhoffmanDOTnet and ask me again.

I have more photos of the trip on Flickr. And photos of the opening here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Repairs Done

The little band on the handle of the lorgnette is my final repair. I am tired, and can't judge how it looks. I think it's okay, but I have been wrong in the past. Tomorrow I will ship it to the Grace Hudson Museum. The curators, Marvin and Colleen Schenck will make the decision. I'm glad it's out of my hands.

I tried two other solutions to repair the lorgnette. The first involved cutting a piece of tubing the long way and riveting it in place. I gave up on this when I realized I wouldn't be able to keep the two parts lined up, and there would be two seams. This second, or actually third try is a fairly simple band. It wraps around the kelp handle and is riveted in place on the back. I have some reservations. The seam on the back looks huge to me. I couldn't solder it, so it isn't really closed completely.

When I finished the repair today, I didn't know what to do with myself. I feel like I need to relax, but I just paced around. I don't always have this much of a problem when I finish a project. Usually there is a little let down, but I always have new ideas and plenty of other things to do. Right now I feel blank and tense. Tomorrow will be better.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I will have some work in the Metal Works North exhibit at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, California, July 21 to October 14th. The opening, which I do plan to attend, is on July 21st, 5 to 7:30 pm. The announcement is very nice. Click here to download the front of the announcement and here for the back.

When I got the work out, I was very embarrassed to notice a crack in the handle of the Lorgnette for a Fish Goddess. The handle is kelp, over a brass rod. I imagine the kelp shrank and cracked over the years. I think I can see it in an old photo, I just didn't pay attention to those details. The curators, Marvin and Colleen Schenck thought it would show under the lighting they use for the exhibits, (and I agree completely.) We talked about possible repairs, and they took Spectacles for a Fish Goddess instead. But if I get the repair done, and get the finished piece to the museum by this coming Tuesday, it will still be in the show. Of course, that's what I want to do. With my brother-in-law's recent death, the memorial at our house this past Sunday, and the stuff that has piled up in the last month, I didn't know if I can do it.

I have spent the last three days trying to figure out what to do. I started to make a small piece of tubing that would cover the crack, then decided it would be hard to get it on the handle with both parts lined up correctly. So I decided on a larger piece of brass that would both support the glasses section a little more, and cover the crack. Today, when I finished etching the brass piece and held it up to the lorgnette, I thought it looked terrible. I took the photo above as a way to look at the composition. It looks too busy to me, the brass piece looks so out of place. I will have to try again tomorrow, but for now, I'm off to read for the rest of the evening. Oh, and do the dinner dishes, scoop kitty litter, and take out the compost. I am feeling rather sorry for myself at the moment. Hopefully I'll have a brilliant idea in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Simple boxes for books and digital caliper

Don Drake gave a fantastic box making demo at a BABA meeting a few weeks ago. Over many years he has developed a simple box plan that is quick and easy, as boxes go. His instruction was so clear my demo box came out impressively good. In the photo above I haven't glued down the bottom liner yet. After watching him measure box parts with a caliper, I decided I needed one.

My caliper came from micromark sometime last week. I don't usually buy complicated tools, preferring the simplest approach possible to anything. When I am measuring that usually means lining two pieces up and making the second match the first. But the digital caliper will switch from inches to millimeters with the push of a button. I don't think these are entirely accurate. In the photo above the dime I measured is between .700 inches and .7025 inches, depending on some mysterious force in the universe. But it's plenty accurate for my needs.

If you're considering buying a caliper, check out this Wikipedia article. It says the dial calipers last longer.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

What tools should I buy for a metalsmith?

This is how I organize little bits of tracing paper, sandpaper and labels. It's a business card box, I cut the dividers from a manila file folder.

I got an email today from someone asking what tools he should buy for his girlfriend. He says "Would you be willing to make a list for me of some nice equipment that would help her get started in her field as a metalworker? I want to get her a flex shaft definitely and any other items that would prove useful for her. I apologize for my lack of knowledge on metalworking, but hopefully you could steer me in the right direction."

Here is a list of tools for metalsmiths from the orchid mailing list. I have been meaning to add this to the links on my web site. It looks like a good list of basic tools. Maybe you could leave out the t.v., though. I am anti-television myself. How about a nice stereo instead?

Although Don suggests buying locally when you can, my personal experience is that you pay more for poor quality when you buy locally. This is based on one bad experience. I bought a jeweler's saw in Daly City, California years ago. It required a pair of pliers to tighten the nut that holds the blade in place. This really slowed down the working process. I still keep it around to show students what to avoid. For the same price I could have had a lovely one from Rio Grande that is a pleasure to use.

Although Rio Grande charges for their catalogs, once you place an order, you get them for free. They are huge and full of useful information. I am not affiliated with them in any way, just a happy customer. They have great customer service, too.

While you are at the Orchid site, check out the rest of the site.

And think about what you can make, instead of buying it. The file box for sandpaper, above, and the drill bit holder work as well as anything you buy. They could be prettier, but they make me smile when I see them.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

MicroMark Summer Sale

Because I like to include a picture with my blog entries, this is a homemade holder for my flex shaft accessories. You can make all kinds of simple tools to fill your needs. For this one I found a drill bit slightly larger than the shafts on my tools, and made rows of holes in a scrap of wood.

One of my favorite places to shop for the tools I don't make, MicroMark, is having their summer sale. It ends on September 11. Some good things: a gauge for drill bits and screws; #10123, a ball peen hammer for riveting; #22119, or a chasing hammer; #80811. They also have drill bits and brass and copper sheet metal and tubing.

I don't buy cutting hand tools from them, like wire cutters. I find the less expensive cutters just don't cut well. But I think for the "passive" tools like hammers, lower priced things are usually okay. I haven't used their digital calipers; #83857, but have ordered a pair for myself. I'm hoping they will be middle of the road - not too expensive, not totally precise. I also ordered the metal bending brake, #82817. It will be fun to test these out.

If you are considering a tool, look closely at the gauge specifications. Their claim that the bending brake will bend metal up to 16 gauge may be too optimistic. I think 20 gauge would be fine, though. I'm not sure about their power tools, either. They sometimes claim they work on both wood and metal, but they may not be powerful enough for metal. I haven't used any of them.

These optimistic claims aren't unique to MicroMark, I don't mean to imply that they are dishonest. This is a common thing that happens with tools. They may work at their maximum occasionally, but doing it all the time would wear the tool out too fast. And I am a tool snob. I like tools that last forever. It annoys me to use a wire cutter for a couple of years and find it has little nicks in it and won't cut anymore.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dark Matter

Dark Matter Ring Modeled around Galaxy Cluster CL0024+17
Credit: NASA, ESA, M. J. Jee & H. Ford et al. (Johns Hopkins U.)
From Astronomy Picture of the Day.

This post is for my brother-in-law, Alan, who died suddenly last week.

Gravity holds together clusters of galaxies, otherwise they would fly apart. But there isn't enough visible matter in galaxy clusters to account for the gravity that holds them together. So scientists infer the presence of dark matter, which doesn't reflect light or shine. In fact, some scientists believe over 90% of all matter in the universe is invisible. You can read the complete article on Science Daily.

From my book, true character of the light.

I love the idea that the vast majority of mass in the universe is unseen dark matter. Could there be invisible worlds made of dark matter?

I sometimes envision a starry landscape as the place where people go when they die. I see a vast world, with small houses, or temples, here and there on the hills. The stars wheel slowly overhead. From a distance this world would appear to be one tiny point of light. It is small enough to hold us all as the atoms of one being, yet large enough to hold our spirits, with great spaces between us.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's all over but the clean-up

set up overview 1
Originally uploaded by bertmac.
Open Studios was fun! We had about 20 people, about half our usual number. Unfortunately, there were many other events happening on the same weekend. But this year we definitely had quality over quantity.

On Saturday someone drove over from San Ramon, probably an hour each way. She was so enthusiastic and asked tons of questions about my work, both the ideas and the processes. This is what makes Open Studios so valuable for me. When I had work in galleries, I seldom got to talk to people. Most of the gallery owners I dealt with were lovely people, but they have to approach everything from the "will it sell to my clientele" angle. Of course this makes sense, they have to pay their rent. But they don't usually have the unbridled enthusiasm that some "fans" have. I try to remember this when I see work I love. You can't tell someone too often or too emphatically that you like what they do.

On Sunday two people came from BABA, a wonderful book arts group. I don't get to meetings very often, and was delighted that they came. It was a chance to talk to them about books, and about content in art. I hope we will be able to continue these conversations. There were also visits from friends, who I just love to see. And in between guests, I worked on taking photos for a photo-tour on Flickr.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Heart Thrower Earrings for Open Studios

This week I'm making earrings. These people were my part of my jewelry line several years ago when I had a lot of work in galleries. I thought I would like to have a few pairs out with my other jewelry for Open Studios. They are $60 per pair. You can buy a pair, an individual ($30), or I can custom make two women, or two men. Each person is about 2 inches high. They are sterling silver and copper.

People asked about the jewelry last year, I strive to please. I also strive to make back my costs every year. All the jewelry will be offered at wholesale prices, since I'm not in galleries any more. Some galleries frown on competition, since they are working to provide publicity and space to sell the work that is consigned to them.

By the way, have I mentioned my Open Studio? It's this weekend, May 19 and 20. Here is the line of people flocking to the door, as we speak. No Smoking, Please!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

FeedBlitz Subscription Service Added

Since I don't post daily, I thought it would be good to have ways for people to subscribe to this blog. Once you are subscribed, you will receive notification in your email program when I post a new entry. There has been a Feedburner link since I started the blog. You can subscribe using a number of services, including Yahoo and AOL. I haven't used this one.

This week I added a FeedBlitz subscription button in the sidebar on the right (scroll down to the section below the archives). Where it says "To receive email notification of a new post, enter your email here and follow the directions," you can enter your email in the FeedBlitz window. I have used it, and I found the directions clear. You can email me at "art at" with questions if you have a problem.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Animated Bayeux Tapestry

Wandering around from link to link to Layers of Meaning I found a link to an animated section of the Bayeux Tapestry on YouTube.

The medieval drawing style is much more appealing to me than accurate, perspective-enabled drawing. I have always loved the section where Halley's Comet is seen. The caption says "Isti Mirant Stella." "These ones are wondering at the star". There are also interesting page elements in the tapestry. The borders keep my eye moving along the length. Because it is a long stretch of cloth, there are visual divisions between sections. Watch for trees and towers in the animation that indicate a new scene. Although, sometimes a tree is just a tree. Wikipedia article on the Bayeux Tapestry.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Open Studios is two weeks away!

Okay, now it's time to panic. I need to clean my big worktable and make some kind of display. I am tired of my old one, but I don't think there will be time to make a new one this year. Then I will get boxes of stuff out of the closet and set up. I hope to have a lot of the found objects I love around the room, like the dinosaurs above.

Keeping in mind last year's meltdown, and my general stress over these events, I am trying to be very cool. I won't do any major cleaning, there will be piles of stuff in corners and I don't plan to do a big mailing this year. I had hoped to get the Dream Focusing Device done in time to have a postcard printed, but that didn't happen. I do want to get the old jewelry out, several people asked about it last year. It is mostly earrings, a few pins, made of copper and brass. I see it as fairly simple, funky metal things that I made years ago to be shown with the more complex brooches that I was selling in galleries.

And of course I will be showing all the work I can fit on my big worktable. The Dream Focusing Device will the the star this year.

There will be a spiral binding demo both days at 1 PM. Here's a spiral bound book. It doesn't require a lot of fancy tools or special techniques.

The Zymoglyphic Museum will also be open. You can see the exibits (for free!) and take a peek into the inner depths of a natural history museum's storage area. It's guarateed to be amazing.

This is part of Silicon Valley Open Studios. We will have free map guides available.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Happy WPP Day!

Memory Number 436, taken with my Memocam on Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Exposure: 6 minutes, you can see my setup here. Black and white photo paper used as film, scanned into the computer. The subjects are a combination of photos and toys. The paper film is 1.5 x 3.5 inches. The ends are cropped off a bit because the circle of the image is more like 3 inches wide. Larger version here.

Today is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Anyone in the world can take a pinhole photo on the last Sunday in April and upload it to the WPPD website. In the gallery you can search on country, province or city to view photos taken every year since 2001. There is also a Flickr group here.

I love the idea of all these pinhole photos. They come together on the web and connect us with people all over the world. We're all the same aren't we? We all take photos of our families, our homes, our dreams and memories.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dream Focusing Device, done at last!

Dream Focusing Device, Judith Hoffman, brass and sterling silver, 5.75 x 8 x 6.25 inches, fabricated. How to use the DFD: Exposing the Dream Focusing Device to moonlight during the full moon activates the metallic priciples in the instrument. It will focus dreams for 28 days after a 2 to 3 hour exposure, but will lose power slowly over that period of time. Short exposures to moonlight throughout the month will recharge the metallic principles. Recharging can occur on cloudy nights, although the time needed will increase with the amount of cloud cover.

Dream Focusing Device, back, Judith Hoffman, brass and sterling silver, 5.75 x 8 x 6.25 inches, fabricated. See a larger version of both images on Flickr.

At last it's done. I love the way things go together quickly in the end. I often feel I'm plodding along, not making much progress in the middle of a project. Then suddenly, all the parts are ready to be riveted together, and the last stage goes quickly.

What's next? Maybe a little box that is a kind of cabinet of curiosities. Or a tooth icon. Or another brass camera. I also have a James Castle blog entry close to being ready to publish, and I am working on a riveting tutorial for my web site. This one will be on making rivets with brass or copper wire.