studio noise #6- Lady Metal Monday


I am still getting used to the fact that when I think of something I haven’t heard in ages, that I can just type it into YouTube and there it is…. Unless it’s not on YouTube, in which case, it probably never existed in the first place.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my two older brothers very early on in life imbued me with the music they had at their fingertips from a very early age (no matter how appropriate or inappropriate) . I am only now realizing the full scope of how their musical influences have made me who I am today. Their most obvious influence is for sure the metal side of things. I think I listened to an inordinate amount of death metal for an 11 year old girl, but I connected with that music from an early age and perhaps it felt good to let go of some aggression.

My brother, Ryan, took me to see Crisis when I was about … 14 or so…? (I’m not sure exactly… I’m sure I was still in high school). Crisis was (is?) fronted by Karyn Crisis-this tiny, beautiful, dred-locked-maned, powerhouse. Her voice goes dramatically from melodic singing to growling/shrieking/ terror in milliseconds. Their songs and album art are dark and disturbing, all the things you’d expect from a death metal band.  The show was amazing and loud and awesome. Those first shows as a young teenager were so exciting!  I remember being terrified to say hello to her after her set, but when I did she was warm and welcoming.

The most important lesson from this time in my life was that “bad-assery” and “male” are not mutually exclusive; a lesson that has been reinforcing itself ever since. The disproportionate amount of men in certain genre’s of music and as a result, certain assumptions about women’s and men’s creative abilities is a theme for another post…

I’ve since departed from metal, I suppose, in the sense that I have no idea what is new, or good these days… Did I ever? Who knows….I’m still listening to stuff from the 90’s and early 2000’s. I don’t have the desire to listen to metal all the time every day ( I don’t really want to listen to anything all day every day….except maybe that new Justin Timberlake  album, but we’ll get to him on another post…) but I do love to, every now and again, blast some good metal in my ears. It helps you let go, helps you deal and makes you feel temporarily invincible.

** On a side note regarding blasting loud metal in my ears for YEARS-

I have been telling everyone in my life for years that I have awful hearing. At a Melvins concert once back in 2003 or so (?… I can’t seem to remember when anything happened…) I damaged my left ear pretty bad by standing in front of the bass amp and being too cool to stuff something in my ears. My left ear was muted for a few days afterwards… Anywho, flash forward to now… I’m always missing things, hearing them wrong, not hearing things my partner does, etc. So I had a hearing test done for an ear issue I’m having an it turns out I HAVE EXCEPTIONAL HEARING. Not just passable, EXCEPTIONAL. I was floored. Turns out, my brain is just constantly preoccupied and not concentrating hard enough AND a little extremely loud music never hurt anyone (Just kidding! Please protect your ears!! Losing your hearing ain’t no joke…)


studio noise #5- music for morningtime

Years ago after returning from my first trip overseas, I was crashing with some good friends and was starting to realize that I needed to get my life in order.

I got really into stretching… and not really “yoga”, I’m not even sure if I even really knew anything about yoga at the time… and whatever I did know I probably judged harshly as pretentious, elitist, culturally-appropriating and so on. ( These feelings linger about yoga, yoga in North America anywho… but I have to admit, yoga makes my body really happy… Stretching and exercise make my body happy…)

Anyways, my body just wanted to stretch… always… So I would get up with the sun, listen to this album of flute music from the Andes (It was called Magic of the Indian Flute I think) and stretch like there was no tomorrow. For some reason, it was exactly what I needed and I still feel so peaceful and happy when I listen to it.

This song isn’t actually one from the CD I had, but it’s still lovely and makes me want to close my eyes and fold in half.

DIY book cloth

I had about 4 million yards of book cloth I wanted to make, so I thought I’d snap some photos and explain just how to make it… Or at least, how I make it.

Book cloth is the nice textured fabric material you see on lots of hard cover books. You can make your own with some wheat paste, some mulberry paper, and an iron (among other things which I will get into in a sec). Making your own book cloth is awesome because you can make any natural fiber  fabric into book cloth. DIY book cloth is also awesome because commercial book cloth is crazy expensive and you can make so much for very little money.

Making book cloth takes a bit of time (depending on how much your looking to make), is a bit messy and can be slightly frustrating. Despite all this, I find it well worth my time and once you get into the groove time just flies on by and all of the sudden you’re like “whoa, check out all this totally sweet, one of a kind book cloth I just made.”

You’ll need a few things to get started:

  • wheat flour
  • water
  • double-boiler (you can just rig one up with a big vessel to hold water and something to sit inside on top of the water)
  • mulberry paper
  • brush
  • newspaper
  • iron
  • towel
  • brayer

First you’ll have to whip up the wheat paste. I hear wheat starch makes a more archival paste, but I think wheat starch is a bit hard to find.  Wheat paste is works like a dream though and is still pretty archival as far as I know.

I made 2 cups -ish initially which was ridiculous because I ended up needing 4 times that.. :/  Thats a pretty fair amount though, so I’ll stick with that recipe. First heat up your double boiler and get ready 2 cups warm water and 1/2 cup  of wheat flour.

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Put that 1/2 cup of flour in the top part of your double boiler and add about half a cup of water. Using a whisk break up the flour and mix it together until its smooth. Sifting the flour before you add the water usually works best, but I don’t have a sifter.

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Stir in the rest of the water to the flour/water mix when the boiler starts boiling, place it over the water and stir pretty regularly with a spoon.

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Eventually it will start to thicken up and you can pull it off the boiler when it starts to stick to the sides like in the picture. When it cools, it gets a little thicker too, so keep that in mind.

And your done! Making the wheat paste…

For the book cloth you’ll need the fabric you want to use,  mulberry paper*, an iron, some newspaper, a towel, a brush, a brayer and all that fresh wheat paste you just made.

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You’ll want to pre-cut all the fabric your using sized to pieces of mulberry paper first. If the fabric is odd sized, or even if not, it’s good to trace the fabric on the mulberry paper. It will save you from glueing more than you need to.

With it laid in front of you, gently pull up half the fabric and fold it over the other half. Starting from the middle, lay the glue down horizontally with your brush all the way to bottom corners of where the fabric will be. Try to avoid bubbles on the mulberry paper but don’t freak out if you get them.

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Lay the fabric down over the glued part gently. Smooth from the middle down and out to the sides with your hands and/or a brayer.

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Now do the same thing to the other side.

Flip the cloth and mulberry paper over so the mulberry paper side is up, on top of a towel.

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Use a pretty big piece of newspaper to cover the parts you are ironing. I usually turn my iron to maximum heat and make sure there is no moisture in the little spray/steam nozzles on some irons.

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When the paper turns opaque white you know it’s dry.

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When I’ve dried the majority of the back I usually flip it over and iron the front as well. Don’t worry if it’s a bit crinkly. When you glue it onto binder’s board it will flatten out (but only if its crinkly due to thin fabric and not if there are air bubbles between the fabric and paper… I’m afraid you’re stuck with those.)

And voila! Book cloth.

Here’s all the cloth I made!

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*note on mulberry paper..

I’ve heard ‘mulberry’ paper used interchangeably with ‘rice’ paper but I believe they are different. Mulberry paper is made from the bark fibers of a paper mulberry tree but I have read of some mulberry papers being made from rice straw…? Mulberry paper is what you’re after for this project, although I’m going to do a bit more paper research and get back to this…

Cogswell Shake-Up

This past month I had the privilege of working with Breakhouse Inc., a local design firm here in Halifax, NS, on a project to re-imagine the highway infrastructure known as the Cogswell Interchange. The Cogswell Interchange was built in the late sixties in an effort to address urban renewal in the city. It was first phase of a plan to eventually construct a (most likely godawful) expressway along the waterfront that would have led to the demolition of several historic buildings in the process. The folks of Halifax at the time rallied against this expressway, fearing the loss of the lovely historic properties as they’re now known, and so the expressway was never constructed, the buildings were kept but the interchange remained.

I live very close to the Cogswell Interchange actually, and when I first moved to Halifax, it stood smack in between where I lived and my university. I was so convinced I couldn’t walk or ride my bike there (isn’t it illegal to walk along the side of the highway?), that I ended up cycling up and down Duke St. for the first month or so, which like all streets downtown, is incredibly steep. Getting to school was great but getting back home, well… it sucked. It wasn’t until I walked home with a friend who lived close by that I learned despite the Interchange looking completely pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly, folks do brave the “road to nowhere” on foot and bicycle.

The Cogswell Shake Up was an event organized to bring several organizations, firms and individuals together to dream up/ brainstorm/ re imagine better uses of the land. Nothing to be set in stone, the idea behind Shake-Up was to see what the public wanted. The best part was that presentations were not allowed to be given in powerpoint (something for which the organizers were exempt of for some reason…?) so folks really had to put some creative energies into their proposals.

The good people at Breakhouse came together and made a long list of everything from the practical (green spaces) to the fantastical (ferris wheels and zip-lines!). Pairing the list down only slightly, partner and creative director (and also cousin-extraordinaire) Peter Wünsch contacted myself and local artist/architect Emma Fitzgerald to take these ideas and turn them into something fun and interactive. Their aim was to take the list of ideas, have Emma illustrate them into 5 different frames, then have me construct a kind of 3 dimensional viewer using separated frames with bellows, similar to something Peter had seen in one of his kids’ children’s books.

Here is a visual aid as this is likely confusing to just explain in print:

This is what it looks like when you pick it up…


And here it is from the top:


Then as you look in the front peephole, move your eyes around and focus on different parts of the imaginarium…





We initially planned to have enough of these tiny imaginariums for everyone to take home with them but there were close to 250 people in attendance so we did our best..With the help Peter and my boyfriend, Naryn, I managed to squeeze out 30 (haha) which doesn’t seem like much, but geesh! these things take a bit of time… For having about a week to design, illustrate, tweak and construct the project, I’d say we did pretty darn good myself.

The construction was really similar to making the little back pockets in the back of my books. They were actually fairly quick to construct, once all the pieces were cut and scored (this perhaps took the longest) and the bellows had to be improvised a bit… The lengths of paper I had weren’t long enough to accomodate the whole so I had to glue extra bellows on to have the proper length. (actually that probably took a while as well…)

A bit of my workspace covered in multi-colour bellows:

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What a mess…

(this is actually it’s normal state, let’s be honest)

The Shake Up itself was pretty interesting. There were a ton of people in a pretty small exhibition space so it was a bit hard to take it all in, but it was great to see what different groups of people dreamt up.

Here’s a shot of the Breakhouse set up with Emma. Pardon the crappy picture quality! Took these with my phone…

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 I also made two really big imaginariums that had wooden paint sticks attached so you could pick up and stretch it far away from you:

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I love this image of the 3 ladies scoping out the imaginariums…!

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My favourite part of this project was doing something pretty book-arts related using no books. And by that I just mean that its awesome to see/ think about/dream up / scheme new ways to explore my craft and what I do especially in the context of collaboration.

Coming soon…

••∆•• new and exciting custom projects ••∆••

••∆•• the NSDCC Summer Craft fair ••∆••

••∆•• more music I promise… been super slacking…••∆••

••∆•• new Mule Mother Retail Spots!••∆••