Pyramid Atlantic

moving parts still on the move

Freshly finished clamshell boxes for "Moving Parts" (image: Frederick Nunley)Two years ago, we launched Moving Parts, the yearlong collaboration between Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and CityDance. Since then, the ten participating artists and handful of tenacious volunteers have been creating an edition of 50 custom clamshell boxes that house each artist’s edition of 50 artist books.

Clamshell boxes drying under weight (image: Frederick Nunley)When you work on a project of this scale in 3-hour increments twice a month, of course it takes time. What a treat it was, then, to recently immerse ourselves for five full days in a near-final push to finish the edition.

We made a lot of progress, completing a fresh batch of finished boxes, and covering all remaining components (trays, cases, foil-stamping).

Once again, our über-volunteer Frederick Nunley was on the scene, lending not only his skilled handwork to the task, but steady and appreciated enthusiasm for the project.

A big thank you to Gretchen Schermerhorn for hosting us in Pyramid’s studios, and to others who showed up to help, including Kieu Lam, Sarah Levine, and Moira McCauley.

When I return to the US in a few months, we plan to finish the project. All that remains are some boxes and the project catalogs. With a little help from friends, these too will get done. And then it’s on to getting the edition into collectors’ hands, an even longer process!

the sweetest goodbyes

Centerpiece by Stephanie Gamboa at last night's Pyramid Atlantic goodbye partyThere's a lot of sweet good-byeing going on around here these days. When you leave a place after 37 years, it involves a LOT of good byes. It's one thing to send off a dear friend or close colleague who is moving away. You're losing someone in your daily life and things will change, regardless of how connected you manage to stay after they leave.

Now imagine how it feels to part with everyone at once - family, friends, colleagues, neighbors - within a condensed period of time. For people who move around a lot, I guess it becomes easier. But let me tell you, this is rough.

Nobody likes to say goodbye, and many people will do their best to avoid it. But I'm learning a lot about how to say goodbye well. One thing I can't overemphasize: make time for people that matter. No matter how much "must" get done related to the tasks of moving itself, people trump things every time.

As a recovering to-do list-aholic, this is a key lesson for me to take to heart. I like how it's working out so far (although as things get down to the wire, I'm happy to report that certain people are helping do some of those things on my list!).

Last night was one such occasion, thanks to my dear friend Gretchen Schermerhorn at Pyramid Atlantic. Gretchen, Jose Dominguez, the whole Pyramid gang, and other close friends turned out to wish Ian and me well. And in true Pyramid Atlantic spirit, everyone created a book page that will be bound into an artist book for us.

It's true that parting is such sweet sorrow. But I wouldn't miss it for the world.

happy 30th birthday to pyramid atlantic!

Pyramid Atlantic turns 30 this year and we're celebrating with a big party this Saturday! If you're in the DC area, stop by. There will be hands-on demos throughout all of the studios. Come get your hands wet in the papermaking studio, inky in the printmaking and screenprint studios, give the letterpress a crank, or try your hand at foil hot-stamping your name onto bookcloth!

The Gazette's Topher Forhecz offers a nice insider's preview of the festivities here. And help celebrate the occasion by showing your support here.

Come have some birthday cake! 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 8230 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD.

Pyramid's Annual Member's Show and the resident Washington Printmakers Gallery Impressions from the Press Room members show will be celebrating their openings at the same time. Call 301-608-9101 or visit

saying yes to happy

Nearly five years ago, I walked into Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center in Silver Spring, MD and discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up: an artist. Since then, I've been taking progressive steps on the path to working and being fulltime in the arts, some of which I chronical through this blog.

This year, Pyramid celebrates it's 30th birthday. In honor of this milestone, I'm raising funds to help support arts programming such as their biannual book arts fair, artist residencies, public school outreach, and studio maintenance.

If there's something in your life that you've said "yes" to - or, perhaps more importantly, think you can't do - I encourage you to visit my FirstGiving page to read more about how I'm saying yes to happy. And consider making a donation, no matter how small.

There's something in it for you, based on your giving level...handmade books, beautiful boxes, handmade cards, a day in the studios at Pyramid Atlantic with me? Say yes to happy.

if you can make it in new york...

This was a big weekend for the book arts, here in the Northeast. I think we're all still recovering from the wonderfully successful Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Conference & Fair (more on that in a later post), and New York was buzzing with bookish delights at Printed Matter's NY Art Book Fair. I love that the art form is getting some attention in the blogosphere, even if it is from "one of our own," book artist Marilyn MacGregor.

thanks to pinkline project for video short!

A couple of months ago, we gathered together at the venue for this weekend's Book Arts Fair with a little handheld camera and shot this video short. It's a fun way to learn about the event. Thanks to Philippa Hughes of the Pink Line Project for being our interviewer, and Pyramid Atlantic's Gretchen Schermerhorn, Jose Dominguez, and Matt Sole for a great job.

Hope to see you there!

chaneling warhol part 2

Marty Ittner, in action at Pyramid AtlanticKnocked out some good solid prints last night at Pyramid Atlantic, under the expert and paaaaatient guidance of screen print Queen Marty Ittner. These are for my friend/trade buddy Jim Vecchione's portfolios (he's the talent behind the images of my work on this site).

Boy, did I learn a lot through this process: a) screen printing's not as easy as it looks (SO many variables contribute to all kinds of surprises), b) I tend to come up with complex ideas that are best simplified a bit, this project being no exception, c) being picky is a good thing (thanks, Marty, for insisting on super-sharp logos), d) I need to quadruple my time estimates when I'm doing something for the first time.

I love the element of surprise in screen printing, which I hadn't anticipated at all. The interaction between digital image x screen prep x substrate (in this case, three different kinds of book cloth) x ink x how you pull any given print = who knew the image we thought would be our problem-child ended up being the one I like best?

Jim's portfolio covers, drying

Thanks, Marty, for helping produce something that I think Jim (and his clients) will love. Can't wait to bind them and put them to use!

handmade mart a success by any measure

Survived my first craft fair recently and, boy, did I learn a lot. A huge thank you to my hubby for being there with his heavy lifting and moral support - before, during and after the actual event. My BF Mandy showed up twice to help with set up, midday support and homemade snacks. Friends, family, neighbors and collegues stopped by. I was feeling the love!

Lessons learned?

  • There is waaaaay more work than meets the eye to pull this off. It took me two days to recover.
  • Setting up my booth in our empty spare room 2 weeks out was key - there's no way we could have created what we did without the dry-run and blueprint that time and space afforded me. However, I hadn't anticipated what 25+mph winds would do to my display! So glad I invested in the heavy-duty sandbag weights for my tent.
  • It's not all about sales (for now) - just completing my first fair was the goal; that said, I didn't sell much. The few vendors I had a moment to check in with were having mixed results. My guess is that because this was a first-time event, the crowd was going to be iffy anyway. The seasoned craft fair vets told me not to base any decisions off my first time out (at a first-time fair).
  • It is about finding the right niche. Not sure the indie craft scene is mine, but we'll see. I hope to get into a couple more juried fairs this fall, one (Art on the Avenue) of which might be a better fit.
  • AND...I'm thrilled that this fair got me exposed to the women behind ArtSpring, the reincarnation of the Pyramid Atlantic Store that opens this July in Silver Spring. We met, they took a bunch of my work to sell in their store, and I'm excited to work with their merchandising manager on a creative store display that's inspired by my booth.