Many Paws. An Altered Book About the Years of Change

Menopause is one of those things you don’t hear much about (or think about) until you’re over forty or have friends in their late forties and early fifties. If you’re a man, I’m sure you hear nothing about it at all.

Last year a few of my friends were going through menopause and suddenly I found myself hearing the horror stories “the change” can bring to a woman’s body. I’m familiar with the idea of hot flashes, but until that point I’d never heard much about the mood swings, or the feeling of losing your mind and memory loss. My friends made it sound like bad PMS but one hundred times worse. Fun times with our bodies are ahead of us ladies…


To bring a bit of humour to this situation Susan DeGarmo created a light-hearted, interactive pop-up book on getting older and going through the change. Many Paws is a reproduction of the original altered book she created after having a hot flash while teaching a class on altering books.



The book has three dimensional elements, pop-up pieces, doors to open, and bits to pull. It’s colourful and fun, but best of all it’s a book that embraces the aging of women and laughs with us rather than making us feel ridiculous about our struggles.



I was sent a review copy of the book, which is an usual situation for me. Accepting it was a no-brainer because it’s a great addition to my library of books on altered books and paper art. I think it will also be a wonderful item to share with my female friends as we age. I know it’s something I want to enjoy rather than dread.



Visit Susan DeGarmo’s website to learn more about her. You can also purchase your own copy of the book online here or through Amazon.

The Mesmerizing Drawing Machine of Sarah Gee

My friend Sarah Gee (who I featured in an artist interview back in April) recently released a video sharing the process behind the making of her concentric drawings. It is absolutely riveting to watch as she works.

In the words of Sarah Gee: Making these takes a huge amount of concentration, and a fair amount of determination. The spin is very fast (see the remote control in my left hand: I continually change the rotational speed according to the pressure on the nib), a steady hand is crucial, and layer after layer of colour is applied very deliberately. Considering the simplicity of the primal form, there is a great amount of variety in the finished drawings: some detailed and edgy, some foggy and mysterious.

You can view more of these drawings on her website. Sarah also has a show coming up at Gundrun Tasting Room in Steveston, which you should attend.

Those Who Make

I get really inspired when other artists and craftspeople share the process behind their work. The internet is a terrific resource for finding videos along these lines. I recently came across the blog, Those Who Make, and their curated collection of videos and interviews. Their content covers a wide range of materials, disciplines, and subjects, but all grant the viewer an over-the-shoulder view as people make.

Here are two of the videos I found on Those Who Make:

I’ve only watched a small selection so far, but if you’re looking for inspiration this is a good place to go. Set aside about half an hour and watch a few.

Inspiration: Encontro das Águas at the Olympic Sculpture Park

I had a lovely time hanging out in Seattle last week with Boris and friends. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there without a specific event, so for this visit I made a point of getting out for an arts and culture fix every day. One of our adventures was visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park, which I’d last been to years ago with Hendrik.

My favourite piece was a stunning mural hand-drawn by artist Sandra Cinto, and a crew of volunteers. It doesn’t come across in the photos but the whole thing is actually silver. It’s a beautiful, highly intricate drawing that made me want to run off and cut paper to emulate some of the line work of the waves.

Encontro das Águas mural

Encontro das Águas mural

This behind-the-scenes video reveals some of the in-progress drawing of the mural done by Cinto and her volunteers. She also talks in detail about what inspired the piece.

The collaborative aspect of the creation of the mural makes me love the artwork even more. I’m also viewing silver markers in a whole new exciting way.

Why We Create

Opus Art Supplies posed three questions to artists visiting their store: Why do you choose to create? How does the creative process affect you? What makes a creative individual?

Watch this video to learn their answers.

It’s not very easy to come up with an answer to the question: Why do you choose to create. It was one of the questions Ryan asked during my interview with Opus that I struggled the most to come up with an answer.

Behind the Scenes With Guy Laramee

When I was in Seattle this past weekend Boris and I did a few hours of gallery hopping. I was most excited to visit Foster White Gallery because they are currently showing two artists working with books, Cara Barer and Guy Laramee. I’ve only ever seen their work online, so I was thrilled to finally see things in person.

I didn’t really like Barer’s current body of work, but Laramee’s carved books were amazing! Below are two of my favourite pieces. The detail is amazing.

El Libro de Arena | Guy Laramee

Brown’s Bible | Guy Laramee

One of the gallery staff mentioned a CBS news feature on Guy Laramee which shares some of his book carving process, so I had to track it down. I’ve always wondered how he does these, and the video demonstrates how he uses a sandblaster to create undulating landscapes from antique books.

Watch and be amazed.

Inspiration: Altered Book Artists Round Up Part 2

The round up continues with more of artists working in altered books that I’ve come across over the years. Be sure to follow the links to their websites to learn more about each artist.

Guy Laramee

Guy Laramee carves stunningly detailed landscapes from stacks of books.

Isaac Salazar

Isaac Salazar uses math and an exacto knife to create intricate text-based designs.

Robert The

Robert The “lovingly vandalises books back to life” by precision cutting shapes such as guns, and insects from books.

Thomas Allen

Thomas Allen cuts and creases the covers of vintage paperbacks to create three-dimensional tableaux, which he then photographs.

Veronika Anita Teuber

Veronika Anita Teuber takes the books she has read and seals them in paint and beeswax.

Casey Curran

Casey Curran creates amazing kinetic sculpture from books, wire, wood, and rope.

There are more artists working in altered books beyond the ones I’ve listed here, but these are some of my favorites. If you’ve come across book-related art you’d like to share, please do leave a comment.

Inspiration: Altered Book Artists Round Up

As an artist working with books to create my work, I often get asked if there are many other artists who create altered books. The answer is, yes there are. I’ve made a point of seeking them out and even have a google alert for “altered books” to see what comes up daily.

Since I often get sent links to the work of artists I’m already familiar with, I thought I’d highlight some of them here. It’s amazing to see the variety of ideas and styles of work each artist has developed in working with old books as their medium.

Brian Dettmer

Brian Dettmer describes his work as “book autopsies” as he seals the book and carefully cuts away page by page to reveal interesting elements of the book.

Health and Longevity

Saturation Will Result

Su Blackwell

Su Blackwell uses books to create beautifully detailed diorama’s inspired by fairy tales and folklore.

Mike Stilkey

Mike Stilkey is a painter and illustrator who uses stacks of books as a canvas for his whimsical cast of characters.

Kylie Stillman

Kylie Stillman creates much of her work by cutting into stacks of books or paper, and focuses on imagery of birds and nature.

Cara Barer

Cara Barer is a photographer who documents the sculptural pieces she creates from soaking and manipulating discarded books.

More to come in part 2 of the altered book artist round up…

Improv Everywhere The Documentary

Improv Everywhere, that rascally band of people who create flash mob style performances on the streets of New York, are putting together a behind-the-scenes documentary.

Watch the teaser trailer:

If you love Improv Everywhere (like I do) they need your help to complete the film. Check out their Kickstarter Campaign and make a contribution to support the project.