Hand-Bound Books for Local Author

I have long been in love with a book, A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance by Andy Couturier. What I love about this book is that it contains the stories of folks that, raised within the tumult of Japan's industrial powerhouse, have made the choice to diverge and lead simplified, sustainable lives of ongoing inquiry that are deeply fulfilling. This book contains the stories of eleven artists, activists, philosophers, educators, makers, farmers, and poets who reside deep in the mountains of rural Japan. Their lifestyles have been intentionally refined to include the depth and beauty of a life filled with art, nature, contemplation, nourishing food, and an abundance of time. I think this book offers a very relevant reflection for our times. It is a book that I read to recenter myself. It is one that I also share with my students within the classroom, as I think that the stories and voices of the individuals carried within express the much needed wisdom, beauty, and guidance that we need to survive and live meaningfully.

I was happy to learn that the author of this book is local to Santa Cruz, and had the pleasure of meeting him at one of our local Farmer's Markets. This connection led us totalking about possibly creating a limited edition of hand-bound copies of A Different Kind of Luxury to support future publication of this book.

To begin, I hand-bound two sample books with materials that I thought were suitable and supported the stories throughout the book. The hardcovers are bound in indigo dyed cave paper, as well as graphite cave paper made from (strong!) flax fiber. The books are sewn with waxed linen thread and given additional structural support with old redwood scraps prepared by my fella, artist and craftsman Vincent Waring. Here are some images of the completed books--


The open mouth-- 


To learn more about this book, which will soon be republished as The Abundance of Less, visit here

Big Yellow House Open Studios, 2015

Hi Friends!

I am excited to be participating in the Santa Cruz County Open Studios Art Tour this coming October. Come on by the Big Yellow House! I will be sharing recently completed woodcut prints, mixed media pieces, and self-publications. I am delighted, too, that artist and maker of sorts Vincent Waring will be sharing his work, inclusive of relief prints, cyanotypes, and drawings.

Come join us in the studio for a cup of tea and some art!

` Open Studios Postcard MOThe Watercourse Way, Woodcut Print, Melody Overstreet


MOWEB015Germination!, Cyanotype, Vincent Waring

Unraveling Material

During one of the first afternoons I was with my weaving teacher, Ann Dizikes, I payed close attention to the way her hands were motioning incredibly fine fibers across her warp.

We took a pause together, thinking about what project would be best for me to learn from next. Ann had a thought, and stepped out for a moment, returning with a rag rug that she had made many years ago. I was struck by the beauty that the repetition of the fibers creates, with its slight variations in color bringing subtle shifts to the harmonious pattern.

Ann originally made this rag rug over twenty years ago, weaving it together using a cotton warp, and a weft made of old cotton curtains that used to hang in her mother's kitchen window in England, as well as an old pair of jeans. I was inspired seeing this small rug, as I had just moved into a new space and was in need of a mat for outside of my shower. I was astounded when Ann took a pair of scissors and began cutting across the warp, beginning to unravel the materials. She explained that the warp had begun to come undone, and without clinging to it, or grieving over this change, she began gently cutting and winding a small ball of material as she liberated the weft from the cotton warp. She then instructed me to continue the work of winding a ball with the remnants to make use of the material in a new rag rug.


I learned how to weave a small rug together by taking this one apart.


(Acid) Oil or Fat + (Base) Lye = (Salt) Soap


 This soap has been curing for eight weeks now– and as the chemical reaction occurs between the acid and the base, a lovely salt is formed. As this happens, the space it is curing within takes on a particular scent– that of saponification!

The color and scent of the soaps are also informed by the different herbs in use. The herbs are either made into a tea, infused into the oil, and/or are added in to the soap mixture when it has reached trace. In some cases, I have added essential oils– though most of the time what you smell is just what it is– soap.

Soap and Ground

I recently went on a week-long camping trip to Sage Hill and Red Rock. I took soap with me– though I am not exactly sure why. When I placed the box of soap down, it felt nice to see the resemblance it had to the ground.

Soap casts shadows, just as boulders do.