Here’s a formula for a good book: 2 sisters with different career journeys + creative urges in retirement + emerging skills and talent = a whole new direction in art expression and book making together! Read more about Patricia and Anne in North Carolina….
Patricia Minard, Explorateur des arts créatifs (on the left), and Anne Murray, Bookbinder Extraordinaire
While we shared some creative activities as youngsters — Anne remembers winning first prize for a Christmas ornament that Patricia helped her create, a small gourd painted to look like Santa, our respective careers and places of residence as adults kept collaborative activities to a minimum.
Our collaboration in the arts really began with Anne’s idea that we should make a book for our mother’s 85th birthday that would reflect her life, and that to get us started we should go together to the John C Campbell Folk School to take a class in paste paper and making artist books. Craft camp for adults? Hmmm, sounded like fun… That launch resulted in a book-shaped box (figure 1) that contained 13 books including pop-ups, hidden window books, a photo “album” (figure 2) and several other designs (figure 3).
During the project, we both stretched in artistic and technical directions; and by the end, Anne had identified that her passion lay with creating book structures while Patricia realized that she most enjoyed the creative aspects of design and decoration.
This outcome was somewhat unexpected given our basic personality differences.
Patricia is a planner, loves to analyze the specifics, and is precise in measuring (figures 4 & 5).
Anne is much more “go with the flow” (figures 6 & 7).
What we have learned is that our respective skills, interests and personality styles complement one another greatly. We’ve also demonstrated that we can flip into our non-preferred mode when the spirit (or circumstances) dictates.
To wit, Anne created the book “Chez” (figure 8),
a longstitch lettering book that required much planning, graphing, and attention to detail; and Patricia is willing to simply “play” in some of her paintings, allowing them to become what they will (figure 9).
Since that first big project for Mom, Anne has retired from college professorship and embarked on a new career as a full-time bookbinder, paper-maker, and maker of marbled papers.
Patricia’s retirement from government service has enabled her to spend more time with watercolor painting, calligraphy and journaling. It is not surprising, perhaps, that we find many opportunities to consult with each other on projects as well as to create together.
For example, Patricia recently completed two volumes’ worth of sketchbook pages to be made into a journal of an extended stay in France.
Anne guided Patricia through deciding how best to bind these volumes, considering the diversity of papers used and contents.
Our most ambitious project to date has been the Advent calendars we made last year (figure 10).
This project was sparked when Patricia observed various offerings in the stores and found them wanting. In discussing her ideas with Anne, the project gained in sophistication (figure 11) – and effort!
Over a period of four months that included some long weekends of “calendar camp,” we completed 26 calendars. We are happy to say that they were extremely well received.
What is next?
We enjoy each other’s company and each values the knowledge, skills, and personality the other brings to creative endeavors, so there is no doubt we will continue making time for collaboration. We have hopes for being accepted to an artist residency this year that will provide a supported block of time to make several artist books that we have conceptualized. Artist books are a lovely way to blend our respective talents, as the structure and content of the book also need to blend well.