06 December 2020

Workshops in the time of COVID - 2021

What a year!

My last blogpost was on March 21st, at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. And, only one 2020 post before that. Looks like it's time for another post.
I don't even know where to start regarding what this year has meant to me and mine, and am not even going to try. So many changes...but those are stories for another time.
For now...it is time to look forward.

 In September and October I taught two Zoom workshops and gave one Zoom talk. These were all events that had been planned as in-person, and we decided to morph them into Zoom events rather than cancel them. And, it went swimmingly. I even enjoyed them! There is nothing like connecting in person but it was so nice to connect with like minded people during this time of intense isolation.


Jody Alexander - Mending Sampler Needle Book
Mending Sampler Needle Book

 So...shoot me an e-mail if you are part of a group, guild, shop, retreat, etc. that would be interested in my teaching a workshop or giving a talk via Zoom. 
I've reached out to a couple of my regular, in-person, venues and we are scheduling some upcoming workshops.
Jody Alexander - Mending Sampler Needle Book

One that is already posted and ready to register for is:
Mending Sampler Needle Book
French General, Zoom Workshop
with two dates to choose from:
Click on links above to register or go the French General.
Jody Alexander - Mending Sampler Needle Book

As the vaccine nears and we all start to dream of traveling and gathering again it is ever important to continue to practice safe protocols: isolating, distancing, wearing a mask. And, while we are doing that let's take advantage of gathering virtually! I know I have been enjoying some of the workshops, talks, and events that have been made available virtually for the first time ever! 

Let me know if you want me to give a workshop or give a talk. Hope to see some of you in my scheduled zoom workshops (click here to see listings that I will update as they arise).
Next post I'll share a series that I've been working on during the pandemic...I promise it won't be eight months away...


21 March 2020

Stay at Home 2020

Hello Everyone. I hope that you all are staying healthy and sane during this difficult time, and remaining inside and social distancing in order to do your part in flattening the COVID-19 curve.

There are so many artists, writers, musicians, actors, and other creatives that are being very imaginative and offering services to help everyone stay entertained right now.

Bamboo Rubber Band Book and Orizomegami

I would love to create a new tutorial here for you all but family matters have called me away from doing much creative work currently.

So, I thought I would bring together, in one place, a couple of bookmaking-for-kids tutorials that I have done in the past, a sashiko thread prep demo, and mention that Creativebug has opened up 50 classes for free!

Here are the links:

Snake Book

This is a blogpost tutorial I did a few years ago. The snake book is a super fun structure suitable for kids - I would say Kindergarten and up - as well as adults. HERE is the link.

Snake Book


Bamboo Rubber Band Book

I made a guest appearance on the Tinkerlab Blog a few years ago and put together this bookmaking tutorial for kids. Minimal supplies and you can learn how to make the fancy orizomegami covers on Creativebug - it is one of the 50 free classes available on the site now! Link to Bamboo Rubber Band Book HERE
 Scroll down for more info. on the Creativebug classes.

Bamboo Rubber Band Book

Sashiko Thread Prep

This one's for adults - we need entertaining activities, too! Is your sashiko thread collection a mess? This little tutorial tells you how to cut and braid a sashiko skein so that it doesn't become a messy nest in your sewing box. Link to post HERE.

Sashiko Thread Prep
Creativebug is always a good deal and they currently are offering 50 classes for FREE - for kids and adults alike. I just took a peek at them and three of my classes are included: Orizomegami, Japanese Binding for Kids, and the House Book - so happy to see this! They are all great projects for kids. Check them all out HERE.

Japanese Binding for Kids with Orizomegami covers

Wish I could do more and maybe I will be able to once things quiet down for me.

In the meantime, stay inside, stay in touch with your friends and extended family virtually, and be creative - it really helps! 

18 January 2020

2020 Workshops - Winter, Spring, Summer

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope that the new decade finds you happy, healthy, creative and well.

Thought I would round up my 2020 workshops and talks that I have scheduled so far in hopes that I will get to see some of you out there!:

glean, gather, group: Jody Alexander and the Santa Cruz SCRAP residency
Free talk at San Francisco Center for the Book about my recent residency at the Santa Cruz dump
Thursday, February 13th, 6:00 - 8:00

Mending Sampler Needle Book
French General, Los Angeles 
Saturday, February 29th, 10:00 - 4:00 

The Boro Aesthetic: Creating Fiber Arts Pieces Inspired by Japanese Textiles
Aya Studios, Stuart, Florida
March 21st - 23rd, 2020

Japanese-style Mending as Utility and Embellishment
A Verb for Keeping Warm, Oakland, California
Saturday, April 25th, 11:00 - 5:00

The Boro Aesthetic: Creating Fiber Arts Pieces Inspired by Japanese Textiles
Fibre Arts Australia, Ballarat and Toowoomba, Australia
June 29th - July 5th - Ballarat
July 6th - July 12th - Toowoomba

Very excited for all of this teaching and traveling and especially looking forward to all of the wonderful people that I will meet along the way. 

I hope that this post inspires you to take a workshop but I realize that it is not always possible...so remember...
I have workshop online at Creativebug 
and a book that goes over much of what I cover in some of these classes:

Here is to a creative 2020!

13 December 2019

My yearly datebook

Many of you have been asking me for years to write a post on how I make my annual datebook.

I'm finally doing it!

For the last 20 years I have been making my own hand bound date book. Below are photos that I posted last year on Instagram of 20 years of my datebooks.

I just completed my 21st:

 I took some photos along the way so that I could share them with you here.

This is not a bookbinding tutorial but rather sharing with you how I go about making it, the materials I use, the size, and how I divide and label the pages with days, months, etc. It assumes knowledge of bookbinding and many bindings will work for this (I'll give you suggestions about this further down in the post). You can also vary the size and other details - I'm just showing you how I've made them for 20 + years now.

These are the tools and materials that I use for the book: cover paper, text paper, linen thread, ruler, triangle, bone folder and awl. I like to use handmade flax paper by Cave Paper (gorgeous sturdy papers made with natural dyes) as the cover, and 8 1/2 x 11 resume paper for the text block (I use a 24 lb. recycled cotton in ivory made by Neenah papers - but use anything that feels and looks good to you). For the cover material make sure you are using something that is sturdy enough to be tossed into your bag everyday for a year.

 The finished book measures 5 5/8 h x 4 3/8 w x 5/8 d when closed.

I make this size for the datebook, and when I teach, because it is the size of common 8 1/2 x 11 paper when torn in half and folded. The cover size is increased to make sure the text paper doesn't hang over. But, since I always make non-adhesive bindings I like the edges of the cover to be as flush as possible with text block. A little overhang allows for human error.

 (Make sure that the paper grain runs long so that it lines up with the spine after being torn in half and folded.)

First step is to gather 18 pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of paper and tear each piece in half:

 Gather four of those halves and fold to create a signature/section. You should end up with 9 signatures/sections. This will allow you to view one week of the year per opened page span, plus January of the next year and with an extra signature/section and a half in the back for notes. You could make one with 8 signatures and still get every week of the year in but I like lots of room for notes in the back:

Create holes/sewing stations where you will be sewing through the signatures/sections. Placement for this will depend on what binding you choose to make. I love the crossed-structure binding for my datebook because it is a simple, sturdy and compact binding that, together with the rugged flax paper from Cave Paper, holds up to my abuse for the entire year.

Below is how you cut the cover paper in preparation for binding the crossed structure binding. I put the right side piece (with the 3 fingers) aside, and use the piece on the left (with the two fingers) as supports to bind around. There are also sewing stations for a kettle stitch at the head and the tail.

Skipping ahead - because I told you this wasn't a binding tutorial! The binding part is now done (as seen below) and the 3 fingered cover piece will be joined back together with 2 fingered cover piece and text block.

The book is complete as seen below with some extra stitching on the cover that helps hold those "fingers" in place, and is also wonderfully decorative! That's what I love about the crossed-structure binding: all of the functional elements are also decorative. The "fingers" can be glued down and hidden or featured, stitched on, or woven in and out of the cover.

Now this is the part that I think people are most curious about: the guts. And, how I divide the pages with days, weeks, months.

Here is a blank page span: 

Using a ruler I draw a line splitting the page span in half horizontally: 

And, then draw a line splitting each page in half vertically:

Write in the days of the week (or abbreviations), with an extra rectangle for notes that I label: etc.

And, finally, write in the date, month, and year. I write the month only once per page span, and only write the year for the first few weeks of the year (just as a reminder to myself!) Of course, you can get a lot fancier and more decorative - I like to keep it minimal and functional. I fill in holidays by referencing online calendars and birthdays by looking back to previous years.


Yes! I hand draw every line and hand write every single day of week, date, month and year. This might seem crazy, and it kind of is, but I find it to be a pleasantly meditative tradition that gracefully ushers me out of the current year and into the next. I usually work on it over the course of 2 to 3 weeks in December and have it ready by January.

One year I tried drawing the lines and days of the week only, and photocopying it with the idea that I would just have to write in the date and month - and I hated it and tore them up and used them as scratch paper! 

Hand drawing and writing the entire datebook is just my way of doing it and, of course, you can develop a system that works for you. 

I always decorate the first couple of pages with imagery that I have been working with around the studio, and continue adding imagery along with notes, appointments, sketches, reminders, ideas, etc. throughout the year:

These are stencils that I made while I was in Japan earlier this year. Above are the "men's" and "women's" bathroom symbols I saw around Tokyo. Below are stencils I made of bamboo fan "skeletons" I saw at an exhibit in Tokyo.

 Binding structures that could work for this are: Coptic, Secret Belgian Binding, Longstitch, Buttonhole, and really any binding and size of book that works for you.

If you are new to bookbinding I suggest you take a class at a center like San Francisco Center for the Book, Center for Book Arts (New York), or Minnesota Center for Book Arts, just to name a few.

I teach some bookbinding on Creativebug - Coptic Binding would probably work best for this datebook of all the structures I teach on that site.

Rachel Hazel's book Bound: 15 Beautiful Bookbinding Projects is a lovely book that includes some simple bindings that do not require a lot of tools or supplies.  There are some multi-signature bindings towards the end of the book that will work nicely for a datebook.

I hope that this has helped to answer a few questions about my datebook making and hopefully you learned a thing or two about book construction if bookbinding is new to you.

Have fun with it, make it work for you,
Happy New Year!

02 December 2019

SCRAP - Artist's in Residence Exhibit

Well, our four months of gleaning the treasures of the Santa Cruz Resource Recovery Facility is up and we are all wrapping up and fine tuning our projects for the upcoming exhibit (I'm late in posting this - we just finished our first day of installation today!) Here is exhibit information:

SCRAP: Santa Cruz Recycled Art Program
R. Blitzer Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA
December 6th - December 28th, 2019
Opening Reception December 6th 5:00-9:00
Artists' Gallery Talk: December 8th 2:00-4:00

that's me with the wood pile!

This exhibit will display the culmination of our artist residency. Artists include myself, Janet Fine, Angela Gleason, Andrew Purchin, Paige Davis, and Pamela Dewey. See the second half of this previous post for some background information about the residency.

We had fun. We worked hard. And, we learned a lot about what our city is doing to keep items out of the landfill, but also that we all need to do better. So much is ending up at the dump that can be reused or placed back into circulation. It was frustrating at times since we were unable to "save" all of the things that we knew had more life in them.

My residency project is an installation entitled “out in the distance there is a glow”*. The installation will consist of the workspace and personal library of a fictional character of my own creation whose story emerged as I worked with the found materials.

Studio shot of: out in the distance there is a glow (partial and in-progress)

The story strengthened and deepened as I noticed themes in the items I was gathering, and as found items began to relate to one another in completely unexpected ways. 

out in the distance there is glow, no. 125

This person is responding to the time in which he lives – it could be now or another time, place and existence. Wherever and whenever he is – the times are challenging and darkness is reflected in his space. 

out in the distance there is a glow, no. 101

But, there is light. He is not just hiding out or idly waiting for it all to be over. Rather, he is trying to fix us, them, me, you – with our own waste. Gathering items that have been cast off he is attempting a sort of alchemy in the hopes that just the right combination of material, imagery, placement, and order will set things right again. It is all he can do and it is his way of coping.

out in the distance there is a glow, no. 124

Materials used are: tar paper, stencils of found items, dirt pigment, pen and ink, thread.

I stenciled the tar paper using things I found on the ground and painted it with dump dirt that I mixed with gum arabic and water.

All in all the residency was a fantastic experience.

Thank you to Santa Cruz City Arts and the Santa Cruz Resource Recovery Facility for sponsoring this residency.

I hope that those of you who are local can make it to the exhibit and if not I'm planning to make a little Blurb book that documents the experience and my final project. Stay tuned for that! 

*"out in the distance there is a glow" is a line from the song "Big Darkness" by Crooked Fingers. The artist Eric Bachmann has graciously given me permission to use his words.

16 September 2019

Fall 2019 workshops and looking forward to 2020

Here is a quick look at upcoming workshops for Fall 2019:

Japanese Mending as Utility and Embellishment
San Jose, CA
October 13th, 11:00 - 5:00

Boro Sampler Book and Boro Bags
co-sponsored by San Antonio Fiber Artists
San Antonio, TX
November 9th and 10th, 10:00 - 4:00
(class is full - waitlist open)


and looking forward to 2020 for those of you planning ahead:

The Boro Aesthetic: Creating Fiber Art Pieces Inspired by Japanese Textiles 
Aya Fiber StudioStuart, Florida
March 21 - 23rd, 2020

The Boro Aesthetic: Creating Fiber Art Pieces Inspired by Japanese Textiles 
Fibre Arts Australia
Ballarat, Australia: June 30 - July 4, 2020
Toowoomba, Australia: July 7 - July 11, 2020 

There will also most likely be a February workshop at French General in Los Angeles - we are still cooking that one up - it will be something new! ****update - new workshop is up here**** And, an April workshop at A Verb for Keeping Warm. Keep your eyes peeled for those...

I usually announce workshops first on Instagram and my Wishi Washi Studio Facebook page so join me there to hear about them first. I also list them on my blog - workshop page.

As always my Creativebug classes are available 24/7 from anywhere you have internet access, and my book The Boro Aesthetic is still available from Blurb Books.

13 September 2019

Fall 2019 : Exhibits and a Residency

It has been a while since my last post. Summer 2019 was busy with teaching and teaching related travel. I didn't seem to find time to write blog posts but I did post on Instagram and you can catch up there if you feel so inclined!

This Fall brings some fun exhibits and an artist residency.

Hemingway and the Art of Awareness, No. 6

Coming up in October at the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University is a compelling book arts exhibit including my work:

Unbound: The Art of Deterioration
Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
October 4th - December 6th, 2019
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 3rd
Member's Preview: 6:00 - 7:00
Public Opening Reception: 7:00 - 8:30

There will be a number of my Bibliomuse series pieces in that exhibit.

Hemingway and the Art of Awareness, No. 1-6


This summer I began an Artist's Residency at the Santa Cruz Resource Recovery Facility, a.k.a. the Dump! The program is called the Santa Cruz Recycled Art Program (SCRAP) and is loosely modeled on the 25 year plus Recology Program in San Francisco. 

Me pondering the wood pile. Photo by fellow resident Janet Fine

Artists in the SCRAP program are given access to most of the items brought to the Santa Cruz Dimeo Lane facility. There are wood and metal piles, plastic and cardboard bins, electronics, paper, dirt piles, etc., and a tipping station where Santa Cruz residents bring just about anything you can think of that they need to get rid of - this is where we find the really interesting stuff.

While we are allowed to glean most anything as art supplies from the dump we are expected to use our own studio spaces to create.

We gained access to the facility in late July 2019 and the residency will culminate in a exhibit at the R. Blitzer Gallery in Santa Cruz in December 2019:

Santa Cruz Recycled Art Program (SCRAP)
Santa Cruz, CA
December 6th - 28th
Opening Reception: First Friday, December 6th
5:00 - 9:00

The dominant material that has attracted me at the dump is tar paper which is what you are seeing in these photos. Circles, numbers, dirt, and misc. objects have also been following me back to my studio. I've been making books, boxes and wall pieces with the tar paper and stenciling with found objects and painting with dirt. I don't want to give too much away so I will let these images speak from themselves for now, and hope that you'll come to the exhibit to see my installation in December. 

I have also have been posting images on Instagram and will continue to do so as I reveal more about the project leading up to the exhibit.