Hemlock 82, 2008The word 'woodcut' typically refers creating images by chiseling our gouging a relief into a wood surface and then printing the results. Bryan Nash Gill's work takes the word in a different direction; he makes relief prints from cross-sections of trees. Rather than using the wood as a medium for a carved image, he tries to capture the tree itself. Good portraiture is limited in its frame but expansive in its impact. Here, Gill has found a wonderful form of portraiture for trees, where the simple patterns of rings and texture are captured, while other traditional boreal imagery like the vertical shapes and warm hues are only implied. Gill's work starkly captures age, growth patterns, rot and other abnormalities that tell a tree's stories. He doesn't simply work with whole crosscut trees, but dimensional lumber, plywood, telephone poles... any wood he can find that tells a story or creates an interesting image. 

This book from Princeton Architectural Press presents a fantastic retrospective of Gill's woodcut work. This represents only a segment of the work that Gill does - his sculpture and installation work, for example, is not show here. While the images alone are nice, I really enjoyed the text as well, with little blurbs telling what makes a specimen unique, where he found it, or what challenges the piece provided the artist. As well, Gill also extensively documents his creative process. My only quibble is that I would have liked to see more of his studio... Of course at UPPERCASE were suckers for seeing an artist's studio, and here there's only one grainy photo of what looks to be an absolutely stunning workspace. 

Crafting a Meaningful Home

As a book lover, designer and publisher, I am always on the lookout for books that inspire. With review copies, keeping up with the blogs, my magazine and books in progress, it seems that I look at so many things these days that it takes something extra special to grab my full attention. Crafting a Meaningful Home is such a book. Written by Meg Mateo Ilasco (I've blogged about her recent book collaboration with Joy Cho, Creative Inc) with gorgeous photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy, the book goes beyond the typical craft how-to and really does live up to its title: each of the crafts in the book is made by a different artist or family. Sharing meaningful stories on how culture, family and personal histories inform their crafts and home environment, the book is a very interesting read.

The book arrived at just the right time; Glen and I have been redoing our house: putting down new floors, painting the walls, new furniture and bookshelves... With this clean slate, I am inspired to feature more personal items, crafts and collections. (In the photo above you can see a bit of a lovely crochet blanket that Tif made for Finley, and below the amazing colour combination so-awful-it's-great throw I bought at Value Village.) With all of the activity and work I have to do, I have not had time to sew or crochet... but I remind myself that am crafting a home in the larger sense: Glen and I are creating a wonderful place for all of us to grow as a family.

The book features many of my favourite creative people: Rae Dunn, Joy Cho, Lauren & Derek from The Curiosity Shoppe, Lorena Siminovich and many other fine crafters. Lisa Congdon is also a contributor and her decoupage plates are featured on the cover. Below is a sweet video of Lisa that Meg shares with us:

Crafting a Meaningful Home - Lisa Congdon from Meg Mateo Ilasco on Vimeo.


The book is available through Rare Device and The Curiosity Shoppe as well as other fine booksellers.

Bundle up for Christmas!

The UPPERCASE Book Bundle is a great Christmas gift!

Receive four beautiful and unique books over the course of the next few months.

The bundle begins right away with recently published The Elegant Cockroach, a beautifully illustrated tale of a stylish creature living in the big city. For booklovers (and lovers) it is a romantic story of love, longing and six legs. The book is hardcover with black cloth and copper foil title with a full colour jacket and black endpapers. Here's a look at a sample image from inside the book. (See a short book trailer film here.)

The Elegant Cockroach is followed by Work/Life 2: the UPPERCASE directory of illustration (international edition) to be published in February. Nearly 100 illustrators from around the globe are profiled, with peeks into their studios, sketchbooks and personal lives. You can take a look at the first edition of Work/Life to get a sense of the content and design of the next edition. (Limited numbers of the first edition are still available.)

Cover illustration by Alyssa Nassner

image by Andrea D'Aquinoimage by Juliana Salcedoimage by Blanca Gómez

Then in March, we send you A Collection a Day by Lisa Congdon. I am REALLY excited about this one. Throughout 2010, Lisa has been posting an image of one of her collections every day. It is an amazing project full of incredible objects and visual inspirations. It has existed as a blog for the year, but we are turning the project into something you can hold in your hands: a small but hefty 6.5" x 4.5" tome with over 400 pages at about 1.25" thick. The book itself will be packaged inside a collectible tin, in which you can store your small collections and precious treasures. The tin design is in progress and I'll be sharing it with you soon. When purchased as part of the Book Bundle or preorders, the special tin is included at no extra charge.

In June, we send you the icing on top of the cake: The Suitcase Series Volume 2: Dottie Angel. Tif Fussell is a prolific crafter and blogger. I've prepared a short film to introduce you to Tif and her alter ego Dottie Angel, but we will have to wait a few more weeks before it makes a very special premiere. The book will be around 192 pages full of Dottie wisdom, craft how-tos, anecdotes and ramblings, pretty pictures and ponderings... The design details are still in progress, but the book will include some very special touches such as actual sewing on the cover and the inclusion of vintage fabric swatches! When purchased as part of the Book Bundle or preorders, you will receive some special extra goodies with the book. (The first book in the series was about Camilla Engman; take a look here.)

All of these amazing books will be sent to you or your recipient as they are published—The Elegant Cockroach will be sent out now so there will be something to unwrap under the tree. We can also email a Christmas e-card to your recipient to let them know what they'll be receiving in the coming months.

The bundle is just $100 and you will save off the total cover prices plus get the special extras. You also save on shipping costs by purchasing the bundle rather than each book individually. To order the bundle, please click right here.

Do you want the UPPERCASE Book Bundle for Christmas? Let your Santa know by sending him this link: http://tinyurl.com/2vsr7nd

The Exquisite Book

The Exquisite Book by Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe takes the surrealist game of the exquisite corpse and puts a modern spin on it. With 100 artists and illustrators it was an ambitious project of organization, communication and design to create a book in which to present a technically difficult format: a very long accordion fold. To make it manageable, the book is organized into ten sections of ten images each. These five-page accordion pages with images on either side are then bound into the book. I'm sure it was a labour-intensive process to bind the book!

Some of the participating artists include UPPERCASE favourites Camilla Engman, Lisa Congdon, Ray Fenwick, The Heads of State, Sarajo Frieden, Nick Dewar, Lab Partners, Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch, Esther Pearl Watson, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Irina Troitskaya, Calef Brown and Matte Stephens among others. (All these people I've just listed have participated in UPPERCASE magazine, our books or gallery shows over the years. Sorry if I've missed anyone!)

Although by the very nature of the exquisite corpse game the connections between images can be hit or miss, there are some nice moments between illustrations — particularly when each illustrator is sensitive to the content motifs of what came before their piece. And for those fold outs where the connection from one to the next is lacking, there are plenty of standalone images that are interesting in their own right.

The book is available through Chronicle here. Enter the promo code EXQ to get 25% discount & Free Shipping. Thanks to Patti Quill for inviting me to be part of the book tour. (I got to meet Patti and other members of the Chronicle family when in San Francisco this past summer — you can see some images from inside the headquarters in the current issue 7 of UPPERCASE magazine.)

With different bloggers profiling the book, it is interesting to see how each person connects with the book. Decor8 wants to hang it on her wall. I want to figure out how it was manufactured!

Tour Dates
10/18 Design For Mankind
10/19 My Love for You is a Stampede of Horses
10/20 Creature Comforts
10/21 Oh Joy!
10/22 Pikaland
10/25 Print & Pattern
10/26 ReadyMade
10/28 The Post Family
10/29 Decor8
11/2 Mint
11/3 Grain Edit
11/5 7◊7 Magazine

Creative Inc.

I'm happy to be part of the Creative Inc. blog tour organized by Chronicle Books. Co-written by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Cho, Creative Inc. is a guidebook for setting up your own creative enterprise. With a friendly and encouraging voice, the book is a great resource for those just starting out as a freelancer (designer, illustrator, stylist, photographer and other creative fields).

Even if you've been around for a while (like me) you'll find inspiration and motivation to keep forging your own path. One of the toughest things as a freelancer and entrepreneur is to keep positive, keep working, keep striving. It is nice to have mentors such as Meg and Joy in whom you can find such encouragement.

Chronicle Books sent me a review copy and I read it cover to cover this past weekend. It is an excellent companion to Meg's Craft Inc. (Leave a comment and we'll do a draw for a giveaway for the book. UPDATE: congrats Emily, we'll send you the book! Thanks for all your comments, everyone.)

I follow Joy's blog daily and so it is nice that we get to include her in the upcoming issue of UPPERCASE magazine. In the inaugural article for a new column entitled "Beginnings", Joy graciously found time in her busy schedule to speak with Erin Loechner (Design for Mankind) about how she got her start. It is an informative and entertaining read with even more great tips for creative business.

Please follow along on this virtual book tour:

8/23 Poppy Talk
8/24 Oh Happy Day
8/25 SFGirl By Bay
8/26 Mint Design
8/27 Wit + Delight
8/28 Cathy of California
8/29 Book By Its Cover
8/30 Not Martha
8/31 Frolic
9/02 Craft
9/03 Decor8
9/04 Kris Atomic
9/05 Grain Edit

'Alice' in waiting

It's old news by now but I thought it would be remiss not to give a special mention to the much anticipated big screen adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland by the master of quirky movie macabre, Tim Burton.

For a photo essay on the making of the movie, its stars (including Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter) and unique look, see this link to the Guardian.

To watch the film's official trailer, click here. With the release date set to March 5, 2010, there is a while to wait on this film. Plenty of time to re-read the book, originally published in 1865.

Exquisite end papers

The Persephone Classics series boasts some very colorful book cover art such as the one above for Winifred Watson's Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (originally published in 1938). As well, all of their books feature exquisitely patterned end papers created by notable textile designers from the period.

Dylan's latest

Beautiful Bob continues to inspire with his indefatigable musical genius. I am keen to pick up his latest album, Together Through Life, which boasts a vintage style, love-in-the-backseat cover. To listen to sample tracks from this album, visit Bob's site.

If you are a Dylan fan and haven't read Chronicles: Volume 1 yet, I highly recommend it. An intimate, funny, poetic glimpse into the genesis of a true artist, this first installment of what is promised to be a 3-part autobiography, is a little slice of heaven.

And then there's his excellent, Theme Time Radio program.

No wonder I heart Bob - he just keeps on pouring out the good stuff.

Glacial Erratics

Glacial Erratics is the occasional paper blog (affectionately called as a "plog"©) written by my husband Glen Dresser. I designed the first edition which was published last May and it features Lisa Brawn's woodcuts and folds out to reveal a poster of Queen Elizabeth. In addition to excerpts from Glen's second novel, Glacial Erratics includes an interview with our friend Correy Baldwin, poet and publisher, as well as musings on the creative writing process.