Books forever! Guest Blog Post: Book Art w Video by Cecilia Levy


What do books mean to you? For me, the very sight of pages bound together conjures adventure, romance, joy. A book suggests an imagined memory of what a heaven-on-earth it would be to occupy the hugest reading room ever! In such a place,  librarians are sure to work at a great library that houses fiction (like my soon-to-be-published “Flamenco and the Sitting Cat” novel) and non-fiction, both revered as sculptures as well as media for knowledge. The magic of books is such that, once published, every book should continue to live endlessly.

Artist Cecilia Levy resides in the small Swedish village of Sigtuna, between Stockholm and the university town of Uppsala. Her art ensures that printed pages are neither discarded nor forgotten. In her hands, they are reincarnated, given three-dimensional lives as exciting as their first ones!…

Cecilia Levy, artist, working in her studio, Ateljéföreningen Hospitalet in Uppsala, 2019. Photographer: Stewen Quigley.
Cecilia Levy, artist, working in her studio, Ateljéföreningen Hospitalet in Uppsala, 2019. Photographer: Stewen Quigley.

“Paper Art” by Cecilia Levy

Cecilia Levy creates sculptural objects in paper, using old book pages, wheat starch paste, and papier maché technique.

Her work is exhibited internationally and is included in private and permanent collections, including the Swedish National Museum.

In 2017, her public art commission, “In Fusion – Contemplation Pieces,” was installed in the main entrance to Stockholm’s New Karolinska University Hospital, NKS, twenty plinths displaying over twenty-five of her unique paper sculptures.

Her home in Sigtuna, her studio at Ateljéföreningen Hospitalet in Uppsala, she’s a member of Konsthantverkarna in Stockholm, where her pieces are sold.

"Companion," teacup and strainer, 2018.
“Companion,” teacup and strainer, 2018.

I have a background in graphic design and bookbinding, and paper has always been my medium. I make sculptural objects in paper, using book pages. I only use old books, up until the 1960s. They have the paper quality, layout, and typography that I appreciate.

"Longing," mocha set, 2020.
“Longing,” mocha set, 2020.

Old book paper is a fragile and delicate material. It carries several narratives at the same time, both in content and regarding the passage of time. My works reflect this, the fragility of life. The pieces reflect my personal stories and memories. This is a mocha set called “Longing.” It’s a replica of a set given as an engagement gift from my grandfather to my grandmother.

"Chapter One," thistle, 2015.
“Chapter One,” thistle, 2015.

Visible traces from the passage of time, marks from previous owners and readers, paper quality, color and typography, holes in the binding, wrinkles and dog ears, olden expressions and spelling, and the (sometimes) odd content. All of these are all characteristics I value and are what determine my choice of working material. Every single piece of paper is chosen with care.

"Hobo – Homeward Bound," boots, 2012.
“Hobo – Homeward Bound,” boots, 2012.

My different pieces represent different sides of me. I often use everyday objects, those found at home, or in thrift shops. These Hobo Boots are special to me. They are appealing to the eye. They were fun and pleasing to make, yet they also have a serious underlying message about homelessness and poverty.

"Coltsfoot and Artichoke," medicinal plants for a public commission, 2017. Photographer: Alvaro Campo.
“Coltsfoot and Artichoke,” medicinal plants for a public commission, 2017. Photographer: Alvaro Campo.

My 2017 public art commission, “In Fusion – Contemplation Pieces,” was installed in the main entrance of Stockholm’s New Karolinska University Hospital, NKS. In all, twenty plinths held over twenty-five unique paper sculptures. I was inspired by folk medicine, especially plants and herbs that can be used for infusions, in other words, herbal teas.

The title of the commission is a play on words that indicates a fusion between art and folk medicine. “Contemplation” is used, in a sense, to look at/be aware of/be exposed to. It’s an essential term within philosophy and theology. People coming to a hospital are often anxious and worried. My hope is for visitors to halt for a while, and to let their minds wander.

Here’s a video of Cecilia at work.

Reach her at +46 706 54 39 65 – or at her site here – or at her Instagram here – or at her Facebook here – or here.

What do books mean to you?…

How’s your public library? by da-AL


How often do you use the public library nearest to you? Books are heaven to me (I’m in the middle of writing two novels!) — but here in Los Angeles, they’re not the only reason to I love them.

Photo of spaniel dog with his nose in a book, reading.
Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash
  1. Any California resident can get a Los Angeles County Public Library card.
  2. All services are entirely free!
  3. Visitors can browse, and cardholders can borrow in-person or order online — materials from hard copies, audiobooks, magazines, music, movies, and more — to downloadable ones.
  4. Los Angeles County has nearly 100 libraries, including bookmobiles. Free of charge, they’ll deliver books from one site to another.
  5. Physically challenged people can have items delivered.
  6. Vocational and fun classes are available online and at their facilities — many online ones engage real teachers.
  7. There’s live online homework tutoring.
  8. Job seekers and business owners have lots of resources.
  9. Enjoy fun events — music, crafts, reading, and workshops.
  10. Over the summer, kids get free lunches.
  11. Lonely or just want to be cozy and quiet? Come on in!
  12. Meeting spaces can be used by groups and tutors.
  13. Get help obtaining a high school diploma.
  14. Wifi, computers, and printers are complimentary. Photocopying fees are nominal.
Photo of spaniel dog with his nose in a book, reading.
Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash

Share about your public library and share this post…

Breathtaking Bilbao, Spain by da-AL


The Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
The Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, features many American artists, from Frank Geary’s architecture to Jeff Koon’s “Puppy” flower sculpture.

Sure Frank Gehry’s amazing architecture at the Guggenheim Museum helped put a failing Bilbao, Spain back on the map. Front, back, in, and out the Guggenheim Museum, Spain, turns perceptions upside down and inside out (tap or click each photo for more info)…

However, art and art-worthy architecture abound everywhere in Bilbao.

There's much notable architecture in Bilbao, Spain.
There’s much notable architecture in Bilbao, Spain.

Along the way to the museum, we stopped to see Azkuna Zentroa. Built in 1909, it now houses a building within a building balanced on unusual columns.

It’s part of the Spain half of Basque Country. That means that both Spanish and Euskara are spoken. Good food abounds, including pintxos, Northern Spain’s version of small delicious plates of tapas.

Bilbao, Spain is a beautiful city.
Bilbao, Spain is a beautiful city.

Our airbnb hostesses Iciar Ruiz (who owns her own design business) and her daughter, Alba, helped us decide what to see.

Iciar and her daughter made our visit extra nice.
Iciar and her daughter made our visit extra nice.

My love and I had just left the beaches of San Sebastián, toured the phenomenal French side of Basque Countrywonderful Huesca, pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and enchanting Espelette. Our adventure started with beautiful Barcelona. There was more for us to see…

 

Let’s Make Every Week Banned Books Week! by da-AL


Persepolis is discussed by a UK teen on youtube video about Banned Book Week.

Does the threat of a book being banned ensure that it’s among the finest books written? Check out the fantastic examples cited by the smart folks in this 29-second video (and pat yourself on the back if you smile when “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is discussed — *see end of this post for why)…

Banned Book Week needs to be every week of the year! Started in the U.S., the now international event has been honored every last week of September since 1982.

* Whereas the girl in the video remembers the story as happening in South America during the 1920s, here’s how Wikipedia tells it: “The story takes place during three years (1933–35) of the Great Depression in the fictional “tired old town” of Maycomb, Alabama, the seat of Maycomb County.”

Once my novels-in-progress are published, I hope they’re not banned! How many potentially banned books have you read?

Guest Blog Post: What to Read When You’re Feeling Super Lazy by Orang-utan Librarian


Drawing of an orangutan reading a listLove + Compulsion… From as far back as I can remember, I had to learn to read! Once I started, I’ve never stopped. Now I’m writing two novels! Was Orang-utan Librarian reading over my shoulder?…

the orang-utan librarian

Hello again!! Yes, I’m actually posting twice in a week- you’re not seeing things! Oh you thought you’d seen the last of me for this month? Well sorry to disappoint 😉 I wanted to do a great “here’s what I’ve been reading this summer guys!” post- but let’s be real, I’ve not actually been doing much reading. Instead, I thought I’d give you an idea of what I’ve been reading/to give myself an idea of what I *should* be reading.

orangutan listLabels on food packets– ermmm yeah this is one of the things I’m actually reading at the moment- to be fair, it’s helping me practice another language, so it’s not cos I’ve become a food nut and I’m not totally weird (okay I am a little weird but you knew that already 😉 )

Road signs– same reason as above- it’s practice! (also directions probably count here, but…

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Guest Blog Post: Fiction Love by DJ Sakata


Are you getting sufficient fiction nutrition?

Non-fiction = Facts (i.e., wheat bran)

Fiction = Facts + Imagination + Heart + Soul (i.e., dark chocolate or whatever your fave food)

Our newest fellow blogger (and what a cartoonist!) friend, DJ Sakata, understands this, so how can we not like her?…

DJ Sakata self-portrait
I assume this is DJ Sakata’s self-portrait

Aloha to you lovers of tails and tales. I am DJ Sakata/Empress DJ/Honolulubelle, and a new friend of da-AL.  We met on Goodreads and were instant fangirls.   She asked me to sprinkle a few words on her blog of my love of reading. As a child and well into my teens I used to hide under the covers and read with a flashlight as my strict and priggish mother would chide and punish me if I was caught as according to her, “Reading fiction is a waste of time.”   Hmm, then I am now a total wastrel who squanders the majority of her free minutes indulging in such foolishness.  I have an eclectic reading palate, but my favorite will always be women’s fiction.

DK Sakata cartoon called 'smut toss'
Is frenemy Puka taking these for herself?

Since I’ve retired – which BTW is oh, so, sweet – I read all day in my cozy little nest with all the windows open, I live in Hawaii so I can do that year-round – don’t hate me, I’ve earned it.  I do occasionally put my Kindle down when my husband whines for food and/or attention.  I thumb my nose at my mother’s ridiculously misguided notion as I’ve noticed my vocabulary and spelling have markedly improved with the increased perusal.   I am an incredibly lazy blogger, but I do have one called Books and Bindings, which is just a small personal blog where I can toss up my silly little reviews that no one ever reads, but I don’t really care about that. If you find you are all caught up on Ms. da-AL’s posts and have a few minutes or an interest in seeing what nonsense I’ve recently read which my Bible banging mother would most certainly not approve, then come and see, or not. I’m happily whiling away in my little nook while lovingly tapping my Kindle and sipping Moscato 😉

Words Delight Our Senses by da-AL


Photo of woman looking at books on shelves
Courtesy Pixabay.com

Reading and writing are more than marks to on a page — they’re sensual!
My ears taught me what writing was. As my father would drive, my mother beside him, me squished in the back seat between two older brothers, they all would holler, “Yield!” and “Stop!” and “Hollywood and Vine!”
My father was in charge of money, handyman stuff, and ‘babysat.’ My mother cleaned, cooked, and tended the kids. Outside of the home, she also worked as a secretary.
Homemaking, mothering, and working didn’t interest me — but her secretarial accouterments enthralled me. That’s because they had to do with reading and writing!

Photo of old typewriter
Photo: Pixabay.com

Her spiral-bound green steno pads and click pens defined scholarly elegance.  Her dication machine, a table-top reel-to-reel tape recorder, was a whispery spooler and a boisterous reader. Pencils and ballpoint pens smelled of wood and plastic.
And paper! Bonded sheets for business letters were fabric-thick and textured to accommodate the erasure of typewriter mistakes. Tissue-thin onionskin paper was for international letters, to economize on postage.
Her typewriter, all ten ‘portable’ pounds of it, made music! There was the clacking of alphabet keys, the errp-errp-errp of sheets rolling in and out of the cylindrical platen, and the slap-ding of carriage returns. When I was allowed to hammer at the smooth plastic buttons, my fingers would twitch percussion in my dreams.
The process of my mother leaning into her typing with her brows knit, produced more wonders — a cigar box full of erasers: rectangular Pink Pearls that were worn oblong, round gritty pumic-hard wheels that featured jabby tangles of red bristles, blue and pink sweet-scented putties that were kneaded into gray wads. Hopeless typos called for alcohol scented white paint.

Photo of library and students
Photo by Tamás Mészáros from Pexels

Before I learned to read, my father would take me with him to the library. The front doors were a tall as a bank’s. Sun streamed into rooms as hushed as churches that were filled with readers, their heads bowed over their books.

What’s your first memory of reading and writing?

Guest Blog Post: Amna’s 2018 Reading List


Rabbit costumed person sitting on a bench, reading newspaper
Every bunny should read. Photo: Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

What’s on your reading list this summer? I make lists about most everything — except for books — books seem to seek me out! Amna, however, has quite an inspiring list!…

Portland, Oregon: Wonderful in Unexpected Ways by da-AL


Do all Portland lambs hike with their people?
Do all Portland lambs hike with their people?

Over a recent long holiday weekend, I visited Portland, Oregon for my first time. The weather was warm, with blue skies and no rain in sight.

Book lovers rejoice! It’s home to Powell’s Books, where book goodness spreads over four generous floors!

Powells Books, Portland, Oregon
4 floors of book goodness

Mouthwatering food abounds! Cafes, bakeries, restaurants, chocolatiers, and even their many food trucks (aka food carts) here are delicious and gourmet.

Sheep taking a hike with its peopleWhere else could one see a lamb hiking with its people and dogs to a waterfall?

Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon

Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden features authentic architecture, landscaping, Koi at Lan Su Gardenkoi, and a fine tea house …

Tea at Lan Su Garden, Portland, Oregon

Jetboat excursions begin at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, speed under Willamette River’s many bridges,

Willamette River, Portland, Oregon
Willamette River, Portland, Oregon

and turn around at —- waterfalls (who knew?)

waterfalls in Portland, Oregon

Their International Rose Test Garden goes on and on with sweet smelling colorful flowers …

da-AL enjoying Portland's Rose Test Garden
Wishing I smelled like a rose at Portland’s Rose Test Garden

Please tell us — do your sheep enjoy hiking?

Guest Blog Post: “Libraries,” in Paula Pederson’s exact words


Indeed, E.B. says it so eloquently, “A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy …”

Paula Pederson

EB_White_and_his_dog_Minnie E.B. White in Maine with his dog, Minnie

I’m featuring E.B. White again this week. Known to 20th century readers of the New Yorker magazine, he is best known for his three beloved, classic children’s books: Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He also co-authored  a classic book for writers, The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.

In case you need some peace and quiet in the midst of your summer, here is another of White’s quotes:

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company in sad times and happy times, for books are people —people who have managed to stay alive by…

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