Friday, January 31, 2014

Re-pulped paper

This image was printed on re-pulped paper dyed with turmeric.
handmade paper by Suzanne Coley
You can still see remnants of the original text 
handmade paper by Suzanne Coley
from the novel, Exodus.

Ink blots

design inspiration and relaxation
When I am working on a really complex and emotional project, 
I take breaks and make these ink blot drawings to relax.

I usually discard them after I am done, so I decided 
to post this one.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Memory and Book Arts

The Process
thousands of moments
countless pages
cut silhouette on antique world map with gouache, 2014 Coley
lives and memories
captured through one person's lens.
My 12" x 12", 100 page process book filled with 7 weeks of research and drawings
The process of making an artist's book requires
numerous steps and a lot of research, especially
when I am trying to capture a particular memory and moment
in history that many want to erase.

My project is almost complete and I will be posting
the process and the finished 22 karat gold leaf book,
Gold Teeth.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Psychiatric Ward, Part II

Conversations with art
Abstract art
a conversation in the Psychiatric Ward (detail), 2006
The other side of the accordion book is abstract.
a conversation in the Psychiatric Ward (back side), 2006
Using form, color, and texture with acrylic paints,
I always created the "other side" of the accordion books
a few hours after visiting artists at the psychiatric wards.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Psychiatric Ward

When I was director of a program for artists with
mental illnesses, I often visited them in psychiatric wards.
I must admit, it was never like anything I saw in the movies.
It was quiet with spurts of activity.  Moments of reflection.
Psychiatric Ward art
A conversation in the Psychiatric Ward, 2006 
I was allowed to bring art supplies and we 
would color and draw --
in silence or with conversation. 
Art and Mental Illness
I would sit at a table and the artist would normally sit next to me.
When I first started I would give them a sheet of paper and wait.
I quickly discovered that they would talk and create more when
I too had a sheet of paper in front of me and would draw.
As one artist said, "It is our conversation."

This is one of my conversations with an artist at a Psychiatric Ward 
East 19th Street, NYC.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Nothing Gold Can Stay
Artist's book by Suzanne Coley
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost, 1923

Framing art on paper

Not all of my papers get rebound
and made into books.
Some get framed like this one.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Black Paper

 Permanence and Durability
dyeing paper black

Dyeing paper black isn’t easy.  You can get many shades of gray during the process. 
Dyeing paper black
I’ve noticed that ex-library books from the late 1950s, like the one I used for these black papers, work really well.  Printed in London in 1959, the pages appeared (felt and sounded) to be made from cotton, which would explain why they accepted the black dye so well.
discarded library books
the water in my town has a neutral pH of 7.1
Another reason I like to use pages from discarded library books is because of the research on the acidity of books in libraries by chemist and paper conservator, William Barrow.

Former director of the W. J. Barrow Research Laboratory in Virginia, Mr. Barrow noticed that pages in library books were deteriorating and becoming brittle due to acidity, and he published a paper about his findings in the 1930s.  He is considered a pioneer of library and archives conservation and is credited with introducing the field of conservation to paper deacidification through alkalization.  (Increasing the pH of acid paper by depositing an alkaline agent in the fibers to neutralize whatever acid is already there and to stop further decay.)  

I believe the paper and the inks we use should be just as permanent and durable as the images we work so hard to create.  

For information on paper preservation and conservation:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Paper making with Turmeric

The root of the Curcuma longa plant, turmeric,
is a natural botanical compound that has been 
used for thousands of years in Southeast Asia.

I like to use turmeric as a dye for paper.
paper dyed with turmeric
Paper dyed with turmeric
When I want a warm golden hue I add 
a few tablespoons of turmeric powder to the pulp.
handmade paper by Suzanne Coley
Remnants of the original  text give a wonderful background
This is paper from the same batch of pulp before I added turmeric.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Paper making from Morocco

to your home.

Recently, I came across a wonderful blog 
Emily & Jon in Morocco and I would like to 
introduce the artists and their work.

Emily & Jon in Morocco
Hand embroidered cards by Emily
Image: Courtesy of Emily & Jon in Morocco blog
Emily is a graduate of Cleveland Institute of Art 
with a major in fiber and material studies, and 
Jon is a graduate of Atlanta College of Art.

They created a wonderful five part tutorial on paper making.
I especially love the deckle and mold they made:
 It is functional, practical, efficient, and inexpensive!

Here are their wonderful posts:

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Just finished this linocut.
Linocut by Suzanne Coley
linocut proof on vellum
The paper she will be printed on
is still drying.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Handmade paper

from ex-library books
re-pulping paper from discarded book
the pages of a disbound book shredded and torn -- ready to make word collage pulp
layered meaning
Re-pulping paper
submerged emotions and sentiments
rearranged syntax and language
handmade paper and pulp
a new voice

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


haunting memories
reveal themselves
Linocut in progress, 2014
fragile shadows
 bits and pieces
shapes and forms
stories of lives
long forgotten

made in baltimore, maryland

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Linocuts for clay patterns

Linocut patterns for clay
My good friend used one of my linocuts 
to create patterns for his clay designs.
Suzanne Coley linocuts with clay
I was thinking of incorporating my linocut patterns into
wall paper designs, however, I really like the way 
they feel when used with clay. 

Thank you Iaeden!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Fairy leapt upon my knee

A fairy leapt upon my knee: Poetry and art
 drawing on vellum over map, Suzanne Coley 2014
A Fairy leapt upon my knee
Singing and dancing merrily;
I said, "Thou thing of patches, rings,
Pins, necklaces, and such-like things,
Disgracer of the female form,
Thou paltry, gilded, poisonous worm!"
Weeping, he fell upon my thigh,
And thus in tears did soft reply:
"Knowest thou not, O Fairies' lord!
How much by us contemn'd, abhorr'd,
Whatever hides the female form
That cannot bear the mortal storm?
Therefore in pity still we give
Our lives to make the female live;
And what would turn into disease
We turn to what will joy and please."
William Blake
from The Poetical Works of William Blake, p. 127
Oxford University Press

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