Amazon sent me a notice for a book called Handmade Books for a Healthy Planet: Sixteen Earth-Friendly Projects From Around The World.
This part of the author’s bio really caught my eye:
Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord has been a practicing visual artist for thirty years and a passionate promoter of making handmade books for over twenty years. Her art, ranging from calligraphy to book arts to digital compositions, has been exhibited across the country and around the world. Articles about her work have been featured in Somerset Studio, Urthona: Buddhism and the Arts and Bound & Lettered. Her work has also been featured in 500 Handmade Books, Cover to Cover and Fiberarts magazine.
Intrigued enough to learn more, I first explored her website: Susan Kapuscinski Gaylor’s Making Books with Children and some of her YouTube tutorials (Susan has her own channel) where she demonstrated how to construct simple books using recycled materials. These books are simple and fun, suitable for children, but adaptable for adult crafting as well. She ingeniously utilizes items such as those fat rubber bands that we have to struggle to extricate from fresh vegetables.
Then I visited Susan’s art site. Here I found a whole other echelon of work entirely. Her Spirit Books celebrate “the natural world that we see and the invisible one that lies behind it.” It is not surprising that these books were a major part of her life, between 1992 and 2005. When I look at them, I imagine the careful gathering of materials, and a thoughtful arranging of those materials until a presentation that satisfies her heart as well as her eye is achieved.
Childbirth Journey offers an intimate look at feelings and thoughts that accompany being with child.
If you have explored any of the links in this post, you already know that you can vicariously travel with Susan on her art journey by regularly reading, and even subscribing, to her blog: In Good Spirit. Her reading list is an illuminating glimpse into Susan’s mind, and short quotes share her inspiration. This one, by Robert Henri, is a recipe for a successful art practice:
An artist’s job is to surprise himself. Use all means possible.
And a note on the Notan Press site reveals an essential part of Susan’s character, which is to pass on her knowledge and creative spirit:
For Susan, the creation of a piece of work is just the beginning. It comes to life when it is shared with others.
Susan Kapuscinski Gaylor’s artwork demonstrates her deep reverence for the natural world and her commitment to honoring it in her everyday life. I see her as a vivid example of creating from what you really know, from your own core principles.
This is essential if you value authentic work. Susan’s art exudes her own integrity, and reminds us that penetrating and “illustrating” our most profound thoughts is well worth the risk. In fact, I would go so far as to say that remaining in the shallows is a greater risk ~ work from this vantage point only magnifies what is trite, paltry and unoriginal about your thinking. And ignores the surprise factor.
Where’s the safety in that?