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BookSmithStudio.com | Nikki Smith Book & Visual Artist

Handmade books and various art explorations

Archive for January, 2010

One World One Heart: Global Blog Giveaway Event 2010

January 29th, 2010 by Nikki Smith

I’m excited to be a part of the “One World One Heart” blogging event/giveaway for the first time this year!

In keeping with the magic carpet theme of this year’s event, the first prize is an 8″ x 8″ print of one of my “wee planets” (winner’s choice).  These are entire mini-worlds for you to explore created from 360 degree panorama photos.  What a great trip to take on that magic carpet you found!  Below are a few of the worlds you could take home:

Planet Path, rural Bryan, Texas

Planet Path, rural Bryan, Texas


Planet Winter Hotel

Planet Swanage

Planet Swanage

OR, your choice of wee planet from my gallery!

The next prize (because why stop with just one?) will be a handmade mini-book created especially for you by me.  I’ll be making it this week so I don’t have a photo to show you yet…and that makes it a surprise!  I can post an update later when it’s ready, though perhaps it should it stay a mystery…?

Mini-book Surprise!

[UPDATE Feb 6th:  The mini-book is ready!  For those like me who can’t resist temptation, you can PEEK HERE!]

One World One Heart: Global Blogging Giveaway

To enter, simply place a comment on this post.  Be sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win!

Deadline to enter: Midnight on February 14th

Winners will be announced: February 15th, 2010

Remember to check out the other participating blogs by clicking on the logo to the left.  If you have a blog, there’s still time to participate in the giveaway – details on the OWOH site.

I hope you can take the time to read some of my other posts to learn a bit about me and my art and also have fun visiting the other blogs in this grand adventure.  Good luck, everyone!  (And I can’t wait to check out all of your blogs, too!)

[UPDATE: wee-hours of the morning of Feb 15th:]


It’s past my bedtimeI’ve been too busy visiting your blogs! Thank-you so much to everyone who visited me and left comments.  I do hope you will stop by again to see my latest creations…  Drawing will be tomorrow (the 15th) after I’ve had a little sleep 😉  Good luck, everyone!

Only as high as I reach can I GROW…

January 9th, 2010 by Nikki Smith

I lost a (silly) bet with my husband and he challenged me to create a piece of artwork with a poem as his reward.  What a thoughtful way to reward me, too!  Below is the poem (by Karen Ravn) and the four collages I created, one for each sentiment in the poem:

Only as high as I reach can I GROW

Only as high

as I reach


Only as far

as I seek

Can I GO

Only as far as I seek can I GO
Only as deep as I look can I SEE

Only as deep

as I look


Only as much

as I dream

Can I BE

Only as much as I dream can I BE
Gold leaf tree detail

I chose this poem to inspire my husband.  We both continually strive to improve ourselves and to stretch our horizons.  We challenge each other to grow and to think and to do and to learn.  This poem and the artwork I’ve created around it reflect that creative spirit of curiosity, growth and boundless potential that I see every day in the two loves of my life.

The tree is a common element among all four collages to tie them together visually.  The first panel (GROW) has a silver-leafed matboard tree on top of an altered photo of the sky with a seagull.  The second panel (GO) uses copper leaf and an old map with the legend/poem raised as well.  The third panel (SEE) has the tree cut-out and is mounted above a mirror (for self-reflection).  The photo is a macro shot that I took of dew drops on a spiderweb in the grass.  The final panel (BE) is a mixed gold leaf tree on a beautiful photo of the heavens.  All four collages measure 6 x 8″ each.

The process:

After deciding on the poem and spending many nights thinking about it and jotting down ideas for techniques and subject matter for each of the stanzas, I finally had an idea that I wanted to try.  First, let me list a few of the varied ideas that I set aside.  I may use these on a future project someday.

  • Idea 1: Collaged backgrounds of vintage illustrations from old books or manuals, all tinted to the same color – perhaps dyed with coffee or tea for a sepia tone.  For example, for “high” the images could be astronomical instruments, diagrams of the movements of the heavens, blueprints for airplanes, etc.  For “far” it would be maps or modes of transportation.  For “deep” it could be drawings to do with the sea, the human eye, or microscopic cells/germs.  For “dream” it would be mind-maps and brain diagrams.
  • Idea 2: Simple color scheme of black, white and green.  Zentangles for the tree elements, varying the color positions.
  • Idea 3: Fabric over the matboard and beneath the photo, showing though a cut-out tree shape in the photo for a raised, fabric-covered tree.
  • Idea 4: Impressed and painted copper foil; embossed mirror; swirls or designs worked into the leaf…
  • And a dozen other ideas, no two alike.

My first step was to locate/create imagery that spoke to me for each of the panels.  I found some vintage illustrations that I liked, but not enough.  I eventually chose photography for the backgrounds rather than illustrations.  I poured through my own photos, my collection of old books and creative commons photos on the web.  I found and altered the perfect images and then added the text for each part of the poem.

I then cut the tree out of the SEE photo, as well as out of a plain piece of card stock.  I used the back side of this template to trace the tree segments onto mat board, three copies of each piece.  As I went, I numbered both the template and each piece so that I could later reassemble them.  I painstakingly cut the shapes with an exacto knife, learning that I had to always go counter-clockwise around each shape (I’m a lefty) to keep the angles right.  I had to re-cut several shapes as I learned what worked and what didn’t, especially on the itty-bitty ones.  I spent so many hours on this step that I lost feeling in the tip of one finger tip for several weeks after!

Once the pieces were ready, I added metal leaf to them.  Not as easy as it sounds!  The first time I didn’t use enough spray adhesive and had to spend days filling in the gaps on the edges.  I was wiser on the last tree, which was a relative breeze to do.  When complete, I sealed the leaf.

Finally, I mounted the SEE photo face-down as a template on a block of wood with a piece of paper to protect the front of the photo.  I applied Terrifically Tacky Tape (which is wonderful, I might add) to the backs of the tree pieces.  I then laid down one or two pieces at a time in the template, sticky side up.  I taped each of the three collages (with invisible gift wrap tape) temporarily to a piece of matboard to keep the pages stiff.  Then I lined up the top of the page with the top of the template and pressed it face-down on top.  This adhered the tree to the collage, bit-by-bit.  It was so exciting to see the pieces finally coming together after all of the time I had invested in this project!

The last step will be to double-mat and frame the collages.  I haven’t yet decided whether to do so four-across in a row, or 2 x 2 in a grid…Hmmm…  I can’t wait to see it on the wall!  =)

Detail: Only as far as I seek can I goWith this project, I’ve also challenged myself to present my art more, well, artistically.  In the past, I’ve usually taken a face-on photo of the artwork showing the whole piece, and maybe edited out the distracting background and adjusted the brightness.  However, I’ve been paying more attention to the images that catch my eye in magazines and on the web and I’ve noticed that the shots I like best are rarely so static.  They draw the eye, show an unusual angle, focus on detail, show depth and texture and even leave something to the imagination by how the shot is framed and cropped.  The art seems more touchable and real in these photos.

I hope that I have captured the essence of the artwork and the soul of the poem for you, and maybe inspired you to reach a bit higher, step out on your journey, reflect and grow and most of all, dream bigger dreams.

Artwork by my sister, Cheri Long (1980-2009)

January 9th, 2010 by Nikki Smith

I’m finding out that I have more in common with my sister, Cheri Long.  She passed away this past fall.  Below is a sampling of some artwork created by my sister:

Watercolor by Cheri Long

Watercolor by Cheri Long - her travels

Self Portrait, Cheri Long Hiking

Self Portrait, Cheri Long Hiking

Portrait of Joseph Smith by Cheri Long

Portrait of Joseph Smith by Cheri Long

Enliven by Cheri Long

Enliven by Cheri Long

Knowing my for creating one-of-a-kind artist books, my sister made one for me:

Handmade book by Cheri Long, Cover

Handmade book by Cheri Long, Cover: Three sisters

Handmade book by Cheri Long, Interior

Handmade book by Cheri Long, Interior Pages

Handmade book by Cheri Long, Hidden Pocket

Handmade book by Cheri Long, Hidden Pocket

Thank-you, Cheri.  I love you!