BlueVaseBooks Shop is Open


If you enjoyed my last post about bookbinding, please join me in my brand new shop on Etsy: BlueVaseBooks. There I will be selling my hand-bound watercolor sketchbooks  – made from other “gently used”books. You might discover your creativity, find something to use on your next trip or give someone else for that special occasion. They are made with Love. Enjoy.IMG_2269.jpgIMG_2312.jpgIMG_2189.jpgIMG_2169.jpgIMG_2277.jpgIMG_2272.jpg


Sketchbook-binding Workshop

On a beautiful spring-like day in February, a group of artists gathered at my house to learn how to bind their own sketchbooks. Sometimes you just want one that’s unique, small and has just enough watercolor paper to be able to finish it on a trip. I scout thrift stores, second-hand bookshops and garage sales for interesting gently used books and rebind them for watercolor sketching. Everyone who came to this workshop left with a beautiful completed book and the skills and enthusiasm to make more.

The first step is to (very carefully!) cut out the old book block from the cover.cutting out.jpg

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If for some reason, we accidentally cut the book spine during this process, we can repair it with cloth book tape.


Next, using the measurements of the original book block, we figured out how many pages we could get out of one sheet of 22″ x 30″ watercolor paper.



Pages were then carefully cut or torn. Many used torn edges as a deckle.



Each page was folded in half, creased well and two put together to make a signature.


Holes were punched in each signature. Then came the hard (confusing? tedious?) part of sewing the signatures together to make the new book block.



When that was done, we were ready to bind the new book block to the old book cover using decorative end papers we had chosen to go with our books.  But first – lunch!  Our main course was Georgia O’Quiche. The artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, grew her own vegetables and was said to be so fond of spinach that she sometimes ate it three times a day! Fresh fruit, green salad, mini-muffins and Arnold Palmers (non-alcoholic!) completed our lunch.



Then back to work. We “cased in” our book blocks, added a secret pocket in the back, had dessert of gelato and pirouettes and showed off our new books.


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Come join us next time, and watch for the opening of my unique watercolor sketchbooks rebound from gently used books – on ETSY soon!


MeetUps 3 & 4

Oh my goodness!  I just realized I haven’t posted for the last 2 MeetUps of Cafe Sketching. I’ve been busy with my new book which came out last week. More on that later….

Two weeks ago we met at the Great Harvest Bread Company off Baymeadows. And what delicious bread they have! Steven welcomed us and made us comfortable while we spread out to sketch and eat his lovely pastries and coffee.Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 8.02.51 AM.png








And then we had lunch! The chicken salad on Dakota bread was to die for.



The next (and last) MeetUp was November 9 at the Riverfront Cafe in the Haskell building. It opens onto the river with a beautiful view and is open to the public for breakfast and lunch. Karen welcomed us even though there had been a breakfast for employees just before we arrived. The artwork in the building is spectacular, and some painted their version of it. Others tried for the river, but the rain earlier kept most of us inside.




It’s been a great year. After Christmas we’ll regroup and find some new places. For now, we’ll relax and enjoy the holidays. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas


Cafe Sketching MeetUps

Fall cafe sketching begins again with a new name – MeetUps. This just means that anyone is welcome any time, no commitment for a whole term. However, you must let me know that you want to join us or you won’t know where we’ll be! 10-12 on Wednesdays as usual and then an optional lunch.

The first week we met at the Cracker Barrel behind Regency, and it was a great place to draw. Can you think of any place with more stuff to look at? As it was our first meeting for this  term, we had a small but enthusiastic group.






(Dale and Sandi finished theirs at home so I waited to show them to you this week.)

Wednesday we visited Le Macaron in Avondale. We had such fun last spring at the one in the Avenues we wanted to see what Tahar had done when he opened his own. What an absolutely charming place. The weather was perfect for sketching outdoors so we occupied the tables outside as we began with coffee and pastry. I had a very good cup of green tea with pineapple made in a French press and pan chocolate. I could have been back in Vence. Since we were next door to the bicycle shop some chose to draw those. So many different interpretations of a place.






No class next week as I am out of town. We’ll resume at the Great Harvest Bread Company on November 2.


I hope all of you that were in the path of Hurricane Matthew are well with power restored and no damage. We were fine. When the power went out, we ate Krispy Kremes. No damage here, just much debris. The beach, however, is another matter. We lost the eaves on the house and 30′ off the end of our dock, but, as they said, it could have been much, much worse. There are many houses within a mile of us where the beach completely washed out under them. I don’t know how they can be repaired. IMG_1586.jpg

On a lighter note, it’s hard to believe we were in France just a few short weeks ago. When Carolyn and I left, the rest stayed another week. They took a trip to museums in Nice (where they enjoyed a meal at McDonald’s!), a winery and were invited to Mirielle’s house the last night for wine.McD.JPGwinery copy.jpg



Some sketching went on, I’m told…and they had a visit from “J. Childs” – which I could not upload onto this site.


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The very last night they were there, as they were coming back from Mirielle’s, they saw this amazing sight which Tish captured so beautifully in pastel.

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Au revoir, France!


Cafe Sketching starts Wednesday so I’ll be back.

Nice: Last day in France

As we drove into Nice, we passed the memorials still on the Promenade des Anglais. Nice, that beautiful city on the Mediterranean, was marred last July 14 when a 19-ton cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day resulting in the death of 86 people. We mourned for France as everyone did.

N mem2.JPGN mem.JPGAfter checking into our hotel, the Albert Premier, we set out for the marche des fleurs, the flower market. Colors, sights and smells assailed the senses.IMG_1450.jpgIMG_1284.jpgIMG_1445.jpgIMG_1456.jpgIMG_1432.jpg

IMG_1447.jpgOne of the best ways to see a city is to find the Hop On/Hop Off bus. Thankfully there was one stopped just outside our hotel. For just 16 euros we were taken to all the scenic attractions in Nice, getting off at the Chagall Museum where we saw not only his massive Biblical paintings but his mosaic over the reflecting pool. Then we hopped back on and finished the ride back to the hotel.IMG_1478.jpgHot and tired, we bought a sandwich, took it up to our room and relaxed on our spacious 6th floor balcony to watch the sun set into the Mediterranean. We painted, but it was impossible to catch the majestic beauty. These few hours watching the lights of Nice come on were a highlight of the trip. I would do this again anytime.

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IMG_1531.jpgNice.jpegIMG_1506.jpgAnd as we sat on the tarmac at JFK ready to travel home to Jacksonville, we saw this magnificent sunset out the window – and gave thanks for a wonderful trip.

Nice.jpgStay tuned: there will be one more post from those who stayed another week.


On my last full day in Vence (some of the others are staying another week), I made reservations for my very favorite restaurant in this part of France, La Colombe d’Or, a favorite for the creative set. This inn where artists gathered in the 1920s is a charming 25-room hotel filled with original works by Matisse, Picasso, Calder, Miro and countless others. All friends of the former owner, they paid for a room and a meal with their paintings. This is my third visit here, and it only gets better each time.





unspecified-1.jpegIMG_1383.jpgC d'O glass.JPGIMG_1351.jpgC d'Or.jpgJan2.JPG St-Paul-de-Vence is an artists’ town It’s all over in the form of public sculptures, shops and even on the street itself.DSC09146.jpgDSC09168.JPG

While in St. Paul, we visited the Maeght Foundation where there was a temporary  exhibition by Christo focusing on another aspect of his artwork – his work dealing with painted oil barrels. The monumental sculpture in the courtyard is 9 meters high, 17 meters long and 9 meters wide. The museum itself, inaugurated in1964, contains one of the most important collections in Europe of modern art from the 20th century forward.




After a full day our evening was spent finishing up sketches Carolyn and I will be leaving for Nice tomorrow to go home on Sunday.J,T.jpgview.JPGJan view.JPGJ view.JPGMA living rm.jpg


Today, instead of walking or taking the bus, our lovely local guide, Mirielle (below), took us in her van to Cagnes-sur-Mer, site of Renoir’s home and now a museum. Les Collettes is located in the heart of a pretty garden with olive and citrus groves and a panorama that extends to the sea. After a complete renovation in 2013, the Renoir Museum offers visitors a chance to find the site such as Renoir experienced the last 12 years of his life. Though the museum has original paintings and sculptures, most of us were entranced with the beautiful olive trees.Mireille.JPG

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IMG_1303.jpgThis is the farm house on the property where Renoir lived while Les Collettes was being built and a copy of Renoir’s painting of it.

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A Day at Home

This morning was the Vence brocante – antique (flea) market. It’s always fun to see what is sold in other countries at a place like this. There are always bargains! I got several beautiful books to make into sketchbooks for only 1 euro each. The zucchini blossoms were beautiful this time of year so I bought some. They graced the table, but alas, never got cooked. Afternoon was spent sketching while we waited for Matisse’s chapel to open.IMG_1291.jpgIMG_1292.jpg

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In the afternoon we walked to the Chapelle du Rosaire. It was a long walk and  very hot, but it was worth it. From the road all that can be seen of the chapel is its roof of blue and white tiles and its 42-foot wrough iron cross. Cool and calming inside (after the busload of students left). We could just imagine Matisse lying in his bed designing these windows, doors, ironwork, crosses, murals on the walls, even the priests’ robes – everything here was designed by him for the Dominican nuns. The colors of the glass windows – green, blue and yellow – bring the outside in as the sun shines through on the perfectly white interior. It was the last project of his life, and he said of it, “I regard it, despite all its imperfections, as my masterpiece… as an effort which is the culmination of a whole life dedicated to the search for truth.”unspecified-5.jpeg






On the way home we could see the house Matisse stayed in while he was in Vence. It’s now a retreat for resident artists, and they wouldn’t let us visit.

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Tourrettes-sur-Loup and a Concert

Tuesday, a busy, busy day. Sippers took off on the bus for a day sketching in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a few miles away. We stopped first at the cafe for that amazing violet ice cream, watched the men playing boules, then took a walk around the grand rue, finding all sorts of interesting things.bus 2.JPG


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After all that walking, we were ready for lunch, and there just happened to be a creperie right there with what else? Violet crepes! All of us enjoyed sketching there.








That night we went to a lovely concert at the cathedral at which a chamber orchestra from Germany performed the music of  Vivaldi, Mozart, and Paganini among others.

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