Welcome to my blog! Visit my Website at WWW.ARTBYTANYATORRES.COM to see the galleries organized by theme.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Love photos from Vee

On Saturday night, we had the opening of Heaven and Earth at Da Urban Butterflies in Washington Heights. I didn't expect to give an artist talk, but that's what happened! Except, it was not the common artist talk, but a spontaneous conversation I never dared to have in public or even in private... 

It was the beautiful group of people who were present that held me safe to express what my artwork is really about. I heard myself telling all the stories of miraculous happenings in my life and the connections with  the paintings. We had a group of people of all ages, young girls, seniors, fully blossomed women doing good in the world. Young men! That was pretty much a first! And I felt so held in their energy that the stories just flowed and touched. Apparently, it was not just me who felt fully blessed, but I have been receiving messages from the people present, especially in Facebook. Here are some photos shared by Vee, and her message:

"Your honest and beautiful words about your journey and your inspirational moments still resonate in my heart. I pray more people can experience the joy you bring to others when you share your work. Bravo!"

Necklace of the piece Cacibayagua.

Print and mini print in an altar setting by Vee.
Another photo with my cell phone:  with table ready for a workshop on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mary Magdalene Celebration

I am sharing this from my "secret blog" where I write about whatever is in my mind at the time, but since this event is very important to me and I would like to invite you to join us, here it goes, with love, for you:

Mary Magdalene of the Hibiscus, Oil on gessoed board, 12" x 9", 2010.

"Come together believers, non-believers, semi-believers, sometimes believers, and all or none of the above..."

Raquel summarized in her sweet and unique style the essence of our Magdalene journey. She is for us the saint who does not require anything but love. No religion, no rules, no sacrifice. Joy and playfulness and friendship are the guiding principles of our devotion.

And as 2013 began, I announced the celebration that is rapidly approaching. Here is your invitation: https://www.facebook.com/events/155967197924788/

It is a little scary, as always, to put together an event. But this event is more than an event, so I enjoy the scary feeling and trust that it will be beautiful and simple and joyful. For now, I have spent the past part of the year letting people know and dreaming it up, a little at a time. And the Magdalene rewards me every day with beautiful letters from people who visit my website and feel healed by the images. So I know I am on the right track, just need to do a little at a time and keep going.

An essential part of any project, big or small, and especially an artistic project, is planning. For now it is more about thinking the plan, and dreaming the parts. Here are some wishes  I have for our celebration, and the concepts that I would like to bring forth:

We want to integrate the idea of a Promesa, or an offering to a saint, a tradition still alive in Puerto Rico, where the person or family that has asked a saint for a miracle and receives it "pays for it" by inviting the neighborhood people to pray, sing and share food. At the beginning of our journey with the Magdalene, we had two of these in Raquel's place. She was the person who offered it, and we joined her in singing her songs and enjoying the meal cooked by her chef brother. We were a small group, but the lucky ones that happened to be there still remember. Or will never forget. It was an intimate and joyous occasion each time, a moment of connection and wholeness.

Now that Raquel lives in New Mexico, we continue to find ways to celebrate the Magdalene, and the ways in which she has helped us find our way. So we decided to make another promesa, this time after the mass at St. Marks, which Reverend Winnie again agreed to have in honor of the Magdalene.

The idea is that we will have a beautiful mass at the very progressive, Episcopal church in the East Village, where you can recite the Creed in She mode. They also invite everyone to participate in the Communion, so no need to go confess your sins before the celebration.

Before you enter the church, I will give you a "souvenir," one of those capias you get in Puerto Rican weddings and baptisms, except you won't have to hide it when you get home because it is going to be a crafted gift from me and my friends who have volunteered to help me make a ton of little Magdalene gifts. I can't tell you what it will be because it will be a surprise and because I have not decided what it is yet!!

During the mass, Raquel will join the choir and my paintings will once again be in the altar. Afterwards, we will have the Promesa, a sung Agape, probably in the back room of the church.

I am inviting friends and anyone who can contribute, to bring a meal to share. I am dreaming of a long table with lots of delicious foods where you can taste heaven on earth, with lots of red things, the color of the Magdalene. And madeleines, too, of course!

Somewhere in the room will be Raquel singing. I think she might need some help, so I'm sure some of her musician friends will join her. The guests will also help! All of us need to join in the singing and we will have a printed sheet with the  songs so everyone can sing along.

I have invited my friend Corazón Tierra to dance to one of the songs that Raquel signs.

I am wishing for someone who would like to take care of photography, and for someone else who could use a computer with an Internet connection to transmit the promesa for those Magdalene lovers who live far away and cannot make it. That really would be a dream come true!!

I hope you too can join us, and if you can and want, bring a dish to share during the promesa. For now we have come up with torta dominicana, bacalao guisao, madeleines, cheese and fruit and coffee and tea. They don't match so far, so feel free to get inspired!

And my dad is coming, which means one of my wishes is realizing!!

I am looking forward to July 21, 11:00 a.m., St. Marks in the Bowery, to celebrate the Magdalene, friendship, love and joy, and everything that's good in life!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

How to Make a Book-Miniature Book Tutorial by Tanya Torres

Here is a tutorial for making a miniature book (or any size book!) in preparation for June 29, when I will be teaching a more advanced technique at La Casa Azul Bookstore in the Coptic Binding Bookmaking Workshop. I prepared this with much love for everyone who wants to create something unique and special, and for my workshop students who need a refresher! I hope you enjoy it!

Get your manuscript ready and I will guide you, step by step in the creation of a handmade book.

This is one of my miniature books, Destellos de Sofía.

• your manuscript
• mat board
• decorative paper
• text paper
• paper cutter or mat knife and ruler
• awl
• bone folder
• a piece of corrugated cardboard attached to a piece of matboard
• needle
• thread (button thread works great)
• ruler
• headband
• thin ribbon
• acid free pva glue
• a small piece of cotton cloth or thin paper
• template

Template: Click on this image to enlarge and print on an 8.5" x 11" paper.

Design the pages: I placed 4 pages on one 8.5 x 11 paper. Horizontally, they go: 2-3, 4-1 on the top row.
I do the layout in Photoshop (you can use any program that has text boxes, including MS Word). I then print the same document on both sides of the paper. For each paper I print, I get 8 little pages, 2 of each. (Each row gives me 2 of the same page.) I used Epson matte double-sided paper on the highest quality of my Epson printer for this book in order to make sure that all the details of the little drawings were visible, even though they are greatly reduced from the original size.

Cut the pages

If you use use a regular 8.5 x 11" paper, then you don't have to cut, just fold in half. Since my book is 1/8 of the paper, I cut the paper in half until I get the individual pages.

These are the pages for each book. I design the book so that, with the first cut, I can have all the pages for one book together. That way I save time and effort later.

This is the process for cutting the pages:

Put both ends together, and press on the fold.

Do that on both ends.

Place on paper cutter or place your ruler, guiding yourself by the pressed points.


Don't worry about the edges. They look better a little rustic!

Next step: Punching holes and organizing the pages

Here you see, from left to right, a bone folder, an awl, a template and a set of pages for my book.

Create a template for punching holes on your pages by perforating 4 holes on a spare page of the same size as your book pages. Fold the page in half downward and use the awl to punch two holes on the middle fold. This will give you 4 even holes. Or you can use a ruler and measure the placement of the 4 holes.

Fold each page in half and reopen it. Folding the pages before punching them makes it easier to perforate them.

Use the template to perforate a few pages at a time. Place them on a piece of corrugated cardboard backed by a regular piece of mat board. This will help you punch the holes with less effort.

Fold each page in half again and order them, side by side.You can use the bone folder to press on the fold and make it tighter. This will help the book stay closed.

How to poke holes on our pages.
Here is a little video to help you:

Sew the book
Next, after we perforate all the pages, we place them in order, side by side, like this:

Now, we will sew the pages:

Thread a needle with a strong thread long enough to sew all the pages.

Next, hold the first page and insert the needle through the first hole.

Think about what is logical to do now. This is important to realize because it will make your sewing easier. It would be logical for the needle to come out through the next hole. Do it!

Leave some thread hanging out of the first hole. We will tie it when we finish.

Next, make the needle go in and out of the next set of holes on the page.

The first page is ready! Now we do the same for all the other pages.

Insert the needle through the hole that is right next to where it came out from. Always do what is logical and easier. The pages of the book will tell you what to do. Repeat for each page.

Two pages will look like this.

Inside, the stitches should look like this.

Here you can see all the pages are attached to each other, except for the last one.

Use the needle to gather and tie all the center stitches. Tie the loose end from the first page as well. It does not matter how it looks. We will hide this part of the book and nobody will be able to tell how good your stitching is!

Pour some glue all over the spine of the book.

Spread it, but make sure it is a thick layer.

Place a piece of cotton cloth over the glue to bind it and hide the stitches.

Measure two pieces of headband to place on both ends of the spine.

Cut a piece of ribbon for a bookmark and glue it to the spine. Then glue both pieces of headband.

The inside of your book is ready!

Homework: Let it dry. Cut two pieces of decorative paper the same size as the book pages.

Your beautiful book is almost ready! Next and last, how to make the book cover and finish the book.

Make the book cover
You'll need the cover paper, mat board, a picture that is smaller than the cover, scissors, mat knife, ruler, bone folder, awl, acid free glue, inexpensive paper for a template, and decorative paper for the end pages.

I chose to make the cover of my book like a little frame to hold one of the drawings that accompanies a poem in the book. These are my first tries at the final design of the cover, one of them was finally right!

I first made a template with the measure of the paper and the picture, so I could cut out the rectangle. I designed it in Photoshop, and used the picture to cut it at exactly the size I needed for the cover. You can see the edge of the drawing around the opening. I cut out the picture but left a thin edge so the decorative paper will completely cover the edges of the picture.

The template also helps me align the cover paper and the boards that will form the hard cover.

Place the template on the cover paper.

Use a ruler to score/cut out the rectangular opening.

Here is the scored rectangle. You may want to cut, but I only half cut because I am looking for a rugged edge. Decide what you want at the time you are designing the cover of the book.

Scrape with an awl to complete the cut.

With a bone folder, I smoothed and pushed out the edge of the paper. This paper is Somerset Velvet, which is very thick. It is, in fact, almost too thick for this project. Try to choose a paper that is cover weight at the most, and the process will be easier.

Cut out the front cover illustration.

Now you have finished two important parts of the cover.

Use a rotary cutter to cut the mat board the size of your cover. Notice I placed a piece of transparent tape to guide me. How do you measure the size of the pieces of the cover? Take one folded page of the book. Align the fold with the edge of the mat board. Measure about 3 millimeters above each of the remaining 3 edges of the mat board. The mat board will be slightly bigger on only 3 sides. The remaining side, which will go with the spine, will align with the pages of the book.

Cut the first piece. You will need 2. Here I measured mat board to fit two covers and one spine, as you will see in the pictures below.

Measure the spine to be the same size as the spine of your bound pages. Cut.

This is the spine. The remaining cardboard is the back cover.

My remaining cardboard is a little bigger than the size I need. Cut the extra material to make the back cover the same size as the front cover. You can recycle the extra pieces to help you spread glue.

Glue the picture onto the one of the boards.

Place the board under the opening of the cover paper and align it.

Glue the cover paper to the front cover.

Use the placement of the first board to align the spine and the back cover. Notice the spaces between the pieces. If you do not leave space, your book will not close properly. How much space you need depends on the thickness of your cover paper and bound pages, so you might need to experiment and waste some supplies. It's inevitable, but it is also worth it.

All pieces are glued.

Cut the corners leaving a small edge.

Use the bone folder to press the cover paper on the edge of the covers, top and bottom.

Fold the top and the bottom edges.

Glue the edges. I use wax paper to prevent the glue from sticking to my fingers.

Both the top and the bottom are glued.

Before gluing the sides, fold the corners. This will give your book corners a nice finish.

All four corners are folded in.

Use the bone folder to press the remaining sides.


Use the bone folder to press where the book will fold.

The cover is done!

Now, glue the end pages to the last pages of the book. (Cutting these was your homework in the previous tutorial!)

Fold the end pages. Insert in the book cover, all the way to the spine. Glue the end pages to the cover.

This is the end page glued to the cover.

Now close your book, and enjoy it!

Find Materials for my tutorials in Blick U by looking up Tanya Torres Art Studio in the "Registries and Lists" menu. The materials for this workshop appear under the title "Bookmaking Tutorial."

If you want to learn to make a book in person, sing up for the Coptic Biding Bookmaking Workshop at La Casa Azul Bookstore on June 29.

www.DickBlick.com - Online Art Supplies

Find a list of materials here: http://www.dickblick.com/lists/blicku/RAPTGTO5HQF4A/items/