Nature and Art


The landscape

A garden is a living collaboration of nature and art. Flowers are lovely but secondary to the importance of the color green. Composed of numerous shapes and volumes of plants, it is a tapestry of green woven from a variety of leaf textures and colors. It takes approximately 100 hours of weeding, digging, edging, and mulching to get the garden ready for the annual Peony Garden Tour in June. Over 100 garden enthusiasts toured the gardens this year and now we head into high summer. The garden is beautiful and a wonder to behold.

Thanks for viewing this blog.



Foxglove and peonies




Hand-lettered labels


Stone stairway to south garden




Posted in Design | 8 Comments

Snowflakes in the Sanctuary

DSC03238The sanctuary at the Church of Universal Fellowship in Orono, Maine is decorated with snowflakes during Epiphany. DSC03218

SNOWFLAKES IN THE SANCTUARY offered an opportunity to work in a different medium and in a much larger scale than my bookwork. I created a design for the installation and began cutting snowflakes in late October. And, during the Christmas season I offered two snowflake-cutting workshops at the church for members and visitors to create snowflakes for use in the installation.






The hanging was created with paper snowflakes hung with thread and fishing line and suspended 12 feet up on facing walls. They move with any slight breeze and when the lights are on, cast shadows on the wall. The paper is Finch opaque bright white and is archival, strong, and thin enough for crisp folding.




The pastor’s stole and altar and pulpit cloths were made with layers of transparent blue and turquoise organza and glitter tulle. The paper snowflakes were sandwiched in between the fabric layers and embroidered by hand to keep them in place.

And finally, individual snowflakes were placed in each hymnal. DSC03236

It was a fun project. Thanks for reading this post.


website                     Priscilla Juvelis, bookdealer



Posted in Design | 2 Comments

Plant Speaks, 1


Plants Speak, 1. 2015. Manuscript #109. 11 x 6-1/8 x ¾ inches. 54 pages.

DSC02301Since September 2014 my research has involved culling through historical papers, correspondence, and publications on the subject of early Maine botanists at the University of Maine Special Collections, Orono campus. Reading historical information and actual correspondence gives one the excitement of renewed discovery and alternate research directions. This project continues to grow and requires endless categorizing to keep the information and ideas organized. It is a puzzle – a big puzzle. . .

DSC02230This is the first in a series of books inspired by a discarded herbarium collection now in my possession. A herbaria or plant mount is a rectangular sheet of paper with a pressed and dried plant specimen attached to it. A label identifies the genus species name of the plant, the collector, the herbarium, and notes and location where the plant was found. This discarded collection contains specimens from as far away as India and from as early as 1817.

The text is by the artist and also plant labels and a botanical list of pondweed from found herbaria. Potamogeton (po·ta·mo·ge·ton, from the Latin, potamos: a current or brook and geiton: a neighbor as adjoining one’s ground) is a large genus of aquatic herbs called pondweed, which are important as food for waterfowl and are found in quiet waters worldwide with the greatest diversity found in temperate regions of North America.

The illustrations are watery landscapes and line drawings of Potamogeton natans L. The book is painted and lettered in watercolor on Katie MacGregor handmade paper and Arches text wove papers. The painted paper binding and clamshell box were completed by Joelle Webber of Mermaid Bindery.


Thanks for reading this blog.

Nancy Leavitt

Priscilla Juvelis

Posted in Books | 2 Comments

The Herbarium: a new investigation from found materials

People are often curious about how I come up with ideas and topics for my books. “What inspires the creation of a book? Where do your ideas come from?” I can say very simply that my ideas come from things I read or see or events that happen to me. Here is the latest example.

Front and back seat and trunk of my car filled with herbarium mounts.

In early 2014 I attended several monthly meetings of a local herbarium society in hopes of finding a botanist to help me with a book project. In the herbarium on a bench under a sunny window lay a pile of 250 or so plant mounts destined for the trash. An herbarium mount or plant mount is a rectangular sheet of paper with a dried and pressed plant specimen attached to it. The herbarium was moving to a smaller space so they needed to weed out the collection, sorry for the pun.

It became apparent sorting through the stack of plant mounts that this was real scientific data and had taken a considerable effort on the part of many separate collectors to track down, collect, prepare, and store these specimens. I was interested in what was in there and offered to take them.



A herbarium mount of pndweed, Potamogetan pectinatus L., 1948.

An herbarium mount of pondweed, Potamogetan pectinatus L., 1948.

Considering their age these plant mounts are in remarkably good condition. There are specimens from as far away as India and from as early as 1850. The mounts are 11.5 inches wide by 16.5 inches tall and have labels affixed with the genus species name of the plant, the collector, the herbarium, and notes and location where the plant was found. There is also a number of the plant for the collector’s tally with a few of the collections numbering close to 100,000 plants. On the early specimens all information is hand written and even the printed labels have some kind of hand lettering on them. Many of the early plant annotations have plant descriptions as simple as “sandy field” or as descriptive as “found in mud, wet thickets, fairly high on bank, gently sloping, semi-open-seepy calcareous shore below spring high water.” Modern labeling standards also include GPS coordinates.

Detail of plant label from 1887.

Detail of plant label from 1887.

I am curious about this collection. Currently the data from these plant mounts is being entered into a computer spreadsheet program. From it I will be able to compile lists of collectors, and collections which will form the basis for further research and writing ideas. One happy development in the project is that I have found a home for the entire collection. It will go to an institution who will catalog and care for it.

Stay tuned for more details of the herbarium book project. Thank you for reading this blog entry.


Priscilla Juvelis, bookdealer

Posted in Books, Design | 4 Comments

Workshop, Exhibition, Summer, and MS 108

Upcoming workshop with papermaker Katie MacGregor and calligrapher Nancy Leavitt. Registration is now open for the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers Mini-Conference: Exploring the Tip of Maine. Spend a weekend in downeast Maine with a community of local artists working in the field of bookbinding, papermaking, and calligraphy. For more information and registration click on this link:

Book exhibition: Geographies: New England Book Work, the New England Chapter of The Guild of Book Workers exhibition is now on view at The University of Southern Maine’s Wishcamper Center, 34 Bedford Street, Portland, Maine. Summer open hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, closed weekends and holidays. The show will remain on view through August 22, 2014. For more information on the exhibition and the complete schedule please go to the post on the chapter blog:

DSC00930 The garden: Once the snow melts and plants start to push up through the soil the garden becomes my work. As hard as I try to stay inside and work, I am pulled to the ever-changing green tapestry of my garden. Things happen fast in our short growing season and I confess that I don’t want to miss any of it. Early June is a flush of blue blossoms. Fragrant peonies arrive in mid to late June. July is delphiniums, roses, and lilies. 


New work, MS 108:

DSC00971Love Sonnets, 2014, size: 11 by 4.5 inches (h x w). Lettering and painting by artist. A book commission from one young lover to another, features a love poem realized in the favorite colors of the recipient, turquoise and earth tones. The hand lettered poetry travels from the foot to the head of the book with sewn in cut leave pages. The poem speaks of the innate feelings of love and the intertwining of thoughts and hearts.

DSC00967 The text was lettered in gouache on arches text wove paper. Painted and leaf images cut out of Katie MacGregor’s paper before sewing into the accordion fold book. Snippets of the lettering can be seen through the round holes and edges of the leaves. The binding is composed of two layers of MacGregor paper. The inner is a painted gold paper, which has a painted leaf cut cover wrapped around it. The book is held in a dark turquoise box lined with painted papers, which was made by Joelle Webber of Mermaid Bindery.


Thanks for reading this blog, Nancy

Priscilla Juvelis

Image | Posted on by | 4 Comments


Plant Corridors, MS 106



Plants and animals find the path of least resistance in their quest for obtaining resources.  A plant seed may be carried by the wind or attach itself on a passing animal.  Our interstate highways have created a vast corridor system for plants to hitch rides and move easily through forest barriers that would have prevented their spread.


Vehicles travel fast and far over roads, which in turn transports plants more rapidly and over greater distances than previously. Vehicles are the biggest carrier of seeds, along with the humans that inhabit them.

Purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria

Research and writing

Research and writing

Through word and paintings, this book discusses the environmental conditions of plant life along the northern Maine Interstate-95 corridor and includes knowledge provided by weed ecologists, botanists, and the Maine Department of Transportation.


Seed distribution

Seed distribution

The book measures 12 by 9 inches (h x w), has 7 signatures with 55 pages. Nancy wrote the text for Plant Corridors and painted and lettered the book  in watercolor and gouache on Arches text wove paper. The handmade papers used in this book are made from a plant of the cotton genus, Gossypium.

DSC00723The book contains an alphabetical listing of common roadside plants and their genus species.

DSC00761Joelle Webber of Mermaid Bindery ( bound this book in a sewn collage of MacGregor handmade papers and Nancy’s paste decorated papers.

Thanks for reading this blog, Nancy                       bookdealer:

Stillwater, Maine, late winter 2014

Posted in Books | 2 Comments


Plaid is any fabric woven of differently colored threads in a cross pattern which is repeated in both the length (the warp) and width (the weft) of the finished fabric. A true tartan plaid has the same pattern when the fabric is rotated 90 degrees in any direction. I am fond of plaids, for the interesting color combinations and especially for their geometric designs.

DSC00359Above is a remnant of my father’s plaid shirt with a drawing of the basic plaid motif. I started using plaid as a lining for a box project about my father who often wore green plaids. Over the past few years scouting out second hand clothing stores I found that men’s shirting fabric is finely woven, the collars and cuffs wear out but the shirt front, back, and sleeves are worth recycling. After collecting a nice selection of shirts (close to 300) shirts I cleaned and deconstructed them. Below are some examples of the things I have made with my stash of fabric.


Plaid box lining complete with shirt pocket and seed packet for box project about my father.


Abecedarium book sewn with in fabric and paper.


Shirting fabric makes splendid quilting fabric. Assembling the green and lavender quilt.


Completed red and gray quilt.

DSC06430     DSC06438 Plaid table napkins

DSC00362   Plaid shirt pillows


And finally, the plaid florets, for a hat or lapel.DSC00365 Like making collages, working with this fabric allows me to continue to work on proportion and color studies in between the larger book projects. In closing, I wish you a happy holiday season and encourage you to check out the darkly whimsical Rockydale Advent calendar.

Thank you for reading this blog, Nancy

my website          Priscilla Juvelis, bookdealer website

Aside | Posted on by | 2 Comments