Jes Lee

So. Much. New.

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I have so many images from Art-a-Whirl. What you see here barely scratches the surface.

It was a long week of prep leading up to Art-a-Whirl, and the weekend was quite emotional at times. But it was amazing. I have gotten to be part of an awesome group of people here, and I am forever grateful.

John has a video of me playing with fire on the last night of Art-a-Whirl…me, successfully making something out of glass! I will post that soon.

Last night I went to the Visual Journaling Collective at MCBA. I admit that I almost didn’t go…the past week had been so busy, and I, like many others, get very tempted to just stay home in comfy clothes….but I went, and it was great. I’m looking forward to going next month, and to journaling more in between meetings. A lot of people in the group focus on sketching, which is not something I typically do, but last night I created a couple of pages I really like in my book combining photos and collage and my water-color pencils. I don’t know how many journal pages I will share here, but I’m sure there will be a few posts of them coming up.

In other news: my updates on the Etsy sites have been slow lately. I ran out of time during Art-a-Whirl prep, and I have two boxes of new pottery waiting for me to photograph it. That is hopefully happening today. I also have a couple of journals left over after the sales that I would like to get posted in my Etsy shop as soon as I get some nice photos of them. Hopefully later this week I’ll be back to daily Etsy updates.

One last note: IT IS ‘ROID WEEK! Go to Flickr and look through the group pool. There are a lot of great images there!

More May-ness

Truly, May always seems like a crazy busy month in the art world.

Saturday was Craftstravaganza and it was great! One of the best years we have had there in a while! We sold a lot of pottery, and I sold a lot of cards and one of the journals I had worked on leading up to the show. Thursday I was on tv to help promote the show, and it really did pay off! We met many fun people, and had a great time. I try to do as much of my shopping locally as I can, so I did pick up a few things for myself, including new dish towels from Batch Dry Goods, a Dinosaur Planter from Scuttlebug, and some of the garden markers I have planned on getting for two years from 7 by 7 glass!

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After the festival, John promised to take me out to dinner and one of our local taprooms. I had been so busy leading up to this festival, that I had missed a few outings with his co-workers, and he wanted to make it up to me a bit. We had a lovely dinner, and then instead of going to the taproom, we went to a new-ish local book store – Eat My Words Bookstore – and bought a few treasures there instead. I love how that worked out!

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Sunday I had a bit of time between Mother’s Day events to actually plant the herbs I had purchased at the Farmer’s market last week, and get some of my new garden markers in the ground.

I spent time with my mom, and my mother-in-law on Sunday, and really enjoyed the day. It was the first in 17 years of not having to work at the restaurant on Mother’s Day, and it was a great switch!

Today is back to photo jobs, organizing to-do lists, finishing work on my new book to bring to class Thursday night, and of course getting ready for Art-a-Whirl. It will be another busy week, but I adore what I am doing and that makes such a difference!

Our Etsy pottery shop is back open! I had to close for a few days because of Craftstravaganza, but it is back with a few new things listed!

A Yellow Mix-and-pour bowl with green details and an Orange and Green vase.

Also, just listed in my photography Etsy shop: Autumn – a handmade book and Winter – a handmade book.

Working for the weekend

Yes, I worked almost the entire weekend away. But, it is pretty nice to be spending time working on artwork work and photography jobs instead of something completely unrelated.

I started Friday slowly working my way through a massive list of things that need to be done in time for the art festivals this month. I didn’t get everything done, but I made a dent in my list!

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I completed five more print runs on my latest book project.

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I got two blank journals stitched together.

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One is completely finished and on its way this morning to the home of the Craftstravaganza organizers, to see if it can get a spot on the morning news tomorrow! I’m hoping to finish a few more of these to be able to sell at Craftstravaganza and Art-a-Whirl. The photo on the cover is an instant photo using my new Instant Lab from the Impossible Project!

I had a lovely family photo shoot on Sunday…so I really didn’t spend the entire weekend in my studio in the basement!

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I also managed to get six rolls of film developed on Friday. I started scanning them in over the weekend. Not quite done with that, but I’m getting there! These are all from my film 365 project.

Today will include a little road trip to drop off artwork, and hopefully more printing and festival prep work. Of course working all weekend has earned me a huge headache today…but hopefully that won’t hang around too long.

Just listed in the Etsy shops:

Listed in our pottery Etsy shop: Pink and purple variegated bowl by dadandkiddo.

Listed another one of my handmade books in my Etsy shop: Spring  handmade book by jesleephotos.

Happy Monday!




When you are working for yourself, the weekend doesn’t always mean what it does to the 9-5 people. While I don’t always have “weekends off”, I do still look forward to them. Right now I am looking forward to three days with long stretches of studio time!

I already broke my rule of ‘at least one print run done each day on this new book’. I didn’t print anything yesterday. But I will more than make up for it this weekend! Yesterday was busy with plenty of other things, including a yoga class for me, and printing at MCBA.

These prints do not look like much….in fact my printing technique definitely needs work (more to do with the type of plate I am using vs. the type of plate I really need to be using)….but I am still so excited. These prints show that the plate exposure times I am using are within the correct range for this printing technique! I have worked hard on this over the winter, and I am so excited to finally have results like this! You can actually see a flower in the print! And you can actually tell that there is detail in the flower! And there is actually a defined background square! It really is the little things in life! More to come on this soon, I hope!


I am quite far behind with developing film from my 365 film photography project. But I am still working on it. Not every day is easy to get my film camera out and find something worthy of the cost of the film. But I am finding that more often than not this process is becoming another type of meditation for me.

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I am quite content with the idea that now I am just collecting images of this year, that it doesn’t matter that it takes me awhile to develop and upload them, that now the simple act of collecting is what I need to be doing…another act of meditation. Last spring began a pretty tough journey for me. After a year, I’m finally beginning to feel like I more in touch with myself, and everything that has happened and changed, and better able to cope. I am finally feeling more towards the top end of things, instead of the bottom. It isn’t easy to think about or talk about all of this. The past year I have dealt with a lot of major life changes of all types, and the emotional turmoil that came with many of those. I can recognize now that I was dealing at times with depression. Looking back now I can see that one thing that helped most often was these little meditative practices I have found. Writing in a journal daily. Taking photographs daily. Creating daily. And definitely going to yoga classes. In the beginning of 2014 John encouraged me to find a yoga center I liked and go to classes. Taking that time has made a huge difference. Last weekend, I was helping out a friend during a studio sale. She and the other artists there create amazing jewelry, and are great to hang out with. Of course there were many new sparkly pieces that I wanted, and plenty that came home with me. There was one piece that I ended up with that was quite different. This one called to me – yes, that sounds cheesy, but it did. It was a collaboration piece between a friend of mine and another artist. 2014-04-29 08.09.00

This is a Buddhist Mala wrap. There are 108 beads. It is typically used for meditations, chanting, and prayer. The colored beads and charms have various meanings….these particular colors stand for clarity. The moon charm, for wishes. I have worn it every day since.

As the meanings were explained to me, many things clicked in my mind, and the realization of this journey, my meditations, everything seemed to make a bit more sense. I don’t know where any of this will lead, but I feel like I understand my tools better now.

And now that the sunshine is out, I’m heading down to the basement to my studio to develop film! Ha! Somethings don’t change :)

Until next time,



Maybe rain makes me productive

Yesterday was pretty amazing. There were bumpy spots, and the camera accessories I ordered didn’t work out like I wanted. But overall, I managed to accomplish a lot of what I was hoping to.

My new book project is starting to move forward.

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I managed to get guides set up on my little Platen press for the pages of this book, and I finished two press runs. I use the type drawers in my type cabinets as drying racks when I am printing. They work quite well! No single use items in this studio! Of course I did manage to screw up a few pages, but nothing major. I can still fix it.

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I’ve had a few people ask me how many runs this book will take. I honestly don’t know. I’m scared to count ahead. But, perhaps the above pile of photopolymer plates will give you an idea. Each plate is a separate run…most in different colors. This will take me awhile.

I’m planning on working on this book more today. My goal is to get at least one more print run done each day. Considering that most of the hard set up work is already done, that isn’t a bad goal to have! First though, my day will include yoga, some photopolymer photograveur printing at MCBA (hopefully I’ll actually get some results worth showing this time!) and a bit of hanging out with friends.

New on Etsy:

Just listed in our pottery Etsy shop: a small grey berry bowl colander made by my dad

Just listed in my photography Etsy shop: Autumn print by me.

Wishing you a creative day!



Re-newing studio days

Often my weekly schedule changes based on photo jobs, art work projects, and where I spend my studio days when I have them. This spring has been no different in that way. My long studio days re-new me. The days when I can focus on making, creating, and put most of the maintenance work of being a working artist aside for a bit. In many ways I live for the days were I can just create. Today is one of those days for me.

What I’m working on:

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The first task today is to finish printing pages for the new book I’m working on. This is the ink jet printing run for this book, and I’m starting out with three copies. The final edition will be somewhere around 40 copies of this little book, but I am starting with only three to work out the glitches with. There are 28 pages to print 3 times over….each page has to be hand loaded in my printer….you can imagine that this task takes up a lot of time!

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Of course there are two bunnies at my house that are very willing to help with any paper that just happens to fall where they can reach…

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After the ink jet printing is done, each page will have various layers that will get letterpress printed on it. I’m hoping to get to some of that today. This is the linoleum block I carved to give some of the paper for this book a water texture. The letterpress step will involve many test runs, and a lot of press set-up time.

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My last task for today is getting materials measured and cut for making more journals. This is one I made recently for myself. I enjoy blogging and posting online, but I find I need to write by hand somewhere as well. I know I’m not the only one out there that keeps a journal or a sketchbook. I plan to get a few more made similar to this one that I can offer for sale at some of the upcoming festivals. Maybe I will meet a fellow journaler that way!

I have also been working hard on keeping up with my Etsy shops!

Newly listed today:

‘Spring’ print in my photography Etsy shop and a blue colander bowl in the pottery Etsy shop I work on with my dad.

Wherever you are, and whatever you are working on today, I hope you have a lovely and creative one.


May days

May is almost here, and there are so many fun things going on! Between new jobs, art festivals, new shops with my artwork, and gallery shows, this may be one of the most exciting months of the summer!

First up: Saturday, May 10th, is Craftstravaganza! Once again Jes Lee Studios and Dad and Kiddo Pottery will be sharing a booth. The festival runs from 10am-5pm. Come early and get a grab bag! The first 100 people in the door get a bag full of goodies. There is a coupon from us in there as well! I have heard there is always a line up at the door to get one of these bags, so keep that in mind! We will be at booth #89. Stop by!

Art-a-Whirl is the very next weekend, May 16-18. Once again I will be hanging out at FK Art Glass gallery again this year. I plan to have a few new items for their gallery space, and I’m working on preparing some new demos as well. Details on demo times to come soon. Just like last year, there will be many other great artists hanging out there with me as well. And did I mention glass blowing demos? There will be glass blowing demos! I could watch them all day… Hope you can make it one of the three days! You won’t regret it!

May 31st is Johnstock! I adore this outdoor festival! Jes Lee Studios and Dad and Kiddo Pottery will as usual be sharing a booth, with many new things, and a few older favorite items. The festival runs 10am-5pm. Hope to see you there!

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts Artist Co-op will be having a group show in the binder gallery in May. Details on dates and a reception time coming soon!

The MCBA Artist Co-op will also have artwork up at the MacRostie Art Center June 1-30! There will be an opening reception and community art walk on Friday, June 6th from 4-8pm.

I am working hard on a new photo book. I am hoping it will be ready for all the above shows, but it will for sure be ready for the show at MacRostie. Here is a sneak peek:

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Last week I finished making the photopolymer plates for the text in this book, as well as one linoleum block. Most of the paper I had to order for this book has been delivered and cut to size. The size of this project is sinking in!

May also happens to be the month of our very last 10th wedding anniversary. When you have two wedding anniversaries, you get to celebrate so much! Each and every anniversary is special, and a reason to celebrate…but with all the changes over the past year, this one seems a little extra special. This weekend we decided that we were going to celebrate our anniversary quieter than we had originally planned, and I’m truly looking forward to that.

A very good friend is coming to visit this May for a long weekend before moving over-seas with her family. That weekend will probably be the last time I see her in the US for at least 3 years. I’m looking forward to that time to hang out, and super excited about the chance to travel to visit her. This girl is ready for some new adventures!

I’m stunned that April is almost over already. Last year I was nearing the end of the National Poetry Writing Month poem-a-day challenge. I’m glad that I didn’t try to tackle that challenge this year. However, I am looking at ways to get writing back into my daily routine, either through journaling or poetry or both. I haven’t written for a while now due to a list of excuses. I know it helps me cope with the day-to-day better, and I need to get back into that habit. I’m hoping in May to make it to the MCBA Visual Journal Collective meeting. Perhaps that will help kick-start my writing habit again.

Until next time,



Instant change






It has been quite awhile since John and I hiked the ice caves along the south shore of Lake Superior. Almost two months, to the day in fact. Though in my mind it seems like just a couple of weekends ago.

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This was our first adventure of 2014. I know it is far from being our last.

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Seeing what nature can do and create is quite humbling at times. Realizing how fast she can change the landscape is even more so. Walking out on a frozen lake to see these ice caves itself is amazing, and a bit scary…I have never been fond of trusting an ice-covered lake. Knowing that a strong wind can change how the icicles hang, how the ice sheets cover the water on the walk out to the cliffs, is all a bit mind-boggling.

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I could go into all the inspirational stuff about how if you don’t let go of your fears you could miss something great, about how important it is to have adventures, about how things can change so fast, blah blah blah. If you know where to look, you will find meaning like that every day. What I find I need more often, is a particular event that not only reminds me, but makes me listen. The hike to the ice caves is that event for me.

There are more photos from that hike on my Flickr page. You can click this link to get there, or click on one of the photos above.

There is a lot coming up in May for Jes Lee Studios! Most of the events and dates are now up on my ‘Announcement’ page. There are many more to come that I don’t have all the details on yet, so please check back there again soon!

I have still been going with my film 365 project. Someday soon I’ll post all the photos….and get caught up on developing the film. In the mean time, it has been amazing having my cameras with me constantly.



Books and plates and instant film

I had hoped by this time to have my film 365 posts going again. I’m still taking the photos! But this year has kicked my butt in a few ways I wasn’t expecting, and some things that I just haven’t had enough time for. Posting a photo every day here has been one of them. I still really enjoy having my favorite cameras with me every day, and this project really has helped me to get back in touch with my cameras again, so I have no regrets of doing it. There are many days that I take more than one photo, just as I had hoped there would be. I imagine there will be a big ‘catch-up’ type post on that project sometime soon, or I will create a gallery here or on Flickr to keep all the photos. But that will come later.

I have been enrolled in two very amazing classes at MCBA this month.

The first is called ‘Guided Book Projects’ and it is taught by Chip Schilling. I admire his work, and his style of teaching and knowing what you need as a student to get to the next stage. The book I am working on for this class is pretty epic compared to the other books I have made. I’m not bragging. There is more to this book technically than I have usually taken on with my projects. I started out with one plan, and have moved in a complete other direction. My book will involve making polymer plates (which I normally avoid), printing on one of the Vandercooks at MCBA (which I also normally avoid), teaching myself a new binding, and working instant film photos into the covers.

The Impossible Project released their first “camera” awhile back called the Instant Lab. What this allows you to do is put your cell phone on top of an instant camera-like base and make an instant film image of any photo on your cell phone. This opens up worlds of being able to take photos with other cameras, manipulate them, make collages and multiple layered images, and by finding a way to get those images on your cell phone (not hard) be able to make instant photo prints of them. For artists that work in multiples and editions (like many book artists, like myself currently) this means that it is now possible to make multiples of the very same image with quite a large amount of control. I am an extremely lucky girl to have gotten one of these Instant Lab image makers! I have played with it quite a bit, working out how exposure works and experimenting with some of my compilation images.instant lab003 small

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As well as some of my other cell phone images, just for fun.

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This all fits into my book project better than I ever thought it would. The book itself contains a series of cell phone photos I took last year. My plan is to use the Instant Lab to create instant prints of some of these photos that will serve as the covers for the book. This all may be a bit hard to imagine for some of you, but I think it will be awesome. There will be more photos of this project coming soon, as well as a dedicated post.

My second class at MCBA is also being taught by Chip Schilling. This class focuses on making photopolymer plates. We are almost half way through the class. So far I have already learned many things about turning photographic images into polymer plate negatives, as well as a few more ways to get plate negatives made (a few of them being much more affordable).

I am also still working on getting going on photopolymer photogravure. That process is moving a long slowly, but it is coming. We have the facilities at MCBA to do this process, and I am working on making sure it happens. It involves a lot of time, and a lot of experimenting, but I am really enjoying the challenge, and of course really enjoying working there. Hopefully I will have more on this to share soon.

So all of that, coupled with some ‘life-in-general’ issues, I have been running around a lot more lately than I expected to be. And of course, this little blog has been neglected in the mean time. Honestly, when things are getting to me, I turn more to my journal than my blog or social media. That’s just part of who I am. And I have come to peace with that. Really, it gives me a good excuse to keep up on my book making skills, so I can make a new journal when I fill one up! I do have a lot of projects, and many great photo shoots that I hope to share with you here soon. This blog won’t stay quiet for long.