Visiting GWB Presidential Library and Museum

Yesterday I visited the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the SMU campus with my lovely friend Asma. I am a big fan of presidential museums in general (regardless of political affiliation), so I was really excited to visit. The museum was really well done, and the architecture alone is pretty incredible.

Above: The First Dog, Barney, and his fan mail.

Below: Gifts from other leaders, including a taxidermic lion from the president of Tanzania.

I really love when buildings include wildflowers in their groundskeeping (like one of my favorites, the Elisabet Ney Museum). So beautiful and so appropriate for Texas!

Extra: This picture was taken in the full-size reproduced oval office (unlike LBJ’s in Austin–it is 7/8th scale!).

I had to include this, even if it’s slightly embarrassing. I don’t understand those who have mastered the cell phone selfie thing. I am so bad at them.

Double

Yesterday I got the chance to play around with double exposures a bit. I used this simple tutorial written my friend Sara as a basis and then kind of played around from there.

This past week was hectic as my second-to-last graduate semester (!!!!) started really winding down. I also attended the Texas Library Association’s 100th annual conference here in Fort Worth for three days. It was amazing, but I was carrying too many books to also lug around a camera, and I won’t make you sit through my awful iPhone photos (The iPhone 3GS camera really isn’t great… It’s time for an upgrade next months, but I’m not sure whether to go with the 4 or 5. Any suggestions?).

I met Andrew McCarthy, Lois Lowry, Jon Klassen, and Rebecca Stead! I’d say it was a successful conference! This is the first time I’ve gotten to meet an author I loved and my first time meeting a celebrity–they were all so gracious and seemed so genuinely happy and surprised when I complimented their works. And I have to admit I actually went weak in the knees when Andrew McCarthy made eye contact with me. Oh my gosh. I have been a fan of Lois Lowry’s work since fifth grade and was beyond thrilled to get to hear her speak and have her sign a couple books for me. I also got to have great little conversations with Jon Klassen and Rebecca Stead, both of whom I really admire. Jon Klassen is a wonderful illustrator/author, and Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me (the 2010 Newbery winner) completely blew me away.

But every day after the conference I came home and researched and wrote essays until well past midnight. When the essays were turned in and the conference was over, I put six pillows on my bed and hibernated. Now I have the energy to finish the semester and actually managed to find the time to take a few photos yesterday.

Because sometimes you feel like a ghost.

The First Few Days with a 7 D

After four wonderful years with my Canon XTi, I finally got a new camera last week! There are adjustments to be made (first, I had to get used to how heavy it is!), but I’m so in love. The 7D just photographs beautifully, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with the video feature. I’m so, so happy I finally decided to take the next step up!

Here are a few photos from the first few days with my camera, where I was trying to acclimate myself to the settings and also test it out (boy is it faster than my XTi! That photo of my doll was taken in near-darkness, and there’s not a hint of grain!). Joseph and Leonardo are my unwilling test subjects :)

A short video. I’m just amazed by the image quality, even after being compressed for online streaming. I am going to have a lot of fun with this!

First Few Days from Alyssa Young on Vimeo.

Lunch with Tilly

On the way home from Houston after Chris and Lerin’s wedding, Joseph and I stopped for lunch in Spring so I could see my dear friend Victoria. The last time I’d seen her was actually the night Joseph and I got married, but I still call her my “bff soulmate” because she’s the closest friend I’ve ever had.

We met each other when we were chemistry partners in high school. We were awful in the lab, but it allowed us to bond over our mutual love for Harry Potter. We gave each other a variety of nicknames–I was normally Luna or Uhliska (a kind of joke ugly spelling of my name that I ended up finding endearing), and Victoria was Tilly (I think because it seemed British to us? I remember it was inspired by a girl featured in Teen Vogue).

I’m so glad we finally managed a time to have this long-overdo catch up. We had Vietnamese food for lunch and then went for frozen yogurt. Victoria is just as lovely as always!

Tony Firman’s Bookbinding Workshop

Last weekend I took a bookbinding workshop with a couple classmates. I had been looking forward to the day since Tony Firman visited my rare books class as a guest lecturer.

Tony is a joy to listen to and learn from, and after seeing him demonstrate the binding of a miniature book I knew I needed to learn more. We all know how much I love tediously particular crafts, like embroidery, and I thought this might be right up my alley. During his lecture I couldn’t stop thinking, “This is a thing? People actually get to do this for work?”

The workshop was so much fun, and I recommend anyone in DFW contact Tony for your bookbinding or miniature book needs (we all have a lot of those, right?). His work reflects his meticulous craftsmanship, from the typesetting to binding and casing. I’m going to have to order some of his handmade miniature books, if only I can decide which I most need!

His workshop teaches four different binding methods, and each of the four books you create is about the way in which it’s bound. I decided to work with miniatures rather than full size books because, again, I love tedious and tiny work. Plus, miniature books are also just about my favorite thing in the world. They combine my two greatest loves–literature and small, cute things.

The beginnings of a small paperback book.

Punching holes in a gather of a more sophisticated hard-cover book that will have a sewn-signature binding.

A bit of time must be spent waiting for glue to dry, so Tony entertained us with his collection of books, explaining the varying binding methods or significance of the book itself.

Bookbinding also involves a lot of trimming. There’s not much room for error in miniature books.

Measuring and cutting the boards of the casing was the most difficult task. I was relieved to finally cover the casing in fabric.

Some of Tony’s miniature collection. The books above were created by Tony himself.

And now, my four completed miniature books:

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