#ALONETOGETHER

I rarely write posts about things I didn't make. But when I do, it's about things that are just too meaningful not to write about. #ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner is definitely one of those things.

#ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. 2017
#ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. 2017

Starting April 12th, 2017, Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner spend a month in three separate remote cabins somewhere in Finnish Lapland. Their only connection to the outside world is through a video connection to a cabin inside the Kiasma museum of contemporary art in Helsinki. In the cabin there are three screens with live video feed from each artist, and while the artists can see and hear what happens in the cabin in Kiasma, they can only communicate through text without seeing what the other artists are typing. Even if you're not able to visit the museum, you can follow along as there's a live video of the outside of the cabin and of the written communication by the artists on Kiasma's website (the museum is closed today, so check again tomorrow). And there's also a sweet Twitter community pitching in.

Sounds like a crazy chatroom, right? Yeah, it's a bit of a crazy chatroom, too, at times. But #ALONETOGETHER is also weaving a web of genuine and meaningful connections. There's a squad of regulars visiting the Kiasma cabin daily, there have been at least a couple of first dates in the cabin, there's been lots of contact info exchanged - there have been brief hellos, intense arguments, long talks about politics, deeply personal conversations, general silliness, choosing the perfect boxer entrance songs (I chose mine without thinking too much - it's Phenomena by Yeah Yeah Yeahs), reading aloud poetry (mine, too), relaxing group hypnosis, and lots of four-minute life stories and eye-to-eye staring.

#ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. 2017
#ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. 2017

So, yeah, I spent a quite a lot of time (10+ hours of my life extremely well spent) in that tiny hot cabin rebreathing the breath of others during my brief visits to Helsinki these past few weeks. I'm generally not one to easily connect with people and I always worry about misreading situations. The line between brief small talk and revealing yourself in all your damaged glory is a tough one to navigate. #ALONETOGETHER is about connecting. There's no ambiguity about whether or not it's appropriate to be present and vulnerable if you so choose.

The atmosphere and the dynamics inside the cabin change as the visitors inside come and go. Not once was there even a hint of hate speech when I was there, and the cabin was nothing but welcoming to me. Most of the squad of regulars is formed by teenage girls - some probably there because of Shia LaBeouf's acting career, others for other reasons. But their reasons to be there are irrelevant. Their presence and what they bring to the room is relevant. I haven't spent this much time with teenage girls since I was one, and it was a pretty cool experience at the age of 33. The girls were both adorable and super smart, and I have no doubt they will turn into amazing grown-ups. I have a feeling during the days they spend in the cabin they overhear so many life stories and learn about important life lessons this might be a huge deal for them. Their minds like sponges. And mine too. I know this experience was something pretty significant one to me now (and it was heaps of fun, too). I can only imagine how earth-shattering it would've been to me to be welcomed as a part of something like this at the age of 15.

Shia, Nastja, and Luke are three very different personas. It made the #ALONETOGETHER experience all the more interesting. At one point Luke named the cabin the Finding Yourself Cabin. To me that feels pretty accurate: lots of finding oneself seemed to be taking place there. Many people came in to reflect on major (and minor) life events - past, present, or future - and often ended up gaining a new perspective or two by the end of their cabin visit. Having three artists with three distinct approaches and a changing crew of museum visitors in the Kiasma cabin means someone is bound to bring up an aspect you hadn't considered before. Don't get me wrong, the cabin isn't a therapy cabin - it's whatever you make it. But you'll get the most out of it if you let yourself be open to having whatever conversation that may arise.

I admire how the artist trio manages to continuously challenge new people to be present, to take part, to maybe share something quite personal, to see themselves and the world in a slightly new light. There's a certain magic in feeling connected. And this piece wouldn't be as powerful as it is if it weren't for the visitors willing to take that leap and say hello to the camera.

#ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. 2017
#ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. 2017

Until Friday the 12th of May you too can visit the cabin in Kiasma or follow the live web stream. I highly recommend both. It can even change your life, at least a bit. If you do go to the cabin, please say a huge hello from Kaija and play the song Just Dancing by Sylvan Esso on your phone. I'm sure Shia at least will appreciate it.

The images in this post are from screenshots of the live stream. See how skillfully I've blurred people's faces? I didn't take a single selfie inside the cabin. I know I was there and that's enough. And the other photos I have of the things that went on in the cabin are just for me. But if you want a peek of the cabin and myself, take a look at this story. I was visiting the cabin with V and got ambushed by a journalist.

all golden - softcover guest book

I've played with the idea of creating some softcover Coptic bindings this spring, and I wanted to put that idea into action before my summer bookbinding hiatus. And here it is!

softcover Coptic bound guest book with gold linen covers - handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com

I made some softcover Coptics while still at school over a decade ago, but they had covers made out of either leather or paper. This here with gold linen covers is a mix between the sewn boards binding variation I do and the Coptic binding. The sewn boards bindings do have more rigid covers than this book, but I adapted some structural aspects of the binding to suit my purposes here.

softcover Coptic bound guest book with gold linen covers - handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com

I love the lightness that comes with soft covers. And using luxurious linen results in a softcover book that doesn't look cheap at all. It looks simply lovely.

softcover Coptic bound guest book with gold linen covers - handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com

20x14x1,3cm / 7.9"x5.5"x0.5"

for sale here

softcover Coptic bound guest book with gold linen covers - handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com

Yet another friendly reminder: This here is the last new book in the shop before September (there'll be more blog posts before I go, though), and I'm going to gradually close down the shop for the summer by the end of May. Items about to expire will expire, and the couple new mixed media things (watch case necklaces and a small collage tin) will be offered for sale on Instagram only. So if you have a wedding coming up and you're in need of a guest book or a gift, or if your bullet journal is nearing its final pages, or if you have a feeling you or someone you know might need a new notebook some time during the summer, or if you have an empty spot on your wall in need of art, now would be a great time to act. Thanks so much for all of your support!

xo,

Kaija

mixed media monday - my body in darkness

My body in darkness, The singular stain that love illumines.

my body in darkness - mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com
my body in darkness - mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

(cut-up vintage text, vintage illustration, mica, paper, card, thread, vintage eye fastener)

7,3x9x1cm / 2.9"x3.5"x0.4"

for sale here

my body in darkness - mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

Details, details. I still spend possibly way too much time considering different options. I'm currently trying to get better at making decisions and then committing to those decisions. In life, and in art, too. I've made some headway on both fronts. I found myself a beautiful home for the summer on Thursday - almost four months of uninterrupted writing time ahead of me if I so please. I decided to keep the Paperiaarre Etsy shop open at least until the end of May, since I'm able to ship at least weekly even after my change of scenery. And for the rest of the summer I'll probably just put it in vacation mode to create as distractionless a writing space for myself as possible. Trying to illumine the darkness that is the muddle I call a manuscript. In all honesty, it's not a muddle at all, but it does need a lot of work given the plans I have for it.

my body in darkness - mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

How do you create space for your creative endeavours if you have a lot on your plate? I know skipping town for months is pretty drastic, but it was a possibility I didn't want to pass. For the past year and a half I've managed different projects through list making and my trusty bullet journal, but now it's time to prioritize writing my poetry book and see what Helsinki is like in the summer time.

blush pink + vintage lace guest book

Coptic bound guestbook with blush pink linen and floral vintage lace - handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com Suddenly I'm just trying to tie up loose ends: finish unfinished books, finish tasks with deadlines looming in early May, plan ahead of little collage-y things to make this summer. While other people take a vacation in the summer, or spend as much time as possible at the summer cottage, I'm moving to the big city (Helsinki, that is) for the summer to work on my poetry book. No distractions and a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. That means I'll be taking a long break from bookbinding in a mere few week's time. Sorry! I hope you'll stick around to see what I come up with come autumn.

My plan is to create small collages or paper art pieces every now and then, created from a small boxful of supplies I'll drag with me to my summer home, so this blog won't end up completely abandoned for the summer. But writing is going to be my priority until September, at least. This isn't a goodbye post - just a friendly public service announcement well ahead of time. I have yet to decide whether to close down the shop for the summer or simply change processing times to 2-3 weeks and ship when I visit home. But if you want to play safe, stock up!

Coptic bound guestbook with blush pink linen and floral vintage lace - handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com

Among the unfinished project was this vintage lace guest book that had been waiting for me to put it together for a good while, but all it took was a gloomy snowy day in late April for me to take out the needles and finally sew it. This one's pretty big (16,3x23cm / 6.4"x9.1") and it has 48 pages of 150gsm paper. Perfect wedding guest book material, I'd say. You can find it for sale here.

Coptic bound guestbook with blush pink linen and floral vintage lace - handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com

I hope the seasons are treating you better wherever you are. Here the spring has stalled, almost decided not to come at all. Yesterday it snowed a lot again and I had to take out my woolly hat from storage... I'm thankful for the daylight, but I'd prefer if it were not filtered by snow falling down.

stocking up on journals

My Easter plans of making myself a couple small handmade journals turned into me making myself six new journals. I had every intention of adding a couple of them to the shop, but in the end I couldn't decide which ones to keep.

small handmade notebooks by Kaija Rantakari - sewn boards binding with linen / book cloth covers - www.paperiaarre.com

So, I'm keeping them all! (I've actually got some for you, too, if you read all the way to the end... and I promise I'll make some books using that beautiful shimmery gold linen - seen on two book spines above - really, really soon!)

small handmade notebooks by Kaija Rantakari - sewn boards binding with linen / book cloth covers - www.paperiaarre.com

When binding books for myself I get to use materials that don't pass the quality requirements for the books I'm happy to sell my customers. That translates into endpapers made of fancy metallic paper that sheds shimmery bits everywhere and covers made of unevenly dyed linen or book cloth that ends up looking quite distressed within days of use. I don't mind the imperfections - in fact they can be inspiring - so all kinds of bits and pieces ended up in these books! You wouldn't believe how scrappy they are by looking at these photos...

Since one of my favourite things is picking out the perfect linen / book cloth / paper combinations, and another favourite thing is taking photos like this of the books I make, let's all take a peek what happens between the covers of the six books:

small handmade notebooks by Kaija Rantakari - sewn boards binding with linen / book cloth covers - www.paperiaarre.com
small handmade notebooks by Kaija Rantakari - sewn boards binding with linen / book cloth covers - www.paperiaarre.com
small handmade notebooks by Kaija Rantakari - sewn boards binding with linen / book cloth covers - www.paperiaarre.com
small handmade notebooks by Kaija Rantakari - sewn boards binding with linen / book cloth covers - www.paperiaarre.com

The shimmer-shedding woodland notebook became my first pick for a new journal. By now it's got plenty more pages filled with scribbles.

small handmade notebooks by Kaija Rantakari - sewn boards binding with linen / book cloth covers - www.paperiaarre.com

And, as promised, new notebooks for you, too! These aren't actually new new, since I made them several months ago, but sort of kind of forgot to add them to the shop at the time... Oh well - they're available now! They all have wonderful 90 gsm drawing paper with a slightly rough grain for pages, and the sewn boards binding structure means the covers are nice and flexible without being flimsy at all. Check out the Paperiaarre Etsy shop to see more photos and to pick your favourite!