Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Q & A with Janna Willoughby-Lohr of Papercraft Miracles

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to a multifaceted artist I have the pleasure of knowing personally and professionally, Janna Willoughby-Lohr. Instead of focusing on her numerous talents, I chose to focus on her main passion, paper. 

Being both a supporter of her work, and a loyal customer, our conversation turned into a Q & A.  Janna can create whatever your heart desires. I own and have gifted several journals created by Janna and my son had his first art publication in her teacup book series. 

Janna is unstoppable, dedicated, knows her work and continues to educate herself in all aspects of the art of paper. Look no further for paper, journal, bookbinding and photo album needs because Papercraft Miracles is beyond impeccable.

Below is our Q & A, along with links to where you can find Janna, her work and events she will be appearing and teaching: 

Sue:  How did you come up with the name Papercraft Miracles? What does that signify? 

Janna:  I was in college and working on my thesis when I came up with the name, Papercraft Miracles.  I wanted a name to encapsulate what I make and why I do it.  I chose Papercraft since I knew I was planning to make all sorts of paper-related things, not just books, and I didn't want to be limited by the name.  I chose Miracles because, lofty as it may be, that is my goal with my work, to change people's attitudes when they experience my art. 

To me, a miracle could be something as small as making someone smile who hasn't in a while or bigger, to change the way they think about life and their place in it.  I hope my work will cause people to open their eyes and hearts in a way they have not before. Change comes first through observation, my goal is to wake people up, to open their eyes.

Sue:  Do you have any formal education in bookbinding and creating various types of papers and crafts associated with Papercraft Miracles? Do you just create what speaks to you or do you follow a set pattern? 

Janna:  I have always been drawn to book arts, even before I knew they were a thing. My mother was a poet as well as a rubber-stamp and collage/mixed-media artist and she was addicted to reading, so I'm sure I picked up a lot of the aesthetic from her work. I have been writing poems since I was five or so and started keeping journals and making collages shortly after that, and have continued with that my whole life. 

When I went to Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, (initially for creative writing) I was immediately drawn to create, not just write. The art department offered several classes on book arts including bookbinding, paper-making, printmaking and artist's books and I signed up for any class I could get into! When I first laid my eyes on an artist's book, where the form, design, materials, text, and illustrations all work together to create one bigger idea or concept, I knew I'd found my calling as an artist.

Sue:  How long have you been creating paper, books, and related materials? 

Janna:  I started officially learning the craft in 2000 and continued taking courses throughout college until 2004 when I graduated. I have been making paper and books commercially and honing my craft ever since.

Sue:  If you had to choose one favorite thing about your business and craft, what would that be? 

Janna:  Hmmmm . . . my favorite thing about my business is that I get to make special things for my clients that they treasure for a long time and I get to make a living doing it. My favorite things about the art itself are tactile aspects, how everything feels. How different papers are smooth or rough, and how fabrics or leather are soft or embroidered, how it feels to open and close my books or running my fingers through paper pulp. 

It is a Zen art form that requires you to leave the past in the past and let the future come later and just be in the moment making art. And I love that. 

Sue:  Are your products Eco-friendly and if so, please elaborate. 

Janna:  Most of my products are Eco-friendly! For my books, I typically use handmade papers or cotton fabrics for the covers and most of my interior pages are made with some kind of recycled paper. My handmade paper is made using different materials and recycled office paper is one of them. I also make paper by cooking parts of plants that I grow in my garden. 

When the blooming season is over, I trim leaves and stems of certain plants and turn them into paper, and collect the spent flowers to put into the paper as inclusions and I use some plants to make natural dyes for the paper. I not only use things from nature to make my art, I grow plants and flowers to do so, which helps the bees, the birds and us too! 

Sue:  What kind of business exactly do you do? 

Janna:  I create handmade paper, books, invitations and paper crafts for special occasions or everyday use. 

Sue:  Do you teach others how to create books and/or related artwork through tutorials and courses? 

Janna:  Yes! I teach several different workshops at The Western New York Book Arts Center including a monthly Open Bookbinding Studio where other book artists or those interested in learning more, can come and get help and expertise from me in completing a project they are working on and/or use the tools and equipment there. I also teach workshops in schools. I am currently teaching a 9-week session at the Journey's End Refugee School as part of Western New York Book Arts Center Printing Partners program. I do birthday parties too! 

Sue:  What initially sparked you to begin bookbinding? 

Janna:  I made my first book as part of a school project about pandas in 5th grade. My mom had some special handmade bamboo paper that we used for the cover, we typed the text using her Smith Corona electric typewriter, and then we stitched it all together. I still have it, believe it or not. After that, I always had a journal and I loved to collage on my journals and when bookbinding courses became available to me, I jumped at the chance. 

Sue:  What products do you offer? 

Janna:  I mainly sell handmade journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, photo albums, and pop-up books as well as artist's books and gifts/trinkets. In addition, I do book design and layout, graphic design and consulting. 

Sue:  If you had to create one thing that you never have before, what would that be?

Janna:  I would love to create a gigantic pop-up book! They are usually my toughest challenges, getting them to hang right and be evenly spaced, so a great big one would be a fun challenge. 

While I was in college, I knew I wanted to be an artist but I also knew that I did not want to be a starving artist. I was frustrated with the lack of business/marketing classes available to art majors and vice versa, so I decided to create my own major to suit my goals in life. 

I met with the Integrative Studies board and they helped me to refine my goals. The major I created was called Entrepreneurial Creative Business Arts where I learned to be an artist and an entrepreneur at once. Having many lofty goals at a young age was great but it has taken me several tries to really get things in order to do Papercraft Miracles full time. 

I'm glad I waited until now to really throw my all into my business because I learned so many useful skills in the 12 years since I graduated college, not just artistic skills and business/marketing skills, but I've learned a lot about working with people, which is ultimately what success in any business is about. 

Running my own business from home allows me to stay home with our little boy, a dream I never thought would be possible. I owe so much to my amazing husband as well. He is my number one supporter.

After years of knowing Janna, it was interesting to find out things I did not know. It was tough to put a conversation into 10 questions, but this was fun and enlightening. 

I believe you will, as I have, fall head over heels with the pure excitement, positive energy, wonderment, intelligence and devotion to art and life itself that is indeed, Janna Willoughby-Lohr.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jackdaw with The Ruffians "Black & Tans" [Slainte!]

Artwork © David Moore

Every St. Patrick's Day I put this out, a fine Celtic Rock Band, my dear brothers, all of them, in rare performance with The Ruffians and two, I recorded, engineered and edited/mixed this at one Irish Feis in South Buffalo managing so many boards I am shocked it turned out good. This includes the most mind-blowing version of "Black and Tans" at 3:00 with Danny from The Ruffians playing bones.

Be safe, enjoy, and Slainte!

Audio © Susan Marie and Jackdaw


Friday, March 11, 2016

5 Websites That Must Be Checked Out

Photo © Source

Everyday, I come across astounding people doing an extraordinary job or they are seriously on top of their game or I find an interesting website or service that is diverse and not mainstream. I like to notify others to check them out because finding specific things online can be a daunting task. 

Here are my five for this week: 

1. Madalyn Sklar - yesterday I was part of an online seminar regarding how to #TwitterSmarter and it turned out to be beyond fruitful and I ended up connecting to like minded people who are real and serious about the content they provide to the public whether that be personal or business related. Madalyn was fantastic at coordinating this, as well as being a wonderful human being.


Twitter: @MadalynSklar

2. Micropoetry Society: As a writer, my thoughts are often random and cannot be used in a story or poem and I find myself just writing in the moment. This website is perfect for such writers, freethinkers, artists. 


Twitter: @pssms

3. Patrick Mundus: For a daily dose of "wake up", inspiration, real life writing, and general well being feel good truth, he is the one to connect to. 


4. gruvology: All kinds of jazz and blues and diverse styles of music, do not go further, these guys are ever progressing.  They are a consistently changing group of varied styles of music that causes them to be absolutely beyond talented. 


5. National Park ServiceThe National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

On the website, you can search for: nature, employment, data, education, news, photos, history, direct involvement, resources for educators, children and yourself, landmarks, environmental consciousness, taking action, volunteer work, everything. I adore nature. This website is only one immense resource. 


Please sign up to the newsletters on all sites if available.

Please check out previous sites below: 

Have fun! 



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Special Gift in Observance of International Women's Day


In observance of International Women's Day, Leslie Jean created a series of images, to feature on her Instagram account, honoring women, whom she has been inspired by, taught by, loved by and loved in return, mentored by, motivated by, humbled by. 

You can view the entire album starting HERE on Facebook


Thank you Leslie! Such a beautiful, selfless, healing project and KUDOS to you for showing the rest of us how to be. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What Happened, Miss Simone? [Book Review]

Written by Alan Light, this book was inspired by the Academy Award-nominated Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? about the legendary life of Nina Simone, who was first a classically trained pianist and evolved into a chart-topping civil rights activist.

I preferred the documentary to the book. While the book is good, one cannot possibly capture the magnetic presence of Miss Simone merely in pages.

The biographical film directed by Liz Garbus opened the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and showed, rather than attempted to tell, the beauty, power, the struggle, and the indefinable presence of Nina Simone. The documentary combines previously unreleased footage and interviews with Simone's daughter and friends.

The title of the film, as well as the book, is from an essay written by Maya Angelou. The quote in its entirety goes:

“Miss Simone, you are idolized, even loved, by millions now. But what happened, Miss Simone?"

Nina Simone [born Eunice Waymon] changed her name when playing nightclubs in Atlantic City. In the photo above at Carnegie Hall, Nina played 18 pieces, an eclectic set list ranging from Israeli folk tunes to a Leadbelly song.

She was the first black female soloist to appear at the legendary theater. Released in 1963, Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall was beyond triumphant and became one of her finest albums.

Nina was well aware of her stage presence and referred to that as "mass hypnosis . . . a spell you cast."

This is how I like to think Nina was most at peace, at her piano.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Monday, March 7, 2016

Eulogy [on Soundcloud]

The wind
magnificent and shrieking,
like some wild woman,
unabashed and naked.

Her brow wet
with brine,
upturned to the most holy sky,
arms raised
in supplication
to a dying world,
all that is.

And she
beneath Gods and Goddesses,
hair whipping wind,
eyes brazen,
brown and soft.

A touch of
madness and desire,
no human soul

Her howling
becomes one with the wind,
distress signals to the raiment,
the ancient raiment
that poets and sages
sat under and above
for millenniums.

Legs stretched
in front of her,
toes uncurled,
she lays back
flat -
allowing to be cleansed
by the pelting rain,
the dying Winter,
the oncoming of Spring,
a rebirth of births,

a eulogy to the past,
a welcome to the present,
an embrace to the future.

What it holds
is of no concern,
for she knows
where home is,
away from this society,
away from the busy-ness of life,
away from monotony
and dramatics,
away from this life
with triviality.

She is here
waiting for you,
to set you free
from chains
you have bound yourself with.

Whip your shoulders back,
allow them to fall.

Feel the weight,

Grab her hand, willing
pure and desirous.

Show her
how your soul
show her
how your eyes light up,
show her how you have released
from your very soul,
all the toxicity
of existence.

She is Earth, dirt
Rocks and stones,
limbs of trees,
mighty oaks and maples,
the birch and elm.

She is the silt of fault lines
holding this globe

She is the mighty maelstrom,
every season,
without apology.

She is you,

Come, come and relish this moment,
even if only once.

Dine as a human starved.

Sing of the grace bestowed upon you
for you are born to be supreme,
you are born with the ability to fly,
you are born with the gift to see
with six senses,

You are powerful in your wildness,
in your pure soul self.

She is here to tell you
to scream and cry,
until there is no speech,
to the skies,
to the clouds,
to the falling rain.

Let it wash upon you
like a sweet cool dream,
and come, come my dear soul.

Do not wait.
No hesitation.
Moments are fleeting.

She is here,
with you,
yet not eternal.

Hurry, hurry, dear!

She will share secrets with you,
teach you how to see
with eyes,
that have no place
in the land of humankind.

Each blade of grass,
leaves of the trees of her mane,
like a thoroughbred racing, wondrous,
eyes staring, mad. 

There is no finish line
only now, here.

This moment.

Disrobe beneath this day.

Give thanks to the Great Creator,
to Mother Nature.

To the spirits that speak to you
in your dreams.

To the souls that have guided you
to this place,
this patch of Earth,
this precious time.

Bow your head in prayer,
dear soul.

For you are in the presence
of divinity.

© Susan Marie

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ode to Dystopia

On Mogul

“Talent can take you places but it is skill that keeps you there.”

~ my friend Torrey, on writing
Eyes burning, mottled, massive sleep deprivation, caffeine OD, and words, words, mocking me. Read aloud, think, type, backspace, delete, retype, fuck! Where is the arrow? Type again, fix, beat, bitch, bury my fucking head in the sand, and sink.

I had a stroke of genius — it happens — and thought about waking the doctor up at 2 a.m. and tell him I have that dry eye syndrome I saw on television and I need a script.
The conversation goes like this:

“Hey Doc, it’s me. I have that, uh, dry eye syndrome. Yes, my eyes hurt. No, I have not been drinking too much coffee again. What? I need a script? Yeah, whatever, just call it in and uh, while you’re at it, can ya pick me up a pack of smokes on your way to the OR?”

Life should be that comical.

I wouldn’t mind the side effects of the prescription anyhow: heart palpitations, kidney disease, possible stroke, urinary retention, migraines, constipation, stomach pain, blurred vision (oxymoron), short term memory loss, confusion, dementia, risk of diabetic coma, and eventually… death.

I can risk that to get rid of a dry eye or two.

I sat in the mall today. I despise the mall. Forced to go, I step inside, heart beating fast, instant chest pain (great) and onset of perpetual migraine, so I grab a cappuccino. Walking, walking, and thinking if one more motherfucker nudges into me, that is it. I am tearing into the next toy store I pass to grab a lethal child’s toy.

One by one, take ’em out, like a nut-job in a bell tower. Sit in the middle of this excuse for a living room where we can socialize and hide behind a plastic palm tree. Wait for a bratty piss-pot to come running by, stick my foot out and watch the parents halfheartedly console the spoiled replica of themselves they spawned.

If there is a hell, it is the mall, so please, don’t even think of telling me to go there.

Figured I should probably eat, my legs hurt, wandering around, wondering what the fuck I was doing in this place and how much I would rather be in a bookstore or at home watching Tony Montana shove his face into a pile of snow.

Instead, I took a seat in the Garden Cafe and looked around. Felt I was the only one without pennies on my eyes.

Lil’ girls with G-strings pokin’ out of their low-cut sad excuse wanna-be-somebody they never will be showing off to boys who only wanna get in their pants.

As if that would be a difficult task.

Cell phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, Nooks, Kindles, everything portable imaginable, and I thought I was cool when I had the Bionic Woman, and her arm opened up and you saw wires and shit in there.

Saw a woman sitting alone in a booth with a laptop on the table. I thought, Man, you should be at a cafe. What in the fuck are you doing in a mall? I felt like walking up to her, handing over a tattered book of poetry like a Get Out of Jail Free card, but I didn’t.

The mall is a denial from the misery felt by those who still think that the world is flat.

There was an angel there today. Was just a man — olive-skinned, radiating supernovas swirling like sunspots. I watched him there smiling. Brown leather sandals, a nylon cord sneaking inside his shirt, and I wondered what was on the other end of it. I saw hieroglyphic tattoos poking out of the edges of his shirtsleeves.

Curls of carbon silk reflected light shining from his retinas, cerulean, and I looked around and felt like screaming, “Am I the only one seeing this shit?”

Nobody stirred, people kept right on stuffing their faces with eventual heart attacks, talking and yapping with fake smiles, lipstick-stained-teeth grinning skeletons already dead to themselves.

This man though, the angel, he sat on a hill, and I was a child. My chin upturned listening as he told stories to droves of people. He was cotton-robed, his raiment. The whole scene, transparent. Lucid dreams and waves. Sketches of memories past.

He was one word ---> Imagine.

Compelled to talk to him, every bit of strength I had — which wasn’t much, trust me  kept me from doing just that. Pisses me off now. I saw him there and knew it. He looked right into my eyes and said:


I heard that inside my skull.

Then he looked away from me and continued talking to the ghosts seated next to him.

The cursor blinked. I stared at it. Maybe it wasn’t my eyes after all. An hour had passed and I had not written a single paragraph. I stared though… at this one sentence:

There are plenty of talented nobodies in the world who are too lazy to do jack shit with their lives.

I held my palms to my cheeks, cracked my knuckles, put on some tunes and began to write.

Friday, March 4, 2016

City of Buffalo Change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's/Heritage Day Petition & Support

This only started Feb. 16, 2016! How amazing!


As far as "America" is concerned, this land was founded by the Indigenous that first inhabited it. 

We cannot alter the past nor wish to, however, we can change the present and the future.  

This petition is for abolition of Christopher Columbus Day, the 2nd Monday in October, an outdated and historically incorrect celebration, in favor of Indigenous [Heritage] Day.

"Past the elementary and high schools, there are only occasional hints of something else. Samuel Eliot Morison, the Harvard historian, was the most distinguished writer on Columbus, the author of a multi-volume biography, and was himself a sailor who retraced Columbus's route across the Atlantic. In his popular book Christopher Columbus, Mariner, written in 1954, he tells about the enslavement and the killing:  The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in complete genocide."- from Howard Zinn

Support in 2 weeks: 

Buffalo News, Buffalo Rising, Mogul, Remember Native Americans. Org, Native American and First Nations Cultures, Medium, Indigenous Environmental Network. Org, Time Warner, Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, Native American Cultural Center of Rochester & Syracuse, National Native American Indian Heritage Month, Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties Inc., Sacred Ecology Films, Seneca Nation Media & Communications Center, Sacred Ecology, Seneca Nation of Indians Tourism, WGRZ NBC CH 2, John Kane.