Category: Creative Resource

Creative Resource: Used Books from the Library

Recently my sister Shannon told me that the Toronto Public Library has a used bookstore. She’d been wanting to go for a long time so we decided to have a little Friday adventure!

Book Ends has two locations and we went to the one in the Reference Library at Yonge & Bloor. I spent a lot of time in that library when I was in high school. When I had a big assignment, I would skip class for the day and come downtown to the library instead. I would find a good spot, gather my materials and read, read read, write, write, write. Every now and then I would take a break, leaving my stuff and grabbing a coffee or exploring another section of the library and sitting on the floor with a great find.

Speaking of great finds, Shannon and I literally walked in the door, turned the corner and found this…

Sugar and Spice

It might not look like much to the non-Ridler eye but for us, it is a treasure: the book we used to learn piano! We always had a piano in our home. Though none of us stuck with lessons for very long, the girls in the family enjoyed playing one or two songs and several Christmas carols. Our grandma would play for us when she would visit. Some of my earliest memories are of dancing around the living room as she made the piano sing. She didn’t need written music; she just played.


I picked up Sugar & Spice for 50 cents, excited about how I can use this meaningful music in art projects.

Library Book Shelves

When I shop for secondhand books , I never come home with fiction.  In fact, I rarely come home with books I am going to read! What other kinds of books are there? I go in search of books to look at, books to glide through, books that build my visual vocabulary and spark my imagination, plus books to use as art-making materials. I love art books, photography books, coffee table books, animal books, travel books and kids books.  (I heart the illustrations in kids books)

Like me, Shannon will look for visual gems but she will also gather great reads, from fiction to plays to poetry. She shares a lot of her reading on her YouTube Channel. Check it out!

If you were headed to a used book sale, what section would we find you in?

I plan on doing a “haul” video about the books I picked up but in the meantime, here’s the pile I came  home with for $10!

I’m going to be cutting up The Natural History of Canada and dividing the pages with Shannon. LOL, does the thought of cutting up a book freak you out? I still can’t believe that I do that kind of thing. I used to keep my books very pristine. In fact, I used to be so particular that when my siblings borrowed one of my books, they would barely open it when reading, in the hope that they could return it looking just like new!

Oh, how I’ve changed. Now I highlight with abandon and write in the margins. I use books as sketchbooks and I use book covers as folders. I have cut dozens apart and use their pages for junk journals. I don’t think this means I am any less of a book lover. If anything, with this active interaction, I feel like I’ve come to love books even more.

I encourage you to expand your relationship with books.

Buy them. Borrow them. Read them. Respond to them. Write in them (though not if you borrowed them)  Colour in them. Display them. Alter them. Highlight them. Write them. Gift them. See if your library sells them and/or discovered where you can treasure hunt for them in your neighbourhood. Above all, enjoy them! We certainly do!

The Tarot & Creativity

JRS Tarot & Creativity

This week I’ve shared some of my history with the tarot, plus flip-throughs of my four core tarot decks. It’s inspired some great conversations about cards, tarot and also creativity. Is the tarot really a resource that belongs in the studio? Let’s explore the connection.

7 Ways the Tarot Can Enhance Your Creative Life

Immerse Yourself in the Language of Images

The tarot transmits its messages through a language of images and symbols, a language that is shared with the creative arts. We can enrich our knowledge of and connection to this way of communication by contemplating the form and meaning of archetypal images expressed in the tarot, such as star, moon, chariot, tower, cups, queens and swords.

Awaken the Power of Story

Each reading of the tarot becomes a personal narrative for the subject. As the reader, you develop an ability to see connections and developments, pulling together seemingly disparate pieces into a meaningful story. As creatives, we have a tendency to do this naturally. If I tell you I see a Magician, a Queen of Wands and a sword I bet your imagination starts stirring.

Learn Structure & Freedom

In the studio we often talk about the power of combining structure and freedom in bringing our creativity to life. The tarot is a great expression of this balance. The core meaning of a card is constant (structure) and yet fresh takes reveal themselves within the context of each new reading (freedom).

Stir Your Intuition

Interacting with the cards and learning to follow your intuition’s response in the present moment is an exercise in awakening your inner senses, an invaluable tool as you pursue your creative arts.

Know Yourself

When people regularly read their cards it is often to become familiar with the trends in their life and well-versed in the leanings of their personality. The more careful attention we pay to the subtleties of our selves and the world around us, the more we can express ourselves with heart, truth and relevance.

Express Your Vision

Many people who explore the tarot feel inspired to create their own expression of the cards. Let yourself imagine what The Magician or The Queen of Cups means to you and create your own expression of these archetypes.

Take Inspiration

As you sit down to write a poem or compose a song, as you step onto the dance floor or imagine your next painting or party, start with the tarot. Pull a card and see where it leads you.

Let me pull a card for you now….

Let the Three of Cups be an inspiration for you and your creative life in the week ahead. Look to the 7 creative approaches I’ve outlined for guidance. What are the symbols here? What do they mean to you? What is the story this card is telling? What meaning does that have to you in this very moment? What does your intuition say? What words, sounds, colours, concepts emerge?

Let me know how the journey goes. I’d be delighted to see where the three of cups leads.


My First Trip To Michaels

Shannon & Jamie Go to Michaels

Shannon and I may be the only two creatives who had never been to Michaels so this week we grabbed our cameras, hopped on the subway and headed out for a creative adventure – a craft store artist’s date!

Ribbons of Colour at Michaels

One of the delights at a store like Michaels is colour! Oooh, the colours. What a feast for the eyes!  These rows upon rows of ribbon were an absolute joy for a monochromatic colour-scheme loving girl like me!

A Creative Mix at Michaels

There was so much to look at, from jewellery to cake decorating, from knitting to painting, from boas to unicorns! As our grandma would say, “What could be bad?” And one thing I’ve learned is that if you get intimidated by art stores and craft stores, a great place to start is the kids section! Crayons and construction paper invite everyone in!

After exploring just about every nook and cranny, I decided on a few treasures to bring home.

Here’s my small Michaels haul. I’m delighted with all that I’ve added to my creative toolkit.

Martha Stewart Bone Folder

I love this bone folder from Martha Stewart Crafts. It felt like a supreme indulgence because I had just bought myself one last week! In the Inner Alchemy Circle, Mindy used one for her collaged cards and I thought, how could I not have one of those! I collage all the time and the bone folder is such a great way to secure adhesion and get nice, smooth, flat images. I bought the only one available at my local art store and it was totally fine but this looked beautiful to me. I hmm’d and hawed and eventually decided to go for it! I’ll often err on the side of “Yes!” if it’s an item that will likely become a long-term part of my home or studio. Besides, this indulgence allowed me to gift the one I had just bought and that’s a good thing too!

Martha Stewart Corner Rounder

My big investment of the day was a Martha Stewart corner rounder (which is *so* much more expensive in Toronto than on Martha’s website!) I just love the way this turns ordinary index cards into tarot-like creations.  The rounded edges give such a wonderful finish. I should share that I learned rather quickly not to use the rounder on anything where I’d adhered ribbon. Ack! That almost put an end to this product pronto!

Cable Hooks

When I put this picture up on Facebook and asked people to guess what I was up to, there were some pretty hilarious answers, including home dentistry! But the knitters in the house know that I am about to embark on a cable adventure! In fact, I’m re-starting my journey into knitting. I tried it years ago but let it go when I found it just too taxing on my body. Inspired by the Creativebug Afghan Knit-Along, I’ve decided to gently try again. Because, ahem, when you barely know how to purl, it’s time to take on cables! LOL! (So far so good! I’ll be sharing my progress on stART: Creating as We Go)

Getting Silly at Michaels

And hey, it wouldn’t have been an adventure if we didn’t also get a little silly!

Is Michaels one of your favourite creative haunts? Where do you go for artist dates?