We are happy to announce


as the recipient of our 

Monthly Gift for June! 


Claire Pentecost is a Chicago based artist,

writer, activist, and educator

teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 


As a maker, she deftly grounds her work with a sense of place,

both geographically and politically.

As an educator, Claire is a true member of the artistic community:

one that believes in collaboration, honesty,

and a no-nonsense directness, because really,

we don’t have time for extra syllables. 


We hope this journal can be the home for her

 accumulation of many small agencies. 


We call it


for Claire Pentecost.

Claire writes:

I think of a naturalist's notebook

A notebook that i carry in my mobile observatory (anywhere, everywhere)

"....small agencies and their accumulated effects...." is a phrase that Darwin used introducing his book on earthworms (his last). This phrase guides my observations and my efforts

How lovely to find a few pages of vellum in here

pages that have no lines, pages that are a light no-color

a page that lists plants of the riparian ecosystems of the Midwest-- Latin names quicken my heart

a page that lists the names the 12 major soil orders in the USDA soil taxonomy system (alfisols, entisols, mollisols, etc.)

another page would list the international standard taxonomic soil classifications of The World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB).

a turtle

a bird

a flexible cover

Color? rich blues, ochres, cayenne, indigo and pumpkin, like a Persian rug (no pastels)

and at least one pocket to catch loose papers and samples, on the inside of the covers and/or in the middle


Creating a sturdy but flexible cover was an interesting challenge.

The normally used book board has been replaced

by a plastic-coated paper stock,

wrapped in a rich purple book cloth

that has been sanded after wrapping

to give it the feel of suede. 


A pocket was also constructed from this flexible paper stock,

wrapped in a durable, canvas-like book cloth

and attached to the back cover.  


The end pages are designed to mimic a decorative text

but also the tables and charts in the back of a composition book.

A quick reference guide of the WRB soil classifications

and a list of endangered plants native to coastal Lake Michigan.

Additionally, each signature of the journal is headed

with one of the twelve USDA soil orders.


Thank you for inspiring us, Claire,

we hope you enjoy!

Monthly Gift: THE VALUED VESSEL for Antonia Contro

We are happy to announce


as the recipient of our 

Monthly Gift for May! 


Antonia Contro is a Chicago-based woman

who empowers others through art, education,

organization and conversation.


Antonia is the Executive Director of Marwen,

a free arts institution for Chicago youth,

where she has created and coordinated opportunities

for others over the course of 20 years.


In her dedicated work as both a director and an artist,

Antonia's passionate voice speaks loudly about art and possibility:

where 'what if' dreams are met with belief and hard work.


Antonia takes a warm approach to her occupations,

frequently embracing opportunities to affirm those around her.

Whether the gesture is with a delicate brushstroke

or a screen-saver that reads: work hard, be nice to people,

Antonia's energy is focused on making others feel valued.


For the past month, 

we've responded to Antonia's 

empowering gestures with one of our own:  


We call it


for Antonia Contro.


Antonia writes:

Dolomite, bone, lichen, and tears...

Things that we know by holding them on our tongues and in our hands, as well as by their Latin names, scientific formulations and textbook definitions.

Things that carry the patina of history (gold and marble) and whose rhythmic breath both defy and define time (vellum and turning pages).

What is seen and what is felt.

What stirs me to take a pencil (graphite) to (paper) and unfurl (a line) towards its destination; to turn the page and continue.

I love books.

In this age of immediate and pervasive digital information that we most often engage in isolation, I’m passionate for knowledge that we attain through our senses.

A hand crafted sketchbook embodies sentient form and spirit.

It is a living thing.

And in this beautiful manifestation, its heartbeat is triggered by Matt and the Perch artisans, and gifted to me to nurture and time travel with.



Antonia's description of her ideal notebook being "a living thing"

was an admittedly intimidating request, however,

 this note made it obvious that this object needed to endure time.

 THE VALUED VESSEL is made up of 200 pages of a thick vellum rag paper,

intentionally uncut on the turning edge to ensure that no page-flipping is possible –

instead, each page will possess its own pace and will be turned one by one.


The red thread is sewn in a pattern that has bound the book in a structurally sound way,

but in a design that required delicate attention and a much longer time to complete.


As an object that knows it will have a long history with many transitions,

the red fabric band on the cover acts a subtle reminder of where it once began.


For the sake of knowledge that can be attained and influenced by our senses,

the endpage and first page of this book have been adjoined in a way

that now provides a folder consisting of several vellum sheets

that, once perfumed, the book will open with a scented breath.


It is with great pleasure that we gift

THE VALUED VESSEL for Antonia Contro

as it travels with her in the next chapters

of her important work.


Thank you for inspiring us, Antonia,

we hope you enjoy!

MONTHLY GIFT: THE SOLAR BEHOLDER for Sarah and Joseph Belknap

We are happy to announce


as the recipients of our 

Monthly Gift(s) for both February and March! 

Sarah and Joseph are a Chicago-based,

collaborative, dynamic duo of artists,

educators and citizen scientists.


Through an intensely dedicated,

highly ambitious and refreshingly inquisitive art practice,

Sarah and Joseph have been creating together since 2008.

Propelled by an energy of curiosity

concerning our time and place in the cosmos,

they travel freely between sculpture,

photography, video and performance,

producing work that invites us all

to share in their sense of wonder and excitement.


For the past two months, 

we've responded to Sarah and Joseph's 

exciting experiments with one of our own:  


We call it


for Sarah and Joseph Belknap.



Sarah and Joseph write:

We want to record Sun spots.

We want to draw them; record our angles, conditions and thoughts.

This book will travel a lot and needs to be durable.

We like intense color. We like graph paper. We love the Sun.



It was clear to us from the beginning that this gift

-- for Sarah and Joseph; for February and March --

had to be twice-as-nice, double-the-fun.

It had to be a harmonious dance of many components:

a solar system of a new variety.


Preparing for a practice of observing and documenting

astrological activity is an order far too tall

to embody in a single notebook.

For that reason, we allowed this gift to expand

into a tackle box of sorts:

a beginner's toolkit for the citizen astronomer. 


It is our hope that THE SOLAR BEHOLDER will serve

as a reliable instrument for the next chapter in

the Belknaps' exciting adventure through the cosmos.

Thank you for inspiring us Sarah and Joseph,

we hope you enjoy!


We are happy to announce


as the January 2015 recipient of our

Monthly Gift Initiative!


Dawoud Bey is a photographer, father, curator, professor,

writer, musician, and powerfully warm, grounded essence

that lives, works, and resonates throughout Chicago (and beyond).


If you’ve had the privilege to share a conversation with Dawoud,

it is likely you’ve learned something important from that experience –

his words may still be settling in your mind as the months and years pass,

and you may find yourself later sharing these lessons with those you care about.


Dawoud is generous in his role as an educator,

frequently offering guidance and considerate insight

in his engagements within his personal communities

as well as in larger dialogues with the rest of our world

through his expansive practices as a prolific thinker and doer.


Whether he is sharing a grounding perspective

when the hopes for humanity seem to be collapsing,

or sharing the newest works of a recent graduate student

as a propellant for their future and a spotlight for their ideas,

or simply sharing a delectable review of a recent meal on Facebook,

Dawoud teaches us how to embrace the nuances of our days

while representing a contagious appreciation for being alive.


This month, we responded to Dawoud’s motivating influences

with an invitation to collaborate on a notebook:


We call it


for Dawoud Bey.

Dawoud writes:

Simplicity is my hallmark, so the notebook should be understated...but elegant. Shades of grey with lined pages and un-ruled pages. Red in there somewhere, since red always awakens the senses and the eyes, especially when paired with grey or black. The notebook should be useable but so beautiful that you almost don't want to use it.

I shall leave it to you to do what you do best...


As Dawoud has a mysterious ability to see every exhibition ever

and seemingly be in multiple cities at the same time,

his notebook needed to be portable as well as durable:

the small 4.5" x 7" size with a vinyl buckram wrapped cover

will last long and show little wear through its travel and use.


The book consists of two main sections (red-ruled and unruled)

divided by a third section of textured gray vellum papers

to be used for sketching or as a file for collected ephemera.

The endpages represent a bold red that carries

throughout the book in its thread and headbands.


THE MODEST VANGUARD consists of 144 pages

for Dawoud to fill with his beautiful ideas.


Thank you for inspiring us Dawoud,

We hope you enjoy.


We are happy to announce


as the recipient of our Monthly Gift of December!


Amy is an author, artist and ambitious maker based in Chicago.


When prompted with the question of what she likes to make,

Amy answers,

“Children’s books. Grown-up books. Short films.

Salads. Connections with the universe.

Something out of nothing. Wishes.”


Through her practice as an author, videographer,

initiator of large-scale gatherings and

participatory public performances,

Amy inspires a rediscovery of wonder, humor and harmony

within the most common and candid of life’s circumstances.


This month, we responded to Amy's heartfelt efforts

with an invitation to collaborate on a notebook:


We call it


for Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Amy writes:

Where I perch myself (be it at my desk, my kitchen table, at a coffeehouse, at the ocean) has a palpable albeit intangible effect on my creative process. I would like my notebook itself to embody various "perches." I like this concept for personal reasons, and for Jeffrey-and-Matt-Perch-reasons. I'm imagining my notebook with all sorts of papers/creative settings such as... * lined paper (school notebook paper, legal pad paper, elementary school paper with the wide lines) * graph paper * pre-printed storyboard pages (you know, with those rounded squares you draw inside) * magnetized paper (what would I create knowing it would ultimately be hung on a metal surface?) * colored papers * paper that was crumpled up and then straightened * paper with printed opaque images of aforementioned environments (coffeehouse, ocean, etc.) * different sized papers–an itty-bitty piece of paper, a piece of paper that when unfolded reveals itself as very large * papers I have not mentioned here but belong in this book because you dreamed them up * plain paper


It was clear that Amy’s notebook would have to be

fully-furnished; unconditionally-uplifting; perfectly-prepared;




kind of notebook.

For this reason, we considered and collated a variety of papers

into each signature before hand-sewing the final piece.

This resulted in a notebook whose potential and personality

change with every turn of the page.

The velcro-sealed envelope on the front cover

was handmade from a floral-print silk book cloth and

filled with a small, crumpled piece of white paper that reads

“I got this.”

Intended to start the notebook off on the right foot –

one of self-assurance and eagerness –

the tiny slip of paper is a relic

from Matt and Jeffrey Austin’s collaboration

From Downtown (We Got This) at the MCA Chicago,

the site where we first met Amy and shared our mutual excitement

for all-things-heartening.


THE ABLE COMPANION is made up of 96 blank pages

for Amy to fill with her beautiful ideas.


Thank you for inspiring us Amy,

we hope you enjoy.