Friday, April 18, 2008

Art Friends, April 14, 2007


Today, I am featuring a commission I just completed for the Algonquin Area Public Library – two art-inspired end tables of my own design. The tables feature library-themed paintings on the top. Actual pieces of library memorabilia are adhered to the painting and the entire surface is encased in a protective resin. This allows you to put the tables into actual use, as they are today. The two tables flank easy chairs in the main library at 2200 E. Harnish Dr.
I am showing just one table here so I don’t overload your email. The other one appears on my blog, as well as photos of the creation process. I show and describe the steps from the blank canvas to intermediate paintings to the final step of putting the table legs on.

Let’s hope for a nice spring!

Barbara Sistak Baur, Artist

P.S. I would like to thank the Friends of the Library for funding the tables and library officials who spearheaded this project. There are Vicki Tobias, Head Of Adult Services; Louis Nee, Assistant Administrative Librarian; and Deborah Morton, Graphic Designer.

Now On Display
-- Fresh Express Cafe, 35 E. Burlington, Riverside, IL, continues for another week. Hours are Mon-Sat, 6:30am-4:30pm.
-- Women's Works, Old Courthouse Arts Center, Woodstock, IL, until April 26. Hours are Wed-Sun, afternoons.
-- Algonquin Public Art Display, Eastview Elementary School, showing Lemon or Cherry?, until October 2008.

Now Online
-- Step-by-step illustration of creating the Library Art Tables. Click on the Library Tables topic.

On the Easel
-- Fruit-topped cookies are featured in paintings now in-progress. I have recently completed a painting with desserts on a cafĂ© table and with a cake covered in shaved chocolate. They’ll be on my site soon. I am still working on a painting of bread –but with a new twist.

Feedback and Correspondence
-- Always welcome. If you have comments or there is something you would like to see in Art Friends, please let me know.

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Copyright notice
Art Friends and all images are ©2008 Barbara Sistak Baur and all rights are reserved. If you wish to copy this material to other publications or mail lists, great!! Just let me know so I can give you permission. Thanks for your respect.

Barbara Baur Art
Lively, Textural, Vibrant
3404 Highland Dr.
Island Lake IL 60042
2944 S. Harlem #4
Riverside IL 60546

Monday, April 14, 2008

Library Tables

These two tables, just completed, were commissioned by the Algonquin Area Public Library. The tables feature library-themed paintings on the top. Actual pieces of library memorabilia are adhered to the painting and the entire surface is encased in a protective resin. This allows you to put the tables into actual use, as they are today. I would like to thank the Friends of the Library who funded the art project and library officials who spearheaded this project. See below for more photos (or click the Library Tables Topic), close ups and the a step-by-step description of how the tables were created.

In place

The two tables flank easy chairs in the main library at 2200 E. Harnish Dr.

Library Officials

Here are Vicki Tobias, Head Of Adult Services (left); Louis Nee, Assistant Administrative Librarian (standing); and Deborah Morton, Graphic Designer by the tables in the library. This team was responsible for making this project happen. I worked with this team throughout the process. They started this project, secured funding, received the necessary approvals, provided memorabilia for the tables and supplied great creative energy throughout the project. Funding for this project was provided by the Friends of the Library.

How the Tables Came to Be

Before the Library Tables existed, I designed and created similar tables but with a Corvette theme. I submitted a pair of them to the Algonquin Public Art Display program and was accepted. They were placed in the library for a one-year display. And they weren’t just shown, but used on an ongoing basis. As the end of the display period drew near, the librarians knew they would lose the tables that they saw and appreciated each day. So they hit upon the idea of commissioning two tables of their own.

Sample Studies

The first thing I did was meet with the team to get their ideas and thoughts on how they imagined their tables would look. They also began collecting small library memorabilia. Back at the studio, I created small studies of a few ideas that I could show them. There were 6”x6” each.

I first showed three studies. The first one shows an open book with a border of several smaller library items. This type of border would be on any of the design they choose. The cupola study represented the new library building. The third is a “stack o’ books,” sort of piled in a haphazard fashion. The team liked the open book, didn’t like the cupola as the main focus but to have that somewhere else in a table and wanted a stack of books, but more orderly.

I provided another study of the neatly stacked books and that was approved.

The Studio

To get a variety of book views, I piled high books throughout my studio. I used them to help formulate images that were later painted on the tabletops.

Getting Started

I started with blank boards, round, that become the canvases. They are about 24” inches in diameter. The first thing was to get the main image down. My first attempt of the open book, had the book too high on the “canvas” so I painted it lower.
The stack of books presented challenges in seeing “under” the book on top of it. Here is it in progress.
Ah, that’s better.

Working Together

I worked on both of the paintings at the same time. This helped me keep them consistent with each other and complementary as well. I set up two easels and went back and forth.

Painting the Rim

With the main images complete, I began the rim images. The rim features several tiny paintings of library scenes. I wanted many images but had to leave room for the memorabilia that would be applied in the next step.


The memorabilia was collected by the librarians and myself. I carefully selected the pieces to use and planned how they were going to be placed. Here the pieces are sealed and treated in preparation for the final steps. They are in their appropriate places where they will be adhered forever.

Resin Top

When everything is in place, I apply the trim to the edges. It is a little higher than the surface so that it holds the resin. The resin encases the entire painting and memorabilia forever. When set, the paintings become durable surfaces that can be used on an everyday basis. This image shows my loyal helper/husband helping with the resin. After it is applied, we have to be on watch for spills, overflows and outgasing.

Here are the resin tops, setting. I leave them alone for about 5 days.


The final action is to attach the legs, which are heavy-duty and rated for office furniture. I figure they will hold up for a long time, no matter what at the library.


The Finished Pieces!

Close Ups

Here is a series of shots showing the tiny paints and library memorabilia. The tiny paintings are of books, maps, computer equipment and other items you might find in your library.

The Sketchbook Project at Brooklyn Art Library (Video)

Update:  I just discovered that there was fire involving the sketchbooks in the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project in February, 2022 --...