LXV – artist book of Stephen Crane’s poem

Long time no post! We’ve been traveling, and I’ve been Instagramming, and … well, honestly, inspiration has been sparse on the ground. Anyway, remember this artist book I was working on? I mostly finished it shortly thereafter, but never posted any photos. I had a few binding chores left on the last couple in the edition, and I worked on that recently … which reminded me that I had never properly photographed it. Here are some images from the book.

A variable edition of 12 manuscript books; 4 are still available. The books are small at 1-5/8 in x 3 in x 1/2 in, and lettered in gouache with a metal pen.

The structure is a modified version of a flat-piano-hinge non-adhesive book described by Keith Smith in Non-Adhesive Bindings.
The clean, strong imagery of this text appeals to me. Indeed, the visuals were so strong that I endeavored to make the letters themselves illustrate the poem, which describes so beautifully the preciousness of words as well as our tenuous hold on them.
The text:
Once, I knew a fine song,
—It is true, believe me,—
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as sand
Thrown between me and the sky.
LXV artist book in its wrapper 
LXV artist book, opening 3
LXV artist book, opening 4
LXV artist book, opening 5

My latest artist book edition

I realize that, although I posted process photos of my last book edition, I never did post photos of the book itself. (I forgot to photograph the entire edition before it dispersed. Gah!)

Umm, I seem to have misplaced those photos. But … I do have more process photos. As always, click on the image for a closer look. Next time, photos of a completed book or two. Promise.

A stack of lettered accordion text blocks, ready for their covers.
Various parts of the books, spiraling clockwise from top left: some folded text blocks and their end sheets; a pair of covered-board covers; a standing text block with end papers; a put-together book (partially shown); a text block being held open with a micro-spatula; 3 weaving strips; a homemade scoring tool, a needle punch, and a bone folder; another pair of covers; a couple of templates; a stack of unfolded end sheets under a template; 4 covers which have been laced together and are ready to be laced to their text blocks.
Lacing the cover to the text block. I’m using a micro-spatula and a tool made to pull elastic through a sewn casing.

New artist book

I’ve been steadily working on a new edition of 12 little books. Fun stuff! And I can’t believe I mailed off 7 of them today without taking photos. Hmph. When I know they’ve arrived safely, I’ll post some in-process photos and as well as photos of the books I have here. In the meanwhile, a couple of details …

Isn’t this simply luscious? One of the frustrations/pleasures of working  on an edition is seeing scraps like this come — and go. This sheets appeared when I pasted up scraps of painted Arches Text Wove onto another scrap of ATW to make closure loops for the wrappers. It was so beautiful on its own, I hated to cut it down into 1/4″-inch strips. 

One day I’m going to finish the paper mosaics I’ve begun with all the irresistibly beautiful little bits of paper that I can never bear to throw out.

Even though I’m not going to show the book today, I will show one in-process photo.  The structure is a flat-piano-hinge binding from Keith Smith’s, Non-Adhesive Binding.  Threading a flat strip of Canson Mi-Tientes through the folded tabs was driving me bonkers, until I located this loop turner in my sewing supplies. I finally worked out a method of guiding the strip through the loops with the aid of the loop turner and a micro-spatula. The structure requires that this be done three times for each book, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now.

In case you’re wondering about the scale … the book is 3 inches tall and 1-5/8″ wide. (See how I mostly got rid of the lime green cutting mat that clashed with this little book? But you can still see the 1-inch grid in places.)

Exchange books 2017

Series of 8 artists books combining paste paint, stylized photos and calligraphy.

Madly working on a series of exchange books to be mailed by Friday. Why oh why is it always a push? But I know why. For the past 3 months, no idea has been good enough … until it had to be.

Julie Chen: Reading the Object

Today’s mail brought such a treat! It’s a catalogue raisonne of Julie Chen’s artist books. Just in case you don’t know what that is (I didn’t), it’s “a descriptive catalog of works of art with explanations and scholarly comments”. I have always admired Julie Chen’s work, and was so excited to learn about this publication.

Catalogue of Julie Chen's work, published by Mills College Press, 2016
Catalog of Julie Chen’s work, published 2016

Reading the Object: Three Decades of Books by Julie Chen
Published by the Mills College Center for the Book and Flying Fish Press, 2016
Catalogue raisonne of Julie Chen and Flying Fish Press. With essays by Kathleen Walkup and Sandra Kroupa, and commentary by Julie Chen. Designed by Julie Chen. Printed offset. ISBN 978-0-9648938-9-4. $30.

It can be ordered by clicking on the link on this Mill College web page.

The publication of the book relates to two exhibits of her work, one that was held this spring entitled “Reading the Object: A Decade (or so) of Books by Julie Chen”, and one coming up February-June 2017 at the University of Washington entitled “Every Memoment of a Book: Three Decades of Work by Julie Chen”. Some of the text was written by Julie herself, but there are also essays written by others about Julie’s work. And, of course, the pictures of the works themselves. As Sandra Kroupa writes, “While her genius for structures is universally acknowledged, Chen’s facility with text is what holds students’ attention. Her structures are the initial draw, but her insightful, intense texts seal the deal.” Yes.

We just returned from a visit to Iceland yesterday, so a full and careful reading is not in the cards for today or tomorrow. But it’s something to look forward to!

A Show of Hands

I was so privileged to attend the annual calligraphy conference, held this year in Swannonoa, NC, and named “A Show of Hands”. The week-long class I attended was team-taught by Rosie Kelly and Pamela Paulsrud, and it was WONDERFUL. They called it “Legerdemain,” meaning “sleight of hand”. We painted, made marks with all kinds of tools and paints, listened to poetry and Pam’s flute, talked about the creative process, and made books. I made two finished, or mostly finished, books. The first was a book with a favorite poem that you’ve seen here before. Then I decided I was putting too much on myself to try to do finished work. So my second book was more of a sampler of all the techniques we tried, and the text consisted mostly of notes on the process. Here are some images of that book.

Legerdemain - the cover. A handmade Liberty paper with collaged bits of paste-painted paper.
Legerdemain – the cover. A handmade Liberty paper with collaged bits of paste-painted paper.
Legerdemain - the title page. The lettering grew out of some mark-making exercises.
Legerdemain – the title page. The lettering grew out of some mark-making exercises.
Legerdemain - pages 2 and 3. Penciled notes, Dr. Martin's white ink, I think.
Legerdemain – pages 2 and 3. Penciled notes, Dr. Martin’s white ink, I think.
Legerdemain, pages 4-5. More paste painting, penciled notes, a skewed sheet, a turned-up corner and some ways to marry the pages.
Legerdemain, pages 4-5. More paste painting, penciled notes, a skewed sheet, a turned-up corner and some ways to marry the pages.
Legerdemain - pages 6 and 7. More of the same, plus lettering over lettering.
Legerdemain – pages 6 and 7. More of the same, plus lettering over lettering.
Legerdemain, pages 8 and 9. A penciled list of tools, techniques and materials, and more paste-painting.
Legerdemain, pages 8 and 9. A penciled list of tools, techniques and materials, and more paste-painting.
Legerdemain, pages 10 and 11. I love the windows, especially with embossed frames.
Legerdemain, pages 10 and 11. I love the windows, especially with embossed frames.
Legerdemain, pages 12 and 13. A line that Rosie made, and some lettering experiments on paste paper.
Legerdemain, pages 12 and 13. A line that Rosie made, and some lettering experiments on paste paper.
Legerdemain, pages 14 and 15. Some recurring shapes and placements.
Legerdemain, pages 14 and 15. Some recurring shapes and placements.
Legerdemain, pages 18 and 19. I love how some lines continue across the gutter even when they weren't planned ahead of time.
Legerdemain, pages 18 and 19. I love how some lines continue across the gutter even when they weren’t planned ahead of time.

The exchange book — completed

Well, actually I have a little left on the 9th and 10th books: 1 set of covers and 2 slip cases. Soon.

Letters Inspire II - standing open
Letters Inspire II – standing open
Letters Inspire II - in slipcase
Letters Inspire II – in slipcase
Letters Inspire II - open upright
Letters Inspire II – open upright

Annual exchange book in progress

2016-02-03-exchange-book-in-progressI didn’t want to post this until other seven members of our annual artist book exchange book got see theirs in person. I think nearly everyone has hers, so here’s an in-progress shot of the edition (or is that a series? — they’re all manuscript books, individually lettered) in progress. Making these books satisfied the magpie in me — plenty of shine in the gouache and book cloth.

Artist books – my collection

I had fun organizing all the artist books I own — at least, all of the ones I can find at the moment that aren’t out on loan, and only one of any editions I’ve made. And I included a few trade bindings of interest. Most of them fit into these three precious boxes.

A box of larger artist books made by me or by those I've exchanged with.
A box of larger artist books made by me or by those I’ve exchanged with.
Two boxes of small artist books made by me or by those I've exchanged with.
Two boxes of small artist books made by me or by those I’ve exchanged with. And a few trade bindings.