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.
I'm finishing up a small set of manuscript books begun last year. I still had a couple of text blocks to do, and this sheet was done to get back into the space of these letters. Although the book lettering is being done with Speedball B series nibs, I used a brush pen for this sheet, and it was so enjoyable I rather wish I had done the series with a brush.
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.
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!
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.
Well, actually I have a little left on the 9th and 10th books: 1 set of covers and 2 slip cases. Soon.
I 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.
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.
As I mentioned yesterday, I'll be teaching a manuscript book class this winter and spring -- 8 weeks, mostly weekly but with some breaks. A few days ago, as an aid to outlining the curriculum, I decided to go through the steps of making the simplest manuscript book. Simple is not so easy for me, but I did make this book entirely in an evening, from start to finish.
What was simple: First, the size of the book is mostly dictated by the grain and dimensions of a parent sheet of Strathmore charcoal paper. Second, I wrote with a pencil. This simplified matters when I wrote the wrong word on the penultimate page of the text block. Third, I chose a relatively short text. Besides making the lettering process shorter, it allowed the entire text block to be only 16 pages long. That meant that I could have 4 sheets folded together to make a single signature, the simplest codex structure. Fourth, I chose to make a soft binding and sew it along with the text block. Fifth, I chose the simplest end paper -- a single sheet which covers the inside of the cover -- and I didn't choose to paste it down to the cover.
What I could not bear to make too simple: The pages are laid out based on the Von de Graaf canon of medieval page design. I guess would have simpler just to randomly choose where to put my lettering, but I would have hated the result.
Click on the image for a closer look. The open manuscript lies on top. Below that is an offcut of the end paper and the cover paper -- a piece I painted and wadded up and painted and drew on in a Laurie Doctor workshop. Below that is the layout template based on the Von de Graaf canon. Below that are my notes which set out the division of the text amongst the pages, and some trial lettering which loosely served as copy fitting.
Even a simple manuscript book has a lot of steps. But it's satisfying.