Thursday, February 13, 2014

Making a new kind of book...for me

As someone with the time to investigate variations on a theme (thanks to a broken foot), I've found myself staying up late watching craft tutorials by women who make what are called mini-albums.
They're called mini because they're so much smaller in dimension than regular sized scrapbooks, which all seem to be 12by12 inches. The minis are almost any size and seem to come in all dimensions.

I have a lot of paper, both commercial and painted...and handmade and I'm looking for ways to tell stories visually with really economical real estate. High-rise sort of things. In fact, I've been working badly on a scrapbook version of my MFA thesis with little success or interest primarily because I'm not using the material in any innovative way, not really. Also, my scrapbooking skills are crap. Who knew one could have scrapbooking skills?

Of course, a good page is all about design: main focal point, harmonic colors, interesting composition, etc., but I'd been slopping paint on the large (12by12) pages with so much speed I had to wonder if I wasn't afraid of taking my time.

So when I stumbled across the mini-albums and realized just how much material: photos and writing and patterning, etc., one could get into a relatively small place, I was hooked.

I guess it's been almost two months (synchs well with broken foot) since I started the process of learning such things as the "hidden hinge" vs. the "stacked deck" binding approaches --- both are pretty cool--- and how to put together a three and four-page album (stick with coordinated paper) plus discovering which youtube tutorials are worth watching and re-watching, I'm turning into a reasonable student of the art.

Putting together "pages" (which I'd think of as signatures) requires a lot of thinking ahead, as does how the one page might work with the two or three others.
It's very easy to screw up as well, and there goes a whole set of nice paper. My first one wound up with so many mistakes, I had to take most of it apart for recycling. The second one was structuring correct, though very messy. I'd used the ugliest scrapbooking paper from my stash of not much paper and turned out quite an ugly little book. But by then I was busy figuring out the binding mechanism, so beauty didn't matter.

This week I finished an album with photos of dog, Lille and sister and brother-in-law, who helped me through the foot surgery. If I can wheel the package downstairs, I can get it in the mail!

I have one photo and here it is.

 and my foot!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Take back the blog

Have you ever been stalked by an ex-beau? Someone from so long ago and from a relationship that should have been pleasantly transient but which ended, at least for me, with a sour taste and a sense of embarrassment? The kind of affair you really don't want to revisit much less rekindle?

Well, I have and it ended, I hope, when the jerk started lurking on this blog, leaving the kinds of comments that made me think I had a really insightful reader. So insightful that at one point, I wrote back to ask "Do I know you?" Well, yes, I had and the worst of my suspicions were confirmed. What a double disappointment. There was no one new reading me and this self-centered and dishonest salesman had reappeared...again. in new media. So I quit blogging.

Well, I posted new work and brief announcements, but the comfort and confidence I'd enjoyed blogging here was literally shut down in such a way that I could easily avoid confronting the matter. It was a lot like facing the mistakes and petty abuses of the long ago past: dating someone with a girlfriend; not reporting or slapping an English professor with a roving hand; rolling over and playing dead.

I don't know how this blog will change, but I'm taking it back, at least for the duration. I broke my foot on Christmas Day and will be home-bound for the Winter quarter with myself and my dog and my inability to write.

This time, I will not let the lurker win.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bon Voyage Little Books!

Copies of "Rowing Boat" set sail from my local Post Office Saturday morning. Got to fill out several customs forms! I'll be curious to learn how quickly these arrive at their Italian, Canadian, Australian, Californian, Ohio and New York destinations!
This was fun, though I focussed so entirely on structure and the desire to play/work with the sculptural or object side of the matter, the book itself doesn't seem to count.
Goodbye little books!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Artist book for client

I'm so lucky to occasionally get a request to make someone a one-of-a-kind book. This one, almost completed, is for a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The husband, a true romantic, has crafted a poem from a batch of love letters the couple exchanged back in the early 1960s when they were courting. I've taken the poem and some pictures from that time (of the couple) and put them together in a flag book. As usual, I struggle with execution and waste. I have to make the book over and over (because I can't seem to measure and visualize). This is the final. It's close but I think if I could do it again (and why not?) I'd make it a lot messier. Not knowing the couple (everything's been done via email), I'm not convinced they'd like that.  I would like the structure to be as romantic as the impulse, as the lovers themselves.

Rowing Boat Update

Group 7! I was excited to open my first book from Gene Epstein a few days ago. A lovely take on "Delicate." Thanks, Gene. Will you post a photo of your book here?

I've been pondering and avoiding the "Rowing Boat" Book Art Object project for months now caught up on the boat structure. I know I'm missing something obvious, but after trolling for boat making directions--- finding cute ones for real row boats and origami instructions for boat-like structures--- and making clumsy clay and foam core structures, I've determined to follow my attraction to the abstract notion of a vessel. This decision is based on the stash of floral wire and wrap I found in a drawer and the lessening of frustration experienced while making these. On the spiritual front, it is pleasurably meaningful to shape them between the palms of my hands.

My next step is to tear into the old journals. In doing this, I find passages that are worth "sending out to dry" but which don't work with the original structure, which is a coptic bound book. Doing this means cutting up pages and getting any narrative out of order. Instead, I'm counting on my old favorite, the meander, so that lucky readers will get one page, front and back. I find I do want to send even a fragment of a story rather than the rain of words I thought would "do."

The covers are chipboard covered with paste paper scraps from the yards of same I've been making this summer.

More and more soon. They are coming.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 New project "Rowing Boat" artist book

Rowing Boat

So far, I’ve “researched” rowing boats, discovering that the simple row boat is not the only option: I’ve got kayakes, canoes, dinghies, skulls and probably even more. Or not. I see that most of those just mentioned depend on paddling, not rowing.

At the beginning of every project, I am at my most literal. Abstractions grow later. In my sketch book, I’m teaching myself to draw rowboats, borrowing heavily from photographs and instructional drawing books. With the Art Institute’s library within easy reach, that’s a lot of instruction.

The writing component is trickier for me just now because I don’t have a text of any relevance handy, which means writing one. I trust this will emerge from the freewriting and “coincidences” bound to reach me as I ponder the project. In fact, I recently took a workshop in developing intuition through imagination (see and one of the exercises involved describing, in great detail, a boat. This exercise alone could be a small artist book. It well may be.

When I’m not pondering the images or the text, I’m playing with the structure. If the boat is in movement, I want a book that moves. One of my favorite structures is a “meander” book, a folded sheet that yields 32 pages. There are pivotal pages that literally turn the book around. I’ve always wanted to focus movement on those pages.

Finally, there’s an idea/practice I’m committed to which involves using, as material, pages from the many many journals I’ve kept since 1967.  I want to re-use, recycle and re-invent these pages before I die or have to throw them away because they won’t fit into my cell at the old folk’s home.  They are, mercifully, no longer precious. They have become the sea upon which my little boat floats.

Here are some pages from my sketchbook.

Group 7 “Rowing Boat”

Friday, February 3, 2012

I must be doing something right

Up until this ferocious Winter Quarter, I would have said a successful class was one without friction. After this week's temper tantrum and foot stamping (all the way to Dean's office), essentially the fifth (counting my own) in less than a month, I am left grinning. With so much passion about, I must be doing something right. After all, the goal this time is for me to teach my students how to think. Given the wails of protest and confusion, I might as well be midwifing 25 individual births.

But yesterday, as I headed in with a "stomach," I was shocked to be greeted by several smiling faces and possibly sincere greetings. Had they all gotten laid the night before?

Thursday is Right Brain Day, which is always fun. We did an intuitive exercise and then, again to my surprise, they all wanted to discuss it as a group and share their writing and insights. Many had taken the descriptive part of the exercise to a different level by creating poems. The temper girl, her defenses rivaling the US Dept. of Defense, provided great insight into nearly everyone's readings. The students at this school have a remarkable ability to support each other. It's a bit of grace that seems to glow from within. No one seems to mention it or brag about it; I hope the larger administration never notices it, because it's truly lovely just the way it is.

Maybe temper flameouts, confrontations and anger is not a recipe for failure. Maybe, like pepper, it's a simple ingredient.