Its one of those summer seasons when the Miller moths are abundant. It makes me think of the 2002 exhibition “The Miller Family Story” by Sandy Lane (see photo). For her series Lane used the aggravating presence of Miller moths in her home and studio as a catalyst to a body of work that included painstakingly painted and mounted months recessed into cut away areas of her paintings.
My project was triggered by a moth who landed on the wide expanse of PVA in an open gluepot and become mired but not submerged. I removed it and slid it onto a circle of mica. The combination of moth/mica/circle became the dominant element in the book Euxoa Auxiliaris.
To begin, I collected death moths from around my studio, some with wings folded, others with wings more outspread. I stuck them with insect pins to a piece of foam core and coated them liberally with Rhoplex (which is similar to an acrylic gloss medium). I scanned and printed an antique sheet of various types of moths onto a lightweight textweight paper and found some two inch clear circular boxes. After determining a page size, I cut 4 pieces of poplar wood to the final page dimension and drilled a 2 inch hole in each.
Each wooden page is covered with some scrap from Cave Paper. On one side of each page the circle cut out is left exposed, on the other side it is covered with a lightweight board to which the inkjet moth images are laminated. Before mounting onto the wooden page, the inkjet print is protected with a sheet of mica. Using wet adhesives with mica doesn’t work well because it isn’t porous; contact adhesives aren’t transparent enough. So I use a PMA two-sided film to laminate the mica to the inkjet prints.
The moths are arranged and glued with PVA to the mica, the clear box placed over them and glued into place. A paste made of ebony sawdust and Rhoplex is used to fill the gap between the wood and plastic. The text block is held together with a variation of what I call the Mongolian Binding, a rigid page binding technique that works well with thick pages. I saw a variation of this used on a book by Jana Sim at Abecedarian Gallery called My Doors (see picture).
The tapes for Jana’s book are leather; I used laminated bookcloth instead as I wanted less bulky tapes.
The covers are book board covered with lightweight Nepalese paper on which on image of a swarm of Miller moths is printed. The circular title label is recessed into the front cover board, printed on paper and protected with a sheet of mica. The text is laserprint transferred to each page. On the outside pages, black and white laser printed images are transferred to the top, bottom and fore-edge pages of the text block.
Above details the structure and handling of materials. Now here is a bit about how the text and other content of the book was developed. I started reading about the moths that I’ve always referred to as Miller moths. Using the information I found about these predictably fascinating pests I wrote a snippet less scientific than the sources I used, along with a second snippet consisting only of a string of words, the two writings kept separate by use of different typefaces and placement. The text for the book follows:
Like the dusty flour covering a miller’s garb, wings covered with fine scales easily displaced, eyes, pale colored, reflect light, appear to glow.
In army-like groups they crawl across fields or highways, migrating towards the mountains.
Sleeping by day, they awake at dusk. Thinking all light is the moonlight they use to guide their nocturnal journeys westward, artificial lights confuse their insect response.
During this moist year, they have lingered here, flapping about in my cold coffee, or taking a fatal dip in an open glue pot.
Spiraling to the source a moth to flame
The book measures 3.5×2.5×2.25 inches and was finished on July 5, 2009