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Euxoa Auxiliaris

Euxoa Auxiliaris is a limited edition book work I designed and published in 2012.

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Based on a lowly critter (Miller moth) with a lovely Latin moniker, Euxoa Auxiliaris, this project serves up some evidence that event peskiest of critters have their engaging moments.

In 2009 I created a one-of-a-kind book, Euxoa Auxiliaris, after discovering a what I always called a miller moth floating on the surface of my glue pot. Below are a couple pics of that first artists’ book.

Alicia Bailey Euxoa unique bAlicia Bailey Euxoa unique a

A few years later those of us on the high plains suffered through a bonanza crop of moths. It seemed that every waking hour for several weeks was filled with the visual blur of these brown pests, flapping about and banging into lights shades and screens. Agitated not only by the critters, but also because I found them so agitating – a level of annoyance verging on occasional anger, way out of proportion for the actual damage the moths caused (virtually none). Remembering the 2009 project, I opted to create a limited edition artists’ book of the same name in hopes that collecting specimens for the project (I needed about 60 dead moths) would distract me from my agitation, which it did.

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Following are detail process notes about the content, design and build of the second version, which was published in a limited edition of 12 copies.

The content:

Dead moths are a seasonal thing that tend to fall apart during handling and transport or disintegrate rapidly into unusable piles of insect dust. I put out a plea to friends and colleagues for help with gathering 60 dead moths, in a  variety of postures and in good enough shape to cast. It took some perseverance to get a good supply – I mean really, who volunteers to collect and handle with care dead moths? Happily fellow artists took up the challenge and the need was met. I discovered not only that Mottephobia (fear moths) is fairly common, but that I have friends that suffer from this phobia. So I included a brief mention of Mottephobia in the text for this book.

I also discovered other interesting factoids about miller moths. Several of these are printed on the outside of the box. Here’s a pic of the box with text, before it was finished with layers of shellac, acrylic paint, dry pigment and wax.

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Magnifying lenses pair well with insects so I decided to include a lens in the box lid. The lens is removable to allow for examining a magnified bit of wherever the box and viewer find themselves. Around the perimeter of the lid are words that further describe the moth genus and species.

Here’s a pic of the lid/lens components before assembly:

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I developed two additional texts about moths; one is presented on the verso side of each page in a sans serif font.
The other is presented on the recto side in a scripted font

“Spiraling to the source, a moth to flame.”

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I also included texts and images behind each of the cast moth specimens.

The illustrations are based both on direct observation and 19th century engravings found in the public domain.

After I figured out the general layout and design, and pared the text down, and down again, I cast the rest of the moths. This important and toxic step prevents the moths from disintegrating and disrupts any further biological activity from larvae or other organisms that may have found their way into the moth body cavity.

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To minimize the appearance of air bubbles trapped in the casting, I dipped each moth in a dilute solution of PVA. While they were all dripping dry, I made custom plexiglass trays to hold the background text, moth and resin. These were topped off with thin sheets of mica.

In a technique borrowed from the picture framing industry. Each page was created as a package, the package assembly began from the windowless side up, the components layered up and glued in place at each step. The windows were laser cut and the text laser etched.

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The thick, rigid pages are bound into book form with two strips of book cloth both glued in place and held with escutcheon pins; the covers are attached with the same straps – they extend into recessed areas on the inside of the covers.

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Each of the five pages were built up from the inside out, with a window cut out on one side for showcasing the individual moths, cast in epoxy. This design let me show off the moths.

The exposed surface of each page is book board covered with paste paper; the text then laser etched. The outside edges are wrapped with a neutral tone Buhgra paper with hand-applied pigment.

The spine edges had to be reinforced with wood strips as escutcheon pins would be used to hold the pages to the binding straps. The book covers are wenge wood, laser etched with pigment rubbed into the etched area, then waxed. The end papers are two-toned Unryu, with laser etched title and signature pages attached.

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The box was made with laser etched book board, first treated with shellac, then overpainted with layers of acrylic paint, followed up with a wax coat, assembled with book cloth at the corners. The detached lid holds a magnifying glass that was assembled in much the same way as the individual page packages.

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Copies of this book is held in the collections at Baylor University, University of Denver, Colorado College,Tufts University and various private collections. Archive and process materials for this work held by University of Denver, Penrose Library Special Collections. To check on availability you can check my online store.

Thanks for reading – hope you enjoyed.

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This time Is whatever I want it to be

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During the late nineties and early teens, I collaborated with another artist, Heidi Zednik. We’d met when we were both in residence at Dorland Mountain Art Colony. I had the entire run of a second floor studio – one half was my living quarters, the other my studio. Heidi was in residence as a writer – her cabin was dark, damp and cramped. Dorland is an odd place, where spontaneous socializing with others is discouraged, or so it was at the time. On a parcel of land deeded to the Nature Conservancy, Dorland was mostly off-grid; communications with the off-site world were done via a pay-phone located in a small room directly below my rooms. Each night I heard a woman’s voice, talking on that phone into the night. Her voice was a modulating hum, her words indistinguishable. Often I fell asleep listening to the sound of her voice.


Dorland Mountain Art Colony

About a week into our month long residency, there was a violent storm. I opened the door and three of the colony cats scurried in. After fighting to get the door closed again, the cats and I sat hunched on my bed – I had never experienced a storm like this, living as I had in land-locked Colorado. By first light the storm had passed. I went outside and saw evidence of the storm everywhere I looked. A large oak, uprooted by the wind, had blown down in the parking lot, landing on two of the vehicles parked there. As we residents stood around gawping at the damage, the social protocols of Dorland were set aside and  I met Heidi, the woman whose voice I’d heard talking into the night.

Heidi with bird on bamboo 1

Heidi holding one of the treasures from my aunt’s archive

So started my afternoon walks with Heidi. We meandered through nearby orange groves, the air heavy with citrus perfume, our walks often ending with a cup of tea in her dark writers cabin. As our time at Dorland neared its end, we agreed to meet up at other times, in other geographies. We considered various collaborative projects, then tossed them aside.

Heidi was traveling a lot; road trips across the country, a move back to her homeland, Austria, then settling in Asheville, North Carolina, where she purchased and improved a historic family cabin, the builders and owners of the cabin the only prior occupants. Meanwhile I inherited the archive of my great Aunt Ruth – a treasure trove of photographs, paper ephemera and biological specimens dating back several generations. You can read more about the Ruth Wheeler archive here.

Lovely and amazing desk

Selection of objects from my aunt’s archive

In the crawl space of Heidi’s newly purchased but historic cabin were trunks filled with photographs, many of a man seated on a tricycle far too small for him, and bits of paper with lists of words. Heidi learned that this house, which had been in the same family for generations, was home to a differently abled fellow named Stanley. Stanley grew up and stayed in that house into adulthood. He loved wagons, tricycles and making word lists.


Play – one of our collaborative pieces from the Stanley archive

Heidi lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina; I lived in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Having both come into a stockpile of ephemera around the same time, we struggled with wanting to use the ephemera but found it somehow too precious. Sharing the ephemera seemed like a way to begin. So we began mailing letters, photos, handwritten lists, old school notebooks etc. back and forth – each of us making our marks on these paper bits. We called this first collaborative project, which went on for several years, Notes from the Underground.

While we were working on a suite of works on engineering vellum that we called Flight Notes, Heidi mailed me a bit of paper on which she’d written

‘this time is whatever I want it to be’

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 Flight Notes

This phrase continues to resonate. In spring of 2018 I used it as basis for a double pamphlet structure I was experimenting with. This nine word sentence says enough – no need to embellish. So to flesh out the content of the book, I re-wrote the text in binary code. Here it is, page by page. It is now held by Special Collections at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

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Tile Paintings

This piece is available. Click here to purchase.

Tile Paintings as an altered book created from a book published by The Victoria & Albert Museum. The V&A Museum, established in 1852, is the world’s leading museum of art and design.

The museum’s opening followed the very successful Great Exhibition of 1851. Held in the purpose-built Crystal Palace and organized  by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, it was the first international exhibition of manufactured products. Its founding principle, and one which is followed to this day, was to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers.

To this end, the V&A publishes about 30 books annually, working jointly with Penguin Random House and Thames and Hudson. In addition to promoting research, knowledge and enjoyment of the designed world, the publications generate profit for the museum. Current publications range from a charming children’s story by Jack Townend (A Story about Ducks $8US) to a Vivienne Westwood Opus Manifesto limited edition ($2700US).

The Colour Book series (published from 1985-1989) includes titles such as Decorative End Papers (1985), Patterns for Papers (1987), Japanese Stencils (1988), Novelty Fabrics (1988) and Ikats (1989). I have altered two books from this series, Tile Paintings (from Series 1 of the Colour books), and Indian Floral Patterns (also from Series 1). You can read my post about Indian Floral Patterns here.

The books are a lovely size to work with (8 x 5.5 x .5); each of the pages richly colored and most with little or no text. Tile Paintings piece is a pairing of the published book with four tile shards that were gifted to me years ago by a fellow scavenger.

Four shaped holes (roughly following the shape of the shards) have been cut through the cover and all of the pages; in the recesses rest the shards. The shards are protected when the book is closed with mica laminated in between the first end page and first few pages of the text block.

With a mix of PVA and methyl cellulose, I laminated several pages together, leaving me  with four double-page spreads to work with. Hundreds of paper cut outs in various shapes and sizes (the cut outs based on the recessed shapes using full-color reproductions taken from the book’s pages) are collaged onto the individual pages, obliterating the text.  Areas in between the collaged bits are  hand painted with gouache and acrylic inks. Although the book stays closed on its own, there is an additional magnetic/ribbon closure.

I typically create a utilitarian single tray, drop-spine box for my artists’ books; for Tile Paintings I stepped up from the strictly utilitarian and created a box with the same color-reproductions lining the inside.

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Wildflower Identification

From the Lovely and Amazing series, this limited edition book uses images, artifacts and writings from the archive of my great aunt, Ruth Wheeler. Ruth led a rich and varied life, passionate about both nature and teaching (she was a biologist with a teaching certificate). She had a big impact on how my views of the world were shaped. Creating my own works from that which she left me has brought me moments of joy and a bit of sadness too.

The general parameters of Wildflower Identification were partially set using the Ideation Deck (developed by Julie Chen and Barb Tetenbaum).

Cards I drew from the Ideation Deck were the starting point for this book.
Cards I drew from the Ideation Deck were the starting point for this book.

Based on Hedi Kyle’s Blizzard Book (so called because Hedi developed the folded paper structure when a blizzard in Philadelphia kept her studio bound for a day), Wildflower Identification has 14 envelope pages created from one long sheet of Batik paper (imported from India).

I chose to work with this structure for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is my wish to present material non-linearly, allowing pages be removed and re-arranged. The content of the pages peeks out from that which contains them, reminiscent of plants peeking out, enticing a closer look. More obscurely, I chose this structure because it was developed by Hedi Kyle. I’m convinced that Hedi and Ruth would have enjoyed one another’s company had they ever met. Both have been role models for me. I am inspired by their excitement, curiosity and passion about their worlds, their lifelong willingness to share, educate and support those of us fortunate enough to have spent time with them.

Alicia Bailey and Hedi Kyle
Here I am with Hedi Kyle in Philly, 2013

The contents of the envelopes are cards, photographs or seed specimens adapted from Ruth’s archive. The three photographs are of teenage girls out on a seed and plant gathering adventure (taken on November 13, 1948),  scanned, cropped and re-printed.

Original photo and reprints
Original photo and reprints

The cards duplicate Ruth’s handwriting and are taken from her many teaching files – these specific to teaching ‘her girls’ about plant identification and cultivation.

Tracing from original writings (right), finished cards (left).
Tracing from original writings (right), finished cards (left).

Each book also contains three laminated seed and flower collections

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and an original page from Chester A. Reed’s Flower Guide published in 1916, also laminated.

Page ready for laminating. Each book has a different original page from the 1916 book.
Page ready for laminating. Each book has a different original page from the 1916 book.

These, along with a title card (colophon on reverse) make up the contents of the book.

Some of the joys of designing and creating this book include time spent going through Ruth’s collections of photographs and writings, teaching my studio assistant Stefanie how to fold the pages (this is now one of her favorite activities and she has her own project in development utilizing the Blizzard Book), working with a rich, purple Nigerian goat (from Harmatan), a luscious and tactilely rewarding material, and making pastepaper for the project while listening to Western Bird Calls.

I used pastepapers inspired by Lucinda Carr for the text cards.
I used pastepapers inspired by Lucinda Carr for the text cards.

Note: several years ago, Lucinda Carr (invited me to her studio for a day of pastepaper production. Lucinda was producing and selling some fabulous paste papers and I was eager to learn her work methods. We set up and when it was time to go to work she said “This is my secret for making great paste papers – I listen to bird call identification recordings while I work”.

As I’ve worked with these materials, I’ve had not unpleasant moments of wistful sadness (sentimental nostalgia?). Some of this is related to missing Ruth but there is something else this material stirs up I me.

I’ve developed quite an attachment, crushes of a sort, to these girls (a few of whom are pictured again and again, on other outdoor, educational adventures, in Ruth’s photo albums), my emotional response based solely on impressions of who they may have been, these girls who so appreciated nature, whose curiosity and willingness to explore was endlessly nurtured by Ruth. I feel envious sometimes that I wasn’t one of “Ruthie’s girls” – many of them remained lifelong friends of Ruth’s and went on to nurture other young women throughout their own lives.

As I ruminate on the adventures Ruth’s archives document I feel a yearning to connect to my younger, more able-bodied, less educated self. I long to experience once again lovely stretches of time when activities such as of going out, alone or with others, to identify wildflowers the only mission aside from eating a picnic lunch in a wooded grove, perhaps near a running stream.

An archive of process materials is housed at University of Denver, Penrose Library, Special Collections.

Process materials for Wildflower Identification
Process materials for Wildflower Identification


Wildflower Identification is out of print.

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Lovely and Amazing at University of Denver

I’m once again thrilled that the pieces I’ve created using from the archives of long-time Denver resident Ruth Wheeler will be on view in public spaces . . .

Lovely and Amazing is a series I began in 2006, is a tribute to Ruth Wheeler, beloved biology teacher, naturalist, youth advocate and feminist who lived and worked in north Denver for 70 years. Filled with curiosity, Ruth found the natural world a place of endless delight. She left behind a collection of biological specimens, notes and photographs which I have incorporated into a series of three-dimensional collages, boxes and book works. Wasp and Praying Mantis pictured below.

Nearly all the book works (and a few of the boxes) from the Lovely and Amazing series are on view at University of Denver’s library January 5 through March 29. The former Penrose Library, renamed Anderson Academic Commons after a complete remodel of the existing building, now houses curated exhibition areas throughout the three level structure. Thanks to the ongoing support of Special Collections librarian Kate Crow and Anderson Academic Commons exhibits curator Rebecca Macey, my work is on display on the main level, strategically located near the main entrance/coffee shop. The library’s generous open hours (24/7 during some weeks of the year) puts this at the top of the the list for Denverites and visitors looking to engage with interesting exhibits at odd hours.

On the top level of the library is the Gottesfeld Room where the bulk of their collection of artists’ books are stored in glass fronted cabinets. The room is open access during library hours but for hands on viewing of the books, visitors need to make an appointment with Special Collections, open from 9-5 Monday – Friday.


Although I’m not a University of Denver “Pioneer” (i.e. alum), I am pleased beyond measure that Penrose Library Special Collections has taken on the role of designated repository of my work in the book arts field.

Alicia Bailey process materials

What this makes possible in terms of display are exhibits such as the 2013 exhibit in Special Collections in the lower level of the library featuring the process materials of one of my edition works, Burning Me Open, alongside process materials from a series of works by Laura Wait (whose book works are also collected by Penrose Library Special Collections, University of Denver).

The books from this series were also been exhibited at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland in 2013.

Also on view at University of Denver are books of mine created in response to works in Lovely and Amazing, such as Mica (pictured below).

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Indian Floral Patterns

Indian floral patterns

I finished this book in 2011 as part of that year’s Book A Week project. I’m posting about it now because it is currently on view in the Bound and Unbound II exhibit at the University of South Dakota. My book is in great company in this exhibit – so many much admired book artists also have work in the show.

I haven’t seen the exhibition but the link to the online catalog is here, and the artist listing is here.

It is one of but a handful of altered books I’ve worked on, this one starting with Indian Floral Patterns, from Series I of the Victoria and Albert Colour Books.
I’ve also altered a second in the V&A Series – Tile Paintings from Series II.

Alicia Bailey Indian floral patterns pages

For Indian Floral Patterns I cut 3 round holes through the front cover and all of the pages. In the recesses formed by the holes rest four bone beads hand-carved in India. The beads are protected when the book is closed with mica laminated in between the first end page and first few pages of the text block. Circular paper cut outs in a range of sizes, picturing the same floral patterns depicted in the book, have been collaged onto the individual pages, obliterating the text.

The book is housed in a custom clamshell box and is available for purchase here.

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Alicia Bailey WIP Bliss5

Each year the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsors a fundraising event called the Snail Mail Paper Trail. Artists are sent two sheets of handmade paper, made at the Morgan, and asked to create an artwork from one or both of the sheets. The artworks are then auctioned at the October Gala. I’ve been participating since 2009 (see Snail) and Yearning for Morgan.

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My two sheets of paper (one sheet each of white and dark gray cotton abaca blend) arrived at the studio on the same day I opened a set of Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum’s Ideation Deck
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(if you don’t know about this wonderful tool for book related projects, you should . . . click here). I dealt the following cards, eliminating the paper category:
layout: in the form of a diagram, chart, or map
technique: high-tech (letterpress, offset, printmaking, etc
text: collaborate with writer or poet
image: none
Paper: provided
structure: innovative (tunnel book, magic wallet, carousel, flag book, etc.
color:single color
dissonant, traditional or historical, sculptural, impressionistic, poetic
Morgan 2013

The result is Bliss – an accordion fold book using a quote from Portia Masterson’s Bicycling Bliss.

Bliss is an enduring form of contentment derived from being fully present and practicing simplicity, moderation, self-nurture, reflection & conscious breathing.

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Granted the structure isn’t particularly innovative; I had originally thought this would be a tunnel book but had to redesign because the cut paper pages were too delicate.

After designing the pages in Adobe Illustrator,

Alicia Bailey WIP Bliss2the pages were lasercut

Alicia Bailey WIP Bliss3

and mounted between two translucent sheets of Japanese kozo paper, folded up as an accordion and cased in to a hard cover. Only one edge is attached, so the accordion will unfold to display the entire quote.

The book will be auctioned off at this years’ Annual Benefit and Silent Auction: Opposites Attract on October 5. There will be nearly 200 works from local, national and international artists; its worth a trip to Cleveland!

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Theia Mania

Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania13I’ve been slow to blog about this piece, which was conceived several years ago, with the edition completed in 2010 under the Ravenpress imprint. It seems to me that the only way to manage saying all there is to say about Theia Mania is to write first about the project concept and origins. I’ll write about the design and fabrication of the components in another post.
Theia Mania is a multi-layered project, fed by inspiration and experiences rooted in my childhood. The working title of the early stages was Magnetic Attraction. It began with the intention to create a book with text, imagery, sound and smell. I wanted to generate content from a broader point of view than my own, so used contributions from friends and strangers alike, along with what drives much of my studio work; a longing to become familiar with experiences outside my own.

Theia Mania was a term used by ancient Greeks to describe the cauldron of emotions rooted in eros, romantic love, a passionate longing and desire. The phrase translates to divine madness or madness of the Gods. This project was inspired by and presents stories of contemporary connections in both audio and written form, including the story of my parents’ meeting, marrying and raising a family.

Unsure of what the final form would be, my longtime collaborative partner, Heidi Zednik, and I invited those who had felt the prick of one of these darts or arrows to tell their story. The request was very broad; we asked those who had ever been dumbstruck by the gaze or attention of another to participate. Whether or not the connection was mutual, whether it lasted merely moments or evolved into a long-term connection, we were interested in that first current of connection and the awareness that something momentous was taking place.

Of the dozens who expressed interest, only 12 individuals completed the process. Their stories were collected as audio files and are the basis for both the text and audio portions of this piece. Some called my home phone and told their story to a machine (which lent some interesting pops and beeps to the recording), others met either Heidi or I in person and we recorded their story on a digital recorder, some created their own digital recording and transmitted it to me electronically, and one anonymous individual sent an email with the request that I read it if it were chosen for selection. Although outside the original parameters for the project, I did include this story. Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania04

The stories were transcribed and edited by Heidi. The edited text versions are presented as poems, each coupled with photographs selected for this project. The audio tracks were used as the basis for a musical composition, written and performed by sound producer Scott Waknin with guest saxophonist Bill Janssen. Also on the CD are two full-length narratives; the story of my parents (mentioned above) and the story of Emily and Brit, whose story I heard when Emily visited my gallery to buy gifts for Brit. In neither case was it possible to record their versions so I wrote the narratives and had each read and recorded (Wayne Gilbert and Mare Travathan performed the readings).

The piece includes a woven binding structure based on a Claire van Vliet design, Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania06a small recipe book made with a piano hinge, Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania03a sachet of herbs with a love potion recipe, Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania02an accordion book in a round aluminum tin Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania01and an audio compact disk & wrapper. Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania05All are contained in a rectangular aluminum hinged tin that is held closed with a handprinted sleeve. Alicia-Bailey-TheiaMania07Page imaging includes laser etching, color laser prints, color inkjet prints, black and white laser prints, paste papers, laser printed metal foil and relief printing. The main text is woven with tinted tyvek.

There are 35 signed and numbered copies of the entire set. An additional set of compact discs was created and gifted to each contributor. Those who contributed stories were also given an unbound copy of their story page.

You can watch a video about the piece on you tube.

To purchase a copy please contact Abecedarian Gallery, , 23 Sandy Gallery, or Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

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Burning Me Open


I have had such a wonderful time working on this book. The project uses materials that are visually and texturally so rich they were a joy to work with.


There are 18 copies in the edition, plus one A/P. It measures 5 x 3 x 2 3/4 inches (closed) and weighs 24 ounces. It is priced at $540.



It takes the text and imagery from my 2009 artists’ book of the same title. I wrote the original text; the original illustrations were oil-paintings, re-created as line illustrations for this project.


The book pages are transparent, and thus allow sections of several pages to be viewed at once. The pages are rigid and thick, designed to display well both flat or upright. When displayed upright, lighting can be adjusted for increased interplay between the line illustrations and the shadows they cast.



text selection from the book:

there is one who touches me so it burns

my hands open

at their feeling of

the length of me


The materials:


Peltogyne (Purpleheart) is a tree native to Central and South America, growing in the tropical rainforests, This beautiful wood is a light brown when freshly cut that then shifts towards a deep reddish-violet as it is exposed more to UV rays. As a hardwood, it sands down to a smooth hard surface and once waxed feels wonderful to touch. Purpleheart is an exotic lumber, this batch acquired from a US company that insists its suppliers follow Responsible Forestry Practices.



Copper is one of my favorite metals and this book uses both copper leaf and thin copper tape of the sort used in stained glass. When the book is closed, it is possible to see down through several layers. A reality of working with transparent materials and text is that portions of the text will inevitably be reversed. This I find distracting so my solution for this book was to block the bottom inch or so of each page with an opaque (in this case copper leaf) material. I also needed something to help hold the pages together. I had first tried drilling holes in all 4 corners of each page and using copper wire as rivets but the task was fussy, time consuming with the end result visually dissatisfying.


The solution I settled on was creating shapes of copper leaf with PMA mounted on each side. The PMA faces the acrylic pages and holds them in place until the copper tape can be wrapped around the outer perimeter of each page.


How we did it:


The rigid pages that make up the text block are constructed of  several layers, a sandwich (from the bottom up) of etched cast acrylic, copper leaf with PMA on both sides facing outward and a second piece of etched acrylic. This creates pages that are 3/16 inch thick, their edges are sealed with copper tape.

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The covers were planed to 3/8 inch thick, the cover image laser etched in, the title area chiseled out, then sanded and waxed.

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The recessed title label is laser printed copper leaf mounted on museum board.  The book is coptic sewn across the spine with dyed and waxed 4 ply linen thread, using yet another variation from Keith Smith’s well worn Sewing Single Sheets (Non-Adhesive Binding Volume IV).

WIP burning_me_open edition_0001


My thanks go to Shannon Perry, who created the illustrator files from a series of oil paintings I produced in 2007 and my studio assistants Stefanie Cornish and Jonathan Wiley. Without their help this project might still be in the idea stage


Copies of this book are available for purchase from Abecedarian Gallery.

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Privileges and Discipline

Disciplines Privileges 5Disciplines Privileges 1

This book re-purposes pages from a collaborative project I worked on when I was actively involved (as visitor/volunteer) with a now  defunct therapeutic community (Cenikor).



Therapeutic communities are drug-free environments in which people with addictive (and other) problems live together in an organized  and structured way in order to promote change and make possible a drug-free life in the outside society. The therapeutic community forms  a miniature society in which residents, and staff in the role of facilitators, fulfill distinctive roles and adhere to clear rules, all designed to  promote the transitional process of the residents.


Disciplines Privileges 4




The original project was a game board made of sixteen 8 inch square paintings, each painting referencing an aspect of the TC system of  privileges and disciplines. Dissatisfied with some of the paintings, I dissembled the game board years ago and this week am turning it into  an accordion style book, using some of the phrases that used to be so familiar to me but now have lost their resonance.


Disciplines Privileges 2

The text was imaged via laser etching directly onto the canvas paintings, the pages hinged with acrylic tinted tyvek. The case cover is paste-cloth, the end pages paste paper.

Disciplines Privileges 3

The Colorado based Cenikor was closed in 2004; its demise due to internal abuses of residents and staff of the sort the program was  designed to help clients recover from. With three facilities still operating, Cenikor’s 24-36 month program is one of the toughest TC’s to  graduate from. A clear majority of the residents are there by court order, few are able to successfully transition into drug and crime free  lives.


My awareness of this particular TC began when my older brother was given an opportunity to go through the Cenikor program as an alternative to prison. Cenikor hosted a weekly open house, when approved family members and friends were allowed to come visit for two hours every Saturday evening. I remember many a Saturday driving over, listening to the local jazz station’s Saturday night blues hour en route.

It was tough watching the slow, agonizing and too often unsuccessful process of addicts struggling against odds so clearly stacked against them; working to re-build their lives on crumbling foundations, so much already lost to them. It was tough watching the visiting families, my own included, holding on to shreds of hope that their loved one would be one of the few to ‘make it’.

My volunteerism was limited to helping some of the residents apply for, and happily be granted, amnesty from outstanding IRS debts, thus helping to eliminate one of the many anxieties living responsibly entails.

This is taken from the frontspiece of the book:

In 1967, a group of inmates in a Colorado state penitentiary, who were committed to breaking the cycle of substance abuse and the criminal behavior that supports their addictions, established Cenikor, a residential therapeutic community.

Therapeutic communities typically employ a system of phases, privileges and disciplines  for their residents (clients) in order to promote change and make possible a drug-free life in the outside society. The therapeutic community forms a miniature society in which residents, and staff in the role of facilitators, fulfill distinctive roles and adhere to clear rules, all designed to promote the transitional process of the residents.

In 2004 the Colorado facility, the original Cenikor, shut down operations following the suspension of the nonprofit group’s license by the Colorado Department of Human Services because of alleged improprieties.

Complaints included the manufacture of methamphetamines on site, prostitution, intimate involvement of staffers with female clients and welfare fraud.  
Three other Cenikor facilities, in Texas and Louisiana, still operate.