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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My dad loved to make things. My dad loved my mom. He liked making things to tell her how much he loved her. Every year for many years, on Valentine’s Day, he made her a piece of jewelry with a heart motif.
I made a book that holds many of the hearts he made her.
Most of the pages are made with wood I saved from his wood shop after he died. He used both cherry and poplar for instrument soundboards (his making of harpsichords as a vocation was started when he made another love gift for my mother – a harpsichord. That story is expanded on in my project Theia Mania). He planed down wooden planks to about 1/8 inch and edge joined them for the soundboards. He saved even the smallest bits of leftover materials, so when he died there were several lengths of soundboard scrap.
The wooden hearts he made from alderwood and ebony, again byproducts from the harpsichords. Many instrument makers buy pre-made keys but my dad made them himself. He shaped ebony, poplar and basswood for the keys; he also routed out the rosettes (of rosewood) that appear on the front edge of the keys. Some of the keyboards were reversed – the main keyboard (white keys) of ebony, the sharps and flats poplar.
To accommodate the thickness of the hearts, I suspended each heart with a length of thread in between two layers of wood with identical windows cut out (yes, I used the laser cutter for this, and to create the sewing holes in one step).
He wasn’t a particularly innovative jewelry designer but had silversmithing skills and tools and often made simple pieces of jewelry, again for my mother. Committed to principles of re-purposing long before those principles reached the trendy status they now how, he melted down silver coins to create jewelry. Most of wood hearts were also wrapped with a silver braided wire, or had metal embedded into them.
Later he started messing around more with epoxy resins and one of the last hearts he made is a swirl of color shaped into a heart.
I always enjoy these times of working with the same materials he used, often using the very tools he used. This book exemplifies the negative aspect of my allegiance to finishing a book each week in that the level of craft is not up to the standard set by my father.
This book measures 3 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 3 5/8 deep and has 9 pages, plus 2 covers
My father (Tom Bailey) and his aunt, the woman who raised him (he was orphaned at 9), were both born in September. He was born on September 15, 1929 and died in 2006. His aunt Ruth was born on September 23, 1899 and died in December of 1998.
I don’t know if it is related to their birth dates, but over the years I’ve noticed that thoughts of them both surface more in the fall than during other times of year. I like to think about them both. They are the two in my family whose personality traits my own are most akin to. Intelligent, educated, filled with curiosity, fascinated with the physical world, and introverted. Ruth was passionate about the organic structure of the world she knew and studied biology. Tom studied the physical structure of objects and relationships between them and became a mechanical engineer. I find solace in the handling and manipulation of objects and became an artist. I have an archive rich with objects belonging to them both and often include items from those archives in my personal studio work.
As most parent/child relationships are, my relationship with my father was a complex one, and one that shifted throughout the years. He knew me most of my life. I say most of because he suffered from dementia in has later years and wasn’t at all sure who I was for the last bit.
He, like me, was socially awkward, and although he had a brilliant and creative mind, was filled with self-doubt. He relished his solitude and appreciated the life of experience and sensation as well as the life of the mind. He was filled with emotions he seemed fearful of expressing.
Ruth, whether by character or social constraints of the time, also had difficulty expressing the love she felt. I think of my dad as emotionally tone-deaf. Do I think of myself in this same way? Sometimes.
So this week I made a book/assemblage from an astronomy book that moved from Ruth’s house to mine when she died. The unbound pages are collaged boards; recessed areas hold images of both Ruth and my father overlaid with mica. Each page has two circular cut outs that allow them to fit over round wooden assemblages attached to the inside covers of the book. The book is primarily, but not entirely, built from the original Astronomy book. The assemblages built with items and materials from both Ruth and Tom’s archives.
A couple weeks ago I got my hair cut at a small salon in Grand County, Colorado. On impulse i asked the owner if she would save me the hair clippings for a few days, which she did. So I thought I’d make a book called Grand Hair. Instead I made a book called Hair 2001.
the last edition book, Burning Me Open, uses shapes of copper leaf applied with PMA to plexiglass. I mis-calculated and for every book an extra shape was cut out. I saved those extra shapes – eighteen 3×1 inch shapes of copper leaf all ready to put into a plexiglass page sandwich. Now what . . .
I decided to combine these two elements, copper foil & hair. Why? Copper is so beautiful and easy to work with. Hair is so creepy but tantalizing. A couple of years ago I saw a piece by Mia Semingson called Memorabilia” – a fixed lid of clear plexiglass covers a box stuffed with her own hair; the box then case bound into a cover, the sides of the box covered with suede. This book of mine is quite different, but the thing Mia’s work inspired is the creation of a queasy feeling that comes with handling a box of human hair, even when the actual tactile experience is that of touching a very different feeling material – plexiglass. So it is the thought of touching all that hair that is disturbing. On a strictly visual level, the hair in Memorobilia, made of countless layers of rich protein strands, is interesting and worthy of lengthy appaisal. In short, I appreciate both the visual effect and the queasy feeling interacting with her books creates.
The method of assembly and binding I used with the Burning Me Open is a good fit. Using the PMA that is on the copper leaf to hold each of 2 plexiglass pieces together. Pictured right the foil is affixed to one side of the plexiglass. Bits of hair were put onto that surface, the release paper pulled off and the other piece of plexi placed on top. The edges are then taped together with copper foil.
Here are some predictions (paraphrased), the authors made for the year 2001:
According to Coiffure Masculine, by 2001 75% of the male population will be wearing wigs.
Not, however, to conceal baldness, but as fashion accessories.
These wigs will not be a camouflage for natural hair.
On the contrary, they will be worn with great personal pride.
Wigs for different occasions will appear on the fashion scene
Wigs for work. Wigs for dancing. Wigs for dress.
It is predicted that by the year 2001, baldness will be obsolete.
These predictions I’ve prefaced with the questions, also paraphrased from the book:
By the year 2001, will a lunar hippie protest by means of a closely-shaved scalp?
A balding Astro flash a pair of false eyebrows to offset a full magnetic wig?
The 6 rigid pages consist of laseretch plexiglass, hair, copper foil and copper tape, bound in a variation of an across the spine coptic style first introduced to me by Keith Smith and found in his book Smith’s Sewing Single Sheets. They are sewn with heavyweight linen twine. The covers are of Cocobolo wood that I get from Bell Forest Products. This is a wood that is too oily to glue well, but for sewn on covers it works very well. Those same oily properties means this wood polishes beautifully. The covers of Hair 2001 are waxed – smooth and silky to the touch.
As an aside, Cocobolo wood also has a strong odor, a very pleasant tangy floral order, sort of like my shampoo. The front cover has a window cut out, into which a sandwich of mica, plexiglass and hair is inset.
I am well pleased with this book. The size (The book measures 3 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 1 5/8 closed) and weight of it feel good in the hands. It is visually enticing and well constructed. The content makes me chuckle.
Coming up in October is the fourth Annual Fundraising Auction at the Morgan Paper Conservatory in Cleveland, OH. Each year they invite artists to create a piece using paper made at the Morgan. This year is the second time I’ve participated in this fundraiser – The Snail Mail Paper Trail. Snail Mail because they mail sheets of paper to any artist who wants to participate. Paper from the Morgan is a treat to work with – they know how to make paper at the Morgan! This year I received 3 sheets, in two different tones.
The first one I sent, last year, is blogged about here.
This year I created a book utilizing an alphabet I created several years ago – the alphabet is pictograph based, rather than phonetic. I like to think of it as a good general purpose alphabet and is always expanding in that I’m always creating new elements for this alphabet. So it is an unfinished alphabet, or rather a work in progress.
The title, Yearning for Morgan, operates on more than one level. It is literal – a selection of yearning alphabet symbols presented in a book created for the Morgan. But also, when I think about places like the Morgan, places I imagine to be rich with ongoing projects, like-minded artists working during residencies, workshops and exhibitions, I am filled with a yearning to be in one of those places. Denver doesn’t have such a place. This goes even deeper; at times, I yearn for a different life.
And, buried even more deeply, is my yearning for my old Morgan mare, Reba. Reba was the last horse I owned and I sold her several years ago. She was a great horse, and I always assumed I’d get another Morgan mare sometime but I haven’t yet and now that I’m living in a city again, I probably won’t. Recently I decided to sell my old saddle and tack, but haven’t gotten around to it. I still have tack, and old gymkhana ribbons dating back to my very first horse, the horse I got in 1969 – 42 years ago. Maybe I’m just yearning for my life to be a little bit different. To be filled with a promise and excitement that is a little elusive in middle-age.
Back to Yearning for Morgan, this book was made by cutting the characters out of one of the cooler toned sheets of paper (using a laseretcher) and mounting those pages to folios made from the warmer toned sheets of paper. Underneath each character is the name I’ve linked to the character. The book is bound in a millimeter style binding with paper covered board covers and calfskin spine. The cover title, title page and colophon are laser transfer. It measurers 5 1/2 inches by 4 1/8 by 3/8 inches. And I also want to mention that the characters I use for laseretching were converted to EPS so they can be read by the laseretcher by my friend & Adobe Illustrator genius Shannon Perry.
Two years ago, about this time of year, I initiated a book a week project. I’m feeling twitchy in that same way so am going to do it again. For this round I’ve changed the rules. Now I’m interested in speeding up my process for finishing up. So the intent is to do just that – whether it is an unfinished project worthy of completion, or determining a use for various materials set aside for a project ‘someday’ .
As an aside, the current trendy description of my comfort zone is that I’m a ‘renaisance soul’ – this means that my interest in completing projects is always duking it out with my interest in new projects. So, I have a lot of unfinished projects around.
Another of my realities is that it is hard for me to pitch things – this issue is multi-layered and deep; no need to go into all that now. Sometimes by treating heretofore unfinished projects as a new project, with a series of new challenges, I can trick myself into finishing projects that, with the passage of time, still seem worthwhile finishing.
The first, which I have to finish this week, will be for the visual journals show. I don’t often exhibit at my own gallery, but do sometimes use my curatorial ideas as incentive to do something I’ve wanted to do before.
Solo Navigations I – 2008
This book binds several individual drawings I made in 2008 into a book. These pages were made over a period of several months in 2008 mainly to combat the tedium of waiting for performances (mostly live music at various clubs) to start. Arriving early enough to get a good spot meant waiting a long time for the performance to begin. I’d get fidgety and bored and sometimes felt conspicuous because I was by myself. I made myself a little kit that fit easily into a handbag and worked on these pages to wile the moments away. The rule for the writing was to write of things going on in the moment, either internally or externally. Every space had to have a letter, so there are no spaces between words, and no punctuation. When the end of a row of grids was reached, I’d turn the paper 90 degrees and continue writing. After making just a few, I decided to designate a few blank areas on the gridded page that I could later work on in the studio.
I wanted to use an approach to binding Don Glaister recently taught in a workshop sponsored by the Guild of Bookworkers, Rocky Mountain Chapter. The workshop was held in Kozo’s new rental space in June. Sort of a modified photo album structure, where guards are incorporated into the pages at the spine edge; those guards are folded over, sometimes multiple times, to create enough thickness to accommodate the thickness of the page being bound. This book doesn’t have particularly thick pages, but I did need to fashion a method to bind single sheets of a material that doesn’t fold well – the gridded, frosted mylar the drawings were on.
I mounted each maylar page to an inner page of white Utrech drawing paper. Before I mounted the mylar, I painted colored shapes to the drawing paper, to add more depth to the drawings.
I often do this sort of thing – adding elements that may ultimately be invisible, or at least difficult to see. I want to include those elements but don’t always want them to be articulate. A visual mumbling.
The pages are mounted to the drawing paper, now with colored shapes painted on them, with PMA. The PMA is transparent and, as a dry adhesive, doesn’t cause the paper to curl. Works great for sticking porous surfaces (paper) to non-porous surfaces (mylar).
The drawing paper is cut larger than the mylar at the spine edge, the edges that stick out are what the tabs for the hinges are made from. I then sewed the pages using a supported link stitch on tapes and cased the block into a split board cover.
This resulted in loose tabs between every sewn signature. After the book was sewn up, I decided to add more pages by tipping in mylar drawings, these in black brushstrokes, to those tabs. The end pages are scraps of old prints from the same year the pages were originally made (2008). The cover boards are covered with some of my photographs, taken and printed in the late 1980’s.
Voila – Solo Navigations I – 2008. Finished in time for the exhibition Visual Journals at Abecedarian Gallery.
For this piece I created a series of three books that, although they result in one boxed set, I worked on for three weeks during the Book a Week projects. The three books are made with porcelain book covers I made years ago but never found the right content for. The text use some monoprints printed off plexiglass onto lightweight Japanese paper using an etching press.
Years ago I wanted to work more with clay so I took a class with a Denver area ceramicist, Mary Cay, at the Art Students League of Denver. Mary works with porcelain which really is the only clay body it makes sense to use for bookcovers. Fired to high temps, porcelain is strong and makes a wonderful sound when it touches itself. I spent most of the workshop on these three small sets of book covers. We used a clay body called Zen, so I imaged with covers markings that seemed zenlike. After multiple firings the covers were put on the shelf. For years . . .
Octavo Paz is a favorite poet of mine . . . I have a text based on his poem Wind, River, Stone which, I hasten to point out, is not a real translation but a re-wording of his poem that better suits this project than the more accurate translations that have been done. This one is more casual.
Water hollows stone,
wind scatters water,
stone stops the wind. Water, wind, stone
Wind carves stone,
stone’s a cup of water,
water escapes and is wind.
Stone, wind, water.
Wind sings in its whirling,
water murmurs going by
unmoving stone keeps still.
Wind, water, stone.
Each is another and no other:
crossing and vanishing through their empty names:
water, stone, wind
I selected portions of the monoprints, cut and folded them to size. I imaged the text via laserprint transfer on the back of the pages. As the pages are lightweight the text shows through as a gray rather than a black.
Each book contains one of the three first stanzas with the final stanza repeating in each book.
I then made individual boxes for each; the labels on each box are created by laser transfer onto the monoprint scraps; those three boxes are in turn housed in one larger box, the front cover and spine label produced in the same way.
I am very satisfied with the interplay between the weightiness and density of the porcelain covers and the lightweight, airiness of the text blocks. Both materials are fragile in entirely different ways from the other.
Owned by University of Denver, Penrose Library, Special Collections.
I have, in my adult life, moved literally tons of objects from place to place. The decision of whether to keep or discard is ongoing and I fear my elder life will be ruled by objects, much in the way of my parents. This I find disturbing and I continuously work to rid myself of objects using criteria that varies hugely from year to year.
Some collections, such as art books, don’t come under scrutiny too often. The music collection morphs into another version of itself (records replaced by audio cassettes, those replaced by CDs and those transformed into MP3 recordings). It makes sense to keep studio materials even though my emphasis in the studio and thus material use has shifted course many times over the years.
One area I haven’t figured out how to manage is the mass of unfinished, unsold, unframed artworks. Somehow simply throwing them away doesn’t seem an option, and I don’t really consider giving them away either. Re-purposing is a favorite strategy; a project with a layer already rich with pigment and potential a rewarding way to spend some time.
This week I made A Little Book of Drawings (measures about 3x3x.5 inches). I started with old figure drawings on mulberry paper, cut them up and ordered them into signatures. Both before and after sewing the text block, I further worked the drawings with ink and some transfers. The signatures were sewn with a supported link stitch and hollow back cased in with a variation of a split board (or tongue and groove) technique. The book has a leather spine and handwritten title.
Above are some photos that show the various binding steps: the brown paper is a moriki that is attached to the hollow tube and then extends, creating the tabs (tongues) used to attach the covers. The white material with blue edges is 2 ply museum board used for the inner board (rather than actually splitting a board, 2 boards create the ‘groove’ where the tongue is glued in). The end sheets are then pasted down leaving a hint of the blue exposed. And, as you can see from the leather spine, I didn’t get it right the first time, had to detach and re-attach the leather. Fortunately I use paste with leather so re-doing the spine didn’t ruin the book. I am pleased with this book. It has a richness last week’s project did not; has evidence of my history as a mark maker, evidence of passable skills at binding small books. As I ponder this book, I decide that part of its success lies in the various qualities inherent in the materials themselves. Mulberry paper, graphite, ink, thread and leather.
I unabashedly join the ranks of mixed-media artists who hoard. My studio building is twice the size of my house and about 30% of that space is devoted to storage. Time spent rummaging in the ‘ingredient archives’ can bring on bouts of contented assessing and re-arranging, frustration at not finding what I seek and glee when something clicks into place as the obvious choice of object to solve a problem.
For book of the week projects I avoid purchase of new materials, and thus far have found what I need in the archives. This week’s project re-uses the unbound pages from a previous limited edition miniature book that I wasn’t pleased with and abandoned. Why I assume I can take these failed pages and rework them into something more successful is a mystery but that was the intent of From this Place.
The text of the book touches on containment versus abandon, with hints of discretion and privacy. A screen structure seems a good fit here. I have had in my studio for a long time an object whose intended use is eludes me – it could be a prototype for a full size screen, or something intended to block a portion of a desk from view. I am imaginative and still cannot come up with a function for this object. I would assume it a wall hanging but there is no way to hang it.
It is a simple construction, hinged plastic panels are bound at top and bottom with strips of continuous cloth.
For my project, I cut out and re-ordered the failed image pages (which are color laserprints, each about 2.5 x1.5), laserprinted the text on transparent sheets, and using double-sided PMA adhered the text to the image. Another layer of PMA, this time extending beyond the image, then a layer of mica. With an image on either side of each panel the layer, top to bottom is this: mica, PMA, transparency, PMA, image/glue/image, PMA, transparency, PMA, mica. These panels are ‘bound’ with a strip of acrylic tinted tyvek along the top and bottom edge. Another strip of tyvek is at either edge more as a visual than a structural device.