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Hearts for Marcia – October 2, 2011




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.

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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.


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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

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Venus and Mars

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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.

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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.

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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.

venus and mars  3He, 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.


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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.



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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.

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Hair 2001

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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.

Materials: Hair, obviously. Laseretched plexiglass, waxed Cocobolo wood, linen twine, copper foil, mica. Leftover shapes of copper leaf:


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 . . .

Mia Semingson Memorabilia

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.


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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.


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I have had this silly book –  The History of Hair . . . An Illustrated Review of Hair Fashions for Men Throughout the Ages –  for many years. Published in 1960 it includes a chapter called Look Into My Crystal Ball (The Twentieth Century). The text for my book Hair 2001, is taken directly from that chapter.

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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.

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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?




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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.

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Yearning for Morgan

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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.


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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.

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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.

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Shedding – a limited edition artists’ book, © 2010

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This edition of 21 is about specimen collection and presentation, combined with journal type entries about the specimens presented (in this case, things shed by my body). Each day for 21 days I rescued something my body was shedding (eyelash off my cheek) or helped something detach from my body (plucked hair). The specimen was scanned at a magnification of 500%, those scans printed and included in the book pages. The cover of each book holds the specimen itself, sandwiched in between glass for a variable edition of 21 copies.

The concept:

Called upon to participate in an exhibition featuring works created by artists in a regular unit (hourly/weekly/monthly) as part of an ongoing
practice, and realizing that I’m simply not good at keeping up these sorts of regimented projects, I hoped to come up with something I could actually do, without fail, for a sequence of days. I thought, well, aside from what my body does to survive, the only thing I seem able to commit to daily, as on optional and chosen act is drinking coffee. I then considered just what my body does all on its own? Breathes, heart pumps, sleeps, wakes and so forth. I decided to take advantage of my bodies ongoing commitment to regular action in a way that would result in something with physical substance (as opposed to documenting an act, such as breathing).
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The process:

I determined a set of rules to govern the project. for 21 days I would collect something created by my body, a little piece of me that was ready to be shed. Those little bits of detritus that flake off when we are sleeping, or are scrubbed off in the shower, or are removed with intent as part of routines rooted in comfort, appearance or hygiene. I did have to help some things along (the hang-nail that needed to be cut, the recurring hair on my jaw that seemingly springs up overnight) but it was more a matter of collection than anything.

Each morning I chose and retrieved my daily specimen, then scanned it at 500% magnification on my flatbed scanner. I had to be careful with some of these very small specimens; I knew an ill timed sneeze could result in an eyelash disappearing without hope of recovery. Happily, I didn’t lose any original specimens. Immediately after the scanning, I placed the specimen between 2 pieces of glass in a glass mounted slide and there they remain.

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Then I would write a little something about that day’s specimen. Not yet sure about how the book would be produced, I opted to keep these daily observations pithy. I later settled on the laser etching process for both cutting the pages and ‘printing’ the text and was glad I’d chosen a pithy path.

The production:


In keeping with the idea of cataloging a set of specimens, I labeled each specimen date with a label simulating the typewritten labels I associate with cataloging. They weren’t actually produced on a typewriter though. Mindful of this being an edition work, they were instead laserprinted on rag paper, that I then overcoated with tinted microcrystalline wax. The wax prevents the laser toner from flaking off or ghosting on to another page, the pigment added to the wax ages the paper a bit.


The inkjet printed images I wanted to protect so they were mounted behind a window cut out in each page (similar to older photo album pages). They are labeled by text printed on mylar; the mylar placed over each image before mounting to each page, giving further protection to the photographic images.

Ever interested in using up materials already on hand in the studio, I used a variety of papers (Canson Mi Tiente ‘honeysuckle’ which is close to my own flesh color and maroon unryu for the back side of the pages) leftover from earlier projects. The unryu is a nice choice I think. Its function is to provide a backing to the Canson and prevent text bits with holes in the letters (such as an O, or the round part of a P or D) becoming cut out shapes rather than letter forms.

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The text block is bound as a board book, each page consisting of several layers. The unryu makes up the interior of each page ’package’. So the outside, visible, part of each page is a color similar to my own flesh, and the inside, mostly hidden but for the endges and through the cuts on the outside, part of each page is this blood colored paper.

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The cover is thick as it needs to accommodate the glass mount slide with specimen.

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It is made from 2 layers of Perma-dur corrugated board plus two museum boards cut to hold the slide mount. This ‘package’ is covered with a piece of tanned deerhide suede that has an image of handprint etched into it. The outside edges of the cover are wrapped with this odd bookcloth/paper product that I know little about. It too is maroon in color.

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Copies of this book held by University of Washington, Baylor University and University of Denver and private collections.  Archive and process materials for this work held by University of Denver, Penrose Library Special Collections. Check on availability in my online store.

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Book a Week – round 2

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.

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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.
Solo Navigations I 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.
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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.
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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.

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Someone Like You and Education of Girls

I’ve been working on these two books simultaneously. They are part of the Lovely and Amazing series of works inspired by and created from an archive I inherited from Ruth Wheeler, who was my great-aunt. Both completed in 2010, they have been exhibited at Bookopolis in Asheville, NC and in at Vivo Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The covers were begun in a workshop held at my studio in 2008, taught by Boston artist Peter Madden. That workshop was held only a few days after my mother died; Peter’s mother had died only weeks before. We both decided to go ahead with the workshop but I confess here that I remember little of the workshop, the creation of these wood panels or what my intention was. I think I was just working to be working. Shelved for a time, I then created some triptych wall pieces that ultimately I deemed unsuccessful when nearly complete. Once again, shelved for a time. I mention all this because it addresses one of my theories about an ingredient in mixed media construction that I believe adds to their richness in an essential albeit non-visual way. The best I can do to explain this is that a construction made from ‘store bought’ materials (i.e. materials without a previous, rich history), even though in composition, arrangement and general selection of objects may exactly mimic, for example, a Joseph Cornell construction, it cannot speak in the same way, isn’t imbued with the richness that history gives to objects.

These panels, although constructed from newly milled pieces of birch plywood, have a short history but in that time have been altered and handled repeatedly. Many of the objects now embedded in or attached to their surfaces come from an old archive. The process of shelving and continuing work at a later date adds to these final pieces in way impossible to achieve otherwise.

Both books are coptic bound with rigid pages but they were constructed differently from one another.

The first I completed is Someone Like You. This book takes as its title a handwritten poem transcribed in Ruth’s journal:

Someone like you makes the heart seem the lighter Someone like you makes the day’s work worthwhile Someone like you makes the sunshine the brighter Someone like you makes a sigh half a smile



This text appears split in two on the inner front and back covers in a scan of Ruth’s original handwriting and is then repeated on individual pages throughout the book.

The pages are each made of a layering of photographs (scanned and reproduced via inkjet) taken by Ruth on her camping and picnicking outings with her Camp Fire Girl troops over a span of many years. Also included are pages from her teaching notebooks detailing nature games, pages from her biology notebooks with sketches of specimens and plates from her nature books.

Each page is constructed by treating the front and back as separate pages that are hinged with book cloth around a thin metal rod. So, although the pages are rigid, they can be stitched without the cord intruding on the page surface as the metal rod holds the thread in place, as the fold in a signature book would do.


These pages are rather inelegantly bound with linen cords, the front and back covers have round recessed areas that for a title label (front cover) and image (back cover) with brass pins holding the labels in place. In order to prevent the weight of the book resting on these pins when the book is lying flat, I also added pins and brass beads to each corner. These double as a mechanical means to hold the larger mica pieces on the cover.

The covers were drilled halfway through outside to inside after the mica is in place, those holes met with secondary holes drilled in from the spine edge. This allows the thick cord to wrap around the outside of the cover but not be inside of the cover. The book closes without the additional bulk the cord would create on the inside.

Education of Girls takes its title from a teaching pamphlet Ruth used. As the junior high biology teacher, Ruth’s job included teaching sex education and this pamphlet was from a multi-piece set of she used.

WIP-Education-of-Girls-10 In addition to scans and print outs from her teaching notebooks, the pages include small bones/feathers/seeds/plants and film positives recessed into the pages and scans of artifacts too bulky to be included in the book (such as taxidermied songbirds).

The pages of this book were constructed with a museum board core, the text and images built up on each side. The thickness of the rigid pages meant I could embed the objects mentioned above and could use the more intrusive rigid page binding technique as described in Keith Smith’s book Sewing Single Sheets. This technique also doesn’t require each page be of uniform thickness.

So on two of the pages strips of film positive were sewn into the pages in a way that makes the positives visible from both sides. Those pages were then wrapped with handprinted book cloth on the edges to both protect the positives, hold the protective layer and add enough material to the pages to hold the intrusive coptic thread in place.
The text is primarily transcriptions for audio recordings I made of conversations I had with Ruth during her 97th year about some of her teaching accomplishments and adventures. Also included are pages from the original Education of Girls pamphlet, and a photograph of Ruth’s mother and aunt, with whom she travelled to Columbia College in 1928 so Ruth could take a summer course in sex education.


Both the front and back covers have mica recessed over paper artifacts. This recessing of the mica meant I could avoid having pins protrude from the covers. Each cover also has a hold drilled entirely through it. These cavities hold artifacts (one shell each front and back) suspended between layers of mica.

I wanted Education of Girls to be more elegant than Someone Like You so I bound it with much thinner cord, 4-ply waxed cord.
In this case I did wrap the cord through to the inside, which makes the cover hold tighter to the text block and not be quite so floppy.


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Wind, Water, Stone


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Owned by University of Denver, Penrose Library, Special Collections.

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Tongue Tied

Tongue Tied_0175This post comes at the request of a special collections librarian, curious about the use of wax (problematic in its stickiness and fragility) on the lid and base of this book’s container. The material use of Tongue Tied is an excellent example of material selection bearing close relationship to project content/concept.

Tongue Tied is based on a poem by Patricia Beers, a disturbing poem describing the almost unbearable results of a lifetime of keeping silent.

The subject matter is a painful one. One reaction to pain is what I think of as ‘fear biting’ – holding others at bay because to allow closeness invites pain. To get physically close to this text isn’t impossible but does require caution as it, and the box it is housed in, have the sharp end of nails sticking out.
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When one is silent, others have to to dig and pry to find out more. Some of the text is hidden beneath images that need to be lifted to be read, other texts have incomplete letter forms (accomplished by using an asian lace paper), making passages difficult, but not impossible to read.

Tongue Tied_0174Another panel lifts to hold part of a broken and smashed thimble. This obvious use of artifact links to the text line ‘whatever silenced me when young has put a thimble on my tongue’. Tongue Tied detailAnother panel lifts to expose the narrow shape I use to depict a scar, this one has stitching implying the wound is held closed, but barely.

A less obvious relationship of material to content is the use of a plasticized Wyndstone paper that reminds me of commercial floor linoleum. Here is the back story behind that selection:Tongue Tied_0177

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite classes was science. The teacher, Miss Koury, was big boned and focused, quite often the butt of jokes I didn’t then understand. She brooked no nonsense. Typically there would be a lecture, a demonstration and then we would line up to gather materials for our assignments. I was a well-behaved child for the most part, and didn’t get in trouble for talking in other classes. But in Miss Koury’s class, wild with enthusiasm, I was frequently reprimanded for talking while waiting in line.

My punishment was to be locked in the storage closet during the best part of the class. The closet had a commercial linoleum much like the Wyndstone paper. I was silenced. My love of learning had to live side by side with a fear of being punished for displaying joy at the process. I spent the rest of my school life avoiding science classes. When I saw this Wyndstone paper at an art supply store, I was stricken by something I couldn’t then identify or articulate. I bought it not knowing why soon after I brought the paper to the studio I found this poem and began designing this book.

Tongue Tied_0173The book is contained in a black mesh box, the mesh walls held in place with galvanized nails, at the same time the mesh wraps around the outside of the nails; additional stitching helps hold everything in place. The use of ‘galvanized’ material is relevant. One definition is to shock or excite someone into taking action, the other to coat iron or steel with a protective layer of zinc. I leave you to reason why I chose these particular nails for the box.

Tongue Tied_0171Both the base and lid to the box are painted black, and then overcoated with a beeswax/damar mix that has been pigmented with dry charcoal. The result it a semi-hard surface that remains sticky, attracting bits of dirt and dust, adding another layer of the fear-biting concept to this work. Emphasizing duality by enticing one to come closer and then imposing risk of harm when one does come closer is a hallmark of some of my more succesful pieces.

Tongue Tied is held in several public and special collections including University of Colorado, Norlin Library, University of Utah Marriot Library, University of Denver Penrose Library, University of Idaho, Savannah College of Art and Design and Oberline University. A few copies remain and can be purchased by contacting any of my dealers: Abecedarian Gallery, 23 Sandy Gallery, Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.
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Cosmeceutical Collection

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This collection was designed in 2006, and the first copies produced that year. It is in the Alan Chasanoff collection, and in Special Collections at the Topeka County Public Library, Emory University, Scripps College, University of Washington, University of Miami and University of Denver. The archives are also held at University of Denver.  It was reviewed as part of Emory University’s Artists Book Showcase; read that review here.

Rather than completing the production all at once, I produced copies in response to orders, and this is one instance where procrastination was of tremendous value. Knowing more now than I did when the boxed set was designed and having access to different tools has benefitted the production process and end quality of the piece.

The set combines three of my miniature books (Belladonna, Compact Beauty and Lashlure), books that use cosmetic cases as containers, in a custom made box.

Production of the miniatures may be the focus of another blog entry – here I am concentrating on the box itself. Here is what the individual books look like:

belladonna 2

lash lure open

compact beauty

The box tray has 3 recessed areas, each of different size, shape and depth, for each of the miniature books.



I considered using wood and having the recessions routed out, and also considered laminating individually cut pieces of thinner material, such as Davy board to make the base. I eventually settled on a product called Balsa Foam.

WIP Cosmeceutical Collection

Starting with sheets of 9x12x1 inch Balsa Foam, I cut them each in half using 2 partial cuts with a power miter saw.


WIP Cosmeceutical Collection

I then used a drawing template to mark the surface for the interior cut outs.







These were then cut out with a power scroll saw, after first drilling holes in the cut out areas for insertion of saw blade. Balsa Foam is a handy product but I don’t plan to use it again. The dust generated by manipulating it is no doubt toxic and, even though I used the denser of the two grades it is subject to cracking and breaking.

Each recessed area requires a different depth so platforms for Belladonna and Lashlure are cut from museum board and inserted them into the appropriate area, holding them to the correct height by shimmng them from underneath with built up pieces of foam core. Compact Beauty does not require a platform.


After the tray is shaped, it is sealed on all sides with acrylic polymer. This helps contain the dust and lessens the absorption rate. Pared down leather is used to line each recess sides and bottom. The top surface gets a second coat of thicker polymer (a gel medium) that shows texture, then is painted with two layered colors of acrylic paint. The top layer is an ‘interference’ pigment so has a subtle sparkle to it, similar to that of many cosmetic products.


Pink leather (from Harmatan) is laminated to 2 play museum board, then trimmed to strips the length of the box sides by the tray height plus 1/8 inch. After the edges are painted with liquid acrylic ink, they are attached to the tray box sides.

There isn’t anything out of the ordinary in the production of the box’s outer shell. Prior to gluing the tray into the shell, a ribbon is run across the underside of the case between the recesses for Belladonna and Compact Beauty – the ribbon comes up into the tray and makes removing the books from the recesses much easier. Lashlure doesn’t require a ribbon.


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The case has a pink leather spine, the paper coverings are Mohawk Superfine Text laserprinted and then overpainted with a mixture of acrylic (pink again!) and methylcellulose. This is a necessary step to seal the transfer toner, which otherwise will flake off. Prior to this step, laser foil is affixed to the title portion of the text on the container lid.