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