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A Little Book of Drawings


A Little Book of Drawings

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.

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From This Place

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.

IMG_1157The 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. IMG_1163




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Dr Albinus

For whatever reason I have amassed a collection of anatomy books; IMG_1109one of my prize possessions being an out of print source book called Images of Medicine. Less prized (perhaps because it is a readily available and inexpensive Dover edition) is a copy of Albinus on Anatomy, a Dover book with 80 original Albinus plates, an account of Albinus’ work and a summary of the original preface to the 1747 edition of Tabulae Sceleti et Musculorum Corporis Humani. His preface described in great detail his work methods, problems he encountered and reasons for adopting the methods that he used.



Using the same structure as last week’s Picture Book, I created sleeves from a lighter weight translucent mylar. Although the quality of increased transparency was the reason behind the decision to use the lighter weight product, I found it wasn’t rigid enough to hold the inserted images in place with friction.


WIP Dr Albinus 6

This is one of many examples of the inability of materials to mimic the vision in my mind. Solving these problems with attentiveness to the original concept can make a book’s content visually richer. On the other hand, it is easy to overcomplicate, to rely on a formulaic bag of tricks that don’t necessarily fit the project but are familiar and efficient. My solution here has elements of both – I hand stitched the tops and bottoms closed. The translucent sleeves hold two cropped reproductions of drawings from Albinus on Anatomy, back to back and printed on a commercial paper called vellum. Thus some of the reproductions on one side are visible through the other side, but only in a few areas and only when one puts pressure on that area of the sleeve.



WIP Dr Albinus 7


Other than the brief introduction, which is a summary from various sources of information about Albinus All of these images and direct quotes are from Albinus on Anatomy by Robert Beverly Hale & Terence Coyle published from original Albinus plates by Watson-Guptill Publications in 1970 reprinted by Dover Editions in 1988.


I selected the text which was laser printed on another commercial paper with a peach toned mottled surface, using a font based on DaVinci’s handwriting. The text pages were laminated back to back to make stiff leaf pages which were inserted into the concertina’s pleats, as were the images in their vellum sleeves. The book has a total of 6 rigid pages and 3 vellum sleeve pages. All was proceeding well other than the inadvertent inclusion of an extra spine pleat (haste makes waste and all that).


Dr Albinus


This I didn’t notice until the book was cased into the cover (with tabs of spine tyvek inserted in between the museum board cover board and the elephant hide cover paper, split board style), the pastepaper endsheets in place. It wasn’t until I took the book out of the press that it became clear that the back end had an extra pleat. So every time the book is opened and examined, it doesn’t fold up properly. Nothing to be done at this point except finish it up as is. Studio practice for this book, as for most of mine, doesn’t make it easy to disassemble the book but I do plan to re-work the ordering of the text and images in the creation of a very similar book as it works on many levels.



The book’s cover label is an inkjet print from another of my favorite books, the Encyclopedia Anatomica. A Complete Collection of Anatomical Waxes an astounding survey, magically photographed, of the collection of “wax” figures created (and still on display) at the Imperial Regio Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale in 1775. Every single part of the human anatomy was cast in a somewhat mysterious process and the resulting ‘wax’ bodies, all either life sized or larger, were then arranged in remarkable artistic dioramas, some called “death,” “the triumph of time,” ‘the plague,” “syphilis,” etc. Then each part of the body was also displayed individually so one can see here brains, hearts, testicles, penises, ovaries, eyeballs, veins, skulls, wombs, fetus (in all stages of growth), babies, old people, dead bodies, decaying bodies, etc.

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Picture Book

Alicia Bailey - Picture Book


I find it difficult to make books without words, although I appreciate both impulse and outcome in the work of others and in my own mind. I suspect I rely too much on words to impose structure and to obscure any lack of stand-alone brilliance my images may have. So, for this book I use no words other than the handwritten text on the re-purposed drafting mylar used in the book.

With only a few hours for this project, I decided to use pages already imaged from a previous project. I cut up a sheet of drafting mylar that I’d intended painted and intended to use in an earlier book.

I enjoyed making this picture book. Without having to be concerned with issues of text (selection/editing/layout) I was able to enjoy other aspects. With ordering a different issue than it is with text, I opted for a page format that allows the images to be re-arranged.

The images are placed in translucent sleeves, easily removed but held in place by friction. Holes punched in the mylar, with foil shapes behind provide a guide for the ordering and placement I decided on.

The book spine is a concertina of tinted tyvek. The mylar sleeves are sandwiched between two  pleats; each page has an additional spacer pleat in between. The tyvek extends beyond the spine and is used to attach the covers.

When working with tyvek I to use double stick tape or PMA if I can as tyvek isn’t absorbent enough for most liquid adhesives. Heat activated adhesives will melt the tyvek. The covers of this book feature hand-marbled paper from Pamela Smith. The front cover has a recessed circular label with an image from the Jouissance series.

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Euxoa Auxiliaris

Its one of those summer seasons when the Miller moths are abundant. It makes me think of the 2002 exhibition “The Miller Family Story” by Sandy Lane (see photo). For her series Lane used the aggravating presence of Miller moths in her home and studio as a catalyst to a body of work that included painstakingly painted and mounted months recessed into cut away areas of her paintings.





My project was triggered by a moth who landed on the wide expanse of PVA in an open gluepot and become mired but not submerged. I removed it and slid it onto a circle of mica. The combination of moth/mica/circle became the dominant element in the book Euxoa Auxiliaris.

To begin, I collected death moths from around my studio, some with wings folded, others with wings more outspread. I stuck them with insect pins to a piece of foam core and coated them liberally with Rhoplex (which is similar to an acrylic gloss medium). I scanned and printed an antique sheet of various types of moths onto a lightweight textweight paper and found some two inch clear circular boxes. After determining a page size, I cut 4 pieces of poplar wood to the final page dimension and drilled a 2 inch hole in each. IMG_1089

Each wooden page is covered with some scrap from Cave Paper. On one side of each page the circle cut out is left exposed, on the other side it is covered with a lightweight board to which the inkjet moth images are laminated. Before mounting onto the wooden page, the inkjet print is protected with a sheet of mica. Using wet adhesives with mica doesn’t work well because it isn’t porous; contact adhesives aren’t transparent enough. So I use a PMA two-sided film to laminate the mica to the inkjet prints.


The moths are arranged and glued with PVA to the mica, the clear box placed over them and glued into place. A paste made of ebony sawdust and Rhoplex is used to fill the gap between the wood and plastic. The text block is held together with a variation of what I call the Mongolian Binding, a rigid page binding technique that works well with thick pages. I saw a variation of this used on a book by Jana Sim at Abecedarian Gallery called My Doors (see picture). my_doors_1.jpg

The tapes for Jana’s book are leather; I used laminated bookcloth instead as I wanted less bulky tapes.

WIP Euxoa Auxiliaris 9WIP Euxoa Auxiliaris 10 The covers are book board covered with lightweight Nepalese paper on which on image of a swarm of Miller moths is printed. The circular title label is recessed into the front cover board, printed on paper and protected with a sheet of mica. The text is laserprint transferred to each page. On the outside pages, black and white laser printed images are transferred to the top, bottom and fore-edge pages of the text block.

Above details the structure and handling of materials. Now here is a bit about how the text and other content of the book was developed. I started reading about the moths that I’ve always referred to as Miller moths. Using the information I found about these predictably fascinating pests I wrote a snippet less scientific than the sources I used, along with a second snippet consisting only of a string of words, the two writings kept separate by use of different typefaces and placement. The text for the book follows:

Like the dusty flour covering a miller’s garb, wings covered with fine scales easily displaced, eyes, pale colored, reflect light, appear to glow.

In army-like groups they crawl across fields or highways, migrating towards the mountains.

Sleeping by day, they awake at dusk. Thinking all light is the moonlight they use to guide their nocturnal journeys westward, artificial lights confuse their insect response.

During this moist year, they have lingered here, flapping about in my cold coffee, or taking a fatal dip in an open glue pot.

Spiraling to the source a moth to flame


The book measures 3.5×2.5×2.25 inches and was finished on July 5, 2009

WIP Euxoa Auxiliaris 6