Sunday, October 7, 2012

If These Walls Could Talk

   The book of the week is titled If These Walls Could Talk.  It's a hidden hinge book... and I'll teach this structure at Penland School of Crafts in a few weeks for the 1-week course I'm teaching, "Once Upon a Time." The class concentrates on incorporating content into handmade books. I thought the hidden hinge book would be a nice structure for exploring themes on secrets, hidden things, and mystery.
If These Walls Could Talk hidden hinge book 
 When you open the book you see the first hinge... a house of watercolor paper with the word memories written across the roof and some actual memories written in the windows. The tyvek spine strips (which act as half of the hinges) are folded accordion-style and threaded into slots cut in the centerfold of the signatures. It's true!
Open the book to Memories Memories Memories...
There are four gatherings of pages (signatures) and therefore four hinges. Each signature is hinged with a watercolor house which names the chapter title on the roof and some examples written in the windows. The chapters are: Memories, Hidden Things, Ghosts, and Secrets... I've listed some examples. What would you put in the chapter titled Hidden Things? What about the chapter titled Ghosts?
Hidden Things: Keys, love letters, whiskey...
The last chapter is titled Secrets. "Don't tell your mom. Don't tell your daddy. Don't tell the children. Don't tell the neighbors. Don't tell Grandma. Don't tell the cops. Don't tell anyone."
Secrets can be hard to keep.
   For many years I've mourned the deconstruction of some of the historic homes and buildings in my community. As a building ages, the lives and activity that bustled within become part of the bricks and mortar. The aura and energy of a place become interwoven with the materials within... and the space begins to have a sort of soul. The North American Indians had a similar personification and reverence of their burial grounds. I mourn when a local building is torn down, because the stories of the place, the ghosts and the myths of that place are lost forever. It's a part of progress, I know, but it's hard to accept the loss too.

    If These Walls Could Talk is partially a book about personal experiences, but it is also a journal to catalog buildings being renovated or torn down. is a local webpage I like to read that showcases some of the historic architecture in the Raleigh area that is still thriving and some long gone. There are extensive descriptions of the buildings and their histories described, as well as photos then and now.. Folks write in with anecdotes of things that happened at these buildings... and in a way it seems like the walls are talking. As you look at the buildings and the places of gathering in your community that have a history, are you giving them their proper reverence? Can you hear the stories of the ghosts, or imagine the things hidden in the walls and under the dirt? Can you remember the community that met and lived within, the stories told, the celebrations and losses? Can you hear the whispers of the secrets? Look at the walls of the place where you live. What would they say 100 years from now... if walls could talk?