Sunday, February 24, 2013

Week 8: Night Blooms

     Many times imagery is the impetus for words, and that is the case for this week's book-of-the-week, Night Blooms. A dark brown, navy blue, and shadowy-white sheet of pastepaper is the illustration for this little book set to poetry.

The cover: pastepaper and letterpress title plate
Vintage letterpress ornaments frame the title page and each text page

The moon shines round and whole
hanging in the overturned teacup of the sky
Luna whispers, "Pray to me...
and I will grant your wishes,"
then crawls inside the psyche
with her sly white smile.

The stars shine down
singing their twinkling song.
"We see you! We see you!"
And the clouds moving
always on the move, silently
gliding across the ink black sky.

A garden lies below
dark and spooky with the slithering
of the night-crawlers and little animals
out of their tunnels beneath the ground.
Where the day's growth is dormant
with the setting sun
and the plants are all asleep.

But in One corner,
on One night of the year,
the moon and the stars and the clouds
are rivaled by the blooms
of the Night-Blooming Cereus
Princess of the night.

She reigns for just a moment
as her minions surround her rapt
and awestruck by her beauteous
creamy white blooms.
Beautiful for themselves?
or for the flicker of their lifespan.

Youth, come so quick, bloom, wilt
and fall in the night in a matter of seconds.
Change, a raven swooping across the sky
And looking back now, at this
quicksilver life... isn't it All
just like the Night-blooming Cereus?

   And ending with the colophon... an inscription giving a brief description of the work including its author, the name of the printer or publisher, and the date and place of publication. The colophon dates back to the 15th century, and is often placed at the end of a book. Letterpress fonts, type of paper, inks and even the pressman's mood on the day of printing can be included in the colophon... really, anything deemed significant to the printing of the book. In this case, "Variable edition 1 of 8" refers to the fact that eight copies of the text were printed on the letterpress and that each book has a unique sheet of paste paper for the illustration.

Like each life, each volume of Night Blooms is one-of-a-kind.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Week 7: Priority Mail

This week's book-of-the-week, Priority Mail, is made with the results of two of my favorite pastimes: (making) pastepaper and (collecting) postage stamps.
A cover paper of pastepainted Tyvek® postal envelope
Every stamp has a story... though I'm just the collector of the stamps, not the stories. This stamp, from Republic of China (Taiwan), was on a package I received from my brother... who has lived in Taiwan with his family for the past 20+ years... now there's a story!

Republic of China, Taiwan
   Postage stamps are tiny works of art that have a unique style and character depending on the location and era of their creation. Postage stamp themes now number in the hundreds (or thousands?) but years ago, there were just a few.. in the '60's we had the 4¢ Lincoln stamp and the 5¢ Queen Elizabeth stamp. I look forward to the new pallet of stamps that are created for the USPS each new year! I stand in line at the local Post Office and buy packs of stamps in all sorts of colors and themes... Chinese New Year is one of my favorites!
A Love stamp from Penland... a place I love.
A collection of US States' stamps... such a big country!
a touch of art
  Pastepaper, like stamps, is a form of art that is both unassuming and commonplace. Pastepaper dates back to the Middle Ages. Medieval manuscripts used paste-paints for illuminated script and edge decoration, as well as the inside cover end-sheets. A mixture of wheat or rice paste was mixed with the colored pigment, giving it body and a means of adhesion. In modern times, paste-paints have been used by many book artists to make a heavyweight and durable paper for covering books and use for internal pages. Because of a relaxation of purpose, the imagery can be either playful or dark, and emotions and imagination are quickly worked into the piece as patterns and imagery. Stamps, brush strokes, and fingerpainting in layers of colors make a surprising and delightful backdrop for books. 

   Priority Mail is a sample book of paste papers, marbled papers and postage stamps. They are bound into this little activity book of your own narrative... 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week 6: The Year of the Snake

   Time is one of those things, that.. though real.. can't be touched nor held.. can't be begun nor stopped.. is infinite and yet inconsequential... and is always in sequence. But not always in the same sequence. Calendars prove that. The years are numbered in A.D. and B.C. and B. C. E. .. there are solar calendars, lunar calendars, fiscal calendars, court calendars...the Gregorian Calendar, the Hindu Calendar, the Islamic Calendar, and the Chinese Calendar... This week's book of the week, based on the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, is titled The Year of the Snake. 

A brass button and silk ribbon over japanese print paper
When stretched out, the accordion folds resemble the body of a long black snake... the astrological symbol of this Chinese New Year...which starts today, February 10, 2013.

Black snake slithering across the porch...
Poised and ready to strike!
Inside the little book... hand-lettered in gold ink.. are the attributes and prescriptions for the Year of the Snake. Wisdom and wealth, focus and discipline, attention to detail, intuition and mystery all are traits of a person born in the year of the snake...1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013.

Add responsibility and make headway
Focus and move forward
   And the prophesies of the New Year...

Change.... Isn't it always that?

Happy New Year of the Snake!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Week 5: Steps to a Perfect Birthday

    Two things... birth and death. Death is a powerful and fearful part of life and lends itself to serious contemplation about the meaning of life. There have been several books created on this blog which refer to death and the transformation of one life to the hereafter... Yet, an equally powerful life event is the birth of a being. Always awe-inspiring to me, the celebration of a birth day is one yearly event which I love to practice! Self help and DIY books are always popular, so that's why this week's book-of-the-week is a do-it-yourself book titled Steps to a Perfect Birthday. 
Hand-marbled bookcloth and cover paper
Printed on the toy letterpress
Birthdays are (should be) a festive time... with special attire, especially
Step 1: Funny Hats!
Are birthday hats always funny looking?
Hand-made hats keep everyone busy too!
Step 2: Candles... Blowing out candles and making wishes is always a high point of a  birthday!

   You can never tell anyone what you wished, or it won't come true. Why is that? ..and what do 3-year-olds wish for? What do 80-year-olds wish for? Ever notice that the whole room helps with the blowing? Are they making wishes too?
Three candles, whew!

Step 3: Friends and Family... Nothing makes a birthday party wonderful like being with folks who love you and think you are just the best!

They surround you with love and a sense of special-ness... They tell stories about you and laugh at your jokes. Ha Ha.
Kids love anybody's birthday!

Step 4: Cake. You've got to have cake for a birthday... Usually it's decorated with stuff you like... roses or super heros or gummy worms.

Oh Yea! ...Chocolate Chip Layer Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Coconut Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Lemon Cream Cake, Carrot Cake, Devils Food Cake, Bundt Cake, Barbie Cake and Bunny Cake! What's your favorite birthday cake?
A gumdrop cake with candy hearts, yum!

Step 5: Surprises! The anticipation of some yet-to-be surprise party always gives me a shy smile the days before my birthday... 

A little pocket with a watercolor painting
...and then the day comes and there are the cards from far away friends and those prettily wrapped presents...Yeah!  The memory of years of wrapping-paper and frilly ribbon-bows is probably why I love making books with so many pastepaper pages... all just presents in disguise.

When it's your day, I hope your birthday is PERFECT!