Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 39: The Attic

   There's a momentum in books.. a pacing that includes... the reading along a line... moving down the page... and turning of pages one-by-one. This momentum is what builds a story. This week's book-of-the-week, The Attic, continues the momentum of last week's book, Old House. Just as many older homes were added on to as a family grew and years went by... just as new stories were added to the older ones... this week's book exemplifies that transformation and growth. A second box, shaped like a trapezoid, sits atop the double-hinge box from last week.  The new trapezoidal-shaped box with a flip-up lid is covered in paste paper and marbled paper to loosely resemble a rooftop garret.
a house of books...
Open the boxes and the books are stashed inside...

Old House and The Attic

tunnel books of the rooms downstairs..
The Attic is a little 3 inch by 3 inch stiff leaf book that resembles an old steamer trunk on the spine side and incorporates old fashioned prints, marbled papers, and antique maps within its pages.

marbled paper on the cover of The Attic
   Attics are those rooms of the house that seem to hold all sorts of treasures. Piled up, packed up, and hidden in the shadows and dust are mementos and keepsakes that are passed down, kept a lifetime or longer, and lay waiting to rejoin the world someday... somehow. The Attic incorporates a few of these mementos within it's tiny pages. The mementos include...

childhood letters...
 and old ticket stub and dried roses from a wedding bouquet...
an embroidered hankerchief...
old photos...
Grandma's quilt top, left unfinished...
maps to far away places...
an old Methodist Hymnal from times gone by
   The Attic is not just a place for remembering by-gone days, but a place for retrieving things we've put aside...  to reincorporate them into the present. Like pulling out the tattered and loved family Christmas tree decorations or dragging down the big suitcase for a vacation trip... or the air mattress for visiting loved ones... Or even pulling out boxes and boxes (and boxes) of toys so a certain Little One can play with their daddy's old Ewok Village!

looking down on The Attic
   Like all attics, The Attic is about memory and the commonplace stories that make our lives. It is a treasure trunk of delightful things that take us back to another time while standing solidly in the present. This sort of magic isn't spooky or odd, but as comfortable as an old pair of shoes and as comforting as a whiff of long-ago perfume. Oddly, located at the top of the house... closest to the sun, the clouds, and the stars, attics are somehow heavenly... in their dark, dank, and dusty sort of way. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 38: Old House

a very old house, circa 1600's, France
   The title of this week's book-of-the-week is Old House. The book is actually three books...which are housed in a double-hinge box that I call a magic box. The box is covered with paste paper, painted to resemble a house built of very old stones. Flat brass buttons are sewn on the lid which resemble doorknobs. The hinges are made of Tyvek® that has also been paste painted to resemble a stone wall. Black silk bookcloth is glued on the outside of the lid as a design element to bisect the box.
the magic box
   Behind the lid are three chambers. When the box is opened to the right, a single chamber, located in the center of the box is revealed. Inside this chamber is the little stiff-leaf book, Old House. Handmade marbled paper and silk bookcloth cover the case of the little 3 x 4 inch book. Recycled paper from an 1826 book, Histoire de Francehas been letterpress printed with 12-pt Caslon type to create a title plate for Old House.
open the door to the right...
The little book can be positioned to hang out on the ledge if desired...
open on the shelf...
Inside the book is the poem, Old House.
page 1 on repurposed paper with letterpress text...
Old house
a pile of stones and wood
once womb of life,
hub of the family

Now, ghosts hover in the curtains
and creep down the stairs
their whispers float in the air
with the golden flecks of 

and streaks of sunlight
across a solitary 

Climb the stairs
to the second story,
the rooms behind the 

See the bed
tousled sheets, rumpled pillow,
dingy mattress lumpy and 

Peer into the attic filled 
with the stored and forgotten 
relics of the past;
and stories kept in 

But the stories remain 
the whispers and the bumps 

And the whole house 
stands in somnolence 
and decay

  Old houses have their own sort of attitude and personality. Like some old matron, they've put in the time to have their say about things. A lot of time inside an old house can begin to get under your skin as you find the architecture influences your moods and actions... It doesn't always seem apparent, but the subtle ways that old houses influence their inhabitants are many. Clanking steam pipes, sticky windows, breezy door jambs and pesky infestations with assorted small furry animals... can make you think you've been taken over by poltergeists. When really, that's just the way it is with old houses... For many of us, it is worth the small (and sometimes Not So Small) inconveniences... for the wealth of context, history, and craftsmanship that an old house gives to our lives! 
   Open the book (box) to the left and the two remaining chambers are revealed. In each chamber is a tunnel book of a room in an old house. One tunnel is a stairway with several pieces of furniture in the way... the other chamber has a tunnel of a bedroom. The images are from a series of black and white photographs that were taken at Chateau du Pin, a 1600's farm house in the Loire Valley of France.

open the door left to reveal the tunnel book rooms!
close-up of The Stairs tunnel book...
looking into The Bedroom Window tunnel book
   The poem Old House speaks of houses which have been abandoned, but the images in the tunnel books illustrate houses which are old but still very much in use. All of this exemplifies the great variety in old homes. In the photographs below, taken all over the world, some of the old houses have been abandoned, but others have continued being shelter and home. Enjoy!
a French door and a gate, 1700's
New Orleans, LA jewel... 1800's
New Orleans, LA (not-a-jewel)
Chinese manor house 1800's, Yingge, Taiwan
by the Loire River, France, 1600's

"Laurel" house and studio of a wood carver, Penland, NC
Luxembourg Palais, Paris, France: built in 1612 for Marie de M├ędicis, mother of king Louis XIII of France
1700's nunnery then hospital then orphanage, Loire Valley, France
farm cabin, Washington, GA

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week 37: At Grandmama and Grandaddy's Farm: A board game for all ages

   Sometimes memories are etched inside our head as if as they're second nature. Yet snapshots of moments in time are often laid out like a Sunday dinner... a casserole here, a smoked ham there, a relish tray over there... They all come together when centered on place... as if quilted onto the same backing, the continuity becomes plain. Suddenly our memory becomes a sort of game board of people and events which come together to make the person we are today. This week's book-of-the-week is that sort of memoir, a map that is made into a game... At Grandmama and Grandaddy's Farm: A board game for all ages.
The game board, a box for the accessories, and the instruction booklet
   The instruction booklet is made with the stiff leaf binding. This is what is listed as the Object of the game: 

The object of the game is to do the most  wonderful things at Grandmama and Grandaddy’s farm. You do this by collecting mementos of all the fun things that can be done when you visit the farm. The person with the most mementos at the end of the game wins. The game ends after everyone has returned to the garage Start point.

The game accessories are stored inside a drop-spine box which has two sections and a magnet to hold the lid closed. The accessories are a pair of dice, buttons for the tokens, What Shall We Do cards, and the memento cards. The game board is a 9-section folded book of my grandparents' yard in rural Caswell County, North Carolina. 

country prints and terra cotta bookcloth allude to a North Carolina farm in the 1950's....
As the game board unfolds... its pages display a variety of patterns, much like my grandmother's hand-pieced quilts. These same prints are repeated throughout the set. Opening the game board reveals a tryptic of country motifs on the back side...

Open the game board to reveal the tri-panel back side
inside three panels... the right-hand panel has a print of a young lady beside the actual farm house in the game!
The cover of the instruction booklet
The instruction book has all the rules of the game and a list of all the mementos which can be acquired when a token lands on a space with a ?. Inside the accessory box are the What Shall We Do? game cards, a collection of buttons (which are the tokens), and a collection of picture cards of the mementos awarded from certain What Shall We Do? cards.

a two-section drop-side box that looks like a book...
   This is what is written on the What Shall We Do? cards and the memento cards that go with them:

Listen to Grandaddy talk                                                                 Memento: Silver Dollar
about the tobacco crop
(get a silver dollar & go to the tobacco field)

Play with Franklin’s Steiff lion                                                        Memento: toy lion
(get a stuffed lion toy and go to the living room)

Play Old Maid                                                                                   Memento: Old Maid cards
(get a deck of playing cards, go to the den)

Play "Chopsticks" on the piano                                                        Memento: toy piano
(get a toy piano,  go to the living room)

Go to Grandmama’s secret closet                                               Memento: antique figurine
(get a china figurine)

Play Dress Up                                                                                 Memento: flowered hat 
(get a flowery bonnet,
go across the road to the cousin’s house,)

Get a jar of Grandmama’s watermelon pickles                         Memento: jar of watermelon pickles
(go to the root cellar)

Pick grapes                                                                                      Memento: bunch of grapes
(go to the grape arbor, get a bunch of grapes)

Pick corn                                                                                          Memento: bushel of corn
(go to the garden, get a bushel of corn)

Pick tomatoes                                                                                  Memento: bushel of tomatoes
(go to the garden, get a bushel of tomatoes)

Go feed the chickens                                                                     Memento: basket of eggs
(go to the chicken coop, get a basket of eggs)

Go feed the pigs                                                                             No Memento :-(
(go to the pig sty, loose one turn)

Help Grandmama bake biscuits                                                  Memento: plate of biscuits
(go to the kitchen, get a buttered biscuit)

Swing on the porch swing                                                             No Memento :-(
(go to the porch swing, loose a turn)

Help Grandaddy hitch the mule to the                                        No Memento :-(
tobacco sled (go to the barn)

Help Grandmama make jam                                                        Memento: jar of strawberry jam
(go to the kitchen, get a jar of jam)

Play tag with the cousins                                                               No Memento :-(
(go to the end of the driveway)

Family Dinner                                                                                  7 Mementos: turkey, ham,
(go to the dining room get one of each dish)                           casserole, beans, corn, pie, cake

Run from the chickens                                                                   No Memento :-(
(go to the hanging iron-pot flower holder, loose a turn)

Help Grandmama pick beans                                                       Memento: bushel of beans
(go to the garden, get a bushel of beans)

Play hide and seek                                                                          No Memento :-(
(go to the barn)

Sit on the porch and listen to the grown-ups talk                        Memento: iced tea
(loose a turn but get a glass of iced tea)

Step in chicken poop                                                                       No Memento :-(
(loose a turn)

A warm hug from Grandmama                                                      Memento: a red heart
(get a red heart and a free roll of the dice)

the game board all set up... see the memento cards lined across the top
a close-up of the game board, button tokens, and the cards...
all cleaned up after a rousing game
Interactive memory as a game has a nice way of clarifying things, rewriting history, or just enjoying lovely moments of the past over and over. At Grandmama and Grandaddy's Farm is an interactive book which puts memories within the context of the present... resulting in a whole new set of memories!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week 36: Voices

    The book of the week for week 36 is a quiet book. It's title is Voices. The images inside communicate like the murmuring voices within one's head. They are the whispered narrative of the insignificant and beautiful... or the manic musings of wild and complex ideas and dramas.... those conversations that we ponder but rarely say out loud. 
 a stairway to a mountain cabin...
  The images are all cyanotypes made from photographs or pressed leaves collected over a period of many years... The cyanotype process is a photographic developing process which always produces text or imagery in shades of blue. To learn more about this process go to  The book cloth used for the spine and interior spine strips is made from cotton dyed with indigo and the board cover paper is a crinkled pearlescent paste paper. Each page is of heavy card stock which has been laminated with white Japanese unryu paper, which literally means "Cloud Dragon Paper." This paper has long strands of white fibers which swirl throughout the paper exhibiting a noticeable texture.

decomposed leaves and pine needles...
shadows of an empty table...
tower at the chateau...
oak leaves and Japanese maple...
looking back in the rain...
incense holder at the Temple...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week 35: Contrary Events of Philosophizing the Opinion for the Law

"Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress." - Martin Luther King
   This week's book of the week deals with the conflict surrounding justice, the law, and human nature. The title is Contrary Events of Philosophizing the Opinion for the Law. It was inspired from the American Law Review of 1883, which I purchased from the 25¢ shelf at our local used book store Reader's Corner. I was fascinated with the subject matter... and as I browsed the text, the title was derived from a word pick of one page of the book.

The title page
   The soft and supple weathered leather cover with gold tooled lettering was irresistible. Inside, the first page was signed by Leroy Fyournais, July 1884. Once inside, the beautiful book becomes the mouthpiece of justice and it's exquisiteness is overridden with legalese and some pretty silly thinking.

gold tooled lettering on a black leather cover

signed and dated...

     Contrary Events of Philosophizing the Opinion for the Law is a folded book with 8 panels and a separate 2-panel book of Addendum nested inside. Like the law, this book appears to be straightforward, but can actually be a bit confusing, misunderstood, and pointless. Pages are digital copies of a few pages from the American Law Review of 1883. The pages were doodled on with a Sharpie marker. Pastepaint images of windows, spirals and the word JUSTICE appear on many of the pages... lines connect in random ways... with shadows and ghost prints incorporated in the imagery.

On the shelf...
The book opens to black book cloth which is reference to a judge's robes. Inside the center of the main book is the separate book Addendum. When there is law, there is always addendum, revision, and fine tuning... sort of.

the open Addendum and the black silk of the opening Contrary Events...
Open the book by flipping down the first two pages and the doodle imagery moves across all four pages. The references to ladders, paths, windows, stitching and concentric circles are against the backdrop of the law book text and the stamped word JUSTICE.

Fold down the first two pages...
Fold up the top two pages to reveal 6 pages and more doodles. The emotional noise of the book, as depicted by the doodles and stark black, white, and gray paste paintings expresses the conflict and inexplainable thought processes of human nature with regards to justice, society, and the law.

fold up the next two pages
Open the two side panels of the middle pages to finish the book and see all 8 panels of the main book. The word JUSTICE is stamped in several places on the book.. sometimes straddling several pages. The idea that the laws are built on earlier laws is intended to be shown in the movement of text and imagery between pages. The background text, from the law book, is a variety of legal cases, opinions, and explanations of the law of that time...including Fraudulent Mortgages of Merchandise; Marriage and its Prohibitions; Proof of Handwriting by Comparison, and the Married Women's Property Act. Actually, some of the cases are somewhat relevant to today's issues...

fold the middle panels outwards...
   One quote from the American Legal Review of 1883...

"There have been in the history of our national legislation but two or three instances of well matured and extensive legislative acts. Among these must be mentioned, and perhaps first and highest of all, the Ordinance for the Government of the North-Western Territory, which antedates the constitution itself. The next in importance is perhaps, the Judiciary Act of 1789. We have also had three successive bankruptcy laws, which have been in their turn repealed, the last and most lasting of which was that of 1867. Possibly the most important instance of recent national legislation was the adoption of the Revised Statutes of the United States. In that volume, for the first time, all the acts of Congress of general application and concern were collected, arranged and codified. The legal profession in this country will never know through what a persistent struggle the enacting of that body of laws was brought about. They will never know how much they owe for the existence of the book called the Revised Statutes of the United States to Luke P. Poland, of Vermont, who was first to propose the measure in the Senate, and who afterwards for years had charge of the subject as chairman of a special committee of the House to which the subject had been committed. His labors in comparing, revising, and correcting that great work reach the hands of the profession without any assumption or acknowledgement of credit to him; but, having reference to his connection with it, it may be said that he has written his name upon the statute books of the country as no other man of recent times has. It is a singular fact that that great piece of legislation was enacted by the Senate without a single line of it being read in that body." 

Oh my.

tattered and well used.. the front cover of the American Law Review of 1883
   Our American justice system is one of many entities which require the act of hope and determination. Understanding is debatable... but there is always hope, determination, and.... the Contrary Events of Philosophizing the Opinion for the Law.