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 Médicis, mother of king Louis XIII of France
1700's nunnery then hospital then orphanage, Loire Valley, France
farm cabin, Washington, GA