Sunday, December 29, 2013

Week 52: Anteaters, Balloons, and Cake

   For the last week of the 2013, the book-of-the-week is actually about beginnings... as in the first letter of words. The book for week 52 is an alphabet book titled Anteaters, Balloons, and Cake.

A colorful pastepaper cover over thick boards is the first view of the little 5 x 6 inch book. A letterpress printed title plate is affixed to the front cover and purple silk bookcloth covers the spine and the spine connections inside the book. 

Inside, the illustrations are line drawings that were printed using the polyester plate lithography method and an etching press. An edition of three copies was made, then each image was hand-colored with colored pencils. The text was printed on the Pearl letterpress here at Orange Lantern Press with a combination of 36-point Bodini Bold Italic and 18-point Goudy Hand-tooled fonts. The paper used was a stiff and creamy Stonehenge. Here is the little alphabet book, Anteaters, Balloons, and Cake...

...And Z is for zebra and zeros...(but not xylephones.)

   I am delighted and honored by those who have taken the time this past year to read the rambling about books, the rants on life, and the odd snippets of obscure information that have made their way into this blog. The 2013 Book-of-the-Week books will be on display in Raleigh at the Cameron Village Library during the month of February and in May at Pullen Arts Center (along with several other artists who took the weekly challenge for their art medium).. Details should be in the Events box soon.

   2014 will be another year of Book-of-the-Week, so check in when you are able! The focus for the coming year will be the use of content within the books... with an effort to include an element of continuity from one week to the next so the books work off each other much like the House series of books in 2013. But, like life, it's expected that the continuity will divert in unexpected ways...

   Some things that can be counted on is that I will be teaching book arts. In 2014 I'll be teaching at Pullen Art Center (Raleigh), Cary Art Center, Penland School of Crafts, and some other great places. Again, check the Events box periodically if you are interested in joining a phenomenal group of artists as we explore the processes of handmade books.

I hope you have a joyful, bountiful, and creative New Year!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Week 51: I Saw a Ship A-Sailing

   Week 51 is the time of Christmas celebration all over the world. In our area, whether christian or not, one cannot ignore the rituals of the season....  the stories of the nativity.... and the celebration of giving. Though this week's book-of-the-week looks like a gaily wrapped holiday present, it is not based on religious text, but rather, the Mother Goose Rhyme, I Saw a Ship A-Sailing. The little poem goes like this...

Page 1,  a box side of letterpress printing on watercolored paper 
I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea;
And oh! it was all laden
With pretty things for thee!

Page 2, inked line drawings add to the letterpress rhyme
There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold;
The sails were made of silk,
And the masts were made of gold.

Page 3: line drawings of little pirate mice with gold necklaces...
The four-and-twenty sailors 
That stood between the decks,
Were four-and-twenty white mice
With gold chains around their necks.

Page 4: a surprise ending to make you smile.

 The captain was a duck,
With a pack upon his back;
And when the ship began to move,
The captain said, “Quack! Quack!”

... then lift the lid, and see what's inside...
 The fun part about this book is the interactive etui box whose four drop-down walls constitute its four pages. When the lid is lifted, magnets hold the drop-down walls in place and the surprise stays safe inside. Where is it?

it might be filled with the imagination....
or it might be a mysterious creature with beady black eyes...
or a plush toy duckling...
Like the toy duckling baby's rattle inside I Saw a Ship A-Sailing, presents can be thoughtful, joyful, silly, precious, humble, useful, frivolous, rare, commonplace, and beautiful. And this week of the year presents can be found everywhere.... . 

a winter sunset in the neighborhood...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Week 50: The Library

   The book-of-the-week for week 50 is titled The Library. It's a small carousel book with 5 page sections made of old card catalog cards, pages from an 1850's Harper's Monthly, pastepaper, marbled paper, a bit of glue, and ribbon...
carved stone wall of a library in Rome...
   The first libraries originated in Sumer (present-day Iraq) in 2600 BC to house the oldest books... the Sumerians' clay tablets of cuneiform script. In the 6th century BC, the great Mediteranian libraries of Alexandria (Egypt) and Constantinople (Byzantine Empire) were considered the greatest libraries in the world and housed hundreds of thousands of papyrus scrolls. Though the library at Alexandria was burned by the Romans in 48BC and the library at Constantinople was destroyed by a number of fires and wars from 474 AD until 1204... still, beautiful and significant libraries continue to populate our world in every culture and country. Some libraries are specialized collections of rare books, letters, papers, and antiquities housed in museums, churches, temples, and universities. Others are composed of modern information systems of digital media and complex robotics which are located in research centers, government complexes, and modern-day think tanks. ...And some libraries are regional public libraries... old and new... that serve a variety of book devotees in their everyday life. The Library  is inspired by one extraordinary public library... the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Carnegie Public Library,  1905
"On April 26, 1898, Mr. Carnegie approved a grant of $200,000(by the end of the project, this figure had increased to $244,000) to purchase property and construct a building to house a Free Public Library, 800-seat Music Hall, Lecture Hall(now with 140 seats from the former Grand Theater of Carnegie, Pennsylvania), and Gymnasium. This amount included funds for purchasing enough land, not only for the building, but also for a small in-town park adjacent to the building. This grant also included an additional $10,000 for the purchase of the Library's first supply of books. After the purchase of property, construction of the building, and the purchase of the first supply of books, the remainder of the $254,000($93,000) was used to establish an Endowment fund for the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. The site chosen for this project was on a hill in the middle of town, overlooking the business district." 
- History of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall Carnegie, Pennsylvania, By Glenn A. Walsh, September, 1997; June, 2000

The old libraries have that warm cozy aura of polished wood, tall ceilings, and stacks and stacks of bookshelves... The five page sections of The Library are glued side-to-side to form a series of three accordion strips which are then sewn together with pamphlet stitches.  At the top and bottom of each page section, there are tipped-on folded triangles that create the floor and roof. 

stretched out like book cases...
This is a great exercise in geometry.. figuring out the angles of the triangles so the floor lies flat and the roof  slants upward when the book is pulled back to form the carousel. Just in case you want to try it, the triangles of a 5-piece carousel book that lie flat are 72 degrees at the vertex angle and the triangles that are slanted upward are 90 degrees (or more) at the vertex angle. 
the carousel...with marbled paper floor and roof and tied with a red ribbon

Each page section has three layers of paper. The back layer is solid, but the two front layers have cut-outs which create a tunnel-like effect with see-through windows.
see-through windows
...and the architecture of the Pittsburgh Carnegie Public Library has the same layering effect.
inside the Carnegie Public Library, Pittsburgh
The Library unfolds and transforms... as all libraries do....

the roof like aged copper...  or a star shining in the sky

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Week 49: The Peace Temple

  For people who love books, reading a really intriguing story can be like moving into the book.  The book becomes a sort of shelter... a house... a temple. This week's book-of-the-week, The Peace Temple, is based on that feeling... of living inside the book.
bamboo, paper, copper and string make the The Peace Temple
The Peace Temple is based on the Japanese Tanabata festival (Festival of Wishes), which is celebrated each year on July 7th, or August 8th. Mentioned in an earlier post (, on this day people write their wishes on strips of paper and hang them from trees and bushes outside their home, or on doorways, gates, and thresholds nearby. The paper strips make a beautiful cacophony of planer surfaces and text. .. a presence in the world and hope for a better one... 

The words on over 650 strips of handmade paper
A handwritten banner with the word...PEACE hangs from the central ridge pole of The Peace Temple. What better wish to make in a house of wishes? The Greeks and Romans built temples for their favorite gods and goddesses... places to meditate, bring offerings, study and keep the stories of the gods, carry out rituals, and pray.  So The Peace Temple was conceived and built as a modern-day temple for the gods and goddess of peace. In ancient mythology, Eirene was the Greek goddess of peace and Pax was her Roman counterpart.... Baldr was the Norse god of peace... and Vishnu, the god of peace for the Hindu religion. In our time, several individuals stand out as gods or goddesses of peace. On this week, especially, we are grateful for the life yet saddened by the passing of Mr. Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918-December 5, 2013)
the center Peace banner... three feet long and made of handmade paper 
   So how was The Peace Temple constructed? The 10-foot tall bamboo structure fits together like a room-size Tinker Toy®. Right-angle bamboo ladders form the corner pieces, which are connected with bamboo poles laid on top and held in place with wooden pegs. The pyramidal roof is made of eight bamboo poles slipped onto wooden dowels protruding out of a wooded hub.. with a matching copper roof affixed to it's tip.
The roof poles snap onto the hub pegs... like Tinker Toys!
With very little effort, The Peace Temple snaps into place.

Raising the roof!
The pages of The Peace Temple are over 650 strips of paper that are tied to the rungs of the ladder-walls and the roof poles with string. The strips have been letterpress printed with BRUSH- or CASLON- font antique movable type... and say either I WISH or PEACE. The I WISH  printed paper strips are made of a very thin Japanese handmade paper that is tipped on the string-end with a variety of paste painted or marbled papers. This bit of color in the otherwise white structure, is reference to the spiritual and revered illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages... as well as the beautiful complexity of humanity. The PEACE printed strips are of Italian mould-made paper that is smooth and creamy.

hanging the strips to the wall rungs...
a meditation in tying the I WISH and PEACE pages...
   Now completed, the book stands in the Code X show at the Carrack Modern Art gallery in Durham, NC for another week. It is meant as an interactive book. People can walk inside The Peace Temple, move the pages with their hands, meditate, pray, or play. On Friday evening, December 13, 2013, The Peace Temple will be  part of an interactive music performance with musician Graham Cox. If you are in the area, you are invited to join the event from 6-9pm at 11 W. Parrish St. Durham, North Carolina.
The artist inside The Peace Temple
   The Peace Temple is an exercise in creating a book which is capable of acting as a book as well as a place to exist. The Penland School of Crafts will offer a class titled Living Inside the Book in the summer of 2014. This class will be taught by book artist Kathy Steinsberger and professor of architecture, Sara Glee Queen. Part of the course description reads... This course will expose the shared qualities of books and architecture in order to investigate the role that book structure and form can play in defining the “rooms” or spatial moments of a narrative.
a lighted tunnel with it's own story...


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Week 48: Dream

    The book-of-the-week is Dream. ...the only word in the book.
 pastepaper cover over boards and silk bookcloth spine
"Hope is a waking dream." - Aristotle