Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week 21: Baby Gate: Dreaming of Running the Bases

 This week's book Dreaming of Running the Bases is part of a tripartite boxed set of books titled Baby Gate.  Packages, bundles, presents... the book-of-the-week is about gifts... the sort of gifts that are natural and ordinary, and yet extraordinary in their power to produce change. An example of this is when a new baby is born into a family. With the passage of one day, all the lives connected with that birth are suddenly changed... and the whole family has gone through the Baby Gate. 

   The box that houses the set is an opposing-hinge box, which opens from two sides. It's covered by paper with everyday images like butterflies, postage stamps, and songbirds. The hinges are hand-dyed indigo bookcloth. Red satin ribbons are added to open and close the box lid. Inside, the box is covered with a collograph print of the sun shining through the treetops and vintage sheet music from a French songbook. Each of the three box sections holds one book. This week focuses on the middle section of the box... which houses a little accordion book with pop-out windows,  Dreaming of Running the Bases.
The box that holds the set...
Open the lid of the box from one direction.... and the center section is revealed with Dreaming of Running the Bases nested snugly inside.

a little book snug inside it's box
Pull the little book out, untie the baby blue satin ribbon, and peak inside. The cover is a recycled page from a children's book... a little boy in his baseball outfit, running the bases...

a baby blue ribbon holds the little book shut
and the back cover is a paste-paper painting of day-lilies and dragonflies.

paste-paper on the back cover
Unfold the little 4 by 4 inch accordion book to view an array of pop-out windows on the zigzag spine of greens, yellows, oranges, and blues. Created as a monoprint, the paper for the accordion is vibrant and energetic with the inference of new life and growth.

And inside... a photo journal of a one-week old baby sleeping... 

sleeping so sweetly...
dreaming of being at bat...
and getting a home run!!!
and dreaming... of joining the wide world...
nearby, a proud father cardinal in the garden...sings

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Week 20: In the Labyrinth

all closed up inside the box...
   The book-of-the-week for Week 20 is another book about labyrinths. This week's book, In the Labyrinth, focuses on the convoluted paths life can take...  It's constructed as an etui drop wall box with the the stories of four residences attached to the inner walls of the drop-wall box. When the lid is lifted, the 4 separate books that make the chapters can be seen glued to the inner side-walls.

looking from above...
One-by-one, or all at once, the walls fall flat and the chapter covers come into view. Each chapter has a photograph of the front porch of that residence glued to its cover... The front porch is the gate.

Chapter 3: An adventure! Holden Street, Pittsburgh
Chapter 1: 2324 Lyon Street & Chapter 4: 7909 Tulip Circle
When the four walls drop, all four chapter covers are visible...
4 places, 4 stories, 4 walls fallen down...
   Each chapter has the handwritten story on a folded paper structure called a boustrophedon... which means ox turning. .. Dating back to ancient Greece, boustrophedonic writing is lettering which moves across a line in one direction, then at the end of the line, reverses direction and moves in the opposite direction. At the end of each line, the direction of the writing is reversed. All the stories in In the Labyrinth read from left to right... it's the paper that is cut and then folded accordion style as a boustrophedon.

the Forum Inscription boustrophedonic writing in Latin, 5th-7th century BC
The folded-up boustrophedon opens like any other book, but as the pages are turned, there is a flipping that needs to occur so the book can continue being read. Just like life's little twists... and never really know what's ahead.
inside each book... the story
These are the four chapters and the first few pages of each one...

(Chapter 1) 2324 Lyon Street
                 Raleigh, NC

It was the home of my birth.
It was the place I entered the world.
Mama, Daddy, my big brothers and I all fit fine in that 900 square feet.
It was all sunshine and roses and backyard Bar-B-Ques.

(Chapter 2) 72 Leah Drive 
                  Penland, NC

Imagine, living in Heaven.
On top of the world in a broad green pasture.
With the clouds so close you could touch them, breath them in...
Wrap them around you like a warm blanket.

(Chapter 3) 5808 Holden Street 
                   Pittsburgh, PA

It was a true adventure!
I was just tagging along, just biding my time for two years.
We made our way into this Shangri-La, bursting through the Fort Pitt Tunnel
to the vertex of three rivers and a spaghetti bowl of bridges and by-ways.

(Chapter 4) 7909 Tulip Circle 
               Raleigh, NC

It was my dream house.
A place to raise kids and re-live the good parts of the past.
The space inside was deceptive, SHAPE-CHANGING.
It was both warm and cosy, yet massive and rambling.

Boustrophedon fold-outs
open to the stories...
On the back of each boustrophedon is a GOOGLE map to the place that story is about...
the map folded out... and the story showing through from behind
When all four boustrophedons are unfolded, the maps are a jumble of folded paper... a maze of maps... a labyrinth of a life. maze

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Week 19: The Gates Swing Open

   The book-of-the-week for Week 19 is a drop-sides box also known as an etui box.  The title of the book is The Gates Swing Open. A paper-cut gate is pasted to each of the four outer side walls. Under the gates, the bookboard side pieces are covered with vintage paper from an antique Japanese book about instructions to play the popular Japanese game GO. The lid is covered with black Japanese silk bookcloth, antique book paper, and a cube of laminated bookboard painted with black gesso. 

Inside the box the four side walls are lined with handmade Japanese paper which was letterpress printed with the lines of the poesy, The Gates Swing Open...

The Gates swing open
And the walls fall

The Gates swing open
And the walls fall

The Gates swing open
And the walls fall

The Gates swing open
And the walls fall

And they do! Lift the lid and the walls of the etui box fall down flat on the table. Inside the box is an old key... a material presence of the poesy words.

   The word poesy isn't used often these days.. George Gordon Noel Byron (Lord Byron), 1788–1824, used it in his poem The Prophecy of Dante...

"Many are poets but without the name,
For what is poesy but to create

From overfeeling good or ill; and aim
At an external life beyond our fate..."

It's definition states that poesy is 1) an archaic word for poetry, 2) the art of writing poetry, or 3) a poem or verse especially used as a motto. ...So isn't that what was done in this little 3-dimensional book, but create a motto to live by?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Week 18: Labyrinth Poems

   Labyrinth is a word of Minoan origin, derived from the Lydian word labrys meaning double-edged axe. In modern-day English, a labyrinth is generally synonymous with a maze, but there is a distinction between the two in that maze refers to a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path which leads to the center and back. Labyrinths have been found all over the world and date back over 4000 years. Pliny the Elder’s (23AD-79AD) Natural History mentions four labrynths: the Cretan labyrinth at Knossos, an Egyptian labyrinth, a Lemnian labyrinth, and an Italian labyrinth. The symbolism of the labyrinth is wide and complicated, however, some of the oldest cultures have related labyrinths to royalty or to the beginning of creation.

   The most common labyrinth story is the Greek myth of Daedalus who built a labyrinth for King Minos of Crete at Knossos to house his half-bull half-man creature the Minotaur. When Daedalus fell in love with the king's daughter, Ariadne, King Minos put Daedalus in the labyrinth with the deadly Minotaur. The myth ends when Daedalus finds his way safely out of the labyrinth with a skein of thread given him by Ariadne.

   Since the Middle Ages, labyrinths have been associated with the Christian church.. resurrection, salvation, and enlightenment. The labyrinth in the medieval cathedral of Chartres in France is one of the most famous historical labyrinths still in its original form.
labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, France
   This week's book-of-the-week is based on the labyrinth using Plato's idea of becoming lost in a variety of choices, where logic is in a delicate balance. If this post seems a bit rambling and confusing, that's because this writer became enamored with the MANY threads of information about labyrinths... and well... more than once... if not lost... well, off course... Inside a labyrinth it's impossible to see what's ahead.
pastepaper cover with a volvelle labyrinth
   Labyrinth Poems is a casebound book with silk bookcloth spine and pastepaper on the coverboards. It is also an interactive book. Spin the labyrinth volvelle on the front cover and pick out the words through the cut-outs to make a poem... Then, write the poem on one of the blank pages inside the book. The volvelle is based on the one-arm style of labyrinth, one of the simplest labyrinth forms. There are three rings that circle the center space. The outer ring of the labyrinth has words that are the articles A and The or pronouns. The middle ring has nouns or verbs, and the inner ring has verbs. 

standard one-arm labyrinth
words hidden behind the labyrinth walls, come in view through the cut-out windows as the wheel turns
The title on the cover and title page were printed with 12-point Roman typeface on the Pearl letterpress. Each page has a hand-carved linoleum block print with a labyrinth motif. The poems were written as they were generated with a Sharpie fine point pen.

title page
first poem... from words revealed on the volvelle
Plato used the labyrinth to describe the labyrinthine line of a logical argument in  his Euthydemus (384BCE)... 

"Then it seemed like falling into a labyrinth: we thought we were at the finish, but our way bent round and we found ourselves as it were back at the beginning, and just as far from that which we were seeking at first."