Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Week 52: Gates

 The title of the last book-of-the-week for 2014 is GATES.. It is simply six words that are gates... Hope, Dream, Faith, Craft, Laughter, and Love. The words are letterpress printed in the shape of a gate, with stacks of the words as the two side posts and four lines of the words as boards connecting the posts. The book was bound in the stiff-leaf method. Hand-marbled paper was used to cover the coverboards. Black, white, and grays are the color pallet.
marbled paper and a letterpress title plate
a black silk bookcloth spine
the title page...
the colophon...
It wasn't easy to decide what book to make for this last week of a year of books based on the word gate. That's why this post is coming at the very last hours of the year... there are still so many gates unexplored.  And yet, as the old year rings out and the new year slips in, another gate patiently awaits our passage. Happy 2015! May your days be filled with light.

Next week begins another year of books. The books will be based on the word map. Yippee!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week 51: On the Origin of Christmas

   In 1859 Brittish naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin published his book, On the Origin of Species, with its world-changing theory of evolution of mankind and all living things. This was certainly one of the gateways of modern thinking and has affected the approach to science and many religious philosophies ever since. This week's book-of-the-week alludes to Darwin's book while also spotlighting a significant time of year. The book-the-week for Week 51 is titled, On the Origin of Christmas.
the cover... tied with an organza bow
   On the Origin of Christmas is a carousel book.. sometimes called a star book... made with two layers of accordion-folded black archival construction paper. The cover boards were covered with hand-marbled paper in Christmas colors of red and green which also express a vibrant life-force appearance... as if looking into a pot of primordial soup. The title plate, the only text in the book, was letterpress printed in red ink with Wedding Type typeface onto handmade Japanese mulberry paper. Red organza ribbons were attached to both coverboards for a bow closure. Closed, the book is 4½ inches tall by 5 inches wide. When the ribbons are untied, the accordion book can be stretched to 30 inches wide.

cover and title plate

    Each of the five folios depicts a two-layered whimsical view of a stage of the evolution of Christmas as cut-paper silhouettes on a moonlit starry night. On the back series of folios, tiny yellow stars were letterpress printed... with clouds and moon hand painted in white gesso. Each letterpress star was pierced with a hole to let light from behind further illuminate the black paper sky. Black and red-dotted bookcloth strips were used to attach the folios, thus creating each of two accordion strips. The rear accordion strip (with the sky and stars) was attached to the forward accordion strip (with the cut-paper silhouettes) by means of a three-hole pamphlet stitch sewn with black waxed linen thread. This is essentially how the book was created. Once the covered boards and ribbon closures were glued onto the ends, the fabrication was complete.
opened up
This is the story... On the Origin of Christmas
Page 1, the earth was here...
Page 2, plant life grew...
Page 3: people came together...
Page 4: religions began..
Page 5: Santa Clause!
  Whether we have come back to magic or never left it, the many definitions of Christmas certainly confirm its multi-dimensional effect on so many aspects of our community... perhaps even, our world. From spirituality... to economics... to fellowship... to art... to tradition.. to joy.. to hope... and just belief in magic. Just as there are two sides of a coin, good and bad, Christmas is a complex phenomenon. This little book lets the reader decide which way to read it.
a Christmas train...

The book can be stretched out like a Christmas train... chugging around the Christmas tree.

Or twisted around like the five-pointed star of Bethlehem...

Christmas star
After the book is viewed and it's time to put it away, the little book can be tied with its two ribbons and slid into its green pastepaper-covered slipcase...

in it's slipcase...
And it looks just like a present.

All wrapped up
Charlemagne the cat on Christmas morning....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Week 50: Some Eden...

   In Week 48's book-of-the-week, The Garden of Peace, reference was made to a unique and fantastical garden...

"Beyond the gate was some Eden... beautiful flowers, exotic plants of every kind and form. There were giant clay figures and small pools of fat orange koi where red painted bridges spanned across. It was the life's work of some visionary and prophet, an ark of growing things and art... and it was created with love." 

That fantastical garden is a real place. It's located in a village called Gardone Rivera on Lake Garda in Italy. With a view of the Alps to the north, this tropical paradise is kept unusually warm by the huge glacier-created lake that abuts it. This excerpt from the webpage describes this amazing garden...

"the Giardino Botanico, a collection of flora from all over the world with plants from Africa and South America interspersed with species from Asia, Europe and Australia. Edelweiss amidst orchid meadows; tree ferns several metres high next to pomegranate wonders. Streams and waterfalls; ponds with sacred koi carp, trout and the reflections of dragonflies in flight; hills of dolomite rock alongside cacti and towers of ivy. Indian and Moroccan sculptures in harmony with installations by Roy Lichtenstein, Susanne Schmögner, Mimmo Paladino and Keith Haring."  

This enchanted place is the genesis for this week's book.. a carousel book titled Some Eden.

The book, all folded up and tied with a satin ribbon...
   The entire book is made with photographs taken on a sunny afternoon in September, 2014 at the Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller (André Heller Botanical Garden). The front cover has a cut-out photograph of the iron front gate. The whimsical imagery is a hint to the joyful and inspiring beauty amassed beyond the gate. Gold-printed Japanese Chiyogami paper alongside Italian print paper and this artist's pastepaper and marbled paper are the background of the carousel book. The backing paper is heavyweight archival construction paper from The French Paper Company®.

looking into the book at photographs glued into cut-out frames..
Red and black-spotted rayon handmade bookcloth is used to bind the pages accordion-style, then the two separate accordion strips are sewn together with a series of pamphlet stitches. As is true for all carousel books, the forward set of pages have cutout sections so the anterior imagery can be viewed. Using this type of book is a great way to teach geometry, and angles were used in determining the dimensions of the roof and floor triangles. For a six-section carousel book, 360 degrees is divided by the number of sections, 6, to determine the angle of each floor triangle... in this case 60 degrees. For a pointed roof, the angle must be larger than 60 degrees. For this book, 72 degrees was selected for the center vertex of the triangles creating the roof.

looking down on the carousel roof... beautiful pastepaper
the beginning of the circle of a carousel book...
The carousel book can be stretched out to form a long strip.. where each page resembles a sort of house.
the six vignettes, all lined up...
The backside of the accordion strip can also be used to tell a story. In Some Eden a map of Italy has been printed onto handmade Hahnemuhle® paper and affixed to the back of each panel.
its place in the world... how to find this Eden
a string of prayer flags are strung across the first page..
an iron gate with the moon and the stars...
a huge clay face from the land of Persia, studded with gems and tatoos...
beautiful flowers and the goddess Guanyin by a pool...
a little clay man gives praise for his blessings...
a little clay lady sings to the flowers and plants...
When it's all wrapped up the carousel book is housed in a slipcase that rests beneath the magic box book The Peace Garden.
Some Eden in its case under The Garden of Peace
slipping out of it's case...
Some Eden opened beside The Garden of Peace...
   For all its misery and war, poverty and sickness, fear and prejudice ... there is still beauty, purity, and joy in the world. There is somewhere Some Eden... 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 49: The Book of Bees

   Many times, when moving through life.. or a gate... it's impossible to see what will happen along the way- and the outcome is totally unexpected. All we can really be sure of is the present and what is solid in front of our eyes. To make that point, this week's book began with an object. A fist-sized yellow jacket's nest was the prompt for this week's book. It began as the first placement into another three-chamber opposing hinge magic box. The box and it's contents make up Week 49's book-of-the-week, The Book of Bees.
lid of the 3-chamber magic box
opened to the right, hive chamber revealed.
   The box is covered in pastepapers and handmade Japanese printed paper. The hinge straps are double sided: brown cotton bookcloth and woven silk sari fabric from India. Satin ribbons are the lid pulls, and unpainted wooden plywood blocks are the feet. 

opened, two chambers revealed...
   Inside the box are two additional books, which are revealed when the lid is opened to the left. The top chamber houses a small 3 x 2-inch cord-bound book with pastepaper cover and leather spine. Its text pages are handmade Hahnemuhle paper from Germany and the endpapers are floral print paper from Italy. The little book has its own title, Telling the Bees and Other Bee Lore. This book is a handwritten collection of myths, poems, and facts about bees throughout history. 
   The book begins with the poem Telling the Bees by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) . Though a love poem, the flowery 18th century verse also expresses the colonial folklore concerning bees... the early Americans' belief that a death in the home caused the bees (a great commodity of the time) to leave their hives and fly away. To offset this occurrence, Colonial Americans covered their bee hives with cloths to hide the death from the bees. In addition, the beekeeper would whisper to the bees telling them not to leave... telling the bees. Additional facts within the little book are that honey bees were nonexistent in North America until they were brought to Jamestown, Virginia from England in 1622. And, it took another 231 years for honey bees to reach the west coast! The first honey bees to reach Oregon were recorded in 1853! Meanwhile, on the east coast, honey and beeswax were a big commodity. Records show that in 1730 over 350,000 pounds of beeswax were exported from Virginia throughout the world. 
box opened to the left... a little book and a tunnel book inside
floral endpapers on the Telling the Bees and Other Bee Lore
text from The Descent of the Goddess Ishtar
  One of the few Native American tales involving bees, The Bee King and the Snake's Daughters, from the Ioway tribe is also written down in the little book. A copy of this tale can be found on the site:
   These are fairly recent bee facts and lore... Actually, bees have been worshipped for thousands of years. The Egyptians reverence for bees is seen in religion as well as commerce. Beekeeping has been part of Egyptian culture since 3000BC. All Pharaohs... dating back to King Menes, founder of the First Egyptian Dynasty, were called “the Beekeeper”. An image of the bee can be seen next to the Pharaoh's cartouche. Throughout the Egyptian mythology and many others, the bee is identified with transformation of the soul... a sort of gate.

signature of Hatshepsut,  5th Pharaoh of the 18th  Dynasty
   Bees were significant in the old religions of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Old Europe. Bees and hives are seen in the cave drawings of Catal Huyuk, Spain and Lascaux, France.. and bee references are seen in neolithic clay relics related to the mother goddess with a beehive on her head, standing on a beehive, or holding one as if a womb.  A good reference is the book, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, 6500-3500 B.C.: Myths and Cult Images by Marija Gimbutas.
bee hive temple wall painting at Catal Huyuk, Spain, 6600BC
A photographic tunnel book of a honey-filled hive is the third chamber of The Book of Bees.  Its complex latticework of chambers resembles a gate and alludes to the complexity of bees' place in mythology, folkore, and ancient religions. Such a beneficial and communal being... with honey and beeswax as products and dance as a means of communication... is certainly an alluring diety.
tunnel book of a hive...
hive and the little book
bee fossil from 100 million years ago, South East Asia

"Everywhere transience is plunging into the depths of Being… It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again, “invisibly,” inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible."

—Rainer Maria Rilke
Thursday was the birthdate of poet Rainer Maria Rilke (Dec. 4, 1875 - Dec. 29, 1926).