Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 13: Shroud, Chapter 1: Caswell County, 1917-1970

   Memory is a time-shifter. It landscapes the past through relics and artifacts, and envelopes the present in a fog of semi-reality expressed as narrative. Memories can have an aspect of being both alive and dead. This week's book-of-the-week is the first chapter of the book Shroud... which is about memories expressed through a landscape in the form of a paper quilt. Chapter 1, Caswell County 1917-1970,  is made from a 1964 US Geological Survey map of Caswell County, North Carolina.
Chapter 1.... a 9-patch quilt pattern
   The map was cut into pieces and re-sewn as a nine-patch quilt square. The nine-patch is one of the simplest quilt patterns and is characterized by three rows, with each row having three squares each. The image below shows a nine-patch section on each corner, and a smaller nine-patch in the middle of the quilt.
a nine-patch quilt with 5 nine-patch sections

   This particular pattern was chosen because it was used in many of the quilts made by the farm woman in the book. It was quick, interesting, and utilized material efficiently. During the Depression era, farm families made use of everything.... money was tight and time was limited. Nearly everything had to be homegrown or crafted from materials at the farm. These days, the possibility of artisan-made butter and cheeses, organic beef and hams, fresh milk warm from the cow, eggs and vegetables picked from a garden not 20 yards from the back door... is a precious rarity. But in my Grandparents time... on their farm in Caswell County.... from the day of their marriage in 1917 until a few years before their death in the 1970's... these things were an everyday occurance.

Granny, about 1932

  At each of the four corners of the piece, are etchings made from old photographs of the area. Red silk thread binds the etchings to the nine-patch. The prints express what the mind cannot adequately render. ...Today, most of those places hardly resemble the image they express in memory.
Wedding party in the cornfield, 1917
   Handwritten in blue ink are the local hangouts, activity centers, villages and towns, meeting spots, churches, communities, and parks that were so important in past times.

Carver's Store, around 1940 by Marian Post Wolcott
   All during our youth, we kids heard stories about how... during the Depression... Mr. Henry Warren used to give all the kids a penny for every Indian arrowhead they brought him. He embedded them into the stonework of his house, mantles, and walkways. Later, after he retired from farming... he cemented them into the adorable miniature stone village, Shangri-La, that he built in his front yard...on the winding country highway that is NC 86 through Prospect Hill, North Carolina.... just like the stories that weave in and out of the landscape.  More information about Shangri-La and Mr. Warren's 10-year undertaking can be seen at Shangri-La.

   A family tree with births and deaths that range from the 1800-s to mid 1900's is penned in black ink in the center of the map. It has been abridged to give significance to the important persons in this narrative. 

Mildred, graduation from Prospect Hill High School, 1940
Bobby and Mildred just home from elopement in Texas, 1942.
   The final component is a handwritten narrative of a visit for Sunday dinner at the grandparents farm in Caswell County in the late 1950's. The narrative meanders throughout the nine-patch, just as the 1954 Plymouth rolled along the county roads from Raleigh to Prospect Hill all those Sundays ago. It is penned in gray ink as if it is a whisper... or coming through a fog... only bits and pieces clear.

An exerpt reads...

   Sunday lunch at Grandmama's house...we'd arrive after the hour-long drive from Raleigh.... cruising down Corbett Ridge Road, past the old Carver's store where Daddy's daddy, Exie Carver, had sold gas, and Nabs, and Coca-Colas to all the farmers... before he died.. before I was born. Daddy would pull the old Plymouth into the dusty driveway... rolling past the pig lot and the cow pasture to come to a stop right in front of the tractor shed... at the bottom of the hill leading up to the tidy whitewashed two-story farm house. My gaze always moved upward to the tin roof of the big old house and then landed on the lightening rod, perched straight and tall on the highest apex of the roof. Not an ordinary lightening rod, this one had an aqua blue glass ball midway up its shaft. I thought that aqua blue glass ball looked like a jewel. I gazed at it and imagined the delicate wrought ironwork... with its aqua blue glass ball.... was my princess' scepter. 

    It's been more than 50 years since that Sunday dinner. The old farmhouse is still whitewashed and tidy, but it's been empty for.. a long time. Most of the folks from that day are long gone too... Still, the memories lay in the psyche like a quilt, a warm blanket, or a shroud.

Google map of the Murphy farmhouse today

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 12: The Topography of Change

   The book-of-the-week for Week 12, is titled The Topography of Change. Letterpress printed on Mohawk cover paper, this carousel book has cut-out pages that resemble the layers of a topographical map. The cover boards are finished with marbled paper and two ribbons tie to form a closure.
star-shaped with a ribbon closure...
The five double-panel sections can be bent backwards to form a circle or spread out in a line.

Line of topography
Each page is cut differently, and meant to illustrate the text...which is about layers. This is the poem, The Topography of Change...

The tide comes in
The winds blow
The earth shifts
And realigns
The topography of change

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 11: Book Land

Carnegie Public Library, Pittsburgh, PA
   One of this artist's favorite places is the Carnegie Public Library in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Between 1883 and 1929 businessman Andrew Carnegie funded 2509 public libraries all over the world. More than 1500 were built in the United States, with the largest number built in the areas where he lived and did business,  around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mr. Carnegie opened the Oakland branch in 1895. His commitment to sharing the wealth of knowledge found in books to all people, regardless of financial standing, is undoubtably one of the most altruistic acts committed by the rich and powerful of that time. The impact of books and their significance on culture and society is the basis of this week's book-of-the-week, a board game titled, Book Land.

Fun in a box!
   The objective of Book Land is to make the most books and put them in your library. Housed in a cigar-style box (a nod to the cigar-smoking Mr. Carnegie), the game includes a four-panel board with watercolor illustrations; a die; a second cigar box with directions for making 5 different styles of handmade books, bookmaking terminology, and the game rules; a multi-compartment tray with book making tools and examples of the books; and a map of the first floor of the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh.

Everything, all pulled out of the box
Books and tools... inside the tray
a box of buttons inside the tray are the board tokens...
A variety of handmade decorative papers were used to make the game: pastepaper, collograph prints, marbled paper, Japanese prints, and even handmade Japanese kimono fabric was used to make bookcloth.

all the sample books around the tray
   The colorful poster board cover of each set of book making directions was letterpress printed with the title and a quote using the Pearl letterpress at Paperbuttons Press.  Fonts used were 24-point Bookman, 12-point Sans serif, and 14-point Oldstyle Italian Italic. Directions for the individual books were originally written by this artist for her book arts classes and printed on the Epson inkjet printer. The books that can be made are: Accordion, Concertina, & Japanese Stab Binding; Cross-Hatch Longstitch on Leather; Multi-needle Coptic with Headband; and Case Bound book with French-Link Binding. To play the game, all one has to do is roll the die and then when one lands on a certain color tile, make the book that is in that color folder. If a player lands on a white tile... too bad, that person doesn't get to make any book at all...

the folders of book-making directions
  When this artist first wished to make her own artist's books in 2001,  she went to the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh. She searched the card catalog and looked up the topic book making, but all of the books listed were about how to gamble. After some thought, she looked up the topic book binding and found numerous books about how to make handmade books. Now, with this handy game, Book Land, anyone can make their own books, just by playing!

Map of Carnegie Public Library

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 10: Foot Paths

   The book-of-the-week for Week 10 is titled Foot Paths. This book is a pop-up book about shoes. It's housed in a hard cover case with a green Japanese silk bookcloth spine piece, Italian print paper, and a hand-lettered title plate in Magic Marker® on heavyweight Stonehenge print paper.

the cover...
Inside, there are six page spreads...also using heavyweight Stonehenge® print paper. Each page spread is laid out landscape style with two triangle-supported pop-ups across the centerfold. To learn more about making triangle-supported pop-ups, see Carol Barton's book,  Pocket Paper Engineer, Volume I. Each pop-up is a pair of legs... with a different type of shoe...  Watercolor paints, hand lettering with Magic Marker®, and hand drawn illustrations with Sharpie Marker® fill each page and tell the story... where the shoes represent different points in life.

fuzzy slippers...
golf cleats...
ballet shoes...
cowboy boots...
What paths are in your shoe closet?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 9: As I was going to St. Ives

   The book-of-the-week for Week 9 is an old English nursery rhyme (and riddle) about going on a trip... and maps are certainly needed when traveling to strange and unusual places. The rhyme, As I was going to St. Ives, was first published in 1730 and is thought to refer to the fishing town St. Ives in Cornwall, Wales. In the poem, the journeyman seems to be on the road with quite a few people... and cats... Where they end up, St. Ives or somewhere else, is open for interpretation.
the cover
The simple case-bound book has only five pages. A creamy Italian mould made paper was used for the textblock. Each page was printed with the image of an antique map of Cornwall, England from 1695 as the background for the poem. Handmade marbled paper was glued onto the cover boards and a neutral wide-weave linen bookcloth was used on the spine. The title plate and remainder of the poem were all letterpress printed at Orange Lantern Press with the Pearl press and 24-point Goudy Bold type. 
casebound with marbled paper, an ancient map, and linen bookcloth spine piece

Add caption
However, rather than being about adventure and enlightenment, perhaps this book is more about mathematics.. and logic.. It all depends on how one views the riddle...
This is the rhyme...
As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits,
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?