Wave your Flag!: Teens Create Flag Books in Honor of The Big Read

Wave your Flag!: Teens Create Flag Books in Honor of The Big Read

As a program of The Big Read in LA, 2016, I taught a flag bookmaking workshop at Verduga Hills High School. The Big Read book is Ray Bradbury‘s “Fahrenheit 451“, in which firemen light fires to burn books, instead of rescuing them from the flames. Although published over 60 years ago, the book remains uncomfortably relatable to present day issues. Even prescient at times.

Conducting the workshop with the teens was great.  I loved it, the students loved it, the school librarian loved it, and the classroom teacher loved it.  Here are a few images of what the students made.

WEB10Students had a choice of “flag” pages: rectangles of uniform size, cut from tagboard in an array of bright colors, repurposed library return cards offered up by the school librarian (treasures!), pieces of  sketchbook covers, and  one off items such at the card above, painted in black chalkboard paint and adorned with red letters and numbers.

WEB3Students used a variety of materials to create layered meaning through text and image.

WEB1They mixed it up, playing with pattern, visual texture and color in their compositions.

WEB8A curated selection of quotes from the book were available, and a number of students used them in their books.

WEB7These young artists had the passion!

WEB6They spoke their hearts.

WEB5“Meaningful elements remind us to live”

WEB2“Pura Vida” = Pure Life.  Setting the intention?

WEB12The color combinations were striking, and students had the chance to see first had how the red accordion spine looked different pared with green….

WEB11and blue. This ambitious young artist reassembled the words that had been cut from this sketchbook cover, to striking effect on his book.

WEB9The Flag Book is a potent vehicle for personal expression, allowing for visual and verbal content on its numerous surfaces, places and spaces, in the form of writing, drawing, collaging, note taking, photographs, and combinations of any and all of these.

Once makers see and experience the possibilities, they are off to the races, their creativity limited only by time and space.

Let the flags of your own creativity, ideas, thoughts and feelings wave! Ray Bradbury did.

 

 

 

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We Wrote The Book: Notes From the Field1

We Wrote The Book: Notes From the Field1

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I am always amazed at the hunger people of all ages seem to have for not only making a book, but filling it. Often immediately. What they, You, fill it with, is called content. If you engage in this process,  you may find that the content of your book begins to resemble, uncannily, the content of your life. Or, it may just start out that way.

Whatever they, you,  fill it with, whether it be words, images, text, poetry, collage, drawings, painting, stitching, lace (!), the content created and the method, media and materials they, you, choose to use, inevitably expresses, and becomes part of, their, your, story.

WEB1b

I encourage a method of “Found Writing“, which may be similar to “Found Poetry”, as the process often yields up poetic self-awareness.

WEB1c

Makers simply respond to words, phrases and text they are drawn to, adding it to their book without self censure or judgment. The results are nothing short of remarkable: expressive, moving, and often a signpost as to the direction the maker is moving, or wants to move in their lives.

WEB1The “Flag Book” structure, invented by book artist Hedi Kyle, provides the perfect place for poetic text…

WEB2and images…cut up and reassembled in a new way through the book’s flag pages. Some content seems to be a message in a bottle, yielding up meaning as it is created and  contemplates, while some

WEB3 speaks for itself, in a very direct way. No second guessing  the message here, it would seem!

WEB2Above, students busily create envelope books, which will contain an invitation to their parents to attend our end of class bookmaking event…

WEB1Some brave souls share theirs.

WEB3Sticker letters are a hit,

WEB1and translate into the family activity, which employs the humble (OK- this is a fancy one I lucked upon in our local 99 cents store) file folder. You can use the manilla ones.

WEB2I usually insist on no tape,wanting the students to learn how to glue (UHU Glue Stics are a favorite- acid-free too) and sew, but do make an exception for the joys of washi tape!

In bookmaking, as in life, you can use just about anything to tell your story. It is all grist for the storymaking mill, whether you are conscious of it or not, so, why not get started???!!! You ARE the StoryMaker!

Material World (4)

Material World (4)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials.  Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We can find our way to the ineffable through immersion in the materials and techniques we choose to create with. Here I share some of my own investigation into the qualities inherent in materials that create texture. Though I am a visual artist, I find the sense of touch as powerful as that of sight, and am fascinated with how the two work together.


web1“A Stitch in Time Saves 9”, Flag Book, Title stitched onto flags, covers textured with crumpled tissue paper and adhesive, collage and repurposed beads stitched onto cover.

WEBaTextured Fan, covers covered with textured, painted and glazed paper, accordion spine made of repurposed Neutra VDL House brochure

WEB4“Brown Paper Bag”, Covers textured with crushed plain brown paper and brown paper bags, bound with hemp cord.

WEB4PaperPaintPlant, single signature binding, using paper containing plant material.

WEBcTeapot Book, Japanese Side Stab binding using thick highly textured handmade paper for covers, and drawing paper for pages, teapot rubber-stamped.

Synesthesia” isa rare neurological condition in which two or more of the senses entwine.”

The sense of sight and the sense of touch. How can we separate the two?  Does something feel like what it looks like, or does it look like what it feels like? Powerful questions for anyone working in the visual, or any realm of communication and expression.  Powerful stuff.

Material World (2)

Material World (2)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking, is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials, and how to employ and combine them. The following shares one step of my journey exploring and investigating the qualities inherent in materials.   Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We find our way to the ineffable through the use and exploitation of the materials we choose.

WEBaFront view…closed and tied.

WEBbPeeking open, ribbons wafting

WEBcAn open book…

WEBdSeen from behind

Single signature binding with wrapped covers, collage, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, drawing paper, recycled shirt-weight cardboard covers, binding sewn with hemp cord, ribbon. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping and over spine.

Artists Books, The Book Arts, Bookbinding, Bookmaking, The Making of Books, however you want to put it, is fertile ground for this exploration/exploitation.  In this sense, we are turning even our language on its proverbial head. For what might be seen as negative, such as materialism (being “materialistic”) and exploitation (making use of and benefiting from resources) becomes an act of creativity, imagination and exploration through this transformative  process.  Which becomes ultimately, an act of expression.

Material World (1)

Material World (1)

One of the pleasures and deep satisfactions of bookmaking, is delving into the visual, visceral, and tactile pleasures of materials, and how to employ and combine them. The following shares one step of my journey exploring and investigating the qualities inherent in materials.   Though many artists do not make the kind of money that allows for indulgence in what might be termed, “material pleasures”, we may be seen as materialistic…for materials are the very warp and weft of our trade.  We find our way to the ineffable through the use and exploitation of the materials we choose.

WEB3Three Books in Bows…all dressed up and  ready to go. An exploration of textiles, papers, ribbons, beads, shells, repurposed materials,  collage, hemp cord, jute, nylon and bindings. Textures created with tissue and brown wrapping paper and adhesive, layering of transparent material over collaged two-color cover, and stitching. Detail added with recycled and found beads, a treasured shell, and gauzy, glittery, patterned and woven ribbon.

WEB1Two Friends…My own version of an “art pauvre”, …a simple structure of humble, repurposed materials existing quietly in the world. Single signature binding of recycled graph paper pages, using jute cord, covers and spine made of recycled cardboard, covered with scraps of recycled cloth. Repurposed ornament stitched to front cover with hemp cord. The pleasures and mysteries of the seemingly mundane and everyday.

WEB5Unzipped…so named because there is a zipper stitched to the front cover…(to be depicted at a future time if a good picture can be made of it.) Another example of my expression of “art pauvre”.  Single signature book with pages made from recycled paper,  covers and spine made of recycled cardboard, covered with repurposed cloth. Jute cord used for binding, and to attach exterior cloth to covers. Interior cloth strips/insets glued on.

WEBiWEBjZebra BookSingle signature binding with wrapped covers, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, recycled shirt-weigh cardboard covers, folded card stock weight spine, patterned gauze ribbon, embroidery thread used for sewing. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping.

WEBmWEBpLace 2… Single signature binding with wrapped covers, collage, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, drawing paper, recycled shirt-weight cardboard covers, binding sewn with hemp cord, ribbon. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping and over spine.

WEBfWEBgWEBhLos Angeles, California, Single signature binding with wrapped covers, collage, maps printed on multipurpose paper, patterned paper from scrapbook pads, drawing paper, recycled shirt-weight cardboard covers, binding sewn with hemp cord, ribbon. Ribbon inserted through book, between cover board and wrapping and over spine.

Artists Books, The Book Arts, Bookbinding, Bookmaking, The Making of Books, however you want to put it, is fertile ground for this exploration/exploitation.  In this sense, we are turning even our language on its proverbial head. For what might be seen as negative, such as materialism (being “materialistic”) and exploitation (making use of and benefiting from resources) becomes an act of creativity, imagination and exploration through this transformative  process.  Which becomes ultimately, an act of expression.

Book Brights: The Moment in Purple and Pink

Book Brights: The Moment in Purple and Pink

Girl gifts…brightness, pinkness, joy, beauty, birthday wishes…in the pink.

WEBaShe just turned two…

WEBfFan pages.

WEBhA theatrical feel…

WEBiPurple accordion spine…and pink covers. Purple and pink.

WEBdButterfly.  She turned seven. Fly!

WEBbFlag book.

WEBfFlag pages attached to pink accordion spine.

WEBeBack cover. Purple and pink. Bird. Fly!

Material Girl 4: This and That Creates the Whole

Material Girl 4: This and That Creates the Whole

WEB1Book Bunch Bower

webfFold out Accordion “Pocket” Book

WEBb“The Word is Art”, Front Cover

WEBd“The Word is Art”,  Flag Book

WEBl“The Word is Art”, Flag Book, Aerial View

WEBaa“The Word is Art”, Back Cover

WEBn2“Interior Dialogue”, Flag Book

WEBo4“Radical Humanity” Flag Book

WEbh3“Teapot”,  Double Fan Book

WEbh“Teapot” Double Fan Book, “Spout”

WEbh1“Teapot” Double Fan Book, “Handle”

weba“Beauty is….”

 

Material Girl 3: Many Parts Create The Whole

Material Girl 3: Many Parts Create The Whole…FLAG BOOKS!

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The fun and innovative Flag Book  structure can be a powerful  form to express thought, feeling and idea through word and image.

WEBm

Within the flag book…there can be a

WEBo7

We all know that…

WEBnWEBn1

Above are Flag Book front and back covers..with a “found writing” title..which employs  text,  color, the font/typeface, the design, composition, and space between the words for cognitive and emotional impact.

WEBn2A single word or phrase can pack the proverbial punch, when paired with color and placement.

WEBn3Putting together “found” words and phrases can yield unexpected poetry…the poetic power of  Found Writing.

Found Writing can help us define our vision (or one of them…)

WEBoWEBo2and give us a hitherto unknown directive of sorts.  We  find that we can advise ourselves…

WEBo4within the context of numerous ideas.

WEBo9The layering of words, colors, shapes and text

WEBo3creates new meanings,

WEBpand may tell us something important…

WEBp3about something we want,

WEBp2or need

WEBp6to know…

WEBp5or experience…

WEBp1or try….

WEBp7You may find that you make a promise…to yourself…

WEBp8That must be kept.

Something new…has been born.

Wave those flags!!!!

WEBl

 

Material Girl 2: Many Parts Create The Whole

 

Material Girl 2: Many Parts Create The Whole

WEbj1

Preparing for bookmaking programs at the West Hollywood Library, the Diamond Bar Library, the Fairview Library, and the Montana Avenue Library isn’t just a labor of love…it can be pure joy.

WEbaWEbbThe spread of papers of just the right thickness, ready to be folded into the versatile accordion/concertina spine.

WEbc1Pages are attached to each fold of the spine. More folds = more page possibilities!

WEbe1A rainbow of front and back covers cut to the same height as the spines.

WEbe3Mottled” book pages.

WEbdHigh contrast, and “grey on grey” spine-cover color designs. The effect can be elegant!

WEbgWEbg2The glory of your basic colored construction paper…not just for kids.

WEbfAssorted papers…Japanese patterns, parchment, and ‘plain brown wrapper” card stock. Variety is the spice of life…and bookmaking!

WEbf1Let’s take a closer look at those papers!  Now…what can we do with them?

WEBmFront cover design…

WEBm1Use of paper heart found at “Trash for Teaching” in Los Angeles, on inside front cover.

WEBm2“Fan” page designs! The pages will be attached to each fold of the spine, and will “fan” out when the book is opened by pulling the back and front covers away from each other.  The “fan” book can also be opened ‘traditionally”,by turning the cover, and moving through the pages by turning them consecutively.

WEbiPutting it all together….a family theme.

WEbi1“Doors” and Windows” can be cut in pages and covers, to reveal the unexpected beneath and behind!

WEbj“Fan” pages are attached to the accordion /concertina spine, seen here in a variety of colors.

WEBkWEBk1WEBk2 WEBk3“Heart” openings on the “fan” pages  (“Windows/Doors”) reveal surprises behind and beneath…which can deepen and expand the theme of the book.

WEBl1WEBlCardboard shapes, another treasure found at Trash for Teaching, create a slight three-dimensional (“relief“) effect, and can be used to create visual frames for photos or other treasures added to the book.

WEBo6

Don’t we all?!!

Material Girl: Many Pieces Create the Whole

Material Girl: Many Pieces Create the Whole

Web_f.

Preparing for bookmaking programs at the West Hollywood Library, the Fairview Library, and the Montana Avenue Library isn’t just a labor of love…it can be pure joy.

Web_p.Prepping for any kind of teaching can be a wonderfully creative and stimulating experience…but preparing the materials for bookmaking can be especially inspiring: sifting through a plethora of colors and textures, cutting an array of papers and boards into a variety of sizes and shapes, and marveling at just how versatile a ribbon can be!

ribbonWEBFor fellow ribbon-obsessed souls…check out “Michaels” dollar a roll ribbon collection…you may just get lucky! I try to keep it limited to one-three rolls each time I visit.

Web_c.The “accordion” or “concertina” fan-folded book spine  is incredibly useful, integral  and applicable to numerous handmade book structures. Here is a “found” accordion spine…meaning it came to me without me looking for it, in the form a brochure for designer tile!

Web_d.Here we have studio “spine-o-copia”…accordion, stitched…and spiral bound handmade and repurposed book spines, vibrating with creative potential…which is what a studio should do, in my book. (!).

Web_aBlicks Art Materials is one of my “team partners.  I love their West LA store, filled with helpful folk, and beguiling materials.  Above is a colorful collection of acid-free tag boards cut to size, ready to be folded into accordion spines.

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For the fun and innovative “Flag Book ” structure,”flag” pages will be attached in a pattern to each fold of the accordion spine.

Web_n.Front and back book covers  in bright colors, and natural “tan” are cut to the same height as the brightly-hued spine pieces.

Web_k.Also prepared are cover pieces in softer, mottled pastel, grey and cream tones…to appeal to a variety of  color palettes.

Web_i.The result is a  cover color cascade…

Web_h.A gray “tone-on-tone” (gray on gray)  spine and cover sample will help participants understand how the spine is attached to the covers, and what the design options are.

Web_o.The paper cutter is a tool critical for both accuracy (and peace of mind) and avoiding the aching eyes and muscles that can result from  the hand-held cutter and straight-edge method.

Web_m.Flack jack stacks? No…Flag page stacks…the satisfaction of seeing the flag pages cut and ready to go. Don’t they just shimmer with bookish potential?!

Web_l.Various sized flags an be used in one project…the trick is arranging and attaching them in a consistent pattern to the spine, to avoid a flag page traffic jam and collision.

Web_g.View from the drafting table drawer: materials prepped and safely stowed. We don’t want paint splatter on any of them…yet!


Web_e.Material row…UHU glue sticks, hemp cord for sewing, and covered Japanese paper boxes. Tools of the trade for future projects.

Yes…I will answer the question You may not even know You are formulating…

Yes…you do have to love it!!!

I do…do YOU???!!!

Special thanks to Barbara Meltzer, and the Friends of the West Hollywood Library, for their heartfelt support of creative bookmaking programs at the West Hollywood Library!!!