MemoryMaking Books

MemoryMaking Books

In celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Public Library, I had the opportunity to lead a bookmaking program at the  Montana Avenue Library, my home branch of the SMPL

“Making Memory Books” was requested… a single signature style book, embellished with fabric.

WEBaLeather, denim, beads, as well as decorative papers and fabric scrap were some of the goodies laid out for participants to use.

WEBcThe signatures were already prepared, with holes punched. Once bound with the three-hole pamphlet stitch, the first and last pages were glued to the inside of the front and back covers, and the book was formed.

WEBiThen, the fun could really begin!  let the embellishment commence!

WEBkPaper, “eco-fi” felt, cloth, lace and leather transformed the book structures into unique works of art.

WEBdUpon request, a square shape was used, instead of the more common vertical  rectangle.

WEBeA mother daughter duo enjoyed adorning their book covers with butterflies.

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WEBfIs this a pink planet, surrounded by butteries?

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WEB2The inspiration for the project was a series of fabric covered sewn book models,

WEB8with cloth pieces applied patchwork style.

WEB1The colors, patterns, shapes and tactile quality of cloth and textiles can evoke powerful memories.

WEB2The effect can be pleasing visually, as well as tracing remnants of life stories barely remembered but held in the body, memory and emotions through the sense of touch.

These books, that may hold memories barely discernible to the maker, can now become the repository of new memories, as scrapbooks, photo albums, journals, or sketchbooks.

What a beautiful gift.

Happy Holidays, and peace and blessings for the New Year.

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Pushing the Envelope

Pushing the Envelope

Using the form of the envelope to create an artist’s book can be evocative, provocative,  crafty, conceptual, fun, somber, expressive, “artistic”, creative, engaging, and baffling. As with many artists’ books, the question can be raised, “What are these for? What is their purpose? Are they meant to be read, observed and perused, handled, shown behind glass?”  And in the case of the envelope book “…sent through the mail?”

I don’t presume to answer these questions, and can imagine another post which delves more deeply into them.  In this one, my  intent is to share a few of my own envelop books, the materials used in them, some of the motivation, thinking and feeling behind them, and let the observer draw their own conclusions, and perhaps becoming inpsired to explore, and even create one of their own.

Note: in this post,  we see books created in the form of an envelope…as opposed to books created from existing envelopes, which is a whole other story. Also, hemp cord was used to bind the sewn books, and acid-free UHU glue sticks were used as the adhesive for anything glued on all the books depicted.

WEBa WEBbCutting, Folding, Stamping, Sewing…

In this book, the basic form is cut and folded, and a single signature is sewn into the last fold with a pamphlet stitch.  A single rubber stamp image stamped in varying ways is used to develop and adorn the piece, and delicate handmade paper containing plant material adds a finishing touch to the pages.

WEBdWEBaWEBbWEBcLone Stories Connect…Discover “I Think I Can”…It’s Everything

In the piece above, the basic structure is cut and folded from a sketchbook cover, and the pages created by a concertina/accordion folded paper strip glued into its next to last section.. The collaged elements, ranging from printed material cut from magazines,  personal writing, repurposed corrugated paper, ribbon scrap and copied illustration images, tell a story of pain and isolation with the potential of redemption through connection and story.

WEBa WEBb WEBcPainfully Animal

This mini book opens on four sides, with pages sewn in a single signature into one fold. Soft handmade paper is used both for adornment and  pages, attached with a running stitch which is threaded back into the sewing holes so that the two ends can be tied together. The single message greets the viewer right in the center. What does it mean? Well, ponder it for awhile, and notice your associations with the phrase, “Painfully Animal”. What does the term evoke for You?

WEBa WEBb WEBcMixed Media Envelope Book: Work in Progress

This mixed media message piece has been underway, along with a number of bookish siblings, for over two years.  It’s structure is cut and folded, like the first envelope book depicted in this post, and it’s graph paper pages stacked into a single signature, and sewn into the end fold with a running stitch as described above. The  painstaking, step-by-step process of developing the book’s content requires time and focused attention.

Every bit of image and text must feel ‘right’ in how it looks, what it evokes and where it is placed in the book. The ‘story’ that emerges, however non-linear, is discovered in the doing as much by the artist, as it may be later by the observer. Time itself is one of the most significant materials used, as such a piece can’t be rushed.

In these works, many aspects of the creative process come into play: patience and impulse, technique and tension, methods and materials, effort and evocation.

The medium of the envelope book may be on  a mission to become a missive to the outside world from the maker’s heart and soul, hands and head. If it gets a little heady, or crafty in-between, well, that might be just another aspect of this long strange trip we’re on.

Books3: Bookmaking, Artist’s Books, and the Art of Emptiness

Books3: Bookmaking, Artist’s Books,  and the Art of Emptiness

I love to take materials that I have..either saved, given, or just sort of showing up in my life, and set myself the task of weaving them together into unique/one-of-a-kind handmade “artist’s books“…sometimes literally weaving.

The books below are single signature bindings, a signature being a gathering of folded pages, as the marvelous book artist, teacher and author Alisa Golden would put it.

To give the books more heft, I sewed boards, several of which already had holes in them, (because the were backings for sketchbooks, and that’s how the drawing paper was attached…through those holes), to the insides of the covers. Other materials were sewn where they seemed to need to be.

Animal“, repurposed board, paper and business card folder, hemp cord, ribbon.WEBbWEBa

BookShow“, repurposed board, paper and business card folder, hemp cord, collage.WEBaWEBb

Like White on Rice“, repurposed board, paper and business card folder, hemp cord, ribbon.WEBbWEBa

There is an intentional emptiness in these pieces. There is very little text in or on them, and the pages are primarily blank. They aren’t made to be written in either.  They just are. A pure exploration of materials floating through space, bound together, literally, by hand.

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!

Studio Poem: Material Girl Again

Studio Poem: Material Girl Again

WRB2Card and color

WRB4Ribbon Land

WRB3Pattern Power

WRB1Ribbon Flow

 

Studio Poem: Seeing the Light (if only briefly…)

Studio Poem: Seeing the Light (if only briefly…)

We develop studios…work spaces…work places…wherever we are.

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Palatial mansion (or loft), or a place within our heads.

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The sunlight hit a series of samples which themselves became works.

StudioWEB2Another “sun” was created.

For a moment… I saw things in a whole new light.

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Gotta hold on to that…

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Material Girl 2: Many Parts Create The Whole

 

Material Girl 2: Many Parts Create The Whole

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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.

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Don’t we all?!!

Artist Style: The Wild, The Weird, and the Wondrous

Artist Style: The Wild, The Weird, and the Wondrous

Frida Kahlo Color

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Salvador Dali Moustaches

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Dali_2a

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Betye Saar Detail

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Diego Rivera…and Frida

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Diego Rivera with Wife Frida Kahlo

Betye Saar: Still a Star

Betye Saar: Still a Star

Betye Saar is an American visual artist. She is  87 years old.

tohyf_SAARaBetye Saar

Betye Irene Saar was born July 30, 1926, in Los Angeles, California, where she still lives.  Her ancestry is a mixture of African-American, Irish, and Native American.

tohyf_SAAR4“The Mystic Window #1”, 1965, (Assemblage with etchings, graphite, ink and watercolor on paper, with antique window frame)

tohyf_SAAR7“The Phrenologer’s Window”, 1966, (Assemblage of two panel wood frame with print and collage)

Betye Saar is known for creating visual art called “assemblages”. She is very interested in using memories as inspiration for her art. She uses family memorabilia”: objects or materials that are collected because they relate to an event or person, and collected as souvenirs. Examples might be letters or notes, baby announcements, or photographs.

tohyf_SAARb.“The Loss”, 1977,  (mixed media on handkerchief)

When her great-aunt died, Saar became immersed in family memorabilia and began making very personal assemblages using mementos of her great aunt’s life. She arranged old photographs, letters, lockets, dried flowers, and handkerchiefs to express memory and the passage of time.

tohyf_SAAR5“Rainbow Friendship”, 1976,  (Collage)

Remember the surrealist artist Salvador Dali…and his famous painting “The Persistence of Memory”, with the melting clock…that expressed his feelings about the passage of time?

Dali_3“The Persistence of Memory”, 1931, Salvador Dali (Painting)

Through her art, Saar expresses family nostalgia, or remembering the past, maybe even missing the past. She uses pieces of photographs, and other items that express memories.

tohyf_SAAR6“Brown Sugah”, 2001 (Mixed media collage with frame on paperboard)

Betye Saar is one of the leading artists of our time. Her use of photographs and the power of photography helps her put together the personal and historical into something universal, something we all might relate to.

ToHYF_SAAR!Bittersweet (Bessie’s Song),  above, 1973, shows respect for jazz legend, Bessie Smith.  It incorporates photographs, handbills (fliers) about Smith’s performances, and other decorative elements.

tohyf_SAAR2Midnight Madonnas, 1996, (Mixed-media assemblage

tohyf_SAARcBetye Saar

Object Lessons: Vignettes 2

Object Lessons: Vignettes 2

What makes a place your own…that goes beyond style, decoration and decor, becoming a personal expression that spells H-O-M-E, even  if the space involved is your place of business, work or office?  The way we put our objects of meaning together is a form of creative expression that is unique to each of our beings… in ways we don’t even seem to be conscious of.

Birds of a feather…flock together, or, do they?  There seems to be a common human urge to organize our aesthetic views by placing objects that have commonality together.  It might be common physical characteristics such as  color, shape, pattern or size, a common function, such as things to read, things to drink from, things to put plants in, or  a common material: ceramics, metal or  glass.

Or…the assembled objects may have a commonality known, and felt, only by the assemblers, and those they know, love and live with.  The “collection”, however spare, may be composed of objects which resonate with shared memory, joy, triumph, or transcendence, and which have an ineffable but profound effect on those in the know who gaze on them.

Other groupings may combine a number of these attributes, and create whimsy, humor, an inside joke, or, an outside joke.  The choice to display objects from different cultures which inter-relate on the basis of color, pattern, size and scale add other layers of meaning, and their juxtaposition may create new associations, or uncover existing ones.

The associations of “new”, and “old”, vintage, or contemporary, “My mother bought me that TV” or “My sister brought those slippers home from India” , speak to our memories, where we are now,  and even where we want to be- our longings, desires, dreams, hopes and wishes.  They are all there, impelling our choices, informing our decisions, coloring our moods, our plans,  our moments and our minds.

Reflected or unknowingly  expressed in the way we place our “stuff”…whether seemingly thrown together, or carefully designed and thought out on a conscious level, may be the design and drama of our whole lives, and an expression of the highs and lows, the needs and aspirations, the joys and sorrows therein.

What have YOU expressed through Your H=O=M=E arrangements, assemblages, collages, collections, compositions, and displays?

if You feel so inclined, please share about them with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all designing, assembling, collecting, gathering and displaying our way through this thing called Life, together.