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  1. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 22, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    I really enjoyed this week’s response by Sarah Bryant on her inspiration and creative process behind Simulations on a Two-dimensional Grid. You can read about it below, but first the specs. Simulations was created in 2013 in an edition of ten. Zerkall paper is used for the pages and have been manipulated with letterpress printing, hand-drawn imagery, wax and folding. The loose pages are bound up in a waxed paper wrapper also decorated with hand-drawn imagery.

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    Two sources of inspiration are behind this artist book: Barb Tetenbaum’s Aritst Book Idealation Deck and David Allen’s 2011 dissertation. Can you talk about how these two pieces came together as a guide for the concept of this artist book?
    So in late 2012, Barb Tetenbaum invited me to participate in a show using a set of cards that she and Julie Chen had developed over several years called “The Artist Book Ideation Deck.” The deck has categories for structure, paper, layout, technique, text, image, color, and description. It also has “adjective” cards. Barb and Julie drew random hands from this deck for all of the artists who would be making a book for the show. My hand went as follows:

    Imagery: none
    Structure: unbound/boxed
    Text: collaborate with writer/poet/other
    Layout: across folds
    Color: favorite
    Technical: hand drawn, painted/collaged, etc.
    Paper: pre-treated, crumpled, painted, pasted, etc.
    Describe: narrative
    Adjectives: personal, scientific, ordinary, complicated, colorful

    Dave Allen and I had been talking at this point about collaborating on a book, (this was just before his visit to the UK and the beginning of our Figure Study project,) so I turned to him for some text. He sent me a few excerpts from his PhD thesis for the University of Michigan and I selected this one: Simulations on a two-dimensional grid reveal that if the conditions are met to destabilize the spatially homogenous equilibrium then individual patches cycle out of phase with their neighbors. At any particular time the grid has a checkerboard-like structure (Figure 2.1), and through time individual patches exhibit a two-cycle.

    We worked together to pair it down to the following: Simulations on a two-dimensional grid reveal that if conditions are met to destabilize the equilibrium, individuals cycle out of phase with their neighbors. This felt more like a universal text, open-ended enough to invite us in and call for different interpretations.

    Once the text was selected, it was time to work with it and knead it into a book using the external prompts that came from the Ideation Deck. I used a series of folds, expanding from sheet to sheet, to disturb a grid made up of holes and lines. I loved this project, it forced me to do some new things that I surely wouldn’t have attempted without a set of instructions. Waxing the pages, for example. Also the loose sheet format that I have adopted for two subsequent projects.

    Several people have pointed out that my book is not strictly following the guidelines set by the deck. It does have imagery, for example, even if that imagery is minimal. And of course this is true. But the deck is meant to generate ideas, and so I considered the cards as prompts rather than unbreakable rules. You can still get the decks, by the way. I use mine all the time in classes or just to get my mind moving.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Setting limitations for a project can bring unique challenges and even heighten creativity. I was so thrilled to learn about Tetenbaum and Chen’s Idealation Deck. I may need to get my own copy and begin exploring artist books again.

    If you’d like to read a more in-depth description of Simulations, check out Heather Doyle-Maier’s review on the Abecedarian Gallery Blog, where she describes the tactile qualities of the book.


  2. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 15, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    For the traveling exhibit Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, Sarah Bryant crafted Al-Mutanabbi Street to memorialize those who lost there lives to a car bomb on March 5, 2007. Bound between two boards is an entangled ribbon of red paper letterpress printed with an incomplete list of names. This altered accordion lays open in a custom box; the colophon is print on the base of the box hidden under the book’s cover.

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    The text of this artist book rests in a position of entanglement and chaos, but in fact the lines of paper can be separated rather easily. The names printed on the underside represent a portion of those who lost their lives. I’ve seen a variety of books from this show and really love the simplicity of your piece, which is also largely impactful. It presents itself like a memorial; can you talk about your concept for this artist book?

    I wasn’t sure how to approach this book. I had no personal connection to the bombing or to the affected community, or, frankly, to any tragedy of this scale. I was concerned that in an attempt to honor the dead and the community to which they belonged, I might make a bumbling and insensitive book. So I tried to keep it simple and avoid pretending an understanding that I could not have.

    I printed the names of the dead in Arabic and English, each name lining up with it’s counterpart on the two sides of the strips of paper, and housed them in a structure that I hoped conveyed a sense of violence and loss. I wanted the names to be legible, but fragile, and in a position of distress. The box is vaguely coffin-like. I am glad to hear your reaction to the book, thank you.

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  3. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 8, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    In 2010, Sarah Bryant completed Biography, which explores of the alternative roles played by the chemical elements found in the human body. Each element is represented as a specific colored rectangle, which are used in various diagrams throughout the book. As you progress through the book the diagrams become less clear and are interrupted with blind stamped organic shapes. Biography won the 2011 Minnesota Center for Book Arts Prize in addition to receiving the Award for Artistic Excellence at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair in late 2010.

    Printed in an edition of 75 using letterpress techniques from polymer plates on Zerkall Book, Biography was bound as a hardcover drum leaf enclosed in a clamshell box. Numbers one through ten are bound as a deluxe edition (pictured above), which include additional prints from the book, as well as a ghost print creating during the printing process. The deluxe edition comes in a larger clamshell box designed to house both the book and set of prints.

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    In The Bonefolder article Evolution of an Artist’s Book, you mention that Biography took 2 years to complete. The inspiration led to extensive research and preparation before embarking on months of printing. Is this an average amount of time needed to complete a project?
    Most of my big books take about two years. Dave and I first conceived of Figure Study in January of 2013 and I have set a release date to coincide with the Codex Book Fair and Symposium in February of 2015. I started working on Fond when I was at Wells College in early 2011 and released it in the fall of 2012. Two years seems to be my average these days. But in the background there are other things emerging. While the larger projects are proceeding at their slow pace, I am working on quicker, smaller things. A book I printed with Shift-lab, a collaboration between myself, Katie Baldwin, Denise Bookwalter, and Tricia Treacy took me about six months in 2013. Simulations on a Two-Dimensional Grid, a book I created for the Ideation by Chance show at the Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California, took me a few months. Those books were done in smaller editions and in response to external collaborations and deadlines.

    Since I’m not a printmaker, the printing process behind You are part of something larger than yourself is puzzling to me. Can you walk me through the printing steps for this particular print?

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    Aha! Yes I can. And, in fact, if you really want to know more about it, a lecture I gave at Wells college several years ago contains a detailed description of that process, with photos! Thanks to Peter Verheyen, you can find it on youtube here:

    My description begins at 29:09 and ends about three minutes later.

    That spread and one other in the book toward the end, (described in the above video,) are pressure printed against a polymer plate of the periodic table grid. I inked the press in two colors (for a color shift) and printed the first run, then cleaned the press and inked it again in the reverse and so on so that there are many layers and colors at play. The blob-shaped forms are generated by paper cutouts that I have attached to the impression cylinder of the press. So the printed imagery is coming from the combination of the traditional, inked relief surface (the grid in the bed of the press) and the uneven pressure created by the paper shapes on the cylinder.

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  4. Conservation Conversations // Adhesives in Library and Archives: A Colloquium Review (Part 2)

    December 4, 2014 by Henry Hebert

    The first Biennial Conservation Colloquium was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in early November of this year. Four conservators traveled to Urbana from the UK and across the country to speak about their research or practical experiences with various adhesives in library and archives conservation. This post is the second in a two-part series, in which I attempt to summarize the major points of each talk. You can read part one here.

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  5. December // Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 2, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    As a work still in progress, Figure Study is a creative collaborative project between book artist and printer Sarah Bryant (Big Jump Press) and her biology professor cousin, Dave Allen. In the interview below, I’ve asked Sarah a series of questions about this project because its production is partially possible due to a successful Kickstarter fund. And of, course due to the brilliance of the design and content of the project.

    Figure Study is a book about population data. Housed in a custom box is a series of population diagrams printed on drafting film. The translucency of the drafting film allows one to arrange the prints in unique combinations creating new sets of data and artistic forms.

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    Figure Study has an interactive element. How do you see the owner of this work connecting with the population diagrams?
    I hope that the process of comparing the shapes will be a truly addictive one. I find it that way. Of course, the owner of the book will be able to look at the figures in a purely analytical way if they wish, layering a sheet of drafting film printed with a figure onto a grid and using the index to determine which regions are represented. But additionally the layering yields beautiful forms and stark contrasts that appeal to both the analytical parts of our brains and our more basic appetite for creating and experimenting.

    It is interesting to me that over the last two years or so I have made three “books” that are essentially composed of loose sheets that can be rearranged. I didn’t set out to do it this way, but somewhere in the back of my mind I have been interested in the viewer reshuffling and recombining the content. I think this book is the natural conclusion of that impulse because the reshuffling of the data is so essential to the core of the book. Comparing, revealing differences and similarities, investigating.

    - – – – – – – – – – -

    I’m really excited to present this interview with Sarah Bryant. I continue to enjoy the work she produces and was pushed to conduct this interview from as a suggestion given by Michelle Ray, who I interviewed last year. Sarah is creating really interesting artist books in beautifully designed and bound formats. I recently made a pledge toward Sarah and Dave’s successful Kickstarter fund and am anxiously awaiting my reward. I see Kickstarter as a potential avenue for other book artists to fund their ambitious projects and a goal of this interview was to discuss the entire process with Sarah.

    Check out the interview after the jump for more about Sarah, her background and creative process. Come back each Monday during the month of December for more about Sarah’s work.

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  6. Bookbinder of the Month: Sol Rébora

    November 30, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    CantoGeneral-SolRebora

    This binding of Pablo Neruda’s Canto General is the most recent binding Sol Rébora has completed and the most important book she has worked with to date. This first edition copy was printed in a limited 500 copies. This particular copy is number 52 and is signed by Pablo Neruda, Diego Rivera and David A. Siqueiros with additional signatures by Cesar Chavez, Carlos Fuentes and Baldemar Velasquez (American labor union activist).

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    The text is printed in black and red with original color printed endpapers illustrated by Diego Rivera (left/front endpaper) and David A. Siqueiros (right/back endpaper). (Click image to enlarge)

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    Why the book is so important to Sol:
    This epic book consists of 15 sections and over 300 separate poems tracing the history of Spanish America. Canto General is considered by many to be the most important work of political poetry of the 20th century in Latin America.

    About this work, I may say this book was sent to me at a perfect time.

    I had been working with the inlay technique used on this binding for the last two years. I had the feeling that I had worked with it enough as to feel free to create any design I wanted, without any fear of the inlay process, but also because I decided to trust my capacity to find solutions to any problem.

    The other important point is: I had spent 15 days in Mexico in February, for bookbinding reasons, sharing time with wonderful people who taught me a lot about their history. Two months later I went to Guatemala, to the Francisco Marroquín University to teach bookbinding. There I had been in contact with their culture, almost completely with the history of Mesoamerica.

    My feeling coming back to Argentina was that I had to make a book, may be an art book, to convey all of my experiences and my feelings on these wonderful trips.

    Two months later, I got this binding commission from Heritage Book Shop and I could believe in such a great opportunity. Pablo Neruda, Canto General, first edition. [As Sol mentions again] The book considered by many to be the most important work of political poetry of the 20th century in Latin America.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    The book is bound in full leather in the French-style of fine binding. The design is created using thirteen different colors creating the several levels of relief and low relief. The thirteen colors come from goatskin and buffalo leather supplied through Argentina, Mexico, England and France. The title is tooled in green on the spine. The doublures are French goatskin with a design of inlayed circles.

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    The front and back flyleaves are made from Argentinean suede. The book is housed in a matching custom clamshell box covered in orange goatskin leather with the title tooled in turquoise.

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    The design for Canto General is quite beautiful and energetic. The complexity of the design is displayed in the various recessed and raised layers. When you approach a design of this complexity, how detailed and thorough are your steps leading to the final bindings? Are you creating multiple drawings and models of the design?
    To make a design for any binging, I prepare sheets of paper, many are the size of the full cover. I make a fold to place the spine and to have clear sense of where the hinge falls. I start the drawing by composing the three planes (top, back and spine) separately and together simultaneously.

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    After several drawings, I put a selection of them on the studio wall. After mediating over the selection, I choose a final design. Then I scan the design and I start to make color tests in Photoshop.

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    So then I start to work over the book. To place each of these inlay pieces I need a map. This map is the replica of the design, on a translucent (60 gr.) paper. It will help me locate each piece and put it in its rightful place.

    I always use the same map, I do not combine it with another, with this method I can be quite sure the pieces will find the right place. The first pieces of leather on the covers needs to be compensated with paper to make it all level, so I get a flat surface again and start to place the next pieces.

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    The same applies to the spine, every element is thinner, as thin as paper, and that will be strengthened by the following layers of leather. The mosaics are superimposed as well as I keep working. To cut each piece of leather I use a mold-made on heavy paper, (240 gr. in this case). Out of that mold each piece of leather is like a puzzle. Once the entire top is covered, I make the head cup and fold over the turn-ins.


  7. Swell Things No. 18

    November 30, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    1. Looking for a wonderfully cheerful article to read with your morning coffee? Check out Adam Sternbergh’s article Smile, Your Speaking Emoji. This article details the evolution of these popular icons that have been slowly taking over our text messaging conversations. As humans we first began to communicate through imagery (think cave paintings) before slowly evolving into the written word. Emojis allow for quick communication; it’s amazing the amount of information that can be compacted into a single icon.
    2. How To Be Polite is an insightful article on the practice of politeness. The author, offers some helpful hints and some of his real-life experiences. Don’t assume you know everything on the art of being polite.
    3. At the end of October, Bernard Middleton, celebrated his 90th birthday! Read more about Bernard’s career and accomplishments from this article on the British Library’s Collection Care Blog.
    4. What is Missing? is a new interactive online project by famed memorial artist Maya Lin. As you scroll over the points plotted on the interactive map some information appears: the longitude and latitude, a date and most important the species or natural land formations that are in danger of becoming extinct in that area. Faced with the seriousness of humankind’s impact on the Earth, Maya created this interactive map as an awareness to the living animals and plants that are disappearing every 20 minutes. Spend some time with this website, make sure you are in a quite space and your volume is turned up.
    5. In 2014, the Grimm’s fairy tales are reimagined in a new and lovely artistic way. Grimm Scholar Jack Zipes translated and published The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition. The lovely artistic element of this book are the beautiful cut-paper illustrations by the oh, so talented Andrea Dezsö.

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    6. Interested in the learning the Hungarian alphabet? Explore all 44 letters with an eager little girl inside this beautifully designed children’s book, Ábécés könyv by author and illustrator Anna Kövecses.
    7. Filmmaker Frederic Bonpapa is the creator of Life Motif, a film inspired by the neurological phenomenon synesthesia. How do you capture the sensation of seeing music? The film is centered around a CGI monkey as the space around him shifts structurally by the motion of the music. Set to the sound of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians – Section II, the mood is altered by changing colors in the atmosphere and the very anthropomorphic facial expressions of the monkey.
    8. The work of Nashville based illustrator Drew Tyndell has been featured on the blog before. But I recently landed upon his animation loops that are absolutely mesmerizing. It’s a good thing the animations ends after 15 seconds or else one might find themselves with their eyes glued to their screen.
    9. Abigail Bainbridge created this wonderful and playful tutorial on Japanese Stab Binding for the West Dean Blog. A great way to introduce someone, adult or child alike, to the craft of bookbinding. Plus, you can celebrate by eating your successfully tasty book!
    10. Artist Ruben Steeman drew an individual picture daily for seven straight years. Once he reach the milestone of his 2,500th drawing, he decided it was time to put them all in a book. Check out the article on BOOOOOOOM! describing Ruben’s process for creating such an impossibly large binding.

     


  8. Bookbinder of the Month: Sol Rébora

    November 23, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    This is my favorite binding to date from bookbinder Sol Rébora. A french text bound in full goatskin with onlays that create a striking, eye-catching design. The overlapping ellipses are creating by using a combination of goatskin and calf. Combining these two skins as onlays is a technique Sol has used in other bindings (like this one or this one). I quite love the look of the textured goat against the smooth calf.

    The binding was created for Les Rencontres de M. de Bréot, which is a novel written by French author Henri-François-Joseph de Regnier in 1904.

    Although it’s hard to choose a favorite, I think this binding might be the one. Did this design stem from a love of 20th century French design binding?
    It could be, I bound this book for an Argentinean bookseller. He participates every year in the Antiquarian book fair in Paris and I specially bound this book so that he could show my work at this fair in Paris. It is a French book and so there you have the result.

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  9. Featured on Fine Books Magazine

    November 19, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    This past weekend, Boston hosted the 36th Annual International Antiquarian Book Fair. The fair was filled with so many wonderful treasures. I was pleased to discover a few embroidered bindings, a collection of Gaylord Schanilec’s little books, a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicles (bound in alum-tawed skin over wooden boards) and a design binding by David Esslemont. I also got the chance to leaf through Diane Jacob’s Nourish, which has been featured on the blog.

    But I have to say that I was most excited to see my books displayed at the booth of Lux Mentis. Rebecca Rego Barry wrote up a short little overview of the fair for Fine Books Magazine, which includes some of her highlights. Thanks Rebecca, for being awed by my binding of The Crucible and writing about it. Check out the post here.


  10. Bookbinder of the Month: Sol Rébora

    November 16, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

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    In this post on Sol Rébora, I am presenting two of her bindings of the text Fausto. Just as was the case with the two bindings she completed on Alice in Wonderland, Sol found inspiration in the individual editions, thus creating two independent and unique design bindings. Fausto was written by Argentinian poet Estanislao del Campo is 1866; the story describes a laborer that goes to see Charles Gounod’s opera Faust and believes the events to really be happening.

    The binding above is bound in full black goatskin. The circular design includes strips of goatskin and calf, offering a nice variety of textures. The title is tooled in gold along the spine.

    The binding below is bound in full calfskin with detail along the front cover fore edge in the signature style we’ve seen on some of Sol’s other bindings. On this binding, the goatskin and calf onlays sit on five tooled levels. The title is tooled in gold along the spine. FaustoB-SolRebora

    These two bindings of Faust0 are quite different. Can you talk about the concepts behind each binding and what made you design them differently?
    After the explanation of the process I use to make a design binding, probably there are not too much to say about.

    Those are totally different editions, different clients, different years, and different prices, which is another very important point that I didn’t mention before, and it is a big condition of course.

    Most of the tooling on your bindings seem reserved to the titles or is done blind. Is there a reason for excluding this technique from your bindings?
    Well, maybe I don’t use traditional tooling on my designs, besides the titles, but it just depend on the designs, if I feel it needs it, I used traditional tooling to make gold lines it as I did on Milongas, Borges.

    I think I just use what I need when I need.

    I mostly like to work with a metal or brass folder, a very thin tool which helps me to make the finishing work on the inlay and the onlay. I do not love the strong lines around the inlays and my feeling is that it makes the composition looks stronger.

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    Click image to enlarge.