Up until this post, Natalie Stopka has shared her techniques for natural dyeing, as well as her methods for marbling and suminagashi. In the last two posts for the month, we’ll look at two artist book projects starting with her 2011 book Specimens.
Can you talk about the concept behind this work and your inspiration for the book’s structure?
I’m very interested in the notion of fabricated histories, including artifacts of dubious or bogus provenance such as the Voynich Manuscript or Cottingley fairy photographs. In creating Specimens I bound together the textile fragment collection of the (fictional) Dorcas Little, seemingly a phony collection that she had created and catalogued in the mid-1900s. Each textile fragment was hand sewn from vintage materials to look as if the fibers were is some aspect growing or reproducing. Mounted in a petri-shaped window, each piece is visible from both sides.
I have a love/hate attitude towards album structures, which are very useful for a book such as this, but generally inelegant and tedious to bind. I elected to use a double guarded album binding, which has the institutional appearance I was hoping for, but a somewhat more graceful movement. As if, in order to augment the appearance of authenticity, the collection’s owner had commissioned the housing.