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Posts Tagged ‘center for book arts’

  1. Book Artist of the Month: Natalie Stopka

    April 6, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

    CompleteDye-NatalieStopka

    As a continuation from last week’s post, I extended the conversation on natural dyes with book artist, Natalie Stopka. During her time at the Center for Book Arts as a Van Lier/Stein Scholar, Natalie also completed a collection of case bindings, where each component beautifully represents the subtleties of natural dyes.

    CompleteDye2-NatalieStopka

    The variation between the different materials is subtle and beautiful. I wonder what your inspiration was for this project?
    Besides my enjoyment of the process of foraging and dyeing with plants, I love the sympathy between natural dyes and fibers, as well as the resonance of using historical methods with historical materials. Prior to the discovery of synthetic dye in 1856, all books were decorated with naturally derived dyes, inks, and pigments. That is a lot of artistic heritage that has been largely supplanted in the past 150 years. I wanted to create some books that were all of a piece referencing that period just prior to the advent of synthetics, using a hollow-back structure with linen book cloth, hand sewn headbands, uncut pages folded down from full sheets, and, of course, natural dyes. I ended up binding a dozen books in different colors, partly as an exercise in honing my binding skills, as well as a continuation of my dye experiments.

    Can you walk through your dying process from the creation of the pigments to the dying of the materials? Where did you learn these techniques?
    Beginning with the techniques I learned at the Textile Arts Center, I extended my natural dye experiments into bookbinding. There was some trial and error at first as I selected and mordanted paper samples. Papermakers generally color the pulp with pigment prior to forming sheets, so there is not a lot of information on how to dye paper, or how the dyes and mordants affect it over time. But paper is just cellulose fiber like many fabrics I had experience dyeing, so I jumped in. I decided to use Zerkall Ingres, which is quite absorbent due to its composition, but also has good wet strength. And when folded down it makes a lovely signature size.

    The first step in dyeing is to source or collect plant material. In this case I used plants I foraged in upstate New York including oak leaves, cherry bark, Queen Anne’s lace, apple bark, and yarrow, the only exception being indigo. I chopped and soaked or simmered the plant material to extract the dye, then strained the dye liquor into a big stainless steel vat containing the mordanted paper and other book materials. After about 12 hours in the vat, everything was ready to carefully remove and dry.

    DyeProcess-NatalieStopka

    As with my embroidered botanical illustrations, these books demonstrate the different shades of color (sometimes slight) that result when a single dye is applied to various substrates. The linen cover, silk headbanding thread, Zerkall Ingres pages, and linen binding thread were all dyed in the same vat. The endpapers were made from the uppermost sheet of paper in the bath, which became patterned by the evaporation of the dye. My favorite book was dyed with black cherry bark – I left the dye vat outside overnight, and a light frost left crystal patterns on the endpapers! Initially I expected the papers to take the dye evenly in a uniform shade, but most dyes were absorbed with a good deal of variation, making a richly toned surface.

    CompleteDye3-NatalieStopka


  2. May // Book Artist of the Month: Roni Gross

    May 2, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    Tikilluarit3-RoniGross

    Tikilluarit was created for the An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street exhibition, which began in 2012, exhibiting nationally and internationally until 2015. The exhibition showcases a collection of artist books and broadsides that are a response to the explosion of a car bomb in Al-Mutanabbi Street, the historic center of bookselling and arts culture in Baghdad, back in March 2007. The exhibit came to Cambridge and was exhibited in three parts. Unfortunately, the session I attended did not included this particular work (I wrote a post about it).

    Tikilluarit is the collaborative work of three artists. But Roni Gross is the star of this post; her concept transformed a written piece into a conceptual binding. The sonnet, which makes up the text of the book, was recast from a Greenlandic series by Nancy Campbell titled “The Hunter Teaches Me To Speak” (originally published in Modern Poetry in Translation). The word ‘tikilluarit’ means ‘welcome’ in Kalaallisut, the native language in Greenland. The sonnet is as follows:

    The hunter teaches me to speak
    I place my fingers round his neck and feel
    his gorge rise – or is he swallowing
    his tongue? He wants to teach me the word
    for ‘welcome’. Suddenly, he’s trembling:
    his larynx rumbles, then his breath is gone.
    He asks me to remember those vibrations,
    and, anxious as a nurse who takes a pulse,
    touches my throat to judge its contortions.
    Will I ever learn these soft uvulars?
    I’m so eager, I forget that the stress
    always falls on the second syllable.
    My echo of his welcome is grotesque.
    He laughs, an exorcism of guillemets,
    dark flocks of sound I’ll never net, or say.

    Tikilluarit1-RoniGrossTikilluarit2-RoniGross

    The modified accordion binding was executed by Biruta Auna using calfskin while Roni designed and letterpress printed the text on Mitsumata paper.

    Tikilluarit is bound in such a way that offers little access to the interior parts of the book. How does the text and binding correlate to one another?
    The poem speaks about a person trying to mimic the sound of a word spoken by another person by placing a hand around the throat of the speaker. The spine side of the book was made to be as visually important as the text block, which serves in effect, as the throat of the book. The text moves up and into the spine as if going down the throat. The exposed sewing is similar to the anatomy of the vocal cords.

    Tikilluarit4-RoniGross

    The fourth collaborator is Peter Schell who crafted the unique sound sculpture that is paired with the deluxe edition of the book. In addition the deluxe edition includes a waxed linen wrap to house both the book and sound sculpture.

    Paired with the book is a wooden sound sculpture that can be activated by shaking it. What does the element of sound bring to the experience of this piece?
    The speaker in the poem says of the difficulty in learning to the language…”dark sounds that I will never net or say”. The wooden sculpture has an abstract wing pattern on the outside, which refers to an arctic bird which make a tinkling sound as its wings beat across the water. A sound that the human voice would not be able to replicate. It is another way of amplifying the words so that you can experience the poem in a physical way.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I went into this interview not knowing very much about Roni, her history, her work or her artistic outlook. Through the interview, I hope you come to realize what I have: that Roni has a great appreciation for her artistic community and brings together unique artists in collaboration to expand on the concept of the book by conjuring up the senses. Enjoy the interview after the jump and sign up to receive email notifications so you don’t miss a post throughout the month of May which will feature more of Roni’s work.

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  • Visit My Bindery
    My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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