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  1. Book Artist of the Month: Susan Collard

    May 27, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    In 2010, Susan Collard created 3×3 a series of board books made from birch aircraft plywood, maple and walnut bound with Tyvek. Each page spread represents a single number ranging from one to nine. For Susan, numbers have definitive personalities that sprout from their mathematical associations. As Susan developed each numerical character sketch she began with a few poetic words (on the verso) before morphing into a collaged “portrait” (on the recto). 

    3×3 was featured in Quantified Aesthetics, an exhibit held at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in 2010.

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  2. Book Artist of the Month: Susan Collard

    May 20, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    In 2010, Susan Collard created her smallest book to date with a wide range of materials including birch aircraft plywood, basswood, slate, various metals, mirrors, linen thread and a shell. Small Museum of Nature and Industry is a bit fatter than a perfect cube with dimensions of 2″ x 2″ x 2½”. This tiny structure opens up to a series of compartments to reveal a set of building blocks and concealed brass rods, as well as wooden and aluminum pieces. The unraveling architecture and hidden components of this book are quite surprising.

    Once the materials and title were determined, Susan set out to create a book with the open-ended complexity of a miniature museum. This artist book received a Juror’s Award during the Pop-Up Now! exhibit at the 23 Sandy Gallery

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  3. Book Artist of the Month: Susan Collard

    May 13, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    A Short Course in Recollection was built by Susan Collard in 2009 for the Guild of Book Workers national exhibit Marking Time and through this book I was introduced to Susan’s work. Although the book may appear fairly plain on the outside, the interior pages are an inch thick in order to house a series of ramps and switchbacks. Susan began with her fascination of children’s toys built of ramps and towers. This literal marking of time in a direct, mechanistic, clattering fashion appealed to Susan (as did the technical challenge of interpreting that into a book).


    At the top left of the first page is a vertical slot where the steel marbles are fed into the course. A blue toggle switched to the left stales the first marble upon its decent. The next marble will knock the toggle to the right and both marbles will move forward into the course on different paths. This toggle trick was inspired by woodworker, Matthias Wendel, who builds complex and ingenious marble machines. Susan approached the design of Short Course just as many artists do, by considering her materials first. In order to reduce any awkward bulkiness to the book, Susan choose steel marbles that are smaller then normal (about 7/16″). The ramps are made from ½” poplar and the face of the pages are aircraft plywood. The pages are bound together with slotted brass hinges. 

    Susan drafted full-size diagrams of the pages and made a cardboard model to aid in the building of Short Course. This is more planning that usual for Susan and all aesthetic elements came in after the pages started taking shape and the title of the book was chosen. 

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    The third and fourth pages are more open, where the steel marbles can navigate more reliably. The marbles that fall to the right of the first toggle switch come down a ramp above the sleeping girl’s head, then hit a second toggle switch at her feet.

    The book can only function in one position, with the pages butted together tightly so the marbles can travel freely between them. There are three distinct courses, regulated by two toggle switches. The mechanism of the book does work, but rather temperamentally and can be viewed as a metaphor for memory. Some marbles will travel the course flawlessly, while others get hung up between pages, jump a guardrail or cause a traffic jam. As Susan so elegantly says “it seems easy to extend the metaphor to include these accidents of blockage and retrieval. Perhaps the book, as is, is a better representation of our own flawed memories than if it worked reliably every time. Which is not to say I wouldn’t fix it in a heartbeat if I had the ability. Probably my favorite thing about this book was integrating more childish elements (the fairy tales, alphabet blocks, even the colors of the milk paint) with the very intricate mechanisms and depictions of machinery—as if to suggest childhood is a serious and convoluted endeavor, or that understanding the world requires great leaps of nonsense and whimsy.” 


  4. Book Artist of the Month: Susan Collard

    May 6, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    In 2007, Susan Collard built Camera Obscura, a wooden box fitted with all the components that allows one to view the world around them in a more intimate manner. Once the camera is placed in a sturdy position, the viewer may sit at the viewing window with their head and shoulders covered by the cloth hood. As the image is projected into the viewing window adjustments can be made to focus the lens. Susan recommends positioning the camera towards a scene that is well lit as the experience will be more magical.

    In addition to its more traditional parts, Susan has included a bookshelf to hold three coptic bound books – he, they and the eye. Each book can be viewed and read inside the chamber with the aid of light from outside the camera. Each book has a set of strings, much like a marionette, that allow the viewer to turn the page without reaching into the chamber. The copper string ends vary in length, which allow the viewer to distinguish them by touch. 

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    In this last image, we get a glimpse at the interior pages of one of the three coptic books in addition to the detailed set of instructions that come with the piece.

  5. May // Book Artist of the Month: Susan Collard

    May 2, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    In 2011, Susan Collard crafted Interlinear, a wooden accordion-like structure collaged with various imagery and texts. I’m particularly attracted to the inclusion of delicate embroidery threads; connecting the illustrations in a playful manner and drawing the viewer’s eye from page to page through doorways and into secret compartments. 

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    During my first year at North Bennet Street School, the students were invited to aid in the set-up of the Marking Time Exhibition at Dartmouth College. It was here that I first saw and played with Susan’s work. As we gathered around her work, we dropped one of the steel balls to investigate the hidden channels and pathways between each page. 

    Read the interview after the jump. Come back each Monday during the month of May for more posts about Susan’s work, which include in progress photos for A Short Course in Recollection and more detailed images of Camera Obscura

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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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