Happy Abstract: A letter from William Blake to Thomas Butts, dated 11 September 1801
One hundred thirty copies printed by Russell Maret, of which one hundred were provided to Open Set
[American Academy of Bookbinding], 2020
Private Collection, US
French-style fine binding with laced in boards. Bound in tan goatskin with back-pared onlays in hand-dyed yellow, grey, blue and green calfskin, and lilac and bright coral abaca/cotton paper. Onlays are embellished with embroidery and foil tooling in matte and metallic pigments. Leather wrapped endbands in chartreuse buffalo skin with wraps of bright orange thread. Matching flyleaves and paste down in handmade Ghanian Kozo with sewing thread inclusions. Handmade abaca/cotton paper in purple, bright coral and teal for endpapers.
Binding is housed in clamshell box covered with tan goatskin and handmade Katie MacGregor paper in orchid purple. Leather spine embellished with hand-dye yellow calfskin and bright coral handmade paper along with embroidery and metallic pink foil tooling. Trays covered in bright coral handmade paper with patches of chartreuse yellow and grey. Lined with light grey Silsuede.
2.3cm x 17.5cm x 1.6cm – Completed in 2019
For my design on Happy Abstract, I looked to the beauty and intrigue in spaces not typically designed to capture our attention. This inspiration came from shadows cast by art in museums and the unintentional marks left by productive middle school students.
To expand on the latter, the benches where the middle school students work from week to week are covered with board, which captures and collects any marks made off the paper. These boards become a frenzy of color, shapes and lines, documenting their year-long journey of making artist books. The letter by William Blake paired perfectly with these bemused and turbulent marks. I chose to work with materials that would allow me to be spontaneous in my design in order to create a true sense of happenstance. The use of embroidery floss and foils gave me the opportunity to work unencumbered.
The pages of the book were altered through sun bleaching. Referencing photographs I had taken over time, I created stencils of various shadows cast by art in museums. Just like the design for the cover I wanted to evoke something that is unexpectedly beautiful yet equally distracting.