Apr 112012
 

My friend Shirley sent me a British children’s book from the 50s that is (more or less) about human evolution. She thought it looked like perfect material for an altered book.

She was right.

A couple of months ago, a call went out from MarinMOCA for their annual altered book show. I got out my scissors. A little natural selection, anyone?

I gutted the book. It has some basic human biology in it as well, but I decided to focus on the evolution bits for the sake of cohesion. I mounted the cutouts with dry adhesive onto stiff paper. Then I arranged the chosen elements into layers.

I cut out several identical black frames from stiff black Strathmore paper and folded two accordions from black German Ingres (the stuff is strong, but thin enough to fold into a nice pliable structure). I anchored the cutouts onto the paper frames.

 

Then I added hinges made of the Ingres onto the back of each frame.

 

I used 3M 415 double-sided tape for mounting. Why use glue when it can be avoided? Especially when there’s a good archival alternative.

 

The downside is it has no open time for repositioning. Stick it once, and it’s there forever. That’ll keep you on your toes. Additionally, I hadn’t made a tunnel book in a long time. I’d forgotten that it can feel like binding a Slinky. Eventually, however, a rhythm emerges and it’s not too bad. Also, I quickly remembered that the best way to handle double-sided tape is to not peel off the backing paper all at once after positioning. It’s best to line up the page into position and then slide the liner off the tape as you go:

 

On the up side, I’d also forgotten how theatrical and fun a finished tunnel book can be, especially a larger one like this.


The finished tunnel is a tight fit into the original cover. If I’d had more time, I might’ve considered altering the spine to fit more properly. On the other hand, this way seems more in the altered book spirit.

I’ve had a few original (not altered) tunnel projects sitting around half finished. Now that my appetite has been whetted, I want to make more tunnels!

If you’re near the San Francisco Bay Area, consider checking out the 3rd Annual Altered Book Show at MarinMOCA in Novato, where Modern Marvels: Man will be on exhibit. It opens April 21. More details are on their website.

Sep 282011
 

I finished this piece a while back. Then I got this idea in my head to “improve” it, alas. I proceeded to fill in too much of the bottom area. I didn’t like what I’d done after it was too late and I’d done it.

While preparing pieces for Saturday’s opening, I decided to restore Be Careful What You Take to Bed With You to its original, more balanced state. I’m glad I did.

Aug 082011
 

I think this is the longest I’ve ever disappeared from the blog. I’m still around. I’ve even been mildly productive, I am happy to report.

The Handbook of Model-making for Set Designers, a recent discovery, is filled with all kinds of fun tips and suggestions for making small stuff with card stock and paper. I’d originally been making a staircase out of book board (something I’m still working on), but wound up suddenly deciding to fashion a tree out of wire and cover it in lokta paper, giving rise to this little book object. I also had some tiny polymer clay eggs sitting around from some previous thing, and so added a nest.

The text in back is, more or less, a stream-of-conscious bit of nonsense that mentions, among other things, a cat climbing a tree. It ends with “And the cat will climb down by the tips of his claws.”

This was inspired by seeing my cat Dominic climb a redwood the other day. He’d spied a bird way high up (redwoods, you might remember, are tall), and decided to go up after it. He made it to the first limb–still impressively high off the ground–which creaked precariously under him as the bird watched safely from above. I don’t know what the cat was thinking–that the bird would hop down onto the branch with him?

At any rate, I had fun putting together this little book object. Nothing like a little productivity to lift one’s mood!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can one not like a book that has pages on scalpels and knives? It even has a sidebar (not shown) outlining the history of X-Actos in the U.S. and scalpels in the U.K. (it’s a British book).

Sep 062010
 
Last night was the opening for the North Redwoods Book Arts Guild exhibition at Eureka Books. This has become an annual event over the last few years, and this was the best yet. It’s great that we have such an enthusiastic and supportive local spot for book arts here in our little corner of the world. Most of the books will be up for the month, including my pharmaceutical piece and the cat book noted below in recent earlier posts. If you’re local, come see it while you can. Members from as far away as Thailand submitted books. The books have also been posted on Flickr.
One of the problems, though, of having a show at one of my favorite bookstores is that I, not being so big into large social gatherings, had to keep fighting the urge to duck upstairs to hide among the shelves. At one point, temptation was too great and I discovered a marvelous FBI manual from the 70s on forensic investigation. I owe my friend Shirl, who likes to alter things with a deliciously irreverent eye, a present. I hope she’s not reading this. 
Nothing to do with art, but I tend to digress…during the evening my eye fell upon an old favorite, Ordeal by Hunger by George R. Stewart. The book is an account of the Donner Party, and in this particular version, there’s an appendix with a letter that 12 year old Virginia Reed wrote to the folks back home after surviving the ordeal. “My Dear Cousin I am going to write to you about our trubels geting to California…” 
Young Virginia ends by offering this bit of sage advice: “Dont let this letter dish[e]a[r]ten anybody… never take no cutofs and hury along as fast as you can.” 
Words to live by. Especially for those of us prone to digressing. 
Aug 082010
 
New York Times

The Sunday magazine in today’s New York Times has an article on the use of books as decorative objects.

In July, Amazon.com announced that, during the previous three months, it sold more e-books than hardback books. This may or may not portend something about the future of the form in which long chunks of text are published. But what about the future of the long chunks of text that have already been published as physical objects with paper pages bound between covers? There are, after all, many such things around. Set aside any emotional attachment you may feel toward the reading of physical books; the truth is that creative uses for books that do not involve engaging with words on a page already abound.”

Feb 122010
 

It occurred to me I haven’t shared any Flickr finds or web discoveries in a while.

I’ve been enjoying Louisa Boyd’s intriguing book forms, collages, paintings and other work on her Flickr stream.

Some of her books certainly add a new dimension to the concept of a sculptural book. She binds (and sometimes alters) books, then tears and shapes the pages to make objects. Often these relate to birds, or are even shaped like birds. The one pictured here is “Paper Bird #1–Housemartin.”

As for her non-bird books, in recent times I’ve been growing a bit jaded by altered books in general. But then I see something like “Keeping Secrets” (pictured below) and my interest perks up and I want to look again.

Her paintings and other works are also interestingly textural and evocative.

Louisa additionally enjoys keeping in touch with like-minded people through her Facebook page, so if you’re on there you might want to check that out as well.