Mar 152012

…each of the nice people who commented on my last post! To show my appreciation, I am putting my vending machine capsule books into a cookie jar and randomly drawing one for each of you. Thank you all for your comments and good wishes!

I’ve emailed everyone whose mailing addresses I don’t already have. If you think you should’ve been one of those people and haven’t heard from me, please let me know.

Jan 282012

They are bad luck to climb on as well.

Heavens. I’m feeling superstitious about my last post mentioning ladders and superstition. Shortly afterwards, I fell off a stepladder. Remarkably little damage was done, considering. I’m ok. Still, a bit unnerving. I’ve been trying to tidy up the studio a bit (which sounds so tame–actually, I can’t work in there at the moment. It’s utter chaos). Perhaps there should be superstitious beliefs about high shelves.

I’d sworn I was not going to commit myself to anything this year. Then I signed up with Book Art Object … and now I just signed up to also do a second 10-book edition for Book Art Object. My second title will be Poison. I’m wondering how strict the definition of “book” is over there. I was originally thinking of another “children’s” board book, but then I started contemplating the medicine bottles filled with capsules I did several years ago. I also recently came into possession of a bunch of discarded psychiatry journals. Possibilities there, somehow? Perhaps not straight capsules, but something similar that provides texts and pictures. Or perhaps something completely different–say, a book about how some people are poison? Just dreaming up ideas at this point. I like this part of the creative process–mad scribbling of ideas and playing around with things to see what might work. And it’s much more enjoyable if I start now, rather than waiting 8 months into the project.

Sep 292011

As I explained in the legal disclaimer on the back, my Board Book for Bored Children isn’t really meant for kids. It’s a spoof on the genre of little kiddie picture books featuring photos of familiar objects, in this case, household items.

I’d never made a board book of this sort before. I figured it out partly from directions in an old edition of The Bonefolder, and partly from adapting what I did know about making stiff-leaf books. I wanted the pages to be laminated to protect the inkjet printouts from getting scratched. But also, this being a gag on children’s board books, I wanted the pages to have the plastic-coated feel of the real thing. How to go about that?

Again, I sheepishly admit to owning and using a scrapbookers’ kind of gizmo, a 5″ Xyron. One of the cartridges available has adhesive on one side, and a matte laminate on the other. Presto! Fortunately, it is a small-ish book, so I can squeeze a few copies out of each cartridge.

It has a drop spine, as seen on this children’s book here, and also described in the Bonefolder instructions mentioned above. I like the effect, and think I’ll be using it again.

I described the concept of A Board Book for Bored Children to a friend who’s an on-again/off-again empty nester. She seemed almost a bit . . . too excited by the idea. She enthusiastically suggested dangerous things I hadn’t even contemplated. Poisonous berries? Abandoned wells? And did I know that Calla Lilies are poisonous?

Oh dear.

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.

Sep 182011

Some projects turn out to be a bit more challenging than others. I originally conceived this as a long accordion book. Each page is composed of a thick paper base that is then layered with three different transparencies. Dry mount adhesive between each layer holds them all together.

But then I discovered that layering transparencies with dry adhesive can be, shall we say, a bit of a challenge. I decided, actually, I didn’t really want to make that many pages. I also was going through a fair number of transparencies, and they are not all that cheap. And so plans for the book changed.

I discovered, much to my surprise, that these built-up, thick plastic pages could actually be bent. I mounted metallic silver paper on the back of each and then folded it around an accordion pleat. I decided I liked this effect.


Along the way during construction, I managed to drop my scalpel. Twice. Once on the finished cover, putting a large slash through the hinge. Then, after making a new cover, on my finger. Fortunately, the flow was stopped without medical intervention and nothing dripped on the book. But it was annoying.

I wish the pictures could convey how tactile this book is. The pages lie flat, and turn with a satisfying movement. Overall, I’m pleased with the way it came out. The title is Radio Waves and Birdsong. It was meant to be a visual interpretation of . . . well, radio waves and birdsong.

Sep 022011

Tip of the day: if one has difficulties with concentration, one should not watch TV while gluing together pages of a book. One might discover, after the books have dried, that some of them are missing pages. Just sayin’.

I’ve finally almost assembled (reassembled?) an edition of 15 petri dish books. The title is Mysophobia: Mainstream Culture. The pages are individual circles that were scored and glued together at the side.

I’ve discovered that scrapbooking toys have their uses. My 3″ circle punch is now my friend. And… I can’t believe I’m admitting this on the Internet… the Martha Stewart score thingie. I remember seeing this very item in a store a while back and sneering. Then came the need to score lots of circular book pages. I could’ve done it with a ruler or a jig. But then I read this blog post from Ginger Burrell. I have to agree; it’s a nifty tool. Who’d have thought…?

The book is about modern germ paranoia. The “cultures” are paste paint and acrylic paintings that I manipulated in Photoshop. I find it fascinating how behavior that is now seen as normal would’ve, not long ago, been seen as compulsive and disordered. I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but here in the US–at least where I live–every big store now seems to have disinfectant wipes at the door. Anti-bacterial soaps are big business. Yet, do we actually get fewer communicable illnesses these days? I doubt it. Outside of a health care context, all this disinfectant wiping and dousing comes across as some sort of quaint evil-repelling ritual.

Of course, ironically, all the evidence suggests this germ phobia is only creating more antibiotic-resistant germs.


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).

Apr 062011

I’ve long liked the idea of books in vending machine capsules. I’ve been hoping to incorporate this into my next show, which will be in the fall. Acquiring an actual vending machine is probably more investment than I care to put in (although, to be honest, I was surprised to discover one can be had for not much more than, say, framing a piece of 2D art).

However, I also thought it would be appropriate to have the “vending machine” be a handmade piece of the art. I have built a box that would be the perfect size, although, through trial and error, the dispensing mechanism has become increasingly simple until, in the latest incarnation, it is not more than a sloped drop down to a hole with a swinging door on it. The problem is, the @#$%! capsules tend to get stuck on the way down. I’m imagining the visiting public having to shake the box and shove their fingers up into the chute to unjam the capsules. Not quite the right idea. Alas.

By last night I was ripping out most of the innards of the thing and growing panicky over the time I’ve let go by on this. (Due to the usual health considerations, I’ve already lost much precious preparation time.) Sigh… If I carry this out, I’ll also need to complete about 50 tiny books to go into the capsules. I have some one-of-a-kinds so far, and have some multiples in the making. They are actually kind of fun to do. Several have included found word texts. We’ll see….

By the way, miniature books in toy-style vending machines are not a new idea. After I started on this, I discovered they have them in Japan, where miniature books are popular. And there are places in the US with a similar idea.

(Thanks to artist Scott Blake for sending the last link. He, incidentally, helped bring an Art-o-mat vending machine to Omaha, Nebraska.)

Mar 012011

I discovered that the paste-painted Wet Media Dura-Lar that I mentioned in the last post can be cut, folded and stitched. I made a miniature book with it. The only problem was that it didn’t stay shut. The pages insisted on staying open.

However, magnets in the covers solved that problem.

And the magnets can keep the book open in a circle too. (My favorite source for these is K&J Magnetics.)

The bits of colored plastic visible in the top picture are vending machine capsules. They will be explained soon.

Feb 222011
I experimented the other day with non-paper materials for paste painting. One of my more interesting discoveries was that you can paste paint on Wet Media Dura-lar. It won’t curl, and the paint doesn’t flick off (although I haven’t yet tried to fold it…).
I’ve paste painted on Tyvek before, but I thought I’d try some texturing tools I hadn’t used much yet. In general, results on Tyvek often seem more textured than on paper, and it usually doesn’t curl. Here, I twisted a square cookie cutter in various directions:
This was done on Tyvek with foam letter stamps, stamped in all directions until the letters themselves became mostly illegible :
This is on Tyvek again. The paste was brushed on and then dabbed at with a towel:
And then I played around with the scans in Photoshop, to see how the textures could be further altered:
This was a paper that I’d begun a while ago. I first made a faux-wood pattern in a greenish-blue color. I then later went back and added a fresh blue layer on top and dabbed at it with a rag:
And then played around with the scan a bit in Photoshop:
I discovered that you can paste paint on synthetic Yupo as well. I thought the result was rather interesting, although I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with it.

It occurred to me that a long time ago I said I was going to add a paste painting tutorial on here. It seems I never got around to it. Someday… However, there are many tutorials online, easily found with a search.
I just discovered this good recent one from Lili’s Bookbinding blog. I’d never prepared cornstarch paste using her method before (my method is mentioned here), so I decided to give it a try. She doesn’t simmer the paste on the stove. She makes a slurry and adds boiling water to it while mixing well with an electric mixer. It was fun to watch the paste suddenly whoosh up into form in the bowl this way. I found this paste differed from my usual version. Not bad. Just different. I thought it tended to form a skin more quickly, but otherwise it had a nice consistency. I’d like to use it again. The recipe is on her post at the above link.
Another tutorial I’ve liked is at Buechertiger’s blog (here and here). She also provides links to further resources.
If you know of any other good paste painting tutorials or resources, please feel free to recommend them.