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.

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.

Aug 212010
My Daily Planner

I did a stupid thing last month. I discovered that if one takes life-sustaining meds, it’s a bad thing to forget a dose. A really bad thing. This little oversight, and then my trip south, put me out of commission worse than usual for a while. I guess I should’ve paid more attention to my own bookmark design from a few years ago. Alas.

I’d been planning to contribute something for an exhibition next month at Eureka Books that our local book arts guild is having. I was going to make something appropriately sellable and commercially pleasing, like my miniature cat ABC book. But it just wasn’t in me. So I finished My Daily Planner instead. It fit my mood better.

PS: I wrote earlier about how I waxed the papers to make the cover material for the little books.
Jun 042010

The cover has a little more wobble than I’d like, and there turned out to be problems with the Tyvek cover—it was wearing on the corners. So I did some touch-up and coated it in matte medium, which seems to have worked. It’s not the texture I would’ve preferred, but still, my little book about online depravity is done. 
(An earlier post about some of the inside pages is here.)
May 182010

The miniature laptop, my recreational amusement of the moment, is coming along. The basic form is assembled. The keyboard will be resized and added soon. For a while it wouldn’t close properly, but that problem was solved with the use of a smaller diameter hinging wire. And the pages for the book, which will be housed in the “screen” and are meant to look like parody web pages, are just waiting to be put together (the mock ups are shown here). 

“How to stalk someone” turns out to actually be a popular search item on Google. I was thinking in terms of parody, outrageousness (although you’d think I’d know better, seeing as I’ve been harassed myself). After typing only a little bit of it, the rest of the phrase quickly pops up, suggested by the search engine itself. This is presumably based upon this term’s 5,190,000 hits. Um…..interesting. I think.


(Ok–perhaps it’ll make more sense once it’s finished…?)

May 142010

I’ve had an idea that I’ve been hoping to turn into into a book before the We Love Your Books submission deadline in less than a month. The theme for their next show is “e-motive,” to be interpreted widely. The book will be about unsavory things people do online–“not everybody’s e-motives are as nice as yours and mine” will be part of the text.

I decided on a sculptural cover designed to look like a laptop. It’s made of bookboard and a little bit of basswood. For the keyboard and overall look of it, I scanned all the various sides of an actual old grey laptop and manipulated them in Photoshop. Even so, what could I use for a covering material that would suggest a laptop in looks and texture?

I had a hunch that Tyvek might just work. In Photoshop, I made a sheet-sized area to print from the scan of the laptop’s outer top cover. It’s a slightly textured-looking grey. I printed this onto the Tyvek with my pigment inkjet. Only it came out green, not grey. So I tried it again only using black ink. Not bad.

To hinge it together, I cut a plastic cotton swab handle into sections and fashioned them into a hinge attached to alternating parts of the cover’s inner edges. Through this I will thread a wire to hold it together. It’s still not assembled, but it looks as though it’s going to work. The reason the bottom half looks blue and streaky in the photo is that I had to rip the Tyvek off. It’s waiting to be re-covered. The keyboard will be added on top of that.

It doesn’t exactly feel like a plastic laptop cover, but it suggests a plastic-like texture, and is definitely not like paper. And the variations in the Tyvek add to a look of beat-up old laptop. We’ll see…

The book’s pages are going to fit into the screen area on top. Along with all the rest of it, I’m still working on those.

Background on Tyvek
May 042010

The world’s smallest atlas, made for Queen Mary’s doll house.

I’ve been pondering a potential project–a metaphorical atlas (for lack of a better description). I’ve long loved maps and map-like visuals, and have been wanting to use that kind of imagery in my artwork for as long as I can remember. I think the time is coming to do it as a book. We’ll see if anything materializes. For now, it’s mostly in the sketching and pondering phase. 

What made me want to mention this was stumbling upon this exhibition review on the BBC news site. The British Library and the Royal Geographical Society are both currently putting on shows that focus on the artistic aspect of maps. One of the items they show is the miniature atlas above. 

Apr 052010

As I mentioned before, I wound up waxing inkjet-printed papers for use as covering material for my latest books. I’ve been quite pleased with the result. I thought I’d outline the process.

First, rub an even layer of wax over the paper. Since this is for a miniature and my block of beeswax is rather large, this is fairly easy. (This fantastic block of beeswax, by the way, was found in a local health food store for less than beeswax costs at an art supply place.)

I then experimented with different ways of sanding the waxed paper. Regular fine grit paper did not work–it rubbed off some of the ink. I found this rubber sanding pad at the hardware store, and it works well. I can also roll it up to make it a little easier to grasp. For some reason, a regular sanding block with the same grit number did not work.

Then smooth with a buffing pad, also from the hardware store.

Wiping with tack cloth helps smooth out the wax, but it can leave a little stickiness. I buff some more after this step. Repeat until the desired finish is obtained.

Even though this is a small area to do, this process was causing me problems. I have painful and not very strong hands. I got the idea to try a cheap electric toothbrush to do some of the buffing. It works…up to a point, although I found it actually was not that much easier. However, it is another option and does allow for some finer finishing. I discovered at the drugstore that the toothbrushes are not all equal. Some only vibrate, and others simply don’t feel nice in the hand when they’re turned on, and, on some, only a small portion of the head moves. If you like this idea, take advantage of the ones that allow you to turn them on in the package at the store. That way, you can get a better idea if it might work for you.

In spite of the hand thing, I’ve been excited about this. The finish is just perfect for this project. It’s smooth and glossy, and is far more durable than regular unfinished inkjet paper. It also deepens the colors of the printouts. I use an Epson with pigmented Dura-Brite inks. I’m not sure how others would hold up to this process, but I imagine they’d be similar.