Jan 312011
 
© Natalie DiCostanzo

My local long-time friend Natalie is a fantastic ceramic artist. We recently had a discussion about kiln gods. Since I’m not a ceramicist, I wasn’t familiar with them. They are, it turns out, pieces that are made to be placed on the kiln as a sort of good luck offering for the firing. She’d recently made some talisman pieces based on this idea.

The other day on an impulsive whim, I walked into the Arcata Artisans Cooperative Gallery where she has her work and bought one that caught my eye. I figured a talisman to appease the arts gods might be just the thing I was needing.

Minutes later on my way back to the car, I stopped in at Northtown Books just down the street. As soon as I got through the door, they placed an order for a bunch of greeting cards of my old collages. The order covered the cost of my talisman.

I like this talisman idea.

I also like our independent bookstores. Humboldt folks take note: if you want something quickly, consider getting it locally. I recently placed a special order from Northtown in the early Saturday evening of a long holiday weekend. It arrived by Tuesday. This, in an isolated place where even “overnight” delivery often takes two nights. I don’t know how they do it. Plus, they are really nice people.

And if you happen to pop into Northtown in Arcata, or Eureka Books in Eureka (who, I should add, can also order things for you) my talisman suggests you check out the greeting cards, especially the ones with the mosaic collages on them, like this one here. . .
paper mosaic collage image

You’re Here  © Ellen Golla

Nov 152010
 
 Leif Parsons/NY Times illustration

I’m going to be having a show next year at Eureka Books.

It isn’t happening for a while yet, but I’m bringing it up now because the bookshop was mentioned in the New York Times on Sunday. The author of the piece, Amy Stewart, is one of the co-owners. It’s a true, and funny, story involving the store and Humboldt County’s most famous agricultural export. 

Oct 112010
 

I’ve been away. I had to travel to a big University of California medical campus for what turned out to be some ok help from one department, and some patronizing and dispiriting non-help from another.

Alas, feeling down and wanting to console myself, I did a little shopping. Large universities, especially ones with big science programs, have bookstores with esoteric goodies. Coming all this way, at least I could pick up a few petri dishes, slide holder cases and watch glasses for later. I have some slides at home and was wondering what I could sandwich between them in the semi-translucent holders.

I think some of the petri dishes will become “cards” for friends. I’m trying to figure out what to use to write inside them that will suggest fuzzy and/or semi-translucent blobs of cultured bacterial matter. Suggestions are welcome.

The student checking me out at the bookstore asked if I was doing an experiment. “No, I’m an insane artist and I’m going to use these to make bacterial-looking birthday cards.” His face brightened considerably.

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. 
Mar 052010
 

Books meant for kids often have some of the best ideas for artists’ book structures. They are, in many respects, often quite similar–they have an emphasis on illustrations with perhaps a little bit of text. Sometimes they also have an unusual structure or shaped pages.

I recently came upon a couple of children’s books from an earlier era.

The first was sent to me by a friend. It’s a German translation of an English book that was called Animal Lore and Disorder. It advertises “more than 200 comic animals.” The pages are divided horizontally, so as you turn them, you create little mish-mashes of mixed up animals and mixed up descriptions to go with them. This here is a “Cowk,” a cow/elk: “This animal lives in the farmyard. He gives lots of milk and cream and…hunters often go around Canada hunting him.” The book itself is interestingly made. It is essentially a pamphlet with hard covers and a buckram spine. The paper cover wrapper is glued directly onto the book boards, with flaps left free. They tuck in around the front of the book. You can see the raw edges of the book board.



The second I found in a bargain bin at Eureka Books. It’s not in great condition, but I liked the form of it and the way it was made. It’s an accordion. The pages are shaped book board panels, all joined together with book cloth hinges and a cloth spine. It’s satisfying to open and arrange these heavy, smooth panels joined with cloth. The sections move in a way that wouldn’t be possible with the cheaper production methods of newer picture books.

I’m already imagining how elements of these two book forms can be worked into my artist’s books.