Books in Capsules

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.)

20 thoughts on “Books in Capsules”

  1. Anything which encourages the acquisition of, reading of, sheer enjoyment in books is a wonderful idea. And a book vending machine is a HUGE improvement on the more usual soft drinks/chocolates/chip machines.
    Less happy to hear that your body has been doing you wrong. Look after yourself.

  2. Thanks-it always makes me smile to see a comment from you. I love the playful element of dispensing art as if it were candy or a toy. I like showing that artists shouldn't always be taken so seriously. And, yes, the world would be much improved if the soda and candy in machines were to be replaced with artworks and artbooks instead.

    As for the body doing me wrong, it's nothing too much out of the usual. The fatigue has been pretty crushing, my marbles feel a bit looser and more willing to roll away… that sort of thing…

    I hope the repercussions from all that garden work haven't been taking too big a toll…. Look after yourself as well.

  3. what a brilliant idea, what a great concept!
    I love miniatures and the ones I see in your pictures are super lovely! And coming out of the vending machine…: yumminess without the calories!!!
    Best of luck preparing for the show; I am on a similar roll, mine is in June.

  4. I love your description of the rolling marbles. Too true unfortunately. We need to find a better word than fatigue though. And yes the repercussions from the gardening binge will be with me for a bit. Probably worth it.

  5. Thanks Anna! Much appreciated. Good luck for June! Much sooner than mine. I wish I was closer and could see it in person.

  6. I agree that "fatigue" is an insufficient term. I had to laugh about the marbles myself… answering your first comment brought me back to my post. I did a double take to see I'd written "shute" instead of "chute." In my old linguistics student days, my idea of pleasure reading included dictionaries….I also used to have a near-photographic visual memory, which is now completely gone. I never realized how much I depended on it, especially when doing art, until it went away.

    So sorry to hear the gardening repercussions are ongoing… and ongoing… :-( I look forward to the pictures when it's all in flower. Those bulbs! But what a frustration not to be able to do any kind of productive project without paying for it for weeks.

    Speaking of blooms, I just noticed that the huge mother-in-law's tongue next to the computer is sending up *2* big flower stalks, which will smell incredible upon opening. Yeay.

  7. Our mother in law's tongue rarely flowers. Shute was fine – the meaning was clear and in the concept of a mine shute it was probably accurate even. And surely there is a song about 'you don't know what you've got till its gone'. Humph. On the other hand I can now re read books and rediscover things. Sigh.

  8. I'd never had one flower either until about 7 or 8 years ago. This particular one is about 20 years old and lives right under a skylight. Its leaves are quite long. I also have some others that live in a covered porch/sunroom and they flower too, although, strangely, not on a schedule like this one, and almost never at the same time. This one blooms every April. The only time it flowered out of schedule was–I'm not exaggerating–the night Obama won the election. I hadn't even realized it had sent up the stalk, but that night, right after the results were announced, the blossoms opened and the room was flooded with that scent. I might have the only politically-minded mother-in-law's tongue around. Then it went back to flowering in April.

    …And just think of all the movies and old TV shows you can now watch over and over again, each time just like the first…

  9. Bon! So nice to hear from you. Thanks for the input. I did actually think of laminating the "floor" with something more slick. Since I haven't yet put up a picture of it, I should say that it is papier maché over book board, layered with Nepalese Lokta paper and matte medium. But it turned out the texture isn't really a problem. If I stick a few capsules in to try it out, they slide right down. But when I put all of the capsules in, they tend to jam up and block each other from moving. My problem had been testing the design without enough capsules in it. A learning experience, alas. I tore out the bottom and am going to try it with a larger opening for them to drop into, along with a steeper angle to guide them there. If I was clever I'd come up with a real mechanical means of letting one cap fall into the door compartment at a time, with a cute little knob in front to work it that would mimic a real vending machine (my original fantasy). But these days I'm ahead if I can remember how to turn on my shower knob… so if I can just come up with some kind of conceptual dispenser that more or less works, I'll be satisfied. We'll see…

  10. I seem to be hogging the comments. Sorry. I have been thinking about doing a post on lost marbles and the pluses – would you mind?

  11. I love your comments! Please don't apologize. It's also helping me figure out this new comment system, which I deeply appreciate (the switch gives me much better moderation abilities which, alas, is something I need).

    Please, talk about marbles! It's helpful when you talk about these kinds of things.

  12. Aww…you're so kind. Maybe someday we will get to meet–wouldn't that be wonderful. In the meantime, I will look forward to the pictures of your show! Much good creative energy and productive days to you! xxo in return…

  13. Greetings Elissa. This isn't so much Art-o-mat as… heaven knows! But an online friend who does sell work in Art-o-mat machines really likes them and recommends doing it. Have you ever thought of submitting to them? It sounds complicated to me, but he makes it sound doable…. if one is up to production work of 50 at a time. The artist gets half of a $5 sales price, so I assume the materials and structure would have to be pretty simple. Personally, I don't have enough energy for it at the moment, but it could be fun if it's something you'd like to do. My friend says he actually makes a little bit of money with it.

    • Greetings Amanda. I actually haven’t worked on this project in a while, but now that you’ve brought my attention back to it, it makes me want to start making little minis again. I hadn’t actually been thinking of kids, but it does sound like it would be a wonderful idea for children. Thanks for stopping by.


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