Layering Transparencies and Altering Design Plans

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.

13 thoughts on “Layering Transparencies and Altering Design Plans”

  1. That is just beautiful. I love the colour and the birds soaring through the sound waves across the pages. And my fingers are itching to touch it. And its title encapsulates it beautifully.

    I am waiting for the post on injuries and how you acquired them though. (sorry – sometimes my sick puppy has to emerge from its kennel).

    • Thanks E.C. I blush at your kind enthusiasm (and appreciate it deeply).

      And yes, that post about industrial accidents will definitely need to be written someday. Somehow, the idea of someone with hand… issues?… and cognitive difficulties playing with scalpels is indeed the stuff of comedy. And did I tell you I brushed against the iron the other day? Set on cotton. The upside of nerve damage–many ridiculous things hurt like hell, but burn my finger on a hot iron? Hardly felt it.

      • Snap. Far too much pain, yet when the nurse at the hospital put a warm, damp cloth on my arm I didn’t realise that it was in fact hot and wet. Result? A v large blister. I knew it was hotter than I liked, but had no idea it was that hot. Humph.

        • Yike! Weird, isn’t it? And the other day in the shower I was convinced that I’d somehow made a spot on the floor boiling hot when I was getting the water going–a part of my foot felt like it had hot metal pressed to it. Turned out, of course, it was just my foot’s imagination.

          Alas… time to head out to the studio to tempt fate again with scalpel in hand ;-)

  2. Hi Ellen! I just adore your ‘Radio Waves and Birdsong’. Simply beautiful and what a cool idea! Its funny that you have done this, as it reminds me of some photographic experiments (with shadows and light) I tried whilst holidaying in the South of France this year. I was just tinkering about with my camera and ended up with some interesting compositions (I haven’t posted on my blog as it’s a simmering idea). Ellen, you are forever inspirational! :) Tanya

    • Hi Tan! I look forward to seeing your photographic experiments. I bet they’re amazing. I do so love your photos, whatever you get up to. I hope your new term is going well!

      It’s funny–now that I’ve done the book, I keep looking at the title with dislike. I don’t like the leading in the title, but didn’t notice it until I saw the photos. That’s not the first time I’ve only noticed something after seeing the photo of it (what’s with that?). But there is no way I’m doing another cover! Or at least not for a while yet. This actually started off with a much more complicated cover, with a magnet in it. But the more I worked on it, the more impossible it got. In the end, I think the simple case cover really was the right answer. But drat that title (typographically speaking). Between reworkings and scalpel droppings (not to mention glue droppings), the thing took a lot longer than it should’ve. You know how it goes–the more rushed one feels, the slower everything goes. Alas.

      Just so you know–I noticed that the link here from your name to your blog is not working. I checked the web address and it looks like it’s the same problem as before–there’s an @ where there should be a (dot). I’d hate for people not to be able to see your lovely blog. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to edit that here now, but I thought you might want to be aware it in general.

      • PS Tan, I meant to mention that the birds all came from pics I took years ago in London. Although I isolated the birds and then layered in another sky over them. But there’s a London connection :-)

      • Hi Ellen,
        Thank you so much for your lovely response.
        Firstly, big thanks for pointing out the small matter of an ‘@’ in my blog address. Hopefully, I’ve rectified it?! Secondly, I think your title is lovely (in my opinion) and I’ve just had a closer look via Flickr and the leading looks good too. I do agree with you though, sometimes it can be the tiniest of things that irritate, things that other people just would not see! Maybe that’s the nature of the business Ellen; as artists we are never satisfied. To be honest, the day I am totally satisfied with anything I do, I shall start to worry!
        How wonderful that the bird silhouettes come from your time in London! Fabulous!
        I will share my photos in due course…just stewing on ideas presently. For inspiration, I spent the day at Chelsea Art College researching and viewing their special collection of Fluxus books – whackily wonderful they are too!
        Take care. Speak soon :)

  3. Tan, I am happy to say that the link to your name works this time! Glad that was so easily fixed.

    I so appreciate your take on the title. Why do we torment ourselves so over such relatively trivial matters, eh? As you say, it’s the nature of the business, no doubt. But I do value your input and eye. Thanks!

    Your day at Chelsea Art College sounds wonderfully fun. I do look forward to seeing the product of your simmering ideas!


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