Changing Mores

I have been going through my stamp collection. I’ve even, God help me, been adding to it. Aside from admiring them and making a few cards for friends with them, I haven’t a clue what I’m going to do with all these stamps. But I do so like them.

This Darwin commemorative arrived the other day from someone in Scotland. By coincidence, not days before, my husband had been sharing with me some passages from Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle. They were rather startling. Darwin, great man of science, gleefully writes in his diary how he pulled the tail of a Galapagos lizard and teased it just for fun, like a naughty school boy.

He also described the dining habits of those traveling on His Majesty’s Ship Beagle as they passed through the Galapagos Archipelago in 1835: “While staying in this upper region, we lived entirely upon tortoise-meat: the breast-plate roasted (as the Gauchos do carne con cuero), with the flesh on it, is very good; and the young tortoises make excellent soup; but otherwise the meat to my taste is indifferent.”

Oh dear.

Pro Re Nata (I Was Warned)

I’ve posted links to other people’s books on Flickr. Today I thought I’d add something of my own. I don’t have many photos of my book and other non-cut paper work on the web. Some things I need to photograph, but others I’ve simply parted with before making a record of them. At the moment I’ve been feeling desperate to get back into the studio to do some work, but I’ve been so unwell and exhausted that it’s almost impossible for me to do anything. It’s frustrating.

I’ve made books for many years, largely in the background to other things, mostly to be given as gifts. I’d always thought of them as not my “real work,” whatever that is. But then I began making books and objects as, partly, a way of dealing with the frustrations of living with chronic health issues. It was a way, sometimes, of making laughter out of pain. Book art just seemed like a perfect medium, for me, for such explorations.

This is my tribute to my medications and to the words of wisdom printed graphically on the sides of the bottles. Be warned.

Almost a Book Artist Before I Knew It

I find it interesting that badges (or buttons, where I come from) are seen by many as having a kindred relationship to book art. For instance, there is a research project going on at the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England, What will be the Canon for the Artists’ Book in the 21st Century?They “aim to extend and sustain critical debate of what constitutes an artist’s book in the 21st Century.” To go along with this, there is a genealogical-type tree diagram available at the web site. Here, an attempt is made to illustrate how the book arts and related art forms are linked to each other. People who want to participate in the research project are encouraged to download the diagram and, if so desired, rearrange or rewrite parts of it to suit their own understandings of how these things fit together. As currently assembled, badges, postcards, cards, posters, and bookmarks are considered sibling offshoots to artists’ books. These are all things I’ve been involved with for many years.

The badges, though, almost make me giggle. I was the weird girl at my small high school on the Central Coast of California. I mean, the really weird girl. Come to think of it, in Jr. High as well. I remember giving speeches in 8th grade English class on topics such as “the Joy of Nonconformity” and “How to Make People Stare at You.” To give you an idea what life was like there, one of the great moments of pride for my alma mater was when our Future Farmers of America cattle judging team won a big trophy at a competition in the Midwest. This was the early 80s. Needless to say, I did not judge cattle. Nor did I fit in.

As part of my campaign of nonconformity and goading the locals, I saved up and bought something special for myself by mail order. I didn’t know anyone else at the time who had one of these miraculous gizmos. It was….a button machine. Oh, did I have fun.

I just came across some of my old buttons, now mostly rusted. If I’d only known then what I know now. When they looked at me askance, I could’ve told them I was a book artist practicing my craft.

Bookmarks VII

For the third year, I’m taking part in the Bookmarks project run through the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Book artists around the world sign up and agree to contribute an edition of 100 bookmarks each. These are then distributed to venues around the world, where they are given out free. It’s been fascinating, and, I must say, I’ll never look at a bookmark the same way again.

My current submission is due in Bristol soon, so I’m working on them now. They are designed to plant nagging neurotic thoughts in peoples’ minds as they settle down to their books. Did you remember to turn off the oven? Is that iron still on? Door really locked?

 

A while ago I mentioned my design idea to my acupuncturist. She was horrified and accused me of being not very nice to people with OCD. In reality, I was thinking of my own tendencies.

 

This reminds me of a story. One day as I was leaving the house and had just locked up, I had to go back in to double check that I’d really, really remembered to turn off the iron. As I unlocked the door and walked back to the room where I’d been earlier, I silently chided myself for my compulsive neuroticism. Of course I’d turned it off. And as I entered, there it sat. The iron was turned on and steaming away….

 

All of the previous years’ Bookmarks projects are archived online. I was involved with Bookmarks 5 and Bookmarks 6. Links to previous years are available from those sites.

Internet Woes

No email for a day (thank you, incompetent rural ISP). Domain host shuffle (my other site, the “Picture Factory” link to the right). Deleting the latest version of my old web site that I was still needing for a while off my hard drive, after I lost access to it online. My horoscope probably said to avoid technology this week, but I missed seeing it. Just wanted to poke my head in. I haven’t given up on my poor little new blog.

Now back to cursing at my ISP and my stupidity for not backing things up more often. It really is true. You should back up your files. Often.

Cleaning and Organizing

Much to my amazement, we didn’t find many black widows in the studio the other day, but instead found all kinds of other things that had fallen behind furniture and storage boxes.

Cleaning my work space feels as futile as going down to the beach and attempting to bail and organize the Pacific, but I guess one has to start somewhere. Part of the problem is that I sometimes do use things like leftover packaging and scraps of paper, so I can rationalize having things like that around. But one needs limits.      

I discovered a while ago that those 3-tiered plastic bin organizing things designed for kids’ bedrooms are useful for messy, visually-minded artists. I’ve had one for a while and have grown fond of it. I keep rulers, inks, glues, small toys (for assemblages, of course), etc in it, and it works great. I like having things out in the open where I can grab at them.

                      

Spider Abatement Day in the Studio

Several of these ladies share my studio (which is a converted garage) with me. I have nothing against them. They don’t actually bother me much (I like spiders). However, given that black widows like to live and hide behind boxes, and that my studio is filled with . . . er, boxes, I’ve decided it’s time for the arachnid equivalent of U-Haul (well, that and the fact that one was running past my toes when I looked down the other day). So, tomorrow I’m hiring somebody to come over to help with black widow removal (nobody wanted to volunteer—go figure).

The last time I cleaned the studio and evicted spiders, I fell so ill afterward that I wound up at the hospital the next day. My husband, aided with a home health manual and the Internet, came to the conclusion that I must’ve been bitten by a black widow. (More likely, it was food poisoning.)

I’ll let you know how it goes.