E-motives Laptop Project

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.




Etc…

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

Tyvek For a Miniature Laptop

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

My Daily Planner

Book blocks made from pharma inserts, waiting to be cased in.
 

Here’s some more background on those miniature books I mentioned in the last post. Several months back, I found a 7-compartment weekly pill organizer in the drugstore. There was just something about the size of it—slightly larger than usual—that screamed “art supply.”

I decided to make little books that look like day planners, one for each compartment. The pages come from copies of the pharmaceutical inserts from my meds. They are 7/8″ x 1-5/8″.

I’ve been trying to find a suitable covering material for the little books. I’d been thinking of using Tyvek, but in the end it didn’t look “day planner” enough. Mostly, the tiny lettering just didn’t look right no matter how I tried to affix it to the Tyvek. I opted, instead, for inkjet prints on paper.

I made a solid black background and used white lettering. But then the coated inkjet paper scratches so easily and the texture wasn’t quite right — what to do?  I decided, as a protective gesture, to coat the papers with beeswax, which was something new for me. It turned out that the coating not only offers scratch resistance, but the texture of the wax rubbed into the paper definitely suggests “day planner” to me. I was quite pleased with the result. They are smooth and glossy and not “waxy” at all (unfortunately, the picture doesn’t convey this very well).

I made the first one last night and eagerly showed my husband, who said, “Wow, a bible–how funny!”

Bible?!
I had to confess, it did look more “bible” than “day planner.”
At any rate, I can recommend wax-coating inkjet printouts. I’ll explain a little bit more about my process for coating them in the next post.
A finished “day planner”

Tyvek Tinting

Tyvek is so versatile. I’ve been trying to find the right cover material for a set of miniature books (more on them later). I decided Tyvek might be the way to go.

My favorite way of decorating Tyvek is to use a foam cosmetic sponge dipped in acrylic ink. I evenly smooth the color over the Tyvek, rubbing it in with the foam sponge.

It’s best to work on top of some scrap paper and to wear vinyl or rubber gloves (I like the close-fitting kind, not the dishwashing kind).

Rubbing an even layer of the ink into the Tyvek brings out the patterns of its non-woven fibers. And one of the nicest things about acrylic ink is that it doesn’t leave any discernible texture or tackiness–perfect for book pages. It just soaks into the Tyvek.

Once the Tyvek is decorated, it can be used for all sorts of things. Cut into strips, it can be used as decorative tapes to sew signatures onto. Keith Smith, in Non-adhesive Binding Books Without Paste or Glue, says of it: “Archival, flexible and strong, Tyvek seems perfect for pages in a book. It can be sewn…and since it is strong, it can be a substitute for book cloth. PVA must be used for the adhesive…”

I’ve used it for accordion pages and small book covers. Most of what I’ve read claims it’s archival, although I think nobody will know for certain until it has been used for more decades. Keith Smith cautions that some binders are skeptical, warning that the plasticizer in it may eventually dry out and shatter. That said, the stuff is used to wrap houses and it’s a popular art material. I just use it and enjoy.

This shows a little gift book I made a while ago. The cover material and the pages are paste-painted Tyvek. I wish the photo could convey its tactile quality — very sturdy, yet people seem to like to pet the covers and pages.

Adverse Events on Codex…with Some Poisonous Plant Exposure

I have a collection of pharmaceutical informational inserts. I mostly use them as art material. Some actually came with my own prescriptions, and some were given to me. (It’s helpful to have an acquaintance in the medical field who is willing to pass these things along.)

I first started paying attention to them when I was putting together an entry for a We Love Your Books show in ’07.  The theme was A (is for add) B (is for book) C (is for collaborate). I chose to do P is for Pills. It was probably the first book-related thing I did that I packaged in a pill bottle. I filled it with little pamphlet-style books made from the informational inserts.

At any rate, I felt that my bottles of “Codex” (tiny books in capsules that, as a work, I’m calling The Literary Cure), needed a little something more–an accompanying informational insert, of course! So I opened up InDesign and Illustrator and got to work.

Of this edition of five, three are already spoken for, and one will be headed to a big book fair at the end of this week. I have not actually made that many bottles of Codex yet. Tiny capsules with tiny books are slow going for someone with hand issues (that is, me). The three that are being purchased were ordered by someone who is willing to wait, even knowing that it might take me months. What a great person! I partly added the insert for her. She deserves a little something extra for her patience.

All this reminds me of the funniest real pharma insert I’ve seen. Have you ever read the fine print on some of these? This was for a well-known sleeping aid. It had the familiar charts displaying the adverse events that had been noted in clinical trial subjects. After all the various bodily systems and their related side effects were listed, there was a mysterious category of “social circumstances.” Here it was noted that one research subject, after consuming the sleeping aid, had experienced “exposure to poisonous plant.” I tried to imagine… a crazed sleepwalker nibbling on a euphorbia? Running through a field of poison oak? The possibilities…

International Postcard Project

A while back I was sent an intriguing call for entries for an international mail art project that Helen Allsebrook was organizing in Bristol, England. I decided to sign up. Several weeks passed and I forgot about it. Then a mysterious packet arrived at my post office. It was from Bristol.

The format turned out to be a set of three postcards to be completed by sets of participants. The first person chooses a postcard to do, then passes it on to the next person on the list, who then picks one of the remaining two cards to work on. The third person finishes up and sends the accordion of postcards back to Helen, who will be combining all the submissions into an April exhibit at the University of the West of England. The show might, after that, be traveling to Rochester, New York.

I was the third person of my group, the last to get the cards. The back side of my postcard came preprinted with a text about monkeys in a botanical garden:

“Monkeys in Botanical Garden…These evergreen gardens are situated at Cluny Road, less than two miles from the town. A well known beauty spot that has never failed to attract a cosmopolitan crowd of visitors.”
Since my own garden happens to be carnivorous, that is what came to mind. It was to be a collage using, partly, inkjet printouts of stock pics and my own photos. Then my printer died. This must be something karmic to do with me and international art projects based in Bristol. My last two printers each went gears up while printing out bookmarks for the Bristol-based Bookmarks VI and VII. That last printer fiasco happened a mere 5 months ago.
And so, I spent a hunk of the last week waiting for a new printer. In the end, it was fun. I look forward to seeing pictures of the resulting show (or two). Thanks to Helen for organizing this massive endeavor involving 240 participants. She also passed along a few links to others who’ve posted stuff about their submissions: Debra James Percival in Ottawa, Jackie Batey of Damp Flat Books in Brighton, Steve Hanson in Wales, and Rose Enright in London.

Pharma Shrine

This pharmaceutical shrine has been a long-term recreational project. It still needs more work on the outside. Here’s a peek of (mostly) the inside, which is just about finished. Those are tiny Rx pads on the bottom shelf. The thing on the side that says “3 mg” is a pull-out display tray. I might put some more samples or pharma credit-type cards in it (yes, such things exist). I embedded magnets under the doors so that they shut with a satisfying snap.

At Last, a Little Bit of Studio Stuff

Finally, I’ve been able to spend a little bit of time here and there in the studio. After a longish period of not being able to do much, I’m trying to get caught up on some projects. For one, I’m completing a couple more copies of the Literary Cure (pictured at right). This particular small edition seems to be developing a following. I hadn’t realized that the concept of literature as pharmaceutical would resonate so well with others.

Here are some mini book blocks drying while clamped in small clothespins. They will be trimmed down and have covers added later.

Then they will eventually be put in capsules. Here’s another example of what the finished encapsulated books  look like.

There are also little book-like items with printing on them that are clamped and drying with the others (in the picture before last). They are miniature prescription pads for a pharmaceutical shrine I’m finishing up.

This is a sneak peek through one open side. Better pics of this will appear in a few days, hopefully photographed well enough so that you’ll be able to appreciate the gold-leafed interior and offerings.

And while I’m at my messy worktable, I’ll show a couple of my favorite tools that are sitting here. Top left is an ergonomically shaped teflon folder. It makes folding papers so much easier. The blue item is my British scalpel handle, which makes grasping the scalpel easier. In general, I prefer working with scalpels rather than craft knives.

More soon as things progress . . .

Don’t Underestimate Boys

A while back I came across a blog thread that was, more or less, about girls and boys and bookmaking (unfortunately, I lost the link). The artist had shown some pictures of a gift set she’d made for a little girl’s birthday present. It included a customized journal/book and some other customized things to go along with it. The women commenting on the site oowed and ahhed, and said what a lucky little girl the recipient was. And then someone chimed in (the way I remember it) that it was a shame that little boys only cared about things like legos and super-heroes. She’d sure like to make gifts like that too, but only had little boys in her life. They wouldn’t like gifts like that. I felt sad for the little boys in her life.

Two of the biggest artists’ books fans I know are twin 7 year old boys, the sons of a friend. They are normal, lego-loving boys. And they are completely fascinated by book structures. One year (6th birthday? I’m losing track…) I made them each a flag book with blank tabs surrounding the name of each boy, with the idea that they should decorate and customize the books themselves. To my surprise, those flag books seemed to be the hit of the party. One of the twins called it his “magic book.” Another time, I gave them personalized little pamphlet-style books, and they, apparently, are still pasting things into them and using them. At the moment, they’re waiting to hold me to a promise to come over to make books with them. When their mom had mentioned something about my studio, last time I saw them, little 7 year old D.’s eyes grew huge with excitement. “You have a studio! A real art studio!” You might as well have announced that I had my own train in the backyard. He wants to come see the studio.

I used to be afraid that they’d be disappointed if I were to give them homemade gifts, rather than some perhaps more cool or coveted thing from the toy store. It turned out that they have genuinely liked their handcrafted cards and gifts. I always let them know that they can learn to make the same kinds of things themselves, too. It had never occurred to me that because they are boys I was supposed to assume they wouldn’t be interested in handmade books and art-related activities. Boys deserve better than that.

Bookmarks VII Update

A while ago I mentioned that I was taking part in Bookmarks VII, the latest installment of an international book arts project organized through the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Book artists from around the world contribute an edition of 100 bookmarks for free distribution to chosen venues such as bookstores, libraries, galleries and schools in different countries.  

The idea is to introduce more people to book art, while allowing the artists to get their work out to a broad array of the public. Each artist also gets to keep a collated set of everyone’s bookmarks. This was the third time I’ve taken part. I must say, it’s exciting to get that bundle in the mail, filled with little works of art. My edition of 4 designs is described on their website as well as in my earlier post.

This year has another local twist. Eureka Books, which also just hosted the North Redwoods Book Arts Guild exhibition I’d been making stuff for, is, for the first time, one of the worldwide distribution points (one of only 3 in the US). It’s wonderful to see book art, and book artists, getting all this attention in our little remote corner of the world.