For I Have Bound a Copy of Jeoffry…

Our book arts guild is having a show next month at an antiquarian and used bookstore, Eureka Books. It should be a wild mix of things. My contribution is going to include a bottle of Codex (see previous post), but I’ve also made a few flutter books and some notepads.

One of the flutter books is a copy of Jubilate Agno, or rather Fragment B of Jubilate Agno, better known as Christopher Smart’s poem about his cat Jeoffry.
Jubilate Agno in its entirety was a long religious piece Smart composed while he was living in a private Georgian insane asylum called Mr. Potter’s Madhouse.
Pictures of some of the other things for the show will be coming soon.

Life from a Pill Bottle

I feel as if I am returning back to the land of the living. My original intention for this blog had been to focus on paper and book art to the exclusion of more mundane personal stuff, but I’ve been finding that hard to do. There is just too much overlap between what goes on with me and what I wind up doing (or not doing) in my work space.

Actually, when I set this thing up, I hadn’t planned to let anyone even know that I was doing it. I’d thought I’d just create a little anonymous spot on the web where I could motivate myself by writing about projects I was thinking about and about miscellaneous paper-related discoveries I’d made online. If anyone actually stumbled upon it and kept reading, swell. But I wasn’t aiming to share my life. Unbloggerly of me, I know, but that was my thinking.

 

Then, a funny thing happened. When I was doing the bookmarks recently, I had to put my info on the back of them. And, to my surprise, I found myself putting this blog address on the back. I’ve been using the Paper Chipmunk name as the imprint for my book work. I guess I’m embracing my inner chipmunk. And sharing my life…

 

In spite of a show coming up soon with the book arts guild I belong to, I haven’t been able to do much of anything for months. My health matters have been getting worse and worse. Not to sound melodramatic, but I’d reached the point where I was seriously pondering “my affairs.” As in knowing deep down the time had come to damn well get them in order, however one is supposed to tidy up such things. But I felt too unwell to even do much of that. The scariest part was nobody could really offer much of an opinion what was wrong. Some major endocrine stuff, among other things, was happening, but of a sort that should be controlled by taking artificial replacements from pill bottles. However, it didn’t seem to be working very well. And doctors’ patience runs out when answers don’t come easily. I felt like I was slowly dying, quite literally. My MD was probably hoping I’d be sucked up by aliens on my way home, never to reappear.

 

Then an amazing thing happened. My pharmacy was going to switch my hormone replacement with another generic brand. I have allergies to some ingredients in pills, and this new one had some questionable things in it. So, feeling annoyed that I was now going to have to pay a lot more for my meds, I grudgingly went on the name brand version of my rather common drug, hydrocortisone. Within half a day of switching brands, I felt better than I’d felt in a long time. People I hardly know have been stopping me to tell me how much better I look. Even the constant pain I live with, something that’s not supposed to be related, became a bit more controllable. The change has been remarkable.

 

I’m sharing my rather personal medical saga as a sort of public service. If your medication doesn’t seem to be properly controlling your problem as well as you think it should be, it might be the brand of your pills. This is actually not the first outrageous generic medication incident my family has suffered from. I’m discovering it’s a common occurrence. The ever-expanding generic drug industry seems to be largely a racket.

 

However, in celebration of feeling alive again, and in honor of pills, I have made a bottle of a pharmaceutical I am calling Codex. Why read when you can take your books in pill form? Each capsule contains a miniature perfect bound book. If things remain controlled, over the next year I plan to make an edition of 5 bottles of Codex. Or, rather, Paper Chipmunk Press will be issuing bottles of Codex…
As an aside, I digitally designed several of the miniature book covers. Although I knew they were going to be shrunk down too small to be legible, I had great fun coming up with faux titles. A few: Iatrogenic Horror: a Novel; Arts and Crafts for Phlebotomists; Doctors Kill… I think you get the idea.

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.

Little Paper Bird Flies Around Mountain Folds


book experiments…
Originally uploaded by littlepaperbird

A while ago, when I first started getting into book forms, I stumbled upon the work of Sarah in Leeds (LittlePaperBird on Flickr and in blogland), and found it quite inspirational. The books were largely explorations of relatively simple folding and stitching patterns. Yet she tweaked them and built upon them in a way that made them seem so complex and elegant. She also does some nice, more traditionally bound books and boxes too.

I was recently browsing around the web and rediscovered some pictures of those folded book forms from a while ago. Great stuff.

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.