Brick & Mortar since 1991. Blogging since 2006. From Jason Thompson, Rag & Bone founder & creative director. We write about the things we love: bookbinding, book arts, paper arts, the bindery, personal stuff, our kids, our travels, sometimes food and sometimes art.
I’m inspired by Swedish artist Cecilia Levy’s beautiful, bookish work. Old papers and book pages, give the bowls and vessels a feeling of history. Are they old pages from books? Tea stained paper? There are little bits of text which appear to give the viewer a hint. Vessels which hold history.
Old, new, stained, crumpled, torn… Paper - especially old book pages - I love the feel, the smell, the texture. I like to re-use materials in a different context, fond of recycling, using what I have at hand. I create art objects using paper pulp or papier maché technique. I’m also a graphic designer and bookbinder, living and working in Sigtuna, Sweden. Contact me for workshops, commission work or just leave a small comment - much appreciated!
Do you love book arts? Live in California? Why not take a book arts class with the talented & lovely Lisa Kokin? She’ll provide a hefty Dictionary and the inspiration to make your very own bookish art. It’s a one day class, Sunday, March 20th at Lisa’s beautiful studio in El Sobrante, California. Visit www.lisakokin.com/classes for details.
Lots of bookish goodness from artist Yvette Hawkins, who folds books - lots of them - for exhibitions, galleries and libraries. I don’t think I’ve seen so many folded books in one place, actual walls of books. See lots more at Yvette’s website & Etsy shop.
“I Know Where I’m Going” is a new piece from book artist Sarah Morpeth. I’ve featured Sarah’s work before. This new piece is at the edge of still being book art, the form is no longer a book, yet it’s bookishness remains.
This large piece was installed in the Chapel Gallery as part of an exhibition of artists who work in paper. It contained all the words spoken in the film ‘I Know Where I’m Going’, strung on threads which dropped about three metres from the ceiling. I was thinking about meaning and randomness - how the words could reassemble to tell a completely different story…how much meaning depends on structure.
This is an artist book titled, “I Know Where I Am Going” by Sarah Morpeth. “I find inspiration in my obsession with British films of the Forties, in poetry, philosophy, science fiction and stories. I am also addicted to stationery - to labels, tags and postcards. Visually the imagery I use often comes from nature and the landscape that surrounds me. I find there is usually a considerable conceptual aspect to what I do - but I don’t need it to be obvious to the viewer. I value not only the conceptual but also skill in making and aesthetic qualities.” Beautiful work. Makes me want to break out the scissors and scalpel.
PS: We’re still looking for comments since we lost all of our post comments. If you like this post, please let me know.. Comment below, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.
I recently discovered the bookish artworks of Susan Porteous and spoke with her about the inspiration and techniques behind her work:
Susan, thanks for taking time to answer a few questions about your artwork, which is stunning. How did you come to use books in your art? I originally came to use books in my artwork as a way to sequence images. I liked the fact that you could only view a small part of the whole at any one time. It also added an intimacy, the books could usually be held in the palm of the hand, and in fact, often required the viewer to do so. Later, as I became more interested in words than images the book became a great way to present texts while adding an extra layer of meaning through the shape, size, and use of materials. There was also the opportunity to create rhythm through the turning of the page and the breaking up and reordering of the original text.
What is the inspiration behind some of your exhibition pieces, specifically Thirtytwo Paperbacks, Encyclopedic, Extrovert and Introvert and Derivations? My explorations into the sculptural book form came during a time when I was reading a lot of art theory and, being frustrated by such, decided to take a book of abstracts for artists’ lectures cut it up and bind the small pieces together into a long, totally unreadable book form, [Caterpillar, 2007]. After this I was curious as to what other forms I could create and began experimenting with by manipulating bindings and pushing the form to where it no longer followed the traditional book structure.
Derivations started as an attempt to see if I could manipulate the traditional technique of binding over cords to make something less rigid and more flowing and expressive in its nature. I began binding without pre-punching holes in the signatures and allowed the sewing to meander up and down the spine as I went along. The cords were simply several strands of the binding thread bundled together, which allowed me to switch between colors and to add or subtract from these bundles to effect a change in thickness. The paper I used was salvaged from an old thesaurus and during the process of folding the signatures I noticed the word derivations and this seemed fitting to become my first page and title for the piece.
Extrovert and Introvert are two books that are opposite in nature; Extrovert is always open and Introvert is always closed. Both are bound in a continuous circular form using Coptic stitch, but the difference of whether the binding is on the inside or the outside changes the nature of the book. I also made the pages circular, which resulted in the books being a toroid shape, and influenced my decision to use geometry textbooks as the page material.
What is your technique used for manipulating the books into fluid shapes, circles and waves? After finding a complete set of The World Book Encyclopedia, I began by cutting the pages of the first book, A, into strips, and preparing signatures. Not being sure how long this book would end up I started with cords about 40ft long, which I strung up to the ceiling to create a mock sewing frame and to prevent tangling, and began binding. Of course, I made things a little more complicated for myself by deciding to vary the height of the strips so that the book would gradually get thicker and thinner as you traveled along its length. This created a lot of extra work in cutting down the original books and in preparing the signatures but gives the book an organic feel that would not have been present without the extra work. Anyway, a few months and 25 feet later, after I no longer had any space to work on my desk, I finished binding the last of the Z’s and breathed a huge sigh of relieve before deciding that I should also bind the reference book, because how else were people going to know where to find certain information? I should probably add that trying to move and position this book is somewhat akin to trying to manipulate a giant cobra that just wants to go slivering across the floor in search of food.
Where can we see more of your work? My website www.susanporteous.net is probably the best place for people to see my work if you can’t get to see it in an exhibition. Information about any upcoming exhibitions is always posted in the news section of my website. A couple of my pieces are included in a recent publication by Lark Books, 500 Handmade Books, along a lot of wonderful books by other artists. I also have pieces in a few public collections, namely the Library Collection at the Tate Britain, the Mandeville Special Collections Library at University of California, San Diego, and Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection in John M Flaxman Library at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Thank you Susan!
PS: If you like this interview, please leave a comment and let me know. Do you like the shorter blog posts? Did you like this long one? Thanks!
I am loving Allison Wiltons books.
Allison is a book artist & designer wunderkind - she graduated Cum Laude this year with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in design and printmaking from Alfred University’s School of Art & Design. She describes herself with one word: Prolific. I agree. I love the combination of book art, bookbinding and design. She brings a clean esthetic to book arts and is someone to watch.
She currently resides in the suburbs of Buffalo New York and is looking for work - someone hire her so she can continue designing these great books.
I’m a big fan of Keith Smith’s books.
When I began bookbinding 17 years ago I used his “Non-Adhesive Binding” guides as invaluable resources. At the time I had a hard time finding one of his other books [pre-internet], so called the number on the back of the book I had. Keith Smith himself answered the phone. It was the first time I felt that celebrity shyness you get when you talk to someone famous. I’m sure I sounded ridiculous, “I love your work, man!”
Keith Smith books: Pages as Stages
Opening lecture and reception
Friday, April 18, 2008
Lecture 5:30pm - Reception to follow
RVSP (585) 275- 4477
Keith Smith books: Pages as Stages Exhibition
April 18 - September 15, 2008
Rare Books and Special Collections
Rush Rhees Library, 2nd floor
University of Rochester
Teesha Moore is teaching classes in Gardena, California on July 7 & 8. If you don’t know, Teesha is the wonderfully talented artist behind Artfest. The classes are sure to be inspiring and creative and will fill up quick! Visit teeshamoore.com for details. Tracy is teaching a class too!
Paper and Book Artist Tracey Bush presents “A collection of nine wild plants, constructed from paper packaging. The delicate leaves and stalks of these alien blooms are cut from hundreds of brands and logos.”
Her work can be found in the collections of The Tate Gallery Library, The British Library and The Museum of London. Gallery exhibit until 25 November 2006, Wednesday thru Saturday, 12 - 6pm:
Clerkenwell Green Association (CGA)
33-35 St John’s Square
London EC1M 4DS
If you’re in the Maryland area next weekend, don’t miss the 2006 Ninth Biennial Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair and Conference. That’s a mouthful…
The Conference will take place on November 18th and 19th at the NOAA Auditorium and Science Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. The exhibitor fair itself will open on Saturday from 10:00 - 5:00. From the exhibitor list, there are more than 70 book artists, small presses and organizations exhibiting their work. We visited a book arts fair the last time it was held here in Providence at Brown University and they’re a lot of fun. It’s great to not only see the work, but to meet the book artists as well.
I met up with a few book and paper artists at the annual Fort Point Open Studios in Boston this past weekend. The beautiful loft buildings are some of the oldest studio lofts in Boston. I remember a vital Fort Point artists community back in the early 90’s when I lived at the Distillery Building in Boston, not too far away from Fort Point. The Fort Point folks revelled in their “Legal” live-in buildings while we huddled in our non heated, non legal live-in studios. Not long after, several of the mill buildings across the street from the current Fort Point buildings on “A” Street were torn down for parking. A shame at the time, but the area has really come a long way. It’s an accomplishment that the area still has a strong artists presence. Often when artists create a funky community, the area draws developers who price artists out of their own community.
The books above are by book artist Laura Davidson. Her studio was very busy with lots of books available to hold and look at - with white gloves of course. I bought one of her small book art pieces with hand drawn artistamps.
Joanna from Atelier455 is covering the London Craft Fair and posted images from Manchester based Bookbinder Lucy May Schofield. She says: “Based in Manchester is storyteller, artist and bookbinder, Lucy May Schofield. Lucy uses Victorian ephemera, letterpress and her own drawings and words to create enchanting prints, pamphlets, notelets, storybooks and a whole host of other paper-based products.”