Sunday, February 28, 2010


Well, our rain continues. Sometimes not much more than a showery drizzle, but mostly a very tropical wet season hammering. What's that you say...? Watch the telly? Well, watching is about all we can do, since we certainly can't hear it! I SAID WE CAN'T HEAR...Oh, never mind!

Here is a link,via Greenchair Press, to a wonderful cut-out book. Do click on the links in the post to read more about the making of this. (And see what she says about buckram!)

I'm still plodding along with The Book. And now I have help! My friend has said I can use her press "for as long as it takes" as she does not need it. Thanks, Ali!

I do have a query for you "proper" bookmakers :

When editioning prints, whenever there is a variable element, like hand-colouring, we state this in the signing, eg

1/10 V/E Title Signature Date

Is this also recognised protocol in artists' books?

My 'Absences' book will have original illustrations and I'd like to get it right! So, do I number each book as I would a print? That is, as a V/E (variable edition).

Ooh! Rain has stopped. I can take out the compost scraps and the garbage and maybe even some laundry...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farewell for a few weeks

I'm taking off today on my way to New Zealand and will be away until 30 March. WooHoo! My book is finally under way and all parts are sitting waiting for me to return. This is the first time in months that I feel I'm actually "doing" it, after several false starts. Of course since I've made the final decision I've had several new ideas but this time I'm stopping while I'm ahead.

I realise now how desperately I need this break and will be thinking of you all as I gaze at the Marlborough Sounds and sip Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. I'll also be spending a couple of weeks in and around Auckland with book binding and marbling friends so I hope there'll be a bit of booky stuff happening.

I may not post but I will be trying to keep up with Book Art Object while I'm away. See you all later...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aaargh! and a P.S.

I thought I was being very clever, installing some software on my computer that would prevent a certain kind of pop-up advert displaying on screen (and thereby save me from downloading the unwanted image, which is a consideration at the moment because we're on a limited-download package until Telstra get their backsides into gear and dig that 1.5km trench we need and install a damned land-line...). Anyway, the side-effect of such superior technological fiddling is that I can no longer place comments on un-moderated blogs, because the darned software seems to think that the comment box on Blogger is some sort of unwanted pop-up box! Hence the afore-mentioned Aaargh!

I feel very left-out, hiding in my hole in Coffs Harbour, so I'm making a spurious post to catch-up...

So in response to Amanda's possum-stirring, I have to say that I was there when Tara O'Brien commented at the SCU opening, and found her forth-right views on the format of some of the books she'd seen to be a little confrontational. While I'm not an advocate of screw-posts myself, they have their place, as does stab-binding. I was surprised to be lectured about inadequacies of form and structure at the opening of a book arts show, but perhaps I should lower my very British raised eyebrows in order to acknowledge the force of her words... the very fact that she dared to speak of things like appropriateness of form and structure, while a bit of a surprise, was accurate: there are people out there who don't think about the overall format of their pieces, just the content. But I thought the comments about buckram were a little harsh!

As for Ronnie and Di, tantalising everyone with their scant(y) photos... well! I'm looking forward to seeing the end results, but the anticipation is killing me!

P.S. As a follow-up to the Tara O'Brien debate, I was thinking back to being at the SCU opening and hearing her speak, and I think my hackles rose a bit not so much over what she said as how she said it. I'm sure she didn't intend to be patronising but in a way her 'talk' seemed more like the kind of lecture a tutor gives to students than a peer-to-peer contribution to the debate about artists' books. She is, I think, a tutor in book arts at Moore College of Arts and Design in Philadelphia. Perhaps it was a cultural difference but generally I think of openings as being opportunities to laud the work displayed, say something very positive about it, and draw attention to its strengths not point out lots of faults and suggest that too many entries were deficient in some way although it undoubtedly had the effect of waking people up and perhaps shaking up a few ideas! I hope the underlying narrative wasn't about prodding poor dear isolated Australian wannabe book artists into jumping higher to achieve the superior standards set by fabulous American book artists, of which there are many...

P.P.S. I made an edition of 11 books using the colophon exactly as described by Duck, with space to hand-number and sign each book. I am now having to make a couple of 'A/P' versions in order to spread them around a bit - but probably only 2 because otherwise I may go mad with an axe!


Which- way- will -I- go?

At first, when Sara posted Rosemary Dobson's poem, I thought:
"Argh! How will I approach this?"

Do you really want to know? I'm going to tell you, anyway!

The date leapt out at me and not for happy reasons. 1986. I have not troubled myself to Google for any further significant headlines, but I think everyone in this group remembers the Space Shuttle? The Chernobyl disaster? And all the UN action in the wars that seem constant.

Yes. I could see some ugly "absences" there, including a personal, if tenuous, link.

So I changed tack and thought of other approaches. Again, when I chose a personal loss it was too close to put into something that was going to be sent out into the world.

Moving right along... I came full circle, to the poem's words and decided to go with that.

But how, technically, to present it? I do not have access to sophisticated printing equipment so any text would have to be hand-drawn or on a support that my dinky little A4 Canon could handle.

if there is a tempis fugit icon, please imagine it inserted here...

There followed a lot of tearing, snipping, folding of's some of it.

And it's just from the scrap basket so the curious glyphs mean nothing!

Another trial; this from a torn-up print. And I found out (the hard way) that my printer does not like it!*

I could show you a lot more, but how boring would that be? Besides, I think the storm is coming closer and, having just bought a new modem, I aint a-takin' chances!**

* Lovely, thick Fabriano, a dream for relief printing.
** Raining bucketloads again, so these are taken in glare-y indoor light.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

sneak peek...

or perhaps I should say - sneaky peek....

here are my 12 little BOA bits all-but-finished and drying under boards and booky weights

what you can't see them clearly? oh darn - you'll just have to wait for them to arrive in the post! I expect to be posting the collection out to BOA folk by the end of the month (the weather has been humid, then damp, and now it's positively MOIST..... I'm not going to take any chances and send these guys out into the world before I'm confident enough that they've assumed their final position and feel ready to face the public)

but I'm breathing a sigh of relief that barring flood (possible) cyclone (extremely unlikely) or fire (lets not even think about it!) all possible disasters are now in the past - and I only had one major hiccup - I accidentally put something in upside down in one of the twelve (oooops!) but rest assured none of you will be receiving the dud version in the mail

phew - I'm feeling its time for a rest now - I hope everyone else is having a great time with their edition (keep your eyes on the mailbox in early march....)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stirring the Possum ...with due credit to Doug Spowart

As a follow-up to a post I've just written for my own blog, I thought I'd try to initiate a little discussion over here, on this collaborative forum dedicated to the book arts.

I was wondering whether anyone else has read the article by Doug Spowart in the current (at the time of writing) issue of IMPRINT (i.e. Summer, 2009, vol 44 (4)?

The article is a review of the SCU 5th Acquisitive Artists' Book Award, which was held last year in August. The guest judge was Tara O'Brien, "an internationally recognised book artist from Philadelphia, USA. ...(who) is also a conservator and teacher of book arts."

In the article, Spowart explains the thorough approach taken by O'Brien in making her selections for the SCU collection, as well as providing some of the highlights from her speech at the announcement of the selected works. O'Brien commented on the conceptual strength and the high quality of fine press works, but did have some reservations about certain technical practices she saw.

I thought it would be good to present these here and see what both the writers and readers of this blog think.

So here they are, quoted directly from the article, with some editing for brevity only:

1. "O'Brien....discourages...the screw-post and the stab stitch forms of construction. The reader needs to 'fight' to hold the book open....Stab stitch was...generally inappropriate in Western book making except for books paying homage to Oriental style."

2. "The use of buckram as a cover material was also contentious; in her opinion there are many more suitable materials."

So what do you think? Do you use screw-posts, stab stitch or buckram in your work? Why did/do you choose them over other methods/materials? Do you agree with Tara O'Brien's opinions, or not? If not, why not?

I hope you'll jump in and tell us what you think - it's good to examine our practices and see if we have solid reasons for the technical and material choices we make.