Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Whether you're part of the BookArtObject collective or an interested reader, I wish you all well over the festive season: may you eat well, drink well and enjoy time with family and friends, and may you travel safely! And I shall look forward to catching up with you again in the New Year. Sara x

Monday, December 20, 2010

Paper Clay Book

Paper Clay Book Coptic Binding

Paper Clay Book

Paper Clay Book
I've been meaning to post this for a while and have only just got around to it. This book was about 4 years in the making, not because it was hard work but because I made the pages in paper clay first and had no idea how to bind them. The pages were made on a paper clay workshop during my MA at UWE, Bristol in 2002. I wasn't what sure to do on the workshop so I decided to make pages for a book. There was a punch there so I made the holes ready for binding.  I added the text using some lettering that was there. The text takes words from a line from a Chinese film - In The Mood For Love - "you can see the past but you can't touch it".

I have no idea why I chose the book format for paper clay and initially thought this is going to be one of those things that never gets finished. The pages lay tucked away in bubble wrap for about 4 years. I did my first Bookbinding workshop in 2006 and some time after this I got the brainwave to try a coptic binding for my paper clay pages.  It wasn't easy to do but it worked. I used a strong linen thread which went really nicely with the paper clay (top picture).

All the discussions on Book Art Object and especially this one by Abigail reminded me of the book again and also Gortys in Crete where I saw the Law Code inscribed on the wall. Which is a coincidence because Anna's  work for Book Art Object Project II is influenced by the Gortyn Code. 

Gortyn Code, Gortys, Crete

Gortyn Code, Gortys, Crete

Thursday, December 16, 2010

guess who....

Three guesses what two BAO peeps have works featured in....

'WordsWork' - Calligraphy and Lettering Art of Australia and New Zealand 2009-2010....?


This has very little to do with books, apart from the fact that the maker is a wonderful bookmaker -- but it's a journey of process culminating in a wonderful piece of art called My Antarctica, made from felted-down blanket. Check it out!

Am very inspired by Melior's Open Studio day. Could be a fun thing to do next year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Oh dear.

Sara send me a marvellous list with lots of names of BAO participants and I thought that she was sending me just the Beynon list. I now have a different wonderful list with everyone's editions on them, but a few of you who are on the Winterson list will get a surprise package in the mail (not everyone, I ran out of envelopes!).

I guess there are two ways along: you can send them back, or you can send me something else of yours as a swap. I'm happy either way!

Sorry. It's a busy, chaotic end to a manic, chaotic year. For all of us, I suspect!

If I don't get any other chance, I'll take this moment to wish you all whatever happiness you want out of the next few weeks :)

P.S. I wrote to Claire Beynon and we've started a lovely correspondence. She lives in Dunedin! I missed out on meeting her, but I won't hesitate to visit her next time I'm there. She's excited about the edition, and should be getting her copy of my piece any day now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Form v content

I tried to post this as a comment follow-up to my previous post but apparently it's too long!

It's funny how we all work so differently... Form is really, really important to me, and it often kicks off an internal dialogue about content - it's pretty much always the way in which I work. I don't know exactly why that should be the case: I suspect other people think that maybe working with the form first is overly restrictive, or reduces the possibilities of content in some way, but for me it is just as important. I always need to have a REASON for something being the shape that it is, and that form is always tied to the content. Both are equally important for me, it's just that I start with one rather than the other.

I have long internal conversations with myself about the 'shape' of things and how to express whatever it is I'm trying to express. With the Art&Lies piece it was to do with tunnelling: how to get the idea of tunnelling through the information into the final piece.

The leparello signifies something about that 'disorder': scattered scrolls, frustration, not being able to find things, disarray... and the thread is knowledge, life, the physical experience of trying to find something in one place rather than another. It is also the metaphorical expression of knowledge: the 'threads of knowledge' that come to us through time, as well as being an indication of how we move from one piece of information to the next (web browsing is a 21st century analogue!), searching or accidentally discovering things.

Now that I've wrestled (!) my way through that thought process (discarding porcelain paper clay, multiple scrolls and various complex unit-origami structures on the way) I can relax back a bit into the Stage Two internal dialogue which is about selecting text and images (or just text) (or something else entirely) to address the questions of content. Then there's a third series of questions going on about techniques, but that's a whole different story!

all my tests...

Because I am not good in English, I decided to put some images.

I worked a lot the shape of the book.
In the first photo, my tests-box, in the second, all my tests on the table and finally, the almost final shape of the book.

I always work with some used paper, then the final version will have no this look...

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Yes, it's true... I have actually been in the studio this weekend and spent at least 10 minutes thinking about the BookArtObject projects.

I think I've decided on a leparello form for the Art & Lies book. As you know from my previous work, I usually have to get to grips with the form of my books first, and consider content later. This may be a bit back-to-front but that's how my brain works, I'm afraid!

As usual I've been flummoxed by the whole thing, wandering round and round in my head trying to work out how I want to do things and which bits of the text are the most meaningful for me. I'm a LONG way from finalising anything yet but I have decided on two things relating to form: firstly, the book will be a leporello format, probably housed in a slipcase of some kind. Secondly, one of the things carry with me about the text is the image of the boys tunnelling through the stacks of scrolls, trying to find things and so I am fairly sure that the final piece will have holes in it, connected by string of some kind. In this very unsophisticated mock-up I simply cut a round shape out of the folded leporello and threaded a string through it, pulling the string out to the right length as I unfolded the paper. I found that I don't like the regularity with which the string weaves its way through the flat leporello, so I imagine that I might make the holes in the final piece individual to each book.

Everything else is still being worked upon!

____ ~____

Sad note: unfortunately Aine won't be with us for Edition Two, although I hope she'll be able to join us in future. She's a wonderful artist and I for one was looking forward to seeing her books but it isn't going to 'work' for her this time around. *sniff!* I also suspect that we've lost Ellen as I haven't heard from her since Edition Two was initiated: Ellen, if you're out there reading this, please get in touch as we'd love to have you on board.

Lastly, a call to our newer artists! If you haven't done so already, please could you email me your postal address URGENTLY so that Duck and the rest of us can send you your copies of our finished works as and when they arise. No address = no books = great sadness!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Dear All,

Please can you email me your postal addresses? I have them for the artists who participated in Edition One but I don't have ANY addresses for newer members. What I did last time was compile a list and send it to all participants so that when we get to the stage of mailing out books we have somewhere to send them. Duck did ask me about this a few weeks ago and I've been very slack and not followed it up... so please can you help by emailing me ASAP!

Many thanks,


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paper Wrestling, Duck version


OK, peoples, enough time has passed and no-one else has stepped forward as being part of the edition, so I will share with you my one-trick pony.



standing, back



Colophon, tucked under the red heart.

peek inside

And, when you open it all up, this is what you get:

whole sheets

Which is basically a broadside of the poem, but you have to pull the piece apart to get to it... and then (unless you want to frame the broadside), YOU HAVE TO PUT IT BACK TOGETHER.

paper folding

Here's what I wrote in the accompanying statement/letter:


At the risk of sounding as imperious as an Old Spice ad, if you’re reading this before opening my piece, STOP RIGHT NOW.

Go and do it. Do it, and then come back here to me. Just do it.

How was that?

I worried that you’d be the wrong audience for this idea, because if you’re in Book Art Object, then you’re familiar with paper and folding. Then I realised that you’re the perfect audience – because with the BAO project we all get to actually handle each other’s work whenever we want to. So I can make a work that is intended to be wrestled with, and it won’t just be shoved into an archive box and pulled out once a decade to be displayed in a single static pose. I hope. Please handle it, and encourage others to do so, too.

I wanted, with this work, to catch that moment of dis-ease and slight panic when you’re lured or seduced into an object and then don’t know how to put it back together again. I tested it on a few punters and loved their brief panic when they realised what they’d done and shared their triumph when they succeeded in restoring it to its original shape.

So I guess for me, this work is not about the actual paper or paper quality (I had to use something sturdy and serviceable to cope with all the ink and folding) but all about process, about making and using, which is why I printed it in process colours :)

folded the first part


I'm pleased to report that people seemed to cope! I chose an origami shape that looked seductive and was relatively easy to undo, but had a small element of difficulty that would give someone a sense of hesitation. Including the name of the fold as I found it on the internet within the colophon also gives people a clue if they are completely stuck.

So, you see, not deep and meaningful, a true one-liner, but I'm happy with it. I learned a lot while doing it, because it took so much planning and setting (I didn't have enough type to set the whole poem at once, so each colour is printed in three stages. You do the maths). I also used monoprinting again for the yellow texture on the outside of the piece, so each one is unique while still being part of an edition. I guess that's called a variable edition or something.

A few more photos here.

Because there were so many risks, I printed a lot. It's an edition of 20, so there are extras. I'm pricing them at $100 each, if anyone is interested. They come with a hand-sewn paper envelope, decorated with a bit of CMY fingerpainting.

I'm still thinking hard about the Winterson piece. This one sprang almost fully-formed into my head, but the Winterson one will be a more difficult gestation :)

red type forewards

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book memes

There's been a little flurry of excitement on other blogs, looking at what people have been reading/not reading as against a list of 100 books put out by the BBC. Good old Auntie! Duck has had some good posts on this, including her post about a list of 100 Australian books that made me feel ashamed as I think I'd read precisely two. Anyway, I wondered what we've got on our own bookshelves? What non-fiction books are inspirational to the members of BAO?

Now I'm sitting around with my dearest husband at the moment, typing away while he reminisces about programming with two old friends from days gone by and I've had half a bottle of wine so I'm not going to wander down to the studio to look at my bookshelves right now, but I wonder what inspires YOU?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Continuing explorations

I had a lovely 'to do' list with only BAO on it for Friday; but got scuttled badly by a work request so my play time for BAO didn't eventuate.  I snuck in a few hours this morning where I just sat down and tried to see if all the thoughts I had had in my head and that had been jotted down into notebooks here and there had any chance of becoming reality.

It was good just to sort and settle a few things.  As I have never editioned before, never produced 15 books before, I am trying to make sure I am smart about what I choose to do and how I go about it.

Anyway, it was lovely to have a couple of trials and a couple of mock-ups to play with, write on, scribble out and start over again with.

In the spirit of progress reports, here are some shots of the muck-up doodles (transcription errors included).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bye bye baby, and good luck!

And it's off!
The lovely people at my local Pack & Send have taken our entry for the Southern Cross Acquisitive Artists' Book Awards 2011 into their tender, loving care and promise that it will be delivered in time. Hoorah!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

mini progress report: update!

I am happy to report that my response to Winterson’s Art & Lies’ excerpt is well on its way.
First stage* of production is completed, and chances are the edition will be ready for shipment soon. Of course with the holidays coming, my family and work demands, I need to clarify: “soon” in my present state of affairs translates… sometime in January!
As Angela very correctly guessed, the Greek text I introduced into my composition, is a segment from the Gortyn law. I couldn’t resist including Greek into a work related to the Great Library of Alexandria.
I plan to report again on my progress and post some clearer images –perhaps of more detail, or should I say of less moody and vague fuzziness… Straight forward pictures and in focus like this one on the left: a santa I embroidered long ago taking his place next to my book press and adding a Christmas tone to my studio. 
Happy holidays!

*completed steps:
design development
prototype assembled
papers selected, dimensions calculated, cut
paste background applied on all papers, drying time
papers placed under weight
text applied on all papers