Thursday, March 31, 2011


I've been busy..... wrestling with paper no less....

here's a little 'wrestling' teaser...
you'll all just have to wait to see the finished book! hee hee hee

This week I have made great strides in my 'paper wrestling' piece.... I've created a design model, then a prototype and today I've made a first finished piece (woo hoo!). This first piece won't actually be part of the edition proper (I'm adding/ altering/ tweaking a few things...) but I've ironed out all the details, checked my paper pile to ensure I've got enough of everything, and today I've been amassing a pile of 'wrestling' components (marbled paper - tick, handmade paper signatures - tick, typewriter text - tick, inkjet prints - tick).... so all you BAO edition 2 paper wrestlers won't have too much longer to wait for your little ronnie 'wrestling' piece.....

(you can find more sneaky peek pics here.....)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Work In Progress - Experiments With Rubber Stamps On Bookcloth

Experiments Ink Book Cloth

Its about time that I posted some work in progress. At this stage I have pretty much decided the content and form of the book. A lot of it is going to be printed using rubber stamps and I want to stamp the cover so have been experimenting with this on book cloth. Here are some photos of my efforts. Only one of the stamps here will be used for the book - the pink one - the others are stamps I made before and I was just using them for testing the ink.

The above was an experiment I did using book cloth from Hewit's - Arlington book cloth, which has been discontinued unfortunately. I don't like the replacement 'Edinburgh' book cloth half as much. Anyways, this has a special coating to protect it so it doesn't absorb the ink - which I expected. I tried 2 types of ink - just an normal ink pad and also a special one for fabric (pictured below) - the fabric one came out the best, but even when it was dry you could see that it was still sitting on top of the cloth.

In case anybody's wondering what the little purple packet with the teddy bear on it is - its some baby wipes, which apparently is the best (and cheapest - 90p for these ones) way to clean your stamps.

Practice Stitch Binding & Experiment Rubber Stamps on Bookcloth

I have made a complete mock up of the signatures in miniature (below) and also been trying to devise the kind of stitch I want for the book. I want to do a sewn through the spine binding again with a very simple series of stitches along the spine. I couldn't find anything like this in any of my books so thought I'd have a go myself. It is still in a very experimental stage and I could totally change my mind about this once I've made a mock up of the book. Below you can see my initial diagram of the stitch and above was a practice one I did sewing through some thin card. Its nothing fancy but I just want a very simple stitch.

I got the best results from stamping with the fabric ink and book cloth from Falkiners (grey cloth above) which is paper backed and apparently can be put through an inkjet printer. However, this does not have any protective treatment in order for it to be receptive to ink. I've done some experiments with Scotchguard and sprayed it after I stamped it. I also carried out the test they advised on the tin to see if a small drop of water beads on the surface and it does. I would be very interested to hear if anyone else has experience of this and the big question - what about acidity, alkalinity and archival quality?? Scotchguard will undoubtedly protect the book cloth but I have no idea if its acidic or this will affect the cloth long term. There are no ingredients on the tin - so if anyone has any ideas or knowledge of this I'd love to know.

Stitching Diagram & Book Mock Up

I have included the photo below to show an experiment with stamping on a darker colour book cloth and the stamp turned on its side. The stamp was a bit wobbly so I wanted something to back it - there are all sorts of expensive dense foam you can buy to do this but I used some polystyrene which came with pizza packaging (the circular bit they put under the pizza). Its light, solid and was easy to glue onto the back of the stamp and can be easily removed too - and its recycling! So there you have it, my efforts thus far. I feel like I've got so much to do my head is spinning! But I will stick to my own personal motto - stop whining and just get on with it ;-)

Experiments Ink Book Cloth

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hooray for Edition One!

Well it's been a bit of a day, really. I drove up to Lismore bright and early this morning to collect the books from Edition One that were exhibited in the Southern Cross University Acquisitive Artists' Book Awards 2011, only to find the gallery shut and no-one answering the phone. Clearly the exhibition had been taken down (it finished on Friday) because another show was partly installed... Luckily I had Shelagh's phone number and she was able to tell me that the State Library of Queensland has purchased Edition One in its entirety, to add to its growing collection of artists' books!

(Gratuitous photo of clouds above my house this evening)

Now... here's the slightly embarrassing bit: I can't remember if I told you what I'd put as a price for the collection. I'm fairly sure I said $200 per book i.e. $1,600 for the edition. I haven't had any further details yet but I presume that the lovely Helen Cole from the State Library of Queensland will be in touch with me shortly, and I will give her email addresses for all you lovely artists who took part in Edition One. Technically I can't act as your agent in selling the work (i.e. the money can't come to me in one big lump for distribution); instead I think what will probably happen is that Helen will need an invoice from each of you for $200 plus details of an account into which she can pay the money. I don't believe there is any commission so you should receive the full $200 minus bank charges. Australian residents will be required to provide an ABN number or a statement for tax purposes. It may be a slow process but it will all work out in the end!

My individual piece didn't sell, but as Shelagh didn't have a key for the gallery today, it can't be posted and I ain't driving all the way up there again, I just donated the damn thing to the SCU collection. On the plus side, it was a lovely drive in the early morning, through the autumn mists between Nana Glen and Casino, with Beethoven and Garbage in the CD player and the windows wound down.

I am thrilled we're going to be at SLQ: we'll be in elevated company! Looking through their existing works reveals 65 artists' books by the likes of Judy Barrass, G.W. Bot, Dianne Fogwell, Noreen Grahame, Wei Guan, Peter Lyssiotis, Ron Mc Burnie, Scott McCarney, Adele Outteridge and Wim de Vos, among other luminaries. So there you go. Thank you very much for sending me your books; I'll let you know when I hear from Helen. I'll also let you know about sending out the exhibition catalogue once I've organised myself: thanks to everyone who offered to cover the postage costs; I'll email you with PayPal details in due course.

Libraries and The Book

Hi All, 
Thought I would write up a little book related ramble for you. I went to a gallery discussion/talk thing yesterday at Cubitt Gallery, London, which was a discussion about the book and the library as part of a series of events organised by the artist Ruth Beale. Was really interesting as there was someone from Durham Uni who talked us through a brief history of libraries in the UK from monastic libraries to now. There was also a man from the Institute for the Future of the Book who was talking about how in this digital age we now have 'absolute access' and yet we still crave a space that we can go to and engage with other people, this used to be and still is the library space, providing a sense of community. He has created a new project called the Unlibrary which is a space much like a library but completely without books; a space where you can go with your digital gadget(s) to work and feel an atmosphere not unlike a library where you can also meet others, to be honest I don't really understand why he thinks that we need a separate space to that of a normal public library in order to do those things... 
He was also saying that a book has always been and still is an experience in your head; the paper, the kindle, the laptop is "just a platform". This intrigued me because as far as I am concerned the platform is just as important as the experience, whether its an art book or just a novel. The space is also important as he was saying before, so it's funny that he seems to agree with one thing and not the other. Any of your thoughts on this would be welcome.
The Institute for the Future of the Book is actually a very interesting website that seem to be doing some very interesting things; worth a browse if you have time. 
Here is the blurb about the discussion/talk if you are interested in names etc... 
Saturday 19 March, 2.30 pm
Speakers: Anne Gallacher (Chair), independent arts consultant, specialist in arts education and community engagement, former Director of Education at Birmingham Royal Ballet; Professor Richard Gameson, Department of History, Durham University, specialist on the history of the book from antiquity to the Renaissance; Chris Meade, co-Director of the Institute for the Future of the Book and co-founder of The Unlibrary (a library for the digital age) at Hornsey Library; Maggie Roche, Senior Librarian, Children and Young People, former Chair Youth Libraries Group, London.
This discussion will look at the importance of libraries and archives, their historical origins and potential future development. How has the form of written information and public access to it developed historically? What is it we value about libraries as public spaces and are we attached to them in their current form? What can the digital library offer and what might the library of the future look like? Who manages and has access to the repositories of knowledge and information in our society?
Hope this is of interest to some of you. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Collaborating Potential

A while ago I wrote on my blog about collaborating with Monica Oppen. People seemed very interested in the whole question of collaboration and keen to discuss the idea further here on BAO. I’ve just published a new post on my blog looking at collaboration, particularly in relation to the book arts.

I thought I’d hop over here to stir up the topic in this forum i.e. the BAO blog space, which is a place where collaboration is already happening. However, judging by people’s comments to my original post it seems like there is interest in developing this aspect of BAO.

As a little catalyst, I thought I’d start a list of ways collaboration could work for us, but of course this is purely a conversation starter and I know that you will all have some fabulous ideas of your own.

For any readers who aren’t part of the group, I thought I’d begin by highlighting the collaborative aspects of the group, so far.

  1. When its time to choose our source material, every member is encouraged to make suggestions.
  2. The group selects the text/s to be used as inspiration by voting.
  3. We make our books or objects individually, blogging about the process at our own “comfort level”. The blog is “maintained” (ie posts are published) as a collaborative effort.
  4. Finally, the works come together as a group when they are exhibited, and so the final impression on the viewer is a cumulative group impact. Members are also free to publicise, exhibit or sell their own works apart from the group of course.

So when you write it all down like that, it looks quite an impressive, collaborative effort. But the potential is greater…if we choose! Or, if some of us choose – it isn’t necessary for everybody to start madly collaborating just because some would like it.

The obvious area where collaboration may (from time to time) be increased is in the actual making of the works. Here are a few ways this could happen:

1. Some form of “round robin”.

Group members contribute to the same physical book/s. It could just be one book that is passed around for each artist to add their bit, or we could each start one, do our bit and then pass it on to the next person in a pre-determined order.

2. Individuals pair (or trio?) up to create a single book.

There are so many ways this could be decided – members could invite another group member (who you choose would be based on whatever basis inspires you. It might be the person’s aesthetic, skills, “online personality”, common interest, star sign! whatever); names could be randomly paired;                        perhaps you have an idea for a book but can’t manage a certain aspect yourself – you could invite someone else in the group who you know has those skills. There are so many ways to work this.

3. Buddies/mentoring

With this way, I was thinking that a group member might want to learn specific skills which they know another group member has. It may be something practical or it may be more about working with someone to learn from their “process” and approach.

I’m aware we have a range of experienced and less experienced artists in the group. Some people have a way to approach their work which is well-established and seems fail-safe for them, and I think BAO is  a terrific forum with the potential to “capture” some of this artistic wisdom. We can all fall into the creative doldrums, and a lot of artists cycle in and out regularly. Its an occupational hazard, and I for one am keen to learn ways around the problem.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. I hope you’ll all chip in with your thoughts in the comments, remembering that nobody will be forced to collaborate!!!  (it’s just as if we were at war – the choice is yours!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Deady lines

Ok peoples, I know we're all excited about Ronnie's news about Impact 7 and September and August and [deep breath]... but I've got a closer wee deadline if you want a wee kick up the bum.

As a member of the Canberra Craft Bookbinders' Guild (have to watch that apostrophe, it gets lost occasionally), and as a member of the committee of the CCBG, specifically the Editor *and* the Vice President, I get co-opted into coming up with topics to amuse the troops at meetings. So, next meeting is the 14 of April, and that's going to be ME, showing YOU.

It's a Book Art Object showing, of everything I've received up to now. If you would like to be received by me before then, you'd better get a wiggle on.

I show my BAO archive quite a lot. It's been aired to my book arts students a few times and to visitors to my studio. I'm yet to make a purpose-built box for BAO #1, but I will at some point.

So far for BAO 2 & 3, I have my own Beynon and Anna's Winterson. Enough to demonstrate the two projects, but would be nice to have others :)

No pressure!

As far as my own Winterson piece goes, I had an epiphathingy the other day, and I'm trying to find time between moving houses and teaching classes and teen-wrangling (all with no telephone number or internet apart from my prepaid dongle until Friday) to make it happen. I don't know if I'll get it done by the CCBG meeting, but I'm giving you the opportunity to.

Happy making!

My postal address is here, if you get inspired and don't have the address list.

*waves and goes back to unpacking*

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trying too hard

* SIGH *

I think that's my problem: too much trying and too much sighing. I don't know what's got into me, but despite having spent longer in the studio than normal so far this year I seem to have made less progress. I know what the problem is: first of all I got (and have still got!) my knickers in a twist about wanting to make a "good" book i.e. one that I'm proud of, and secondly I was a bit thrown by Professor Woodrow's attack on all things sculptural in the world of artists' books... The net result is that I've spent the best part of 4 months dilly-dallying around, changing my mind almost daily about what I want to do and what I'm trying to achieve. In the process I am driving myself mad.

Ronnie's stellar success with the BAO Impact 7 proposal throws things into relief! I need to get my knickers un-twisted and actually do some work, so I shut myself in the studio for about 4 hours today with a (small!) packet of Cadburys' mini eggs (yum), a couple of tea bags and a severe telling off, having instructed myself to sort something out. After all, I reasoned, the ironing pile that had suddenly grown so attractive would still be there when I finished AND if I actually manage to do some work I will magically have time to do other things!

Oh, and did I mention I have a big show on in August/September and that I don't actually have any work to go in it yet? Another incentive to get my arse in gear.

These images are very much work in progress - it could all change (although I secretly hope it won't because I can't cope with changing my mind again). I was trying to work out what interests me about the Winterson text, and I think it's about knowledge: the known and the unknown. It's ironic that the Library of Alexandria was the largest collection of knowledge in the world of its time and its reputation survives to this day but we know nothing about what it contained. I surmise - since its first librarian was a student of Aristotle - that Aristotle's Metaphysics would have been in the collection, so that's the origin of the Greek text. I also find it ironic that the pinakes, the first ever library cataloguing system, contained details not only of the author's name, but also his or her place of birth and father's name, establishing their reputation and patrimony... and yet we know nothing at all about the slave boys who found the books. And the irony that knowledge sets one free, but was found by slaves. The owl is Athene's owl, symbol of the Greek goddess of knowledge: Athene, daughter of Zeus, who shared with her father the thunderbolt and the aegis, the goat-skin breastplate that protected them from harm. A seer had predicted that she would be stronger than him, despite Zeus's position as king of the gods on Mount Olympus, so he swallowed her before she was born. His consequent headache was explained when she sprang forth from his skull: knowledge was definitely equal to, if not stronger than power.

I'm posting these pictures as much to put a stake in the ground about my intentions as to show you what I'm doing! Hopefully you'll get something that has a vague connection to these photos in due course. Meanwhile, happy wrestling with your own books and I look forward to seeing the results. I haven't even started thinking about the Beynon poem yet!

Wrestling with paper

Just to let you know that I am progressing, here's a couple of pics.  Paper waiting to be measured and cut:
Paper -  Gocco printed, drying, and waiting to be measured and folded:
I've realised that printing is not really my thing and that my books are going to have a (possibly) charming hand made look. Time will tell.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


BIG news

(hold on to your hats boys and girls)

BAO is going to Impact 7

yep I got word today from Monash University
that our exhibition proposal has been successful

woo hoo!

 (a wee pic of my work -
in honour of world book day on monday...
and international women's day yesterday...
and 'pulling-down-the solo-exhibition' today....)

I will post again about what that means to all the BAO edition one and edition two folk but essentially - we have a carved-in-stone deadline for all edition two works - Impact 7 is set for the end of September 2011 (yes in a few months time.... ) so that means we all need to get our edition two stuff complete by August at the latest (to allow for all the 'other things' that need to happen)

right now - you have my permission,
nay, my whole-hearted encouragement
to go wild and crazy with excitement

(then it's back to the studio for you all!)


Work in progress

Possibilities! Rejections! Indecision!

Playing with folds...

And if Blogger will co-operate I'll add another photo. Co-operation from Blogger is a little like unicorns and hens' teeth today.

If anyone else is having problems I'd like to know the solution, if you find one...whenever I click the "add image" icon (for further exciting photos, people), I get the above photo and nothing I've done will get rid of it.
Yes, I did ask my tech. help, but she was stone-walled, too.

But I am working on several ideas and after some fine-tuning I'll be back. I AM back! Nice blogger.

Sara, if you read this...can you send the names and addresses of the recipients, please?

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I know we have among us a few letterpressers (is there a better collective noun? Probably!) and even those who've never been up close and personal with the paraphernalia seem drawn to the process, so I thought I'd direct you to a recent article on the Private Library blog.

I find this fascinating, for several reasons, not least that it was propelled by feisty women!

Moving, my friends, I have not forgotten "Paper Wrestling" and hope to have a mock-up this weekend. I'll post a photo when I've reached that stage.

But the production of the full edition must wait until after my visitors have visited. You see, I use the spare room as clean workspace!