Monday, April 29, 2013

SLQ on Sunday?

A query for Australian BAO-ers... Are any of you going to the State Library of Queensland artists' books seminar on Saturday?  If so, I may see you there!

Throwaway, Group 5

Hello everybody!
I am wishing that I could follow the same format that I have noticed in your posts, where documentation appears when an edition is done. My edition is not done but the second one has made it's way out into the world at this point, so it behooves me to write and show, even though it may spoil a bit of the surprise (however, the more I attempt to show pictures of artist's books, the more I realize they are inadequate to encompass the experience.) As for where this one is now, I was thrilled that it was selected for Artist's Book Cornucopia IV at Abecedarian Gallery.

Having made the second box and worked out a few more design improvements, I hope to have some jigs set up to make the rest of the edition go smoother. Members of my group, thank you so much for the the wonderful books I have received so far, and do not fear, Throwaway will be coming to you in the future.

The box enclosure aspect is a collaboration with my husband, the first of many, I hope.
I told him I would like the fold book to stand up inside in the shape of an “X.”  I’m pleased with what we came up with, although each one is very time consuming to make.  I think this structure would be called a cradle, since it keeps the book in a certain shape. The X is an important repeating motif.

Throwaway has been on a long journey of nearly a year. There were so many potential directions it could have gone in, some which I have vowed to explore in the future. I became less interested in the photographs of trash and recycled items I had taken, and more driven to explore a number of different ways things, people, the environment are part of the "thrown away." The amount of information I found was quite overwhelming, and I could have easily written a paper or two. But that would not be an experience, would it? I kept returning to the idea of crumpling up the paper. After trying a few different papers and having it tear, I settled on tyvek, which I had been using in other work to reinforce and join. Originally I had intended to print photographs on tyvek with my inkjet printer, but found it slowly bleeding and becoming blurry, not to mention how it could be ruined if water got on the surface. It became a letterpress project. It seemed to follow naturally to make plates using materials you might find recycled or thrown away, even though I might have  done photographic plates. Frankly, my budget would not allow for that.

The fold book inside, after printing, has been crumpled up like a thrown away piece of paper: symbolically representing every subject touched on within the folds. It has also been smoothed out and carefully refolded, and ensconced in this container, which seems far sturdier than the contents. The container also sets it apart as an object of importance.

How and when the contents (metaphorical or not) were salvaged cannot be answered. As an artist, perhaps I look into the future and imagine this. 

On the inside of the fold book is a map of sorts, as well as a “key” or map legend, which is a short poem, a plea, to reconsider, to alter the “mindset” of what is “thrown away.”

 BookArtObject Edition Four, Group Five,
Title #99 of 100 taken from An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (2010), by permission of the author,
Sarah Bodman.
Throwaway (2013) by Julie Russell-Steuart explores ways in which our culture/economy tosses aside things.
With permission from, two people’s stories have been adapted poetically.  “Throwaway” materials like cereal boxes and string were used to make pressure prints on hand-painted DuPont Tyvek, a spun polyester material that is 100% recyclable and safe for landfills. The format is an accordion style booklet that opens up on the other side to a map style folding. The text is letterpress printed with hand-set types in English Caslon Oldstyle 37, Century Bold, Della Robbia, and Style Script. The box enclosure was constructed with the design and engineering skills of David Steuart, and is made from boards covered in hand-painted Tyvek.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Group Two

Trying to finish Making Bread has been an exercise in anticipation and disappointment, which has made me reluctant to write about it here, lest I just sound whiney. At last, all the challenges have been overcome (I hope!) and I am in the process of printing. Laser cutting and assembly to start on Monday.
Here is the front - more images will follow after I take it to my favourite photographer next week. Then it will be sent off!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Libris Awards Winners Announcement & Opening Night

This is mainly for the Australian members of I received  my invitation to the opening night.

Yes, I will be there. And if any of the entrants are planning on attending, please do seek me out and introduce yourselves!

Not sure about the rule on photos, but if possible I'll try to get some pics of BAO members' work.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Autumn Holidays - or not, as the case may be

In New South Wales it is the autumn school holidays and I've been trying to make progress on all sorts of things, including  my contributions to BookArtObject Edition Four. One of the things I have found most interesting about the blogging aspect of being part of BAO is the work-in-progress posts.  It's really intriguing to see the workings-out, scribbling, going back to square one and the sheer effort that goes into making artists' books. I'm certainly very familiar with scribbling and then going back to square one in my arts practice, as anyone who has read my earlier posts will agree.

I managed to finish the first of twelve books in this edition in time to send it off to the Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay, in Queensland. It's in the post and on it's way and my fingers are crossed that it gets there by the deadline on Saturday. 

I find finally putting a piece together quite interesting: I never seem to manage to anticipate the process, despite having been around the same loop several times before.  I made the prototype but when it came to the final version I realised I still had to work out some knots: the end papers didn't work the way I wanted, the yellow cover with the red lettering seemed clumsy and brash, and I was worried that the spent match could catch on the delicate cut-out lettering of the slip-cover.  A week of trial and error has resulted in changes and solutions: the end papers are now an inner wrap cover that sits inside the box and folds around the book, at once providing space for the colophon and protecting the slip case from the match.   I worked out how to insert the match into the cover and then light it, so that it singes the paper uniquely on each book and I smoked the covers for extra effect. I couldn't get any appropriate cover paper locally but I had sheets of grey instead of yellow, and I think they work better. So now it's just a case of cutting out an extra 11 sets of pop-ups and cut-outs and they'll be in the post to fellow group members - but not for a week or two.

Meanwhile I've been working on another project: a fundraising exercise using Pozible, an Australian crowd funding platform similar to Kickstarter in the US and UK - Kickstarter doesn't work in Australia. As you know, I'm off to the Impact 8 conference in Dundee, Scotland in August to deliver an illustrated talk and exhibition including work from BookArtObject Edition Four. Sarah Bodman will be there and has kindly agreed to lend me her author copies of your work for my talk and exhibition, so that I don't have to fight with the logistics of taking lots of artists' books with me in my luggage!

I'll post more news about the project on the blog when I've got myself all sorted out, and I hope that perhaps you will feel able to support my fundraising with a small donation - there are great rewards! So far I've funded the whole BookArtObject adventure myself, with kind donations via PayPal from some of you to help off-set postage costs. I'd really like to get to Dundee and tell even more people about all your great work as well as take up the opportunity to do my very first artists' residency in Venice while I'm in Europe but, being stony broke at the moment, I need to make the money to go. Crowd funding offers a way of engaging a network of friends and acquaintances who will hopefully sponsor your ambitions, if you can make a good case for their support.  At the very least you will get the chance to watch a video of me in my studio, with plenty of opportunities for a laugh.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Title No.2 'Another Old Lady' (Angie Butler: Group 9).

I was thrilled to receive this title as some of my previous artists books (Mrs. Derricks Blankets and Behind The Shop Window: My Life With Miss Carol) have involved 'old ladies' and celebrated the (extraordinary, but) every day things that older women do, as individuals and alongside others.

Though for this work, the first thing that struck me about the given title was the word 'another.'It seemed to have a negative connotation when viewed as the beginning word of the title. 'Another' evoked, "oh, not another old lady", or otherwise, "just another old lady" (although when you know that the previous story title, (book made by Angela Callanan) No.1 was, 'An Old Lady', it makes perfect sense!). I wanted to start off my book with that negative viewpoint, but by the end, have the reader/viewer know that my old lady was empowered and admired.

I had to think of something good.

As we have all been working with given titles from Sarah Bodman's artists book, "An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen', I wanted to uphold the admiration for another's work, and I remembered a text from Andrew Wilson's book, Text Messages', a book of 100 text message poems, No.88 Old Lady Eating A Fish.'

A fried fish on a white tray,
no chips
in a doorway out of the rain,
breaking bits off.
Her pink bonnet like a film star's.


I really enjoyed making this work, and hope that all my group nine friends enjoy their copies too.


'Another Old Lady'
Angie Butler, Pet Galerie Press, January 2013, Bristol, UK.
9cms x 9.5cms (incl. chip fork)
No. of pages: 7
Edition size: 20
Production Media: Letterpress printed onto tracing paper, kitchen paper cartridge paper & vellum tracing paper.
Exploring the interaction of visual and verbal language in the interpretation of a text poem, using letterpress printed typographic elements. Book slip-case made from a chip cone, the title of the book printed on a chip fork which is adhered to the casing.  There is a ready-made half-moon notch cut into the back of the slip-case to aid the removal of the book. The book contains seven folded, unbound letterpress printed sheets of assorted white, cream, and pink papers. Each one reveals the line and expression of text poem No.88 Old Lady Eating A Fish, taken from Andrew Wilson’s book, Text Messages, 2003. The book can be held in one hand whilst removing each page in sequence to read the text, thus mirroring the motions of the old lady eating her white fish whilst, ‘breaking bits off.’

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Title #37, The Darkness

Hi all,

Now that all of my books are in the mail, I thought I'd share some images and thoughts about "The Darkness", which is closely connected to my own visit to Doverodde, Denmark, last May.

As soon as I arrived, I was struck by the natural beauty of the land – the proximity of fjord to countryside – and also by the history underfoot. As I hiked with the other artists through the forest and heather and over Viking barrows covered in wild blueberries, the wind blasted away any chance of conversation and left us each to our own thoughts.

The title “The Darkness” brings to mind our own mortality, and the images within (of Doverodde and the surrounding countryside) function somewhat like a vanitas painting – scenes that evoke self reflection and remind us that our time here is finite. A poem, overlaid on an image of a gravestone with a spiral fossil (in a neighbouring Doverodde church cemetary), attempts to capture this while also referencing Sarah’s work, which I may have actually passed over unknowingly. 

The darkness
chairs left vacant
our words 
buried in the forest
the northern Danish wind 
a vanitas of fossil and barrow
revealed in the quiet language of the field

Maureen Piggins, 
Toronto, Canada 
Group 8

Monday, April 1, 2013

DAISY CHAIN Group 4 #71

At long last!
I have made my apologies to the others in my group, but also owe an explanation to all other BAO people.

Personal matters and monsoon conditions have hampered me somewhat, but here are some pictures from my making of Daisy Chain.

The colophon (on the underside of the box lid) and the board game, folded in the Turkish Map fold.

 "Turkish Map Fold" is  very popular, judging by the number one sees on various websites. Not a difficult fold; I did start to photograph a "sample" then realised it would make this a rather long post!

And I should think everyone in BAO is familiar with it anyway. So I'll post the how-to on my own blog. After I've caffeinated my brain!

Buttons? Yes, buttons, because I was unable to find plain counters. And that brings me to another little drama...just before Christmas, some darling young children    teenage brats lit a fire in a toy shop. That, plus two adjacent businesses were gutted. I tried three other places, but found no counters. So I fell back on the good old stand-by from childhood, when little brothers or cousins stuffed the counters down the back of the sofa, or swallowed them...I used buttons.

Why did I need buttons and dice? Because my folded paper unfolds to become a board game in which players roll dice and move their buttons across the board according to the number on the dice. Some squares on the board are marked with a penalty, some with a reward. If you are familiar with Snakes and Ladders you'll understand the basics.

The presentation box. I used Canson  paper (lightweight card would have been better, but I was be-devilled, again, by what's known here as "the tyrany of distance." I did have some card, but as the monsoon was monsooning I was loath  to store any more paper than I could use before it was ruined. And the local art store orders ALL supplies from Melbourne, once a month, by road freight. )

I used a chain clasp, fastening to "Daisy's" collar. The sketch is a pencil original, finished in ink and glued to the lid.

Probably my favourite  picture - packing "Daisy Chain" to post!

It's done, signed, packed and mailed. I have to say I am not entirely happy with it, but it has gone out into the world with the best of intentions, if not execution. As always, I have had moments of agony and inspiration in about equal measure. And always, encouragement from fellow-bookmakers.

Now...onto the other two titles!