March 9, 2017
Miriam Schaer has flown of to the Republic of Georgia, taking with her something even more precious than the good wishes of her book arts community: she has taken their books!
Just over a year ago I sat with Miriam at the Grolier Club in NYC as we waited for our friend Mindell Dubansky to take the stage to talk about the exhibition she curated of blooks (objects that look like books). At the time, Miriam was pondering over making some changes in her life, though she did not yet have a handle on what that would look like. Today she’s in Eastern Europe/ Western Asia, having been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach artist books at Telavi State University.
Before leaving, Miriam invited the book arts community to send her their books with the idea of building what she called a “teaching collection,” recognizing that the act of holding a handmade book in one’s own hands has a way imparting inspiration.
The book arts community reacted quickly and generously.
As the books rolled in, Miriam posted photos of the book on a Facebook page. All of the book images that I am posting here have been culled from her FB wall, which I will include, along with her other in links, in the bottom of this post.
It been an adventure just to check in to see how her collection has been growing over the past couple of months.
I suspect these books by Susan Joy Share have seen the most air miles: they started with Susan in Alaska, were flown to Miriam in Brooklyn, then were packed up to meet Miriam in a country flanked by Turkey, Russian and the Black Sea.
Miriam will be writing about her book arts teaching at the University. She already begun her writing. Looks like she is starting with making felted books.
I absolutely wanted to contribute to Miriam’s collection. It took me way too long to come up with something to send. I started on something, had trouble working it out, then missed Miriam’s deadline. A friend encouraged me to just keep at it and send the book when it was done. This gave me the space to realize that, hey, if need be, I could just send it to Republic of Georgia directly.
But, phew! was able to get a book to Miriam just three days before she left town. She received one from an edition of books, which are housed in these green boxes, and which I will write about in my next post. Until then, to see what’s within, you’ll have to visit Miriam FB page. Here are links to that page, as well as her blog, and her teaching blog.
January 20, 2015
Today I sent three packages of my of work out into the world via the United States Postal Service. There’s something I like about putting art in the mail. Fortunately, the post office works both ways. Sometimes I receive art in the mail. Thinking about this made me want to write about some of the comings and goings to and from my mailbox.
The most recent piece of art I received in the mail was from Esther and Dikko and Georgia and Polly at Purgatory Pie Press. This card was hand set by Dikko Faust with AlphaBlox. The card is printed on a gold paper. It shimmers and glows and catches the light in unexpected ways. I am very happy to have this building-block like number card here at my desk.
During the holiday season Joan, a woman I’ve known since high school sent me this handmade card. Although Joan and I had mutual friends in high school, she and I never specifically made a connection. She happened to marry someone I who I consider a dear friend, and, although he and I don’t communicate directly much anymore, Joan and I have gotten into this rhythm of sending each other a hand-made card every year. It’s a tradition that makes me very happy. Every card she sends me is more lyrical and charming than the last. It’s always a wonderous surprise to open the envelope that carries her designs to me.
Occasionally I will get knock-your-socks off card from Ed Hutchins. His envelopes are also distinctive and memorable. This was a card was one that he made for the WCC Art Club–can’t remember what that organization is, but he was telling me about it, then he sent me the card. I am grateful to have anything that Ed sends me, but this pop-up is a sight to behold. While folding and unfolding the card, the words THANK and YOU pivot in opposite directions, either fanning open, or nesting into each other as the card closes. Not counting the planes of the base of the paper, there are five popping up planes in this card.
This lovely little dancing book came to me from Hedi Kyle a few years ago. The sash extending from her waist says “spin wheel reel twirl swivel swirl pirouette”. I keep her hanging up high where she stays safe, but close enough that I can enjoy her presence. Sometimes she seems to glow.
This set of books was sent today, from me to Tammy in Saskatoon, Sk Canada. Tammy teaches elementary school, and, from what I can gather, she runs a bookmaking club, and has been doing this for years. Her last note to me made reference to her bookmaking club that was meeting today at lunchtime. I don’t know Tammy, except through this blog, and it pleases me to be able to send her and her students these books.
Last picture. These two packages went out today, one to Minnesota, the other to Texas. Can flip-books be in Beta? These books are going out to teachers who have expressed a willingness to look them over and, hopefully, be able to give me some feedback on how students respond to them. This is the first time that I have asked for a collaborative interface with my books from people I don’t actually know. I’m really interested in seeing how this goes. I have a good feeling about it, and I hope that I can find more ways to do this kind of exchange in the future.
Some of best things that come to me from afar don’t come through the postal service, nor can I even touch them. What I am thinking about now is a comment that was left here a few weeks ago. Iris wrote to me saying about my blog: ” It is sent and used recently to a refugee school in Indonesia, founded last year by friend from Afghanistan, refugees themselves. They made books with the youngest kids in an instant and are happy to be informed and taught.” What a gift it was to hear this!
Tomorrow I travel up to Bolton Landing to work on planning out projects with teachers and students, pre-k through seventh grade. These collaborations are the best.
September 22, 2014
Yes, this sculptural construction is a book. Ed was setting up this piece at Paul Johnson’s show at North Main Gallery in Salem, New York (up until October 4) when I questioned him, because I just didn’t see how this piece could possibly “close.” So he closed it for me. It’s many thick pages long –here, below is a peek of some of the inner pages…
… which includes a magnificent view of the whale’s tail–and I couldn’t fathom how this undulating, many layered, detailed piece could be shut. In the interest of showing off as much of this book as is reasonable in a blog post, here’s another view of the book with the explanation that I needed in order to structurally understand what’s going on to support the visuals.
The thick spine of this book doubles as the whale that is about to consume poor Jonah. The alternating right and blue stripes on the pole, which are on either side of the whale/spine are hinges, known in the bookmaking world as piano hinges, which allow the book to open and close. Enough said about that. Now for a closer look at the artwork.
These pages, I’m told, are constructed out of heavy weight watercolor paper.
Here’s poor Jonah, just before the decisive moment. I’ve noticed the house-like structures in many of Johnson’s books: the sweetness of these little structures resonate with the homebody part of me ( I love my home).
Here’s another piece in the show with a little house. The writing up top identifies this a Johnson’s mother-in-law’s garden. The writing to left says ” In total contrast to the brilliant colors in my unique pop-up books, my editions are softer in tone comprising pencil crayon and delicate penwork illustration. The laser printed originals are hand cut and hand assembled.”
One more view of Jonah before I sign off on this post. I doubt I will ever again have the opportunity to see this extraordinary piece, so I want to keep these images of it around.
If you are happening to read this post on the date that I’ve written it, and you are within driving distance, this message is for you:
ART PARTY at North Main Gallery, Salem, NY on Tuesday September 23, 6-8 p.m.
You are invited! Paul Johnson will be in the building, giving a talk and showing us books that have never been seen before. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Ed Hutchins assures me that there will be plenty of Saratoga water, local cheeses and other gastronomic delights on hand to round out the evening. You can take it on my word that there will be lots of good company.
If you aren’t nearby, I have some good news for you, too. I have a handful of catalogs that I would like to give away. I will send out copies to up to eight people who request one. I don’t expect I will be inundated by requests, but if I am I will give preference to anyone who has previously left a comment on this blog at any time before today.
I will be attending Johnson’s workshop on Wednesday, so expect one more Paul Johnson post soon!
September 10, 2014
“A pop-up needs a fold:” this is what I say whenever I begin showing a class how to make a pop-up. Ha! Turns out I was wrong! Paul Johnson’s show at the North Main Gallery in Salem N.Y. has authoritatively proven me to be completely mistaken. Throughout this generous celebration of structurally engineered books there is not a fold, in or out of sight.
This is not a show of books with pages that turn to reveal a sequence of cleverly folded and glued structures that seem to magically jump off the page. Instead, in many cases, the books themselves begin as appearing rather flat, then they simply explode into space. And it’s not folds or glues that are responsible for these feats. It’s …
…hinges. Well bust my britches, I never thought about creating non-folded hinges for pop-ups The roof piece above is joined together by making opposing slits in two separate pieces of paper. Johnson also makes good use of piano hinges -this link is a piano-hinge-tutorial by Wendy Southin- as well as dovetail joints, which I have to say I have never seen a bookbinder use in paper engineering.
It was not just a few books here, but rather a plethora of book structures and book sculptures, each one as unusual as inventive as any I’ve seen. Now I know I haven’t stepped back here and given you much of the big picture: that’s more than I can process for one post. The overall look of the show is stunning, as is each book in the show. But those photos will have to wait for a later post. It’s the details that I am so intrigued with today.
This show, it’s quite a ride. Up until October 4.
Oh, and if you are an educator and you are wondering if this is the same Paul Johnson who writes prolific amounts about Literacy and Book Arts, yes, this is him.