Here’s something that can only be described as playful.

img_20161205_161942.jpg

It’s four squares, which have been folded into eights, like an 8-cut pizza. I made this as a sample book when I was teaching the Book Arts at Bancroft series of classes at the Bancroft Library here in Salem.  I would teach eight classes in the fall and eight more classes in the spring, to groups of 3rd and 4th graders. I did this for ten years. It was a really great program, funded by New York State Council on the Art Decentralization Program.  No one was in charge of me so I did whatever projects I felt like doing with these kids. This was when my own children were as young as they come, so this book arts program kept me thinking about the arts at time when I would have otherwise been thinking only about laundry, meals and bedtime.
img_20161205_161718.jpgThis way of folding squares and then just connecting them together is an idea I came across during a day that I passed at the Patents Office in NYC long ago, before the internet. I’d go up there now and then,  into this great cavernous room on the west side of Manhattan and just looked through cool stuff. I’m pretty sure that this way of folding was in a folding toy section, patented by a woman from Israel. There were some great drawings with the patent (which I copied and probably still have).

img_20161205_162118.jpg

When I did this with kids during my book arts workshop I was aware of one big obstacle: There are 64 distinct areas to decorate. Since the charm of this structure is finding all sorts of different configurations to display it in, it seemed to me that the patterns should be varied on each facet. But, 64? That’s a lot of designs. I had the kids for 90 minutes. Could they fill the papers? How could I facilitate this?

img_20161205_161851.jpg

We spent the first 25 minutes making the structure. 65 minutes left. 64 areas to fill.

img_20161205_161655.jpgWhat I did was prepare 64 notecoards, each with a different design. The children sat in a big circle, each with a  marking tool. Each note card had a different design suggestion on it. Kids were not bound by my suggestions, but they would have only about a minute to decorate one of the triangular areas, then they would pass their marker and note card to the person to their left and receive a new suggestion and marker.img_20161205_161641.jpg

I’m usually not so regimented with my classes, timing things in short intervals and making commands, but this time it was great fun.

img_20161205_161918.jpg

So, got that? Four squares folded pizza-style and linked together and decorated. Then filled with designs.

 

Buttonhole Stitch Book

December 3, 2016

 

Buttonhole Stitch for bookbinding

Buttonhole Stitch for bookbinding

It takes me too long to write posts. I am going to try to write lots of short posts this month, not just as an exercise, but also as an excuse to photograph and write about all these books I’ve made but have never shown. The thing is, every book I’ve made has it’s own story, sometimes several stories, and I have this idea that I will pull out these books and tell a little about them.

Buttonhole Stitch Book

Buttonhole Stitch Book  directions on page 136

I made this colorful little book years years years ago….saw directions for it in Keith’s Smith’s first book: It was the only one of his that I had at the time. I decorated the paper using a technique that an artistic high school girl had showed me after she learned it in school. It’s done with crinkled paper, crayons and acrylic paint.  I really worked at figuring out the best papers, colors, and paints to use for the decoration. The next time this young lady came over (she babysat my little boy) she was irritated that I had made papers which she thought were more beautiful than hers, and said that she was sorry she had showed me the technique. I tried to let her know that she could take from me the way that I had developed what I learned from her, and that way we both benefit. I don’t know if I got through.

Wrapped Boards

Wrapped Boards

When I had studied with Hedi Kyle at The Center for Book Arts, when it was still at its Bowery address, I had been thrilled with the way that Hedi demonstrated of wrapping, rather than gluing boards. I worked out a way of using just one piece of paper for the whole book, folding and wrapping from end to end.

a letter from Paulus Berensohn

a letter from Paulus Berensohn

I sent one of the buttonhole books I made to Paulus Berensohn. A friend of mine had recently taken a his coptic binding class. This was over twenty years ago. I had Berensohn’s clay book, and loved the way he expressed himself in his book. I also really liked the binding that he showed my friend, so I made him a book, my way of saying thank you for his inspiring work, and he sent me a lovely letter back. I stored this letter in his Finding One’s Way with Clay book, then lent this book to a friend. Just about two weeks ago, twenty-some years later, my friend Gina returned the book to me. I was happy to get it back.

Adirondack Bird Books by second graders

Adirondack Bird Books by second graders

Here’s a project I did with second graders a number of years ago, but, for a specific reason that I will divulge at the end of this post, I chose not write about. Now, having just come across this folder of picture, I liked the images so much that I decided it’s time write about these  books.

Adirondack Robin

Adirondack Robin

These second grade student chose to a local bird to research. My job was to design a project that would showcase the results of the research, display some generalized info about the life cycle of the bird, have an “About the Author” section, as well incorporate a diorama that flatten, and which included pop-ups and a paper spring.

Adirondack Birds Katelyn's Eagle 2

Adirondack Birds Katelyn’s Eagle

I can’t say for sure (though I will dig up my notes and include this info later) but I’d say that this book stand about 10″ high.  You can see that it opens from the center to reveal the habitat of the bird.

Adirondack Blue Jay

Adirondack Blue Jay

We were able to do two pop-ups; one in the sky and once on the forest floor. The Blue Jay is attached with a paper spring to give the bird some dimension and movement.

On the backside of the habitat there’s ample room for research and everything else.

Adirondack Birds, Chelsea's Hummingbird Book

Adirondack Birds, Chelsea’s Hummingbird Book

Food and Interesting facts go on one of the sides.

Blue Jay book

Blue Jay book

Facts about the bird’s appearance and their habitat are written on the far edges of the paper…

Adirondack Birds Life cycle back of book

Adirondack Birds Life cycle back of book

….with life cycle info at the center…

Adirondack Birds Chelsea's hummingbird

Adirondack Birds Chelsea’s hummingbird

…topped off by information about the author.

Adirondack Birds Chelsea's hummingbird 2. jpg

Adirondack Birds, Chelsea’s Hummingbird Book. jpg

Now here’s some details to notice. To get the front sections to stay together, the rotated center square is glued on half of its surface, the other half slides under the long strip, which is glued down just at its bottom and top.  The details of the decorative elements on the fronts of the books were created with simple, geometric symmetries. I loved the decisions that kids made with the shapes!

Adirondack Owl

Adirondack Owl

Another idea that the students worked with was the idea of using different mediums and methods to make thehabitat. The cloud is foam, there’s cut paper shapes, drawing with markers and crayons, a few shapes created with paper punches (the  butterfly and dragonflies) paper springs behind the owls, and both a one-cut and a two-cut pop-up: all with the goal of creating an interesting, texture display.

Adirondack bird nest made from Origami Pocket

Adirondack bird nest made from Origami Pocket

As you might imagine, these books are made using lots of separate pieces. For this kind of project I generally first have the students make a large origami pocket from a 15″ square paper so that we have  container in which to keep everything organized. The classroom teacher, Gail DePace, who I could always count on to enrich my projects with her own personal standards of excellence, had the idea to ask the students to decorate their origami pockets as if they were bird’s nest, complete with  appropriately colored eggs.

 

 

clay owl

clay owl

The students added another dimension to this project by creating their birds in clay and putting them on display along with their books.

At the beginning of this post I said that there was a reason that I hadn’t written about this project. As lovely as the project is, the teacher, who was a spectacular collaborator on this and all projects that we did together, didn’t love this project. She noted that this structure didn’t work well as a book, that it was awkward for the kids to open to the “pages” and read their work when it came time to do their presentation of the final project.

I’d have to agree that this project works much better as a display than as a book. Oh, and it looks great in pictures too.  Sometimes, though, the display and the documentation are the priorities, so that’s what I’d keep  in mind for this project next time.

%d bloggers like this: