Accordion Books · geometry and paper

Niche in the Abyss

 “…when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

― Friedrich W. Nietzsche

Postcard from the edge

I hope you are all doing ok.

I’m doing ok. Beginning to feel less disoriented during these days of pandemic social isolation. I’ve been working at feeling ok. Been following the advice in my last post.

When I can’t make art I clean. When I can’t clean, I sleep. When I can’t sleep I walk around our yard or contact people. The bad days are when I stare into the abyss. Staring into the abyss means watching too much news, making too many trips to the pantry, not getting out of my chair, scrolling endlessly.

I started out drawing and playing around with making accordion books. Most of what I tried didn’t work out.  It felt just fine when things didn’t work out. The only thing that mattered was that I was trying things out.

The little book in the video below I made a couple of months ago, but just recently realized it had some cool hidden moves.

I tried out a bunch of accordion books. Mostly they weren’t interesting or functional.  Below is the the closest I got to finding something I liked, I pretty much stopped with the accordions after this one.

Lucky for me, there are wonderful things that people are posting on-line.

Dave Richeson wrote about how to make a real projective plane (Boy’s surface) out of paper.  Even though I’m mostly clueless about what that even means I do understand the part about making something out of paper. Dave made a wonderful template. I can’t resist a wonderful template. Dave’s design is quite unusual, brilliantly conceived, and just challenging enough to capture and hold my attention.

The only change I made to Dave’s design is that I created attachments using tabs instead of tape. I was delighted that he liked the tabs enough to make one like it for himself.

What was so compelling about making this shape was that I didn’t understand it at all, and I couldn’t visualize how Dave’s template would create what he said it would create.

In fact, this structure was the first thing that really captured my attention during these past few weeks. Slowly I began to remember that what motivates me more than anything else is curiosity. How did I forget that? It really helps to remember that.

I’ve also been working on some Islamic Geometry forms. I saw this tutorial by Samira Mian that seemed so lovely that I wanted to try it out. I actually made it three times. The first one I colored in with pencil only, no color. The second one had rather muted colors.

The next one I did over Easter weekend. Was thinking of spring colors and coloring Easter eggs with my children when they were young.

Then, on Easter Day  Daniel Mentrard posted an exquisite group of amazing geometrically designed Easter eggs, I was inspired to make a few of my own in Illustrator.

I hadn’t meant to spend time at the computer doing these on Easter Day, but it turned out making me feel really happy. Reminded me of how much I like messing around in Illustrator. How did I forget this.

I even mapped my drawing on to a egg shape.

So, it’s happening..The world feels different. I’m not sure what things are going to look like going as this wildcard virus is hovering around us. Still, I’m slowly beginning to feel like I’m finding a niche in the abyss.

Wishing you the best.

simple book binding

Little Books to Give Away

Three Inch Square books

An artist friend of mine makes something each year for the children who come to the food bank in her community. Last weekend she came over and we worked out how to make a box that would contain items for the kids. After she left I started thinking about making little books to donate towards her efforts. It took awhile for me to come up with what kind of book I could make that was just the right balance of being not incredibly work intensive, while still being something that I am proud to offer.

3" x 11" paper strips
3″ x 11″ paper strips

These books began with some medium weight papers strips, cut 3″ x 11″. I used something kind of fancy because I have it around, but any kind of colored copy paper would have been fine to use.

Book Block paper 3" x 6"
Book Block paper 3″ x 6″

I’m using regular copy paper for the book block. This shows the paper separated into grouping of 12 papers, so the books will have 48 pages.

These papers for the inside of the book are cut to be 3″ x 6″. (Question for the grammar police: does the period go inside the inch symbol?)

I have a little guillotine cutter in my house that cuts piles of paper nicely. I paid $800 for it at a time when I barely had two nickels to rub together. It was so worth it. I see similar ones on the market now for $99.00.

Next, each cover got folded in half, then I lined the center up with the number 7 on my little paper-cutter.

A little wide of the 10 inch and 4 inche marks
A little wide of the 10 inch and 4 inch marks

These covers need to be just a bit longer than 6 inches so I made the folds at about 3 1/8″ away from the center, using the markings on my paper-cutter to show me where to fold.


Modified Pamphlet Stitch
Modified Pamphlet Stitch

I decided to use a needle with a  modified pamphlet stitch to for the binding so that I’d have to make only one hole in the spine (with my very sharp bookbinders awl). (I love my tools)

All done!
All done!

Here they are, all ready to go.

This was such a satisfying little project.




Book Art · Book Artists

Susan Share, Penland, and Me

Zip-off Fence, Susan Joy Share
Zip-off Fence, Susan Joy Share

This summer I get to spend a week with Susan J Share at Penland in North Carolina.

I went searching for Susan J Share a good many years ago when we were in our twenties  I had seen some of her bookarts pieces in a show at a Soho Gallery, and had found her work to be so compelling that I immediately wanted to be friends with her. Life-long friends.

I am a patient person. I reasoned that, since we were both part of a small swath of NYC people who were passionately interested in making books, that our paths would cross.

I remember the first time I saw her. She walked into the Center for Book Arts (original Bowery location), but I wasn’t able to BFF her at that moment.  Darn.

Above the Tree Line, Susan J Share
Above the Tree Line, Susan J Share

I started volunteering weekly at the bindery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, under Mindell Dubansky. Susan worked in the bindery as  well, but on a different day than me. She and Mindell became fast friends. Mindell would sometimes chat on the phone with Susan while I was in the bindery. I was so jealous.

At some point, though, Susan and I were at MMA on the same day. I don’t exactly know if there was a defining event in our friendship, but if there was, it was this: Susan was teaching a children’s bookmaking  workshop at the Castle in Central Park, and I asked if I could assist her. Which I did. My first book arts teaching experience. I loved it.

Steel Horizon, Susan J Share
Steel Horizon, Susan J Share

Susan and I went on to share many bookarts experiences. She got me started working with kids in schools through Franklin Furnace’s Sequential Art for Kids program. When she and Henry Pelham-Burns created the bindery at the New-York Historical  Society, I worked with them one day a week. When Susan was looking for studio space, I was able to point her towards a place to rent in the same building I was living in. It was such a gift to be able to chat with her when we’d bump into each other in the course of our days.

Be the Queen Bee, Susan Joy Share
Be the Queen Bee, Susan Joy Share

Eventually Susan married Paul and moved to Alaska, and I married Bill and moved upstate. Still, Susan I  see each other, support each other and remain close. As luck would have it, Susan’s brother Ike lives about 45 minutes from me, so I see her here when she comes for family visits.

Now here’s the absolutely most wonderful thing: Susan is teaching a class at Penland  at the end of August. She asked if I would come down and be her assistant for the week. OMG. A week with Susan Share.

Be the Queen Bee (detail), Susan J Share
Be the Queen Bee (detail), Susan J Share

If anyone would like to be there, here’s the class description:

Susan Joy Share
Books & Boxes

Books and boxes are a natural fit. They may be a set or structurally integrated. They can enhance each other and the experience of opening and discovery. We’ll experiment with formats, including books sewn on tapes, paper enclosures, cloth-covered folding boxes, and Jacob’s Ladder boxes. We’ll generate content with paint, pencil, crayon, and collage. Students will create unique pieces as we fold, sew, glue, wrap, reveal, and engineer. This hands-on workshop includes demonstrations, lectures, and sample books. All levels. Code 07B

Here’s the link

I haven’t been on an adventure like this in a long time. Am so looking forward to it!

OMG a week making art with Susan Share!

Book Art

The Building Across the Street In Brooklyn

55 South 11 St
55 South 11 St

(This is a  book from my archives)

Years ago, when I lived on South 11th Street in Brookyn, I not only had a great view of the Williamsburg Bridge,  I also had a good view of the building right across the street from me.

South 11th Street Book
South 11th Street Book

This boxed book is loosely based on the building across the street. It’s still there, a big, boxy building, with a big heavy door. Friends of mine still live there. There was a big loading dock in the front of the building. Sometimes we who lived in the building would gather on the steps in front on the building, and enjoy each other’s company.


Stairs dominate the buildings on South 11th Street.  Open the doors of the box, and a stair-like structure peeks through.

img_20161204_103816.jpgThese stairs fit together to hold the book in place.

This is a short book, four images long. I like structure and boxes and beautiful papers and drawing. I think I made this just because I wanted to work with these materials to make something.


I always wanted to spend more time making art, but the demands of getting by in NYC kept me too  busy. One week I just decided to cancel everything, hole up in my loft, and make a book. This is that book. I already had the decorated papers on hand. I used to do paper marbling, so even the marbled papers are done by me. When I moved upstate, my studio wasn’t papermarbling-friendly so I stopped that form of paper decoration.

img_20161204_124556.jpgAll of us who were living in these buildings on South 11th Street were living pretty much hand-to-mouth, figuring out how to make do with what we had.  This is the window of someone who was venting their heating system out the window.

img_20161204_124625.jpgCurtains were kind of important, otherwise we could see into each other’s sleeping areas.

img_20161204_124649.jpgThere’d be the occasional roof top party.  I saw pretty great fireworks from this rooftop.


I did lots of drawings of the outsides of these building on South 11th. I used to ask friends to let me come draw in their living spaces when they weren’t home. This is a drawing with Craig’s cat.

My friends Kim and Joe in Manhattan used also let me come into their homes to draw, too. Before they were married, I was spending so much time drawing in their homes that they eventually told me that they had begun to question their decision to have given me keys. They told me this, though, only after receiving my wedding present to them, which was a book full of drawings of their apartment, their first of many increasingly more beautiful homes together. Hm, I wonder if they know where that book is. I’d like to see it again.


Here’s a view of the book of where I used to live, standing up in the kitchen of where I live now.