Art in the Mail

January 20, 2015

Dancer by Hedi Kyle

This is a piece of art that arrived in my mailbox a few years ago

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.

Card from Purgatory Pie Press

New Years card from Purgatory Pie Press

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.

Holiday Card from Joan

Holiday Card from Joan

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.

Card by Ed Hutchin

Card by Ed Hutchins

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.

Dancer by Hedi Kyle

by Hedi Kyle

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.

Books to Fill by Paula B Krieg

Books to Fill

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.

sending out books

Heading out

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.

 

 
Three Blizzard Books

Three Blizzard Books, with pages and covers

This is the third of my posts about the Blizzard Book, a folded paper design by Hedi Kyle.  Since I just taught a class on how to create this book I have been able to indulge my great interest in different approaches to the papers, proportions, and covers of Blizzard Books. My last post showed the Blizzard Book as a single sheet of paper that is  folded in such a way that each page becomes a pocket.  This post  features a  variation which will include adding in pages onto the spine of the book. 

Blizzard Book Spines
Blizzard Book Spines: left, in progress: right, completed

 The first step in making a Blizzard Book is to fold accordions to make the spine. In the Card Carrying Blizzard Book the spine becomes the whole book because the paper, which is 17 inches x 7 5/8 inches, is divided up into only eight accordions. To make a  Blizzard Book with pages I begin with the same size paper, 17 inches x 7 5/8 inches, but I divide this one up  into sixteen accordions. The result is a tall, thin spine that has tabs on the tops and bottoms. 

Sliding a folded page under the head and tail tabs of the Blizzard Book

I know that this might be hard to see and understand from these photos, but part of the charm of this book is that it is tricky to figure out right away.  Tabs are created, head and tail on the spine, by making V-folds on the accordions and then laying down the V-folds, thus creating a tab.  Long papers folded into an accordion can then be tucked under these tabs on the spine as pages of the book.
 

The Blizzard Books in the photo above have the same size spine. What makes them different is the size of the width of the paper used for the accordion pages that fit into the spine.

Using standard size paper to make mimic accordion pages

Since I really like using standard size copy paper whenever possible,  I do a book base fold with  8 1/2′ x 11″ paper  to mimic the qualities of the accordion (photo above).
  
 
And some of the spines of my Blizzard Books start with a standard 8 1/2 x 11″ copy paper, too,  which I then cut down to 8 1/2″ x 7 5/8″. When I use this proportion, I make only eight accordion sections to begin with. This size spine creates tabs which work perfectly with folded 8 1/2″ x 11″ papers when I fold them like a book base. The extra bonus fun thing about using these standard sized papers is that I can use standard size envelopes, A4s, for the covers of the Blizzard Book, as shown in the photo above.
 
It’s also worthwhile working out how to make covers which echo the inside folds of the Blizzard Book.  But, when teaching a three-hour class, the envelope-covers work out just fine. 
 
 
Now, I realize that I have just put out  lots of details, that might seem like  mumbo-jumbo. During my class last Saturday at North Main Gallery I was  nearly apologetic to the participants about all the precise folding and math talk that learning this structure requires.  Even though these folks assured me that, although it was challenging, they appreciated being able to learn how to make this book. I am feeling uncomfortable here, now, writing a post that might be hard to follow.  I’ve been encouraged, however, to feel that it’s worth the effort.
 
Blizzard Book with Pink Covers

After all, it is such a beauty of a book.

 

Paula Krieg 1983 Terminal New York Show
1983-Paula Beardell Krieg sending pages down Conrad Gleber’s Falling Sky book Photo by Phyllis Bilick

While trolling around the internet a couple of nights ago I came across an offering  by Robin Bledsoe, Bookseller, for a collection of pages that I had put together in 1983 to accompany a show of books in Brooklyn. Since the bookseller put a $150 price tag on the item (we sold about 80 copies for $5 each) I went in search of the one copy I still have.

This book is a companion to a small part of the Terminal New York show, an ambitious gathering  of about 400 unknown and established artists.

Now, thinking about that show, that experience!, in 1983, I started poking around the internet. Googling , I found that the event is listed in scores of resumes.

The Terminal NY show had many sections to it. It was wild and fresh. My little part, a room with artist books, the Artists’ Library, showed the work of 29 book artists. It was an awesome undertaking. I knew a few book artists at the time, but a connected, generous, and smart guy, Norman Colp, advised me on who else to ask. I met with Grand Dame of artist books Stella Waitzen in her large, dim, overrun-with-art apartment in the Chelsea Hotel. I met and visited with Stephanie Brody-Lederman when she lived outside the city. I had the opportunity to show the work of people who had been by teachers, such as Hedi Kyle, Barbara Mauriello and Mindell Dubansky. People who I was just beginning to know, such as Susan Joy Share and Michael Bartalos exhibited here. (BTW, links posted here are not what was shown by these people in 1983).

Page by Michael Bartalos

The pages of the book  were not meant to be a catalogue to the show. Instead they were a collection of original pages made by the 29 artists. This became a work apart from the show, to accompany, not document the exhibition. I explained this in  the second page of the book.

Page by Hedi Kyle

Now, remember, this was back in 1983, before making good copies of images was an easy thing to do. Most of the pages were in black and white, and, by today’s standards, inferior quality. But the artists each gave me pages that were fun and well thought out. Hedi Kyle, and some others hand-colored their pages.

Page by Martha Carothers

This page, by Martha Carothers, was done with letterpress, as well as hand-coloring. People collaged images, some did rubber stamping: a couple of people played with different levels of opacity with their pages.

As unbelievable as it seems from my current perspective, I don’t think I took even one photograph of the show. The few photos I have were taken by Phyllis Bilick, who, thankfully, put her name on the back of the photos that she gave to me.

Putting together the Terminal New York was an audacious undertaking. It took place in an old Terminal deep in Brooklyn, before artists had moved into that part of the world. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which in 1983 was just beginning to be colonized by artists. The Terminal was another 10 miles deeper away from Manhattan. It was so inaccessible by subway that I would bike there daily as we were putting it all together. It is my memory that it was Barbara Gary, a brilliant and gutsy twenties-something artist, who was the driving force that got the ball rolling and held it together.

Photo of Paula with artist books at the Terminal New York Show, 1983. Photo by Phyllis Bilick

By the way, this post is not meant to be an incentive to buy the catalogue from the bookseller who is advertising it. Like I said, most of the pages in the book are low quality B&W copies that look like they were done in 1983, so anyone paying $150 might be disappointed.

That said, there is no amount of money I would sell my own copy for.

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