Friday, May 18, 2018

Making Handmade Books in Translation

Geeking out on language today. A former student/colleague, book artist Casey Gardner just sent me a photo from the Pompidou Centre which started me off. Exciting to see my book on display down in front. Making Handmade Books was translated into French several years ago.

100 Modèles de Reliure Créative

It was translated into Spanish as well.
El Gran Libro de la Encuadernación

Finding the right title for these kind of instructional books has been more of a challenge than you might imagine. I always wanted something a little more poetic, but then no one would know what it was. So then I wanted something precise, so you would know exactly what you were getting.

It is interesting to see all of them together. Each one has a slightly different title and slightly different graphics. French translates as: 100 Creative Binding Models. I like looking at how the languages create meaning. Here, when translated back to English, the word Creative suggests art and/or craft; Binding refers to book; Models refers to examples and blank books, which is what they are. I think the cover they chose was one of the earlier versions.

In Spanish it is The Great Book of Binding: More than 100 Craft Bindings. Here, Great means large; Craft suggests making and art as well; and Binding is a catch-all term. The Spanish version stuck close to the original cover.

And in English to Making Handmade Books we add 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms. Each word is full of associations. Bindings suggests traditional; Structures suggests architectural; Forms suggests sculptural.

Well, no matter in what language you sew it, it still comes out a book.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Accidents and Reality

We talk about "happy accidents" sometimes in art. Something unplanned that might at first seem like a mistake. But after absorbing the experience and acclimating to it, we might see a new way, discover a new view, something we could not have imagined on our own. These often occur when we've planned something in our mind but find it doesn't work in the real world. Another scenario is we knock something over, sew something upside down, drop and break something. And then we either fix it, undo it, or run with it. 

I overheard a conversation about what appeared to be writing and the creative process the other day. The person said that his creative process was like you want to sky dive but have to build the airplane, then learn how to fly it. Then there's the moment when you just don't have the skills or capacity to do the next step and no one else you know does either. But (he continued the analogy) he said he builds the airplane, flies it and then when it's time to jump he builds the parachute on the way down. This did not sound like he would find a happy accident. I'm not sure this is a good analogy.

At the prodding of a friend, I hunted for and found a reference to "building a parachute on the way down." Reid Hoffman: "An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down." And someone's blog post, in which the person says this "myth" about building "the parachute on the way down" is "a complete lie."

There is a difference between the creative process and being an entrepreneur. There is a difference between taking risks for yourself and taking risks that involve others. Luckily, art is not usually a life or death situation; the stakes are much lower. Art, in most cases, gives you freedom and choices. You can choose to stop. You can destroy what you started. Or you can push through it. Part of what will enable you to push through it is if you know you have the option to stop or destroy it. If you give yourself that permission, it eliminates quite a bit of stress.

At present, I'm not skydiving and don't have either to look for a soft haystack in which to land or to prepare a will. And no people will be harmed in what I'm making. But I'm working on a project that involves a lot of machine sewing and silk organza, and I'm feeling out of my depth; the project has veered off my original track. My Plan B is that I tell myself I can put it all in a box if I want. But I'm still interested in it. I want to keep going. I'm letting all the accidents be part of the project, morphing from mistake to happy. I'm learning, which is partly why I continue. It's good to have a hard problem to tackle periodically; it's a wakeup call: pay attention, get better.

I keep reminding myself what I tell my students: aim for perfection, accept reality.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Mirror Mirror: Two Black Cats Quilt

This was a present. I loved making it and thinking about the recipient and her two new young black cats. The photos she sent showed them as they were just getting to know each other. One had to be sequestered for a while, but now they get along. I used scraps of velvet, some family clothes (pant cuffs, denim), a worn linen table napkin, and made the solar prints with negatives of the cat photos. Quilted with sashiko thread, which is delightful to sew with. Ears and whiskers. I guess you could call them my grandcats. 

And on its arrival, inspected.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Collage with Self-stick Stabilizer

The scraps are piling up, and they are too small to sew. So? Perhaps fifteen years ago, I had purchased a material called "Mokuba: free lace sheet," but I never used it. I've thought about it periodically, mostly because my friend Lisa Kokin uses Sulky Solvy, or a version of it, for her artwork. Lisa just had an exquisite exhibition called Lucre at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley in which she created lacy wall pieces with shredded money and metallic threads. You can see the work at her website here. Her "Let Them Eat Cake" series is awe-inspiring.

I took out the Mokuba and had fun playing with my scraps. These little pieces would be nice inset on the cover of a black journal (see how here). I'll try out the Solvy next, since it seems easier to find.

Here's the scoop.

1. Cut a strip and peel off the backing.
2. Arrange your scraps/collage.

 3. Place the clear film over the collage.

4. Sew in any pattern you like, but do sew fairly close together. Grids are easy by machine stitching because you can align the presser foot with the first line and continue from there.

5. Now the magic! Rinse the piece. The film and the backing sheet dissolve like those rice wrappers you might have seen around candy.

6. Iron dry at a medium temperature.

7. Trim off stray threads.

And there you have it!
All connected and flat.
Now go see Lisa's work!

Addendum 10:10am: Just got back from JoAnn's and discovered the differences in the Solvy products. Sulky Fabri-Solvy would be the equivalent of the Mokuba bottom sheet, and apparently you can print on it. Sulky Solvy (lightweight), Sulky Super Solvy (medium: 2x as thick) or Sulky Ultra Solvy (heavyweight: 4x as thick) would be the equivalent of the clear top. I'm guessing the Super Solvy would work best of the three top sheets for this kind of project.