Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A show, a press, and a giant floating stone head

It's been a little while, hasn't it? I've been busy, getting ready for the Core Show and so have all my dear colleagues. There's still framing to be done, but yesterday I finished my new deluxe business cards, so things are moving along. It's getting there.

There's also big news on the horizon...

Saturday, I'm picking up my new press, a 10 x 15 Chandler & Price. I'll post pictures after the move. A real bargain basement find. Literally. It's in a basement and yes, it's really a bargain. So this week, I'm gathering my wits and resources for the move. Any advice?

I know the press will need some work, but I'm beginning to feel like things are coming together. I have a hard time moving forward when I don't know what's coming next. Getting this press is making the future more concrete. A thousand pounds more concrete.

Oh, and I'm looking forward to watching Zardoz.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Very Old Book: Les Commentaires De Cesar

You know how people say,
this is why we can't have nice things? Well this is my nice thing, and knock on wood, I haven't ruined it, and I'm good at ruining nice things. It's incredible, I'm very capable of delivering neat, precise work to others but terrible at caring for my own possessions. I don't know. It's weird.

I've had this book for a very long time. It belonged to my great-grandfather. My great-grandfather was an academic and historian in France. I remember standing in his library in Aix-en-Provence and being told I could pick out one book and I picked this, the oldest looking book on the shelf. It dates from 1658.

Now that I make books, it's become a much more interesting object to me and the damage that seemed so unfortunate fortunately reveals the structure of the binding. So although I am no expert, I will tell you what I know of how this book was made.

To bind this book, the pages were sewn onto double raised cords that were then threaded through the front and back covers which were then covered in leather. They are called raised because you can see them bulging through the leather on the spine.

On the top of the book are endbands sewn over top a paper core. Two alternating colored threads were wrapped over the core for a decorative effect. The back of the book is lined with used parchment. Parchment was a valuable material and old manuscripts, this one handwritten, were taken apart and used again when no longer useful.

This is truly one of my favorite things about books, seeing how materials were reused and how much character it adds to the object.

At this time, all paper was made in a manner that we consider 'handmade' today and such paper was made from linen or cotton rags, no longer usable as clothing but very valuable to the papermaker. The paper is full of textures and inclusions that could be considered imperfections, but it has lasted almost four hundred years. That's right copy paper, four hundred years.

the texture of laid mould handmade paper

This book also has beautiful printing, sprinkled with ornamentation and maps

My family is from France and the quantity of, well, very old things is so much greater there than here and these very old things are passed on or trashed with a nonchalance that is jarring to an American like me. They are just not that exceptional over there. But I guess that makes me lucky. My family thought this book made an acceptable gift to an 8 year old and that's pretty great for me. Vive la France.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hi, I'm in Delaware.

Yes, that's right. Delaware. No, that's not in Pennsylvania or New England (I'm looking at you, Midwesterners). It's a Mid-Atlantic state, folks. It's natural resources are refineries, old money, and the Wawas.

When I'm in Delaware, I love to go on walks. I went for a walk in New Castle, a very old town next to the Delaware River. It's really beautiful and small, slightly worn looking. It has the feeling of the coast. I like it there.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

blue beautiful blue

My color of the moment seems to be blue. Grey blues, indigo blues, navy blues. For my last class of the summer, I took a weaving class with Janet Taylor, a textile artist and weaver. She makes beautiful work, and I must say, is one the sweetest, most generous teachers I've ever had. It was such a perfect way to end the summer...

In that class, I wove a scarf to look like graph paper. What originally inspired this project was a Shaker kerchief I saw in a book that was a simple grid pattern woven out of fine linen.

graph paper scarf :: handwoven linen and cotton

I did some weaving in college and enjoyed it, but never felt I made anything with a personal look to it. As simple as it is, I feel like this scarf does just that. I hope to spend more time in the weaving studio this winter.

Around the same time as I was making the scarf, my friend Erika also asked me if I would make a book using graph paper and goats. I think this is the most fun commission I've ever been asked to do. So good! I'm working on it right now and I'll give you a sneak peek in process.

in progress case bound book

And lastly, I saw this incredible mushroom while walking home yesterday, and I identified it. Done and done.

an indigo milky mushroom