Monday, February 1, 2016

Found Zine

You can go in search of adventures, change your scenery intentionally, travel from place to unfamiliar place, or you can cover the same territory day by day, watching for changes in the familiar. I like to do both, but I tend to tread the same path on my daily walks. There are some Little Free Libraries along the way, but there is also one little cubby built into a private fence and bench at a corner, doubling as a bus stop and waiting room. Generally, I don't see much in it, a magazine, maybe, a ratty paperback book, but a few days ago something handmade caught my eye.

A hand-drawn zine, titled, I'm Mad.
Bound with yarn tied through two hole-punched holes.
Not beautiful, but a sense of humor: 
"Reviews: Mom—I'm proud of him. It's on the

It took a lot of time to make: it had many pages of writing and drawing.
Much of it was a rant. Some frustrations, loneliness showed.
He put his heart into it.

Drawings, too.
His phone number at the back.
I read through it.
Then left it for others.

Trashed, tossed, taken—I don't know. 
 Three days later, it was gone.

But now when I walk by and look at the cubby I think: a creative person was there. 
My landscape, changed. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Classics Uncovered

Growing up I was only interested in 20th century literature. I read "the classics" only when I had to, which in my case was in junior high, perhaps once in an English class in college. The only ones I remember were A Tale of Two Cities, which had incessant knitting in it, the rest dull to me, and Edgar Allan Poe's "Telltale Heart." But Poe was fascinating, and because the story was thrilling it almost didn't count. I may have read Madame Bovary, but I remember nothing. In high school, I avoided all the traditional literature classes and took Folktales and Mythology instead. What I remember most about that class was that we watched films, Fred Astaire movies, and in particular, Top Hat.

So what has possessed me now, in the 21st century, to go back to the 19th? Curiosity more than anything. Probably teased out because several years ago I went back to school and realized there were so many cultural references I did not know and so many books other people did. I started by raiding my sister's abandoned college bookshelf, starting with Jane Austen. Hilarious! Wonderful! Takes getting used to the language, but after than, how funny it is! 

When we go visit my mother-in-law I need only something to entertain me on the plane because, once there, I find she has bookshelves full of books I aspire to read, some modern, some classics. I first read Nabokov, Look at the Harlequins! there. I read Sebald's The Emigrants, and it was possibly there that I read Tóibín's Brooklyn. This visit I chose Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which talked about the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen as well. My mother-in-law reported that she was reading Jane Eyre. I wasn't sure I had ever read it. (Maybe I had seen the Wishbone TV version but was distracted by the Jack Russell Terrier in clothes.) I had loaded the original 1847 text, a free electronic book (Bookbyte Digital edition with illustrations by F.H. Townsend), onto my iPad mini within the past couple years, so I began. I had never read it. The language was easy to read, the descriptions romantic.

I didn't know the story or its twists and turns. I was captivated. I really cannot remember being so annoyed when interrupted reading a book. On Saturdays, when I do not turn on electronics, I had to get a copy from the library. Where were the Teen Classics? (Hidden behind the Info desk not in the Teen Section.) And why was it shelved there and not in fiction???? This paper copy had an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates. I would read it later. Dear reader, if you have never read Jane Eyre, do NOT, whatever you do, read any notes or introductions or anything. Just read the book. When I finished and went back I found that the intro was stitched together with spoilers.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the book. The characters are complicated. They accept convention, but also challenge it. Thinking back on how I was completely clueless about the story, I realize that in this age of letting one's fingers do the googling, somehow the info went on around me, and I was thankfully allowed to experience the book for myself. I say no more.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Let Us Reach for the Edges: Art Quilt #2

I like the activity of sewing. Seems reasonable, right? I make books. But many of my books end up being constructions in which I must fold and glue rather than sew. I'm stymied by this, why it happens. It seems like the book takes over. So I thought, why not just print on cloth and sew the prints into a quilt? I enjoyed making the first one, and had two more in mind. Here is the second. 

I chose three linoleum blocks from my "library" to use: the reaching woman, some leaves, and the root, and I carved the new hip-hop dancer (I wanted a dancer, but a ballet dancer seemed overused) with a jasmine vine, the text block, and California poppy leaves. The words are "reaching, reaching for the edges, let us." I also wanted to experiment with a collagraph: I used gel medium to adhere a piece of burlap to the back of an old block and printed that in the slate blue.

I have a fondness for the reaching woman: I carved her when I was a student and printed her to be included in a portfolio, The World Is Sick, She Cried, So Let's Dance (1983).
She looks younger.

The root was carved for my 2006 book, Driftwood & Roots

 The leaves are part of a print of irises.
Still available for purchase on Etsy at my store.

 On the airplane back from Nashville, seated between two football players,
a body of work came to me. Of course, most of it is box construction! 
But I think there will be another art quilt as well.

Let Us Reach for the Edges. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dressing up a Single Signature

As I was preparing my presentation for the College Book Art Association conference I realized I was going to be talking about tactile materials but showing only pixels and light. I ended up making a pamphlet, a single signature that would relate to the talk, but something to take away and touch. 

Letterpress printing on the cover. Waxed linen thread. A window. An image. Quotes from the people I was talking about. Machine stitching with multicolored thread. A piece of a runover book that I used in my unique book Gangster, which I brought with me (along with one of Lisa Kokin's self-help rocks: see photo in this post.) Translucent paper. Laserprinter text. Many materials in a very short booklet. I bound eighty, gave away forty at my talk, and distributed many more. 

The instructions for sewing a single signature are in this 2011 post. The pamphlet below has three pages in all: a cover, one translucent page, one paper page. Each page has a hint of what came before and what is next: the window, the translucency, the sewing, the translucency again.

I reversed the type so I would only have to print on one side of the translucent paper. 
Still learning!