Thursday, July 7, 2011

What I Learned While Attempting to Make an Altered Book

Friends Are People, 2011
"Think you'll ever make an altered book?" I was asked, to which I replied: No. Never. I have too much I want to say with my own words. Then I admitted that I had started one, more as a practice, like a sketch.

The book began with discarded commercially made covers. With a circle cutter I cut out part of the title of How to Make Friends and Influence People to alter for my own and added the word "are" with metal alphabet punches, which I colored in with gold gelly roll pen. I cut two other boards, poked holes in them and thought I'd make a little  Coptic notebook (paired needles, p. 181-183, MHB). But I like Coptic books to have something showing at the exposed spine. I was sent some free textbooks that I did not order (inexplicably as packing for some other books) which I had put in a box to give away. Instead of discarding those, I tore out random pages from one of the textbooks and cropped the pages to fit the covers. I sewed them together with various colors of waxed linen thread.

Now I was presented with the new (for me) task of creating an erasure text. How I could write by obliterating words? With a brush in hand and the new walnut ink by my side, I began lining out words on the pages. I quickly realized I wanted sentences, so I looked for a subject, then a verb, then whatever seemed to fit after that. I liked painting with the ink, but I found the task tedious and frustrating. I couldn't really say what I wanted to say with the words already on the page. The book was provocative enough: a textbook on race.

I sighed, pushed forward, and layered gesso over some of the pages, added handmade stencils (instructions for making stencils in my book Painted Paper, pp.70-81), then rounded the corners up until where I stopped. There I stopped. I was just not having fun.

It wasn't the obsessive nature of the work that made me impatient; I'm okay with repetitive processes. I had learned all I could from this activity. That was all. I let it go. I am free to go on now, to explore a different process instead, or to return to a process I enjoy.

I do believe that in the future I could use one of these pages as a springboard, maybe as a title or first line for my own story or poem. I can see how this activity could be freeing, serendipitous, lead to discoveries, open one's mind.

And I will say that I am still interested in the discarded book covers. I like the colors, the possibilities for them as a colorful material to work with. I like the blank book covers best, though, their surfaces waiting for words.

DisCover, 2011

Found and shaped erasure text from Friends Are People 
modern unpacking has to do with products
the label you reflect follows aversion and refusal
Sometimes we can fall into a pattern of ignoring
Thus, people are naturally acceptable to people
Maybe we care so much because evidence does not
thinking about critical insight we hope to cultivate society to ponder
teach the virtue of Lucid insight we all have
give birth

I see and fail to see your wrong response about color-blindness
the word has boundaries
"utopia" was the face of spark
we fail the color line
You might have identified people wandering the aisles

categories divide the world / boundaries are legitimate. / one never doubts enough

certain terms operate on a word, cultivating a personal imagination at work in the smallest of adventures,  even in one's heart

this book is true. we encourage you to think deeper

2 comments:

Lotus said...

It's fascinating to read how book artists feel about the vast subject of "book art". I'm kinda like you in that I don't care too much for creating altered art books. But, I love what others have done.

I would rather make my own books/journals to fill with my own art and writing, over trying to do the latest art technique floating out in cyberspace. Does that make sense? lol

Take it easy
Lotus

Alisa said...

Plenty of room in the art closet for different things…

We can focus on depth in one area, breadth across many, or alternate between them. (Shampoo, rinse, repeat, as needed.)

But our time and energy are limited. Therefore, as we say over here: "If it's supposed to be fun and it isn't, you don't have to do it." So, yes, what you say makes sense.

No matter what: stay curious!