Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Pelts & Covering Boards

Lizard's Snake Suit, 1996
I started thinking about the many effects you can get when you cover boards with different materials. By boards I am talking about either 4-ply museum board or book board (also known as Davey board or binder's board). Sometimes the covering material is too thin, in which case you use wheat paste and attach a strong and thin backing paper to it (I use mulberry paper). I backed regular cloth for Lizard's Snake Suit. Sometimes the material isn't the color you want, and so you paint it. We will look at book cloth, painted cloth, painted paper, painted Tyvek, repurposed book cloth, and re-used and flattened aluminum cans. On the way, I'll give you some links to materials.

Ram's Horns, 2001
New book cloth can be found in small pieces at art-supply stores like Blick or Paper Source. A wider selection and larger pieces needed for boxes or editions can be ordered from Campbell-Logan Bindery: they are efficient and nice and they carry the more finely woven Japanese book cloths. Another interesting selection may be found at Hiromi Paper. Using new book cloth makes your book look, well, new. The cloth has no history to it and does not show your hand, so it's up to you and your project to decide if that is the clean, traditional, and minimalist look you want. Yes, projects talk.

Spotted One Day, 2009
Paint the book cloth with acrylic paints and gesso (Ram's Horns, for example) if you want to change the color or add texture or your own mark to the cover. You can paint muslin or other cotton cloths, too, but you may need to add a backing sheet when the cloth is dry. Be aware that thick layers of acrylic paint will remain tacky forever, so use the paints sparingly, add water, or mix with gesso, which doesn't stick. (See  the Eva Hesse post for a photo of my painted cloth book.) If you need to back the cloth, please see instructions on pages 21-22 in Making Handmade Books. For a pattern or image, print linoleum blocks on the cloth (Spotted One Day). You can also piece cloth for a patchwork cover, add beadwork, machine sew, or handstitch on book cloth before you wrap the boards with it. This method definitely adds your style and hand to the project and creates a durable cover.

Shoulder Blades of Grass, 2006
If you want to paint paper to cover boards, I recommend Velin Arches, formerly called Arches Text Wove. This paper is 100% cotton and is thin enough for the turn-ins, but strong enough to withstand inks and glue. Use acrylic inks on the paper. See my book Painted Paper for a variety of painting techniques (Shoulder Blades of Grass has acrylic ink painted paper covers and a book cloth spine) Acrylic inks are liquid and come in one-ounce bottles. I use Daler-Rowney FW acrylic inks.  Australians, I recommend Matisse inks. Painting paper also adds your style and your hand to the project.

Demystifiying Art, 2011
To give your paper a marbled look without actually marbling the paper, you can use Tyvek and acrylic inks. The Tyvek is made from polyethylene fibers which takes the ink in a variegated way. You can buy Tyvek envelopes at office-supply stores like Office Depot, save envelopes that are sent to you, or buy it in a roll from Talas. Using Tyvek and ink gives the work a swirly, romantic quality, and can make it look old or like cloth. For my model Demystifying Art I used my old friend, Antelope Brown.

Book Pelts, 2011
During the workshop I taught with Lisa Kokin in July, I noticed that Carolyn Batchelor had some interesting looking cloth with her. She kept it rolled up and tied with another scrap. I guessed it was hand-dyed. When I asked her about it she said she tore off the cloth from discarded books, soaked it, then scraped off the glue and whatever cardboard was still attached. The dye will run, she said, and you can paint with it. Carolyn uses the pieces as collage material; her covers show all the edges. When I got home, since I had some old covers leftover from the workshop, I went through the soaking process with the cloth. I mentioned this to a friend who called them "book pelts." When I eventually back them and print on them, the faded cloth will give the book cover a mysterious and worldly look.

Pop Art Journals, 2011
My friend and colleague Michael Henninger of RatArt Press used aluminum cans to cover boards in 1992 for his book Beer, Girls. For the 2009 publication, Eco Books by Terry Taylor, Michael contributed the project "Six-Pack Book" (30). I adapted it for my "Pop Art Journals." Using the colorful graphics designed for everyday use is a fun way to play with color and ties you to the present moment. Each of these has a bookcloth spine, endbands, and a ribbon bookmark.

Paper bags, handmade paper, plastic bags, beeswax, felt: so many more options to explore. Underneath, all the boards are the same, but their attire influences how we view them.

For more about this subject, see the April 25, 2011 post "Materials & Hidden Meaning." 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Content Ideas: Do Sit Down

You are holding paper and looking for book ideas, something to work with between the covers. One way to find meaningful content is to stay in one place long enough for it to come to you. Something will happen. You have to be still. Do sit down.

Outside, on the grass. Bring a blanket to sit on if you like, but sit near the edge. Look at every blade of grass. Watch for movement: bugs, neighborly cats, knots falling out of knot holes in a fence. Listen for birds, trucks, voices. Smell the air, the twigs, the blanket. Make a note, list, or sketch of how you feel or what the place is like when you first sit down. Add a new page when something changes in or outside of you.

Outside, on a bench. Maybe a park. Maybe a sidewalk outside a café. Look at the cracks on the sidewalk or the wood chips or squirrels under the picnic table. Watch the people. Listen to their conversations. Write down the fragments or what you mis-hear or misinterpret. See if you can watch one person do one thing from beginning to end. Notice how strangers interact or don't. Make a note, list, or sketch of what the place is like or how you feel when you first sit down. Add a new page when something changes in or outside of you.

Inside, by a window. Maybe your room. Maybe a library. Watch for movement inside or outside: drama between birds, dogs, cats, clouds, or people, perhaps. Heighten your senses by becoming aware of your body in the space. Make a note, list, or sketch of how you feel or what the room is like when you first sit down. Add a new page when something changes in or outside of you.

Inside, at a desk with no distractions. You have only your memory, the films you play inside your head while you wait. What appears before you? Who? Make a note, list, or sketch of how you feel or what is floating into your mind. Look around inside. Listen, too.

Outside, walking. You are restless. Keep your focus outward. Keep your senses alert and aware. Movement might be in the form of cars, people, bicycles, trees. Make notes as you walk, or walk first, then sit down and make a note, list or sketch of how you feel or what is floating into your mind.

An event, however small, will happen here, there, here, again. You are looking for change.

Go Change, 2008


Reading: E.B. White, including, Essays by E.B. White, Points of My Compass, One Man's Meat
Viewing: the exquisite, painted field notebooks of Andie Thrams (Click on the link, then on the image there.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Handwriting and Creative Writing

When I taught bookmaking to kids several years ago, a Chinese-American mom came up to me with a question about writing. It took me a few moments to understand whether she meant the forming of words on a page, like handwriting, or creating narratives and poems, like creative writing. She seemed to mean both. The mom did not exactly say why she was unhappy, did not explain her feelings, but I could tell she was displeased. Later, I was able to understand that she felt troubled because of the importance of both art and writing in her cultural background. In the excellent catalogue for the 2006 exhibit Shu: Reinventing Books in Contemporary Chinese ArtWu Hung writes about the deep connection:
…painters since the emergence of scholarly painting…have always played multiple roles in cultural production, not only as visual artists but also as poets, essayists, playwrights, and calligraphers. Their works often combine images and texts, and are subjects of both viewing and reading. After literati painting became the mainstream of Chinese art…the artistic persona implied in this practice grew into a standard model for all educated artists to follow.…two major forms of traditional painting—the handscroll and the album—are also used for writing and printing books…As a result of all thse factors, paintings and books have enjoyed a unique relationship in Chinese culture… (2)
The mom said that her son only liked to write on the computer. He wouldn't use pencil and paper. What did I think about this? My personal reaction was mixed; I spent much of my childhood teaching myself calligraphy, practicing handwriting, designing and redesigning my signature, practicing with my opposite hand and upside down, then later took calligraphy in high school and a Spencerian workshop as an adult. I like forming letters. But clearly the boy did not.

Thoreau, famous for his journals, wrote "It is not easy to write in a journal what interests us at any time, because to write is not what interests us" (from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers).

The parents clearly tried to make writing interesting. The dad told me that he was a construction worker, that he brought a notebook with him to work, and that he wrote down what he did that day. He encouraged his son to write about his day, too, so that at night they could read the journals and talk about their day together. The dad was happy that his son wrote at all, so using the computer to write about his day didn't bother him.

The mom was certain that it was important to form the letters by hand. She felt it was better to write than to type. I finally said I was glad he was writing at all. But I didn't feel totally comfortable with my answer.

"Handwriting Skills Key to Helping Students Learn," a recent article by Julie Deardorff in my local paper, reprinted from the Chicago Tribune (June 15, 2011) reinforces the idea that greater learning is linked to handwriting. In one study at Indiana University, pre-school children were tested for brain activity after they had been exposed to letters. One group just practiced looking and saying the letters, the other group also practiced writing them. "After four weeks of training, the kids who practiced writing showed brain activation similar to an adult's." Another study, this one at the University of Ottawa, found that "The contact, direction and pressure of the pen or pencil send the the brain a message. And the repetitive process of handwriting 'integrates motor pathways into the brain,' said [Katya] Feder." It is possible that in the future, stylus and screen could be used for handwriting practice, but the immediate response of a pen or pencil, the sound, and the physical mark/groove on the paper cannot be duplicated. The stylus and screen are too far removed from the body.

And handwriting is very much an expression of the body and through it, nature, particularly Spencerian. In Handwriting in America: A Cultural HistoryTamara Plakins Thornton writes "Spencer…claimed to receive inspiration for his letter forms from waves and clouds, pebbles and shells, sunbeams and flower petals" (62). I like that some handwriting was supposed to be connected to nature, that the spaces between the letters were supposed to resemble waves. Spencerian has a natural flow to it and is calming to practice. It's not easy and it takes much practice. For those and other reasons we are not teaching children Spencerian, but what if we taught handwriting when we taught natural history? Here are some of the tree letters: k l t . Here are the waves: u e a. Here are the birds: v w.…

The mom was right: something was missing. But the dad was right, too. Both fluent handwriting and fluent creative writing are important. But in order for each to be a joy rather than a chore, at the early grades perhaps the two should be separate activities. Practice handwriting for the love of the flowing letterforms, look at positive and negative space, curves and lines. Work with short phrases, poems, jokes, or haiku. For longer works, just getting the story out there is important. We don't want to set up obstacles when a child has an idea to express. Ultimately, in the upper grades, perhaps middle school, the two can gradually be combined. Art and writing as a single form, a concept our western culture has yet to embrace.


Spencerian is written with a pointed pen in an oblique pen holder. A wonderful instructional book by Michael R. Sull and Debra E. Sull is Learning to Write Spencerian Script. All supplies (nibs, penholders, McCaffery's ink or Pelikan 4001 ink, book) can be found at Paper and Ink Arts. Classes are available in Berkeley at Castle in the Air.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Progress & the Philosopher's Stone

While I can't claim to have found the philosopher's stone, I did discover that certain objects can be keys to getting started, to unlocking the creative process. Okay, so they don't transform ideas into gold, but still they are a kind of treasure. I felt a bit like Betty, the crow who not only uses tools but makes them to "obtain [something] out-of-reach."

Last spring, I was having trouble practicing my monologue. For some reason I just couldn't feel the character, could only recite the words, not act them. Acting definitely felt out-of-reach. The TA for the class suggested I focus on one area of my body, locate the monologue in my stomach, for example, and really feel it inside. I trusted him and believed that would work, but it didn't.

My friend told me that when she taught elementary school she found she could speak better when she held a pen in her hand. She didn't know why, but it seemed to ground her. She said that when she writes she also holds a pen, as if she were going to use it to write, but she types on her keyboard instead. She suggested I find something like that.

I took her advice. While I was practicing in my studio, I picked up some sandpaper. And a little rock. Practicing with the sandpaper and rock changed how I performed the monologue. I could focus on the rough sandpaper and the heavy rock. These were physical objects that reminded me where I was and that I was in my body: feeling the rough and heavy monologue. I had to have objects to transform. They became my tools.

The objects gave me the focal point, which allowed me to settle down and away from the swirling thoughts and possibly, anxieties that I couldn't pin down otherwise. I was able to keep my energy on the creative work itself—the monologue—and successfully performed it without hesitation and with a depth of spirit. I think this focus on an object can translate to art, writing, and other creative activities. The object may start out as unrecognized by the mind (I seemed to pick my two objects intuitively) and it may also change, depending on need. I'm keeping this in mind now, the idea of a grounding rock, pen, or other object that I can focus on that has certain qualities to inspire me, so that I can continue to carry on.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Graffiti Behind The Museum Doors & Beyond

Whatever you think of it, graffiti is the ultimate merging of art and writing in an expressive form. Additionally, in the United States, it is a transgressive behavior. The work can be insightful, beautiful, disquieting, or ugly and can be viewed with awe, indifference, scorn, or fury. The viewer may make a judgment based on aesthetics, on personal beliefs, on morals or some mixture. I was in L.A. last week and definitely experienced a mixed reaction to the Art in the Streets exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. I was only able to see the downstairs works and what I saw was mostly spraypainted. (I am partial to wheatpaste postering, where the artist makes the large work elsewhere on paper then uses a roller to apply paste to the wall and smooth the poster onto it.) Context changes everything. Bringing the graffiti inside the museum doors made the art very strange, indeed.

MOCA presented the exhibit as a history of the form with many of the key players from major cities. I believe the artists and the artform deserve recognition, although I am not sure this was the best format. The show was overwhelming in scale, with several hidden gems. I liked the constructions made of old signage, the wall of doors and windows, the drumset and wall of stereo speakers with faces on them. Creepy but interesting was a nest made of telephone wire with three surveillance cameras attached to it. We stood in front of a stylized alphabet and took pictures of individual letters in order to spell friends' names, which made me feel a bit like I was at an amusement park. Perhaps that was the problem. All the place needed were graffitied funhouse mirrors. Even the bathroom stalls were painted (in pink letters and images). I'm all for humor, but what was the show's message, again?

The dark side was not neglected. One hallway simulated a dark alley with writing on the walls and a mannequin streetperson at the end. Another room had glow-in-the-dark painted graffiti. There were painted cars and recreated, gritty city blocks as well. The scope was broad and the show could easily be split in two: political, satire, dangerous, and content-heavy on the one hand and fun, bright, and playful on the other. In my short visit it is entirely possible that I missed something. A catalogue is available.

For a deeper look into the world of the artist, I felt that the Banksy film, real or hoax (sometimes fiction is more accurate) Exit Through the Gift Shop gave me a better picture. What the MOCA exhibit did for me was to heighten my awareness of the walls outside rather than inspiring me inside of them. I had an uncanny feeling as we left the building. Downtown Los Angeles has plenty of graffiti that is deemed illegal and instead of vaguely noticing it as usual, as we walked to the Metro stop I began hunting for it, studying it.

Most graffiti is created in cities and urban neighborhoods, often poor ones, and brings art out to a public that can't afford to go inside a museum, but there we just were and now we were outside again. Art inside. Art outside. Same, but different. Very strange. No catalogue out here.

The exhibit stirred up many questions. What about the women? (There were a couple, like Swoon—more of her work here—but the majority of work presented was by men.) How much does the element of danger figure into the exhiliaration of painting? How much does cultural heritage, political, or economic background figure into it? What if the artists got permission from the building's owner first? Would the painting lose its edge? Which is more important, the art or the transgression? Is it vandalism if the art is carefully done rather than hastily scribbled? We got off the Metro and from the parking lot we saw this painting (above left) neither worse nor better than what we had seen inside the museum.

The Obama poster by Shepard Fairey was in the exhibit, framed. I took this picture in Oakland, California in February 2008. Same, but different. I remember how excited I was at the time to see it on the streets.
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Reviews of MOCA exhibit:
Huffington Post review.
L.A. Times review.
N.Y. Times article and here.
Information about Jeffrey Deitch, new Director of MOCA and his former projects.
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On our drive from Downtown we saw graffiti on an overpass: "The median is the message." What would Marshall McLuhan do?
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In London, a freshly painted Banksy image appeared in April and my wanderer took this picture just after the paint had dried. Later, she said, someone came and put plexiglass over it to preserve it. It seems that the definition of value varies, depending on the context, depending on who and what and where…



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Storytelling with a List [of Words]

I'm baffled by my own title, here. List. Do I mean that we are going to tell stories sideways? From a boat? Dashboard dictionary says: "List: 1. a number of connected items. 2. the scene of a contest or combat. 3. a selvage of a piece of fabric" as well as "lean to one side, typically because of a leak or unbalanced cargo." My hands automatically typed my own name "a Lisa" instead of "a List" and I had to go back. Again, words matter. In this case, I want to talk about telling stories via a list of words. They are connected somehow, occasionally they do lean, and I hope they don't fight too much.

Of Words. Had to add those two words. They should have been the final elements of the title. Okay. I see how it should go. Let's begin here. I purchased an artist's book several years back; the copyright date says 1982, but that's earlier than I would have found it, so it's hard to say when exactly it came into my hands. The book is built on the concept of words and dictionary definitions. The book is called Amour by Andrea Kelly. (I can't find her on the internet and I don't even know where she was from, so Andrea, if you are out there, your book is a great example of a found and shaped story. Nice illustrations, too!)

Each page has one word and its dictionary definition. The words in a list tell a fairly familiar and simple boy-meets-girl scenario: amour, alone, boyfriend, compliment, fun, hug, kiss, desire, care, difference, anger, lovelorn, mourn, lovesick, beautiful, stunning, together, sensual, fondle, love, sweeetheart, end. However, if you stop to read the definitions, you get a more complex picture. "alone. apart from anything or anyone else / the hut stood alone on the prairie 2. without involving any other person / to walk alone / 3. without anything further; with nothing more; only / the carton alone weighs two pounds…" That's the idea. And it works. Definitions are rich with meaning. "Rich with meaning" is overused, but I mean it anyway.

Talking Alphabet, 1994

Roy Blount (pronounced "blunt") Jr., panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and prolific author, wrote two books devoted to words and definitions: Alphabet Juice (2008) and Alphabetter Juice (2011). At the title links you can also find a video of Blount reading and an interview. The books contain words and phrases that Blount has collected and presented in alphabetical order with definitions from several dictionaries (including online sources like urbandictionary.com) with his own thoughts, anecdotes, jokes, and stories added for flavor. He muses on the sounds of the words (good ones he calls "sonicky") as well as the definitions. I keep his books by my bed, not to put me to sleep, but to put me in a good mood for dreaming, and a good dream might give me a good idea for a good story. (Looking back at that last sentence I'm finding that all those goods are starting to look scary, as if they were goons or something, the opposite of what I mean.)

Blount's entries are as short as a single sentence, like "horror story, all I have so far: 'It was all knots and bulbs and slime and veins and it was squirming in the undergrowth making a noise like k-k-k-k, like telling a horse to go only harder'" (141, 2008) and "discalced: This is my idea of a bad word. Means shoeless, barefoot. From Latin dis- and calcere, to fit with shoes. Hardly anyone will recognize it, and it fails to evoke feet" (61, 2011). Most entries are one or two paragraphs. One of my favorites is for "page turning" (180, 2011), which is too long to quote and too wonderful as a whole to pick apart. You'll just have to read it. Longer entries (from five to seven pages) are: "gillie, girl" and "metanarrative, pig and possum throwing" in Alphabetter Juice (99 & 151) and "wrought"in Alphabet Juice (347). Nice to have an excuse to examine words and to tell connected stories.

One NFL Superbowl there was a Google ad that also used words to tell a story. Superbowl! An ad! I needed a hanky at the end. ("Hanky" was first used as a word in the 1890s according to a word origins website; from the 16th century "handkerchief": a hand cloth to cover.) Here for you, if you haven't seen it, is Parisian Love.  A larger version is here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Can Poetry and Clarity Collide?

Metaphors and similes attract us. All our clichés are built from them because they, at first, convey good visual images. We reuse them. We run them into the ground, beat dead horses in the process, and mix them up. Recycled too many times, the original image is lost.

It dawned on me (and I like the image of a sunrise popping out of my head) that in poetry we use metaphors to try to make meaning clear. And in prose we inject imagery to paint a picture. In both cases we want to get a message across.

The more I write (and read), the more I realize that there are times when a writer has to decide between poetry and clarity. Instructional books are all about clarity. If I try to evoke a mood or a moment with colorful images I may lose the reader in a swirl of confusion. The goal is to instruct. On the flipside, fiction that instructs is irritating. In his book The Art of Recklessness, Dean Young writes that poetry's task is to incorporate "…a humble transparency that adds nothing but clarity, the way a very clean window can add luster to a gray day it looks out on and frames" (7) and also "…all poetry must create some degree of impenetrability; otherwise the words are mere indicators of things beyond them and, therefore, immediately dispensable, disposable" (110). The words are the windows and are just as important as the meaningful view they frame.

How can a metaphor or simile, a visual understudy for something else, be clear? Muddied metaphors confuse us because we have to struggle to visualize them. One cloudy one is a friendship that has "ebbs and peaks" (rather than ebbs and flows or peaks and valleys). On the other hand, we can immediately see the image presented in the sentence "she moves through her day like a hummingbird." For the poetic image to convey clarity it has to be the precise, compact embodiment of the action or mood, a little anchor of understanding.

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Sky Is Not Falling on the Book

Never mind what you've heard, the sky is not falling. The idea that the book as we know it is coming to an end has popped up in conversations for the past sixteen years. I'm not kidding. I first wrote an article for Artweek (the demise of magazines are a different story, and that one shut down in 2009) about using the computer and how it pertains to my bookwork for the January 1995 issue: vol. 26, no. 1. Here is how it began (am I really quoting myself? I don't think this was ever digitally archived):
Pessimists fear that the advance of the computer signals the decline of the book. Computers, however, are not only an aid to the creation of books, their very distance from their users prompts the user to crave something to touch and hold, something other than the plastic keyboard, the track ball or mouse. Book art can satisfy that craving.
Hmm. 1995. 2011. Don't see much change there. And the ending:
Nowadays, we can read another form of book on the screen and even interact with it, discovering sound and moving pictures. However, the experience of reading a physical book is different and necessary. Book art provides weight, texture and smell, even the sound of the pages turning, which all satisfy the senses. Portable and compact, it can be shared with a friend and passed back and forth. The computer is not a replacement for books as we have known them; it simply adds another dimension to the creation of book art.
Someone said to me recently that we didn't have to accept the computer, the new technologies, that we could have collectively said no. I don't see it. Technology is discovery, a looking to the future with hope. You gotta roll with it. I only recently realized that. So you could say I'm a technoconvert, of sorts.

My realization began with the debate between those setting metal type by hand and those who used a photopolymer plates. I initially felt that metal type looked better when printed: it was not perfectly uniform. It had character that the polymer plate didn't have. I was stunned when I walked into a printshop that had no type. Type was reusable. I didn't have to pay to get a plate made, and plates were expensive. When I was done I could strike the type and leave no trace. What would I do with those plates afterwards? In any case, I always liked setting type as part of the writing process. I set the type, letter by letter, forced to examine my text as if it were under a microscope. I still had time to correct any flaws. On the other hand, I could run out of a letter and have to change a word. No e's? Okay, instead of "little" I would revise and put "small." I didn't mind the puzzlework of it. It presented an interesting challenge.

What changed? I wanted to print my drawings, for one thing. My students wanted to print more colors and  be able to print them faster. They, too, wanted to incorporate drawings or handwritten text (English, Korean and others) into letterpress work. I learned how to set up the files on the computer so I could teach them, and now I feel as if I have learned another language. That can't be bad.

I like to think that there is room for all of it: books on e-readers to bring on vacation or read in bed without disturbing your partner; books made as art to nourish the soul and eye and senses, and all the other forms we now know or haven't yet discovered. The sky isn't falling. It is opening up.