Monday, January 30, 2012

Ray Johnson, Mail Art, and Bob Boxes

The name Ray Johnson tickled the back of my brain as I walked through the Matrix exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum. I overheard the curator say the word, "silhouette" which caused me to back away from the framed collages and see a cupid. The collages were obviously finished pieces, carefully done, apparently worked on over many years. But the title of the show, "Tables of Content: Ray Johnson & Robert Warner Bob Box Archive" suggested that the collages were supplemental to the main event. (You can download the exhibition brochure at that link.)

Thirteen "Bob" boxes were arranged on the wall and meant to be a map, of sorts, to tables in the gallery. The only problem was that the boxes and tables were perpendicular. Where, exactly was "Bob Box #1?" Which end was up? A sign or labels would have been helpful. I moved to the tables, the main focus. On each table were the contents of one of the boxes sent from Ray Johnson to collagist and former optician Robert "Bob" Warner. Warner had arranged the objects: the belts in a box marked "snakes;" empty picture frames; a white cotton glove with writing on it indicating that this was the last we would see of Michael Jackson; tennis balls; a pack of Camel candy cigarettes; bits of clothing; a poster of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Mark Spitz; a few crude drawings; and stacks and stacks of envelopes that revealed certain names, notable names, famous names. Johnson had contacted Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Joseph Cornell, among others, and many were friends of his. The mail should have been the clue.

Mail art. Ray Johnson is considered to be the father of mail art. He began making art to mail in the 1950s, and in 1962 founded the New York Correspondance School, with incorrect spelling (likely on purpose) to refer to the dance between people rather than the actual mailed art itself. The accompanying brochure refers to the "school," but says little else about this passion. The mail art was often a multiple, sent to many people with the request to alter it and send it on to a specified address or back to him.

Warner, Johnson's friend and recipient of the boxes, gave a brief talk at BAM on Friday, January 27, 2012, which included a performance using what I believe was glue in a squirt bottle and glitter to spell "Ray" on a clean pizza box in reference to an action performed by many boys in the snow and sand. Warner told us, among other things, that the twine around the boxes was tied by Johnson and that Johnson liked wordplay. Upon a celebration of the opening of Warner's eyeglasses store Johnson sent a bouquet of irises. In regards to the performance, Johnson would likely have been pleased and amused at the optician making a spectacle of himself.

An interesting fact I discovered doing later research: Robert Warner is the master letterpress printer for Bowne & Co. Since he is a collagist and a self-described "gatherer" it makes sense to me that he likes to hand set individual pieces of type. Another optician interested in objects and arranging things is the photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard, whose exhibit is still on view until February 26 at the de Young Museum. Is everything connected?

There was some attempt made to connect this exhibit with the previous Kurt Schwitters exhibit and the show of James Castle's work, but aside from collecting material from everyday life, these three artists approached their art completely differently. If two people are painters are they the same? Schwitters felt he was "painting" with his ephemera: he used it to make formal abstract compositions. James Castle was deaf and it was unknown if he could read; he created his work to communicate perhaps, perhaps to understand the world around him, perhaps because he just loved to make art. Johnson seemed to be throwing out notes in bottles, hoping to connect with individuals, but even more than that, to create ways to make people interact, more like theater or improvisation than visual art.

I was frankly disappointed with the exhibit, but definitely enjoyed unearthing these fascinating facts and stories from the detritus of the tables and later, from the internet.

A far more interesting project that looks at personal effects in containers is currently in progress by photographer Jon Crispin. The photographer was given permission to document the left behind suitcases of people who were admitted to the Willard Psychiatric Center between 1910-1960 (suitcases now belong to the New York State Museum). Of course, the people never left. One post says: "You can see the bird droppings from when it was stored in the attic before they were [sic] saved by the museum." The valises are all wrapped in archival paper and Crispin photographs the wrappers, then unwraps them without knowing what is inside. While these, like the Bob Boxes, were things left behind, they are more mysterious and some are heartbreaking. The objects were important to someone and were repeatedly a part of their lives: I believe this is our way in. We want to either identify with or just connect with the personal.

After stewing about the Johnson/Warner exhibit for a few days, in my head I've created the show I would like to see. The tables are separated as islands, each box included with its contents, some things in the box, some things out and arranged. Maybe not everything is shown.  Photographs of various arrangements are on the walls, challenging the viewer to go back and forth between image and reality, two and three dimension, and to hunt for certain objects, which may or may not be visible. That which is hidden often sparks the viewer's curiosity. Perhaps include a large map with pins and flags showing the addresses where Johnson lived and where he sent his mail art, perhaps include photos of the recipients, if known. Then, in the spirit of give-aways, publish a catalogue that includes an artifact or facsimile of one object with every purchase, or perhaps a packet of stationery that encourages alteration and mailing out.

At the very least, the exhibit made me pull out a few bags of collected ephemera and begin sorting by theme, assembling envelopes, and thinking about sending mail art again like I did in the 1980s. So, even a show that did not resonate with me inspired me to make art. I was able to back away and see with fresh eyes. Success? Failure? Who can say?

I've never done this before, and I may not do it again, but I am offering an envelope of oddments to the first three people who reply to this post and desire some mail art…

Friday, January 27, 2012

Finishing a Project: Decide-Commit-Focus

Maybe you have a box full of unfinished books or stories like I do. What's the deal? Why can we finish some projects and not others? Is it possible to go back? Since self help always comes in numbers, here are three steps for possibly getting the job done.

Decide. Decide which project you are going to finish. Spread out partially done work and take a careful look. One will likely  send out a little magnet or tug on your coat. Pick a project, any project. Put the rest away. If you are starting fresh, choose a topic or structure to start with. In "The Cauldrons of de Kooning," the author quotes de Kooning, "In art one idea is as good as another." Ideas that have meaning to you, that is. If you like, you can order a mug with this saying.

Commit. Make it the top priority on the to-do list. Gather your materials, clear a space, and sit down.

Focus. Work on one section. Do you need to write? Edit? Design pages? Create images? Sketch it out, doodle on sticky notes, cover your table with brown paper and scribble. Focus on the one area, but let yourself make preliminary notes and possibly even mistakes on separate materials first.

The main point is that the project has to be able to re-grab us. Something inspired us to begin with and we have to recapture that mood, get in the groove again. It may or may not be comfortable going back there, but sometimes pushing through that discomfort is part of the process and the final outcome can be quite rewarding. We can also decide if we really want to finish or if we should commit to recycling the materials and focus on moving on.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Cover is Not the Book

At the College Book Art conference this year, Buzz Spector, book artist, theoretician, and educator and Brewster Kahle, computer engineer, internet entrepeneur, activist, and digital librarian were the guest speakers. Each spoke from a different angle about books and libraries and their uses.

Spector began his keynote address by noting two things: one, that Blurb, the print-on-demand service, had just published its one-millionth book; and two, that you can't physically know how far along you are in the book when you are reading on an e-reader. He was prepared to talk about libraries as the artist's studio and how artists use either their own personal libraries and/or create installations of libraries in gallery settings (and he did), but he noticed that the projections from the laptop on the lectern kept changing during the introductions, which sparked an off-the-cuff preface. We all were distracted and amused, I think, by the "welcome" slide changing to a variety of "no input" signals to "guest user," and he decided to acknowledge it. He began to think, he said, about what happens to a computer screen when you are not touching it. And the connections between computers and books in general.

While Spector acknowledged that  print-on-demand is a great way to get books out there, he also felt that all one-million books were now "emulsified." I had to look up the word in this context to see what he might have meant by it; I think he meant separate elements that are mixed together to form one unit. These books were created with the same paper stock and laminated cover, which he said was "a baseline for ordinariness" and created "affectless planes for certain kinds of ideas." On the one hand, I agree that all the books look the same, that if you have seen one you can recognize another from across the room. We like our books to distinguish themselves, somehow. But by dismissing them by cover that means we have totally lost sight of content. And isn't that what a book is for? To enlighten us, spark us, entertain us, produce some kind of reaction or thought? As it stands, all our mass-market paperbacks are all the same size (although designed differently), and don't you find that one coffee table book has the same aura as another? And there are artist books that look similar to other artist books as well. I'd say McDonald's french fries are more of a "baseline for ordinariness" than the Blurb books—you can get them anywhere. Are the Blurb books really "affectless planes for certain kinds of ideas?" I can't say. I haven't read more than half a dozen. If I've got my numbers right: 999,994 to go…

While our focus when making book art is to have "authorship" over our work, that is, to make all the choices regarding content, paper, typeface, materials, and all of these choices affect how our readers/viewers will experience the art, I don't think we are asking Blurb to make book art. If you look at Spector's work, he stacks up discarded books from libraries or arranges books that he owns. The content almost doesn't matter, although he might say there is much reading experience potential from these arrangements.

Along with computer-generated books comes the huge potential for reading those books on the computer or similar device. Spector said he hasn't touched his Kindle since 2009 when Amazon pulled George Orwell's 1984 due to rights issues, but I do not think he minds. One thing the e-reader did not do for him was let him know how much he had left to read. His thumb would normally get closer and closer to the back cover until he finished the book, but the e-reader gave his thumb no physical indicator. He liked the idea of the thumb "as a marker of time passing." The ultimate digital reading. I like that image, too. I was told recently, however, that there are little dots at the bottom of one of these readers so you can visually see your progress. Is the thumb touching the back cover a small thing or a big one? Is it important? Or just an interesting image?

In October 2011, Blurb announced software and capability to design and produce books for iPad, iPhone, and e-reader. Good, bad, or ugly? Does it matter? Easy access is the key. When I started making books in college I wanted to be able to price my art so that everyone could afford it. Ultimately, I realized that the market was small and I couldn't make a living that way. The writing has always been central to the books I make. For a writer, the wider the reach, the better. Writers don't get to choose the color of their books or the typefaces or the layout. Writers choose the words. Writers want as many readers as possible.

Brewster Kahle spoke about some projects he has been working on that broaden that access. One is a group of mobile libraries to bring books to everyone, particularly to children who do not have access to them. The libraries don't have truckloads of actual books; a van is equipped with printing/binding machines to print out digitized books from the internet. The books cost $1 each to print. Kahle showed a slide of a grinning child receiving a small print-on-demand book from the van. It was the first book the child had ever owned. This project, as well as the One Laptop per Child project, is why we need books available for the screen, why this is important.

Book art is wonderful, no doubt about it. It feeds our need for tactility, for beauty, for personal expression. But what is inside has got to matter. As book artists we can still make use of those print-on-demand services. Keith Smith uses them as a color printer: he designs the books so he can take them apart and rebind them to make his own book art. The cover is not the book.

photo by Mollie

Friday, January 20, 2012

Making a Felt Book, Pt. 5: Binding

I've tried all kinds of bindings for felted books, but this simple form seems to work the best: three folded pages stitched to a wraparound cover. You will want to try to get the folded pages as close together as possible, but your sewing machine may dictate just how close that is. You can also sew the pieces to the cover by hand. In the photo you can see a pearl-headed pin temporarily marking the center sewing line. Even after it is completely sewn the pages may spring open in this little book. Two pearl-headed pins for closures resolve this issue, now this cactus-themed book is its own pin cushion. For a book that always stays closed try making a book with a landscape  or horizontal format.

Cactus Couple, 2012
"Their relationship was prickly soft"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Elizabeth Bishop: Poet & Quiet Artist

Look on the quiet side, the side in shadows, present, but not yet seen. A writer with an artist's eye may live there. Who knew that the poet Elizabeth Bishop was an admirer of Joseph Cornell's work and made her own art as well? A small article in the New York Times alerted me to a small show at the Tibor De Nagy Gallery in New York that also exhibited some of her possessions, such as her desk from many years spent living in Brazil. The exhibit is called Objects and Apparitions, also the title of a poem by Octavio Paz that Bishop translated, dedicated to Joseph Cornell (169).

The number one hundred is a weird catalyst—as if we are waiting for an excuse to celebrate. And so, here it is, the centenary of Elizabeth Bishop's birth. Known for her writing, Bishop won, among other awards, a Pulitzer prize for a book of poems in 1956 and she taught at Harvard in the 1970s. Bishop's poetry, such as "At the Fishhouses," (50) shows an observant eye and startlingly clear imagery. We might say that she wrote with her artist mind, so it is not too surprising, after all, to find out that she painted. Apparently, the art critic Meyer Schapiro also remarked that she "writes poems with a painter's eye."

The gallery website refers to her artwork and the objects on display as her "private, domestic world," but I wonder if they are just different forms of reference to her travels and the larger world around her. At what point, when the subject matter is public, does the object become intimate? The watercolor and gouache painting Sleeping Figure (#6 of 28 images available for view), is certainly a more intimate subject. The paint is handled with care, the lines have personality. She has paid attention to the woodwork around the window and the stripes on the coverlet. The bed seems to sink in under the figure, giving it weight. Other artworks are: Mérida from the Roof, Red Flowers on Black, Table with Candelabra, Tombstones for Sale, an assemblage in a box called Anjinhas (which, according to the notes in Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose and Letters (Library of America) , was "inspired by the high infant mortality rate in Brazil and, in particular, by the drowning of a young girl in Rio," p. 937) and two more small paintings: Tea Service, and County Courthouse. As you may be able to tell from the titles, some are focused closer to home, some look out into the world. All are rendered carefully and with emotion. You can see this same treatment as she writes about the comic book, the begonia, the taboret, and the doily in her poem "The Filling Station" (123). The feelings she stirs in both her writing and her art are unsurprisingly similar. The paintings are like poems, capturing a moment.

Much of her writing is autobiographical, sometimes disguised, sometimes not. I was happy to see that she had translated from the Portuguese one of my favorite short stories, "The Smallest Woman in the World" by Clarice Lispector (302). I also found Bishop's own work equally or more compelling. Bishop's short story "In the Village" (99) is a fascinating and touching account of a young girl, her grieving mother, her maternal relatives, the sounds of a scream and a blacksmith's shop, and which also beautifully paints a picture of a batch of postcards on page 102:
Some are plain, or photographs, but some have lines of metallic crystals on them—how beautiful!—silver, gold, red, green, or all four mixed together, crumbling off, sticking in the lines on my palms. All of the cards like this I spread on the floor to study. The crystals outline the buildings on the cards the way buildings never are outlined but should be—
Bishop's father died eight months after she was born. Her mother entered a mental hospital four years later and little Elizabeth was mostly raised by her maternal family. Perhaps you could say her work (although perhaps not her life) incorporated and transcended these early traumas. She died suddenly of a cerebral aneurysm in 1979.

A 48-page hardbound catalogue from the gallery is forthcoming. Exchanging Hats: Paintings is a previously published book containing forty of her works. The book shares the title with a poem about roles and gender, which begins with "unfunny uncles" trying on women's hats and ends with aunts in shadow as "we wonder / what slow changes they see under / their vast, shady, turned-down brim" (198).

The gallery website features a wistful quote that she wishes she had been a painter. It seems that she was, she just didn't use the label.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Making a Felt Book, Pt. 4: Needlefelting Details

Wet felting gives quick swirls of color and shows movement. You can needlefelt details, either images or words, with some wool yarn and a special, barbed needle. The needle and most of the feltmaking supplies are available by mail order from Black Sheep Designs and from Blue Goose Glen. Try 4-ply tapestry wool yarn and pull the strands apart to needlefelt words. For adding large, new areas of color to your pages you will need wool roving or wool scraps and a tool that holds multiple needles such as the Clover Needlefelting Tool (4 needles) or the Pine Needlefelting Tool (3 or 6 needles). Watch for a demo with the needlefelting tool in a future post.

Tools: special needle for needlefelting; thick foam (such as high-density foam for chair pads) to put under your project; extra sharp pointed scissors
Materials: wool yarn (DMC tapestry wool is good); felted pages; wool roving (for larger blocks and shapes of color)

The needle, with its many barbs, is extremely sharp, so please be careful. Use an up and down motion all over the area of wool you want to attach. On the back of each page you will see the little tufts where you have pushed the wool through, and you will have a choice to leave it, trim it with a scissors, or use a disposable razor to shave it. For my cactus theme it seemed appropriate to leave it.

Next up: Binding the Book

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Making a Felt Book, Pt. 3: Finding the Forms

The blank pages are ready to be transformed. The mix of green makes it looks like the theme might be camouflage, but I'm going with cacti. I've been carrying the pages around with me and studying them, looking for forms, shapes, whatever emerges: two people in one, a cactus garden in another. I'd like to think of a place I want to start and where I'd like to end, otherwise this book will most likely just end up random. Sometimes I can trust the process to resolve itself intuitively, but I'm not feeling confident about this today. I think the title will be Cactus Couple and I have an idea for a short text of one line. I'm going to machine stitch the outlines of the images first, though, like quilting. I have a feeling I'm abandoning my start and end ideas and seeing where the images take me, after all. This sewing step, the finding of the forms, is optional, but it helps me get going.

Tools: sewing machine with a walking presser foot (you can see one below and here); sharp pointy scissors; spool of all-purpose thread and a bobbin of thread (these can be different colors for an interesting effect). Sulky makes an interesting multicolored thread.

The walking presser foot makes it easier to sew into the felt. Even so, you will still need to leave the needle down and unclamp the foot, swivel the fabric, then clamp the foot again to turn tight corners or to change directions.

Regarding the thread ends: I try to sew all my outlines with a single line, which means I only have two places with loose threads: beginning and end, or point A and point B. You may leave long thread ends or cut them short. The sewing generally stays in place whether you tie knots at the ends or not. You will see a thread from the needle on one side of the fabric and a thread from the bobbin on the other side. You can pull both threads to one side of the fabric by pulling on one thread until you see the loop pop up from the other, then coaxing the loop through and straightening out that second thread. Tie off the pair of threads in a square knot.

Next up: Needlefelting the Details

Monday, January 9, 2012

Saving Trees, Altered Reading, and Intermedia

If a tree falls online and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? I imagine someone has posted a tree, perhaps a video of a tree, somewhere, but I can't recall having seen one. So, I suppose it does not make  noise for me, but I haven't walked that way, yet, plus I usually keep my computer mute.

Just as we wonder who will see and experience the handmade books in our libraries and galleries,we may wonder who will see and interact with the book art hidden in the forest on the web. In a talk given by Alexander Mouton, Assistant Professor of Digital Art & Design, Seattle University at the College Book Art Association Conference on January 6, 2012, Mouton showed several exciting digital works that had the qualities of bookworks. This is Not A Poem by Alan Bigelow absolutely captivated me. The website describes the piece as a "toy, a game, and a language engine." Bigelow starts with a poem with which we are familiar "I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree" by Joyce Kilmer. It is set in a circle, which begins to spin like a record. Instead of describing it further, I would recommend taking a look, or rather, a play. The only hint I will give is to mouse both around and through the poem. It may not be a poem anymore in the conventional sense, but Mouton suggested that it is a digital book. No trees were harmed in the making of it.

It has notable booklike characteristics:
  • Several pieces work together to create a work larger and more interesting than the pieces on their own.
  • It is interactive.
  • Although it can be read more than one way, the artist's intent is clear.
  • It has several conceptual layers: it is not a poem or a tree, but something altogether new; the reader's actions add to the concept (slashing? slicing?); it has a surprise or twist.
  • It changes over time, but only if the reader chooses to engage with it.
  • It has sound and movement.
With the exception of sound, it sounds like a book to me. It has the potential to reach a very wide audience, but only if readers know where to find it. A second interactive story of Bigelow's that I found equally compelling while exploring his website was The Quick Brown Fox: A Pangram. Another bookwork Mouton showed is called Life Is Like Water by Peter Horvath, but I was unable to access it at home. Horvath makes use of the pop-up window and the titling becomes the text: familiar visual computer language transformed into art or electronic literature. I suppose I do not really care what it is called, I am interested in what it does.

I would still like to have a tactile component available with these web pieces, much the way the musicians Jónsi & Alex made a little book Riceboy Sleeps to accompany their music and video (available now as a pdf download only). Their book alone is mysterious and interesting, rich with allusions to childhood memories and dreams, familiar textures, pencil lines, crumpled paper and lace. It contains no text, only a card at the end with a website. The original website is gone, sadly—I say sadly because it, too, was satisfying on its own. Something exciting occurred when you went back to look at the book after seeing the little videos (All the Big Trees and Daníell in the Sea): by having listened to the music and having read some of the text you overlaid your new knowledge on the object. Adding the memories of the new pictures and music, the little book changed dynamically: pictures moved, sounds occurred but only in your mind.

The fact that half of this initial experience doesn't exist anymore brings up the problem of archivability. Similarly, any works built in Flash cannot be seen on the current technology, the iPad. On the archival scale, the physical object still wins. The interaction between object and online fascinates me and I hope to be able to have more of this type of experience in the future, but perhaps continued technological research must be done first so that the art won't vanish.

In addition to the issue of longevity, I realized that the problem with many interactive sites (and even books presented as games) is that if the reader has to be instructed s/he may not want to bother. What is the payoff? It had better be really good. I am glad that neither the book nor the website, like the Bigelow site, had many directions. I know that I want to be immersed immediately in the artwork, that I don't have much patience for the preface. The work should be both clear, but invite curiosity. The reader wants to feel that s/he has uncovered a secret, that maybe s/he is the first to notice a detail or how something works, rather than be told what to do or how to do it. User interface is the key to success here, like any other interactive project. The reader wants to be invited into a party where the party is happening but not told exactly what to wear, what to eat and to whom to talk.

That tree? I'm thinking about a webcam now, trained on a tree; I'm searching for it, but I'm not finding it. Maybe it is gone. Maybe it was never there. So many trees, so many videos, so many websites. So much art to read. So many pebbles, petals, leaves out in the physical world we don't see or hear, and they are certainly there. Someone—if only an ant or a bee—is listening.

tree at the Albany Bulb, 2007

Friday, January 6, 2012

Making a Felt Book, Pt. 2: Cutting to Size

To begin making a piece of felt into a book it is useful to cut the pages and cover to size. Perhaps all my years of cutting off the deckle edges for letterpress printing have influenced my aesthetic: I like to cut the edges off of the handmade felt as well, but it is not necessary. Watch fingers! Keep fingers behind ruler! Trim, then divide the long piece of felt into four equal pieces. You will then trim three of the folded pages down to fit inside the wraparound cover as shown.

Tools: Large self-healing cutting mat; rotary cutting knife; metal ruler that is longer than your wool felted fabric
Material: 17" x 9" (43 cm x 23 cm) wool felted fabric
Example: A bookblock with three folded pages and a wraparound cover, 4" x 4 1/2" x 2" thick (102 cm x 114 mm x 51 mm)

Next up: Finding the Forms with a Sewing Machine

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Making a Felt Book, Pt. 1: Wet Felting

Felted books are thick and squishy, with a set of characteristics quite different from paper books. I learned the wet-felting technique in 2003 from my sister-in-law who suggested that I make felted books, which otherwise never would have occurred to me. I thank her. It is fun to play with color in soap and warm water. New Zealand Romney is coarse but wet-felts well, and Merino wool is finer and seems to work better for needle felting. You can mix the Romney and Merino in wet felting. A good book is Feltmaking: Fabulous Wearables, Jewelry, and Home Accents by Chad Alice Hagen. Not much room for text in felted books, however, so these are good to make when you have some kind of concept and some colors you'd like to work with. I'm thinking about cacti. This is a multi-part project.

Tools: vinyl tablecloth to cover work surface; 2-3 layers of cloth towels; 21 3/4" x 12" (55 cm x 30 cm) piece of ridged plastic dish liner used for kitchen shelves; two sushi mats; Ivory Snow soap powder (other detergents will not work); large plastic container; access to hot water
Materials: at least one ounce of wool roving; wool yarn, wool scraps, pieces of wool sweater (optional)
Example: 17" x 9" (43 cm x 23 cm) wool felted fabric

The New Zealand Romney is the darker green, the Merino wool is the longer, olive green piece. I order wool roving from Black Sheep Designs and Blue Goose Glen.

Most of your time will be spent rolling up the soapy wet wool in the sushi mats and pressing on it, unrolling it, then rolling it in the opposite direction and doing this again. Allow an hour or two. Eventually, you will be able to feel when the felt is hardening and shrinking: at that point you can work vigorously, and this will shorten your time.

Use finger-sized pieces
and place them on the plastic
Overlap them like shingles
or fish scales
Continue to add
overlapping rows 

Cover the plastic with
these loose rows

Start a layer of
perpendicular rows
Make a second layer
this direction
Make a third layer in the opposite direction
Pour on hot, soapy water
Press down gently

Press until uniformly wet
Once it holds together, roll up in sushi mats
Press gently several minutes
Gently wring out extra water
Arrange in opposite direction

Press and roll gently
(Repeat rolling and unrolling)

Pinch to check fibers
These are loose

Once fibers stop shifting
rub in circular motion

Pinch to check fibers again
These are tight

Crumple into a ball
and scrub on the plastic
Rinse well in hot water
Do last rinse in cold
Rinse plastic
Roll up in mat to flatten out
Press briefly

Let dry on towels

If you are interested, some of my earliest felted books are here, some more recent ones here.

Next up: Cutting the pages to size