Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tree: A New Artist Book from never mind the press

The pieces are put together. A few copies are bound. Those linocuts you saw in this post have a home in a new book called TreeIt is is bound in midnight blue Japanese book cloth with a wraparound magnetic hard cover and inset cropped image.

Seven trees are planted in this book that references an ancient Jewish custom of planting a tree when a child is born and the more modern tradition of planting trees in memory or honor of a loved one. 

Each signature is created from a folded glassine page that opens to reveal a silhouetted, multiple-color linoleum print of a tree branch with a personal significance: Magnolia, Camphor, Silver Dollar Gum Eucalyptus, Hawthorn, Liquidambar, and Live Oak. Short creative nonfiction pieces are letterpress printed from handset type on the glassine. A pause or moment of meditation occurs as the reader engages with each of the separate sections.

Colophon includes an abstract print made from the remnants of the final linoleum blocks. Front endpaper is wood veneer paper. 

Also included is a narrow booklet with a fictional modern folktale and a seventh reduction print of a Russian Olive tree. Dedicated in memory of the tenth year of their absence: Ezra (1997-2003) and Dorothy Singer Simon (1911-2003).

Size: 10 1/2" x 51/2", opens to 23 1/2" x 51/2"
Materials: Frankfurt paper, Cherry Paperwood (veneer) paper, glassine, book cloth, Davey board, magnets; letterpress printed from handset Caslon Oldstyle 471 type and reduction linocuts
Edition: 24 copies

May 1-31 at Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, California; Eighth Annual Art of the Book Exhibition (catalogue available through Seager Gray)
May 4-26 at Odd Fellows, Mendocino Village, California; Bound & Unbound: Exploring the Art of letter, word & bookFLOCKworks: Open Door Arts; I will be giving a talk on May 19 at 4:30pm.

Tree will be for sale for 475.00 through Vamp & Tramp Booksellers 
as well as at the venues listed above.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mapping the Route from Book to Book

Clarice Lispector's short story, "The Smallest Woman in the World," begins with a French explorer who finds a race of tiny people, but as he hears of even tinier people, he goes further into the jungle, curious, driven. Peter Turchi's 2004 book Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer uses the metaphor of the writer as explorer and different kinds and parts of maps as examples of different ways to approach storywriting. It is an interesting premise— it is always intriguing to see writing through a new lens—but the danger of metaphor stretched too far is that it loses the thing it tries to make clear. This is an ambitious book that achieves what it sets out to do: giving us a new angle on the world.

In its first chapter, "Metaphor: or, the Map," the metaphor is explored, and while it illuminates writing as an unknown voyage that becomes charted, it skims over the passion, curiosity, and drive that it takes to write. Intention and purpose of both story and map are noted. 

With its second chapter, "A Wide Landscape of Snows" Turchi focuses on the "blanks" in maps and in stories, things left out on purpose, and the inferences that the reader must make. The gaps can be in time, changes of thought, or hints of action, all very important to the writer of haiku, poems, and very short stories where every word must be weighed carefully. These blanks point to a world wider and greater than what we see on the page.

We are guided further with chapters called "Projections and Conventions," "Imaginary Scrolls," "Theater of the World," "A Rigorous Geometry," and "Plus Ultra." The full-color images of maps are lovely, but unfortunately too tiny to read; luckily, there are captions to give us the idea. Pull-out pages would have been ideal, but perhaps too expensive for the publisher. American cultural references from literary examples to the Marx Brothers to the Road Runner cartoon underscore the points.

I smiled when I read that Turchi's colleague, Gwen Diehn (author of numerous book art instructional books), showed him a tetra-tetra-flexagon, and I liked seeing her Bovine Map (95), that showed only where the cows go, not the paths, buildings, or anything else. This map, like some stories, was crafted to show us one particular thing.

"A Rigorous Geometry" talks about shaping stories, and how the Oulipo explored structures in order to discover exciting new ways of writing such as omitting the letter "e." Discussion of Italo Calvino's mapping of his story, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, makes me want to read it. I must admit I was a little lost in the history of geometry that begins the chapter even though I understand it was included to continue the mapping metaphor.

The book overall is an interesting collection of cultural references, writing advice, personal story, and historical information and maps. The writing advice, while useful, is bound up in it, and the book is more for contemplation and enjoyment rather than to be used as an instructional manual. It looks at how we focus our attention and how we see both the past and the time period in which we live.

Ultimately, I am grateful for the list in "Points of Reference." Turchi's choices of excellent literary examples inspired me to explore their sources. One such quote included was from White Noise, by Don DeLillo, a book which won a National Book Award in 1985, and as I have begun it, I can see why. The characters are full of flaws and quirks, trying to do what they think is right, examining life and questioning death in a humorous and heartfelt manner and full of love for each other. The dialogue explores the family's search for truth even in its seeming non sequiturs.

"It's going to rain tonight."
"It's raining now," I said.
"The radio said tonight."
(page 23)

Mapping is about naming certain things: naming worlds, naming ideas, naming feelings. We find our way through naming. We own our knowledge by naming. DeLillo's characters are constantly trying to remember titles and names, to clarify truth by doing so. Lispector's story ends with Little Flower, the smallest woman in the world, thinking just what the explorer thought when he first saw her, "…it is so nice to possess, so nice to possess." Turchi's final chapter reminds us that even though the territory has been mapped before, we can both build on older stories, and at the same time illuminate our unique vision by writing new ones. "Seeing is an art which must be learned and relearned" (Turchi 226).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2013

Happy National Poetry Month! I wrote about it last year (all April, in fact), but this year I've discovered (a little late) the challenge of NaPoWriMo. It seems fitting that if November is National Novel Writing Month and people are encouraged to spend the month writing as many words as possible on a novel that we have a NaPoWriMo as well. In 2003, poet Maureen Thorson (You can read her 2008 chapbook Twenty Questions for a Drunken Sailor as a pdf online here) started the poetry version: write a poem every day for the month of April. But who says you can't do it in May?

At least we're on time with something. This year Poem in Your Pocket Day, begun in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, is today, Thursday April 18. Write a favorite poem on a piece of paper and keep it in your pocket, take it out to share with friends and strangers. (Actually, you don't have to write one yourself, you can carry around a favorite by someone else.)

Also, what is new to me this year is that the Academy of American Poets is posting writing advice at their tumblr account in the form of handwritten notes from different writers. And, as usual, from their main website you can sign up to receive a Poem-A-Day. Read. Write. This is for you. Have fun!

And some images of books with pockets (top three photos by Sibila Savage)…

Silver Every Day 2008

Those Who Wait Can Walk Through Walls 2008

Crows at Home 2008

The Lending Library 1995

Catching A River: The Dreamfish

T-Ravel: Home 2007-2008

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Found Paper Cover for Journal

The Crossed-Structure Binding, created by Carmencho Arregui, is a binding that employs only sewing for structure and stitching for structure and decoration. This post is an overview; the detailed instructions are in Making Handmade Books (page 150) and you can also see Arregui's description and history of the structure on her website. Mostly, I'm showing here how a drawing paper cover can be repurposed for a CSB cover.

I'm using the cover from an empty pad of 18" x 24" drawing paper.

Actually, I'm using only a strip, cut parallel to the long edge (grained short).


It is three times the width of my folded pages.

I want the word "raw" on the front, so I arrange the paper and cut the center third into five strips: two attached to the left section, three attached to the right.

I sew the pages to the two-strip piece (back) using a traditional multiple signature binding with kettle stitches. (It's like sewing over tapes.)

After I weave the covers and sew down the strips I add little ties at the spine to decoratively bundle the stitches. (The ties are optional. If your stitches are too loose, this is also a good disguise.)

The book below is made from watercolor paper pages and 
the cover from a watercolor paper block.

This journal should hold up well, and it feels comfortably ordinary.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Remnants (Blocks & Print)

I finished six reduction prints for my tree book and was left with the remnants of the linoleum blocks. (Background is painted paper with faux woodgrain.)

It could be a sad thing to see the bits that are left, but each held five or six colors; they served me well. In any case, the book wanted me to incorporate the process, so I made a new print from the remnants that will be the endpaper and that will also contain the colophon. (Background is Cherry Paperwood from Hiromi Paper.)

Magnolia. Camphor. Hawthorn. Silver Dollar Gum Eucalyptus. Liquidambar. Live Oak.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reduction Print: Linoleum Block Becomes a Magnolia Branch

Some people call them "kamikaze" prints. Once you carve them, they're gone. Reduction prints: one linoleum block becomes the site of many colors. Print, carve, print, carve. I happen to love layering color this way. But I do feel a little wistful when I've finished printing. I thought I'd document the process for you. I draw on the block first in pencil, then draw the outline and details in ballpoint pen so I can see where to carve. Here is a page from the tree book I'm working on.

The linoleum block is locked up on the letterpress so it won't move. I had to use two pieces of paper under the block to make it type high so it would print properly.

Starting with the lightest color: first color was mostly white with a touch of rhodamine red.

I leave it locked up when I carve for two reasons: one, it's easier to carve when the block is stable, and two, I'm able to get near-perfect registration this way. But it does make a mess.

Second and third colors: added more rhod. red. You can see the printing surface area shrinking as I carve it away after each run. The print grows.

I cleaned the press before I ran the fourth color: (not shown: the ugly bright green I tried first, then cleaned off) I mixed yellow, green, and white, then put a touch of rhodamine. A strange taupe is what it turned out, but I decided it was magnolia branch color. 

Carved more, then added more green for the final pass.
My block is not too forlorn this time, but I still can't use it again.

I printed in the "work and turn" manner so I could get a doubled image. The final page will be folded. Five more blocks to go…

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hiding in Plain Sight

I've been working on some drawings of trees to carve into linoleum blocks lately. I used to print out my photos, then draw from the printed copy, but have recently discovered (duh!) that I can work from the screen and zoom in where and when I need to; this way I can really see and get the details right. I took this picture of our hawthorn tree several years ago. As I worked I was quite focused on the tree branches and berries.

Maybe you spotted them already, but only when I zoomed in further did I see this house finch…

And her mate…

Hiding in plain sight.