Friday, November 25, 2016

Instructions: Interlocking Double Accordion

This fall, in addition to teaching bookmaking and letterpress at my home school of California College of the Arts, I've been teaching the Introduction to Bookmaking class at California State University, East Bay, usually taught by Michael Henninger. We visited the Special Collections department in the library there and looked at books I picked out that were both familiar and unfamiliar to me. One 2005 book, (I Want a) Prenup by Petra Press, utilized a structure I had not seen before: two eight-panel accordions that interlocked, much like Slot & Tab (in Making Handmade Books). The design of the pages makes excellent use of the mix-and-match effect of the structure. Petra Press, on the Vamp and Tramp website, describes it as a "double accordion book." The playfully woven designs on the page clearly took quite a bit of time, thought, and careful planning.

The interlocking double accordion structure turns out to be simple, yet eye-catching. No sewing. No gluing. It invites multiple approaches, colors, texts, and designs. It only takes a few minutes to assemble.

Materials: 2 strips of medium weight paper, such as Canson Mi-Teintes or Strathmore ArtAgain. The following example uses Strathmore Drawing 400, 24" wide and 4.5" high, grained short. (The model above Prenup utilizes two different colors of Strathmore ArtAgain, which shows the structure more clearly.)
Tools: pencil, eraser, bone folder, X-Acto knife and cutting mat, metal ruler

1. Fold each strip into an eight-panel accordion by folding in half; folding the edges in to the center like a cupboard; folding the edges back out like window shutters; flipping the book over like a table; fold in to the center to create the fan folds.

2. Close one accordion fan, face the open edge right. Measure and mark halfway down the left folded edge.

3. Measure and mark 1" on either side of the first mark.

4. Starting at the center mark, measure and mark 1.5" from the folded edge toward the right. (This could be longer.)

5. With the knife against the ruler, cut from the new mark to one of the top or bottom marks along the folded edge. Repeat for the second mark.

6. Use the opening as a guide to make two marks on the second accordion, also along the folded side, open edge to the right.

7. This time, cut from the mark to just below the opposite corner. Top mark to head, bottom mark to tail.

8. Arrange the accordions side by side, wedged-shaped on the left, open triangle on the right. Open edges to the right.

9. Take the first mountain from the wedge-shaped accordion and bend the points slightly so that they will fit through the slot in the triangle-shaped accordion. Pull it through. (Note: you may be able to rotate the accordion so it is perpendicular when you pull it through the diamond-shaped opening to minimize the bending needed.)

 Top view:

10. Repeat for each set of mountain folds. The last will be a single page through the slot.

It works well with two colors of paper. I particularly like how, in this one,  it looks like the beam of a flashlight moving as the page turns. 

I'm looking forward to working with this one, possibly doing some printing over the December-January break.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What Can Artists Do with Their Art?

We see the effects of repeated images in advertising, in politics. As printmakers (or other makers) we are in a unique position: we can make multiples. We have the power to create images that show the world not only as it is, but how we want it to be. We have the ability to support each other by the images we produce. If we repeat those images, we can have an impact. We can advertise and promote truth, love, justice, fairness, and even beauty, and show our strength as we link arms in life and art.

(Also see this post: "Culture & (Re)making.")

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fiction, Nonfiction, and More: You Decide

Nonfiction is a strange catch-all term. In a library visit, looking at the section of new books, you might notice that fiction is alphabetized by last name, nonfiction is numbered. Poetry, art books, self-help, military history—all are classified as nonfiction, but obviously there are differences.

Writing fiction can be grand. The author assumes the role of an old style deity; s/he creates a world, puts people in the world, and manipulates them by telling them what to say and do. The characters can be based on people the author knows, but they often become composites: a little of this person, a little of that one, and a good dose of the author. Rules can be different in a work of fiction. If you know that in the real world the sun rises, the fiction writer may say, "that's not the sun," and in this imagined world, perhaps it isn't. So if it is entertaining, or if there seems to be a reason, you may accept it: you may "suspend disbelief."

A literary nonfiction (also called "creative nonfiction") writer takes real people and situations and adds a little poetry and mood and style to show the perceived truth. Gravity is still gravity. The sun still rises and sets. It takes a skilled writer to find the story in the situation, know when to reveal key bits of information to create drama, humor, and enlightenment. The literary nonfiction writer
frames each incident in such a way so the reader will be continually interested and attentive. 

In pure journalistic style, an author attempts to present all facts, all sides, without judging, without moralizing, and leave the judgments up to the reader. 

These styles are often mixed, and to good effect. I love imaginative and creative writing, fiction and nonfiction. But in my preferred world, and the one in which I publish, in the content of the work I prefer less ignorance, less judgment, less hate, and more wisdom, compassion, and empathy. What do you choose?


Monday, November 7, 2016

New Print for Autumn: Scare Crow Dream

Sometimes, the crow wins. 

From one block grows this multicolored image in glowing yellow, carved and then printed in straw gold, pumpkin oranges, autumn red, and night dark blue/black. Like a batik on paper, the color is printed, then the image is carved away to save it. Print, carve, print, carve, print. I like working this way, watching the image develop as I print each layer. If I start with a light color, I can add to it until all I can make is night.

Size: 7"w x 5 1/2"h
Edition: 36 copies, signed and numbered
Printed on Strathmore Printmaking Paper .

I made this for a friend's autumn birthday. It's available now in my Etsy store, nevermindtheart.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Color Wheels & Concept Wheels

Here's a content development exploration that utilizes color theory, analysis and imagination. We're probably all familiar with the color wheel and the primary colors for pigment: red, yellow, and blue, colors that cannot be mixed. When all are shown together  we may imagine a children's toy. In our culture, they have certain kinds of meaning or connotations as a group.

The colors between the primary colors are secondary colors, created when each two primary colors are mixed. Yellow+blue=green; blue+red=purple; red+yellow=orange.

When colors across from each other on the color wheel are used together, both colors seem to vibrate and come alive (See Josef Albers: color theory). Making collages using only these two complementary colors usually turns out well: orange/blue; red/green; yellow/purple.

What happens when we substitute concepts for the colors? When you put two or more things together you may get a new way of looking at them: that place in between. Like mixing new colors.

Begin by making a list of people, places, objects, values, concepts that are meaningful to you or that just come to mind.

Example list might be:

Circle your top three or the three that call to you. For this example, I'll pick sea, family, cookies. Draw what might normally be a color wheel: a circle with six segments. Place one of your three words in every other segment. Look at the spaces between the words and think about how each pair might mix and overlap to create something new.

But first, explore and analyze one word at a time. What are their characteristics? What are their properties? What are some things we associate with them?

Sea: deep, full of animals, kelp, fish, waves, boats, islands, salty, wet, surf, sand, explore, reefs, whales, sharks, anemones, tubeworms, vents
Cookies: baked, sweet, crunchy, chewy, neighbors, batch, cookie sheet, rolled, dropped, bar, dough, chocolate
Family: love, irritation, together, apart, two or more people or animals, related, responsibility, provide

Sea + Cookies might overlap as: animal crackers; salted caramel; sand bar; seaweed snack; seeking fortune
Cookies + Family might overlap as: new neighbors; max pack; raw
Family + Sea might overlap as: mermaids; whale pod; leaky; deep needs; afloat; drifting apart; warm currents

Choose one of these imaginative mixtures from each list and place them in the segments.
We can make several concept wheels, if we like. These are now our secondary concepts. Just as with colors, we've generated these new concepts by mixing each of the primary concepts. We can also look at their "complementary" concepts and continue the exploration. Now, how can  "cookies" and "leaky" mix? Theoretically, you could continue to divide up the wheel, making tertiary or other concepts.

Any of these could be a catalyst or content for a book.
Sometimes analysis and creativity go hand in hand. 

 To make an actual, rotating paper wheel, see "volvelle" on 123-125 in Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms