Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spotlight on Tools: Markers and Pens

The latest Kinokuniya Bookstore that liberated my cash was in New York City. Prior to that, the events occurred in Los Angeles and San Francisco. So What, you ask? The real question is Why? Because in addition to books, they have awesome stationery and pens. Because I always need new pens (need is subjective here). Because they distract me and make me happy, momentarily. Never apologize for your art.

I've had my eye on these Zig brand Wink of Stella glitter brush marker pens. They come in more colors, but I limited myself to Gold and Silver. Also available is a Christmas Sparkle, Gold, Silver, Clear, 3-Pack. I had to look online to find out how to open them for the first time (slide off and remove a tiny black band from the barrel). I only opened one, worried they might explode on the plane home (not too badly, but best not to take open ones up there).

My excuse to visit the store was that I needed a new Sakura Pigma Micron pen, but along the way I found this Kuretake ZIG Mangaka 01, which is much smoother to write with, at least it feels that way to me. It should be noted that the two shown below are different widths (01 and 03). The Pigma Micron also seems to have darker black ink.

Tried out this Kuretake Fude Brush Pen, Clean Color pen in black. It also comes in a full pack of colors (at the link). You can write so tiny, but it is best for drawing. Added a Pentel Water Brush Pen, Medium Mini for travel, which works great with the water-soluble Art Graf pencil from CW Pencil Enterprise, that I wrote about here. Zig/Kuretake, a Japanese company, seems to have a really nice selection of pens. Check out their website, if you dare.

And some thin Little B washi tape that looks like the border of old envelopes for decoration.

Now, to resume a regular drawing practice.
Or write some paper letters.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pencil Me In: CW Pencil Enterprise, NYC

We've returned from our annual pilgrimage to New York City and walked our thirty miles. We don't see shows and sit, we see stores and museums and walk. On our list was the pencil store, run by Caroline Weaver (there's an interview with her here). We knew we were going to buy pencils, but I really didn't have any idea what kind or how many.

The proprietor sits neatly behind her desk, directly across from customers who have walked up stairs and through the glass door. A customer sits in a chair in front of her, signing a receipt for $140. The proprietor wraps the purchases in yellow envelopes fastened with pencil-yellow washi tape and tied with black and white twist twine. Sun streams in, lighting up the front displays, making patterns on the clean walls. 

"What is your best-selling pencil?" someone asks. The proprietor gets up and moves to the displays to point to it.

"Why are your pencils so expensive?" asks a young man. "I can get these at Staples or on Amazon for less."

"I can't control the prices other people charge," says the proprietor. "The prices are based on what they cost me." 

The young man seems to want his grievance and tries to argue further. But has he really looked around? This store, the size of my little living room, has pencils, pencil grips, sharpeners, notebooks, erasers, and their relations from all over the world. All sizes, hardnesses, colors. Here are sparkly pencils, a chalk pencil, Danish voting pencils with tiny holes where they are tied to voting booths, water-soluble pencils, tiny slim pencils, multicolored pencils and a machine where, for fifty cents, you get a surprise pencil. (I was so distracted I forgot to try it out.)

My question: "What is your current favorite pencil?" She says it is only fifty cents, but shows me the pencil from India with a sturdy lead that writes extra dark. I take two and thirty-five more dollars worth of atmosphere, happiness, pencils, and potential.

If you are interested in reading more about pencils, Caroline Weaver has written a book you might enjoy, The Pencil Perfect: The Untold Story of a Cultural Icon

Monday, March 20, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Box Hybrid: Cigar + Clamshell

Five years ago, I posted some instructions for making a cigar box, based on an actual wooden box but made with book board. Recently, I took out the Pantone postcards I had bought and saw that the box with the hinged lid had come apart. 

When things fall apart it gives me an opportunity to contemplate how they were put together. I can see how the ribbon was attached and how much of the case I need to cover. This box was a cross between a cigar box and a clamshell, but easier to teach than either.

I've already started printing on the Pantone postcards in preparation for creating a unique book with them. I knew I wanted to put them in a box, so why not reference their original container?

It's a nice clean, quick box. You build a four-sided tray. You make the case. Here, I've added a piece of museum board to make a relief image on the cover and stripped out some recesses for title strips to add later. I use a brass spacing bar that is three board thicknesses to help with the measurement between the case boards.

You make a slit in the side for the ribbon that will help lift the book out of the box.  Thread the ribbon through and glue it down. Add a strip of self-adhesive linen tape to secure it. You don't have to wrap the outside of the left edge of the tray.

Glue the endpaper across the joint of the case and line the tray. Glue the tray to the case.

Then glue the side to the spine. 

And there it is.

Just a preview. I still have title strips to glue into the recesses and a few more details. Oh, and the book, too. 

More detailed boxmaking instructions may be found in Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Star 82 Review Spring Issue 5.1 Is Live Online!

I'm happy to report that the seventeenth regular issue of Star 82 Review, the online and print magazine I founded, edit, and publish, was released today! This issue revolves around substance and sustenance: walls and food. We have some thought provoking and poignant stories, poems, and art surrounding perceptions, stereotypes, and recipes, immigrants, human bodies, and bodies of water.

Read online at Star 82 Review
Support the project with a print copy at CreateSpace
Or four-issue subscription on Etsy

And follow our news on Facebook!

José Angel Araguz
AJ Atwater
Devon Balwit
Kay Bradner
Natalie Campisi
Simona Carini
Sanchita Chatterjee
Steve Colori
William Cullen Jr.
Christina Dalcher
Robert Del Tredici
Merridawn Duckler
Carrie Foulkes
Ame Gilbert
E. Laura Golberg
Jayne Guertin
Grace Hwang
Jeffrey Jullich
Rebecca Landau
Anna Lewis
Tom Montag
Rebecca Oet
Ajay Patri
Anthony Sandy
Ray Scanlon
Shunmel Syau
Chris Wu


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Highlights of Codex Book Fair, 2017

A month ago, the sixth biennial Codex Book Fair was held at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA. I have attended all and exhibited at none, which is my choice. I want to walk around! I want to talk to everyone and see all the cool new books. Every year has a different feel, and every year I look for new work to buy to show my students (excuse). In my price range this year I found a few gems. 

 Emily Martin organized a postcard project in 2013 in which she invited 99 other artists to interpret Pantone postcards and send them back to her. I bought the catalogue that features reproductions of all the postcards. They are elegant, fun, strange, and beautiful, grouped by how they appeared in the originally published box. Each page includes both front and back and an artist bio. (I also have a set of the original Pantone postcards, which I bought to print over and now am feeling inspired again. We'll see.)

 My CCA colleague Brian McMullen did not have a table but was handing out these tiny zines at Codex. A brilliant and humorous look at the internet via "misspellings of 'statue of liberty' sorted by instagram hashtag popularity." It's the best use of info from the internet done as a book that I've seen recently. It's a great build-up, from most to least. Poor statue of liberty. The actual spelling is not even included, likely way down the line.

 I've always been a fan of Mary V. Marsh's drawings and her use of library card catalogue cards and other materials. For Transported: A Commuter Diary she includes "Notes and drawings of a daily commute from Oakland to San Francisco and back in 2011." All the covers of this open edition are different. Although it only has a few pages, the weight of the paper is substantial, which makes it feel important. The drawings are hand-colored, which all adds to the unique quality: no two are alike. It is letterpress printed, to make it even more tactile and pleasing. The printed handwriting looks terrific pressed into the page. She has a sensitive touch I admire.

 Nikki Thompson of Deconstructed Artichoke Press had chapbooks for sale. I bought one of alphabet poems very much about place, Alphabetical Atlas by Sonja Swift. (Okay, Sonja was also a grad student in my Letterpress Writing class this past fall, in addition to being a wonderful poet.) You can see the two-sewn-as-one binding. 

This little book, A Piece of String (memories of childhood, playfulness and coincidences with a piece of string) by Jeong-In Cha, gave me such joy! A simple premise, but a pleasure. The drawings are lively, and you just want to see where the string will be next. For the ultimate attention to detail: it came with an extra piece of string in the bag, which I imagine is in case the original string breaks, like an extra button included with a shirt. Although I have seen books with string running through them before, this is the only one that has ever actually made me smile.

I was also excited to see and handle work out of my price range from artists I admire. You can see images in detail at the links. Sara Langworthy had a lovely new book, Naturans Naturata, which featured layered printing that gives her work beauty and atmosphere and mood. Brighton Press had a breathtaking, large-format book on soft printmaking paper, Reliquary, which had etchings by Michele Burgess, poems by Martha Serpas, and carbon drawings, collage, and torn holes so you just saw part of the image before the whole image. Veronika Shäpers had a stunning new work, highly conceptual and well-executed as all her books are, Aokigahara (Sea of trees). All, I just realized, are related to nature.

I met Veronika in 2009 when I was curating Wings for Words a show of contemporary book art in Japan and Korea at SFCB (she was living in Japan and is now living in Germany), and it was nice to see her again after so long. The show was based on an article I wrote in 2007.

Her table seemed bare, except for an all-white book by Stephan Reich. She explained that the book was about a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji where people get lost, where sometimes they go to get lost. On my request, she sent me the description:
Aokigahara, or Jukai (Sea of trees), is a very dense forest at the base of mount Fuji. It is known as the most popular site for suicide in Japan. The site’s popularity has been attributed to Seicho Matsumoto’s 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees). The text is not printed in a classical way but a visible color change within the paper following the exposure to UV rays. The subtle color evokes the image of someone fading away in the deep forest, at the same time it stands for the decaying process of the paper. UV-light on transparent paper, coptic binding with acrylic thread. Cover made of lasercut transparent paper, NT-Pairu-foil and clear foil. Acrylic box with title and imprint in silkscreen.

34 pages. 32 x 45 cm.
 Edition of 15 copies using Arabic numerals.
 Signed by Veronika Schäpers.
 Karlsruhe, 2016.
Veronika explained that she spent quite a long time figuring out which bulbs and which kind of light and how strong the light had to be. She created a special light box and cut the stencils of the words. So, the pages are stenciled with light. I was stunned by the beauty of the book and of the concept. She showed me how the pages open and overlap, have gatefolds and such to make a more interesting reading experience and so you feel like you are wandering through a forest. A white forest, in this case.

These are pictures she sent me.

I asked her at Codex if I could take a picture. She said sure, if I thought it would come out. I altered my picture in Photoshop so I could see the letters more clearly. 

 And that's what I did at the Codex Book Fair, 2017.