February’s ‘are you book enough’ challenge was Heal. For me making little books has been such a godsend in times when life happenings have been painful, stressful or a bit all consuming. I take myself away from it all and hide in the studio to play and let magical things happen, so in one sense any of my books could come under the category of ‘heal’.
This little book has been a particularly cathartic exercise. Made entirely from ephemera left by my parents. Letters they wrote to each other in the year before they were married, wedding photos and bank statements from the first year of their lives together. It was designed using a turkish map fold which I altered to fit the oval theme I wanted which echos a locket or keep sake. The structure and movement of the book reference a paper streamer used to decorate for a celebration and is a very playful thing which also picks up on the mood of the letters and the expectation of a new chapter in life. The leather case was not left by them but I wanted something to keep it safe and as much as I would love to have made a large silver locket, that is rather expensive and outside of my skill set, vintage leather seemed the right thing. This little book holds much that is precious to me and will be kept safe for a long time to come.
The second book for february was another teabag book (yes I am slightly obsessed by teabags!) This book is a little sense of place from a weekend spent with an old friend. We drank tea and shared our lives over a weekend during February. There was laughter, joy, tears, sadness and hope all in one weekend, everything you would expect from time with a friend. The book is made from the teabags we both used plus a map from around the area we were in and pages from a Thomas Hardy book of poetry, Thomas Hardy also being from around a similar area. The poem in the book was created by peicing together some of his words to echo my thoughts about that time.
The #areyoubookenough challenge for January was ‘in between’. I thought about many different concepts for this one but ended up pouring all my time into one book.
This little book is made up of three parts. It began as a vintage book sourced from a charity shop in Frankfurt. I took out the body of the book and cut the cover into three equal parts. Using a vintage english book, two maps and the rest of the german book I created a triptych book exploring my current life ‘in between’ two places. I live in Sheffield and my partner lives in Frankfurt.
One book is constructed of pages of english text and sections from a map of the area around Sheffield, one has german text and maps from around Frankfurt, and the final one is a mix of the two collaged together. I cut holes into the text pages so that maps would be visible through the text. The cut out circles were used as the collage pieces for the third book.
The central page of each book is the key place so Sheffield, Frankfurt and the mixed one is Manchester as that is the conduit that we both pass through to see each other. These central pages have been left solid as these are the streadfast places in my life, while everything around them is fluid. I am really pleased with the way the pages interact with each other making shadows and revealing places on the maps. The triptych format allows even more play with structure enabling them to be laid out simultaneously or left to form a dos-à-dos form. I used the spine from a third vintage book of poetry by Robert Browning and the title comes from a poem from that book called ‘By The fire Side’.
Having enjoyed participating in the #areyoubookenough challenge for November so much I made a priority to find the time to concentrate on December’s word which was warmth. I had two very different ideas. One has a focus on memory and capturing a moment the other is a whimsical bit of fun.
This first book was made as a memory of a visit to a friend in Italy. I hadn’t seen her for over a year so it was lovely to catch up and share stories and laugh. All of this was a warm experience. Whilst there I collected all the tea bags we used and they became the signitures for the book. Tea bags need warmth to become that lovely rich colour when the tea infuses in the hot water so a second nod towards ‘warmth’. Finally where I stayed we are surrounded by olive trees 200 of which belong to my friend, they also require warmth to grow. I embroidered 100 little olive tree shapes throughout the book being aware they can be seen on both sides and each side is different so decided that would pass for 200! The rest of the paper and card used came from a book I picked up in a second hand shop whilst there. A lovely memory of an equally lovely visit.
The second book is a bit of frivolous pleasure. I thought it would be fun to make a cut out book of myself with each page being a layer of clothing until I am totally covered, warm and ready to head out into the cold. It was a little tricky lining everything up but I am happy with the results. I was particularly keen to make it as real as I could and also to draw the backs of the clothes as well as the fronts to keep the interest as the pages are turned. A very different project from usual but a lot of fun to do. I really enjoyed the challenge of learning the lotus stitch for the Japanese binding which I will be using again!
Looking forward to finding time for January’s ‘inbetween’ challenge watch this space…
This is a challenge I found on instaram run by Sarah Maker and have been following others who have participated for a long time and have longed to have time to take part. FINALLY this month I have and became some what enthralled by the title of ‘gather’. So much so that I have made three books inspired by the title.
All of the books are made from left over materials kept in my studio until I found a good use for them…apparently this was it!
This book is a more general one. It’s not about one specific place as such but the whole of Kerala. It broadly covers a number of the places I visited in the area many of which were outside and related to nature. Kerala is a lush green and fertile land producing many fruits, vegetables and spices. Many of the spices from Kerala are world famous I realised when I got home that I have black peppercorns from Wyanad, Kerala amongst other things.
The materials for this book came from the packaging of some Ayurvedic toothpaste I bought to bring home, a masala tea box and some remnants of banana leaves picked up at a couple of different markets. The shiny lush packaging echoed my experience of Kerala. The banana leaves add something natural to the mix and I particularly love the two tones of the different leaves. The only matchbox that was suitable to house this theme was one with sunflowers on the front enhancing the rich natural aesthetic.
I had been keeping this particular matchbox for this particular place as it is a little bigger than most of the others and is quite sturdy and well made. It really didn’t need much doing to it. I acquired it from a lovely evening dinner out in Mysore celebrating the birthday of one of my travel companions. My rubbish collecting apprentice (mentioned earlier on in these posts) saw the opportunity to get me the box and I think even from that point I knew it would have to be used for a book about Mysore Palace.
The outside cover of the book was created by using some more of the biryani lid collected on the train journey the day after I visited the palace. Its sleek silver surface echoed well the opulence oozed from the palace and somehow makes the whole little book feel extra special encased in silver. The gold is the inside of a cigarette box, not quite as salubrious but out of context I think it works. The inside is made from three layers of paper each serving a different purpose. The first two are cut-outs mimicking the shape of some of the arches inside the palace layered up to give some depth. The back layer is more of the silver foil backing from the biryani lid this time peeled away from its cardboard surface as it becomes opaque and lets the light shine through whilst retaining the shimmery opulent quality.
The paper used for the top layer of arches comes from an envelope given to me on the first day of this trip and the second layer is part of a register book I bought in a supermarket in Mysore I liked the colours and grid lines with bits of text and numbering. I also decided to make this one a self fastening book so the book itself creates a little box when closed. I’m really pleased with this one I think it has managed to capture a little of that special something I felt walking round such a beautiful and special place in a very simple way.
This little box of delights was a lot of fun to create. It came from quite a large selection of ephemera collected on an eight hour train journey from Mysore to Chennai. During the trip we were given various refreshments which came in interesting packages, so of course I saved it all. Each time something came I squirrelled the bits and pieces away into a bag by my side along with other peoples bits and pieces that got passed down the row! From this selection I created a box/draw for the matchbox cover and two books to fit inside.
The first book was simple and came from one of the tea bags I used on the journey. The cover of the book is made from the label of the Taj Mahal Tea. The inside is part of the teabag dried out and emptied after use and some of the paper cup I drank the tea from.
The second book began with a label from the delicious biryani we were served, I cut it out from the box lid and as a bonus the back of the lid is very shiny silver which adds a bit of sparkle and a different surface to the book. A nice touch is that the label has the date stamped on it which always makes me happy…simple things. The accordion fold bit of the book was made from the place mat we had on the tray of food (I saved mine before it got any spillages on it!) As an aside all the labels for each matchbook is typed on this paper. Then i used various other bits of packaging to create the other elements of the book everything from ice-cream lids to sugar bags. Finally I used the rest of the teabag as the books tie to hold it together.
As I said at the beginning I had much fun with this creation mixing, matching and folding packaging. I have plenty of bits and bobs left so I expect something else will happen to all of that one day and another creation will be born.
This little book was inspired by a visit to the Chamundi Temple area in Mysuru. It was a public holiday the day we went so was ridiculously busy, the queue for the main temple was enormous and the heat of the day was intense. So after some discussion we decided to visit a much smaller and older temple behind the big one and then wander down the approaching three hundred steps to the monolith of Lord Shiva’s Bull.
I found the steps to be the most beautiful of places. the view is amazing right across Mysore city. And the aesthetics of the place are stunning. The steps are chalky white and gently meander down the side of the hill. Visitors to the temple have used red and yellow to touch the edges of each and every stair as they have passed by. There are also white chalk patterns and rangolis drawn every now and then. It was quite magical.
So this little matchbook was born from this experience. I collected about five matchboxes on my walk down the hill from the scrub at the side of the steps. The gold was the inside of a cigarette packet discarded along the way along with a packet for some kind of stimulating drug apparently! We were also given a red and yellow thread bracelet as a blessing at the top of the hill that I platted together to form the tie.
The main body of the book was a piece of an envelope I received on the first day of the trip and the yellow (turmeric) and red powders were bought from a different temple on another occasion but fitted this purpose perfectly. It is possibly the simplest little book so far but I think maybe the most elegant? Well I am pleased with the result it captures my memory of that experience beautifully.
Wayanad is a particularly beautiful and fertile part of Kerala. Whilst there I visited a bamboo workshop where some beautiful products were being created everything from blinds and matting to braclets and pens. As a maker myself I really enjoyed watching the ladies at work and even had a go myself stripping the bamboo with a very sharp knife! Whilst there I couldn’t help but notice lots of delicate little curls of discarded bamboo on the floor. I collected some and used them to make a cyanotype print a few days later. I also collected some beautiful leaf skeletons and some random scraps of paper.
I used a zine fold for the cyanotype print so I didn’t have to chop it about too much and used the long and elegant leaf print as a wrap around cover for the book. My aim was simply to make something beautiful to echo the beautiful work I saw going on there. It always suprises and delights me when a book kind of makes its own shapes once I’ve made it, things I never envisaged in the first place! This was definitly one of those.
Finally I used the receipt for the little things made from bamboo I bought in the shop as the cover for the matchbox/draw the book lives in and kept the tiniest little curl to live with the book in the matchbox.
This next little book was one of the first ones that germinated in my head whilst away. On a long windy drive up a mountain in Kerala we stopped to admire the view and encountered several monkeys. They stole the spot light from the view with their cheeky little characters! I knew then I would draw them. At the same time under my feet I spotted this matchbox and a piece of material a bit trodden into the dirt. Once washed it turned out to be quite lovely and has become the cover for the book and the box. It is also the material used for the cyanotype print in the previous post.
The background for the monkeys is a cyanotype print of foliage made in India but it didn’t take as well as I had hoped. However it is perfect as a background… as I used to always tell my students about their work ‘never throw anything away’ you never know when it might be useful.
The only other material used for this book is a page from an exercise book I bought the same day. I love paper and try to keep an eye out for paper that is used in everyday tasks. Something with marks of some kind is always interesting and adds an extra dimension to the work created with it.
I hope I have done these little creatures justice and it’s a great memory all packaged in a tiny box.