For me this little book is a real treasure. All the pieces that made it were found on the ground literally in the dirt at a local morning market somewhere on the road from Mahabalipuram to Puducherry. The fabric was all twisted around and had clearly been used as a lead for a cow and disgarded, maybe when the cow had been sold? I saw a glimpse of gold picked it up and shoved it in my bag. It wasn’t until later back in my room I unravelled it and washed it thoroughly to discover it was an incredibly beautiful section of a sari. Most of it now dangles in my flat with a large bell attached that I bought from the same market.
On the same twisted cow lead was some red and white gingham and some yellow and pink plastic threads…it really was quite a find. I also discovered one side of an A4 book cover which was very battered but a lovely turquoise colour with some great images on it, some tickets and a little scrap of note paper.
I took some of the book cover to make a little draw for the matchbox as it didn’t have one anymore. I also used this material as my book cover which holds a selection of the fabric and paper stitched in valley folds to create a semetrical look. I used some extra gingham and sari fabric to line the box and strengthen the valley folds after I had stitched the little pieces in. I love how this became such a beautiful little memory and it really brings to life the frase ‘beauty from ashes’ at least I think so!
The bits and pieces for this book were all collected in or around the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. Inside the temple the floors are constantly swept to keep a sense of order and reverence in the space so I was unsure of finding anything. To my delight I found this matchbox near were some workmen were renovating part of the temple, I suspect one of them dropped it and the timing was perfect to swoop in and pick it up before one of the vigilant sweeping ladies spirited it away. Day ticked right there and then!
The rest of the papers were a selection of blue and red tickets, a small peach coloured envelope, a page from a calendar for the day before my visit, a scrap of material, receipts form the temple entrance, a flower head dropped in the temple and a plastic circular object, found just outside the temple, which is usually attached to objects hung underneath two entwined trees that represent the male and female life forces. People who are struggling to conceive hang these offerings under the trees and light candles in the hope that it will encourage fertility to blossom.
When I create a tiny book it is important to me that every surface is used as there is not a huge amount of space to play with in the first place. So each book is always two sided or reversible it has to be interesting from many angles. With this one it was obvious how the two sides would be created as there were two clear sets of colour to work with. Another concept I had in mind for this one was to make sure everything was in odd numbers as that is important in Hinduism and everything in the temple is laid out in odd numbers. The temples towers always have an odd number of layers and openings. Seven is my favourite number being the day I was born and the area code for where I grew up so I was delighted to find the calendar page with a seven on it plus it fitted the theme perfectly. I love these little moments of serendipity!
Finally I was determined to use the tiny hand written piece of paper given to us by a lovely stall holder in the market next to the temple. We were looking for rangoli stencils to take home to create the beautiful rice flour patterns you see everywhere on the doorstep to a house or shop. Having not had much luck finding them this gentleman wrote out for us in Tamil (I think) what it was we were searching for and pointed us to a lady around the corner. Eventually the lady was found and the objects were purchased so this little piece of paper was an important part of that day.
This book is also about Kochi. I began and ended my trip there so had collected many bits and bobs. But this book was particularly inspired by my new rubbish collecting friend Maggie (mentioned in a previous post). She gave me her plane ticket from Delhi to Kochi because I had told her how much I loved things that are stamped. Her ticket had three stamps all different shapes and colours so that was my starting point.
The rest is made up from tickets, newspaper cuttings and scraps of lottery tickets. The lottery seems to be a big thing in India, maybe its just the same all over the world. Most places I travelled through had stalls selling tickets. I started noticing little piles of torn up tickets at regular intervals which spoke to me about hope and then the crushing disappointment that can follow. We can often hang our hopes on something that turns out to be not what we thought or expected. I wanted to use these tiny pieces of paper and make them back into something good. They also have a lovely stamped bit so my aesthetic needs were met to!
I had found the matchbox cover but it was missing the draw/box bit so I needed to construct one to fit perfectly inside. Finally I used a section of a small map on the back of a flyer for a restaurant I had been recommended but never went to because on my first night in Kochi I discovered the most delicious aubergine and yogurt curry and ate it two nights running and subsequently dreamed of having it again on my return!
A couple of posts back I shared with you my found matchbox collection from India. I have been busy working on them transforming them into little homes for handmade collage books made from all the bits and pieces I collected on the way. At this stage special mention has to go out to Maggie one of my travelling companions who spent most of the time away handing over all of the ephemera that came her way (when not travelling she lives in a shed so has nowhere to store all these bits and bobs which turned out to be my very good luck!) We became life long friends, I love a person who collects rubbish for me.
So here is a little teaser, I will write a post about each one in turn as there is so much going on in each book they deserves their own space to shine and tell their story. But for now a quick peek at the first four beauties.
A tiny book finally complete with a new box for a home. If you follow me on Instagram you may remember the saga of ‘The dog who ate my homework’ and the little book that came out of that incident. Well I have finally got back to the original Berlin book and finished it and a kind friend donated me this box for its new forever home. It just needed a bit of customising and here we are!
I spent most of yesterday working on a box I got given which had held some tins of biscuits but they had gone and the box wasn’t needed so I thought it would make an excellent home for all the little books I’ve been making lately.
They are quite fragile and work as a collection so I thought they needed a permanent home together…
There was space for some other ones too and room for a top layer. Very satisfying indeed!