During this last few weeks of lockdown I have been in Germany. I was visiting when everything unfolded and decided to stay put. It was definitely for me the best choice my only problem was that I had very few materials here for making work or money to buy things due to loosing the majority of my income in one go. I love the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and am very aware that all the best equipment in the world doesn’t necessarily equal quality or good work in some cases it can actually hinder thought processes and make us a bit lazy. I am particularly fond of a challenge and creating something from nothing, with a nod to recycling and minimising waste. So all of this has led me to make a series of sketchbooks that would enable me to draw all the things I wanted to during this time. Currently I have made five…
The first one was made from collecting end pages from some old books picked up from a free book swap box a couple of minutes walk away from where I am staying. One of the books provided the black outside cover and the three signatures of pages were stitched inside. I left most of the edges rough and this book has been for drawings of objects from my surroundings. I love how an object tells a story and sparks memories. In another post I will share some of the drawings.
Next came the ‘Fat Boy’! This one began with the label which I removed from a large bean bag chair thing that was being thrown away due to holes. It is really tough material and seemed the perfect length for a spine, the rest of the book evolved from there. It has hard covers made from off-cuts of board covered with pages from an old Italian book on engineering. The signatures are made from used wrapping paper, magazine pages washed over with white paint and some old card file dividers not needed any more. I am always picking up things when I am out and about so already had a little selection of bottle tops that when flattened made great bookmark ends. Finally I made a pocket inside the front cover and voila a second sketchbook.
After the second sketchbook I was really pleased with the magazine pages washed with white. I used a matt acylic which had created a lovely chalky texture that was working well with all my drawing materials. So on another trip to the book swap box I collected a couple of architecture magazines which had some great images in I was thinking of using for collage. However I realised that the paper was quite thick and might work well painted with white for drawing on. So book three emerged. Completely made from the architecture magazine and white paint. Three signatures stitched into a cover made from two interesting pages stuck together. This one was finished off with my corner rounder just for a little touch of class!
The final two are made in a similar way using a kind of adjusted coptic stitch to attach the signatures together and I left these without a cover. The main difference was the paint used for the white pages. This time I tried a furniture paint using a roller to apply it. The surface is nice and smooth but a bit to slippery for watercolours but good for pen and ink, biro or fine liner.
I am sure as the weeks go on I will keep experimenting but for now I hope this maybe inspires you to use the things you have to hand and that a lack of materials or money doesn’t have to mean a lack of creativity, actually I think that the opposite is true!
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’.
While I was away over christmas I took the fabric with me for a project that has been in my head for months now. I wanted to make something for each of my little neices as a memory of their Grandma who had passed away eighteen months ago. She was my mum’s sister and a very special lady to me too and this all started because I wanted to make something as a memory of her for myself. I had held onto some of her clothes for the purpose of creating something with them and a plan had been germinating in my imagination. The ‘From Grandma with love’ bear was born.
I found a pattern for an old fashioned teddy bear shape and my imagination went into overdrive! I cut out the pattern pieces and started playing around with combinations of fabrics (I was using a pair of jeans a dressing gown and a couple of tops). I wanted the bears to be like a family but all with something different so they were easy to tell appart from each other to prevent any mixups. The first one I made for myself as a test run.
Once the first one was made the other three were a complete joy to make! Each with a different little character that reflected the recipient a little bit whilst still being very much a reminder of Grandma. Grandma was known for her love of leopard print so a final little addition was a scarf for each of them made from her leopard print leggings! As you can see from the picture below they were extremely well recieved and that made me a very happy auntie indeed! One is still to be delivered but ssshhh that’s a secret…
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…
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.
The second handmade receipt book is full of drawings about transport. Travelling is always interesting when you use modes of transport that you wouldn’t do at home. For example the people who live around the backwaters of Kerala rely on boats to get around. Most of the area is made up of little islands carved up by an abundance of lagoons and lakes. These areas of water are slightly salty as the water originates from and sits just inland from the Arabian Sea.
In the big cities push bikes, motorbikes and tuk tuks are the choice of the majority able to weave in and out of the busy traffic and get you where you need to go quickly. I have seen all of these three converted into small vans to transport goods around in an economical fashion, you can’t really believe how much someone can stack up in one of these its a proper art form!
And finally come the buses and trucks the biggest things on the road which take longer to get places due to their size and not having the ability to squeeze through tiny gaps quite like a bike or tuk tuk although most will have a good shot at it!
Having spent the last few weeks learning and playing with folds I have become more and more sculptural with my book experiments. I love making something that is small and simple but folds out into extravagant shapes. See what you think…