Eva Cassidy Sings the Flu

Last year Mary of Spring Leaf Press and I intended to continue our collaboration from 2012. Instead of doing monthly projects, we thought it would be prudent to complete four three month projects. We could devote more time to a book and have an end result that was intentional, finely crafted and multi-editioned (meaning more than two).

Turns out, that don’t work for us. Three months gave us time to define the parameters of our project and begin work. It also gave us time to get distracted by on-the-side conservation work, sewing silk dresses, family events, baking the perfect macaroons, The Walking Dead… you get the picture.

Despite life’s distractions, we each managed to complete one book exercise. As a concept, we chose a (then) current event to influence imagery and the lyrics of a song to act as text. I went with the winter’s flu epidemic and Eva Cassidy’s Fever.

At that time I was interested in playing with fiber and transparency. I used Japanese paper printed with my illustrations and information taken from the CDC’s website, cheesecloth and flour paste to build my pages. I did the same for the wrap around cover.

This project was time consuming due to the process I chose. However, I inadvertently added time due to human error. First, I created separate pages instead of spreads. While the former strategy was successful, the latter would have shortened the time I spent pasting significantly. I also spent a day working while it was particularly humid outside. I didn’t take that into account and ended up with a few moldy pages. I had to redo them. Grr. Lastly, perhaps the most galling mistake- I was working with a slightly warped ruler. Can you believe that! I kept making cuts that were not quite right. The answer finally dawned on me, but as a result my editions don’t have the margins I intended.

Overall, I am pleased with the way Fever turned out. It has a solid clinical feel and the gauze and texture of the cover and pages makes act of unwrapping it a little tense. The imagery, lyrics and flu trivia float amongst the pages, creating different levels of clarity, depth and the potential for multiple interpretations. A lot like a NyQuil buzz, actually.

Thank goodness flu season is finally over and we can begin to look forward to pollen allergies.

Fever; cover fever_titlepg fver_spread2 fever_spreadIV fever_spreadV fever_spreadVI fever_spreadVII fever_spreadVIII


Inherent Vice

December marked the end of my year of monthly collaboration with Mary at Spring Leaf Press. Our final project emphasized communication without text, or representational images. Oddly enough, we both chose a similar technique to set the mood of our books.

I was reading about batik techniques and came across a process where one dropped wax on black velvet to protect the color and bleached out the remaining material. I decided to try the same technique with paper. I wanted my book to feel intimate, so I sized it to fit in the hand. I dipped the edges of each sheet in wax in order to maintain the original color and texture of the paper. Next, I saturated each sheet with black fiber reactive dye and while the paper was still wet applied a bleach solution. Although I directed the initial flow of bleach, the end result was unpredictable and each page was a surprise. I bound the pages with a chain stitch and made a wrap around case for it. When I flipped through the finished product, the pages gave me a sense of nostalgia and brought to mind polaroids with processing mishaps.

Mary and I are doing a second collaboration, with a new set of parameters for 2012.

Sketch Up

October’s book art collaboration with Spring Leaf Press was meant to be simple; five sketches in five mediums- colored pencil, graphite, pen, watercolor and a print all wrapped up in a simple binding. I chose to draw some Japanese Anenomes growing in my father’s nursery.

And it was simple, but it was also…difficult. Not conceptually, but as an exercise in patience and skill. I procrastinated. I would sit down, stare at the flowers and pick up my pencil. Then I would get up and weed, or look at the clouds, take a walk, brew some tea. I started paying attention to what was going on in my head as I prepared to draw. I found myself questioning my abilities and troubled by thoughts of indeterminate judgement. What if this drawing isn’t any good? It won’t reflect my talents because I’m not taking enough time. Why am I so impatient? What if my ability is judged based on this single image? And on it went, without taking into account the drawing was supposed to be a sketch, not a perfect copy. Without taking into account this was an exercise, not fine art. Without taking into account that is was supposed to be fun and uncomplicated.

I finally focused enough to complete the sketches. They turned out fine. I am stronger in some mediums than others and the images reflect that (colored pencils, yuck). I’d like to say I had a breakthrough, but I realize that much of my work is only completed after prolonged procrastination and I am rarely happy with the results. Recognizing my approach to this exercise helped remind me that it is better to produce flawed pieces and enjoy the process, rather than put off potential perfection and complete nothing.