How does a book happen

Or, how did my latest book get to the light of day. It took a long time.

Most of my books begin with a theme, an idea or an image. Then I look for a structure that fits the content, and finally design the book, deciding how the book is folded or sewn together and the paper, board, physical structure, the typefaces, the look and feel. Often I spend weeks or months with an idea and finally bring it to fruition. For many years I have toyed with the idea of making a popup book. I’ve taken three workshops and spent hours looking at popup books. Slowly I am trying to put it together with some feminist ideas that constantly float in my head. I haven’t gotten there, but I am slowly approaching.

The book described in the previous post began with a trip to Washington DC where I saw work from Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery. 

So this is a fold book, kind of a pop-up book. It is made of two folded papers nested together between hard covers. One sheet has the same images on both sides, the other, a piece of vellum, has only the question: What Would the World be Like. When you pull the covers apart the pages pop open in a kind of explosion, as Debbie termed it.

On a second trip to DC I returned to the Renwick and made more photos of the sculpture. 

This time the message would call attention to the power of man’s gaze at women. The sculptor is a man, and this is his interpretation of a safe woman. But women will never be safe until they are equal and will never be free of a man’s gaze until they can equally return that gaze. 

Although I like the images better from this second trip my continued dissatisfaction resulted in another search for an interesting structure. Debbie posted a picture from Instagram that intrigued me until I made a mockup and found it didn’t work.

After much pondering and my usual overthinking I went back to the structure I used for the heads in Scotland and the House music book. This accordion structure allows the book to stand up opened and show all of it’s pages, which separate and turn as the book is opened; another kind of popup book.

In addition to my photos of the sculpture I added a photo of a man using a large digital camera at a jazz concert. I changed what appears in his viewfinder and reflected in his glasses. I put a poem by Maya Angelou, Still I Rise, on the backs of the photos and added a quote from Margaret Atwood about the male gaze.

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Once I figured all that out then I started putting it together. The paper is two sheets, 22 inches long, glued together. Boards for the covers have a handmade paper glued to them. The inside cover has a quote about the male gaze from Margaret Atwood. Inside back cover has a statement about female objectification. And there’s lots of cutting and glueing.

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In the meantime it’s occurred to me that when I get to book number 100 it will be a compilation of all of these blog posts.

2 thoughts on “How does a book happen

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