May 11, Temples and shopping

I have been to most of the temples, shrines and gardens in Kyoto. While the family went to Fushimi Inari, which entails a lot of climbing, I went to Kamiji Kakimoto, an elegant paper store where I had made an amazing purchase on a previous trip. I bought a small roll of paper, not too expensive and easy to carry home. Only recently I began to use it for bookbinding and decided I needed more of this amazing stuff. Before I left Pittsburgh Karen Gerhart told me it was a special Kyoto paper. It is indeed special, strong and light; great for tabbing sheets together. I will be going to paper stores in Tokyo as part of the workshop I’m taking, so I only bought one other paper roll and an interesting manuscript book, intended for calligraphy but I think I will find another use for it.

I had a long walk from the subway to the store and passed antique shops, furniture shops and some other craft places. After making my purchase I had lunch in a non-fast-food place, no English, not even the prices, and I chose my lunch from the models outside the door. It had a large piece of shrimp tempura, two tempura string beans and lots of rice with possibly egg, cheese and something else. It was good, but remains a mystery.

Met the family at Konchi in Garden, a sub temple of Nanzenji. They had a great time climbing at Fushimi Inari. Charna and Robin bought fox masks, the fox being the guiding spirit for Inari shrines.

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We went into the Nanzenji grounds, looked at some of the buildings and did lots of people watching. Finally took a taxi back toward Nishiki Market, walked around looking at shops, found the canal at Pontocho, then headed for Sou Sou, where Robin wanted to do more shopping.

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On the way we came upon this wonderful Rube Goldberg machine for making bean paste cakes. I wanted to stay there all night.

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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.

Two more books

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When I returned from the workshop in Scotland last year I made this book using photos of an installation by Sophie Cave in the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. Structure of the book is based on a design created, I believe, by Hedi Kyle and known as a panel book. It is a simple accordion with a panel cut in each page so images rotate forward as the book is opened.

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Covers are a light mat board with possibly handmade paper with botanic inclusions and a side strip of tan paper. Accordion is made of eight pieces of 100# Accent Opaque cover tabbed together. For the inside cover I enlarged two of the heads. Book is 8 5/8″ by 5 5/8″ and opens to 44 inches.

My book-making group liked this so much they asked me to teach it. This time I wanted an image over the entire page with the interest popping on the panel. I had some colorful, but unfocused images I shot of the puppet parade at First Night and used them for the background. Serendipitously, Eli took us to a House (music) festival at Millennium Park as I was thinking about this project. I took photos of people dancing, cut them out of their backgrounds in Photoshop, made silhouettes and put them on the panels, creating my House book.

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Although the book is simple there are many opportunities for errors, and I made all of them. So the letters on the cover were cut from pages I printed and couldn’t use. Then they were machine stitched to handmade paper I picked up years ago in the Himalayan store, possibly from Nepal. This time I used a thin book board that remained flat where the mat board curled.

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I wanted something on the back of each panel and found a poem about House music online. Additionally I added the entire poem on the inside of the front cover and a discussion about the origin of the poem inside the back cover. The book is 9 inches high by six inches wide and opens to 40 inches. Two pieces of Stonehenge Student make up the accordion with only one tab needed.

 

 

 

 

No. 78 again

I had an entire post written and it disappeared when I published. I am not happy. I’m also seldom happy with my finished books. There is always something I forgot or should have done better. I decided to try this one again. Content is the same. I made two changes in the structure going from a finished size of 5×8 inches to 5×7. Using a 30-inch wide Stonehenge print paper I was able to make the accordion with only 3 tabs instead of the tabs on each folded spread. Binding paper remains the same, but the curl is made with gold thread instead of rattail.

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IMG_0038The curl has been infinitely frustrating to me. Fitting, since frustrations with curls is the point of the book. But I wanted the curl on the cover to look like the one printed under Never Shirley.

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IMG_0030 (2)Never Shirley is the story of my childhood desire to have curls like Shirley Temple. My hair was dark, almost black, coarse and completely unmanageable. Like many young girls I wanted something I couldn’t have: blond curls.

The book is a tabbed accordion-fold with covers of shiny bubbly paper, a stitched rat-tail curl and a flower barrette.

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Two inspired by Scotland workshop

Many of my books take months or years of gestation before becoming concrete. I’ve been thinking for a long time about this one, which I call “Blast Zone”. Part of the series I have been creating about the climate crisis it deals with oil train explosions and derailments. Since I always try to use my own photos I was stymied. I haven’t had an opportunity to photograph a train derailment for which I am grateful, so I couldn’t figure out what to do.

Before I ever went to Scotland the title of the workshop, Mapping our way in these dystopian times, inspired me to think about the train derailments in terms of maps. I collected information about oil train derailments beginning in 2009 and using a website, http://explosive-crude-by-rail.org I created a map for each of the oil train derailments I was able to document. The blast zones show the areas half mile to one mile that are (or would be) evacuated.

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Unlike most of my books, which are one-of-a-kind, I’m looking for wider distribution of this one. I am working with a friend to call attention to the oil trains that run through Pittsburgh. They go near the Convention Center downtown, the sports stadiums, most of the hospitals, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Google offices and the apartment buildings where my friend and I live. I have created a pdf of the book that I gave to the Sierra Club and the Fracktracker Alliance. You can download a copy here. Oil train derailments  You might live near one of those blast zones too.

The second book inspired by the workshop and nothing to do with Scotland is about my hearing loss. This may also become a best seller (at least 3 copies). All of my hearing aid wearing friends are interested. Tana, the leader of the workshop, has a heavy Slavic accent and speaks in low tones almost without opening her mouth. I had a terrible time hearing and understanding her. She was very good about it and the other participants were helpful so I only missed a few things. Several days into the workshop I was looking for inspiration. Tana suggested I use text in my work. I played with a rubber-stamp alphabet them came up with a small verse and hand-printed it. Altogether not artistic, but somehow satisfying.

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One of the participants suggested I make a book about my hearing problems. I took the suggestion and ran with it. Problem: how to visualize hearing loss. I revised my lament:
I can hear birds sing
I can hear bells ring
But words, words are a different thing.

I used several poems found online, in particular a plea written by a mother to her preteen daughter. So much of what she wrote resonated with me. I added photos I took in situations where I couldn’t hear or understand what was being said. Below is a sample page and you can download the pdf here. hearing book

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Each of the pages are double page spreads and are bound accordion style between simple covers with only the drawing of my ear.

 

Book One from Scotland

My trip to Scotland was rich with ideas and thoughts about making books. I made a quick, first book to bring to my book-making group for our twice yearly book exchange party. This is a simple accordion photo book portraying the wonderful sunsets I found in Scotland.

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Pages are printed 2-up on 9″x12″ Co Mo Sketch, a soft finish, heavy drawing paper,  trimmed to 8×5″, and tabbed together. Finished book is 8.12×5.12″. Most photos were shot as panoramas on my iPhone 6.

A second copy is printed on Accent Opaque 100lb. cover, tabbed and bound similarly. Covers are Crescent board covered in Lokta and a simple collage made from previously printed pages.

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This book taught me some lessons about printing. My first attempt was on a paper called Super Max text. It’s a lovely paper, but it didn’t take the ink very well. I don’t use photo paper, which might give me the best results, but would not be best in a bound book. I tried a second printing on Epson Presentation paper, which also did not please me. Some images printed too harsh and some had strange color, especially the greens. Both the Co Mo Sketch and the Accent Opaque gave me the best results overall. I tried to adjust color management without making much difference.