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.

 

 

 

 

Drawn to the Light

Inspired by another workshop, this time taught by Sandy Webster in 2006, this book is bound with tapes and beads, decorated with more beads and contains translucent vellum section pages, handwritten pages, printed photos, maple seeds  and one of my rare drawings.

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The book is about the view from my bedroom window in the back of the apartment I occupied for several years here in Pittsburgh. I called it “Drawn to the Light” because light from the window woke me in the morning and constantly called me to photograph as it changed.

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Unfortunately I really didn’t understand how to bind a book. Most of the work on the book was done after the workshop was finished so I didn’t have the benefit of Sandy’s guidance. img_2845.jpgMy pages were single sheet so I created a small book block with fourteen folded signatures then glued each of the sheets to the inside of each side of the signature. I made tapes out of book cloth to affix the covers and sewed each of the signatures around the tapes. I did not use good thread and probably not very good glue. Here you can see the glued on maple seeds, many of which have fallen off, and how the book is coming apart. Someday I may rebind it.

img_2847.jpgMaple seeds are printed on this page, probably before I wrote the text. On the left is an accordion-fold pull out with many of the pictures I couldn’t fit into the regular pages. Paper for the signatures was created in the workshop using some kind of rust mixture. Sandy was very big on rust at that time.

This page is a drawing of the driveway. I’m not sure why I did it. I guess I just wanted to make a very personal statement.

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Mama’s Kugel

img_2664This book, a kind of tribute to my mother who had recently died, was the only other book made in the printing/copy shop. Designed and printed in 1994, it is 4″ x 5″, 26 single sheets bound with a machine we had in the shop, and an edition of 400 copies. I included a portrait of my mother as a young woman, her wedding picture (top), her parents at the wedding of her oldest brother (below) and a picture of my grandmother and her three sisters when they arrived in the US. The story is about our search for a special apple kugel recipe Mama kept experimenting with and we thought was lost, some historical material about that particular kind of kugel also known as a shalet and a few really good recipes. I gave the books to my customers as a Christmas present and I’m still giving them away to friends and relatives.

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Early Book and Later Variation

img_2666In 1990 Richard and I bought a printing/copy franchise. The business seemed to consume my life, but it also gave me some opportunities: first to learn to use the computer; then to make a book. This book, titled Alas Art Aches Awesomely, was made entirely on the computer or a copier. I don’t remember all of the details of its creation or the number of copies I finished. Possibly I made the entire book on the computer and printer using only the shop cutter and stapler for binding. It has a transparent cover, text weight paper, folded, and is bound with a single staple. Size is approximately 4″x 3½”. I used CorelDraw, the only program I knew at that time.

img_2667Recently (2016), I decided to redo the book. I now use a more powerful computer,  a much more sophisticated program, Adobe Indesign, an  archival printer and carefully selected papers. Much of the original book is a kind of plaintive rant. I modified the new book to reflect my more relaxed attitude.

img_2694This book has proven very popular with friends. I made five copies and gave away two of them. The one above was the first one I made. The translucent paper I used doesn’t show up well in the photo; it’s really beautiful. Unfortunately I don’t know where to get more. This copy is a tabbed accordion, 4″ x 5″, printed on Talas unbuffered bond with Epson Claria inks.

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Not entirely satisfied with this binding I tried again, this time a 5″ x 7″ single sheet block using something similar to a ‘perfect’ binding. This was not satisfactory; book doesn’t open flat and I just didn’t like it.

img_2697 My last attempt is 5″ x 8″, single sheet stab binding. I like the way it looks but the book doesn’t open easily.

img_2698Using a single sheet format limits options for binding. Folded signatures provide many more choices.  I have been struggling with this since I began seriously making books.

More early books

In the early 1970’s I made three kinds of books. I still wasn’t thinking about books, just photography. So the first was another spiral bound photobook about my father’s business. My father distributed poultry to restaurants. He was trained as an architect, finishing school and getting married in 1929. He worked as an architect for about two years then was unable to get another job. In 1932, my mother’s father died. Her brother, Meyer, was in the poultry distribution business and my father substituted for him while Meyer sat Shiva. One of the customers told my father he wanted him to continue servicing him and loaned him $5 so my father could get a truck and merchandise. For more than forty years Pops drove a truck and delivered chickens all around the city of Chicago. At the age of 69, with no plan for selling the business or retiring he had a heart attack. (On a weekend. He never got sick or had any problems except on weekends.) His customers owed $30,000 and that money would never have been collected without keeping the business running.

At the same time, fortuitously as it turned out, my husband was out of work. On Sunday, after the heart attack, Richard and my brother Arvin, who knew all about the business, went to the hospital and my father gave them the pertinent information. On Monday, Richard and my father’s helper ran the business, continuing for about three months until Richard found a buyer for the business and was able to get my father’s money for him. During this time I went out on the truck with them and photographed. Book #5 is a documentation of the business: no words, only pictures.

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Garage doors where the truck was kept. No merchandise was ever kept in this terrible place. It was purchased and distributed daily

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Richard and helper.

 

First Books

img_2577I didn’t really think about them as books, certainly not artist books. They were just compilations of photographs. The first book, which no longer exists, was created in 1963 or 1964. We took a trip to the East Coast going from Gettysburg and Williamsburg to Cape Cod. This book contained photographs of Victorian houses on Cape Cod. I didn’t know anything about making books or using archival materials. A few years ago I found that the book had aged badly, filled with brittle and yellowed pages. I think I removed the pictures but don’t remember where I put them.

In 1969 we took a trip to Europe and Israel. I was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago and had already taken several years of photography classes. So the books are intact, although not in very good condition. They are too thick for the spiral binding, which threatens to come undone. The photos are beautifully printed and mounted; I was an expert darkroom technician. However, I never added any details about location, people, dates. I was only interested in the images. I’m sorry now. I’d like to know where I took some of the pictures and who some of the people are; I no longer remember. But the truth is most of my books are still primarily focused on the image.