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.

weddingRochel and Abraham Katz

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.

Trouble is a 25 cent purchase

I was going to begin with my earliest books, but I am currently obsessing over book 61 so that’s where I will begin. About a month ago I went to Construction Junction, a Pittsburgh building materials recycler, to get a piece of rusting iron (more about it at another time). There was a time when you could find such a thing on the street. No more; now only plastic. I found what I wanted for fifty cents and then wandered around; they always have interesting things. I found a bin full of what might have been round seat or pillow covers, all in blue with the “Monopoly” logo, like the game. Also in the bin were were olive green fabrics with the beautifully embroidered name, Cleopatra’s Garden.

img_2589I bought two pieces for an additional fifty cents and started on a book. One of my favorite places here in Pittsburgh is Phipps Conservatory. It’s a nice walk from my apartment and I occasionally take pictures. Over the years I’ve accumulated lots of flower pictures with no particular idea in mind. Using Photoshop I removed backgrounds frommum the flowers and made them look somewhat like watercolors, then printed them out and put them in an accordion fold structure.

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Full of confidence I stitched and glued the butterflies to the embroidery after adding iron-on stiffening to the back, and tried to glue the whole thing to a board. My idea was to put the accordion between two covers and be done with it. This was supposed to be a kind of quick knock-off.

Problem #1. The fabric won’t glue. It must have something on it like a flame retardant or spot retardant. I managed to glue the butterflies but I also stitched them and hadn’t tried to pull them up. (They pull up easily).

Problem #2. I couldn’t wrap the fabric around the board. It was too thick or maybe the board was too thin.

Problem #3. There wasn’t enough fabric in one solid piece to cover the back board.

Problem #4. I was able to glue the accordion to the board but the paper tore when I lifted it. There was not enough support to keep the accordion properly aligned.

These problems didn’t show up as neatly as I wrote them down. Before realizing this wasn’t going to work I went to the local crafts store and spent $7 on ribbons to cover the back pieces and tape to make the accordion. The tape was the only thing I finally used.

After I tore the attached accordion I decided to put the whole thing in a box, which I made from illustration board. I gave up on using the pieced fabric for the box and went back to the crafts shop for some paper; $3.50 on sale. Then I stitched the embroidery to a window in the paper and glued the whole thing to the box. What you can’t see in the photo above is that I turned the embroidery the wrong way. Also made a couple of mistakes when I put the accordion together. In Thailand they make a deliberate mistake in their creations because only God can make a perfect object. I tried to convince myself but three mistakes are too many.

So I have created another accordion and another box. Now I’m trying to figure out how to handle the whole thing. Problem#5, which is really the biggest problem, is the size of the embroidery. It’s actually too large for what I want to do. Still thinking about it.

January 25

Finally finished.

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New box

Made a new box. Bought seam binding and stitched it around the embroidery, then glued and stitched to the paper. I was able to move the butterflies img_2626-1and restitch and glue them in place. They hide a number of stitching sins. The box opens correctly and there is almost enough room for the entire accordion. The last page has a problem, unfortunately. That’s my homage to the Thai gods.

This box is 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.25. If I were to do it again using the 8 x 10 sheets, I would make the box 8.5 x 6 x 1.5 and the cover 9 x 6.125 allowing an overhang on three sides. I hinged the cover using Tyvek inside. I would like to figure out a better hinge so I could open the cover more than 90 degrees.