I took a class about altered books at the Center for the Arts here in Pittsburgh. The book I chose to alter was a rare book catalog I had picked up somewhere in New York. It became the first book I made using posts from my first blog: Moving Music.
Moving Music was about my move from New Jersey to Pittsburgh. I decided to use fatunderscoreoldunderscoreartist as my user name and continued using it for a couple of years until I realized there were porn sites showing fat women and my blog was listed on one of them. You never know what attracts people.
I printed out everything in the blog and pasted it onto the book and using various techniques, covered all of the text and some of the printed pictures.
I’m not proud of this book, keeping it only because it has the blog. If the blog is still online, I could do a better job. Somehow it’s not that important.
This is book #11.
This 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.
This is a compilation of Charna’s and my photos from our trip to New Mexico including short paragraphs we wrote and information found online. The cover is a print called “Santa Fe Typical” by McCarthy. Binding is the Secret Belgian Binding. I spent quite a long time thinking about how to construct this book. My original thought was since the print is symmetrical I would wrap it around the spine and both covers. However this would have made the book smaller than I needed to present the photos. Also, I wanted to use the 8″ x 10″ unbuffered bond but that would require a single sheet binding. Finally I used an 8.5″ x 14″ matte presentation paper, folding the 14″ width at the 10″ mark to create a finished book 8.5″ x 10″.
Here is the book in progress showing inside the binding. I used the folded over sheet for both text and smaller photos.
In 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.
Recently (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.
This 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.
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.
My last attempt is 5″ x 8″, single sheet stab binding. I like the way it looks but the book doesn’t open easily.
Using 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.
Some time in 1972 or 73 I got together with Jan and Sandy to create a show for our mentor and teacher, George Buehr. He seemed so old to me and I wanted to give him this tribute while he was still alive. I’m laughing as I write this. He was 68 and I was 39. From my 82 year old vantage point I realize he was really quite young. While we were working on curating and putting the show together we also got together with other friends and made blank books. I had never done this before.After the show was over we had a party out at Ox-Bow in Michigan and I pasted photos into one of the blank books, my first real book creation.
Poster for the show
Hand-written explanation with pictures pasted in
Afterward on Sally’s boat. Me being myself. Graying already at 39.
Inside cover, everything glued in. Never been so glitzy.
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.
Garage doors where the truck was kept. No merchandise was ever kept in this terrible place. It was purchased and distributed daily
Richard and helper.