Some of my happiest moments of childhood came when my father told stories. Sometimes he spoke about his childhood in Losie in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. More often he retold bible stories, making one of my uncles a villain or relating the characters to contemporary events. After he retired, in the 1970’s he wrote a memoir and also wrote and illustrated his bible stories. He was a trained draftsman and architect; you can clearly see this in his writing and drawings.
Unfortunately he chose a cheap, children’s copy book for this effort. The paper has become brown and brittle. I scanned each page and worked on them in Photoshop. Note the tape on the left edge. The book had already begun to deteriorate while he was still alive; he repaired everything with tape.
The book I made is 8.75″wide by 7.5″ high, covered in olive green book cloth that refuses to photograph, and bound with a link stitch top and bottom and long stitches between.
I still have the disintegrating composition book. Can’t bring myself to throw it out.
This is my latest book, actually the second version. I’ve been working on it for more than a year. I fell in love with the Gingko tree growing in Robin and Steve’s backyard. It’s huge and has to date from before the house was built. I’m guessing it’s at least 200 years old. I’ve been photographing it, and talking to it, for a long time. Never been satisfied with the photos and, of course, the tree doesn’t answer me. Finally decided I had to make a book.
Unlike the tree, the book is small, 5 inches by 6 inches. Most of the pages are printed on Talas unbuffered bond, trimmed to size. The cover is 100% recycled Shizen watercolor paper, a thick, mostly cloth-feeling textured material. The binding is something I saw online as I was perusing soft cover materials.
Inside the book are lots of photos, a little text, 4 sheets of prints made from gingko leaves with poems printed on them, and vellum endpapers.
I don’t like the look of the binding on the inside and probably won’t use it again.
And, if I can get more gingko prints, I may create Gingko 3; particularly since I have a new spring photo to add to it.
Male sperm carriers for pollination. Gingko trees are either male or female.
My grandmother wrote a memoir in Yiddish, called Der Gesung fun men Herzen, The Song From My Heart. It was published in Chicago in 1944 and distributed as a fund raiser for the day and night nursery she built on the Northwest side of the city. At my request, in 1996, my father translated the book, adding a little editorializing of his own. I painfully retranslated the book, removing his opinions and creating a document that I bound in cloth with photo transfers on the cover and with a stab binding. I also created a downloadable pdf that is available above in the left side menu under Family Stories.
In addition to some family photos I included relevant commentary from memoirs written by my father and his older sister, Florence laid out next to related passages in a talmudic style. At the end of the book are notes on interviews I did in 1989 and copies of some historical documents.
Pictured above is my great-grandfather, Shlomo Rieger taken in 1889. He and my grandfather came to Chicago at that time and returned to the Austrian Galician Empire. Shlomo never returned to the States. The rest of the family came from 1911-1913.
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.
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.
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. My 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.
Maple 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.
Also the product from a class. I used a book I disliked while working on a Master’s degree. When I tried to sell it back to the school I was offered $1. I think I had to pay about 25 times as much so I was delighted to put it to this better use. I completely obliterated its identity with the folds and decorated papers papers on the cover. I added feathers and silkworm cocoons for more decoration. See detail below.
I made a second similar book while working with friends and left the book with one of my friends.
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.