Friday, January 25, 2013

Urbanite: Book-in-a-Day Wk4

Urbanite cover
Title: Urbanite
Structure: 8 panel accordion with pockets 
Dimensions: 6 x 4 1/4 (closed) / 34 inches expanded

Click here for the video of my process.

This week's book is my favorite so far. I had a great time making it and working with the content that eventually ended up in it. The book is a homage to my journey to Oakland, CA from Jacksonville, FL in 2008. 

Oakland gets a bad wrap from folks who have never lived here. They see images on television or go on what they have heard others say and they don't realize that Oakland is an amazing place to live. But the book isn't really about that. It's actually about how a "southern/country gal" like me moved to the city and found herself. It's about how the city almost broke me during the first two years, but in that breaking, I was rejuvenated in so many ways. 

Urbanite, cards out

Most of my time in the first 24 months here were spent in transit between our apartment, Mills College, San Francisco, and all the places in between. I learned about Oakland from the people I met and sat beside on the bus, the Bart, and the shuttles. They were a huge part of my breaking and my strengthening
Urbanite, open spread
Urbanite is an accordion style book with pockets that hold poetic musings about the city and my time in it between 2008 and 2010. I loved the way this book was born out of my process with the book-in-a-day series. When I started creating the pages, I didn't have any content in mind. I allowed the artistic process to guide me and it did. It's not what I had in mind when I woke, but I could not have planned it better. I LOVE THIS BOOK. 

Urbanite, page spread
For more photos and a list of materials I used, please visit the site. 

What I Learned During the Making of This Book:

  • all ribbons are not created equal
  • mixed media paper and 140lb watercolor paper are drastically different
  • typing on a typewriter makes you more aware of each and every letter you're using. It makes you pause and think before you "write". 
  • I like rounded corners.
  • spray inks are beautifully unpredictable
  • staring BIAD at 2:40 in the afternoon is NOT the best idea
  • the accordion with pockets might be my new favorite structure (but there's 48 more books to make :-)
If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site (where you can view the list of materials I use and see more photos). See you next week!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dos-á-Dos Blank Book: Book-in-a-Day Wk 3

Three views of the Dos-á-Dos
I'm really happy about this week's book. I selected a simpler structure this week to give myself time to ease into having to teach and make a book each week. I'm glad I did. This structure, the Dos-á-Dos, is one of my favorite blank books to make. 

The first time I made this book, I was assisting my dear friend, Lyall Harris as she taught a letterpress class at the San Francisco Center for the Book. I've been trying to revisit the structure ever since and this seemed like the perfect time. 

This book reminds me that January is a time for reflection. The two back-to-back signatures give me amazing opportunities for journaling and thinking about the past (2012) and the future (2013). That's what January is all about, right? Reflection, recollection, and reinventing. Well, at least for me that's what happens in January. You know, like the story of Janus. (here's another great source for the story of Janus) 

The video for this week is here. 

The Dos-á-Dos structure has reminded me that:
  • art is reflection
  • the blank page is an opportunity/an invitation
  • thinking about something from more than one perspective can be freeing
  • creative moments can be short and sweet (it took me less than four hours to gather all the materials, set up the video equipment, and construct the books)
If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site (where you can view the list of materials I use and see more photos). See you next week!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Abyss: Book-In-A-Day Wk 2

Abyss, 2013
This week has been crazy, but I managed to get the book done on Thursday as planned. The camera and the transferring of the video did not go as well. I've got to get a new camera! That's my first epiphany for the week.

Again, this week's book was an amazing experience. I realized that for the short time I've been making books (2 years), I have thought of book art as a precious product made over time, so this adventure of making one book each week and doing it in a day causes me to really take another look at my relationship to the book art world. Like most subcultures, it has its own set of unspoken rules/ideas/ideals. For a time, I thought I wanted to live right in the heart of those rules, ideas, and ideals, but I'm not sure that's my path. I think I'm more inclined to spread the word about book art and the power of the handmade book. I want it to be accessible to everyone, especially to those who otherwise would not have access to it. A bit idealistic, I know. 
Abyss, 2013 (full page spread)

The book I crafted this week is more along the lines of an "artist's book" in the sense that there isn't any text. The images relay the narrative and just like any good narrative, the story unfolds (literarily). My vision for the book was something different when I started out, but it morphed as I folded and creased each section. Eventually, the book was much more than I had hoped. 

The color scheme was inspired by my first look out the window at 6AM on Thursday when I woke to start the book. I ended up LOVING these colors together and found them tranquil and invigorating at the same time.

I remembered learning this folded structure from one of the teaching assistants in the Mills College Book Art program. Then I saw it again on this YouTube video. It reminded me how much I loved the outcome of the fold and the potential for the 21 "panels" -- the possibilities are endless

But I had to remember my lesson from last week -- Keep It Simple Sweetie!!! So I did. No text, just art. And I could not love it more. 

In the end, I created a narrative with the images by mixing and matching the triangles from the original squared paper. Of course each "reader" will bring their own experience to this book and that is one of the things I hope will happen. Click here to watch the video and see my process

Other epiphanies:

  • time for a newer digital camera that records video
  • Thursdays will be the day for BIAD, schedule it and make it so
  • still shots can be just as effective as live video (sometimes more effective)
  • inspiration can come from the most mundane places
  • book art can be both precious and accessible
  • week two was easier than week one
  • I'm not supposed to be teaching in the videos, I'm creating. It's okay to stay silent :-). 

Next week I return to teaching at the college and I'm excited to meet my students, but I'm also really afraid of what that will do to the BIAD time. It's an experiment right!? And my goal is to prove (to myself) that art and living can happen in the same life.

If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site (where you can view the list of materials I use). See you next week!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Safe Passage: Book-In-A-Day Wk1

HOORAY!!! The first book is complete. It was an amazing experience and I learned so much. More than the learning, it feels great to accomplish something creative and I imagine having that feeling every week of this year will do something to add years to my life :-).

The first book, Safe Passage, is a homage to the journey my husband and I made in 2008 when we sold EVERYTHING we had accumulated in our suburbanite lives and made the trek to Oakland, CA so that I could pursue a second master's degree at Mills College. We both agree that it was the single most defining moment in our lives as a couple.

Not only did we free ourselves from a lifetime of collecting and gathering unnecessary material objects, we shed a great deal of financial stress and unhealthy habits. There were times, during the planning, when we thought we might not be able to make a huge move like that, but we were granted safe passage and our lives have never been richer. 
The first BIAD book uses a one-page structure that features a map of Northern California on one side and uses text from a poem I wrote in 2009 while attending the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) summer workshop in San Francisco. I studied with the amazing poet, Ruth Forman, who had us consider "home" in one of our writing assignments.
That poem, at the time, was about my fear of returning to my hometown for a visit and finding myself unable to leave. Home is comfortable. It's where we can relax and, for me, it's where I am most vulnerable. The thought of being so open and exposed frightens me and so I have mixed feelings about going home. The poem captures that, I think, and does a good job of sharing both the fear and the awe I have for my hometown (Pensacola, FL). 
I wanted the book to give the reader the experience of a long journey, while also entering into an intimate relationship with the idea of home. 
The one page structure allows for two levels of viewing. There's the actual large page when you view it full sized (representing the vastness of a journey), then there are the internal pages that you view as a traditional book (intimately, one city at a time).

The most exciting part about making this first book was the reminder of how much I LOVE TO CREATE things. I think we all can get caught up in the day-to-day of life, but if we pause and take a moment to enjoy creating, it can change our perspective on the day-to-day humdrum. 
So I learned a great deal while creating this first book. The most important lesson was that I am still holding on to perfection as a goal when I create and I've got to LET IT GO! The spontaneous and fast-paced nature of creating a book-in-a-day is something that doesn't allow for perfection, but instead, provides a safe space for intuitive creation. 

One of my goals with this series is to use things I either already have at home or that I can find and get the day I'm creating. That means, no ordering things online and waiting for them to come, no days and days of trekking to multiple art stores to find the right supply at the right price. It means that I've got to use what I have on hand and work with it the best I can. 

I'm up for that challenge because as a mixed-media book artist, I have been gathering and collecting items for far too long. I've got art supplies in this house that I've never even opened. This series of books will give me the chance to use what I've been "saving" or what I've forgotten about. It gives me the chance to explore new materials and try new techniques

Other epiphanies:
  • digital cameras are man-made, thus, bound to fail
  • technical issues are going to happen -- roll with it. 
  • I must physically press record on the camera
  • it's okay to think about the book (structure & content) ahead of time
  • gather all the materials you're thinking about using BEFORE you start making the book -- the morning of works well for that
  • consider the size of the book more intentionally
  • the grain of the paper really does make a difference
  • PVA glue does not last forever in a plastic container
  • editing the video is a part of the process
  • keep it simple sweetie
  • by the end of the year, I will have 52 prototypes if I want to edition any of the BIAD books!!!!!

I'm looking forward to the next book. I've started thinking about the structure I want to use, but content has not shown itself just yet, but I'm hopeful!

If you're watching the videos, I'm honored! If you're making the books, I'm intrigued, so please post them to the flickr group or on the Giving Hands Creative Community site (where you can get bonus videos, more photos, the text that appears in the book, and the list of materials I use). See you next week!!