Nachtmahr Box

Johann Heinrich Füssli 053

Johann Heinrich Füssli “Nachtmahr”, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 Yay! I finally finished this edition of 12 Nachtmahr Boxes. And so here comes the Nachtmahr Box story as promised. There were several reasons why I pushed off from writing this blogpost again and again. For one, it is a little longish and complicated story. Unfortunately, delaying writing about it, doesn’t necessary make it easier.

So, let me start easy: What does “Nachtmahr Box” mean? Well, first of all this book is in the form of an altered matchbox, which accounts for “box”. Nachtmahr is the German name both for nightmare (a little oldfashioned word to use, though) and for the creature that is thought to cause nightmares by sitting on its victim’s chest.

nachtmahr box by H. Kurzke

Nachtmahr Box 4/12

The boxes are painted with black gesso and red acrylic paint. A figure, scanned, from Androvani’s Monstrorum Historia from 1642 (available for example through Paul K. – thank you!), modified, and cut-out, adorns the front. Inside the drawer you will find a selection of found objects: a piece of wood, a spade of grass, a dried leaf, a cherry stone, a piece of copper, and varying additions that differ from box to box: stones, glass pieces, a button, … On the inside of the box is a pencil drawing, showing a waning moon, shining over a grass plain (in the background there is a lake which is more or less apparent for different boxes) and a tree with all its leaves laid out in a pattern around it. – Plus the edition number and my signature. Once you emptied the box, you will find that on the backside of the drawer, a spell is written:

Nachtmahr Box 9/12 by H. Kurzke

Nachtmahr Box 9/12 – showing the spell

Nachtmahr, du lällek Dier,
komm van dese Nacht niet hier
Alle Water söllt gej waaije,
Alle Boome söllt gej blaaije,
Alle Spille Gras söj telle,
Komm mej vanne Nacht niet kwelle.

This is German, Rhineland dialect to be precise. From when the spell originates is unknown. And there lies – maybe that is a surprise – a long story. Well, let me first talk a little more about the book that is finished, before I dwelve into the genesis and research preceeding this book.

The following is a rough translation. The original German rhymes and has better rhythm than what I can immitate with English words. – I am not good at translating poems:

Nightmare you evil creature
don’t come here tonight.
All waters you shall wade,
All trees you shall de-leaf,
All spades of grass you shall count,
don’t come torturing me in the night.

And this should explain the presence of wood, leaf and grass in the box. All items in there were found in our garden and the immediate sourroundings, – though not completely on chance, I took my family on nightmare-box-completion-walks a couple of times during these past weeks.
The box and the objects can be used to put up an installation against nightmare on your nightstand, facing away from you (and toward the potential nightmare) as a last barrier before he can come to you. The spell on the back of the box can then be read and recited while lying in bed.

Nachtmahr Box 9/12 by H. Kurzke

Nachtmahr Box 9/12 – sample installation

The copper bits lay in dozens along our road. I can only suspect that they were some kind of clamps, used for some cable works, maybe? I found it wonderful how they glimmered in the summer sun and felt almost too hot to pick them up from the heat… I have chosen the specific objects to go into the boxes because I found them beautiful, because I felt they fit within the atmosphere I wanted to create, because I felt a connection somehow, and because I could give a meaning to them in this context. But you are invited to find your own meanings, use just some or all for your installation, or maybe add objects of your own.

Nachtmahr Box No. 9/12, Hilke Kurzke

Nachtmahr Box No. 9/12 – closed with scroll

The box is accompanied by a parchment scroll. This scroll merely contains information about the text and the image used on the box. But I used real parchment and bone beads so that it would fit in theme with the box, and if desired it could be part of the installation, too.

Well, so here comes the background story about the text. It is a bit of a science thriller, or at least it appeared so to me, while it was going on:

I hope this is a good cliffhanger, because it got so late while writing this, that I  just cannot continue right now. And the blog post is quite long already… I am planning to continue the story soon.

nachtmahr box by H. Kurzke

Nachtmahr Box 5/12 – sample installation

Posted in Chitchat | 4 Comments

8 down, 4 to go – or 346 to go, depending on viewpoint

2 jigs in one taped to my desk – working on a first prop of 346

In my last post I mentioned that I was still undecided what project to concentrate next on. By now I have pretty much made my mind up:

Of course the nightmare boxes need to be finished. I have 8 done by now, 4 are still waiting for completion. I failed to count the beads I still had before starting to attach them to the scrolls, and now I am waiting for fresh supplies to arrive here so that I can finally be done with the last 4.But I should start making photos soon of those that are done. They differ slightly from each other, and I decided to list individual numbers on Etsy for now. Once I have some nice pictures to share, you will see them here, too.

There are a lot of small stripes and bits of parchment left from making the scrolls, and decided it was time to make some blank books once more, and use the parchment for decorative bits like I did here:

The general idea is that these blank books will serve as props for the photos I will have to /want to make for my new instructional book. So, yes, I do plan to finally get that project going again. For this I also ordered new supplies: several leather skins, and new punches with different shapes, so that I am not restricted to the pattern above.

In the meantime, while waiting for the studio to fill with more materials, I am making a first prop for 346. A good bit of work will have to be done until I can print the books, but it seems I am on a good way to getting it done.

The Smiley Oracle, H. Kurzke

And there is more good news: I just recevied notice that my smiley oracle has been accepted into the Coptically Bound exhibition at the Abecedarian gallery  in Denver, where you can see (and purchase) it from September 18 to November 1. If any of you can make it there, I’d be happy to hear about it and the exhibit.

Posted in Chitchat | Comments Off

What is going on

Cousins

My apologies that is has been so silent here in the past couple of weeks. I am slowly recovering from our vacation, and still trying to catch up with everything that has happend in the book-o-sphere during my absence.

Indeed I need to recover from this vacation: We first spent a week on the English East coast which was totally pleasant. But it was a vacation in a rented house with the kids, and by taking small kids on a trip you always take your everyday chores with you. When before having kids you would go away on a vacation to leave everything behind for a couple of days, with small toddlers or even babies there is no escape from everyday life. Going away just makes everything a little more complicated. We then spent a couple of days in our home in Nottingham to get our laundry done. And then went for another 13 days to Germany to visit parents, sibblings, cousins and grandparents.

It was wonderful seeing them all again, and the days in Germany started off in the style of a fairy tale, in a hotel suite in an old castle where my youngest sister celebrated her wedding. Going to visit my parents is always a double edged thing. While much of the stress that is connected with going abroad with the kids is alleviated by my parents looking after their grandchildren from time to time, me feeling like a teenager again more than makes up for it. So toward the end of the trip, and a total of 5 different beds to sleep in during the last three weeks, we are all very happy to be home again.

I had a brief glance at my studio and there are a couple of threads to pick up. I finished two copies of the nightmare boxes just before leaving, and 10 others are still waiting to be finished. Mostly they are all done. All there is left to do is making the parchment scroll that you can see in the picture in the background here, which contains information about the text, images, and the edition. I will have to do this quickly, otherwise I fear it won’t get done at all. – Since no problem solving is involved here, just merely a task to finish, I need to push myself to really doing this.

And then there are two other projects I really want to finish because they are essentially done in my head. At the same time it is really time I started with the next instruction. (In my Coptic binding box a Ethiopian binding box was announced for end of 2012!) Too much to do, I find it hard to decide what to concentrate on, and what to do next. So I first dedicated some time to my shops which is and was also desperately necessary.

I am going to order more lin cable in a week from now. If you are interested in pre-ordering thread (any colour, any size they produce), drop me a note, and I’ll let you know the details. In the meantime, while I am rearranging my shelves, you can enjoy a 5% discount on all books (total value of your cart has to be £10) at Büchertigers’s Bücherladen and also 5% discount on all items at Büchertiger Supplies (again, total value has to be at leat £10) by entering the coupon code BackHome.

I’ll let you know when the Nightmare boxes have progressed. A good Sunday to you all!

Posted in Büchertiger Supplies, Chitchat | 5 Comments

Stone Piles

stone piles 1

I am home from a short vacation at the English East Coast. I brought a selection of stones, sea glass, and shells with me. I tried to make my kids collect some, but they just picked them up to throw them into the water (great fun, apparently), and so I had to be careful to make sure they indeed went home (the stones). I was surprised and delighted by the range of colours the stones had. At the time I picked them up, I thought would go into bottles to be posted. But now I am not so sure anymore what to do with them.

While struggling to find back to work, I decided, they need to get arranged in piles in my studio.
stone piles 2

The stone in the middle here is specially fascinating, the one with the hole. This hole was drilled by anothe small stone. The hole goes almost through the hole stone, and the little one is holding on by just fractures of mm:
stone with hole detail

Posted in Chitchat | 1 Comment

Book Art Exhibition at the Liverpool Central Library

Picton Reading Room (one of their reading rooms) at the Liverpool Central Library

As I mentioned to people on Facebook before: I had a wonderful Saturday in Liverpool, visiting the city and the exhibition in the Library with the whole family. I am grateful to be blessed with two children who love libraries. Little boy had a little tandrum when we left the library, and another one when we, after visiting the docks, got into the cars and he realized we would be driving home without visiting the library once again. When I told him yesterday that we would be going to the library (in Wollaton), he insisted he wants to go to Liverpool. And right he is: It was a wonderful library, with an architecture where new embraces the old in a quite literal sence: At some parts when walking from new, light structures with lots of glass into the old building, it is actually made such that the old outer brick wall remains visible. The photo below has been taken in the new part and will give you an impression how diverse the different parts look.

little girl and I going up in Liverpool Central Library to see the exhibition

In the first picture above you see one of their reading rooms, obviously part of the old structure. Oddly (I think it is a strange decision for a library) this is a “whisper room” where you can hear every whisper. Our kids celebrated with yelling and had to be taken (i.e. chased) out of it as soon as possible. Right beneath it they had a children’s section, naturally also a round, with carpeted wide stairs that doubled as sofas leading down to a place where now the fair was put up. It had much light, a very child-friendly atmosphere, and also accustics that did not make us immediately the centre of everyone’s attention.

Picton Reading Room (above), Hornby Library (below), and the Oak Room (unfortunately without photo) are the rooms where the library has their rare books and design bindings accessible. You first enter the Reading Room and exhit through a side door to enter Hornby Library, which has another exhit the the Oak Room. It was amazing to see the artist books among design bindings, and very interesting. I was very happy to see a Mark Cockram original for the first time. On the Oak Room a copy of Bird of America is on display. – I never knew it was so big! I took a couple of photos of the design bindings as well, but they are so poor quality, that I don’t want to bother you with them. – There is not much to see anyway.

Hornby Library in Liverpool Central Library with artist book exhibition

Upon entering Hornby Library: The pieces you can see hanging there are 616 Balustrates created by Carol Ramsay specifically for this exhibtion. The cut paper shapes mirror the balustrates on the gallery in this room.

In the far corner you can see Julie Dodd‘s Can’t See the Trees for the Forest. It made for wonderful photos – I think I saw every single visitors taking snaps at it, and I also could not resist the temptation:

Julie Dodd, Can’t See the Trees for the Forest

There were a total of 39 works on display in the Hornby library which made for a pleasantly intimate exhibition. There was a wide selection of different works, a wonderful display of book art in its many shades. I did not snap pictures of all of them, but I thought you would like to see some:

Hannah Fray, Moth

Hannah Fray‘s Moth is a layered accordion structure, with the moths cut out partially to give a three-dimensional feel to them. It is probably easier to understand what I mean when looking at the next picture:

Hannah Fray Moth (behind) and November Moth (front)

Henri Matisse, Jazz (front) and Deborah Neely, Chartres partially visible (back)

Lizanne van Essen, Suspense

Louisa Boyd, Flare

James Reid-Cunningham, Abstract #19

I am sorry but my photo of James Reid-Cunningham‘s book doesn’t do it justice at all. It is a fascinating piece, all angles and lines and points and holes. You will find some more pictures on his website, but I don’t find them much better than what I managed here: It definitely is a book to experience. I wish I could have held it. It made me want to have a go at some more geometry books once again, and pick up where I left with to touch and to cut. Well, back to the topic of the exhibition on hand:

Lynette Willoughby, Textures Book

A simple counts tells you I have failed to photograph a lot of equally fascinating books. I also failed to take a photo of how and where my book was displayed, but well – you know it by now!

As mentioned before, after visiting the exhibtion and fair (unfortunately without photo) we walked through the city to the docks – of course to put a bottle into the river Mersey

me, throwing a message in a bottle into the river Mersey near Albert Dock in Liverpool

As usual, you can read more about that (and see more photos of the docks of Liverpool) on my blog dedicated to the project message in a bottle.

Liverpool is a fascinating city. Unfortunately we did not have time to see much of it. But we already decided to come back again with more time on our hands.

Posted in Chitchat | 3 Comments

Progress – a little bit

a view at my sideboard. Other than usual this time you can even zoom in to see some of what I put into the boxes if you keep clicking on that photo.

The first thing I did after an almost one week break in my studio was tidying up. Not the usual make-my-work-surface-usable-again tidying up, but the and-also-the-stuff-that-is-waiting-to-be-looked-at-again tidying up, which is a  step more thorough. I tossed some really old projects (for example I figured I will never finish the next two moebius books that I had planned (here and here), and neither the box for the last one I made), and thus made space for packing other work in progress safely away. I like to have the materials that otherwise would scatter every even surface here and there in one box for each project. That didn’t quite work out due to lack of space. But – wow! – I am currently working on seven projects simultaneously. I could have known of course, none was completely forgotten about (yet), but I was not aware that there were quite so many. Just sorting through the stuff helped me sort through my thoughts as well. Some really just needs a small finishing touch.

When I lay awake at night after putting little boy back to bed, I began to think what was the reason to put each single one temporarily aside. I tried to see the bigger picture, and – bang! – I had an idea for nightmare. So the first box is finished now :-)

inside box has a pencil sketch of a leafless tree, leaves sourround it, grass and water in the distance, moon in the sky

the spell can be found outside on the bottom of the box

the box then gets filled with various found objects, a bit of wood, a cherry stone (I think) a blade of grass, a leaf, a piece of copper, and in this case a stone

 

Posted in Chitchat | 2 Comments

Swap – Cathryn Miller, “L is for Lettering”

L is for Lettering by Cathyn Miller

You might remember that when I first finished “absences“, I offered to swap it. This post is about another book that I received in return: L is for Lettering by Cathryn Miller.

The bookblock is handbound (presumably without support) and then glued into the thick hemp paper covers that you can see in the picture above. The book block has been laser printed; each spread has one page that shows some scanned hand lettering.

L is for Lettering by Cathryn Miller

Unsurprisingly L is for Lettering is an alphabet book. In the photo above you see page “B”: The first word on the left starts with a “b” – “because”, and on the right hand side you see an example of the Baskerville Typeface.

Throughout the book, the lettering is being commented on in red pencil, remarking on flaws in the setup, like “uneven fill” or “untidy serifs”.

On the front flap of the cover, a little piece of the original lettering is included:

L is for Letterpress by Cathryn Miller

The text on the other pages tells the story how Cathryn, seeking to be educated as an artist, ended up in a design and lettering class with “Mr. M”. For good reason she deemed most of what she learned in that course useless, what with computers being used in the printing industry more and more. On the “V” and “W” pages, however, you can find her writing “I never imagined that I would one day use the skills that I learned that year, that I would actually use lettering and design and even layout to produce my artwork.”

L is for Lettering by Cathryn Miller

I love this book for many reasons. The first impression I had: I think I am in love with hemp paper! It seems strong, yet flexible. The paper used for the cover has about the thickness of cardstock, but has this textile quality that amazed me when I touched cotton paper for the first time. (When I first tried cotton paper, I thought I would never use any other paper ever again!) But compared to cotton paper – at least the one I usually use -  this is coarser and a bit stiffer. I love this roughness, and the grain this paper has… Well, I could keep on talking but I don’t want to bore you.

Then: I love alphabet books. As apparently does Cathryn because this is just one of several alphabet books she made. I count eight at Vamp and Tramp only. My husband M. is the one in the family with strong opinions on different typefaces, on how to set type and all that sourrounds text design. But like many things and ideas in a marriage, even out, I learned a great deal from him, and once you know about kerning for example, you cannot ignore faults anymore. So this book also feeds this part of me in a pleasant way.

And it was a pleasure to read a bit more about Cathryn’s artistic background, and her writing is entertaining and funny. Thank you very much for this fabulous book, Cathryn!

 

Posted in Chitchat | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Book Arts Fair in Liverpool coming up – Die Stadt/The City on display

a shot from my laptop camera

Live goes by in a flurry once more with therapy sessions every single day this week, and no studio time for me. I am very weary of hospitals, therapy, and especially therapy dressed up as play sessions. Even my kids see through this easily by now. To keep myself in good mood, new hair dye is drying on my scalp as I am typing this. The result will hopefully be blue hair, but might end up nothing or blue skin – who knows. The excitement of the unknown…

I don’t have much time for blogging – the instructions actually say, I should have rinsed my hair 5 minutes ago. But I wanted to remind you that on the upcoming weekend there is the book art fair in Liverpool. I will probably be visiting with husband and kids. My book Die Stadt/The city is on display in the accompaning book arts exhibition, and I was very happy to hear that it has received much interest from visitors (and apparently they sold several copies, which I am going to bring on my visit. – Yay!). If you want to take a look, too, now is a good chance! If you indeed intend to go, drop me a line – it would be fun meeting up with you for a coffee.

Talk to you -hopefully- soon when I have more time at my hands!

Posted in Chitchat | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Nightmare Boxes Update – Thinking, Pondering

I am currently pondering how to add text to my nightmare boxes. It is another one of those projects of which I thought I would finish it in just a week and now I have been working on it for much longer. The project started out rather straightforward:

The first trials consisted of just the text written on paper, adorned with images from an medieval manuskript, folded in a labyrinth accordion style and inserted in the box. The plan was to completely print them on my pigment inkjet printer, decorate the boxes, – done easily and fast. But I became more and more dissatisfied with the look of the writing and the exact positioning on the paper, and the paper as a medium while I was preparing for the printrun.
The first modification was to write the text with a goose feather. Although not completely convinced of my caligraphy skills, I liked this “more medieval” look. A sample of scanned, and layered over the existing document.
The next modification was printing on parchment rather than paper. The printing itself worked surprisingly well. But a variety of other difficulties came up: While looking cool, the folding was not so easy, and the resulting textblock was rather thick, and had a rather tight fit in the box. The folded sheet had two spreads that were hidden, and therefore did not carry any text. Thinking of how to reduce bulk, I realized that the structure of the labyrinth accordion was not only too bulky, but generally not so very well chosen. It is great if you want both a text that can be leafed through, but also use the backsides that, once the structure is unfolded, give an additional something. – I had made it such that if you undid the labyrinth, you could see one of the creatures completely, together with brief information about the spell. But the image was not that spectacular, and it was not that much of a revelation I even had made sure that this informational text was readable while still folded.
So now I though of using a simple accordion structure instead. Or maybe a scroll, or maybe… Giving up this initial idea, the project opened up to a variety of options. Not quite decided what to do, I settled on making the boxes first.

Out of a whim I decided to fill them with found objects and let pieces of wood “grow out” of the boxes. That felt very right at the moment, I was not sure where exactly I was going.

I still like the boxes as such, but I am struggling to create a coherent something.

The past week I have pondered numerous possibilties of how to add the text and create a book, and I have not given up any of them. The main choice I will have to make is whether the text belongs into the box or whether the box is an addition to something the book with the spell. – I pondered for example making the box the cover of the book; making another box that holds both, the box and the book; putting both in a leather pouch; putting the text into the box such that it pops out when the box is opened; putting a book in the bottom of the box; using the wood as a dowel for a scroll…
It seems I have not found quite the right thing yet. Today I played with the idea of putting the text, written on a scroll, into a leather pouch. This in turn I wanted to fix to the side of the box. I reduced this more and more and ended up with some kind of napkin ring construction and a scroll to go into the box again. But somehow this still doesn’t seem completely right.

Probably I will have to gain more clarity of how the whole thing should work and function before I can decide on how to put in text. Or maybe I just need to take a break with them.

Posted in Chitchat | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Nightmare Boxes

my workspace this morning

There is an old German spell against nightmare (or creature nightmare), which I find very fascinating. Its translation goes somewhat like this:

Nightmare, you evil creature
don’t come here tonight.
You shall wade through all waters,
You shall pick all leaves from all tress
You shall count all spades of grass there are,
Don’t come to torture me tonight.

The original rhymes. – I am not good at translating in general, and poems are even worse. The idea behind the spell is that nightmare is not just forbidden to come but given tasks to fulfill that are supposed to keep it for so long that there the night will be over before it can come here.

In my current work I want to investigate this once more. Currently I am still playing and the project still shifts around and changes every day. Currently I am planning to combine the words in its original old rhineland dialect, written on parchment, with boxes of found objects. But I am still busy putting the boxes together, and I not sure where exactly it is going. I am also playing with the idea of using the lino cut I made a while ago or making a new one, too. I’ll see.

state yesterdat – already looks different today

Posted in Chitchat | Tagged , , | 2 Comments