Still Living: Soul Song in a new Form and more books

my daughter enjoying herself during the bottle dropoff in Nottingham

It has been a while since I last posted here. – Sorry about that! Life has been even more demanding than usual, with the kids being in hospital for a test for which they needed to be sedated, followed by now two weeks of the kids taking turn in being sick at home with high fevers. (I blame the stay in hospital, but that is probably just my imagination.)
And then there is the car we want to buy: The one we are currently driving has the steering wheel on the right side, which is the left side. But it seems the people in our chosen home country insist on driving on the wrong side. So therefore I now want a car which has the steering wheel on the wrong side, which is the right side but doesn’t feel right. I imagine it will make life easier. For example when driving through a gate with an interphone it is much more convenient when you are sitting on side of the car where the speakers are.

it was our son who wanted to throw the bottle in

Also I am beginning to feel the effects of recently moving to a foreign country. I have been waiting for some sort of culture shock to hit me, and so far I have been doing very well, much better than I thought I would. When I spent a couple of months in the US, I was longing for “real bread” towards the end and was annoyed by small things in everyday interactions, lost the interest in trying new stuff and longed for more of the known.
Nothing of the kind has plagued me since arriving here. I still love trying new foods, my love for lemon curd has not ceased, and I feel no need to buy food in specialty stores. And I still am in love with the English people. I find it very hard to describe, but just the sound of how English is spoken here makes me happy. I love how they say “oh, hello!” making their voices briefly climbing altitudes that it seems to topple over the “he” and falls down into the “lo”; hearing that makes me happy for a ridicilous long while after I heard it. It will probably take a while, tough, until I am getting used to be called “my love” by the cashier in our local supermarket.
But despite being very happy to live here now, I am beginning to feel a little alone. A mini culture shock of sorts, I guess: Working from home, working a lot, and having small children to look after doesn’t help meeting people. And in my everyday small talk conversations on the street I am feeling more a stranger than when I arrived here. (Maybe because, although I am training, I just can’t give my voice the right pitch in saying “hello”.)

secretive me on my way to a special bottle placement

But, and I hope this comes as a bit of surprise after all the lament, I had a good portion of productive time in my studio since my last post, so that I had quite a satisfying time since then.

As you might have guessed from the pictures above, I have been making some bottles for my message in a bottle project, and dispatched two of them. Details can be found on the dedicated blog as usual.

In a blog post here a while ago, I mentioned I was working on a custom order. That book is finally finished, and I am very happy with the outcome:

More photos of the binding can be found on my bookbinding album on ipernity where you will also find a picture of a teeny tiny book I made last weekend.

As usual I am working on several projects at once. Soul Song and Ruled World are not forgotten, but two (or three if you count a “yes, I want to”, given as an answer to a proposed cooperation, as an a project even if there are no ideas or concepts present). Having several projects at once can be inhibiting: so much to do, no place to start. But sometimes it can come in really handy. Today I thought I would be working on my book “abscences”, and I worked on it for half a day, slowly, and without real gusto. Then my eyes fell on what is the current status of soul song, and I got a good bit further:

soul song work in progress by H. Kurzke

trials for soul song

soul song work in progress by H. Kurzke

some dismissed ideas/trials

soul song work in progress by H. Kurzke

I think I am getting somewhere

soul song work in progress by H. Kurzke

second trial, same idea

I read somewhere: If you get stuck with your creative work, throw out what was central to the first attempts. I figured that was the idea with the stick mats. My first thought was to try ceramics, nice, white porcellain, maybe with some gold rim or such.
But then I decieded to experiment with some parchment cut-offs that I still had lying about. And so far I like the outcome.

I guess I have to face that this is agaon not that book about my grandparents. This idea that this time I will make a book about my relation to my grandparents has led to a variety of outcome. In retrospective I think it has been a driving motive for me to explore my relation to myself, and my story in general. Soul song will be no different than the books before: not that things that seems to linger just there, at the edge of my perception. From time to time I think I finally know how to do it. But at least not this time. I wonder whether I will be able to make that book one day.

Well, whether the pictures above really are the first steps towards the final shape of soul song, I don’t know yet. But I feel I am getting somewhere.

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Trying new ways for Soul Song

It might happen that “soul song” is being cast into yet another new form. Other people might do sketches and decide then, I have to try it out. I’ll see. I have two or three new ideas how this should go on. I really liked the look of the white gesso with the golden tips for “soul song” but where the wooden sticks and the resulting coarse surface seemed a good idea for a book named “blood song” I now want to try some other ideas for “soul song”. I’ll see where this takes me…

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Playing with circles, leather and gold

finished 01

To my surprise I am working steadily towards my goal for this year as stated in a comment to Ellen’s blog: “Make a couple of books this year, and try making them something new.” I finished the book above this morning. It is inspired by this book by Amanda. I described the whole making here in this album on ipernity. The book combines a celtic weave with a packed sewing with some decorative stitches added. I wanted to make it an icicle, but that first attempt failed, and I preferred this two-coloured look.

This book was in a way a trial for a custom book I am currently making. So soon there will be more.
finished 02

In einem Kommentar auf Ellens Blog habe ich geschrieben, mein Vorsatz für dieses Jahr wäre, mal wieder ein paar Bücher zu binden, und dabei was Neues auszuprobieren. Zu meiner Überraschung, klappt das ganz gut. – Eigentlich hatte ich ja befürchtet, gar nicht zum Buchbinden zu kommen, wo ich gar kein richtiges Arbeitszimmer mehr habe. (Mittlerweile habe ich in meinem “Turmzimmer” sogar einen Arbeitstisch aufgestellt. Einziger Nachteil: man muss darunter herkriechen, um ins Zimmer rein und rauszukommen. Aber das geht…)

Das hier ist eine Mischung aus einer Variante einer koptischen Bindung (Celtic Weave), und einer Bindung auf erhabene Bünde. Zur Entstehung des Buches, habe ich einige Bilder gemacht, und ein bisschen was geschrieben. Diese Fotoserie kannst du hier auf ipernity finden.

Das Buch ist in gewisser Weise ein Probelauf für ein Buch, das ich gerade im Kundenauftrag gestelte. Der Vorderdeckel ist schon fertig und trocknet gerade. Es geht also bald schon weiter.

 

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“Pots” – a first trial

I mentioned in the last post that I found an interview with Edmund de Waal very inspiring, and I have been working a little more on that what I had in mind then.
If you don’t know his work, have a look at his website. You’ll find some slideshows with beautiful pictures there. I wish I could go and see some of his work in person. Apparently “another hour” is for display in London in Southwalk Cathedral at the moment, and he will give a talk on Sunday. – But I don’t think I will be able to make it, having to complete a commission and all. I am tempted, though,…

In the meantime I found a bit of time to make a first trial of what I had in mind after seeing the video. It is not quite what I am after, but I am rather satisfied, and might continue working toward something here. (Not sure I want to abandon my other two projects yet again, though.) Well, here are some pictures:

Sketchbook Vases

first sketches

The general idea was to have the same shape in white gesso on a darker paper and add pencil or ink drawing of a pot or bottle that fills this shape. Each one would be very similar and yet different. Maybe, I thought, I’d smear the ouline or the gesso for some of them. On that sketchbook page, as well as on some that followed, I was searching for the basic form I wanted to use.

It turned out I liked several of the forms, but foremost the simple straight vase and the bottle with the long neck.

stencils

stencils

So the next step was to cut stencils of these shapes. I used a clear plastic sheet for the stencil. I kept loosing the clear stencils on my table. So I marked the outlines and the cutout with (supposedly) permanent marker. I like the look of marking this negativ space so much, that I immediately started on another small book for which I want to use the cut-outs as block-outs, but that is a different story and will be told at another time.

As indicated above, the blue colour was not permantent and came off when I brushed gesso over it. At first I was alarmed, but it turns out I rather like the result of the ever darker blue pots.

As planned I then sketched pots over the gesso’d shapes. I used a pencil but that was another accident because I just couldn’t find my pastels and coal. Well here’s a shot at the finished booklet:

finished first prop

finished: “pots” by H. Kurzke

So, where will this go? I don’t know yet. Maybe I will improve the design here and there and make a small edition from this. Maybe I am done with it here and now.

By the way, there is another book project for which I started to upload images with small captions on ipernity. Click here to see the first one. – Enjoy!

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Some video links and things to think about

During last weekend, while I was working and finishing more work than I did for a long time, I watched and listened to some episodes of the BBC series “What do Artists Do All Day”. Among them the episodes featuring Shani Rhys James and Edmund de Waal:

Shani Rhys James says while starting work on a painting: “I never know what I will be doing. If I knew, I wouldn’t be doing it. – It would be boring.” and I immediately could connect to that. At first I thought her way of working was very different from mine. But after a while I could see my own approach in hers when I saw her looking at her painting, coming in an going out of the room, pausing, and returning…

The feature of Edmund de Waal was very different. The whole setting, the colours… But I found it very inspiring. Especially his thoughts about blurred objects. I am not done thinking about what he said and about my own opiniona bout the matter. I am very much fascinated by out of focus photography and was never able to clearly understand or even explain why. Will have to give it some more thoughts.

Edit: I actually started sketches for a small book inspired by this. Will see when I find time to actually work on this…

At some point in the interview there are noises coming in from outside. The interviewer asks: What are they doing out there, these shouty men. And Edmund de Waal answers: “They are full time shouty men. Their maleness allows them as much space as they want, mostly to shout [or through shouting?].” It doesn’t seem as funny now that I am writing it down. Well, I hope you’ll have as a good time watching these features as I had.

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A glimpse into my workspace and an arbitrary advice on storing glue

This is how I store glue. I bought the 1l containers when I was still using a lot of glue for my bindings. Since two years now I don’t make books daily anymore, and I am left with several half-empty glue boxes with different specialized glue. But until now I had no problems with glue getting too old and thick, so this method can’t be bad:

First of all, I don’t completely cut the lid. The instructions on the container want me to cut this hole into the blue, but I only cut the round part leave the straight edge as a hinge. When I need glue, I put a small amount into a jar to use within a couple of days. After taking out an amount, I spray a little bit of water onto the surface in the jar, and then use tape to hold this blue piece of the lid in place where it would be if I had not cut it open.
I never put in water when I was still going through these jar quickly. But nowadays I put on a layer of water, depending on my estimate how long it will sit there unused, and how thick it appears to me. Something between a single spray and a mm of water standing above the glue.

Hier nur ein kleiner Tip aus dem Nähkästchen, ein kleiner Einblick, wie ich meinen Klebstoff aufhebe. Aus der Zeit, als ich noch täglich mindestens ein Buch gemacht habe, sind mir mehrere 1l Behälter Klebstoff erhalten geblieben. Bislang ist aber noch keiner alt und fest geworden, also kann die Methode nicht zu schlecht sein:
Es fängt damit an, dass ich den Deckel nicht ganz aufschneide, wie per Kurzanleitung auf dem Deckel vorgesehen. Ich nehme immer nur soviel raus, wie ich gerade benutzen (und mit Kleister mischen) will. Dann sprühe ich ein wenig Wasser aus der Sprühflasche auf, und schließe dann den Deckel so gut es geht mit Hilfe von ein bisschen Klebeband. Das Wasser habe ich nicht hinzugefügt, als ich den Leim noch schnell aufgebraucht habe. Aber heutzutage sprühe ich immer was auf, um ein Austrocknen zu verhindern und doch zu verlangsamen. Je nachdem wie fest mir der Leim vorkommt, und was ich in der nächsten Zeit so vorhabe, sprühe ich nur ein einziges Mal oder so viel, dass bis zu 1mm Wasser auf dem Leim zu liegen kommt.

Then put a piece of baking paper over the jar and screw on the screw lid. I have no idea whether this makes the container more or less air tight. I am doing it so so that if there happens a bit of glue on the screw it won’t be hard to open the lid again.

Und dann schraube ich den Deckel so fest wie ich kann – außer dass ich noch ein Stück Backpapier dazwischenklemme. Keine Ahnung, ob das die Feuchtigkeit schneller (nicht so dichtes Gewinde) oder langsamer (zweiter Deckel) entweichen lässt. Auf jeden Fall sorgt es dafür, dass der Deckel auch dann nicht an der Dose festpappt, wenn mal etwas Leim auf Gewinde tropft.

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Getting work done: A couple more books

Things I picked up in the garden

Things I Picked up in the Garden on Friday Afternoon

Sometimes pressure and a tight schedule can get out the most of me. I decided to take on a couple of custom orders although this is a difficult time for me to find time to work. It forced me to cut down on online time and get things done. And it worked. And I even got things done that I don’t get (immediately) paid for.

page in my notebook

While explaining to a customer about supports, what they are and what they are for, I had this idea of the support wrapping around the sewing instead of the sewing wrapping around the support.

The general idea was to first sew the book block in a very simple matter, with kettle stitches at head and tail and other than that just in and out of signatures.

The binding thread would then be used as the warp in an added weaving which would connect the book block with the boards.

Another idea that I have had for a while, is instead of covering cardboard for covers, use a thick piece of leather straight ahead. And while cutting the leather, I had this weird idea of using it “inside out” with the paper on the outside and the very smooth mid brown leather surface on the inside of the cover. Well, here is the result:

While making it, I realized that it is not as new as I initially thought. I have definitely seen this binding done before, but I can’t remember where, or whether it is really exactly the same.
The big “Doh!” came with observing the curl of the covers: I took great care to cut the leather pieces in the right orientation, actually cut a couple of pieces again to correct the way it moved. And then I put on the paper in the wrong direction. I really should have known better than to step into that trap!

working coptic double headbands today

sewing Coptic headbands

Here you can see some work in progress and me sewing Coptic double headbands. Yes, I am using my own instructions :-)

Now that I am done with that journal, I wonder what to do with it. As it is now, it is a blank journal with brown Kraft paper and creme coloured sketching paper in it. I thought it would be used as a sketch or note book. But while making it, I had a new idea about what I would like to put in there. To make that idea come true, I would need to allot some time to yet another project, though, and I am not sure that I will be able to make it.
But for now, I am not putting it up for sale. Well, I won’t put anything new on sale for a couple of weeks anyway because my Spring Sale is still going on. So maybe I’ll have made my mind up when it is time to take the old off the virtual shelves and put up new things. Here is another picture of the headband.

I did put up this new version of my DIY journal on Folksy, though. I think it is one of the best I made so far. I hope you’ll like it as much as I do!

So you see, this weekend has been rather productive for me. And while this did not leave me time to actually work on my current art works, I had a lot of time to think about them, soul song in particular.

In the past weeks I mainly worked on the text for that book. I re-wrote it several times, sometimes it more than doubled in length, then I reduced it again. Going through this process twice, it changed its nature. I started with very personal thoughts about my grandparents, remembering the smell of cooked apples in my grandmother’s kitchen, and the stinging smell of knives being sharpened on the electric stone in my grandfather’s studio.  Working from there it got less and less like a journal entry, and – so I believe – has been turned into a more universal question: What does it mean to be me, you, – anyone.

In the weeks and month that I have worked on this book I have made a couple of sketches, and worked some onto these wooden stick, mull and gesso surfaces. The whole project started with these sticks and the mats I made from them. I still like many things about them. I like in a way how difficult it is to find the right image to put on them. The surface is so coarse that it won’t hold any details. I like the atmosphere of the white gesso with the golden tips. I like how (that is not visible in the picture, unfortunately) the feather looks that I embedded under the mull for one of them. – One of the early ideas was to attach some mementos to the mats, personal pieces and items endowed with meaning and memory. On the lower right in the image you see some lace attached to the mat instead of the mull. That is actually part of the stocking I wore on my wedding day, put there, when the working title of the book was still Blood Song.

I don’t know at the moment, how this could fit in with the idea I currently have for soul song, in particular how it could work with the text I have put together. Maybe I even like the sketches on my sketchbook pages better than these more elementary drawings on the sticks. I am thinking about what to draw on, not really decided yet what I want to do. Drawing on broken fired by unglazed clay pots spins around in my head at the moment. Porcelain would be nice, too – I would have the white come up again. But I don’t know where I should get this from… Mhm, will have to think a little longer about that.

The next step will be to try writing on different paper, and see what works for me in that regard.

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Literature List for February

Before I present this month’s literature list, I want to remind you that the Spring Sale with a discount of 50% on all books is still going on at Büchertiger Studio and Press. Please help find good homes for them!

This month’s list is a little longer than last one’s but as per usual I am far behind my own reading list, and can’t say much about the books yet. I am currently reading Booktrek and very much like it. It is easier to read than Johanna Drucker’s Century of artists’ book, but there were already some aha!-passages, and I have  a growing understanding of some of the connections and terminology in the field.  – And I have not even read more than the introduction so far. I might do a more detailed review when (if!) I finish it.

There was a time when I laughed about people who shelved books in their cellophane wrapping. Well, at least I have not shelved the books as such, they are resting in an ever growing pile beside my reading chair. The pile does not denote the order in which I intend to read the books. It is the amount of books that I perceive as those that I am currently reading, and I have made some progress in most of them. :-) Every now and then I sort through this pile, place some books in the unread book shelf, finish some others, and some even get sorted into our library without having been read (to end).
The shelves just above and behind the left hand chair is our shelf of unread books, by the way, – the rest of our “library” is not as randomly sorted.

M. is quicker with reading and more consequent about reading one after the other – therefore the much smaller pile. This looks deceiving, though, most of his unread books are on the shelf and all in all I would say he is reading more than I am.

Well, finally here is the list:

  • Women’s Work. The first 20,000 years. Woman, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber I think I ordered this one because it was on a recommended reading list for a course in textile and embroidery art I would have liked to take. Unfortunately I don’t remember now who it was who recommended it. It looks interesting from the outside, but I must admit that I have not opened it yet.
  • Extra/Ordinary. Craft and Contemporary Art, edited by Maria Elena Buszek this one is literally still in its plastic cover. But it has a tank covered in knitting on the front page, so it gotta be good :-). If I remember correctly it was on the same reading list as the women’s work book by Barber.
  • In praise of beautiful books. Artists’ Books by British artists and Fine Presses, compiled by Caroline Mornement this is another of those picture books featuring various works of book artists. I have found some gems in there, and I enjoy looking at a gallery of books. But am not overly enthusiastic about the book. The selection of featured artists seems very random to me. Or rather, probably it isn’t. My suspicion is, that she mainly featured artists that she personally came in contact with. Important contributors to British book art are completely missing. (Actually all of  who I would deem important for where the book arts are going are missing from the book.) The editor writes in the introduction: “Once I had realised the existence of Artists’ Books I searched for books about them and found nearly all appeared to be published by and about Americans. Many are great books but I felt some attempt should be made to promote British artists to redress the balance.” I am not sure, that something needs to be “balanced” here. Artists influence each other, through their works which can be seen in exhibitions in persona but also through online shows, through direct exchange of words which nowadays takes place online, too. The Atlantic Ocean doesn’t seperate us as much as it maybe used to. I don’t want to say there are no regional “schools” or influences of (book) artists. But I could imagine that the books British or other European artists make do not fundamentally differ from the books American artists make. Because they are all part of one dialogue. It would have been an interesting task to investigate whether this assumption is true or not. But since many important British artists are not represented, this book doesn’t help finding in answer, unfortunately.
  • Reinventing Screen Printing. Inspirational Pieces by Contanporary Practitioners by Caspar Williamson sorry, this is another one I have not even opened yet. The title sounds promising, though.
  • Booktrek, Clive Phillpot great book so far (see above), but I am still stuck in the introduction and therefore cannot say much about it yet. It is another book that I saw on a recommended-reading-list, but I cannot remember which one it might have been, obviously a list for some kind of book art course…
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About the Time it takes to make a thing and – Spring Clearance Sale!

My new old Sewing Frame

One of the things that I used to like about bookbinding, and that carried me through the time consuming process of making a book may sound counter-intuitive: I liked that it took so long. The step I liked the most was tearing the paper to size. A mindless and repetitive work, but one that freed my mind, and I could keep on tearing paper and completely loose the sense of time. I generally liked the thought that making my book will just take as long as it will.
I am writing in the past tense here for a reason. This changed for me gradually, when I tried to make money with selling journals. Just through the exercise provided by binding many books, I got faster and thus more economic. And I enjoyed my progress there. But by keeping track of how long I needed to fulfill a task, my thinking about making books changed, too. It became important to make books fast and make many of them, so that I could earn enough money by selling them. This didn’t quite work out. Although I streamlined my process and developed several “series” for which I made several similar books, I still felt I couldn’t even charge an amount that would give me a minimum wage.

So when my time for my work became less, and I couldn’t afford to expoit myself that much, I changed my attitude and thought I would rather make few books, but those really with attention to details and then charge a decent amount. – I still think that is the right way to go. But at the same time Büchertiger Supplies was getting more important as part of my income, the kids required more time, I still wanted to make art, had my solo exhibition that summer. Long story short: I more or less stopped making blank journals about one and a half years ago.

Contemporary Approach to Carolingian Binding

This book is included in the sale, too, you’ll get more than 50£ off if you order now

The free slots in my schedule nowadays are very rare, and I need to be economic with my time. When I follow a link in an email, and it goes to a video clip that is 10 minutes long, I wonder whether these are well invested 10 minutes. – Unfortunately that does not necessarily stop me from watching a stupid video…
I need to be this strict with my time. More often than not the combined time I have in one week for everything that is neither looking after the kids nor Büchertiger Supplies amounts to one day usually not in one block, and I can tell you, that  makes it actually feels like less than an hour. (That was the time I first wrote before adding up all the time spent here and there.)
In that time I want to make art, catch up with blogs, catch up with reading, update my own blog, and sometimes even talk with my husband.

I miss the time when a could do something, and let it last for as long as it would take, without thinking whether the time was well invested. It seems a long time ago.

initially made for personal use this is listed for the first time now – and 50% off

Today I planned to make a book. Yesterday I put together some suggestions for a custom order, and while looking through my stashes, digging through wonderful fabrics, leather and ribbons, I decided to make just one of all those books that I did not suggest to my client. And just upon forming this idea in my head, I realized that I had not looked after my Büchertiger Studio & Press shop in ages. Well, since one and a half years to be precice. I have books on my “need to be photographed” pile that were made more than two years ago. All these books, well made, but made so long ago. I want to make different books now.

So I decided to make a big clearance sale: I want to find new and loving homes for these books. Everything is 50% off! Even all those books that I listed for the first time today.
My plan is for this promotion to go until end of March, and I hope to make some space for new books this way. Just go to my Etsy Shop, put everything you want to buy in your cart, and during checkout enter “CLEARANCESPRINGSALE” as your coupon code to get 50% off everything. Please help me find new homes for my little darling books!

Some of the books that I felt were not good enough to be sold for various reasons, but too good to be tossed got listed heavily discounted in a special “sale” section of my shop. The clearance discount even is valid for those, so that you can get books for as few as 20 or 25% off the price I initially had in mind for them.

grap one of my journals for tea lovers now for 25£ instead of initially 70 Euros

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Look, I made a Book- Even Two!

I mentioned in a each one of my blogposts in January that I was working on a book for a swap in Jackie’s Book Arts Forum. Now finally is the time to show off some pictures and talk about the book in more than just obscure side notes.

The topic for this winter swap was: Limp Binding. The task was to choose any limp binding and have a go. I challenged everyone to pick a binding they have not tried before. For my book I chose as a model the book with signature Stamp Pal V 1075 described in Monica Langwe Berg’s Limp Bindings From the Vatican Library. It looked like a buttonhole binding without a hole but with a link stitch headband to me. Since I know how to make a buttonhole binding and Coptic headbands, I thought it would be easy. It turned out to be more difficult than expected, but I’ll come back later to that.

The lot determined that I send my book to Cathryn, a book artist whose work I very much admire. So that was a good reason to give it the best I can do, and that for me means adding content. Those of you who are friends on facebook have seen some of the process. It started with pulling out old exercises that I made as a young student, more than 15 years ago.

Back then people thought I was a little eccentric, if not crazy, spending so much time on constructing these images. They are series of the same picture with very slight variations, drawn on parchment paper, so that I could see how the construction behaved under small disturbances. They looked so beautiful. Ever since I started with them, and found it was just too time consuming to draw everything I would have liked to, I wanted to revisit them.

stamp-pal-v-1075 for cathryn 03 kleiner

So that was the beginning for my “meditations with straight edge and pencil”. I ended up drawing not the ellipses that you see on the constructions above. The new pictures share the spirit with those old experiments, though. Most are part of one series or another, of constructions with slight variations that end up throwing a part of the image to infinity and then let them “come back” from there,  – mostly unharmed, yet often a little twisted. In between those pictures I made some exercises in perspective, that are probably familiar to many. No editing took place, everything that came to mind, pencil and paper is still there, all trials that did not lead to anything useful, badly chosen examples, mistakes, outcrossings, frustrated comments, curious questions, it is all still there right beside notes about doubts whether I am doing it right. I wanted it to be more like a journal than like a finished publication, the result of an active meditation.

stamp-pal-v-1075 for cathryn 11 kleiner

And – this probably is a surprise and seems unrelated – I discovered Amanda Palmer during this meditation. I bought An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer as entertainment during drawing, because I like Neil Gaiman’s writing and his voice reading his own stories. There are three CDs contained in the set. One is Neil, one is a joined one and the third is Amanda. I bought it for the Gaiman. I can’t explain why but for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like Amanda’s music. It turns out I do! And I took a special fancy in her ukulele anthem. I liked it so much that I decided to write this paragraph so that I have a reason to link to it:

In the end I listened too intently to Amanda singing, and read too much of her blog, and my time ran out without filling all the pages that I had intended to. So I included a couple of blank pages and left the rest of my program as an exercise for Cathryn. I am curious to whether she will pick up the pencil I threw at her feet.

The binding then turned out more of a challenge than expected. I had intended to make a mock-up first. That is always a good idea. But time was running out, and so I started with Cathryn’s book right away.

me, sitting on the floor, struggling with even tension – letting go of the sewing thread to take a photo is not recommended ;-)

In a first trial it looked like the paper that I had chosen for a cover couldn’t take the pull of the binding thread, and so I included (real) parchment guards both on the inside and the outside of the spine. That made it extremely fiddly to put the needle through three holes in three layers that were not glued to each other. Other than that it is very close to the original. Top and tail edges are simply turned in, not fastened, the front cover cut flush with the text blog, the back cover left long to wrap around the text block and tug under the front flap. No closure.

stamp-pal-v-1075 for cathryn 01 kleiner

Book 1 – for Cathryn

I found the stitching of what looks like a headbands in the spirit of a Coptic headband awkward in that it was done very differently. I thought I could make it better if I did it my way, and thus gathered all the material that was intended for the mock up and made another book.

stamp pal V 1075 for marion 07 kleiner

Book 2 – for Marion

This time I changed the structure a little further: I liked how the flap wrapped around the Cathryn’s book and so made both flaps longer here. The front flap wraps around and tugs under the back flap, and for the flap I added a leather band to serve as a closure. That made a couple more changes necessary, but all rather straight forward. Again I added parchment guards for all stitches that went through the paper.

adding invisible parchment guards for tackets

This time I limited myself to one strip of parchment on the spine which made sewing so much easier, and I honestly believe one is enough. When it came to binding the book and making the headband like stitches, I realized that this – for me – awkward way is really the only way to do it.

This second trial turned out less wonky than the first but still not as nice and even as it could be. I found it much trickier to hold a good tension than with a buttonhole binding. Doubly so, since the same problem of loops that might slip before they can be secured by the next stitch occurs on the head and the sewing station. Maybe I’ll train this specific binding a little more. The perfectionist in me wants me to make a couple each day until I am satisfied. The artist tells me to rather finish the other two books (soul song and ruled worlds) that still wait for completion. – And I have not completed much beside messages in bottles for a year now. Time to go back to work…

If you would like to see more images of the books and the contents of Cathryn’s book, head over to ipernity and have a look at this album. Thank you for your interest!

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