Erased – first copy finished by Zoran


Book bound by Zoran Vidakovic, Rucni uvez Zoranoske; Photo by Zoran, used with permission

A while ago, in June, I showed you pages that I made for a collaboration with Zoran Vidakovic. Erased is a short text that was erased by painting over in golden acrylics – the ascenders and descenders still peep out, though, making it possible to guess the text. It still can be read completely with some patience and hard staring. The text is self-conscious, “I am a poem, and I am erased”. A declaration of love towards whoever takes the effort of reading follows this entry statement, and it closes with the expression of hope of not being useless, although deleted, with a wish that maybe it is the start of something new and better. – “That would be worth it.” it ends.
It is, with sparse words, an homage to the creative process and a thank-you to all that have the time and set-of-mind to appreciate the not-quite-perfect, not-quite there-yet.


Book bound by Zoran Vidakovic, Rucni uvez Zoranoske; Photo by Zoran, used with permission

Two of the copies were sent to Zoran who was going to bind them. One copy for his travelling exhibition, another copy will be send back to me. The first book (that will remain with him) is now finished. He send me some pictures of his binding, and I wanted to share them with you.

The way he suspended the parchment pages in cardboard frames reminds me of the frames on which parchment is made originally, and I like how the book gains substance throught this process. The letter E for a title is perfect, very similar to my handwriting on the pages, especially on the first of which the title “Erased” is written in such curvy letter.


Book bound by Zoran Vidakovic, Rucni uvez Zoranoske; Photo by Zoran, used with permission

Each book bound is a solution found to a problem, and my solution for this problem would have been very different. That is why I am very happy with this collaboration, because I could not have made this book on my own.

The book will soon join the travelling exhibition organized by Zoran himself. The name of for the show is Multilines, multivoices, shapes and photos (Friendly synergy – artist’s book). Each book is a collaboration of Zoran with a fellow (book) artist. For most he bound the book which features content from someone else, but for some he provided handmade paper or a similar component, and the book was finished by the other artist.
It started in October 2013 in Đurđevac, and is traveling from library to library in Croatia. Today 14/11/2014 is the opening of the 8th exhibition in Petrinja – so if you should be close, visit the library and take a look (and a photo, and show it off!). Click here to go to a gallery of images of the books finished so far.


It just so happens that in the past week(s) I, too, had to solve the same problem: Pretty much from the start, Zoran and I thought, it would be fitting to enter a copy of Erased to the 7th Artist’s Book Triennial Vilnius 2015 with the topic Error {mistake}. But then Zoran had a lot of work thrown at him, and it became clear that Zoran wouldn’t have the books finished in time. – I hardly made it either, with the book finished just in time last Thursday. Initially I wanted to write the text once more, but then (due to lack of time) decided to just rewrite the informational first page and use one of the three copies that remained with me when I first made them.

Erased II

Erased, a second copy made by me

The pages are supposed to look a little rough, not quite there, and I wanted the binding to fit in with that look. This mixture of precious and yet not the best you could get. Another post will follow, with a making off, too, I don’t want to draw all the attention from Zoran’s work.

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needles 01

Well, that was a short break! – I just can’t stay away from blogging, it seems.

Not much has happend since you last heard from me. But I went shopping for needles, and I thought I’d show you what is inside my needle case these days.

The image above shows them all lined up. Not all are in frequent use, but most are. On the top are harness needles, followed by bookbinding needles. (I am going to talk more about them in a minute).The lowest row contains needles I hardly ever use: Those with the yellow eyes are embroidery needles some with sharp, some with blunt tips, an upholstery needle, -The curved needle on top is also an upholstery needle-, and to the right is a leather sewing needle which a triangular shaped tip with three cutting edges along the shaft.

Needles differ in their shape (curved or straight or something in between), in their thickness, length and the shape of the eye, and the shape of the tip.

These are the needles I mostly use:
needles 02

Up until recently I used almost exclusively John James bookbinding needles, just because they were the ones I got hold of and they sounded like the right thing to use. Bookbinding needles are made to punch through paper. The idea is that the bookbinder marks the position of the sewing stations on the outside of the signature and then looking with one eye on the outside, one one the inside, you can actually train yourself to “see” the mark on the inside. It requires some training to be done at sufficient precision and works best when the edges are trimmed afterwards. I learned to pre-punch my signatures later which gives (me) much more precise and desirable results. Pre-punching on the other hand takes more time, which is probably what makes is less desirable for a commercial bookbinder. Well, be that as it may, this is why bookbinding needles have a sharp tip.

Harness needles are made to sew leather in conjunction with a sewing awl. The awl punches the hole through the leather, and the needle passes the thread. Therefore the needle itself doesn’t have to be sharp, and harness needles have a blunt tip. This kind of sewing technique is employed with heavier leather, and pretty much the same size of thread is being used as for bookbinding.

Therefore, using harness needles for bookbinding can be a good idea: If you pre-punch your signatures anyway, there is no need for a sharp needle. On the contrary, a blunt tip helps prevent accidental holes into the paper.

I have been using John James needles since I first started out with bookbinding, some 12 years ago or so. And not a single one broke so far. I am not especially careful with needles, and I use(d) them also for stitching on leather. I read about other binder’s needles breaking and bending frequently, and wondered what I did differently. Mostly I though they were just binding more. But I do use them up. They do bend a little over time and when they are not completely straight I find them irksome to use. Also I am loosing them frequently.
Just last week I noticed I was down to 6 needles or so, so it was time to buy a new packet. I found a seller on ebay who claimed to sell John James, but not in original packaging (“because I buy in bulk and sell them on in smaller batches”). I had no problem with that – it was not even as if I had been looking for John James specifically. But when they reached me, they were smaller and thinner. And when I asked him directly, he admitted they are not original John James, because he was able to secure those cheaper ones. Aha. It turns out they are bent after first usage. So now I have discovered that it does pay to invest in quality when it comes to sewing needles, and at the same time, understood that I am not doing anything different from other binders – I just happened to have good needles.

I found someone who does sell the original John James in the meantime. While searching for them, I found vendors who carry John James harness needles, and I thought I’d give them a try, too. After reading a bit, I decided 1/0 was the size to try. I bought “John James size 1 harness needles”, which turned out, when they reached me, to be size 002. The vendor claimed 001, 002, and 003 were all the same size, and “size 1″ always meant 001, or 002, or 003. Probably my mistake, but who came up with numbers 001 and 1/0 being used at the same time for almost the same needle?! In any case it was a lucky mistake: I love them! Numbers 1/0 and 2/0 which I also acquired are longer and thicker. All will have their use I guess. I was surprised and pleast that the small 002 needle holds NeL 18/3 thread with ease, better than the No. 18 bookbinding needles.
At the moment I am using the harness needles not for bookbinding but for sewing leather just like they are meant to. And it makes such a big difference! Up until now I have been using bookbinding needles for all leather sewing. That works well enough, but using the harness needles is much more comfortable!

Limp Leather Binding Kit

This is the kind of leather sewing I am currently making. – This one was still done with a bookbinder’s needle, though.

For some binding styles, straight needles won’t do, for example when incorporating a concertina into a Coptic binding. Some people prefer curved needles for all Coptic sewing. There are special curved bookbinding needles available, and I only used them once when attending a workshop where the teacher provided them. In the picture below you will see a curved upholstery needle which I never used for bookbinding; I just put it there for comparisson. I find the curved needles hard to use, they tend to twist and turn in my fingers while I try to use them. Early on I bent some needles to use them for this kind of job:
needles 04

These are the exact same needles I bent in 2008 for the first time. (Just to mention again that good needles last for a long time and are worth the extra penny.) It is really easy to do. You just need two pairs of tongs and a flame, for example from a gas lighter. Heat a point about 1/3 the length of the needle from the tip, and when it is glowing red bend the tip over to about or a little less than 45 degrees. It will cool down really quickly and is then ready to use.
needles 03

In the photo above you see an assortment of other needles. I bought the embroidery needles when I needed larger eyes for lacing in for a custom work about one and a half years ago (the last work I did in Germany), needed them immediately (no time to wait for a delivery to arrive), and the only needles I could find in a brick and mortar shop nearby were these. They served me well. I particularly like the ones with the blunt tip. I wouldn’t recommend them for sewing pages, though, since they slightly blulge at the eye and therefore make bigger holes in the paper than necessary – which is bad for long-term (or even mid-term) stability and doesn’t look nice when doing a visible spine binding.

The two needles in the middle, with the larger eyes are upholstery needles. They, too, have seen some use for lacing in, especially the larger one because it has such a nice long eye. – But they are unsuitable for sewing paper.
Further to the right is a leather sewing needle. I find it very interesting, unfortunately this is the only one in a set that I have left. I had a whole collection of these from very thin ones to this big version. They all have a triangular crosssection with sharp edges that can cut through leather – and therefore also through the skin of your fingers, so be careful! But they definitely were something special and had their use when sewing thinner leather. It was possible to sew it without prepunching with these needles. I will have to look for more of those in the future!

I hope that raised some interest in going to look around for more needles. Happy needle hunting!

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Blog on Vacation Mode

blog 01

found this in my studio today. It is not something I am actively workign on, but liked the picture.

Sigh, I have updated this blog software to version 4.0 and like others, too, I have difficulties uploading photos and other media to the blog now. At the same time I am really busy with my current projects (346 and a new instruction). And there is not so awfully much to share at this stage.
So, I am going to take a brief abscence from blogging. I started my first blog in May 2008 and I have been writing fairly regularly since then. But recently it seems to take an extra effort to sit down and publish something, and what then comes out from under my hands does not even seem inspired to myself. – I am not going to abandon this blog. I doubt that I could even if I now decided to (I’m an addict!). But maybe a little vacation would do me and this blog good. If you are still interested in my work and the progress of this new book, I would be very happy if you followed my facebook page. I do plan to give updates there every now and then.  – And in a few weeks or month, or maybe even days, I will be back with new esprit and hopefully something to say.

blog 02

what I have been doing today: working on a new book’s cover.

Seufz, ich habe die Software für diesen Blog auf Version 4.0 ge-updatet, und jetzt kann ich wie andere auch keine Bilder mehr hochladen. Das ist frustrierend, und zur gleichen Zeit habe ich ziemlich vir anderes zu tun, um mit meinen beiden Projekten (346 und der neuen Anleitung für eine koptische Bindungsvariante auf deutsch) voranzukommen. – Und so richtig viel darüber zu erzählen gibt es gar nicht. Daher mache ich wohl mal eine kleine Blogpause. Ich habe seit Mai 2008 regelmäßig gebloggt, und das sehr gerne. Aber in letzter Zeit merke ich, dass ich mich immer ein bisschen treten muss, um überhaupt was zu schreiben – und auf deutsch ja auch schon (aus genau dem Grund) nicht mehr so viel. Da ist eine kleine Pause vielleicht genau das Richtige. In der Zwischenzeit müsst ihr aber auf kurze Updates aus meinem Buchbindestudio nicht verzichten. Denn meine Facebook-Seite werde ich weiter benutzen. Also dann, bis nach dem Urlaub, in einigen Wochen oder vielleicht auch erst Monaten, aber wer weiß, vielleicht auch schon in ein paar Tagen. Wenn mich der Drang zum Schreiben halt wieder überkommt…

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September so far

a pile of stones which I especially liked and therefore also took a photo of

The good news is that thread sales in September were really good so far. I have been doing this for a while, and I should get used to the sales being low during the summer, when everyone is enjoying time outside in the sun rather than inside sewing books and leather goods. But I am always relieved to see sales spike again when in September people begin to think about preparing for the Christmas season. The downside of flourishing thread sales is of course a lack of time for other things than measuring and packing thread. Which is meant to be an excuse for the lack of new work being shown on this blog in recent weeks.

But I have been able to spent some time in the studio and have a little thing to show you: Since a couple of days now I have started a new habit of beginning a studio day with stacking some of my beach finds, and making a quick sketch. It all began with three messages in bottles that had such covers. (If you want to see them, click here, here, and here for the three bottles.). I like this self-imposed small task: Often I am not completely convinced by the outcome, but I can always blame the fact that it is supposed to be a quick sketch and not something time and energy consuming, so I can always tell myself that I could have done better with more time. And overall I very much enjoy this little thing and the look of what comes out of it. Some if its attraction also stems from that is not supposed to really go anywhere, and therefore is not something that needs to get finished.

one of my sketches

Other than that I feel a little worn thin at the moment. We have had 2 weeks now with all 4 of us taking turns on being sick. Last Sunday it was my turn. However, I also had thread to ship, so I kept working until I really just couldn’t anymore. That evening I was absolutely drained. Next day I felt better, however, dear husband was badly hit so I was back at the front line. Luckily little boy could go back to nursery. (He had been sick the week before.) But little girl had three things at a time: the virus we were all suffering from, a skin infection at her back which must have been itching like crazy, and she was feeling nauseous and had a loose nappy. And I can tell you, a kid with a nappy flowing over with poo is hard to clean when the kid is squirming madly when on her back because it itches too badly. Things were uggly, I better leave it at that and do not paint you a more detailed picture; probably that was more than you wanted to know anyway…

But, today they are both in nursery, M. in his office. I started work on a new instruction, and the first illustration (to be used in the introduction) is currently being finished on my table. So, everything seems back to normal now.

a chain stitch

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346 first prop finished, look what I had in the mail, and Nachtmahr Box Part II

346, artist book by H. Kurzke

346 – first trial

I finished a first copy of 346 almost two weeks ago. Procastinating the blog post about the Nachtmahr box that I still owe to you, I never wrote about it. But I want to show it to you, and thought I’d better do it now. This book is / will be in the form of a box with a pile of postcards in it, one card for each day I spent in hospital before and after my children were born in 2011. It is the most personal book I have made so far, and that makes me a little insecure. The front pages of the cards are much like each other, representing the monotony of staying 7 weeks flat in a hospital bed. The backsides of the cards show pages from my visual diary (I tried to keep up with  one-drawing-a-day) and sometimes updates in writing about what was going on.

This first mastercopy contains photographic prints, and scanned and cut out pieces all glued together on cardstock. For the edition, I am now making these into digital images, to then order them as printed postcards. For the first 10 or 20 copies I thought of including one of those little plastic containers and latex glove like they can be seen in the photos. But I am still not sure a) how to include it and b) whether that would just be gross.

stamps and stamp print from Ellen Golla

gift from Ellen Golla

And look what I found in my mailbox, also about two weeks ago: Stamps and stamp prints from Ellen Golla from Zebra Crossing Picture Factory. She had this fun idea of scanning stamps and then printing them enlarged. And now I have one in my studio decorating an otherwise white wall. Thank you very much, Ellen. Along with the gift she sent a bag of stamps, and I am torn between the desire of sorting them and putting them neatly into bags and folders, and using them somehow. There are a lot of different, interesting stamps in there: Some with foreign writing,

some representing crafts like photography and even bookbinding,

and of course a good selection of cats.

Well, and now I finally owe your the last bit of the Nightmare story. When I began to write my last blog post, I already started off with how hard I found it to write about the backstory of my Nachtmahr Boxes. Since then I had several goes at writing the story, taking turns in crossing out large sections and later adding them again. It really seemed like an interesting story at the time, but somehow the words just won’t come out from my hands in an entertaining way.

So I decided to just give you a short version just to get you off that cliff you are still cinging to, maybe.

Nachtmahr aus der Tiefe der Zeit by H. Kurzke

my second go at an artist book at all: “Nachtmahr aus der Tiefe der Zeit” i.e. “Nightmare from the depth of time”. It had a collection of different poems, with cut out pages, such that different things from before pages were readable as well – as for example the title. One of the poems is the spell against nightmare

A spell against Nachtmahr is quite commonly known in a modern German version from “Deutsche Gedichte” published at Insel Bücherei, editor was Hans-Joachim Simm.

I have known it since mhm, probably 2003. When I started my phd studies in Leipzig, I was faced for the second time in my life with studying just one subject from morning until night. And just like the first time, I couldn’t stand it. The first time I changed my subject of study (from physics to math and theology), this time I started to buy poetry books, old classic collections as well as contemporary anthologies and some poetry books from authors I especially liked. And then I started each morning with a poem (and spent an awful lot of time each day sneaking a look for “just one more” when I really should be working on a proof or an excercise).
The first book I bought was said cheap but thick “Deutsche Gedichte”, and the spell against Nightmare can be found on page 15.- I didn’t take me long to discover it.

nachtmahr in Deutsche Gedichte, Insel Verlag, ed. Simm

Nachtmahr in Deutsche Gedichte, Insel Verlag, ed. Simm

I have used the spell a couple of times before, but only privately. The first time I ever used it was when I had borrowed a book from a fellow student and office mate (I didn’t know then that he would become my husband one time) and hid a bookmark in the book when I gave it back to him, with some drawings and the spell written on it. Maybe I’ll be able to show a photo some time later, unfortunately right now it is in his office across town.

As you can see in the photo, it says the spell is from the 10th century, and up until recently I had no reason questioned that. But when I decided to make an edition using that poem, I took a closer look. The poem itself would be old, and therefore would be in the public domain. However, who-ever translated it, would have a copyright on the translation. Therefore I wanted either to find out who translated it to gain permission to use it. Or even better, find the original. I thought, the original might even be more interesting to use, and  I wondered how it might have sounded. – 10th century German was nothing like modern German at all.

Strangely enough, a transcription of the original was not included in the book (in contrast to other pieces from that time). I (still) did not think much of it, and followed the reference that was given in the book. However, it turned out that the poem was not dated in that source, and it was also only in modern German. And not only was it not dated, it said, it was a “modern spell in old style”. – That didn’t sound like 10th century at all.

Nachtmahr in Friedrich von der Leyen

Nachtmahr in Friedrich von der Leyen

Well, so I followed his reference… In the end I found a version that looks and sounds like it could be an original prior version of that Nachtmahr poem of which the author claims he has heard it orally. But it does not sound like it was from the 10th century. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out, where either of the two versions might have come from since this latest source did not give any specific reference at all.

And with that I was at an end with my wits, and just didn’t know how to proceed methodically. My only idea so far had been to follow the references, but lacking one, what should I do? I wrote to my father in law, who is a German literature professor (even though this is not part of his field of expertise), asking very generally how he would recommend to proceed. He thought the question interesting, and asked a collegue. Who didn’t know the answer, but found it interesting and asked a collegue… In the end three German professors and their students who were put to the problem couldn’t find the answer. One of them then wrote to the above mentioned editor Simm, and he said he relied on others and their sources when dating it (apparently the one I showed you, which doesn’t date the poem at all, and on the contrary, raises doubts about the given date more than supports it).

Thinking about a problem and then ask a collegue who let her students check all the general references (mostly articles in journal to which I had no access) and digg through libraries for other sources, order something from a library abroad; this all takes time, and before I received this final answer, I had already decided to use the other, shorter version which I was able to find. While most certainly not from the 10th century, at least it is in its original dialect. All research that has been conducted did not yield one original source for any such spell against the nightmare, and it remains unknown from when they might stem.

I am deeply dissappointed by this occurrence, I must say. Insel is an established publishing house, Simm seems to be generally considered a good editor. Still it seems a pretty obvious mistake that should have been discovered upon a simple check. This book probably even gets used in schools…

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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

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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.

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What is going on


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!

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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

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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.

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