I am enjoying creating more artist books.
I joined the Canadian Bookbinders’ and Book Artists’ Guild last August 2013 and am building up the technical side of bookmaking there, plus, as is my obsession, I am building a library about bookbinding. Blog posts coming on that topic of book collections!
Making artist books will be a strong focus of my work from now on. Many reasons for that, but a pragmatic one is high on the list: we are selling our house and downsizing. My basement studio has to be reduced in size two thirds, oy…So lots of books and fabrics have to GO…
Paper takes up way less space than huge stacks of cloth, of course. My fibre art textile stash with all its variety of texture and colour from my paint, print and stitch wants to marry into the book family…
For the art content of my books, always related to nature, I am working on both textiles and paper, experimenting with various textures and weights of fibre, and with different kinds of binding and stitching. Artist books have to give fullness and feeling to hand, eye, mind and spirit.
I especially like to combine textile with paper, as you see in this wee Pleasure Book (4″ x 4″) designed to show off the beauty of rust and tannin prints as well as plant dyes extracted from leaves on linen and paper substrates. Its title is “New World Scroll” because it has the form of an ancient scroll, concertina- style, is printed with plants from the New World (my special interest) and is a botanical record at the same time.
The maple-printed and embroidered linen covers for the book are a “first” in their own right. The leaf prints serendipitously appeared on some rusty-metal bundled linen being composted outside on my deck some years ago when I was first learning to rust print. The maple tree overhead dropped some leaves onto the vinegared bundle. The tannins in the leaves did their printing work in that chemical environment on a hot summer day. Lo and behold, my first “eco prints” (a la India Flint, later so named) appeared! Not that well defined or colour-intense because no pressure or even heat had been applied to force contact between the cloth and the leaf – but a print nevertheless.
Here now is a look at the inside pages of the book, treated with 5% acid white vinegar to coax colour from leaves and rusty metal during steaming. Cassandra Tondro (see blogroll) shares her free tutorial on a method for leaf pigment extraction which has been my basic guide and which can be adapted in various ways according to printing goals.
For this latest collection of pages for artist books and scrolls ( following on from my 2012 work on scrolls)I used some of my dried plants gathered in the late fall from my garden: coreopsis verticillata, tagetes marigold and catalpa pods (from my neighbour). The colours of the fresh plants may have faded but their fragrance while steaming brings a summer garden into a January kitchen.
The set up for dyeing the paper (“Montreal” paper, made there by Saint Amand, I believe, though that ref. is still TBD ) : A nice lasagna of a paper stack with bits of rusty iron and dried plants as follows:
Coreopsis verticillata, seed heads and stems:
Tagetes marigold, petals and calices:
I made six bundles with coreopsis, tagetes and rusty iron, with catalpa pods for tannins. The paper was soaked in alum acetate for several days. I just had.no time to make the bundles after a 24 hour soak, so this longer period was not a necessary condition. Here are the prints on the papers after mordanting and steaming, followed by cooling for some hours:
The greens and green-yellows are from the calices of the tagetes which have found a reliable source of green fresh or dried, at any season. The dark greys and browns are are from the tagetes petals, a significant loss of orange colour compared to fresh blooms , but still interesting.
The above papers show prints of the tannin brown of the catalpa pods along with coreopsis (finely etched brown marks) and the tagetes colours.
Dried coreopsis stalks broken into fine shreds to print stitch-like marks; patches of bloom colour.
Detail of the tagetes bloom print – bright greens from the calix, sophisticated charcoal greys and even bottle greens from the petals.
No summer shades of orange here!
These papers are ready for assembling into artist books and scrolls, to be embroidered, sewn, and bound.
These and others are destined to be displayed as samples at my demo etc for the International Printmakers Festival in the UK in March.
That was a lot of pleasure on a January day!
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