Thursday, September 7, 2017

of books and meanings

There's nothing that captures both the limitless potential of the human mind and the existential meaningless of it all quite like a blank book. Books are repositories of knowledge, books are representations of everything that we haven't yet managed to achieve.

Neither of those lofty reasons are why I rarely make blank books. I rarely make blank books for the reason that most people never actually get around to using their blank books.

http://whitmanarchive.org/manuscripts/transcriptions/amh.00009.html
Resist Much, Obey Little
Walt Whitman

However, I will be celebrating my two-year-landing-anniversary in Los Angeles by participating the Los Angeles Printer's Fair, October 14, 2017, booth B-17.

Come say hi!

I'll have a series of blank books for sale, in addition to the more customary artist's books. There will be a line of items whose sales proceeds are donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center, so may the blank pages encourage you to pen a list of actions to take, congressmen to call, and manifestos to compose.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Notes on the Eclipse

Well, I spent the eclipse dealing with the residual fall out of a completely self-inflicted concussion. A lamppost was involved.

In much more exciting news, the music video for a prop job that came through the studio just dropped!

Foo Fighters: The Sky Is A Neighborhood
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRqiFPpw2fY







Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Calvino / Six Memos

Six Memos For The Next Millennium
Italo Calvino

. . .  When the human realm seems doomed to heaviness, I feel the need to fly like Perseus into some other space. I am not talking about escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I feel the need to change my approach, to look at the world from a different angle, with different logic, different methods of knowing and proving. The images of lightness I’m looking for shouldn’t let themselves dissolve as dreams do in the reality of the present and future . . .

In the infinite universe of literature there are always other avenues to explore, some brand-new and some exceedingly ancient, styles and forms that can change our image of the world. And when literature fails to assure me that I’m not merely chasing dreams, I look to science to sustain my visions in which all heaviness dissolves . . .


Friday, May 26, 2017

Two, two, two holidays in one! The New Year's / Memorial Day Extravaganza

Happy New Year!

This is quite the latest that my holiday edition has ever been completed. There are events a-plenty, on the world stage, and in the studio, that caused the delay. The files were designed and printed back in December — I picked up the completed stack on the same day that the pages for Family Style were ready.

Then the Family Style edition construction began, and it had some slowdowns related to margins and covering material, then I needed to finish the Amissa Anima ouiji boards, because I had postponed figuring out how to make the plinth-and-planchette window, then there were the deluxe versions.

And there was politics, which resulted in a certain amount of hiding under the bed.

Also there was (is) making a living. Conserving books, binding some editions. That’s pretty much ongoing, which makes my landlord happy.

Many people advised me to simply postpone or cancel the 2016 / 2017 holiday edition.

I knew I wouldn’t make my traditional January 1 mailing date; and the Chinese New Year came and went; then Valentine’s Day, then President’s Day, and I swore, oh, I swore, that I’d get them finished for the first day of Spring, or, at the latest, Easter. Then May Day came and went.

Oh, and I moved my studio down the hall. Pallet jacks being transported in the trunks of Honda Civics happened.

You know what, though? I BEAT my last deadline, which was the summer solstice. Perhaps this is the first time that Memorial Day can be considered “close” to New Year’s Day. Whatever. I’ll take it.

Announcing the 2016-2017 Holiday Edition!

Kites!

Last autumn, I was working on a vintage copy of Mary Poppins, which always makes various show tunes lodge themselves inside my head. “Let’s go fly a kite / Up to the highest height / Up where the air is clear / And send it soaring ...”

Also last autumn, Hiromi Paper held an afternoon kite making workshop, which I didn’t attend, but I wanted to attend, and I should have attended, and I still kind of hate myself for not attending. But I was already taking the Tim Ely workshop at the Getty, and so the learning-calendar was full.

My first website results provided kite templates that were definitely simple, but also, well, uninspired:
http://rhythmofthehome.com/homemade-kite/
http://www.redtedart.com/how-to-make-a-beautiful-kite/
http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/lets-go-fly-a-kite-2/

So then I went to the library, and found some lovely books, but they didn’t really have instructions, and a lot of the text was in Japanese. The best of these was Kites: paper wings over Japan by Scott Skinner and Ali Fujino, but, once again, there wasn’t much on How To.


What this book did provide was (a) the Italo Calvino quote that made it onto the wrapper; (b) proof that miniature kites were completely legitimate; (c) good outlines for the different shapes of kites. So many shapes! It also provided insight into the content that appears on the face of kites, and information about kites being particularly associated with the New Year celebrations (concept confirmation!).

Thinking about visual metaphors in Japan associated with the New Year, the Rabbit and the Wave most closely aligned with my own aesthetic interests, and combined two of my experiences from the previous summer: bunny tiles (bunny tiles!!!) at the Hearst Castle, and the beach. The wave itself I shamelessly stole and tweaked from a maybe famous woodcut series.



Yet more internet research provided a wealth of information about the shapes and patterns of different kites, but quite a few of the articles were in German. This didn’t matter, too much. I knew the name of the kite (rokkaku) would be the same regardless of language, and I didn’t need the text: just some decent diagrams!

http://www.drachen.org/teach/lessons?level=All
http://www.kiteplans.org/planos/rokkaku12/rokkaku12.html
http://www.kiteplans.org/cat_1/sub_17/
http://www.my-best-kite.com/make-a-rokkaku-kite.html


These answered my basic layout, proportions, and materials questions — originally, I was going to use bamboo skewers, but, after realizing how large a 1/8” diameter skewer was in relation to a very small kite, I decided to find something thinner and less bulky, and bought polyester boning, as used in textiles and costuming. I knew that it was specifically designed to be sewn through, and wouldn’t need to be notched or drilled like the dowels.

However, I was still having problems with the bridle — these are the strings that connect the spool of thread one holds on the ground, to the piece of paper flying up there in the sky. Where does one tie the cords? What knots does one use? How much slack or tension?

There are lots of online resources for rokkaku kites, but by far the best is Larry Green’s PDF from 2004. I wish I could find the page where I originally downloaded the file, but here’s the closest I can get:
http://www.johndobson.info/John's%20Kite%20Site/pdf%20files/Rok%20Bridle%20Guide.pdf
also at: http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/discuss/index.php?p=/discussion/2651/rokkaku-tipping-and-diving


However, even this compendium of information left me somewhat baffled. I took a field trip to visit Dave at the Kite Connection on Huntington Beach Pier, and he gave me confirmation about how to balance a kite so that it would actually take flight, and not just spin on the ground.



It was back to Larry Green’s knot diagrams (neither a Boy Scout nor a sailor am I), but they finally worked.


Lift off! We have lift off!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Amissa Anima, the official announcement

Publication Announcement
Amissa Anima: the book of the dead

A fully assembled kit for contacting those who have passed beyond the veil. The user selects a spirit from the photograph album; chooses the emotional distillation that will pull that spirit into this realm; and uses the bell, book, and candle in the summoning. The enclosed Ouiji board then allows conversations between the realms.


The deluxe edition contains a bell (Hearts (fractured)), book, and candle (Life (spark of)), three essential tools used in summonings of the spirit world; and a set of bottled emotions, as strong emotional memories link the spirit world to the corporeal. The bottled emotions contain metaphorical representations of human experience:

Animal magnetism: Felis catus vibrissae; Anticipation (concentrate): coastal sand; Disbelief (suspension): rosehips from Rosa multiflora Thunb.; Hope (kindling of): phosphorus sesquisulfide and potassium chlorate on a balsa wood base; Memories (suppressed): Buddhist incense; Misdirection: antique key; Promises: seeds from Symphyotrichum lanceolatum; Rage (bottled): seeds from Asclepias syriaca L.; Resentment (shards): shattered family china.

Eye engraving, Dioptrique oculaire, Chérubin d’Orléans, 1671. The Spirit Photographs of William Hope, the National Media Museum. The Ouija, Kennard Novelty Co., Museum of Talking Boards.

Printed on Asuka on an Indigo printer with Joss paper endpapers. Bound in laminated Asuka paper over marbled paper. Standard edition, two volumes in paper slipcase, $250.  Deluxe edition of 15, two volumes in clamshell box.  $700. 2016.

Between, Among, Within: the official announcement

Publication Announcement
Between, Among, Within


Water is a resource that is simultaneously universally available and universally constrained: even in the midst of historic droughts, we expect it to appear, cool and clear, at the turn of a tap. We are advised not to drink out of the clearest mountain springs, for fear of bacterial contamination; to keep stores of it available for emergencies such as earthquakes or the zombie apocalypse; and yet, we wash our cars and shower and sometime have green, lush lawns are gardens. The scarcity of water is especially prevalent in the west, as rain conditions continue to fluctuate significantly from year to year as a result of climate change. This book combines archival photographs of the system that brought water to New York City, with pastepapers reminiscent of tunnels, rivers, and waterways.



Indigo pigment pastepapers. Photographs of the Catskill water supply system in process of construction, 1918, with A topographical map of Hudsons River, Claude Sauthier, 1898, both from The New York Public Library Digital Collections. Printed on Asuka paper on an Indigo printer. Full cloth binding, stamped paper label. Edition of 22. 2016. $ 175

Family Style, the official announcement

Publication Announcement
Family Style: the recipes of Helen Marchese

In the summer of 2016, my sister sent me a text message. “Would you like our grandmother’s recipes?” “Of course!” I replied. “OK, but you should know that the recipe for bread sticks begins “1 package hot dog buns.” I was both fascinated and terrified.



My grandmother was born into a Greek family in 1921, and, as with many Greek families, mealtimes took place at the family diner. Family meals were an occasion more social than culinary; my memories of childhood Thanksgivings were of burnt pie and soggy vegetables. Yet, when the recipes arrived, unsorted, in a manilla envelope, I was charmed. These recipes were shared at bridge groups, in libraries, while volunteering, written onto whatever piece of paper was available. The tidy handwriting unifies the eclectic mix of papers, letterhead, receipts, and to-do lists. These 86 recipe cards were collected, compiled, edited, and expanded upon throughout the life of Helen Marchese, primarily from the late 1940s through the 1980s.


As domestic cooking becomes more and more professional, and personal recipe collections are held online rather than in boxes or in notebooks, it is reassuring to look back through the physical remnants of cookery and the exchange of favorite recipes, when the moment of sharing a recipe with a friend was perhaps more important than the finesse of preparation. These recipes tell both the story of an immigrant family learning to cook “American style,” and the shared social tradition of food.

Endpapers from Paul Bercy, Simples Notions de Francais, New York, 1894. Printed on Mohawk Superfine on an Indigo printer. Bound in a three part binding with stamped linen spine and gingham fabric over boards. Edition of 50. 2017. $200.

Natural Philosophies, the official announcement

Publication Announcement
Natural Philosophies

How is information disseminated and stored? Who has access to knowledge? Where does oral tradition and myth become standard practice? The role of women, as witches, midwives, healers, and heretics, was especially important and contentious where the kitchen garden met the apothecary and physician’s office, yet women have always challenged the erratic assumptions of a male medical field (i.e., the wandering womb) with treatments that provided relief and assistance. Yet modern medicine is still based in the herbal remedies of the deep past: aspirin is based on an extract derived from the leaves of the willow tree, and the strongest of modern painkillers are still based on the herbal properties of the poppy.


Elizabeth Blackwell, working in the early 18th century, documented many of the plants used for medical purposes. The variety of approaches to herbs as treatments as published in contemporary literature is provided here alongside reproductions of her engravings.


The engravings and descriptions are alternated with the greatest assemblage of uncontested fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica, an edition that both contains the collected wisdom of the ages, and yet still cannot escape the inherent and implicit prejudices of the times. As such, it is both a master document of information, and a constantly evolving resource that tells as much about a historic perspective as it does about dry historical facts. Here, the pages have been altered using a monoprint treatment, to bring aging and depth as a patina over the text.


Botanical engravings from A Curious Herbal, Elizabeth Blackwell, 1739, from the New York Public Library Digital Collections. Herbal remedies from historic sources contemporary to the engravings. Monoprints on pages from the Encyclopedia Britannica, volume C, 1969. Printed on Asuka paper on an Indigo printer. Bound in quarter cloth. Edition of 20. 2016. $ 175

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Lost Souls, some closure

After a year of the creepy eye project marinating -- as an artist's book for the California Guild of Bookworker's "Look A Book!" exhibition, then as an edition of fifty created for the Codex book fair, the fifteen deluxe editions are finally completed. Two of them have been acquired by institutional libraries; two are not for sale; eleven are available for purchase.

Amissa Anima: the book of the dead

Two volumes in clamshell box.



 
Eye engraving, Dioptrique oculaire, Chérubin d’Orléans, 1671. The Spirit Photographs of William Hope, the National Media Museum. The Ouija, Kennard Novelty Co., Museum of Talking Boards. Printed on Asuka on an Indigo printer with Joss paper endpapers. Bound in laminated Asuka paper over marbled paper.


The deluxe edition contains a bell (Hearts (fractured)), book, and candle (Life (spark of)), three essential tools used in summoning of the spirit world; and a set of bottled emotions, as strong emotional memories link the spirit world to the corporeal. The bottled emotions contain metaphorical representations of human experience:


Animal magnetism: Felis catus vibrissae; Anticipation (concentrate): coastal sand; Disbelief (suspension): rosehips from Rosa multiflora Thunb.; Hope (kindling of): phosphorus sesquisulfide and potassium chlorate on a balsa wood base; Memories (suppressed): Buddhist incense; Misdirection: antique key; Promises: seeds from Symphyotrichum lanceolatum; Rage (bottled): seeds from Asclepias syriaca L.; Resentment (shards): shattered family china.

Deluxe edition of 15. 2016.

This concludes the creepy eye infestation of the studio.