Since my ‘Experimental Drawing’ workshop was only three days, and Oxford Summer School runs for six, I booked into a second short course on making miniature books with the future project of making an artist’s book in mind. Also, I generate a huge pile of works on paper which are never going to be framed or presented for assessment and which I would like to use to create more 3-d works.
The workshop was highly prescriptive in contrast to the drawing workshop, but I guess this is the nature of a more exacting making process. We learnt quite a few book forms, concertina (or zig-zag) in rectangular or triangular forms, flag books, pop-up books and the beautifully simple but satisfying origami book.
We also tried out a number of techniques for embellishing the books and covers including making simple stamps from craft foam, marbling and creating textured paper using wood blocks or other tools and a coloured paste of acrylic paint, corn flour and glycerine.
This paste was very effective, producing strongly textured, thick, strong cover papers.
Marbling was fun, and I had taken some of my own papers, so I tried it on delicate (but strong) Japanese washi. This is very absorbent, and rather than picking up the ink on the surface, it absorbed it, producing very delicate, subtle effects which might be excellent for an artist book.
Generally, I thought the techniques were more suited to personalised cards than artists books, but I did take away a lot of information which will be useful in a freer context.
At home I took an old sun dye test print and, thinking about the editing and recombining ideas from the drawing workshop, made a very simple two direction, concertina book in kraft card, and applied selected portions of the print.
I think that the unimaginative print has been recombined into something much more interesting, though still more of a gift card than an artist’s book. A serious limitation is the conflict in requirements between paper that can be crisply folded and thick printmaking paper. However, there are some ways around this such as here where the 160gm paper has been mounted in a thinner, fold-able paper. Alternatively, thread or fabric could be used as a hinge between sheets.
Ideas for development
zig-zag book, doubled where the zigs of one sheet are sewn to the zags of the other, leaving an internal space
windows cut into concertina books to fold the opposite way
cut holes (linked design/shape) to show portion of following page
prints collaged onto pages, small squares rearranged
multi paper stitched as sheets into Japanese stab binding book
concertina book section joined at right angles
cyanotypes mixed with drawings, paint, emboss etc, common theme or image
paper combined with stitch
small books stitched into larger books
pockets for small drawings
origami book which folds flat out of a hard cover, details on one side (each page) large drawing on back