Following my recent miniature book making workshop, I have been experimenting with making small books as research for the upcoming artist’s book project. I want to see how different book forms might be exploited and also look at how I might bind together work produced outside the book form.
The simplest book form which we learnt on the course was the concertina book. This is constructed by joining two or more long pieces of paper and folding them. The trick is to decide on an overlap, let’s say 1.5cm, and cut that length off the end of one strip. The next strip is then marked at 1.5cm and the first strip glued butted up to that mark giving the 1.5cm overlap. The paper is folded at that mark and then successively in half. If a longer strip is wanted, the second sheet is butted and glued again at 1.5cm but no further cuts are made. With careful folding, it all works out beautifully. Beyond the simplicity, the form has other assets. You can glue one or both end to covers which may or may not be hinged together. The pages can be triangular, hexagonal or rectangular but the paper needs to be thin enough to be easily folded. You can use both sides of the paper, cut into the hinge and reverse it. It is flexible enough to accommodate uneven enclosures. No wonder so many book artists use it. In fact, I started one at the beginning of the course to make notes of media experiments (it isn’t well made) and I have filled it in one direction, turned it over and am gradually filling the back.
A book allows you to condense images and relate them in a new way. Here, I have taken a drawing from a recent workshop, cut it up and reformed it into a concertina book. Although originally drawn as a response to music, it also represents my continuing investigations into how I can use media to represent presence/absence or boundaries between states. This use of gouache captures a transitional moment when fluid becomes non-fluid.
I did not like the lower, fractured line but there were really interesting small elements in the rest. I have extracted these and mounted them on foldable black paper, selecting their order and orientation to suggest flow without absolute continuity; an act of curation. I like the idea of making a book as curation.
The concertina design allows the viewer to juxtaposition the images in different ways.
At this stage, I considered what, if any, text should be added, in particular a title. I think that text would be an intrusion on the images, but perhaps a title on the front cover?
I considered printing a title and sticking it on, rather than writing, but I think that the personal voice (and hand) of the artist is important. However, my writing is so horrid that this looks really unprofessional. This is going to be covered up with end-boards which will also make the book more stable, stronger and look better finished.
As part of my material research, I have been experimenting with different supports, including mount board. I used a window cut in paper to select suitable areas of one experiment and then cut the board up into possible covers.
Having selected two and trimmed them to the right size, I considered that the others would make a good slip case which would give the book added presence and substance in the hand. Combining two boards with more black paper and a black ribbon to help extract the book created a sturdy little slip case. The original images are 10cm sq but mounting them on paper and allowing for hinges and depth means that my slip case is 12cm by 11cm, just not square, just not rectangular.
I have also considered adding folded insert pages in a translucent paper, with windows cut through, so that portions of the designs can be seen directly, others through the paper.
The shapes would then pile up as the pages were turned.
Windows echoing the shapes of the flow on the main pages were also considered.
I find the curved shapes contrived. The rectangular apertures work better, but when you set the book up in a sculptural format, I think the translucent pages distract.
Ultimately, I think the original format is better.
The final book form:
I like the way that this book works in the hand, stood up as a small sculpture or even hung, folded out on a wall. Extracting details from a drawing allows focus at a different scale and combining them into book form creates an artefact which is pleasurable to open and discover. Creating a book requires close attention to detail. If I was starting this again I would wish to pay more attention to the relationship between the final size and the initial image size, working backwards. This started out as research into how I could use a simple book form and has evolved into an object with a good level of finish and significance.