My first couple of days working ‘in residence’ in the library provided a really focussed period of work on the project. I brought the starting points I had developed, along with sketches, photographs and notes to show any interested participants or members of the public. The ‘big book’ was brought down from the collection to sit on my worktable and provide an important proximity to my working process.
I continued to work on the book units, having now identified the exact dimensions to make. I wasn’t working any differently to how I would in my own studio, but being in the library itself provided a focus and impetus to my making and thinking. The library had been asked to collect together any papers or books that would have been otherwise discarded so that I could potentially incorporate them into my work. The range of these was slightly disappointing, but was enough to start exploring possibilities. The lovely library staff found me a tin of old library stamps and some inkpads, which I played with on the surface of some of my book units.
About a month later I had a second residency session, again working in the library in an intensive way and exploring further the use of withdrawn publications in my book units. This time in the library also allowed for participants in the project to visit and talk about what I was doing, as well as the development of their own work for the project. That sharing of process, thinking and development between the artists involved is a key part of this whole venture. Those discussions are so important for artists to have with their peers or mentors, partly as a means of over-coming problems (that you sometimes didn’t even realise were there), but also in a spirit of support and understanding. Even just describing what you are doing or trying to achieve to someone else can solidify things in your own mind and provide a way forward or even just a confirmation that the approach you are taking is right.
I have books on the brain at the moment – if I’m not writing words for one, I’m playing about with book forms. On a recent workshop I was teaching, where simple book forms was a small part of what we did, I was inspired to try out some new bindings. I used some of the demonstration samples to experiment with and now they have become little books.
I recently got a copy of Little Book of Book Making, out in America (and I think a UK version is coming out later in the month under a different name) in which my work is featured alongside some amazing book artists. Making books is just a small part of what I do and I only use very simple structures, so I feel very honoured to have been included in such a collection.
Now that the Shirt Collar Project exhibition is open and the final pieces have been revealed I can share a few images of my finished work. There is a full explanation of the process and decisions that led to these pieces over on the project blog. I ended up making three small book forms using the prints I made from my collar. I find the 3D nature of these pieces very pleasing. I often feel drawn to working in a more three-dimensional way and perhaps this project has taught me to go with that impulse. I really allowed the experimentation with the materials to lead me this time, with no particular outcome in mind: a really useful challenge.
I’ve been working on my contribution to the Shirt Collar Project and it has taken me in a direction I didn’t expect. Pictures of the final pieces from all ten artists will be revealed over on the project blog but here are a few images of my process as it unfolded (or folded!). I didn’t expect to make book forms but having printed from my collar on to both paper and fabric I then tested various routes and this was the one that I ended up following.
There’s nothing quite like a production line to give you a feeling of satisfaction at achieving small goals. Making and writing Christmas cards in between other jobs this week I have been reminded of how rewarding repetitive tasks can be. Whether it is weaving, stitching, folding paper… once in your stride the task is repeated fluidly and with rhythm. Paying attention to the smallest detail of the movements; applying just the right amount of pressure; placing something exactly where it should be; enjoying the physical movement of each small element; mind focussed yet available to explore and reflect at the same time.
I forgot to say, in the whirlwind that was yesterday, that my miniature quilt was awarded a Highly Commended! I’m a bit embarrassed by this as I wasn’t entirely happy with the final result but had to send it off for the deadline in a bit of a rush. Also, it is far from traditional. I’m told that it caused some fierce discussion in the judging panel!
While I was away on holiday last week I got rather a lot of work done. Maybe that was partly a result of having no internet access! I’ve been working with samples and leftover bits and pieces from my natural dyeing experiments over the last few months along with a new batch I dyed just before going away. I took the newly dyed batch with me to dry out slowly on the wooden porch.
I then opened them up, once some time and fresh air had done its stuff, to reveal these lovely little concertinas and marked units.
I’m using paper of different weights that has been folded, clamped and dyed with onion skins and some with red cabbage (giving a lovely blue).
I have rough grids and squares and little units, which I’ve brought together to make little assemblages. Some pieces have squares of wool felt that have been clamped and dyed in the same way as the paper. The dye on some is so dark (aided by the metal in the clamps) that they look charred. There are also rust marks from the clamps that merge with the onion skin colour.
Copper wire stitches bring everything together and each piece is mounted on board ready to pop into a frame.