Category Archives: Altered Books

Paper Dolls at Marin MOCA – 6th Annual Altered/Artist Book Show

I’m very tickled to share with you that Paper Dolls was awarded 3rd Place in this year’s (2015) judging by Donna Seager!…

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (3 of 8)

I participate in the Marin MOCA show each year with the idea that altered books can and should have the same standard of quality, content and detail as any artist book.

I entered the first year thinking that making an altered book was so different from how I usually worked that it would be a good stretch for me as an artist. To my surprise, over time, my experience in making books for Marin MOCA has influenced my regular art practice resulting in such titles as Reliquary, Dear IRS and Breathe for Those Cannot.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (1 of 8)

This year’s altered/artist book entry, Paper Dolls, began as a feminist manifesto about the role of women in society past and the ever-present attempts to return women to that role. In the entire book, The Complete Book of Sewing by Constance Talbot (1943), there was only one photograph of a man sewing and he was listed as THE expert.

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Over time, however, Paper Dolls became a sentimental journey through my childhood. As I wrote the poetry, I realized that so much of how I make art now was influenced by the time I spent then with my mother imagining, designing, and creating clothing. Every trip to the fabric store was a lesson in color theory, textures, and attention to detail. Sensory memories of whispery pattern paper, the whirring sewing machine and being pricked with pins, still in the garment, began to rearrange my ideas.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (8 of 8)

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (7 of 8)

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (6 of 8)

The finished book is multi-layered with poetry printed on cotton patterned fabric, pages made of layered pattern paper, and pages of the original book. The altered/artist book is sewn both by hand, with Coptic binding, and also by machine, through the cotton and paper pages.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (4 of 8)

I am fascinated with technology and enjoy incorporating the digital with the traditional book form in a way that serves the book’s content. In the one copy for Marin MOCA,  Paper Dolls features a digital frame which plays a fashion show of pattern packets with women’s clothing from 1900 to the 1970s. This theme is further expressed with inclusion of cut-out paper dolls presented in the “sewing” box with the finished book.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (2 of 8)



PS. Mom, I love you!




Altered Book for Marin MOCA: How to be a Lady

My entry this year for the 3rd annual Marin MOCA Altered Book and Book Arts Show is titled How to be a Lady.

I don’t usually work in altered book form so this is a nice annual challenge to think and work in a different way. This year’s entry was complicated by moving house. First I had to find the pieces of the book. (In the tenth or eleventh box I opened, of course. No Rae, I did not follow your advice and take photos of all of the box contents, silly me!) Then I had to take off my movers hat and dust off the one marked “artist.”

This altered book is really a collaboration between the original author, Candace Simpson-Giles, the creators of several vintage advertisements and the marvelous women who replied to my question, “What do you think a lady is? Do you think the term is still relevant?” I simply designed and assembled the resulting content. As my husband put it, I was the curator.

The replies that I received were so interesting I’ll post more later this week. In the meantime, here are more details about the book.

The book is a pull out accordion with sets of three pages – an original page from the book, comments from a woman about being a lady, and a vintage ad. It is re-attached inside the original book cover.

This ad, for example:

combined with text from Joanne:

I always thought a lady was someone else. It was a word that applied to other and older people, people who wore gloves and hats, for example. (Although when I was in high school, we wore gloves to dances.)

When I was in my 20s (in the 60s),  I searched for a word that would apply to me. Males had the word ‘guys,’ but ‘girls’  just didn’t seem appropriate.  (“Lady’ never entered the picture.) So I was very happy when the women’s movement encouraged me to use ‘woman’ to refer to myself,  though it was a bit hard to say at the very beginning.  Getting back to “How to be a lady”…  I guess it doesn’t apply.

to create this spread:

And this ad:

combined with one of the original book pages to create this spread:

Opening night is April 21st and the show runs until May 26th. There is a reception on April 21st from 5-7 p.m. And a talk by Donna Seager from 4-5 p.m.

Hope to see you there!


More Recycled Books: Kleenex Box Covers

As I’m getting ready to start teaching again next Wednesday, September 14th,  at the Palo Alto Art Center (Class Details Here), I’ve been enjoying making prototype books in preparation. My current favorite recycled material is the pretty floral cardboard on the outside of Kleenex boxes.

Here is the before photo:

And some after photos:

The covers are from the Kleenex boxes, the striped paper and signature paper are scraps, and the embroidery floss is leftover from another project. The binding is a side pamphlet stitching on accordion fold pleats.

And, since Greg and I both have colds – I’m going to have a lot more of that nice cardboard to play with!