Tag Archives: artists books

An Artists’ Book Start To Finish, Part 1

Melania's Dreamcoat copy

I’m in the middle of my preparation for CODEX 2019. I use CODEX as my every two year deadline to introduce new work. I’ve got a suite of work in progress and, just this week, I’ve started working on a new piece. I know our processes all vary, and learning about them can be interesting, so I thought I’d share mine.

First: The Idea

Most of my ideas are sparked by something I hear on the news, talk about with Greg, or run across in daily life. This particular artists’ book began as a response to the jacket Melania wore to the detention center in Texas.

I played with some ideas for a few days and told Greg, “There is something here, beyond the obvious, but I just can’t quite put my finger on it.”

Then last weekend I drove to Hanford, CA to visit my parents. Usually Greg drives but in this case we wanted to get there early (Greg is not a morning person) so I drove and he slept. I didn’t turn on a podcast or the radio because I wanted him to sleep as much as possible.

I really should sit/drive/walk with quiet more often. Sometimes I forget how much fun my brain has meandering and making connections.

It started with problem solving another in progress piece and making some mental “to do” lists. Then my brain wandered over to the jacket idea. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat floated by. As did Madeleine Albright’s book about how she used pins to signal different things in her diplomatic meetings.

Aha! Now I knew what I wanted to do for this artists’ book. The cover would be the green fabric  of the now infamous jacket with the title in the same font style as the writing. The working title: Melania and the Controversial Pale Green Pea Coat.

My goal with this book is not to espouse a particular political viewpoint. Rather to explore how women use fashion to communicate in politics and diplomacy. With some added lyricism, Andrew Lloyd Weber style. Clearly still a work in progress, but I have some threads to pull.

Up next? Research.

I’ve collected 35 pages of articles about women/fashion/diplomacy and politics. And ordered an out of print book titled “Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion” from Amazon. And requested the related books I could find at our library, “Reforming Women’s Fashion, 1850-1920: Politics, Health and Art,” and “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box,” and “The Worn Archive.”

I found some interesting references to men’s fashion being used the same way, in particular Mr. Trudeau’s socks. Perhaps there is a sock book in my future. But I digress.

Stay tuned for the next phases: reading, materials collection, and writing.

How does your artwork begin? With an idea? A material? Do you have a standard process? Please leave your process in the comments!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

 

“How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #1

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I’m in the middle of my studio clean out. It definitely got worse before it got better, but today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least the floor in some places.

I’m being rather harsh in my clean out, I don’t want to do this again soon. Everything has to earn its space. Especially books. So far I’ve donated 4 bags of books to the library and I’ve got two more boxes of books to donate to the Bay Area Book Artists Sale on Sunday, October 16th.

In my studio I have one of those Ikea bookshelves with the squares to divide books. Above is a photo of one of two squares labelled, “Book Arts How To.” I thought I’d share with you the books that I think are worth keeping in my studio and why.

Most books about Book Arts include the standard bindings, Accordion, Coptic, Pamphlet, etc. In order for me to keep a book in this category, it has to have one or more of the following:

  1. Unique binding ideas
  2. The best photos and instructions for a particular binding
  3. A gallery of book examples with outstanding artists books

Today, the first 5. Note, these are in no particular order of preference. Rather the order they are on my shelf.

Book Art Studio by Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow.

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The primary reason this book gets to stay? The Limp Paper Binding. A variation on the traditional Limp Vellum Binding. I haven’t tried it yet so the book goes back on my shelf.

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re-bound: creating handmade books from recycled and repurposed materials by Jeannine Stein

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This book deserves shelf space for the gallery. Here two of my favorites by Elaine Nishizu and Judi Delgado.

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Next, Book Arts: Beautiful Bindings for Handmade Books by Mary Kaye Seckler

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I keep this book for The Raven’s Foot Binding. It is a fun and unusual binding and well described here.

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More Making Books By Hand by Peter and Donna Thomas

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While there are instructions about how to make books, this one gets to stay as a catalog of Peter and Donna Thomas’ artwork. Here one of my favorites, The Trout.

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Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books by Dorothy Simpson Krause

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This book is unique in that it has Thermal Bindings (bindings created with the use of heat)

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And Drumleaf Bindings, bindings created by applying glue to the spine. Neither of which I’ve done, but both of which look interesting and useful.

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Next week, the next five.

On a personal note, the wedding in Virginia Beach was wonderful, beautiful, sentimental. We’re still smiling from the joy we shared with Samantha and Jeff.

We also experienced Tropical Storm Hermine which turned out to be stormy enough to create some challenges for the bride and groom but also disappointing after watching all of the weather channel doom and gloom.  For fun, Greg and I went to the coast at took some Hermine selfies. Here is my favorite.

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~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Community Matters at San Jose City Hall, Reception Friday June 6

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I was honored to be invited to participate in the Community Matters show at San Jose City hall. This show features SJSU art department alumni and will be open until October 1., 2014. I know several of the participants and am flattered to be included in such a talented group. These are the art students I would come home and tell Greg about. “They’re going to do something big,” I’d tell him and you’ll see by their work exactly what I meant.

Each of us has our own display area an, in addition to several of my better known artist’s books,  you’ll be able to see a work that isn’t even on my website yet. Tentatively titled Elephants, it is a collection of artist’s books about family secrets. When the curator, Robin Treen, visited my studio she was excited about this piece and asked if I could have it finished in time for the show. “Sure!” I told her. And it was done at 2 a.m. the day of the install.

I hope you can join me on Friday, June 6th, between 4:30-6 p.m. for the reception.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

I Think of Art at the Oddest Times…

Book press (1 of 1)

Today I went for my annual mammogram appointment. (Yes, ouch!) While I was in with the technician and she was, um, pressing the relevant parts, I suddenly started laughing. She told me that it is very unusual for someone to laugh during this process that everyone dreads.

What I didn’t tell her was that I suddenly had a vision of the book covers and finished books that I put under a lot of weight in my studio and leave overnight while they dry flat. I could just imagine those little sandwiches of paper saying “ow….” and then I took a moment to be grateful that I didn’t have to stay in this situation overnight!

A little levity never hurts and prevention is always a good thing. Are you or a loved one putting off this important medical screening? Please make your appointment soon!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

Dusting Off the Mental Cobwebs

Last week I finished unpacking my studio and starting working on several new artists’ books. They’re ideas I’ve had floating around during moving and recovery and, finally, I’m ready to get back to work. After months of getting a house ready to sell, moving for the first time in 15 years, and then having a hysterectomy and recovering from that –  I finally feel like I once again have the physical and mental energy I need to dedicate to being an artist.

First, I had to start the week by beating myself up mentally. Why on earth didn’t I write/create/develop ideas while recovering? All I was doing was lying around, right?

Next, I had to forgive myself. Apparently I needed all of the energy I had just to heal. I wish I could have used that time more productively (I don’t think watching 63 episodes of Eureka counts as productive) but for some reason I couldn’t. I tried.

And finally, I’m dusting off the cobwebs (and my tools) and starting anew. I’ve started working on images for one of the new artists’ books. Family and friends are gamely standing against a white while for photos while wondering what on earth I’m going to do with them.

Photoshop is less intuitive right now – I know I used to know how to do all of this. I’ve started taking photographs every day – Oh, how I love to take pictures!  So far mostly of my garden growing and some jam I made this morning.

I’ve hooked up my new printer, a Canon iX6520 (all by myself, no husband-who-is-an-engineer-tech-support!) and I’ve started testing it. My beloved HP that I’ve used to print all of my artists’ books went kaput and I feel like I’m back at square one. Can I use pages I’ve already printed with pages from the new printer? Do I have to start over? Will this printer print on Rives BFK as beautifully as that old printer?

And I’ve started working in my studio. I’ll post photos of the studio later this week. Right now I’ve got the radio cranked up and I’m remembering how to hold a bone folder and being grateful for my health, for being able to find most things where I look on the first try, and for my amazing new workspace.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

CBAA Member Showcase: Luz Marina Ruiz

Part of the CBAA conference was the member showcase where artists had the opportunity to share their work. Originally I’d signed up for a table but later I realized that if I was showing my artists’ books I wouldn’t be able to enjoy and learn from the wealth of other work being shown. It turned out to be the right decision. I spent two hours (and could have spent all day) talking to artists and looking at their work and learning not only about the techniques, content and strategies used in their art making but also formulating a list of questions I need to explore about my own.

I’ll start by telling you about  Luz Marina Ruiz. I first met Luz Marina Ruiz in 2010 via one of her artists’ books at the Unbound show at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. I fell in love with her tunnel books: rich and vibrant, mysterious and welcoming.

After we go to any art show, performance or concert Greg and I usually share a meal and discuss the work – one of our favorite conversations after an art show or museum exhibit is for each of us to pick our “top 3” pieces and explain why. On that day both of us picked Luz Marina Ruiz’s tunnel book as our top piece.

I next met her, in person, at Codex and had the joy of seeing many more of her exquisite artists’ books. There is something about the angularity, the dense blackness and the vibrant colors that make her tunnel books particularly successful.

At the CBAA conference we had the opportunity to meet again and, this time, to discuss her techniques. In the tunnel books that I come back to over and over again, the black is printed on a press and the color is hand-painted. In some cases a thin layer of beeswax is also applied. She generously talked me through the entire process and gave me tips to use beeswax successfully. At the close of our conversation I was pleased to hear that Luz Marina Ruiz has joined the faculty at Mills College. I hope to have the opportunity to take a class with her soon!

Next: Laura Russell

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

Paper Storage: An Alternative to Flat Files

One of the many challenges of being an artist is storing supplies and, for book artists, that means paper. Do we roll it up? Lay it flat? And where in our studio do we store paper without exposure to dust, bugs and other troublesome elements?

Ideally I think we’d all love to have a nice set, or three, of flat files. Big, flat, thin drawers to cradle all of that beautiful paper that we just can’t resist. If you’ve ever been to the annual paper sale at Flax in San Francisco, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s such a deal, why not buy more? Because you have to store it somewhere.

I agonized over whether I could afford flat files (I tried Craigslist and Freecycle in addition to art and office supply stores, I even tried school suppliers hoping that they might have a bit more of a bargain for classroom storage) and, even if I could afford them, would they fit in my studio, a 10 x 10 bedroom? The only option was to remove my work table and use the top of the flat files as workspace.  I didn’t really like this idea and thought long and hard about what I truly needed.

I realized that because of the size limitations of my computer printer it was unlikely that I would ever make artists’ books that would need full sheets of paper. This changed the size of the paper that I needed to store from 22 x 30 to half sheets of 22 x 15. I knew I wanted drawers, not containers with lids, so that I could stack them and not have to move anything to get to the paper. I do enough of that shuffling around already in my studio. I scoured the local stores and the internet for a product that would work.

Enter the Wide Underbed Drawers from the Container Store. These stackable drawers are 23 x 27 x 6.5 high and easily hold half sheets of pretty much any paper I’ve bought. It turns out that 6 of them fit neatly between my upper and lower linen closets. Aha. Instant flat paper storage for a pittance compared to the price of flat files. $150 for six drawers (38 ” of stacked height) instead of the $500-$1500 I would have paid for flat files. Even better, by ordering online and picking up at my local Container store, shipping is free and they brought the items to my car. Now that is customer service.

I’ve had my stacking drawers for more than a year now. I’m very happy with the size, the ease of stacking and the amount of paper I can fit in the drawers. They are easy to open and close and do not jam. Because of their height, I am able to store boxes in the drawers to divide the paper. For example, if I’ve cut Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain short and Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain long I want to be able to store them separately but I don’t want to use up a whole drawer for just one stack. I use the Stockholm Office Boxes, also from the Container Store, to hold smaller sheets inside the larger drawers. (Just to be clear, I have no affiliation with The Container Store, I just love these products enough to recommend them.)

I have no idea yet where this flat paper storage will go in my new studio, but because of their stackability there is a lot of flexibility, certainly more than if I’d purchased flat files.

A friend of mine, Kitta, stores hers in rolls in a wine rack turned on it’s back, another friend under her bed. How do you store large pieces of paper for your art?

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com