Tag Archives: The Heaven Project

“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

 

Setting Up a Custom Google Alert for Artists Books

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Every day I get three emails from Google Alerts. Google Alerts monitors the web for new content in areas I’m interested in. One is set up for “artists books” and one is for “handmade books.” Sometimes there is nothing worth mentioning in these emails, but sometimes, like today, there were some real treasures. And, often by beginning with these links, I wander into something even more interesting.

The third is for “Ginger Burrell.” Why my own name? As artists we send things out all over  – to galleries, to collectors, on the web. Keeping track of how your work is being used or being talked about is important and nearly impossible without search tools. Google Alerts helped me find this review by Lark Magazine which included a nice mention about The Heaven Project and this mention by Denison Library about adding my book, Hands, to their collection.

Today’s goodies include:

In the “handmade books” alert, a link to Huldra Press about using a sketchbook and a link to a video version of an artist’s book by Theodore Lalos.

In the “artists books” alert, there was a link to a video by Travis Shaffer: Artist’s Book: conceptual and a link to a blog about the London Art Book Fair by Artypeeps which, when following the sidebar links led me to Artypeeps Artists’ Books page and ultimately to the treasure of the day:

The August/September issue of the Book Arts Newsletter edited by Sarah Bodman and published by the Centre for Fine Print Research, Department of Creative Arts: Book Arts, at the University of West England. And that lead to the September/October issue. Grab a cold drink (it’s going to be 100 degrees here) and stay a while. These two newsletters have seventy-seven (77!) pages of book arts information. It will take a while to load but it’s well worth it – you will be inspired.

Interested in setting up your own Google Alerts? Use this easy form.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

Learning about What Has Come Before: Book Art in America

When I was at San Jose State University, some of my favorite classes were art history. I know. Snooze. But I had the gift of three amazing professors who love art history and made me  love it, too.

Dr. Max Grossman’s enthusiasm for art history was a defining moment for me. What seemed dry and drudgery became interesting, even compelling. In his Medieval to Renaissance class, Dr. Grossman talked about the art and artists as if he had been there. His knowledge of the backstories of great works of art made them come alive and had a lasting effect. Now at museums I recognize work we talked about, I understand its place in the history of art, and its significance to work that followed. I’ve become a better consumer of art because I’m more educated.

Dr. Dore Bowen‘s class Contemporary Art: The Thing sounds like a good name for a horror flick. Instead it was a thought-provoking journey through the art world from Duchamp’s Fountain to Jeff Koon’s Puppy and far beyond. And, while I didn’t always like the art (or even agree that it is art), I did learn to really think. Not just about the visual impact, but also about the intent of the artist, the social and cultural context when the art was made, and the influence of that art on all that follows. This class also led to two of my artists’ books, Rocks and You’ve Come a Long Way Baby.

Brian Taylor‘s History of Photography changed everything for me. I’ve loved photography since I was a little girl (I have the “heads cut off” photos to prove it) but, until this class, I had no idea about the incredible artistic range of this medium I thought I was good at.  As I learned about Anna Atkins, Edward Steichen, Imogen Cunningham,  Jerry Uelsmann, Alexander Rodchenko and too many others to name here, I realized that I knew nothing about photography and that I need to begin again. This class also led to new work including The Heaven Project and Ode to Anna Atkins.

Why have I spent four paragraphs reminiscing about art history classes? This rather long-winded introduction leads me to my current foray into art history, reading No Longer Innocent: Book Art In America 1960-1980 by Betty Bright. I’ve had this book on my shelf for quite some time but I’d never actually opened it. One day I realized how much I was missing the reading and discussions from school and decided that this book would be a good start. I know a lot now about the histories of painting, sculpture, photography, but what do I really know about the history of my own media, book arts? So here goes, a self-directed art history class about book arts. I suspect, as the above mentioned classes changed how I view and make art, this book will also have an impact. I invite you to read along with me and join the discussion.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

Outside of the Comfort Zone (Mine)

Not only have I been encouraging you to get your art out into the world, but I’ve also been sending out mine. I’m proud to share with you that my artists’ books will be in three current and upcoming gallery shows in case you’d like to see them in person.

4th Annual Juried Show – Sylvia White Gallery – Ventura, California – now through September 3rd

The first show, going on now through September 3, is at the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura, California. This annual juried show is why I titled the blog post “Outside of the Comfort Zone.” I was not going to enter this show because: 1. It is the Sylvia White Gallery, 2. It is not a book arts gallery, 3. I was pretty darned sure my work wouldn’t be chosen in this kind of setting. But, at the last-minute, I decided to enter. What’s that saying, you could have knocked me over with a feather? Well, in this case it was true. I’ll admit to some impromptu dancing with my husband in our closet (long story) when we found out that two of my artists’ books, The Heaven Project and Loves Me/Not had been chosen from 1800 entries for the show. If you can’t make it to the gallery in person, you can see the show online, here.

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From Our Perspectives: A National Women’s Art Exhibition – Oakland Community College, Farmington Hills, Michigan – September 15 – October 14

I’m pleased to have been asked to participate in this annual show for a second time, this time with my artists’ book I’m Telling You Now.  The description for the show: “Within their chosen medium, today’s women artists continue to share their unique viewpoints on the material, personal, global, political and cultural landscapes that surround us.”

I’d love to see the show in person but don’t think I can get to Michigan during that timeframe. Are you local? I’d love to see some photos. You can also see slide shows of previous year’s shows: 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

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BookOpolis 2011- Asheville Bookworks – Asheville, North Carolina – September 23 and 24 (Some work extended until November 28th)

This year I’ll have One Second of Time and Empty at BookOpolis in North Carolina. It’s not too late to send your own work, learn more here. I’m hoping like last year, to have one book, or both, chosen for the extended Capital Works Show.

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Is there a show you’ve been thinking of entering but are not sure it’s worth the entry fee, potential rejection (At the same time that I was notified of the Sylvia White selection, I was notified that my work was not chosen for the Marin MOCA show, Shattered), or hassle? Remember your art needs a viewer to fulfill its potential and give it a try.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

Turning it 90 degrees: Why Having a Community of Artists Matters

You may remember how I got stuck on making the titles using embossing powder and how a visit to the Maker Faire helped me gain a new perspective: Turn it 90 Degrees.

Well after a visit with a friend and fellow artist, Don Drake of Dreaming Mind Bindery, I’ve had another 90 degree moment. This time provided by Don, “Use straight PVA.”

I do use straight PVA, but never for covering boards. I was taught to use some combination of PVA and methyl cellulose for workability and drying time and, quite honestly, I didn’t have a good understanding of what I was doing by adding the methyl cellulose – I was adding moisture/water.

So Don and I were chatting about my new quilt book (still in progress) and the covers that I’d done so far. I wasn’t happy with the way there was some glue bleed through (see original post and photo) and when Allison, via comments to the blog post, asked if I considered making the quilt pieces into book cloth I thought, “Doh! Why didn’t I do that?”

Fast forward to a conversation with some artist friends about the best way to make book cloth from the quilt pieces and Don asks me, “Why don’t you use straight PVA?” Well, because you don’t use straight PVA  on book covers, right? Don pointed out that the bleed through was because of the moisture in the methyl cellulose and maybe some from the PVA. He recommended that I try straight PVA wet and, if that didn’t work, roll the PVA on the board until it was tacky and almost dry and then use heat to reactivate it to glue on the cloth.

I haven’t actually tried to glue the quilt with the straight PVA yet, I’m still working on the content of the book, but I did try it on the covers for the most recent copies of The Heaven Project. What a dream! The paper I use for the covers is lovely but moody and when I switched from the PVA/methyl cellulose mixture to straight PVA (wet) – wow! The paper was happy, I was happy, and my covers are beautiful.

My conversation with Don reminded me that I need to get to know my materials better and not just do what I’ve been taught to do. Mix it up a bit. Try straight PVA. It also reminded me that having a community of artists to toss ideas around with and to ask questions of makes all the difference.

Do you have a community of artists to collaborate with? A great place to start is with the Book Arts Web. Join the list serv and you will instantly be part of a world-wide community of artists.

Do you have a local group? If so, make the time to go. I know, you’ll never have enough time in the studio and it’s tempting to hunker down on your own. But chatting with other artists who have the same challenges you do, who have knowledge that you don’t, who are enthusiastic about art – it is worth the time for your art and your soul.

My local group is the Bay Area Book Artists. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are welcome there, too! Can’t find a group in your area? Email the Book Arts Web, ask if anyone knows of a group near you. Contact your local college and see if they can refer you. Take a local art class and make a friend. Find just one other artist near you and have lunch once a month. Invite artists as you go and pretty soon you’ll have your own group.

Feel free to post links to your local groups in the comments section – the more the merrier.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

Production Notes (or making an edition of artists’ books)

This week I finished the last of the EYES edition. I’d forgotten how long those little EYES cubes take to make. Painting the cubes, cutting out those little EYES photographs, painstakingly gluing each photo to each face of every cube. Meditative in a way. And, while I was painting and cutting and gluing I was already working on new artists’ books in my head.

In the past I’ve made my artists’ books as I need them. EYES was an edition of 10, I made two in the edition to start and have made one or two at a time since. Now that I’m sending the last three in the edition to Vamp & Tramp, I can’t help but think that maybe I should make all of the new work as complete editions. If there is 1o in an edition, make all 10 at once.

My editions are never very big, 25 at the most. Often 5 or 10. Part of the reason is that I have more ideas than I have time to make books and another reason, quite honestly, is that I get bored with making the same book. I love the process of making artists books, the first thrill of a new idea, the excitement of picking every detail:  what structure, creation of the content, the book cloth or paper to cover the book, whether it will have pieces to play with like Rocks or be a more contemplative and traditional book like The Heaven Project. I even love the frustrations, or more specifically the aha! moment, when the problems that plague a book are solved.

So as I get ready to start new work, I’m wondering should I make it all at once? It would be nice to have it all ready to send out without any lead time and it would be nice not to try to find paper, cloth or some other essential for an edition when it turns out I need more than I planned. But would making and storing the books all at once reduce my relationship with the art? Has making EYES cubes over the years helped me bond with the book and keep it close to my heart?

What do you do? Do you make all of the artists’ books in an edition at once? 

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

The Heaven Project

The Heaven Project began during a trip to Yellowstone National Park during the summer of 2009. I came across a rabbit that had been run over and had the thought that bunnies must go to Heaven because obviously they were “good.” What could a rabbit possibly do that wasn’t good?

I was not brought up in any specific religion, and my mental picture of Heaven is still the one I’ve had since I was a little girl kneeling next to my bed with my grandma teaching me the words, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” I started to wonder where God put all of the people and animals when they go to Heaven.

I asked my husband his opinion, and assumed, since he was raised Catholic, that there would be a standard answer. Instead, he told me that he thinks Heaven is individual for each person. That God grants us the Heaven we envision. If there are bunnies in my version of Heaven, then they’ll be there. If my grandma is in my version, she’ll be there, too.

I didn’t expect this answer from someone brought up with a particular church doctrine, and I started to wonder. What does each person think their Heaven will look like?

I sent out an e-mail to mailing lists and list-servs with the above text and asked people to send me a description of their version of Heaven. The replies are generous, trusting and sublime. It has been a gift to be allowed a glimpse into such personal visions.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com