A Yen for Paper

I seem to be obsessed lately with advertising involving the clever use of paper. Maybe it's because interesting advertising is rare. But there's also a bit of nostalgia here, as paper becomes less and less important in society -- newspapers losing ground to reading online, books in print being overshadowed by ebooks, etc.

Paradoxically, paper has become even more important to me in the past few years. I've always been an avid reader of books, magazines, and newspapers (not to mention cereal boxes, catalogs, posters -- you get the idea), but now that I make books, I've developed a whole new and delicious appreciation for all kinds of paper. In some ways, then, I may be going backward instead of forward in time. In this case, I don't think it's a bad thing.

This is the trailer for Le Petit Nicolas, a live-action film based on the book of the same name. The book was first published in 1959, written by Rene Goscinny (who also wrote the Asterix comic books), and illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempe. Followed by several more books about Nicholas and his friends, the books became wildly popular in France in the 60s.

Thanks to Celeste Frittata for the heads up on this video.

How about you? Do you, too, have a lust for paper?

P.S. For those of you who are much more Blogger-savvy than I, how do I get an accent mark on that final 'e' in 'Rene' and 'Sempe'?


Ads Don't Have to be Boring

I've written about Su Blackwell's work before, and it continues to amaze. Below is a 45-second t.v. advertisement for Beringer wines from 2007 that I learned about on All Things Paper (thanks, to Ann Martin).

Blackwell, a UK-based artist, combines arts (pop-ups) and paper-cutting in remarkable ways. Worth seeing is the "making-of video" for the Beringer ad (also below), which features Blackwell.

And just for fun, in case you missed it the first time 'round, is a charming video from singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan's CD, Sea Sew, which I wrote about here.

Here's Lisa's official You Tube Channel.

Stop-motion video seems to be encouraging advertisers to do more with paper arts (hurray!). Have you seen any examples recently that we may have missed?


How Do You Feel About the Printed Word?

I have a new widget -- I Pledge to Read the Printed Word -- on this blog (see left) that I found while reading one of the (too many) blogs I follow on my feed reader.

I embrace technology, particularly the extraordinary access to data and knowledge that it provides through the Web -- no, I'm not forgetting the also extraordinary levels of useless detritus, but for me, the pros far outweigh the cons. I also appreciate the value of a Kindle when traveling -- I wish I'd had one when I seemed to live on a plane during a past work life.

So I'm certainly no Luddite. Nevertheless, the printed page is to me one of the true wonders of the world, and I'll be forever in debt to Herr Gutenberg. Curling up with the Sunday Times or the book I'm currently reading (you MUST read this) is one of my great pleasures. Curling up with a Kindle? Not so much.

When I came across this wonderful "manifesto" from Mrs. Fischer's English Classes, I had to share it:
I, hereby, pledge to read the printed word. I pledge to hold books in my hand, to visit public libraries, to flip tangible pages, to read for pleasure and imagination, to pause from my reading to tilt my head heavenward to consider what information I have just absorbed.
I couldn't have said it better.

What do you think of "Mrs. Fischer's" pledge? Any thoughts on electronic readers such as the Kindle?

Image Credit: takomabibelot on Flickr
The Reading Girl (La Leggitrice), model 1856, carved 1861
by Pietro Magni (sculptor), Italian, 1817-1877
Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


A Life in Post-its

There's a special type of creativity that makes art from the mundane. I love this animated stop-motion video, Deadline, by Bang-yao Liu. It was his senior project at Savannah College of Art and Design. Liu says: "where my idea comes from is that every time when I am busy, I feel not that I am fighting with my work,...I am fighting with those post-it notes and deadlines."

The second video is about the making of Deadline.

Directed by Bang-yao Liu
Music by Röyksopp (http://royksopp.com)
Sound design by Ian Vargo, Shaun Burdick
Actor: Chun-yao Huang

The Making of 'Deadline'
Filmed by Jay Tseng
Edited by Bang-yao Liu


Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

I was delighted to hear that we'll be seeing director Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland next year. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (read and see the facsimile of the original book, with Arthur Rackham's illustrations, here) and Through the Looking Glass (read here) are two of my early favorite books, and anything by Burton (his most recent film was his version of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd) is bound to be, at the very least, a visual treat. The cast includes Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helen Bonham Carter (Burton's wife) as the Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat and Mia Wasikowska as Alice.

According to Burton in an article in Disney's new magazine, Disney Twenty-Three, the new film is not a re-telling of the 1865 novel, but a new story that has Alice returning to Wonderland, as a teenager, several years after the events of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. He describes the movie as "kind of a mixture of some distorted live action and animation." Hmmmm.

Here are a few of the images that recently were released by Disney to give a feel for Burton's artistic concept. You can find more images here and here. I'm looking forward to learning more.

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen


Making Books with Andrea Dezsö

I wrote in this blog about Andrea Dezsö a year-and-a-half ago. I began with "How smitten am I with Andrea Dezsö?" Well, I'm even more smitten now. When I found out that Andrea was teaching at the Southeast Association for Book Arts (SABA) conference, a scant two-and-a-half-hour-drive away, I signed up immediately. I didn't even read the description of the class.

As it turned out, the two-day class covered tunnel books on day 1 and pop-up books on day 2. Andrea, whose regular day job is at Parsons New School for Design (you can see her work here on Parson's site -- including her pop-up and tunnel books), kept things simple. She doesn't believe in showing students how to replicate one of her books; she prefers to teach them the form and let them experiment with their own ideas. During our class, Andrea was available to guide, demonstrate, and answer questions, but made a point of not imposing her aesthetic on us.

She showed us two alternatives for a tunnel book: the first was the more traditional accordion style; the other is a, simpler, wrap-around format. In the latter, each individual "screen," or portion, of the tunnel book has side tabs that are are affixed to a long strip of the same material. The strip "wraps" around the sides and back of the book. You can see some of the work our class created at the end of this post. And I couldn't resist including some images of Andrea's tunnel and pop-up books.

This is the first time I'd attended the SABA conference, which is organized by the Art Department at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and held there for four days every two years. The organizers are a mix of members of the Art and English departments at USC, and they did a terrific job. Each day began with a presentation from one of the instructors, and lunch included a lecture or workshop by someone from the school -- for example, the head of the university's rare books collections spoke on what book artists can learn from such a collection's resources. A national exhibit of artists' books, Intimate Curiosities, was mounted in conjunction with the conference, juried by artist Bea Nettles (Bea also took Andrea's class) and the opening of the exhibit was held at the University's McMaster Gallery during the first evening of the conference. Magnolia trees were in full bloom in Columbia during our visit, and Andrea, who'd never seen the flowers, was immediately captivated, saying that they were "as big as a person's head!" (As a side note, she made some beautiful sketches, including of the flower and its striking seed pod, during class).

I was delighted with the entire experience: with the professional and still friendly way in which the conference was run, with the organizers and speakers from USC, with the exhibit, with my fellow students, and of course, with the program and the instructors (and a good word, too, for The Inn at USC, which gave us great rates, and cookies and milk every night). I'm only sorry that it comes around only once every two years.

If you'll be in New York City between October 2009 and January 2010, check out the Museum of Art & Design's show: Slash: Paper Under the Knife, an international exhibit that will include Andrea's work.

(Note: the image at top right is Andrea Dezsö's tunnel book: Living Inside: The Forest. Andrea mentioned that this book was stolen from a gallery in April 2008. If you learn its whereabouts, please contact Andrea via her "Contact" link at Parsons.)

Bea's tunnel book

Marvine's tunnel book

Marjorie's tunnel book

Clara's tunnel book

Susan's tunnel book

Gina's pop-up book

Andrea explaining a pop-up structure
Andrea's Dezsö Pop-up Book: Stillwater

Andrea Dezsö Tunnel Book: Living Inside: The Mantis

Magnolia bloom "as big as a person's head"

Andrea's sketch of the magnolia bloom


Lisa Hannigan - Handmade

Is it just me, or are we seeing a surge of of pop-up-book art and paper-cuts art? I know we're seeing a renewed interest in and appreciation for the handmade object. Singer and songwriter Lisa Hannigan's new CD, Sea Sew, and the promotion for the disc, incorporate all three of these elements. Hannigan hails from Ireland, and sang backup for Damien Rice before being fired by him after seven years (see this NPR interview).

The central image for the web site for Sea Sew is a piece of knitting by Hannigan's mother. The original liner notes (song lyrics), photographed and included in the CD package, were hand-embroidered by Lisa (see the lyrics for Keep It All above). The song Lille -- the first of the two videos below -- is illustrated by pop-up imagery. That's Hannigan turning the pages. The pop-ups are by Maeve Clancy and Jamie Hannigan. The second, I Don't Know, has Hannigan literally "cutting-and-pasting" a room for herself (also created by Clancy). You can buy the album here and here. I love both of the songs and videos and have been playing them all afternoon.

Hannigan's blog entry for March 10, 2009 recounts her appearance on The Colbert Report. Catch that interview and performance here and here. Image credit for Keep It All lyrics (above): ATO Records. Thanks to Blue Roof Designs for the heads-up.


Making Paste Paper

I had the great good fortune to take part in a paste paper* workshop with Larry Lou Foster recently. Larry Lou (Louise Lawrence Foster), a book artist and fine binder, is a respected expert and innovator in paste-paper design. She has studied paste-paper traditions extensively and, over the years, replicated many historical patterns, as well as created new designs. It was a delightful and intense two days of work and study. Larry Lou is as generous as she is knowledgeable, and she was determined to share with us as many of her techniques and insights as our time with her allowed.

Printer, paper maker and book artist Frank Brannon, who met Larry Lou while in the MFA in Book Arts program at the University of Alabama, introduced Larry Lou to Laurie Corral, director of Asheville BookWorks, who immediately engaged her for a weekend workshop this spring. Frank is working on an edition of a book that will contain many examples of Larry Lou's paste papers, along with a discussion of her work. He not only designed the book and letterpress-printed the text, but made the paper for it as well. Once he's incorporated Larry Lou's paste-paper samples, which she created for the edition, he'll bind the books and make them available for sale.

Here are a few photos from the workshop. All of the paste papers pictured are Larry Lou's, although each of us who took the workshop came home came home with a lovely and ample supply of our own paper for book covers, boxes, cards, collage, etc.

* Paste papers are one of the earliest forms of decorative paper, first used in the 17th century for covers and end papers in books. Many of the beautiful and intricate designs of these papers are being used as inspiration by today's paste paper artists, who are also creating wonderful contemporary designs. The "paste" in "paste paper" is usually a wheat- or rice-paste mixture, to which pigment (acrylic paint or ground pigment) has been added. The colored paste is brushed onto dampened paper, then a variety of objects -- kitchen tools, carved brayers, and found objects, -- are used to draw into the paste while it is still wet. For those of you who may not have the convenience of a class, one of the best books on paste papers is Diane Maurer-Mathison's The Art of Making Paste Papers.

Larry Lou, using a long dowel to create diagonal lines on the paper,
over which she'll draw a design.


Sunday in the Park With...

A digression from "bookishness" today: I thought I'd share some photos of our outing yesterday with our two pups. We're fortunate to have several dog parks in the area, and we visited one of them for the first time yesterday afternoon. Coco (in spite of being the youngest and smallest of our two dogs, and among the smallest at the park), immediately took to the adventure. (That's Coco to the right, being "chauffered" to the park.) She made friends with everyone, dogs and people alike, and ran as fast as her very-close-to-the-ground legs would carry her. Twiggy, a more tentative pup, stuck close to me and Steven, venturing out only when Coco was with him. I was impressed at how well-behaved all the dogs were at the park. None of them showed any aggression, and all welcomed Coco's friendly overtures.

Next we headed downtown for a stroll. We live in a very dog-friendly place, so we can always depend on finding other people walking their dogs downtown on a weekend. Many shops allow pets inside, too. Twiggy and Coco had a great time exploring, then, when we took a break for hot cocoa and cookie, watching dogs and their people walk by.

This "puppy love" is a relatively new state of affairs for me. I've never been much of a pet person, and were it not for Steven, I doubt I'd ever have shared my home with an animal. Once we were married, 'though, Steven started to work on me, slowly but insistently, until I said 'yes' to bringing Twiggy home a little over four years ago. I still have a hard time believing that I agreed to a second dog (might Steven have put something in the water?). Nevertheless, I'm now besotted with Twiggy and Coco, and I've become one of those people to whom I used to feel superior while smiling indulgently as they talked about (and to) their dogs.

There's a moral here somewhere. Maybe one of them is that it's sometimes good to let go of old biases and welcome the unexpected.

Oh, by the way, Twiggy has his own blog (yes, clearly I've gone over the edge). He took a break after Coco arrived -- she's quite a handful -- but he expects to be posting more regularly again.

Getting to know the dog park pups.

Coco makes a (big) friend.

Twiggy makes a friend downtown.

Spring is here (and Steven's behind it).

Coco watches the Sunday strollers.

Twiggy wouldn't mind a bite of Steven's cookie.

Going home after a long day.



I bought a Gocco (from a Japanese word loosely translated as "make-believe play") more than a year ago, and I've yet to use it. Mind you, when I learned that the manufacturer was going to stop making Gocco and shipping supplies to the U.S. in December 2008 (see here and here), I stocked up on inks, screens, and bulbs in a panic. But, nooooo, that didn't motivate me to actually use my Gocco. The Gocco and the supplies still sit on my shelf, untouched.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty visual when it comes to learning how to make something. But I also need to
hear the instructions -- for some reason, visuals without words don't seem to take -- so the best combination for me is both hearing the instructions and seeing the action.

So I was delighted when I came across this video (below) from Etsy Labs on YouTube. Not only does it promise that Gocco printing is insanely simple, but it shows this to be really, truly so. So for all of you who have been procrastinating about making Gocco prints (to use in your books, natch), you have no excuse now (I'm saying that to myself as well as to you). Get out your Gocco and print!

P.S. Here are some FAQs about Gocco, should you want to learn more. And for inspiration, the beautiful Gocco print shown above is by Yellena, who has some gocco prints among the work for sale in her Etsy shop. And here's a gorgeous multi-color Gocco print from nebo peklo and some lovely work from Two Guitars, including these cards:

Gocco Printing From Etsy Labs