Fun Books

I spent yesterday making a fun book at Annie Fain Liden's studio. I met Annie Fain a little over a year ago when I'd been making books for only a short time. To say that she's a multi-talented young woman is putting it mildly. In addition to making books and teaching book arts classes, she's an accomplished Morris dancer, plays fiddle and banjo --among other instruments-- and weaves and sews. She grew up in Murphy, NC, next door to the John C. Campbell Folk School, where her mother, Martha Owen, is the Folk School's Resident Fiber Artist. This spring, Annie Fain spent two months at Penland as the studio assistant in the weaving program and just returned from teaching a week-long book arts class at the Campbell Folk School. (That's AF to the right with Priscilla, one of my classmates, in the background.)

Locally, Annie Fain (it's a double name, like "Mary Jane" or "Ann Marie") teaches bookmaking in her studio and at BookWorks. She has an engaging, supportive and relaxed teaching style that makes working with her a pleasure. This session's project was a whimsical two-in-one coptic-binding book that opens via side-by-side "doors." Open, the book has the feel of an altar or shrine. We used book board for the back of the book, and covers from old books for the front covers. Part of the fun was deciding how to treat both the outer and inside panels of the book. One of the students opted for textural paper for the outside of the book and collaged the inside panels; another kept the covers pristine but used images on the inside back cover that created the effect of a stage; I used decorative paper for most of the book and acrylic paint and ink on the front covers.

I like the conceit of the book. Unlike a dos-a-dos structure, which also creates two books, but back-to-back, the side-by-side book allows -- in fact, encourages -- a relationship between the facing text blocks. I'd like to spend a little time deciding how best to use my book. But not too long.

Katherine's book - outside, above; inside, below

Priscilla's book - closed, above; open, below


Riverlark said...

So fun to see these books, BG! We did something similar with Julie Chen last year, except she gave us the books constructed and asked us to focus on content (that pesky word again!). I did have a moment of inspiration and created text that worked no patter which pages were open together. Another successful example was someone who used simple imagery..a circle, in this case...across all the pages, and then built more imagery around that for each page.
How do you feel about using old books? I have one friend who won't even look at framed book pages...it's a travesty to her that they're removed from the book. On the other hand, I've seen one or two (not many) altered books that I admire. (And my fav art store has some delightful journals made from 1950's texts.)

Clara said...

I've come to terms with using old books to create new books. For me, they're unattended books that are getting a new life. For example the covers I used for my book here were from an out-of-print textbook. I've also bought old atlases in order to use the covers or the pages -- it's interesting to see how the "old" world used to look. Were I to use those pages in a "new" book, it might make someone see something they never would have seen otherwise in a new way.

I can't imagine dismantling a book that I've read and care about-- it would seem sacrilegious to take apart Madame Bovary or Fitzgerald's novels, or Atonement, or such (as a side note, writing this has made me realize that the books I've picked up for re-purposing have all been nonfiction books. Hmmmmmm. I haven't made the distinction consciously, but maybe it says something about how I view fiction versus nonfiction).

Last week I visited the studio of a book artist (I may post some of the photos I took) who creates sculptural works of art by folding, cutting and weaving the pages of old books. This could be interpreted as transforming one art form (bookbinding, or words, if you're focusing on the content) into another. I would argue that, more often than not, the better work of art was the new one, since there was little to commend the books she was using, whether content or binding. At the same time, I can appreciate the perspective of someone who's not in favor of the practice.

Sarah said...

Quite a few times I've bought books intending to use thier pages for collage or prints or to make new books and simply not been able to cut them. I want to have my book AND cut it up :)

Clara said...

Ah, yes, Sarah. A dilemma indeed. One that "non-bookies" never have to face.