Monday, November 30, 2009

Books bathed in light

Setting up for the show at TaborSpace today (Southeast 55th and Belmont), I wiped down the stained-glass windows that form the background of my "book" display and boy did they glow. Perhaps they are too beautiful to be background even? I found myself wondering if they were from the famous Povey Brothers and whether my art was worthy of the space. It's an awesome spot for my work, sitting as it does right near the entrance, with a sloping brick shelf setting the "stage."

You're all invited to stop by tomorrow (Dec. 1) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for refreshments and cheer at the opening reception. It won't be as awash in wine as our last opening (hic), but what else would you do on a Tuesday night?

photo by Mario -- thanks Mario!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

History's no open book

I've wanted to make this piece ever since a Chinese friend arrived at my Beijing apartment breathless, saying, “Did you hear? The government changed. It calls Tiananmen ‘turmoil’ now instead of ‘revolt.'"

Using a pretty piece of paper-backed cloth from one of the art shops on Liulichang, I bound a batch of pages and then, satisfyingly, stitched up both sides of the book. I like how the form so speaks to tradition, not only of the style of old Chinese books (xian zhuang, or thread-bound) but also the tradition of tightly controlling information.

The title is:

The Official Word on an Episode in Chinese History

or what I imagine political leaders must want to say about that fateful day of "six-four" in 1989.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Now for the next marketing push

With the word out about A Tango Diary, I'm on to the next projects: Super Colossal Crafty Wonderland on Dec. 13 and, before that, the Artspace at TaborSpace show, for which I've finished ONE piece.

Better stop posting and get cracking.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where have you been all my bookbinding life?

I swear, sometimes what keeps me from bouts of bookbinding is the long, painful cleanup at the end, in particular washing the PVA and paste out of my brush. I feel like I'm draining the Bull Run watershed trying to get all those little white elastic bits out of the bristles.

On a lark I stopped in at my neighborhood hardware store and lo, the brush comb! What a difference a tool can make. I whip this thing out and my brush is clean in about 10 percent of the time it used to take. I have so much extra time I can post to my blog!

In a pinch, I bet you could even fix your hair with it but. very. carefully.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Finish work takes forever

I should have finished A Tango Diary weeks ago, but I always forget: The real work of bookbinding seems to come at the back end. It's not like, say, painting a room, where prepwork accounts for the bulk of the task. Oh no. Once you've printed, collated, and sewn the signature, then bound the thing, you have to put on the covers (careful now), knock up nice rounded-but-square corners (all four of them) and paste in endpapers (I made this extra-worky by putting in pockets; tell me, what books have pockets these days?).

All that takes about 35 more minutes per copy if I'm plugging along. It starts to seem like bookbinding's all about covering your tracks. Rough edges are trimmed and tucked away. Marked-up bookboard gets covered up completely and quickly like Mormon underwear. There are parts of the book the reader never sees. With A Tango Diary, it cracks me up that the pockets are lined, and I wonder if anyone will notice that flash of buff-colored Japanese paper as they slide in a business card.

But wait, we're still not done. I then stamp the colophon with my Chinese chop, and number the edition. Somewhere in here I should start the marketing, too. Speaking of, here's the suite of promo pix.