Saturday, July 22, 2017

What I'm working on . . .

I have been working on (since it seems forever) making a handmade book. I’ve been thinking of it as a “Kyoto” book, since I’m incorporating photographs I took In Japan, but it’s really not about Kyoto.

I’ve completed 10 pages. And have maybe 20 more to go. It’s 12” wide and 4.5” high and thick. It will be Japanese stab-bound on the left side. And it will be meant to be hung on a wall by a cord. The style is similar to a daifuku-cho, a Japanese ledger book.

Each page is a collage, both front and back, with the back much simpler, less detailed than the front. This unnamed book is designed to be held, touched, bent, paged through. It feels soft, worn, weathered, ragged, frayed, and irregular.

This year I’ve been gathering together appropriate papers for the book — papers I’ve dyed, inked, stained, painted, crumpled, torn, folded, and sometimes waxed. The collage items are old postage stamps, hanko signatures (“chops”), postal cancellations, rice paper images, rubber stamps, water stains, pages from antique Japanese books and ledgers, and much, much more.

Since I’ve never done this before, I’m winging it, seeing how my photographs handle being tinted, how glues hold up when the papers get wet, and how my printer inks react with water. My printer ceased working and so I got a new one. But the inks are markedly different and don’t react the same way, causing my processes to change constantly.

So here are bits and pieces of what I’m doing. From upper left to right you see a sample unfinished page sitting on top of other papers, a close-up of a page, examples of postage stamps I have to choose from, then my “paper table,” photos that I’ve stained and are now drying, another sample unfinished page, a number of signature hankos (chops) that I use here and there, a close-up of a stained paper (doesn’t that look cool?), and a close-up of part of another page.

I. Love. This. The process has been a huge learning curve, trial and (mostly) error. Full of surprises (always a good thing), and the book pages/collages are wonderful to hold, to page through, to curl and bend and touch. They even sound good, sometimes crackling, sometimes softly brushing one another.

Having projects, having a purpose, making something is important to me. And in my mostly digital world, having a physical result is most refreshing! I will attempt to update more and more as things have begun speeding up. Wish me luck!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

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