Thursday, 1 March 2018

Mini Flutter Books

Sometimes it’s a good idea to try something new, to try a different approach. This isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do when one works alone, sometimes it’s difficult to challenge myself especially when I’m deeply embedded in a comfy rut . . . so, some outside input was required! 

With this in mind I signed up for a booklove e-course at 

Because of prior commitments I knew at the time I wouldn’t be able to keep to the class schedule, but that was no reason not to take part as everything is online for a few months and I could keep going at my own pace. I’m so glad that I did.

To get us going, in chapter one we bind a series of fluttering mini books.

Creating mini flutter books is a fun thing to do and it’s a great form of thinking play . . .  it’s a refreshing change to let my hand and eye do the thinking rather than my usual, more convoluted, planning in one of my many sketchbooks (of course some are more successful than others, but isn’t that often the case?) 

As someone who always gravitates back to the concertina fold, making pamphlet bound books feels like a novelty and the mini books small scale means its a quick process, which I do rather like!

Also because there’s not a particular project in mind, I’m freed up to make books without spending too much time reflecting and mulling over all the possible permutations of a particular idea or thought. 

And it was the perfect opportunity to indulge my inner stamp making queen. 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Hinterland - walking along Mersea sea-wall in the Autumn

Hinterland is inspired by walks along the sea-wall in Mersea, observing the constant shifts in light and mood over the strood, and watching birds in flight.

I had it in mind to use a drum-leaf binding because of the small size of the sheets that I'd marbled. I thought that this would reveal the unique nature of each page, and in turn suggest the changing nature of the salt marsh and the tumbling display of a marsh harrier.

However, the book felt too small, too enclosed . . . I wanted a feeling of empty space and expansiveness. 

My desire to create a book reflecting the mutability of a watery landscape (which is always subject to change) prompted me to think again.

Handwriting, by its nature variable, would add an element of flux that print wouldn't and hand-printing stencils vary each time they are printed, so would further this effect, but subtly.

I set to and soon had a series of proofs waiting to be bound . . .

The format of this book is slightly larger and concertina bound. 

Alongside the negative space on the page, the effect of opening out a concertina bound book also suggests a sense of space, and I liked the effect. Although if I'm honest, this may not be the final incarnation of Hinterland . . . I feel something more is required, but as of yet I don't know what. 

Maybe a change of scale . . . or paper . . . 

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Ex Libris: Altered Books at Bucks County Museum

There is still time (just) to visit, Ex Libris: Altered Books at Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury - open until 24 February.

Altering books is a very old method of 'recycling'.

Long before the printed book, monks recycled old parchment manuscripts by scraping off the ink and adding fresh text and illustration. When I recently visited Designing English I noticed quite a few examples of words, illustrations and annotations added (at a later date) to the margins.

As they say, there is nothing new etc. etc.

You could say that this exhibition, organised by the group Sparksartists, is therefore following in a very fine tradition!

These are just a few of my favourites . . . there is so much more to see!

Barbara Pearman: From a Cornish Window
Made while artist-in-residence at Cape Cornwall.

Dorothea Reid: Full Fathom Five
Original book, Shakespeare Survey 1 ed A Nicoll 1948

Jean Crow-Stewart: Deadwood
Original book, Simple Pruning by N Catchpole RHS 1948

Heather Hunter: Summer
Original book, Pictures of Britain Series: English Garden Flowers  by George M Taylor 1946

Barbara Pearman: Water life of Britain
Original book, Readers Digest water life of Britain

Kate Crossley: Nil Admirari - Let nothing astonish you
Original books, Bolingwood and his times, volume 1 & 2 by S Sichel

Nancy Campbell: Itoqqippoq
Itoqqippoq means 'washing line' in Greenlandic. The narrative of this book is created from a series of photographs of frozen washing, observed in west Greenland. In the Artic, laundry is left out to freeze-dry all winter long, but these sheets were dancing in the wind - a sign of spring.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Handwritten Manuscripts (the first thousand years of written English)

Before the printing of books (in the west) sometime about 1473/4, every book was handwritten . . . with a quill pen, crikey, fountain pens not to be invented until the 19th century . . . and, no popping down the shop for some ink!

For almost a thousand years books were written in Latin, a language widely understood throughout Europe. Writing in English was much less important and much less widely read. However, as English grew in prestige it was used more often and there are some fabulous examples in Designing English on until the 22 April in the Weston Library, Oxford.

It is worth seeing, not just for the medieval manuscripts in the main exhibition, but also to see the display of current, recently created artists' books inspired by those manuscripts.

The most 'ordinary' of books this, a medical book of the late 1400's. Remedies and charms scribbled on the flyleaves in scruffy and wonky handwriting. But these are magic words, with the power to heal. It includes a spell, with the instruction to write +loy +eloy +zedeloy onto a loaf, butter or an apple as a cure for toothache!

Composed 990-995; copied second half of the 1000's at Worcester Cathedral. I think the shape of this writing is adorable . . . the lines are widely spaced for ease of sight-reading, and large coloured letters mark new sermons.

Sheets stitched together

A herbal, copied sometime mid 1000's, the scribe having left spaces for someone to illustrate at a later date. Who knows what may have happened so that it did not get done . . .

Stories are painted inside these initials in this English guide to hunting, more entertaining than informative.

A manual for swan upping copied between 1516 and 1539, with beautiful abstracted forms symbolising the brands used on the beaks of swans.

A book which folds into a tiny square, about 55mm wide, perfect for folding up and carrying about to consult. Pictures show when it's lucky or deadly to do risky things like getting married, or letting blood.

Verse composed in the late 300's or early 400's and translated between 1439 and 1443 and designed as a gorgeous gift for a duke. The scribe uses multiple coloured inks to highlight fiddly rhymes and different sounds, resulting in wonderful patterns and shapes on the page.

Redesigning the medieval book - artists' books inspired by the manuscripts on show.

When leaving the main exhibition rooms of Designing English, turn to the left and head for the vitrine in the main entrance hall to see a selection of books made as a compliment to that exhibition.

Two of my favourites . . .

A guide to mouse hunting, Lizzie Waterfield, with marvellous mouse covers!

Invisible, Angela Callanan, captures the eccentricity and peculiarity of medieval magic charms.

Redesigning the medieval book, until the 11 March 2018 at the Weston Library, Oxford.
Weston Library information 01865 277094