New and Used

When I began my Internet research, I found myself drawn to two types of book artists:

(1) I loved looking at the work of artists who carved books – taking a book (or books) and cutting or otherwise physically manipulating it into a new object that may/may not resemble the original, and may/may not be legible, such as: “Wagnall’s Wheel” 2010, Brian Dettmer  and “First and Last Things” 2011 Georgia Russel.

One of the carved book artists who really stood out for me was Su Blackwell: http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/ Blackwell turns the pages of books we know and love (Wuthering Heights, The Little Prince, Alice In Wonderland, etc) into part of the story – characters, landscapes, and familiar scenes are sculpted from their pages. It’s as though she put down the book, and their paper inside sprang to life to act out the story. These books can no longer be read, but the sculpted scenes convey part of the content. It appears in her portfolio that most of the books are sold or displayed in boxes. The box has become the new cover for the book’s interior, which is about to escape the binding.

(2) I was also drawn to artists making books from recycled books or other re-purposed materials. I saw books with covers made from egg cartons, baseball cards, cassette tapes, library cards, old fashioned paper labels, etc. Here is the Flickr stream of one such book artist called erinzam: http://www.flickr.com/photos/erinzam/ This stream also includes some illustration work and photographs of her/his work space.

What these two types of book artists have in common is that they both start with an object – a book, a cassette tape, an egg carton – and a new book is created out of/inspired by that recycled material. The original material is transformed, and given a new life and purpose.

Although I want to learn how to design and make a book from scratch, it is the idea of recycling or transforming found materials that makes me inspired and excited about book making. For example, I like the idea of taking a book about 1950s botany curriculum and transforming it into a plant, or using egg cartons as the container/cover for a book of poems related to eggs/transformation/birth.

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1 comment
  1. meredithpurvis said:

    You found some really great books! Su Blackwell’s sculptures are breathtaking. I love that kind of detailed work, that way of truly bringing the story into the physicality of the book. I think an interesting question is how to make a book that sculptural while also still making it something that can be “read,” i.e., incorporting some/all the words into the sculpture in some way. I’d be curious to know your thoughts on that–we’ll have to get a discussion going on it in class at some point. I also think that Erinzam’s work is great. Working with upcycled materials can be really interesting. Not only are you avoiding creating more waste, but sometimes those materials can lead to challenges or ideas just from being what they are. How do you bind a book with an egg carton? And what kind of content would you put in that sort of book. So many ideas!

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