The poem I chose was Charles Simic’s Mirrors at 4:am. I’m not great at analyzing poetry, but, to me, the poem had a very dark feel. So when I began to make the book I wanted it to feel dark and a little rough. I decided to make a sort-of compact mirror.
One of the most challenging aspects of this project was just finding the materials, specifically the boxes to make the compact. After much searching, I finally found several small gift boxes the same size at a dollar store. Because I wanted the book to be dark I began by spray painting all of the boxes black, then painted over the black with oil paint. I chose oil paint because I wanted the cover, or top, to have the textured feel and look oil paint provided.
The biggest challenge creatively was how to make it operate, at least similarly, to a compact mirror. First, was how to make a mirror for the bottom of the box. After struggling with several different plastic-type materials, I discovered that if I covered aluminum foil with a plastic cover it gave the appearance of a mirror. The most difficult part about that was working with the aluminum foil. It was very hard to cut without wrinkling and turned out to be very time-consuming. The end result didn’t make perfectly functional mirror, however it does look similar to a mirror and worked well for the background of the text.
Next, I wanted the box to stay open as if a compact would. I fastened thick paper cut into strips to the side of the box using small screws. The screws ended up working well to allow the strips of paper to be swiveled up to secure the lid open.
By far, the most time consuming element of this project was the sewing. I came up with the idea that a blind would be opened and closed by pulling a string outside the box so that inside the box was just the text and the mirror. I grossly underestimated how long this would take. I first had to secure the blind to one side of the box so that the blind would merely open and not just slide to the other side of the box when the string was pulled. After securing the blinds I then had to run two pieces of string through each of the blinds and tie each of them together outside the end of the box. The concept ended up being successful but was definitely strenuous work.
I think the book ended up being a success, but if I had to do it again I would definitely do a few things differently. The first obstacle was just time. Specifically the sewing took so long. Not just the actual sewing, but there was a lot of trial and error when I first started the project. Also, I would have done the cover first because the oil paint took so long to dry, and in fact is still drying. Also, I would like to have laid out the text a little more creatively. I’m happy with the look because I think it works with the simplicity of the book, but I would like to have experimented more with it.

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