I spent most of my time this week trying to make the “box thing” happen for myself only to discover that it was indeed possible: I mapped out the coolest book-box thing ever on paper, felt sure about my measurements and materials, and left no real time to execute it. So although it was possible it became less and less probable. I decided to learn from my over-ambitious mid-term attempt and take Meredith’s advice and start with ready-made boxes so that I could focus more on the book form itself rather than how to create these intricate boxes.
I went to a couple of cigar shops and studied different boxes, their shapes, and forms and ended up finding one shop that had five (in case I screw things up) identical, thin, square beautiful boxes. I didn’t get as far with the interior on this mockup as I intended but I reworked my original concept in a way that I think is really going to lend itself well to my content.
Instead of having a bound book in the lid of the box and an accordion fold in the bottom of the box, it’s just going to be an accordion fold book. When you pull out all of the folds though, one side of the paper will be the letter from the box (and it will look like a letter because of the size and shape of the folds) and the other side will be the “collection of items” almost collaged to give the effect that they’re from different places, times, people, events, etc. The really cool thing about this (I think) is that the folds are at 7.5 inches and 3.75 inches, allowing the user/reader to fold back the pages in a variety of ways. If they fold them all at 7.5 inches, the book lays flat, everything is organized, and the box closes easily. If the user/reader folds the pages at the 3.75 inch mark, the pages start mixing in the content and the pages take on a more “pile of letter” quality. The whole story is about rearranging and editing things out of the box so this usability is really quite exciting to me (nerd alert, I know).
I have to say that I was completely avoiding this “non-traditional” book form but it’s kind of freeing. I feel like I’m still being true to the “book” by making the content stay connected with the folds instead of just putting everything in the box and calling it a day. I’m really trying to be conscious about using story-telling and the traditional book form in this experiment and I think it’s helping craft the essay too as I’m still editing it and marrying it to the form.
As far as image, I’ll be creating a few stamps of fake postcards and letters to stamp throughout, but I’m also going to be using the whole idea of the box as an image and artifact. I want the box to remain, clearly, a cigar box because it lends itself to my idea of a “keepsake box on the shelf” but I’m going to glue down pictures to its top (just like the story) and then rip them up leaving behind the residue of the torn image (again, like the story) and then sand the sides a little to help with the worn aspect. I want to put shellac over that finished project though to kind of balance this old box and the beauty of the book and so it looks purposeful, not just sloppy. I’ll also be roughing up and softening the edges of all of the pages and adding coffee-cup rings to some of the “artifacts” to further allude to the essay.
I’m really excited about this project and I’m glad I was able to keep my pride in check and give up on the box making idea, so that now I can fully focus my energy on the interior of the book.