Author Archives: Kokowrites

The concept for my short story book, “Star Child,” was to create a visual vehicle to match the story’s major symbols–stars and indigo. My concept is original, marrying my personal experience of being in Timbuktu for one week in July of 1994 and the memory of the sky’s starry canopy. The story links the myth of wishing upon the stars (Pinocchio and others) with the culture of New Orleans conjure (my family’s heritage) as well as the Akua Ba story from Akan cultural lore. The crudely tanned leather and African motifs on the leather worked well for that ancient manuscript look that I was going for.

I was challenged to work neatly and persistently. I knew that there were going to be a lot of little tasks to attend to in order to make the final project look professional and polished than my last attempt at midterm.

With regard to craftsmanship, I definitely stepped up my game on cutting the paper with more precision. I need to work on covering the covers of my book more effectively. Notwithstanding, I like the way it looks. I am pleased.

I used the form as best I could. The Coptic stitch was difficult for me and I wanted to master it. I am fascinated with all things Ethiopian, since I carry the name of his majesty Haile Selassie I. The only way that I can improve on this form is to experiment with a different kind of thread, maybe a leather thread to match or contrast the color of the leather.

The front cover of the book reflects two of the major ideas in the short story. I insisted upon using the Tuareg leather made in northern Mali. The recycled leather from the pillow adds to the frame story and the enduring myth of return.

My graphic choices include the use of a picture of a mysterious man in the colophon, the Helvetica font lettering from Staples, and the handwritten story to match the technology available to the Coptic scribes.

I didn’t want to call the book Etoile (Star in French), I wanted to capture the gist of the story in the two-word title pointing to the story’ major plot element.

The most significant thing that I will change only relates to learning In Design. I am sure that I could have found a font that looks like handwriting. I am satisfied with the structure, the process I followed, and the construction of the book.

Overall, I am happy with my story. I will continue to work on it for submission for publication.



As it now stands, my art book titled, Starchild is going to be a leather-bound book (with hand painted eight-pointed stars) whose pages 20 pages consists of 4 signatures of 5 folded sheets each. My story has been pared down considerably and is now, like Lisa’s story, micro-fiction. I used an erasure technique to pare the story down to its most elemental points. I have also added magic spells with illustrations to imbue the setting with New Orleans’ spiritual sensibilities. There is a sentence per page and illustrations juxtaposed or accompanied by a spell or incantation.

I will strive for as much uniformity in the form of the illustrations. Drawing is not my strong suit, but my attempting to do this is to provide an authentic notebook of a stargazing conjure woman.

Star Girl

I have always been fascinated by celestial objects, especially stars. My name, Kokahvah, means star of God in Hebrew language. I was named after my maternal grandmother, Esther, another name for star in Persian language. For my final book project, I am going to make a book using the Coptic stitch. My short story titled, “Star Girl” will fit well with this format. This short story, which uses the format of a frame story, tells a fantastic tale of a little girl named Étoile born to a barren woman after her prayer to a star-filled sky and an encounter with a mysterious dark-eyed stranger.

The Tuareg, also dark-eyed and mysterious are masters of the desert who navigate the sparse land by navigating by the stars—astronavigation. Astronomy is one of the world’s oldest sciences. Additionally, a starry night in the Sahara desert is something magnificent to behold. I am also inspired by the existential writer, Antoine de Saint Exupery. Best known for Le Petit Prince, Saint Exupery was an aviator who also wrote, The Wind, Sand, and Stars has an asteroid has named for him Asteroid # 2578 Saint Exupery. In Le Petit Prince the pilot crashes in the Sahara desert and is enchanted by the sparkling vault of heaven. I want to create a connection between the world of ancient desert dwellers, magic, fantasy, and nature.
The materials for the cover will be made from an old Tuareg pillowcase made from leather that I purchased in Timbuctou, Mali in 1994. Besides using the leather pillow case for covers, I will stamp each of the pages of the book with the eight-pointed star to reiterate the central importance of the stars to the thematic content of the story, which is set in the Faubourg Tremé section of New Orleans.
Curious about the baby, people fired a barrage of questions concerning her identity. When asked, Chantal replied, “Her name is Étoile, which as you know means star.”
“Which star?” they asked.
“All of them,” she responded.
They were equally interested in knowing the identity of Étoile’s father. No one knew who he was, but throughout the Faubourg Tremé people whispered that her father was the mysterious stranger who had charmed most of the femmes de couleur that summer of 1857.
Supplies and Material
(I have all of these items already)
Leather paint
Tapestry needle
Waxed linen thread
Sketch paper
Bone Folder
Exacto knife
Box cutter Paint
Star stamp
A variety of beads to glue onto the leather to create the eight-pointed star on the cover.
*No expense for the materials besides what I have already invested.
Book contents
I am not sure if I am going to use in-design or not, so I don’t have the page length. The original short story is 4 pages 12 point type. Each page will be hand painted.
I will probably make this into a journal and allow for some blank pages in order to have enough for three signatures of four pages each. Total of 12 pages.

Assembly Schedule

April 10 Gather materials
April 11 Cut out materials (cover and signatures for mock up)
April 13 Stamp paper and paint covers
April 16 Place text on paper and fold signatures
April 17 Sew the signatures to the covers
April 20-28 Revise the design
April 30 Complete second mock up
May 1-6 Make the final three copies and submit on time with commentary on the process.

I appreciate the history of orginsof just about anything. My fascination is equally piqued concerning the origin of words, a myth, the personal computer. Thomas’ narration of book art’s evolution from fine press printing and his long association with making books along with the enduring questions concerning the distinction between art and craft was informative and provided me with some new cruiteria touse in developing my own understanding.
Lessons to take a way.
One must consider its function in order to determine its value.
1. A consideration of function or aesthetics as the determination for the existence of the item, no matter if it is a book or a song. Is it encumbered by function or aesthetics?
2. The qualities that make book art according to Thomas should be equal to the Mona Lisa and consist of:
The finest materials
be handmade
be tactile
have great literary component and have
great writing great illustrations
along with visual and sculptural interest.

I, too want to be a book artist, get in my gypsy wagon and get on down the road towards the future.


Well, having survived gastroenteritis, which had me sidelined for nearly seven days. My books are now complete as well. My final project did not look like its older iteration, or what I laughingly call the model. The book is called Masks

Lessons learned:

Need to learn in Design, so I don’t have to print ten copies of anything by free hand. My hands seem to have minds of their own.

Anything produced by hand is like trying to pluck your eyebrows, Difficult to get them even. Remember they are not twins, but sisters. My boooks are a gaggle of women. I struggled for eveness and uniformity. In some cases, I achieved it. In others, well you know where the story is going.

I am a winner. Although I was ill, I had what it took in reserves to get the job done.

Je suis fini est c’est ca!

Cherie Koko

I had chosen just the right poems, bought all the supplies, made the plans and now I am jacked up, because I got sick last night, food poisoning, I think and now I am drained physically and mentally.    I made the two masks for the book as I planned, but then I couldn’t find the mock-up example that I made in class.  Lesson learned, keep it simple, do something that is “doable” and FRICKIN relax and breathe.  I am still committed to figuring it out, but not today.  I will come to class with what I have and be alright with being that students that didn’t get it right.  Class, as an artist, I give myself permission for that.