I finished this essay as I was creating the book form which made for an interesting process. While I don’t think this will be a standard practice of mine, it was really neat to be able to mold the content to the form and the form to the content without making any large concessions because neither existed on its own terms yet. I chose to call this project Momentum for several reasons: the box (the speaker) gains more and more emotion throughout the piece, there’s a lyric quality throughout that sets the reader’s pacing early on, and the entire essay surrounds the idea of memory and momentous occasions. The accordion folds & interior cover lend themselves to a kind of movement or momentum that works nicely, too.
Because the essay takes the point of view of a box, I think I was able to create and present a unique and visually appealing concept (which is a significant improvement from the conceptualization of my mid-term).
the box—Moving away from the idea that I was going to create three very unique boxes was an excellent idea (thanks, Meredith!). I went to a couple of different cigar shops and finally found a group of five that I liked. It did pain me to repurpose these boxes as they were so beautiful, but all for the craft, right? It’s also nice that these boxes were able to serve a purpose without being exact replicas of the photo box I describe in the story—it lets the reader make their own connection to the form
Interior pages and “mini-books”—The pages of this book are still my favorite and most successful element. The simple variation in half-page or full-page folds allows for great movement and reader interaction and lets it get “messy” without destroying the cohesive, simple beauty of the whole thing. I also added two “mini-books” in place of the copyright and author pages. These additions offer limited interaction, linking to the content of course, but also, it adds to this “sorting” idea. If a reader is inclined to read or experience the book a second, third, or fourth time, how probable is it that they’ll read through the copyright a second time? What about the third? With each use, they’re less likely to experience each part of the box and so they’re essentially “editing” the experience, deciding what’s important and what’s not…which is exactly what the essay is about. I was really excited to be able to accomplish this without needing to include “removable” elements
Stamps—I wanted to include images that were appropriate to the content, but my original idea included “found objects” and things that would matter to me but virtually no one else in the world. Meredith and I talked about using stamps for other items that were loosely related, and I did gather a handful of nice silhouettes, but they still just weren’t working with the content and form. Instead, I used InDesign to create a series of rough squares (an image suggesting a box without hitting you over the head) that I then made into stamps. I really like the effect of these images throughout the book; I only wish I’d stamped more across the folds. I did this by mistake on one of the last ones and it’s actually really nice.
Overall, my craftsmanship has improved drastically over the semester, but this project humbled me in big ways. I had to constantly remind myself that I’m still very new to this thing called bookmaking and there’s still quite a bit I need to learn and perfect. Still, I’m learning steadily even if it is painfully slow and sometimes just painful, and that’s really encouraging.
Successes—I’m really proud of my interior pages. I love that the form is mobile while still retaining aspects from the “traditional” form. I’m also glad I stretched myself into this unknown territory rather than playing it safe with one of the hardcover forms we learned in class, because I was able to experience both the essay and the form in a way I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
I could also become a stamp junky. My poor family will now be receiving journals and letters with these abstract squares everywhere. Because I made them. And they’re beautiful. And they need to be used more to pay for themselves.
Failures/Challenges—I intended to use hand-stitching throughout the book (square, oppressive lines at first; curved, freer lines at the end) paired with text blocks that were decreasing in size and font that was increasing in size. These three elements were going to be used to highlight the change in both the “I” and the “You” in the essay
At about midnight last night, I realized the “stitching” that I had done on the first signature on all three books was terrible. It was crooked and uneven, inconsistent, and really, it was unfixable. I couldn’t even just leave those pages as they were because it looked like a huge mistake since it wasn’t anywhere else in the book. I weighed my time options and my obvious lack of skill in this area, and decided it was better to just recut, reprint, and restamp the first signature on each book. This took about an hour rather than staying up all night trying to make the stitching work. It was unfortunate, and I was upset about the wasted materials, but I think it was the right call and my book doesn’t look like it’s missing anything, so that’s positive
I did go with the text blocks decreasing in size, but I was unable to increase the font size since each fold is only 3.5 inches tall and my paragraphs are long. Because of this, the text block change is virtually unnoticeable and I’m not convinced its intent would be clear if someone did happen to notice it.
The cover elements were also a bit of a failure, although the failure still lines up with the content pretty nicely. We’ll call it a happy accident. I tested the stamps out on the paper (old art book) before I glued everything down, and the image came out very clearly. I didn’t realize the ripped paper and glue would interfere once on the box. These unreadable images are still intriguing and match the essay’s description of “tiny strips,” but it’s not the effect I was originally going for. I’ll have to remember to even play around with small things like this while I’m still in the mock-up phase next time.
The final big hiccup that I ran into is the engineering of the “interior cover” (title page, copyright, author bio). I changed the design because the thicker pieces of book cloth wouldn’t behave as the thin strips did in the mock-up. I tried more of a “loop” technique this time, but now the box has to be forced closed and it’s less able to stand up to the test of time. It’s really a bit cumbersome.
PRICING & DISPLAY
I’m using a few other cigar boxes that I acquired through this process as my display. They’ll create a boxy-kind-of theme, but also allow for levels which will let me drape the accordion folds out of the boxes.
I hate pricing, but mostly, it’s because I’m cheap. And so I think everyone must be cheap. And I can’t see anyone paying $35 for a book, but…
Boxes: $10, Paper: $20, Stamps, Ink, & Glue: $25, Book Cloth: $15
Total Materials: $70 (~$23.50 a book)
I’m pricing my books at $35, and I’ll be interested to see how many people’s eyebrows go up at that or say, I wish I could buy it, but it’s just a little too much, or that’s all!? Next time I’ll think about price ahead of time and see if I can plan a bit better to keep costs down.
IF I WERE TO DO THIS AGAIN…
I would definitely try to fix my “failures” list and rethink those elements. I think there are simple solutions to all these issues and the main fix is spending more time on each step.
I’m proud that I stretched my comfort zone on this project and deviated from the book forms I’m more comfortable with. I identified the needs of this content better than I did for the midterm and made appropriate choices rather than just picking things that I thought looked pretty together (although, I still think that’s important, too.)